I had other plans for my post tonight, but sometimes life takes a different course. I just finished reading a Caring Bridge update from the daughter of a very good friend. It was one of those posts that both breaks your heart and feels like a punch in the stomach at the same time.
You see, my friend’s daughter has been fighting a battle against inflammatory breast cancer for nearly the past three years. She was diagnosed in stage III in early 2009 and after treatment, was found to be without evidence of disease in September of that year. Just a short 364 days later, she was diagnosed in stage IV with finding of cancer in her bones, lungs and lymph nodes in September of 2010.
Here we sit just over a year later and she has bravely fought more aggressive treatments, constant pain, and total upheaval. She has fought this battle bravely, positively, and confident at every turn that healing would be found.
Tonight’s post was different.
It wasn’t exactly a white flag of surrender, because it’s obvious that her spirit doesn’t want to surrender. But it was a glimpse into a heart that is tired of fighting and realizes that barring a miracle, victory is not to be had. It was her almost apologetic message of update to friends and family, unwilling to leave loose ends and yet not really prepared to start saying her goodbyes either. It was her brave cry out against the disease that has robbed her of so very much, and that a cure could be found. It was her thank you to those who have stood by her side over the past three years, phrased with just a touch of bittersweet humor in her usual way.
Then I read her final sentence, in which she sets a goal for herself – a different kind of goal than any she’s set before. Her goal – to reach her 38th birthday in just a few months.
With those words, my heart was crushed, twisted, and torn all at once.
I turned 38 just a few days ago, so although it wouldn’t make it any different or easier had my friend’s daughter been any other age – it was at once like reading a life story that very well could have been my own, and yet for some reason it is not the path that God chose for me or for my family.
I was immediately humbled and convicted.
How can I complain and lament about things that are so insignificant in comparison? I know you’re not “supposed” to compare, but how is it possible NOT to do that sometimes?
Then I thought about a friend’s facebook post last week, where he mentioned having witnessed a horrific traffic accident that took three lives – a man and his two children – and left his wife and another child in critical condition. A family of five becomes a family of two in mere seconds.
Finally, I thought of another friend’s post just two days ago that her life has been forever changed with the news that her brother, who bravely served our country, was killed in the line of duty on Saturday morning.
Four lives gone, one life hanging in the balance – and countless lives impacted forever. How fragile life is, how quickly it can all change for eternity.
Tonight, I am grateful for life – my life and the lives of those I love. I am grateful that, as chaotic and sometimes stressful as it is, my life has brought me where I am today. I’m grateful for the many blessings that surround me. And I am grateful that I got to wake up, to breathe, and to move today – and pray that tomorrow will greet me with the same privilege.
As the day ends, I will get down on my knees and pray for each of these families. May God comfort and strengthen them, as only He can.
Too, I pray for my friend’s daughter, her husband, and my sweet friend. It was an honor for me to work with my friend on the same team for a few years and is still an honor to call her friend. How hard it must be to watch your daughter suffer and face an increasingly painful and difficult battle.
I pray for miracles. God still performs them every day, you know. So I pray that if it’s in His plan, He will heal my precious friend’s daughter. And if it is not in His will, I pray that He will allow her to reach that 38th birthday that has become a milestone for her to look toward – and that she’ll spend it surrounded by love and the knowledge that she’s made a difference.
And I pray for you. Yes, YOU. You, my blog friends whom I know and love. But also you, my blog visitors who just happened to stumble over here and read my post today. I’m praying right now for every person who reads this that God would give you a special reminder of the beauty in the life He’s given you today. And if there’s a specific way that I can pray for you, please comment and tell me how – it would be my privilege to lift you up before God today.