There is a little girl in our community who went to preschool with my youngest. I saw her and her mom at school and said hello in the parking lot, and that is about all I knew of them. They were just another ordinary family that I passed in the hallways at school. Until we were at preschool graduation last spring and found out that a few weeks before, she had suddenly started presenting with unusual symptoms and was at that moment in the hospital with an aggressive brain tumor.
I’ve followed her story with horror as our community rallies around her family and her parents share their grief and pain. She has two older siblings, just like my daughter, and she should have started kindergarten this year, just like my daughter. But instead she is fighting for her life.
For some reason this has been getting to me. Big time. I am often one to get teary eyed at a sad story, but I can control my emotions. Not with this. My children have caught me hiding in my room sobbing on more than one occasion. I can hardly look at my daughter without seeing pictures of that precious little girl in the hospital. And I can’t help but imagine what her parents and her sisters are going through right now.
Just an ordinary family and an ordinary kid struck down by one of life’s horrendous blows. But certainly not the only one.
There is a woman that I know, I have known her and her family since she was a teenager. I have been following her battle with cancer for years. She was originally given only months to live, but she has cheerfully and determinedly fought this beast for years with chemo treatments, trying to eek out every last day with her husband and children. I chatted with her last night, and her faith in her Savior is strong, and she is still praying for a miracle cure. I know she has dark days, but her hope is secure and her smile is firmly in place. I ache for her, as a mother who knows how desperately she wants to be here for her kids as long as she can.
A few months ago, our blogging community was stunned when we heard that one of her own lost her husband suddenly to a heart attack. I looked at a video she posted on her blog of him dancing with their daughter a few weeks before he passed away, and I wept for their pain and their lost — a man taken down in his prime, leaving behind a young family to somehow go on without him.
Over the weekend I read this story of a 12-year-old boy in the D.C. area, swept away by a flash flood this week. I do not know this family, but I have been to their blog. They are suffering this tragedy quietly, as there are no updates on the blog since she posted the children’s first day of school pictures earlier in the week.
I have an 11-year-old son. I posted first day of school pictures a few weeks ago, innocently, as did she, as did so many others, fully expecting him to live to see next week and next year and well beyond.
When I let my imagination take over, I am overwhelmed with grief. It’s all just hitting too close to home. I lay in bed one night last week, fighting back tears, thinking of this dear family whose daughter is so dreadfully ill and picturing my own precious children and contemplating how it could just as easily be me. What would it be like for my world to be suddenly turned upside down?
Just this morning I saw the Facebook update that I was dreading. She’s gone. Last night, this dear little girl lost her fight with those nasty tumors raging in her brain. I don’t know how to tell my kids. They’ve been praying for her and they ask about her often. This isn’t a conversation I want to have. There are no easy answers.
I truly believe that no matter what horrors we face in this life, God is on his throne. And I have to cling to that, because without that, there’s just no point in going on. But days like this it is so hard not to ask WHY. I realize that no one is immune to tragedy and heartache. But how do I explain that to my kids?
I know this much. Today, I will drink in my children. I’ll look at those intelligent brown eyes and those delicate freckles and those strong arms and legs, and I will take it all in and revel in it. Because that is my now. It may not be my tomorrow, but it is my now, and I am so very thankful.