Today's Gospel reading was about Thomas. One of the 12, he's sometimes referred to as Doubting Thomas. He earned that nickname after doubting that Jesus had risen from the dead. Not present when Jesus found the apostles hiding in the upper room, Thomas found it hard to believe that the Lord had tracked them down. When Thomas was told by the other apostles that Jesus had truly been there, he told them that:
"Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands
and put my finger into the nailmarks
and put my hand into his side, I will not believe."
I hadn't thought about this passage in quite some time, but hearing it at Mass this morning made me thankful for two things: I thank God that I don't need to physically see Jesus to believe that He exists, and I thank God for those people, who despite how incredibly bizarre it sounds, that they believe that Ronan was vaccine injured. I, for one, thought it a crazy notion.
Vaccine injury? COME ON! Surely that's a made up thing. I thought that because for the longest time I'd only be told that vaccines were safe and effective.
They were necessary.
They were there to help my kid.
They'd keep him healthy.
To be hurt by a vaccine? No way.
From my childhood to my early adult years, the thought of being vaccine injured never crossed my mind. Why would it? No one talked about it, and the news never mentioned it unless it was to laud them.
Vaccine injury? Pshaw. Like that would ever happen.
But it did.
Vaccine injury happens. It happened to my kid. It happens to a lot of kids. But until it happens to you, which I would never wish on anyone, it can be a hard fact to swallow.
For those who have not been personally affected but who believe that vaccine injury is possible and that it does happen, thank you. You see our kids. You see their pain. You hear our worry. You know it isn't easy for us to handle, but you find a way to make it better. And you believe.
By just believing, you make things a little bit better. Thank you for not doubting, for not belittling and for not turning away. You give people like me hope. I need that hope to continue to fight for Ronan, to continue to advocate for his needs, and to continue to want to speak up.
Speaking up is important, so the next time I hear, "Vaccine injury is real? No way!" I'll quietly reply, "Yes. Sadly, yes. As much as I wish it wasn't, it very, very real," and hope to God that I am talking to a believer.