I've written before about how much I love our Girl Scout troop's annual caroling night at our local hospice house.When I knew that S. had chosen to join the circus, literally, and would have no time for scouting this year, I admit I thought about how much I'd miss our caroling night.
Luckily, the troop invited us to come with them and, miraculously, it fell on a night when S. did not have practice. To my surprise--though, really, why should I be surprised?--when I asked the kids if they'd like to go caroling at hospice, they both said, "Yes!"
As worn out as they feel right now, the idea of caroling still generated the level of enthusiasm they usually reserve for ice cream. They really get it, I thought.
The sun always seems to set in splendor for us on these nights and this year was no exception. We just had to stop on the road in to take a picture. We drove the rest of the way, debating how many times we'd walked or run along the road at the 5k fundraiser just a few weeks before.
The troop has many younger girls this year, but the season and the reason worked their magic. With their fun Christmas hats and smiling faces, they walked quietly in. They spoke softly and sang sweetly, as always. For the first time this year, the staff ushered us down the hall to sing in one of the rooms. Two cheerful choruses of "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" in the room wrapped up the caroling. Then the staff invited the girls back to the common room to have snacks, a thank-you treat they loved!
The children and parents chatted quietly with the staff until the wiggles and giggles began to break through, then the adults started the farewells and led the younger ones outside. Excitement bubbled over, but I know, especially for our family, a deep gratitude filled our hearts.
I'm a "just a mom" now, so the current leaders helped the girls. I hung back, happy to see them all interact. But I couldn't help wondering what story we had been invited into when the girls sang "We Wish You a Merry Christmas."
A little over a year ago, two summers ago, part of our family's story had played out in another hospice house, where other dedicated people cared for my husband's father during his last days. I couldn't help thinking how much he enjoyed simple, sweet moments during that time. With a full heart, I thought how much he would have loved hearing S. play Pachelbel's Canon so beautifully after the caroling.
Two years ago, I felt presumptuous writing about hospice. Now, having a more personal understanding of their work, I prayed with all my being that someone found that simple comfort in the children's voices.
Later, one of the leaders told me. She shared a bit of the story we'd become part of. The man who had asked the girls to sing had been living at hospice with his wife. She had passed away the day before, so he was packing to go home. He didn't want to go.
We can't know if the caroling eased his heart for a moment. I wish we could. I do know that it was an act of love. I know it marked an early lesson in sending light into the world for some little ones; it marked a return to the simple art of sharing light for some of us older ones. It was a living prayer, a powerful reminder that each moment offers us a chance to choose what we will share.
Let's help each other share light in the coming weeks.
Hospice published a sweet article about the troop this year. You can read it here if you would like.