This past Wednesday marked my one-year anniversary at New England Pediatric Care.  I’ve learned a lot while being there, but the most significant lesson is the reminder that life is fragile and short.

When people ask me what I do, I respond that I work at a nursing home for kids.  I usually get some puzzled looks.  A nursing home for kids sounds like an oxymoron.  Those two shouldn’t go together.  I describe some of the kids I work with – that they need 24-hour nursing care, some breathe through ventilators, some are fed through tubes.  Some kids were born with their disability, while others were typical children and experienced some kind of trauma like cardiac arrest, choking, or near-drowning.  I mention to them that in the first 7 months of being there, 6 kids passed away.  Most were in their 20s, but a couple of them were as young as three years old.

The next question most ask me is, “That sounds so sad/hard.  How do you deal with that?”

And I have actually thought a lot about that question and have felt a tremendous peace with the answer I give.

I respond that even though it IS very sad, I feel a lot of hope too.  I truly believe that all of these children who have passed are with God.  I believe that God has saved their souls.  For the children who were born with their disability, I believe they had no opportunity to sin.  For those that experienced a traumatic event after birth, I believe God has saved them as well.  I think that God, in His own way, has shared His message and gift of grace and mercy to all of them.  Maybe it’s through visions even though they cannot see.  Maybe it’s through His voice even though they don’t respond to any other sounds.  Maybe it’s through dreams during what doctors call a “persistent vegetative state.”  I don’t know and I won’t know for sure how God speaks to them, but I know God can speak in a multitude of ways.

And whether these children leave this earth at three years old, 25 years old, or 50 years old, time here on earth is so miniscule compared to the eternity they will have with their Creator.  The hope I rest in is that now these children, who suffered so much pain and sadness, are now new.  They can now breathe.  Walk.  Run.  Jump.  Blink.  Think.  Raise their hand.  Sing a song.  Eat at the banquet table.  See the Lord.  Hear His voice.  Feel warmth, cold, love.  It’s just a beautiful image to picture.  Children being children.  The same children Jesus refers to when he says, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:14)

No more pain.  No more medicines.  No more ventilators or braces.  No more wheelchairs.  No more needles or nurses.  No more suction machines or seizures.  Just new bodies.  And what an experience that must be!

Reflecting on the lives of these children that I work with has also made me think about my life and the lives of other “typical” people.  Our lives are numbered on earth too.  Yes, I’ve made it to 28 years, but there’s no guarantee how many more I will live.  And we are all a little “sick.”  I have bad eyesight, crooked teeth, and now, Graves’ disease.  Some of our “sicknesses” are visible, physical.  Other “sicknesses” are hidden, emotional or mental.

But the hope I have is that one day there will no longer be any sicknesses.  I look forward to the day where those that trust in the Lord will have new bodies and an eternity to enjoy our new life and our Creator.