In our sleep, pain that cannot forget
falls drop by drop upon the heart
and in our own despair, against our will,
comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.
What do you get when you put 14 people, most of whom have either suffered the unfathomable loss of a loved one or dear friend to an indiscriminate killer, in a room together for a weekend?
For starters, you get heart-breaking stories of profound love and loss. You get insight into the emotional roller-coaster and mind-numbing pain parents must experience when, within a matter of hours . . . minutes . . . seconds, a loved one is no longer there to hug or care for.
You get a jolting wake-up call to the stark realization that all that really matters is the here and now, that fate can deal a lethal blow to anyone, anywhere at any time.
You get a group of inspiring individuals for whom the word quit has no meaning. You get a group forever bonded through the kind of gut-wrenching experience you would not wish on your most hated enemy.
But most of all you get the satisfaction of knowing that what you are doing will honor the memories of loved ones lost and spare countless parents all the heart-ache, sleepless nights and tears you have shed.
This past weekend in San Antonio, Texas I was privileged to represent the Meningitis Research Foundation of Canada and participate in the Confederation of Meningitis Organisation’s (CoMO) Conference of the Americas.
World Meningitis Day encourages everyone across the globe to join hands to unite and raise awareness about meningitis and safe, effective vaccines to prevent this serial killer from striking.
As unpredictable and random meningitis is when attacking, maiming and sometimes killing its innocent unsuspecting victims, this is certain, the members of CoMO are more determined than ever to combat this dreaded disease.
Two days of intensive work, sharing personal stories, breaking bread, laughing and crying together, has deepened friendships and solidified a collective resolve – to ensure that hope conquers despair – so that no one, anywhere, will ever again have to endure the loss or pain inflicted by meningitis.
Photo: by Dee Dee Werner