My friend’s daughter was diagnosed with cancer – leukemia. Stephanie took Baby Girl to her pediatrician to ask about the sore on her face and that visit led to a cancer diagnosis.
Baby Girl wasn’t even two years old yet, still wearing diapers, cute frilly dresses and playing with an Elmo doll.
At Baby Girl’s birth, Stephanie and her husband learned she had Downs Syndrome. It was a surprise. I watched them as they took the shocking news as a blessing and a gift wrapped up in the beautiful skin of a newborn baby girl. I watched that baby bring their family closer together. I heard my friend’s dad say with conviction that this blessing of life has brought them closer together as a family; closer than they’ve ever been.
And now this precious baby has cancer. It’s a common statistic – a baby with Downs also developing cancer, but even statistics don’t offer enough padding when it’s you caught up in the number.
I watched Stephanie pull up strength from the depth of her being as she forged on, still getting dressed in the morning, still buying groceries for her family and doing other things life requires us to do even when we face hardship that knocks the wind out of us. I was in awe of her.
It awed me to see how strong she had become and I wondered if she recognized her own strength. She wasn’t going through the motions; she was having the experience. She wasn’t scared of the experience; she was feeling the experience in all the many facets of pain that it laid down on her path.
I watched her soften with her husband, I watched her soften in conversations with me, I watched her as she accepted this new reality that was her life. The pain was there but what was there to support the pain was love. It was tangible and I felt it as I walked into the hospital room and greeted her Baby Girl who had lost all of her hair that used to be pulled up with a pretty bow.
As I walked into the hospital room, shiny linoleum floor beneath my feet, Baby Girl lay there in a bed attached to tubes and machines that beeped. Baby Girl outstretched her arms to me and caught me by surprise. Stephanie and I didn’t see each other often, but our bond needn’t be nurtured with face time to maintain our closeness, as Baby Girl reminded me. Baby Girl let me hold her, her body warm and skin red from treatment. She nestled into me and was love. My heart broke into a million different pieces.
Why? Why? Why?
Why was this baby suffering like this? Why was her mother being brought to a place of resiliency that I bet she didn’t even know she had? What was the reason?
Baby Girl became her own hero as she recovered with the love of her family holding her up. She endured hellish treatments for the leukemia that was taking over her body. And now she is shining brightly and sharing her love (and sass, Baby Girl definitely has some sass) with her family, the kids in her classroom at school and her friends. Baby Girl is once again wearing beautiful bows to keep her pretty hair out of her even prettier face. She’s now going through her life as if nothing happened, fully healthy and recovered.
But I know that my friend’s heart - while it doubled, tripled even quadrupled in size – it was bruised. It was broken time and time again. And I watched her pick up the pieces each time and somehow the pieces she picked up were stronger than before they had fallen. It was as if she connected to a Light within her heart that fused the pieces back together, stronger. A Light that connected her to her Divinity. A Light that connected her to all that she is – lifetimes and lifetimes of her soul’s purpose coming to reach this pivotal moment in time to support and honor her daughter, her blood, her baby.
I believe we are given these occasions to rise because if not, if we have nothing to rise for, we miss out on discovering the depth of who we truly are here to be.
Out of the birth of pain comes resiliency, and we are given the gift of consideration for the glorious life we have been born into. We ponder a little deeper. We know it is not out of our reach to endure pain. We know it is something we can handle, because it is what we have been given. We march on, even on the bad days, because it’s just a matter of putting one foot in front of the other.
As I watched my friend face her worst nightmare head-on, she walked through the fire without losing her focus, without deterring from her purpose. There was a fierceness in her that I saw beyond the twinkle in her eye, behind her hospitable smile. It was the infinite power of her soul fulfilling her purpose right then, before my eyes. I was gifted the miracle of witnessing her journey.
We are not weak. We are boundless beyond our mind’s recognition. We are limitless beyond measure. We are more powerful than any emotions we hold. We are Divine beings, and if ever you question that, look at what you’ve been through and see your gifts of resiliency. Watch your friends as they pick themselves back up again and again in the name of love.
And through it all, we still enjoy the smell of coffee in the morning, the look in our daughter’s eyes, and the touch of our babies’ skin, and even more so once we’ve crossed over and through the depths of what we thought would break us. Now we know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that it is all here for us to feel and witness and be a part of. It all has meaning.
We are resiliency, love and purpose cloaked in skin and it is our stories that thread us together. The long days, the days we feel too tired to go on, those are the days that bridge us to our knowing. Those are the days that bring us to our worth. Don’t avoid them but instead fall into them and know there is Light on the other side.
Risk staying in the fire - keep walking, your soul will guide you through. Trust it. Whatever your change, challenge, hardship, or uncomfortable place, it is your gift. Tears will fall, pain will rise, and then there will be You in all your glory. A beautiful site to behold.
With so much love,