ANN BAILEY: A special Father’s Day card sure to bring a smileI thought for a moment, and then told Ellen that even if the card wasn’t a surprise, God would love it and that if she put it on the dining room table the night before Father’s Day he would enjoy it then and again the next day, knowing that it was meant for him. That satisfied her and she finished the card.
When my daughter, Ellen, was diagnosed with leukemia three years ago this month, I was shocked, frightened and apprehensive about what the future would hold for her.
But I also believed that somehow, something good would come out of the awful diagnosis she had received and that the journey on which we were going to embark would test, and then ultimately strengthen, my faith in God. Losing my brother, Richard, to a fatal viral disease 14 years before Ellen was diagnosed with cancer had demonstrated to me how our reliance on, and faith in, God can grow if we place our trust in him during difficult times.
Stronger and deeper
I am grateful to say that during Ellen’s cancer journey, which was completed last August, she and our family, indeed, did receive many blessings. As I expected my faith was tested, and then grew stronger.
What I didn’t anticipate is how much impact Ellen’s illness would have on her own faith. I guess I thought 5 years old was too young to delve into the question of why she got cancer. However, she did wonder why and I told her honestly, that I didn’t know the answer to that but that I did know he loved her, didn’t want her to be sick and would be with her on every step of her journey back to good health.
Ellen was — and is — grateful to God for being ever-present for her and for giving her the courage to handle the pain she endured when she had cancer and during her chemotherapy treatments.
One of my most vivid memories of the depth of Ellen’s faith was a trip we took to Fargo one evening about a month after she was diagnosed with leukemia. Her fever had spiked to 103 degrees F. and her immune system was wiped out from leukemia, so her doctor told us to bring her to Fargo to be hospitalized at MeritCare Children’s Hospital where her infection would be monitored.
I was terrified that Ellen had an infection that would make her extremely ill — or worse — and was fervently praying as I sat beside her in the van. Ellen, though, was unruffled and cheerful, as she sang along to a CD of kids’ Christian music that friends had given her. As I looked at her belting out “Jesus loves me, this I know,” I felt much calmer and able to “let go” and place my own trust in God.
Ellen’s high fever and infection that night and the other trials she faced during her cancer and chemotherapy treatments brought her closer to God and she believes, without a doubt, that besides being her heavenly father God also is her friend. Each day she talks to him through the morning prayers she says before she gets up and the night prayers she recites before she goes to sleep. She asks him to protect her family, to help her to be a good girl and then thanks him for all of her blessings, which include her mom and dad, brothers and her dog, Rosebud.
Given her trust in, and love for, God, I wasn’t surprised when Ellen told me the day before Father’s Day she wanted to make a card for him. I told her that she was thoughtful and that God would like a Father’s Day card very much. She got out paper, magic markers and began to work on the card. After a few minutes, she asked me how she was going to keep the card a secret from God because he knows everything. Then she asked me where could she put the card where God wouldn’t see it because he sees everything.
I thought for a moment, and then told Ellen that even if the card wasn’t a surprise, God would love it and that if she put it on the dining room table the night before Father’s Day he would enjoy it then and again the next day, knowing that it was meant for him. That satisfied her and she finished the card.
When I saw the card the next day, I told her I was sure it had made God’s day. I know it did mine, and I hope it does yours, too.