When hearing the word “hero”, the average person thinks of Batman, Superman, or any other superhero out there. Just the other day I was asked if I had a hero, someone I looked up to or admired for any particular reason. As cliché as it sounds, my first thought was Jesus because of all he sacrificed for us. Sure, I can think of several people I admire a little more than others for little things that really stand out, but there wasn’t anyone that automatically jumped out at me. Perhaps it’s because I can be a little too cynical and over analyze anyone’s place in my life, or somehow justify their “greatness”. Or, maybe I’ve just never placed that high of title on anyone because we’re all fallible and I felt that maybe I’d be let down if I expected too much of them.
Well, as I reminisce this day last year and the heartbreak that occurred, I think I’ve discovered someone I consider to be a real life hero. She’s the amazing mother of little Isabel who was called home last May 3rd after a year-long battle with DIPG. I know she would disagree with me in this honorary title, but from my eyes, and those around her, she truly is. She not only fought daily for her daughter and did every possible thing she could to take care of her, she did it with great faith. Her husband Jonas, and other daughter, Molly, are also great champions in my eyes. They are, to me, the epitome of unsinkable faith (as I’ve mentioned in a previous post), and that same tenacity to save their own daughters life has carried on even after her passing. They support other families who are going through the same thing and are their warriors of faith. She and her family have done some great things for the DIPG community and it has become her passion to find a cure. To say she’s relentless is an understatement. It truly is a most beautiful thing when God takes your pain and uses it for something amazing. To see her heart for other people is probably the most encouraging thing to witness.
Tonight, as I recall so vividly the day I found out about Isabel’s diagnosis, I sobbed like I did the day little Isabel went home. I don’t fully understand the reason God has given me a special place in my heart for this particular family, but empathy is a great tool to grow spiritually, and so, I’m thankful. Thankful that I can have a small understanding of what they’re feeling and be able to offer genuine prayer and condolences. It’s not every day you meet such incredible people who endure great hardship with their faith intact. And it’s not every day you get to be a part of a journey that’s filled with fear, doubt and questions, or get to be a part of a community that truly loves and prays for one another.
Sometimes words elude me when it comes to people who are grieving, I guess I’m afraid to say the wrong thing or fear that I won’t be able to say anything at all. And at the beginning of this journey, I didn’t know what I should do or how I could help, I felt like I was inadequate to offer anything beneficial. Looking back, I do wish I had trusted my instincts more and just put myself out there. Perhaps God used this as a lesson for a future experience, or maybe that’s why He’s allowed me to grieve right along with them. Clearly there’s no comparison to actually experiencing such a painful trial, but I think God uses situations to teach us lessons about life we wouldn’t otherwise learn. All I know is I consider myself lucky to know such selfless people, the world needs more of them!
I’m sure I mentioned in my post last year about Isabel, but the song I heard the day I found out about her diagnosis was, “You Won’t Let Go” by Michael W. Smith. As I listened to the song on repeat tonight, the words spoke to me differently than that day. The first line in the song says:
No shadow comes without the light making a way…
It shook me to my core and all I could think about was being in my car that day and how somehow I just knew Isabel would meet Jesus sooner than we all hoped. I wanted to be optimistic and pushed any conflicting thoughts or doubts away from my mind, but something deep within me knew, and so I wept uncontrollably while the song played. I guess God was preparing me for the journey ahead and revealed to me a small part of His plan, yet again, I’m not sure why me.
Thinking about Jennifer & Jonas, and how this life altering event has changed so many plans they had in their hearts for their daughter, I can’t help but feel heartbroken for them. And I know they don’t want that, but the mom in me can’t help it. As they celebrate Isabel’s “Angelversary” today, Jennifer has asked for everyone to share a photo of yourself or your kids making a heart with your hands. Such a simple, small gesture to show your love and support for what Isabel went through, as well as all the other kids fighting their own battle with DIPG. Childhood cancer is probably the worst thing that could happen to a family. It needs more attention and funding, it needs a cure!
To find out more about Isabel’s hero of a mom, dad, and sister, check out their Facebook page in honor of Isabel and see how you can help fund research for a cure. Don’t forget to share your photos with the following hashtag #isabelangelversary.
To read the blog I posted a year ago, click the link: Unfailing Love