Saturday, August 12, 2017

These are OUR friends now...

I have known about this beautiful family for many months now.
I have learned about them, prayed for them and been in the loop on updates.

Their precious 3 1/2 year old daughter Abigail was diagnosed with cancer, stage 4 neuroblastoma. 

We hadn't even been in NYC for 24 hours when we took the Metro to the Children's Hospital to visit this sweet girl, sitting in a oversized wheelchair and wearing a hospital gown.

I was overwhelmed by how tiny she was. Her Mom was absolutely stunning and looked to be about my age. Suddenly, this was no longer a friend of a friend, a picture on Facebook and group prayers. All of a sudden, everything in me ached and a strange familiar fighter rose within me. My own Abigail was just 2 years old when she underwent surgery. It had been a constant battle since she was two weeks old. Fighting doctors on how to treat her, searching for answers. Our battle outside of the medical world also consisted of being a 23 year old Mom, a year old newly-wed, a husband who lost his job just 3 days before this wild child was born, severe financial struggles and searching for our place to serve in missions. Never could I have anticipated the depths of depression and level of fight within me during those first 6 months, that continued for the first several years of her life.

Visiting Abigail at the hospital a few days after they removed two large tumors from her tiny body.
We use this expression "my heart goes out to you" when tragedy hits someone and we are helpless to do anything to relieve them. However, when I came face to face with this beautiful Mom and her tiny little girl, I no longer felt my "heart go out to them." Suddenly, the Momma Bear within that I quickly learned to become for my own daughter 7 years ago rose within me. I didn't feel weak with sorrow and helplessness to try to "fix" this situation, but to press on, fight, love hard and support. Those words really are weak compared to what I was experiencing.

This little one had just had two massive tumors removed from near her spine and near her ribs. When I saw the pictures of their size, I couldn't understand how they fit in that tiny frame of a girl. This precious girl has undergone chemo, radiation, surgery and more time in a hospital than a 3 year old ever should.

And her parents.
So brave and strong.
They had to move in the midst of this, and Abigail's Mom had to quit her job to care for Abigail.

The day after Abigail was discharged from her surgery, her parents invited us over for dinner. I heard that her Mom was eager to cook for us, but didn't know how to cook "American." She was relieved to hear that we not only eat Nepali food, but we prefer it. (Because really, after eating Nepali food, why would I crave any other food types?)

We walked into their studio apartment where we met Abigail's Dad. Craig and I both agreed that we couldn't think of a more joyful and smiling man we had ever met.
Joy was how we described him. His daughter has cancer, just had surgery and they have faced unbelievable hardship in a compact time period. Yet, he is joyful. Suddenly, our current stresses and heartache felt so small. If he could be overwhelmingly joyful, why wasn't I?

Their home quickly filled with laughter as Abigail's Dad pulled out pieces of paper and began making origami. Our kids became enthralled with origami creations back in January when we learned about it at the Museum of Life and Science in Durham, NC. Little did he know, this was a sure way to our kids hearts! He whipped up an origami camera and our kids got such a thrill out of "taking pictures" with their new toy! He shared a funny story about making origami boats and putting ants aboard. He would place them in a puddle and have ant boat races. Our Abigail thought this was the best thing she had ever heard. I'm fairly certain that she has retold this story about half a dozen times to people since.

That night, just before I crashed in bed, I couldn't understand it. Their daughter was just discharged from the hospital. Their 3 year old has pretty serious cancer. All that fatigue and stress was enough reason to want to be home and just rest. Yet, they wanted to have us for dinner. Honestly, in a season of pain and suffering, how eager am I to express hospitality?

I was nervous about how our kids would react to seeing a beautifully bald little girl in the hospital. Our 7 year old was filled with compassion, while our 4 year old boy has since told people about his friend Abi who "broke her leg and was at the doctor" after all, he's 4 and for some reason associates going to the doctor with broken limbs.

I didn't consider how seeing this girl, meeting her parents and building a relationship with them was going to affect me. I miss them. My heart is filled with an ache when I think of them. My prayers for this family have gone from a polite passive request for God to heal their daughter, to a demanding plea. These aren't just a friend of a friend anymore, they are our friends. Our friends daughter that we are pleading with God to spare her life, and quietly asking God to use this tragedy to further His Kingdom.

I would love it if you took a moment to check out their Go Fund Me page and consider making any donation amount to help this family.

Abigails + Abigail + Jakob
Abigail painting Abigail's nails.

Sweet girl only wants to eat when Silvanus feeds her.

Abigail's Dad started making orgami. The kids LOVED it!

Abigail and Jakob put on a show with their origami camera.
Our sweet friends posing for the origami camera.