I’ve talked about my church before. How it’s a “big” church. And how much I love it.
For the past 10 weeks, the pastor of my church and his family have been going through the nightmare that is a sick child. Ava, the granddaughter of my pastor, was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer, had a tumor removed, developed hydrocephalus, had a shunt placed, and the tumor grew back. Our entire church, and people from all over the world spent those weeks praying for healing. Ava was healed, but not on this side of Heaven. She went to be with Jesus last weekend.
Ava’s father, Josh, asked that those who have been touched by Ava’s life tell him how and why. So, in addition to leaving my comment, I’m blogging about Ava. And what she’s done for me.
Ava reminded me…
Ava and her family reminded me of something very important that I often forget: Donovan is not mine. Donovan belongs to Jesus. God has, for some reason, trusted me with one of his most precious children. A child that is not typical – he is extraordinary. When we are facing the challenges of a sick child, we ask God, “why me?” because we are in despair and feel helpless. I now ask “why me?” because I feel blessed. How much God must love my family and I that he gave us Donovan to watch over and take care of. He trusted us to take care of him and love him best, so that he may fulfill the mission he was sent here for.
Ava gave me peace…
When I worry about Donovan, it’s not because of anything that is going on right now – it’s because I fear the future. I fear the surgeries and the procedures and the therapies and a number of other things. Things I don’t even know will happen. I fear the unknown. Donovan’s three surgeries were performed in his first six months. He had no concept of what was going on, or that needles were scary, or that what he was going through was major. As he gets older, it’s going to be harder. He cries just because they measure his head circumference. I am panicked at the thought of having to hold him down while they insert an IV.
Watching Ava go through this, through the eyes of her father, gave me peace. She handled it so well. She was brave and resilient and even joyous at times. I wasn’t there for the scary moments, of which I’m sure there were many. But I know that she was not damaged because of it. She still trusted in God. She was still a five-year-old.
Knowing this has given me a great deal of peace. I know there are scary times in our future. It’s just a fact. But I know now that Donovan will be okay. He will not hate us for allowing scary things to happen, and he will not have a broken spirit because he has no choice.
Ava gave me perspective…
Spina Bifida and Cancer are not the same. Not even close. I still get to have my son here with me, while Ava’s family is missing her in a way I cannot even fathom. Donovan’s birth defect may not have a cure, but he is still here. Just because something has a cure, does not mean it works. It does not mean life.
It’s very easy to wish for another reality. A reality without neurosurgeons, urologists, nephrologists, orthopedic surgeons and therapists. A reality that my son could go play on a playground without my help. A reality that does not include constant fear that his shunt is not working. But all of those things don’t change the fact that he is here with us. I’m sure Ava’s family would gladly take our reality if it meant there angel were still with them. But, 12 weeks ago, I probably would have wished for theirs.
God chose my reality for me. I should not question that. I should accept it and be at peace with it and enjoy it. I don’t know what the future holds or how long I will get with my son. But I will no longer question the hard things I go through because that’s what was planned for me. I will be thankful for just being given another day with my son and my family, no matter how hard that day may get.