Thursday, August 30, 2012


Yesterday, a family I do not know lost a son I have never seen. 

              …and I cried. 


                                     ...and I was not alone.

A couple of years ago, I read a story in the local newspaper about a little boy fighting leukemia.  Fresh from the whole horrible wreck, ICU, UVA, recovery deal with our daughter, my attention was captured, my heart touched.  

I know what it is like to stand in ICU, look down at my child and wonder if she will recover...or even live, for that matter. To say that this is frightening is an understatement at best. I could only imagine the horror of a diagnosis that included the word terminal.  Ethan Blevins and his family hit my heart…and I prayed.

For a while, things seemed stable, maybe even improving a little. My attention went elsewhere.

The community I love didn’t forget.  When Ethan had an issue, someone was sure to note it.  There were bake sales and fund drives.  The new movie theater took special interest and raised a great deal of money for the suffering family. I prayed…along with a good deal of the community.

The scans looked good, treatments appeared to be working…things seemed better. 

In recent days, Ethan took a turn for the worse.  The rallying cry for prayer was astounding.  I didn’t know just how many of my friends and acquaintances were somehow interconnected.  While the sad outcome was surely predictable, it didn’t stop folks from being concerned…and coming together.

I will never forget the experience of our daughter’s injury and recovery.  Folks I never met made contributions, sent words of encouragement, and made deposits at the bank.  Personally, this negated the pain caused by familial discord and disinterest. The most memorable occasion happened in the hardware store. A total stranger came up and asked,  “Isn’t she the girl from the wreck?” (it's a small town....EVERYBODY knows when big things happen)  When I answered in the affirmative, the woman rejoiced, saying “I’ve been praying and praying…oh, it’s SO good to see her...and you!” She hugged me. Despite feeling more than a little odd at the moment of celebrity, it was a most comforting gesture.

When the news of Ethan’s passing began to circulate, friends and neighbors were there…posting on Facebook, tweeting, whatever.  His folks are unemployed and overwhelmed…how to handle all the expenses?  The posters were thoughtful and concerned.  It was amazing to watch the outpouring of love and care.

A funeral home offered their services…free.  The local Chick-fil-a is holding a “spirit-day”, donating a portion of proceeds to the family. The movie theater again rallied with a donation point. Accounts have been set up at area credit unions/banks.  Generous donations were made…plans were made to help the grieving family; especially the younger brother in the coming days and weeks. The community is coming together.

While this is an awful way to find out just what the community is made of…it is an amazing, encouraging, uplifting thing to watch.  The world has seemed a cruel, hateful and mean-spirited place of late.  This event might just change things. I must say that my faith in mankind has been affected in a most positive way.

One of Ethan’s last concerns was that his little brother was getting overlooked in the whole ordeal.  He had requested that folks send his little brother postcards, too.  In response to Ethan’s concerns, folks are beginning to reach out to “little brother” which should help tremendously as he endeavors to recover from the loss of his brother/friend.

This…this is what community is all about.  People helping people.  No one asking questions, pointing fingers…just holding out their arms for a comforting embrace. Offering what they can to help where it is needed.

Ethan…I never met you…but, I truly hope you’re comfortable and at peace now.  You wanted to show people the love of Jesus…wow, I hope you can see how you affected your community!

I can honestly say that I am a better person for having experienced the outstretched hand of compassion from our far-flung community.  It’s an awesome and humbling experience.  But, interestingly, it is just as touching and life-changing to be on the other side of the equation. It is amazing and inspiring to read Ethan's mother's posts about their experience.  Her faith hasn't wavered and she is gracious and kind even in what must be life's darkest moment. She has managed to bless others in the process.

The generous, compassionate community reaction is what makes this area so special. I have seen this type of reaction time after time when bad things happen.
I love this place!

These are my people
This is where I come from
We're givin' this life everything we've got and then some
It ain't always pretty
But it's real!
That's the way we were made
Wouldn't have it any other way
These are my people!
                                                                 -Rodney Adkins

    Rest in Peace, Ethan Blevins 2003 - 2012

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