I just finished reading the book Heaven is for Real: A Little Boys Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back Todd Burpo and Vincent Lynn Vincent. It's a true account of a little boy who went to went to Heaven while undergoing an emergency appendectomy. Just a warning - if you haven't read this book and want to, this post is full of spoilers so you might want to skip it.
Now, I understand this book might not be for everyone, agnostics, atheists, non Christians (since the boy says he met Jesus there) but the fundamental meaning in the story applies to just about everyone. God (by any name you want to call Him) loves us.
I also cried through most of the book. When this takes place the boy is exactly the same age Connor is now so it's hard for me to not picture him when I'm reading the story. Two things struck me about this story that I'd like to share.
One day the boy tells his mom that he met his sister while in Heaven. This sister was a baby his mom miscarried before he was born. He describes her and also notes that she didn't have a name (since the parents hadn't yet named the baby)
I automatically thought of Violet and of the baby I lost in December '05, the one we didn't name. I first thought, geez, I hope Violet is a girl because if he's a boy and I saddled him with a name like Violet he's probably not too impressed. But it also I thought about how it warmed my heart - to know that one day (many, many years from now, God willing) I will be able to hold my babies in my arms and hug and kiss them the way I never could.
I also thought about something the father (and author) described. You see, he'd undergone a lot of trials, a severely broken leg, kidney stones and a breast cancer scare (for himself, he had a mastectomy - ironic huh?) But then things started getting better and he was thinking his 'time of testing' was over. But he commented that often times in life, the blow you don't see coming is the one that knocks you out.
If I look at this in my own life, the miscarriages, the problems in my marriage...these were my tests. Tests of my will, my strength and my faith that He would get me through. Losing my Dad was a terrible event but He answered my prayers. I asked that my Dad didn't suffer and I don't think he did. It was far too quick. I have proof in my life that God answers prayers - he's sitting on the couch 10 feet from me. I prayed for a baby and at the last minute, when we thought we'd lose him too I prayed for God to not take him. And He didn't.
And so my life made a turn. After my Dad died things settled down. Our family was complete, Sean and I were better than ever, I had my dream job and new friends and a great life.
BAM. Cancer was the knockout punch - the one I didn't see coming.
Despite how this all sounds, I'm not an overly religious person. I don't go to church on a regular basis - I rarely go at all. My faith is more internal, personal. It's deep, don't get me wrong and based on what I've learned from the Catholic church but adjusted to my own feelings about life and God.
This book gave me a lot of hope. Life has a way of tearing you down and coming back up is a true testament of your character. Your strength and faith that everything happens for a reason supports that character and that fight to get back up.
I have some really bad days - more so since my back pain became so bad. Sometimes I find it hard to imagine that I'll ever feel good again or to remember a time when I felt good and not afraid. But what keeps me going (besides my kids) is my faith that prayers are answered.
I want so much to hug my angel babies. I want to hug my Dad again, my Grandma and all the others who've gone before me.....but not yet and not anytime soon. I'm not finished hugging my babies here and the rest of my family and friends. I pray every day that I will beat this and I know others are praying for me too. And I fully believe I will. (okay, in fairness I do have my moments of doubt, I think that's probably just human nature) but overall, I am equal to the task ahead of me. I will fight cancer and I will beat it. My faith in myself and Him will remain strong and unshaken. I'm tough.
I highly recommend reading this book, even if you are not a spiritual or religious person, it's a good read. And for me, I couldn't have picked a better time to read it - it renewed my strength of will.
I will beat cancer. I have to. I have too much to live for.