Holding Space

With Shelly Vaughn

“Life is such a big word”

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“Life is such a big word.”
That’s what Liana said to me in a quiet conversation last night before bed. I don’t think she realized quite how profound it was.

Let me back up to Thursday this week. It was our anniversary and Rob and I spent the day having fun at Cedar Point. He had never been there and I was there once as a teenager. Taking a day off to laugh and hang out was the perfect thing for us.

Although the analogy is cliche, I can’t not use it here: The roller coaster of emotions that day was as extreme as the real coasters we had just ridden.

After we were home and the girls were in bed, I heard some devastating news about a friend of mine. She’s a fellow breast cancer survivor and her daughter is one of Olivia’s best friends. I may have mentioned in the past that I’ve always felt like our girls were meant to be in class together (along with one other close friend of theirs) because all 3 of their moms have been through cancer. Julie Nawrocky Reis was 5 years out from hers, I was diagnosed in 2017, and Jen was diagnosed shortly after me. It’s a unique thing for 10 year old girls to bond over, but special that they had each other and could relate to each other in a way that other little girls don’t understand.

Jen went through all of the difficult treatments and surgeries last year and heard just a couple of weeks ago that her MRI was clear! She was excited to move forward with life. And her heart was 1,000% devoted to her daughter, Mariah.
But she had a sudden illness hit her this week and was hospitalized on Wednesday. We heard Thursday night that she had passed away. Sudden, shocking, heartbreaking.

Telling Olivia about this yesterday was one of the saddest conversations I’ve ever had with anyone. She keeps crying and saying that she’s so sad for her friend, Mariah. And she doesn’t know how someone can live without a mom. See… heartbreaking.

I will update more on myself another day soon. I’m fine.

But today, please keep Mariah in your prayers. There’s a sweet little girl today feeling what it’s like to wake up without her mom. Jen’s fun-loving spirit will always be remembered. And our community will do our best to support Mariah as Jen would want us to. But the silent conversations with herself at bedtime and when she’s feeling lonely or confused can only be healed and encouraged through God’s voice. So please pray for her today.. and tomorrow… and every time you think of it.

Liana was so right- “life” IS a big word. A big deal. A big thing to grasp. So big that our minds can’t figure it out (at least mine can’t). But I know that right now I’m thankful for another day on this earth. It’s a beautiful day in Ohio, so I’m off to enjoy it with some family time.

Love and hugs to everyone.

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