I have an image stuck in my head; it is beautiful, bittersweet, tragic, and touching. It is something friends of mine have lived through and something I hope to never experience. It is a picture of a young girl, cuddled and cradled in her parent's arms, breathing her last and passing from the embrace of her earthly parents to the everlasting arms of her heavenly Father.
Her name is Hope. She was only five years old when cancer took over her body and away from this present reality. I met her once as a bright-eyed one year old, and have kept up with her journey only through updates that her parents sent out through Facebook. For the past three years this family has battled cancer and conquered it; only for Hope to relapse in the last year with untreatable tumors.
I don't know why their story has had such an impact on me in the past few weeks. I have read their news as they have struggled through radiation and transfusions and tests and scans and hospital stays. I don't even really know Ali and Bec personally, I have only been on the edge, watching and praying as they have traveled this hard and impossible road.
They have really inspired me in the way they dealt with this horrible reality, sharing details and being so raw and honest about everything that occurred along the way. They shared about the privilege it was to journey alongside Hope in her short life time and I really got a sense that they know she is a child of God. For Christians there is no fear or mystery surrounding death.
As I have followed their journey it has changed the way I look at my own young children. I have cherished more moments with them, and have held them more tightly even as I understand that they are a gift from God, and he holds them in His hands with a stronger grasp and a deeper love than I can ever know.
My heart breaks as I picture this image in my mind, but there is a greater one still. That of Hope in the arms of her heavenly Father, free from pain and suffering, enveloped in the overwhelming love of the one who gave her life.