So my plan was to write about something else – something funny and lighthearted and not … this. But if I didn’t talk about it, about her, I feel as if I would be introducing you to a terrible, tragic story without hope. And in my life, as anyone who knows me, knows about me – hope dies last. Inspired by the Italian proverb, “Hope is the last thing ever lost,” it has become a bit of a mantra.
My husband and I were talking with some great friends of ours tonight over dinner, presenting questions to one another in an attempt to enrich and enliven our dinner conversation. The question was raised, “What is the most important lesson you’ve learned.” My friend said to live in the moment. This struck a particular chord with me, as all week I have been inadvertently comparing my days with my daughter, and her’s – the mother of Taina, (my student suffering with brain tumors). Because aside from the obvious age gap between them … this girl isn’t so very different from my own, and thoughts like that produce a paralyzing sadness that grips and overwhelms the moments I am living in.
I pick her up from school, my daughter, and she is surrounded by friends who hug her goodbye for the day. I see pictures of her, Taina, of her friends hugging her goodbye … for longer.
I take my daughter to the doctor for a check up, and we wait minutes for the doctor to tell us,”Everything looks great.” Taina’s mother waits in another doctor’s office, having a translator relay the details of her daughter’s impending neurosurgery.
I go to work as my daughter goes to her last day of school for the summer. Taina’s mother quits her job, to stay with her daily, at the hospital.
I choose five books for my daughter to read to me, as she is slowly developing her independence as a reader. Her mother reads to Taina, as her eyes cannot focus long enough to attempt the task.
We pick a movie to watch as a family, our cozy, weekend tradition. Taina chooses to watch the movie version of the book we are reading at school … her attempt to stay on track in whatever way she can.
My daughter’s kindergarten graduation begins, and my sweet girl parades in a small, blue gown. I am near bursting with joyous tears, then think of Taina’s mother, watching her daughter draped in a very different sort of blue gown.
My girl graduates. Her’s wonders if she will be able to.
My daughter wakes beside me, sleepy eyed and smiling after a night of snuggles and dreams. Her daughter wakes with tubes and monitors beside her, lucky to still be alive.
One tumor has been removed, as “successfully” as something like removing a tumor can be. She has some severe side effects, and another surgery is inevitable … yet Taina sends me texts, a day later, thanking me for prayers and sending me pictures of her fragile, undoubtedly painful, smile. How melancholy life and love are. How amazing that one moment I can be delighting in the momentary wonders of my daughter, and agonizing over her’s.
My friend said live in the moment, and I am trying to – trying to find a balance between faith and fear, hope and heartbreak, promises and prayers. But in the end, all we’ve got to hold onto is this one breath; Taina’s journey is teaching me, and so many others, just what a gift that is.
If you have any prayers to give, I beseech you again … please offer them. I thank you for the ones already prayed. If you would like to hear more of her story please visit Taina’s Site and consider donating to her family. Currently they have raised just over $1,000 of the already needed $50,000 worth in bills. I once read author Katie Davis say that sometimes it feels as though we are “Emptying the ocean with an eyedropper.” But you know what? Every drop counts.
I thank you for all of your comments on the previous update, and for tonight at least, I can assure you that though the battle wages on, hope continues … to die last.