In this hard cold season of our deflations and discontents, one of the saddest but brightest stories is about Brenden Foster, an 11-year-old boy who suffered from terminal leukemia and whose story has been told in touching segments on CNN. Brenden was recently told he had only days to live, and his last wish was to do something special for the homeless.

This wonderful and special and extraordinary boy inspired his friends and neighbors to start local food drives to help the homeless. And as his story spread, others around the country were similarly inspired by his acts of kindness and generosity of spirit. There are hungry and homeless and hurting men and women who will be eating a little more, and living a slightly better life tonight, because this boy who acted in the image of God inspired the best in so many others.

This will be a long, hard, cold winter. There is economic trouble in the land, and hardship, and hurting for so many people, at a time of such economic distress. One can only imagine what it is like to be an 11-year-old boy, told that he has only a few days left to live.

What an extraordinary act of hope, faith and goodness that his dream for his final days was not about himself, but about others. What an extraordinary gift he gave to those who love, to inspire them to their own acts of goodness and generosity. What an extraordinary truth about the better angels of our nature that this wonderful boy used his final hours to inspire such goodness and help those who are hurting so much.

And now, Brenden Foster is no longer with us. He has passed away, and journeyed to meet his Maker. His passing is indescribably sad, but his gift is indescribably wonderful, as Brenden Foster has left us, to take his special place in heaven.