A Woman with Cancer, a Friend with Secrets, and the Letters that Became Their Miracle
“I’m going to have a miracle.”
I strained to hear her words, thin whispered sounds she wheezed with each ragged breath. “I need you to help me believe it.”
Deb didn’t say what the miracle would be, only that she was certain she would have one.
After we finished praying, Deb declined all offers to make meals, clean her house, or run errands. When we asked what we could do for her, she said, “Send me encouraging words, and believe in my miracle.”
Encouraging words was something I could do.
The first day I sat down to write Deb, I struggled with finding words other than “I believe in your miracle.” What could I say that was encouraging when Deb’s doctors weren’t? For ten days, I e-mailed Pollyanna snippets that sounded hollow, my words echoing my lack of faith in her miracle.
The day Deb received the news she had a brain tumor that had to be removed before her lung treatments could start, I felt dizzy thinking about how she’d stay hopeful with two cancers to fight. I knew Deb was strong. She was tall and athletic, played on a women’s hockey team. She was also a woman of faith and could fight this battle mentally and physically, but cancer in her brain and lungs had to be terrifying.
That’s when my letters changed.
I didn’t know how it felt to have cancer, but I knew about fear. I thought of all the times I was afraid of things out of my control, things I might have shared with Deb if we had been closer friends or if we’d had more time. So I began to tell her. I wrote about my divorce and how I didn’t see it coming. I wrote about getting caught shoplifting and about the best dancer I knew, who was a man with no legs. When Deb responded, “No matter how sick I feel your letters give me something to look forward to,” I kept writing. She was too sick to eat, but not too sick to read. Deb’s illness gave me the chance to press my face against the window of my life, and what I saw was startling—I saw miracles that had been waiting for me to give them a voice.
From Dear Deb. © 2012 by Margaret Terry. Published by Thomas Nelson. Used with permission. All rights reserved.
Are you—or someone you know—battling cancer? Do you have a story about how someone supported and uplifted you during your illness? Have you, like the author of Dear Deb, found a way to encourage someone dealing with this disease? Please share in the comments below—your story may help someone help someone else on their journey.
Story by story, letter by letter, Margaret Terry uncovered powerful pictures in her own life of the one truth that could help carry her friend Deb from this life to the next: God is at work. Together, Deb and Margaret found renewed hope in all the ways God shows up right to the very end. Which is where they found the miracle they’d been praying for all along.
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