Check her out. Isn’t she super-cute?

This is our great-niece Taylyn, a little more than a year old. She is the daughter of our nephew Tayron and granddaughter of my sister-in-law Darlene.

And tragically, she is no longer with us.

She came down with a bad cold, which quickly turned into pneumonia. She died yesterday, February 12.

Tayron and his wife Lynette have two older children, a 9-year-old girl, and a 4-year-old boy. They had the horrifying task of informing them that their baby sister is gone. The rest of the family is in shock. AnJanette and I are mainly numb from the shock. How could this have happened?

A Worldwide Problem

Tragically, this isn’t exactly a rare occurrence. The World Health Organization reports that an estimated 1.4 million children under the age of five years die from pneumonia every year, making it the leading cause of death for children. Pneumonia is an acute respiratory infection that affects the lungs. The lungs are made up of small sacs called alveoli, which fill with air when a healthy person breathes. the alveoli are filled with pus and fluid when an individual has pneumonia. This makes breathing painful and limits oxygen intake. The WHO says the best ways to prevent children from coming down with pneumonia are breastfeeding infants, frequent hand-washing, reducing indoor pollution, and vaccinations.

Vaccinations

Ah, yes, vaccinations. If you want to start a fight on social media, the most effective ways to do so these days are to ask, “What is your opinion of President Trump?” and “What is your opinion on childhood vaccinations?”

There have been many more (and louder) objections to child vaccinations in recent years. Some of them are religious in nature (in the interest of being kind, I will only say I disagree with those religions). Many more are based on assumptions and concerns some parents have called out. The WHO reports that many of these concerns are unfounded.

One of the most popular theories that has made the rounds (and is still floating out there on the interwebs) is that vaccines are the cause of autism. The Center for Disease Control reports that no such link exists.

There is more evidence in favor of vaccinations. The American Society for Microbiology reported a major finding with the measles virus. There is a phenomenon known as immune memory – being exposed to all kinds of germs and “remembering” how to fight them off. ASM reported that measles can destroy immune memory, or create “immune amnesia.”

So what does all of this mean? Most people are quite set in their opinions around vaccinations, and it’s never been an issue that caused much debate in our family. Do you know how your mind can build off of one random thought? I did that when we got the news that Taylyn was gone. I thought about all of this stuff.

Moving Forward

You have probably guessed that I am in favor of vaccinations. You’re right. This is pertinent to me as I approach my 50th birthday. Life is a big circle. Comedian Bill Engvall said a few years ago that his doctor recommended he eat more Cheerios to lower his cholesterol. He said, “If I have to give up Lucky Charms, life ain’t worth living.” Then he zeroed in on the life circle. “At birth, you nurse at your mother’s breast. Then you move on to applesauce. And you see toddlers with little bags of Cheerios all the time. Eventually, you get old, lose your teeth, and eat more applesauce. Then your doc tells you to eat Cheerios for your cholesterol. So that also explains why really old men like women with big boobs. They see a trend. I mean, they call it a ‘nursing’ home, hello?”

Shots are another example. When you are born, you get a litany of vaccinations in your first years of life. Then you grow up, proceed to adulthood, and eventually get old – you know, like, 50. Then you start getting shots again. I’ll get them, mainly because I want the immunizations and I have a fairly high threshold of pain; shots never bother me.

Another thought I had after hearing the tragic news: Taylyn gets to skip out on all the rotten stuff going on these days – other potential illnesses, the constant “IF YOU DISAGREE WITH ME, YOU ARE EVIL” screaming all over social media, and evil deeds people physically inflict on each other. In that way, she’s fortunate. Of course, it still hurts, especially for Tayron and Lynette.

So good-bye, Little Princess, and I’ll see you when I get to the other side.¬†