The unspeakable tragedy of terminal illness cuts through the deafening chaos of political conflict and cultural anxiety, painfully striking a chord deep in the hearts of people in a way that temporarily evaporates all preoccupation with anything that is not of the utmost importance, and in doing so, brings out the very best of human nature.
This is especially true when the victim of the illness is a young child, as is the case with nine-year-old Jacob Thompson, who has battled Stage 4 neuroblastoma for several years.
Jacob, like most children, loves Christmas. Sadly, there’s a significant chance that he won’t live to see December 25, 2017.
Now, as he lives out what could be his final weeks in Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital in Portland, Maine, people who will never meet Jacob but who have been moved by his story are making sure he has the Christmas of a lifetime.
‘We want him to know that Christmas wishes come true’
Jacob’s parents, Roger and Michelle, set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for impending funeral expenses and share Jacob’s plight with the public.
The campaign has already received nearly $60,000 in donations as of Friday, and people from all over America have sent Jacob homemade Christmas cards to lift his spirit.
The first card Jacob received showed a picture of a penguin, his favorite animal.
Jacob’s mother said her son’s motto is to “live like a penguin,” which is to “be friendly, stand by each other, go the extra mile, jump into life and be cool.”
Jacob has received cards, gifts, decorations and visits as he and his family are showered with love as they go through this trial.
The hospital posted a Facebook update, calling the response "wonderfully overwhelming," and encouraging people to continue sending cards, or to record online videos of their families singing Christmas carols to show to Jacob and other patients.
And next weekend will be Christmas for Jacob and his family. His room will be decorated with a tree, snow, lights, and Santa Claus will even pay him a visit.
How you can help
Cards can be mailed to:
C/O Maine Medical Center
22 Bramhall St.
Portland, ME 04102
This writer's perspective
Jacob’s family and friends will continue to pray for his health; that he would have relief from his pain, and that the disease that has ailed him since he was five years old could be healed.
Even if those prayers aren’t answered in those specific ways, hopefully the family can take some comfort from these days when the courage and perseverance of their son led to an outpouring of charity that this world will always need; that their son, in nine short years, brought as much good out of as many people as the rest of us can hope to inspire in a lifetime.