I squeezed the mic tightly. And then a little tighter. I looked out over the sea of crowd, but it was all just random blurs of color through my tears. I swallowed, looked down, closed my eyes, and squeezed again. But I just couldn’t do it…how could I?
The music began and filled my ears and it felt like a punch of reality. I was here. I was crying. But I had to sing. I shifted and the make-shift stage squeaked beneath me. I told myself to get it together, but my mind felt numb with impossible sadness and my throat was so tight that singing was a joke, even if I wanted to.
I heard the last few beats of the song’s intro play, and managed to look over at the young man sitting on the stool. Damien. Fourteen years old, but fighting a sickness in him and bigger than him. Damien. Brain cancer had robbed his speech, but not his songs. The surgery could remove much, but not the scriptures or songs he’d memorized before it.
I blinked. And took a gulping breath. But before I could squeeze the notes out…I heard him. Beautifully from the heart: “There is strength within the sorrow, there is beauty in our tears.”
Strength and willpower suddenly rose up in me and I joined him in singing the song. I still don’t know how I did that. Or especially how he did, for that matter. But we sang the song and I could almost hear hearts breaking…and hope rising all around me.
Just a few days earlier his mom had been helping him limp into a church, and I was following. He turned and struggled to hold the door open for me, smiling the whole time. I don’t melt easily. But right then I felt like a puddle on the floor.
The doctors have many words, but not the kind that anyone wants to hear. Damien’s family are pretty much just waiting. They’re at home and living day-by-day. Keeping him comfortable and maintaining his headaches is pretty much all they can do to help him. But in spite of this, the faith that Damien and his family has is beyond any hymn book. It’s real, breathing, and doesn’t depend on the breath of Damien. It’s trust, no matter the outcome. One can’t help but feel inspired when they see this valiant faith right in front of their eyes…if they can see past their tears.
But now it’s Christmas time; and I still can’t forget.
Christmas is supposed to be a time of joy. A time of celebration and laughter and warmth. A time filled with marshmallows and fuzzy slippers and warming hearts; a time of cozy evenings by the fire, baking Christmas cookies with family, and turning up the Christmas music. But there’s also a darker side to this season that no one talks about. Christmas is also a deadly time where fatal accidents and organ donations soar. All that we call life can be taken from us in the blink of an eye.
And it’s a sobering thought.
This same time of year that is commercialized as the “most wonderful time” can also be the hardest. When the Christmas meal is just broken relationships in the same room, when all Christmas means is cold nights on a park bench. For the inmate who’s cell is as cold as his lonely heart, for the wife who’s husband doesn’t know how to be a Godly man…this is also Christmas. This is real life.
And we want to reverse it because it’s sad. Maybe we can stop it. Maybe we can hold onto these novelties we can see and touch and know. What if we could close our eyes and squeeze our fists and believe it all away? But we can’t. Because much of what we see doesn’t actually matter. So whether your Christmas looks like a celebration or a struggle, let’s not forget. Like Damian, remember true joy isn’t based on an outcome.
Alisha Mullett (for the Mullett family)
Duane’s update Alisha’s blog Previous article
EstherPosted at 22:05h, 06 December
WOW what a testimony Damien has. Thanks for sharing Alisha you made me think. Had a brother that passed away in May he was homeless so it is a sad world out there. But God is in control. Duane yes that book is absolutely amazing. Love it and you all keep on doing what you are touch sooo many lives
Linda StoltzfusPosted at 06:58h, 07 December
Beautifully written, Alisha!
Miriam MullettPosted at 07:59h, 07 December
Beautiful. God bless all of you for your very important ministry. It is such a blessing to so many.
JD SnowPosted at 08:36h, 07 December
I hope you and your family have a Wonderful Christmas we enjoyed hosting your family here in Harrison, Arkansas. God Bless your Family
GinaPosted at 09:47h, 07 December
My husband has brain cancer and many of your articles this past year have blessed me during this journey. But this time I needed to let a comment. It is because of Jesus’ coming to earth that we can have hope when our Christmas is full of the pain of this world.
LuAnn PetersPosted at 15:37h, 07 December
Thankyou so much for sharing. God be very near you this Christmas season
Jackie HardenPosted at 09:11h, 08 December
Alisha, this is very well written showing the compassion of your heart. God has given you a gift in writing. May you & your family know God’s peace & Joy in this special season.
David DenlingerPosted at 09:05h, 09 December
This touches my heart very deeply. Thanks so much, Alisha.
Duane & CindyPosted at 14:26h, 20 December
This is so true, Gina. Thank you for your comment. We will put you and your husband on our family’s prayer list. We’re sorry you are facing this difficult journey. Hugs and prayers to both of you. May God give you grace for each of your moments.
Keith B. HoneycuttPosted at 08:43h, 12 March
Wow…what a gift, stir it up many, many more need to hear what you have to say. Selah