A few years ago when I started my “official” Journey For LIFE (which was actually a fitness fundraiser to help pay for my kids’ trip to the Christian Missionary conference called L-I-F-E, I began a “blog” of sorts with the people I asked to sponsor me as I began a journey for fitness. In my request for sponsorship, I committed to publish a weekly newsletter to let them know my progress – as kind of an accountability measure. At first, the newsletter was simply about my diet and exercise, but it evolved over time to include some other articles, etc. I also committed to praying for each one of my sponsors, and they began to share with me ways I could pray for them, so I began to know some of the things going on in their lives. As I reflected each week, preparing for the newsletter, I was struck by the fact that while some were absolutely on a mountaintop, others were deep in the valley of despair. I wanted to celebrate with those who are celebrating, and mourn with those who were mourning.
I mentioned to you the blessings that I experienced over the weekend… and quite honestly, the few that I mentioned cannot even begin to describe all of what’s been going on in my life lately.. but there will be time for that later. In the same time as that, our oldest daughter, who is away at college, told us about her friend’s roommate…
Araella (a-RAY-la) was a senior in high school when doctors discovered that she had breast cancer. She fought it then, and was currently enrolled at in college, where she dormed with two other girls. Over the past month, she began not feeling well, but was afraid to get a scan to see if her cancer was back. Last Sunday, April 8, 2018, she woke up in excruciating pain and went to the hospital. The doctors confirmed that the cancer came back and had spread to her lungs and her bones. The doctors said there was nothing else they could do for her. On Tuesday, they moved her out of the dorm, and told her roommates that she would not be back.
On Wednesday, she Face-timed her roommates, and they prayed together. Araella had a strong faith, and knew that when she passed away, she would be in Heaven. Her roommate, Gabby, said that she felt like the Holy Spirit was in their midst and they were all filled with peace. Throughout the week, she said that she had glimpses of what Heaven looked like, and was excited to go, although sad to leave her friends and family.
On Sunday, April 15, Araella passed away, just one week after finding out her cancer was back. Before she died, as she was being wheeled down the hallway at the hospital, laying on a gurney, asking nurses if they knew Jesus.
Ironically, Sunday, April 15 was the university’s Relay for Life, an event dedicated to people who have fought and are fighting cancer. In the different categories of activities, they display names of people who are “still fighting” and those who are “remembered”. During the event, they removed Araella’s sticker from the “still fighting” category and moved her to the “remembered” category, as her university friends grieved the news.
I know that to be absent from the earth is to be present with the Lord, and I am happy for Araella, knowing that she is forever present with Jesus, but my heart is heavy today. I’m grieving the hole that her absence leaves behind in the lives of those who knew and loved her. In the midst of life is death.
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