February 3, 2004 - "What an Awesome Gift" by Amy Toohill
"God conceals from men the happiness of death, that they may endure life." ~Lucan
When I read this story, I thought of the people in my life who had "left" me earlier than I wanted. Amy is so very right... the imapct of our time with people like Laura is a gift that will last a lifetime.
"What An Awesome Gift"
By Amy Toohill
"She was only 16 years old", I cried! "Why does someone so young, have to die?" It was one of those questions that no one has an answer to. Well, no one, but God. Sometimes though, if you really listen carefully... He'll give you the answers.
Her name was Laura, and I'd known her since she was 14 yrs. old. That's how long she was in ChemoAngels. ChemoAngels is an organization that brings support to people with cancer. Each patient in the program is required to check in every month with the monitor that they're assigned to. I was Laura's monitor. Every month she would let me know how she was doing. So, for two years, I rode that roller coaster with her. The ups, the downs, the celebrations and the tears as she went from treatment to treatment desperately trying to fight the cancer beast! In between all the tests and the treatments, Laura just wanted to be a normal teenager. She attended school whenever she was able and she had a lot of friends! She loved hockey and became a well-known fan of the Peoria Riverman. Everyone who knew Laura, loved her. Despite her illness, Laura still seemed to find the energy to volunteer, to reach out to anyone who needed her. She was the youth chairman for Relay for Life, a personal attendant for children with disabilities, she volunteered for St. Jude and Children's Miracle Network, she was active in her church, and she even received the Young Hero Award from the Illinois National Guard. She loved life and wanted so desperately to stay.
I guess God had other plans for her. After four reoccurrences of cancer, Laura completed her final journey here on earth and finally went "Home". She fought so hard. I was so sad to hear that she passed away. It was really important to me that I went to her funeral visitation. I wanted to pay my respects to Laura's family and I wanted to say good-bye to my friend. Her visitation was from five to eight in the evening. I arrived there shortly after five. The line at that time extended all the way outside of the funeral home. I stood in line for almost two hours, that's how many people were there. Friends, classmates, hospital staff, fellow patients - it was endless. The line moved at a slow, but steady pace - but there was just so many people. She touched so many lives. And believe me, that was very clear after going to her visitation that night.
All week I had been struggling with feelings of anger and wavering faith. Wondering why someone so young, that fought so hard, had to die. Someone who should of had so many more years of life left. Who accomplished so much and touched so many people. It just didn't make sense to me. I was angry at how cold and callous cancer is. I was angry at God because I didn't understand why so many wonderful people are taken from us too soon. I walked in that funeral home with all these feelings. But you know what I walked out with? I walked out in awe. Awe in the simple fact that each and every person in there was truly blessed to have known Laura. And I thought what an awesome gift from God! He placed Laura in each one of their lives. And even though her time here was short... that "gift" of Laura's presence in their lives, that will stay with them forever. I looked around that room and each one had a story to tell. A story of how Laura touched them. It was amazing to me that someone who was only here for 16 years could touch that many people. I can only hope that when my time is finished here, that I could of touched at least half of the amount of people that Laura touched.
I walked in that funeral home that evening wondering why Laura had to die. But I didn't walk out asking that same question. Instead, I walked out knowing in the deepest part of my soul... why she lived.
Copyright (c) 2004, Amy Toohill
I feel that I am a "Work In Progress" and that each person that I meet adds something to my life... adds something to "me". Each person that crosses my path adds another piece to the final "me". Laura was one of the many "pieces" in my life. PS from Sooz - Look for Amy's writing in the new 2TheHeart book!
The Letter Box:
I really enjoyed your story and needed it to serve as a reminder that even though my hubby is not very romantic or good with holidays, he does have a "red Jello" love for me and I am lucky to be blessed with him! Thank you, Gerilee
I really could relate to Melodie Tilander's story, Red Jell-o Tears, I just read. In 1999, the man I so loved wrote me a Happy Valentine on the back of a bank deposit envelope telling me he hadn't mastered the art of buying flowers but he was practicing how to apply his foot from the gas pedal to the brake pedal. That didn't matter to me because his words on that deposit envelope left a carving on my heart like one would see on the trunk of a maple tree. I have carried this in my wallet for 5 years now. Like her past loves, we have parted, and just like Melodie, I had so wished for a second chance. This coming Valentine's Day is approaching, and like the words he wrote to me, I am the gal who wrote the recent story published on 2theHeart (January 8th) about the little chickadee~~Second Chance! It was written for him~~maybe some day he'll stumble across it and my words will penetrate his heart. Carol
Dear lady, you will probably never realize how sincerely your letters and notes to 2theHeart have encouraged all of us. I have always enjoyed reading your comments to writers and appreciate your perspectives.
This last note touched my heart, and I am praying for you, especially now that you will have your heart procedure on February 6. I hope all goes well and that you are blessed and healed. God be with you! Blessings, meg
I have received some very caring remarks about the story The Unsuspecting Messenger. Readers have a way of touching my heart with their kindness so that I feel each time that a friend is talking to me. It never fails to lift me!! I am grateful to the thoughtfulness of those readers and I am grateful to you Susan for a Web site that is set up, with a huge amount of time and effort.. and the web site is marvelous! You are an angel Susan. You share all that you have with others and you deserve blessings unlimited.
I know that your sister is looking out for you now and I know that she must smile often at the goodness that she sees pouring out of you!! I am proud of you and I am honored to be called friend by you.
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