I was about four years old the first time I recall seeing a house lit up with colourful Christmas lights. I still remember the sound of the frosty snow crunching under my feet, and the feel of my mother’s warm hand in mine as the snowflakes softly swirled about us that cool December evening. The sight of the lights reflected in the water filled me with such joy that it bubbled over to laughter.
Last Christmas I was blessed to experience once again, the feeling of seeing Christmas lights for the first time. I had just completed my last chemo session and my family pitched in to help with the decorating. It was just getting dark outside when I looked through the living room window to see my whole garden aglow. To everyone around me, it looked no different than it had for the past eight Christmases at this house. But lying on the couch in my chemo slumber, the sight filled me with such awe that it felt as if I was seeing these lights for the very first time. In that instant I understood what it meant to see the world through the eyes of a child.
I wish I could say that the feeling stayed with me, but the harsh realities of life with cancer soon replaced my feelings of joy and awe with those of fear and foreboding. While I strive to stay positive throughout my cancer journey, I will be the first to acknowledge that cancer has more “quirks“ than “perks“. The most troublesome of these quirks is the worry that the cancer might return. For the first few weeks of the new year, this thought became more of an obsession to me than a worry, and I found myself frantically searching the internet trying to find HOPE. I weighed the stats, analyzed my prognosis, and considered my odds. The more I researched, the more scared I became!
I soon discovered that the hope I was searching for was not to be found on the internet, but in the form of a letter I received in the mail. Ireland is a seven year old little girl who is preparing to make her First Holy Communion. Part of her preparation for this sacrament involved praying for the sick. After her mother showed her my blog, she decided to draw me a picture and send me a letter to help cheer me up. Ireland’s letter reads in part: “You are very brave and strong, and you remind me of my very favorite horse in the whole world, Rosie O’Grady. One time Rosie hurt her foot and she couldn’t walk very good but she tried every day to do her best….I prayed for Rosie when she was sick and she got better. I will pray for you and soon you will be better and running and playing like Rosie.”
Ireland’s letter broke the cocoon that depression had wrapped around me. She was sure that her prayers helped Rosie O’Grady to get well. She was also certain that her prayers will make me well. That is the faith of a child. Those weeks I spent living in fear and doubt did nothing to help me on my road to recovery. Those simple words from a wise seven year old did. Thank you Ireland for giving me the gift of a child’s faith.
Tip: Believe that your prayers will be answered.