We Americans are getting better at saying "goodbye" in recent years. Last week here in Phoenix we said goodbye to little Callie Griggs. Callie was two years old, just old enough to express her wish to live till Christmas. Suffering from adrenal cancer, her doctors had given her no more than three months. That was back in September.
Callie's parents wanted to grant her wish...a visit from Santa Claus, opening a bright and shiny gift, and to walk in a winter snow. So the word spread; first in her neighborhood, then in her home city of Glendale, then to all of Phoenix, and finally to all of Arizona.
So, last week the wise men came bearing gifts. People from all over bought gifts; stuffed toys and Christmas goodies, and a Christmas tree, and good spirits, and even a white blanket of snow out on the front lawn. Callie, possessing the magical strength of a child, let her joy override her great pain and was joyous to celebrate Christmas with so many smiling people.
Sadly, little Callie died just a few days later.
We've done this before in Phoenix, so we know how. We've brought early holidays and birthdays to children with brain cancer, with leukemia, will all manner of deathly ills. Perhaps we learned it from those folks up in Utah who first brought an early Halloween, and an early Christmas to a little four year old boy who wouldn't live to see Christmas. No matter, each joyous party is a celebration of life and a denial that death can only mean sadness.
For several decades now America has had their Make A Wish program. It is our small way to bring some few joyous moments to those who have only precious moments left. It's a way to say a final goodbye, a way to let our loved ones know that there is still much good in life..."let us show you!"
Admittedly, we would have a better world if this spirit of love, of giving, existed for the living as well as the dying. We could be far better at saying "hello" than we are. But let's be grateful that we are getting better at saying "goodbye."