A few years ago, I had a speaking engagement in Stowe, Vermont, sharing my adoptive son’s miraculous story. Waiting to go to the stage I met another speaker waiting too. She was 9 years old and dying of bone cancer. I remember her never taking her eyes off of her 2 year old rambunctious brother and looking after him as though he were the most important thing to her in the world. She had my full attention as I was completely captivated by her.
Her frail body wobbled to the microphone due to her prosthesis from an amputation caused by her disease. Her shiny bald head from chemotherapy glimmered from the spot light. She shared her story and her story was compelling. Knowing her life was on a timer I expected her to be sorrowful and instead she exuded joy. Joy for the gift of this moment, joy for her little brother, joy to be in a loving family, joy of the people in pastoral care that helped her day to day, and joy for the time she had left and to share her story with all of us. Her young mother and father also impressed me with their strength and courage I asked them how they do it ? They replied, “God and our daughter” they gives us the strength we need to face the horror. Her faith, trust and peace of knowing what is waiting for her in heaven keeps us going and increases our own faith. They thank God for every given moment they have together as a family.
Well ….. needless to say this was a tough act to follow. I was so mesmerized by this family that I had trouble focusing on the questions people were asking me after my talk. I couldn’t take my eyes off of that little girl and her family. I couldn’t wait to be finished so that I could go to her and talk with her again. My heart broke for them especially her mother. As a mother of three children I couldn’t help, but feel her pain in spite of her courageous words. Behind her eyes I could see a mother’s anguish and pain. Writing this I still feel it and it makes me tear up.
I recently learned that she had passed away and the news made me sad, because I had hoped and prayed she would survive. However, through that sadness I felt joy. For I know that she left her mark in this world. She came and conquered what God had planned for her short life. I know that everyone who came into contact with her had their lives changed for the better. She was remarkable and brave. I have no doubt she is still looking after her brother from a place that she no longer has pain, where she has all of her limbs, her hair, and she is happy. I share this story with you to remind you how precious your life is. How important it is to love and to have joy, for it is through these, that we have the courage to face our challenges in life. Dakota, that was her name, and she knew that the present moment is alive and a gift filled with blessings. May we like her, recognize that and enjoy our lives in each precious moment as a gift given only by God and to treasure it.