Hope in a Time of Loss
by Sarah Rodriguez
Life can be a thing of beauty. I’ve seen it with my very own eyes. It was not always that way. Life has taken my family to radical depths in repeated fashion. I thought I might never know beauty again. Yet each new day, I see it blossoming before my eyes.
Let’s begin where it all began. It started as quickly as we married our lives together. We longed for a child and years of infertility had left us reeling. Then, the unthinkable, my husband was diagnosed with kidney cancer at the age of 32. He fought the disease with fierceness, enduring a surgery and one year of intense chemo to follow.
Then came a break in the clouds. Remission, a beautiful baby boy and the hope of normal life again. It was not to be. Within days of my son’s birth we found out the cancer had aggressively returned. Again we found ourselves in the battle for his life. This time we would not win. My husband Joel passed away at the age of 35.
Because of our earlier trials with infertility we had used In-Vitro Fertilization to get pregnant. After my husband’s death, there were two remaining embryos. I had a decision to make. My choice was to place this in the hands of God, surrender to His purposes and place the embryos in my womb. I became pregnant, giving birth to a beautiful baby girl named Ellis.
Life was perfect for her first two weeks of life, blissful really. Then it turned on a dime, yet again.
My beautiful daughter Ellis woke up lethargic. Concerned I took her to the pediatrician, who had her transferred to a hospital. By the end of the night my daughter was on a ventilator, diagnosed with bacterial meningitis and fighting for her life.
Once again my family was thrown into the depths of despair, as fear and sorrow abounded. How could we lose what we had only recently received? It seemed unfathomable.
But the story was not over yet.
Ellis quit breathing along with her vent and a difficult decision was made to remove her from it. We gathered to say our goodbyes as I held her in my arms, weeping. Then our present ashes were resurrected, bringing beauty back to life again.
By miracle of miracles she lived…and now she thrives. The beautiful baby has grown into a spunky toddler, doing all the things they said she never would and spreading sunshine in her wake.
It’s not ever how I would’ve written the story, had the pen been mine to hold. I, of course, would have chosen an easier path. Yet it is in the lowest moments I’ve seen Him face to face. He has walked before us every step of the way, leading us to higher ground, to a joy that defies, to a hope that inspires…to a life that is beautiful.
Sarah Rodriguez is an author, speaker and blogger at www.journeyofsarah and the Huffington Post. She is the founder of the Choose Joy Project a “random acts of kindness” initiative to honor the life of her late husband, Joel. Her life’s greatest role is that of Mommy to Milo and Ellis. Sarah is a one-time NYC transplant who now makes her home in Oklahoma, where the best sunsets on earth are found. Her memoir, From Depths We Rise, released on October 1.
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