Living in the Valley

My 5-year-old granddaughter lost her battle with cancer. We returned from a family vacation, where Ava was her usual playful, exuberant self, and the next day she complained of a headache. Within 24 hours, the neurosurgeon had removed a tangerine-sized tumor from her brain. The pathology report came back: GBM, the most aggressive form of brain cancer, extremely rare in children.

Our family has learned what it means to "walk through the valley of the shadow of death." Every thought, from the first dawning in the morning to the last prayer at night, was haunted by the awareness of her mortality. Our breathing was deeper but never relieving; aching is part of life still. But every moment with her was a treasure, and the deep sense of God’s care was and still is almost tangible. We would be distraught if it were not for the rest of that fourth verse of the 23rd Psalm: "I fear no evil, for Thou art with me ... "

It is startling to experience how present God was (and still is) through those who God sent to love and encourage us. We were being carried on the prayers and sympathies of those with us in spirit. Our family is very close, but it seemed like we could not take another step without the care of friends and strangers.

These days I wonder: Who has to go through things like this without ever seeing that kind of support?

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Sojourners Magazine November 2010
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