Friday, January 4, 2008

Post #50

Warning: If you are NOT in a good frame of mind, don't read this post!! Side effects may include, teary eyes, sniffling nose, and incessant need of tissues. Consult a doctor if these symptoms persist for more than four hours, as this may indicate a serious side effect. Melissa, this means YOU.

We have been encouraged at church recently to use the many forums, including this sort, that we have, to spread our testimony, and share our beliefs with others. So here goes.

I'm tired of "happy endings". I'm tired of the world's perspective on what a good thing is. I really wish society as a whole could be more open-minded. There was a beautiful article written in the Sun-Journal this week, front-page news even, about my little friend Savannah. She is seven, and has terminal cancer. It was a very sweet article, and did much better than I expected knowing one of the journalists first questions to her mother, Melissa was, "So do you think she's going to beat this thing?" Well, no, we are quite sure she won't. It is not because we lack faith, it is not because we don't like Savannah, and it is not because God is unkind. On the contrary, Melissa has come to terms with it as well as she has (not perfectly, but better than many expected) because God is kind, and loving. Melissa will be the first to say that throughout Savannah's illnesses over the years, she came to the conclusion that if God were to take Savannah from this life, she would be able to accept it, as long as He let her know first. Let her have the first word, be expecting it before that horrid meeting in the Doctor's office, some warning, some preparation.

God is loving, he is our Father, and as my Father hated to scold or punish me, so does our Father in Heaven. As my father mourns and cries when I am hurt or scorned, so does our Father in Heaven. If I were to lose my child, my father in this world would hold me tightly, and comfort me, as would our Father in Heaven, through the Holy Ghost, comfort my soul.

Nearly a dozen people have called Melissa in the first 24 hours since the article appeared in the paper. Many of them wanted to sell her a "cure". Others wanted to recommend THE doctor or THE healer of some sort that would save Savannah's life. Some offered treatment ideas that Melissa was already well-informed on, and explained do not work on the form of cancer Savannah has.

Why do people do this? I think that in the grand scheme of things, the desire for self-preservation is so strong, that we inflict it upon others. We were given the primal desire to live, so that we could go about our days on the Earth and experience it as we need to, that we might grow, and learn, and exercise our faith. It is so strong, that sometimes we assume that everyone around us is experiencing it as well, which would make offering ideas and suggestions the right choice.

One flaw in this thought is that this assumes a lack of drive on the part of the afflicted. It suggests that the person dealing with the impending loss is not able or willing to seek out alternatives. Melissa has plenty of time to think in the hospital, and a laptop, she can research things on the Internet for hours and hours, if she wanted to. And judging from our conversations, she has from time to time.

Another flaw here is the assumption that the doctor refuses to seek treatment at this point. On the contrary, I am quickly learning that doctors of all people are perhaps the sorest losers. They don't accept defeat with any grace, and insist on going down kicking and screaming, if they go down at all. When "conventional" medicine fails, even the strictest doctor will call in the exorcist if there is reason to think they might help.

And in the middle of all this, lies a seven year old girl who doesn't want to die, and parents who don't really want to let her go. How does one respond to a phone call with a miracle cure that has only been effective for brain tumors, not what Savannah has? With grace, if you are Melissa. With kind words, a thank you for trying, and then tears when the phone is hung up, and the caller can't hear them. Never knowing the pain they inflict, the person we assume was well-meaning will go on to call others, and probably inflict a feeling similar to, "Why can't people understand we know what we are doing? That we are already doing everything we can?"

Melissa and Savannah have touched countless lives. That sounds so vague. They have shared strength, shown children that cancer can mean death, but it does not mean that life stops. Just because a child is having chemo, does not mean they cannot ride a tricycle from time to time, even in the hospital. Savannah painted a picture, even when she was so tired she would nod off every few minutes. They have inspired programs that will serve others for years to come. They teach mothers that the nurses are friends and confidantes, that God lives, and that all prayers are answered, even if not in the way that we thought we wanted.

Savannah will move on. She will be without pain, without suffering, with a Father whose face she will be surprised to be so familiar with, and in time she will be reunited with those she loves. While we wait here on earth, we will have her faith, her example, and the memory of the countless ways Heavenly Father's children are blessed because she walked the Earth. It is a good thing, a blessing from God, and though it does STINK in so many ways, I am eternally grateful to have been a witness.

I love my Father in Heaven. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He loves me, and that He loves every person in this world. We will not be spared from grief, but we can have an endless source of comfort, if we are but willing to seek it, and accept it.


Megan said...

Well said. (this is Melissa sister) I'm so glad she has you!

Marie said...

Thanks Megan, I appreciate the feedback! I was a little worried, sometimes when I feel strongly about something my words don't come out right, but I really felt I needed to try and put it on "paper".

Kim said...

This is so beautiful. I never knew you had such a gift with words. Thank you for being an instrument in His hands.
I hope that atleast one of those who are "meaning well" could learn such a great lesson.

Jaime said...

Thank you, for this perspective, I'm afraid I'm a fixer too, and it's often forgotten that some things cannot be fixed but must be accepted, and yes I have the tissues handy. My best to Savannah and her family and to everyone who will be so sad when this part of her journey is done, myself included. Even without knowing the child or her family it is easy to be affected by the thoughts of what this young family is going through. Try to remember we fixers aren't trying to cause pain and we advise out of our empathy many times forgetting that the greatest hope we can give is really affection and comfort, and as you pointed out, we often don't realize the advice causes more pain than good, when a hug or a kind word or gesture would mean so much more than our words of "so called" wisdom. So tho' I haven't met them, please hug them once for me.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Well said. The Hurley family has a strong faith and belief. They know that there is a Reason, a Season and a Time for Everything". Savannah has touched more lives than she knows. May the good Lord give them all KNOWLEDGE, UNDERSTANDING and COMFORT everyday.

Betsey said...

Amen. Marie, you are beautiful, thank you for the lives you touch.I feel His love when I am near the Hurley's beacuse of the peace that they have found even through this trial. We are all loved beyond measure, if only we would let ourselves listen and feel.

Karen said...

Hello Marie - "Your words are very inspiring to me." Thank you. I am Savannah's Great Unlce Gary's daughter from Connecticut. Savannah will always be in my thoughts, heart and prayers.