A couple weeks ago, it was Whitney Heichel. I was sad when I read about her on the news and had no idea she was one of Jehovah's Witnesses. I was hoping they would find her, but thinking it hardly seemed likely. I was thinking how pretty she was and how adorable her husband was and how cute and happy they looked together. Then I read on facebook that she was one of Jehovah's Witnesses. All the sudden, it's different. She's one of ours! If I lived where she did, she'd be my friend and I'd work with her in service and I'd have been at her wedding and bridal shower. It's just amazing how much it really affects (did I do it right this time?) us when we find out something has happened to one of us. We call each-other brother and sister, and you don't realize just how true those terms are. So you read about something like that, and then you find out it's your sister, and suddenly the stakes are so much higher, and you feel like you know her, and her mom personally, even though you really don't. Then the bad news starts rolling in and I'm crying reading the news online, and then I'm crying reading the posts her friends and family made on facebook. Then I'm crying looking through the photos from her funeral and seeing all the friends, in a Kingdom Hall, dealing with the loss. I'm thinking that I'm gonna just have to quit looking at the pictures and reading about it all because it's just making me sad and I don't actually know her or her family, and there's no use being sad for someone I don't know when there are so many people to be sad for that I DO actually know.
About that time, I start reading about the little two year old boy with the spiky hair and the adorable grin who loves Lightning McQueen and got hit in the head by a large tree limb when Sandy was coming through Georgia. And then I find out that his family is in the same congregation with my cousin and also an old friend, and they are hurting about it because they're watching his family hurting about it. And the little boy's parents are also Witnesses, and once again, he's not just an adorable little two year-old boy, he's one of ours. If his family were in my congregation, his mom and I would be stuck in the mother's room together with our children. He's not just any kid, he's family. Now I'm checking for updates several times a day to see if he's still hanging on, and how he's doing, and worrying cuz tonight, they're gonna try to slowly take him out of his medically induced coma, and his mommy's a nervous wreck about it. So I'm a nervous wreck about it too. I hope it helps somehow to have the prayers and support of thousands of brothers and sisters who don't actually know you. I wish I could DO something for his family. But there's only one thing I can do for them, so I'll be praying for little Tripp Halstead and for his parents and his family. Hoping that everything turns out ok for them, and that if it doesn't, they'll have the strength to endure.