About three weeks ago, some friends who have become very precious to me these past two years engaged in the Twilight Bark with me and with each other.
Do you know the Twilight Bark? It comes from the book and movie “101 Dalmatians.” It happens after Cruella DeVil kidnaps Pungo and Perdita’s puppies and takes them out to the countryside. Hearing of the missing puppies, the dogs closest in to Pungo and Perdita start barking at twilight as a signal to the dogs that can hear them that Pungo and Perdita are in trouble. Each dog that hears passes the message onward to all the dogs that can hear him until . . . the message travels to the countryside, where someone has seen the puppies and reports their location back along the chain.
So it happened that three weeks ago, the chain of love in a special needs college in Wisconsin started the Twilight Bark to alert us that a family among us was in trouble. A 21-year-old former student of the college who had left to battle cancer was losing his battle. His family needed our prayers. Our students who had known Justin needed our prayers. The school staff needed our prayers. We needed our prayers!
And pray we did. Intimately and openly, with tears running down our faces. Justin lost his battle several days later but we continued to pray, for the family and friends left behind. We still continue to pray. He has left a hole in our hearts that will not be filled again until we see him in heaven someday. And it is right that we miss him, especially that my son and his fellow classmates miss him.
The precious part of all this to me was how readily we reached out to wrap each other up in compassion. These people whom I met for the first time as we dropped our children off at the college in August of 2013, and whom I have seen twice since then, have become a cherished community of brothers and sisters in Christ to me. I love their children and I love them. And I know they love me.
At one point I was toggling back and forth between four parents on Facebook Messenger, all of us numb with grief that one of our children had died. Yet all of us reassuring each other of the hope that he will live again, and so will we.
Sometimes life can be hard, but our special needs children at their special needs college are a miracle in progress. And our community of support, and of Twilight Barks when needed, is another life-sustaining miracle.