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Little Miracles
By Dianne M. Ullrich

(Page 2 of 3)

Initially you are praying for the big miracle, a cure, with the expectation that it will happen. When you are slapped with the reality that it is not going to happen, you have to search for or find a new way to renew your faith – your relationship with God. To cope, you have to learn to recognize what I call the “little miracles” – the people, places and things that help you over the rough stops. A “little miracle” was the doctor who was sensitive to Mom’s need for hope and only gently hinted at the hopelessness of the situation. She took the time and saved the detailed explanations for private meetings with me, making sure I knew what to expect. A “little miracle” was the friend who had walked the same road and provided support when others were telling me to think of myself, to pursue my career and pay someone to care for my mother. A “little miracle” was the call from a friend who ran his own business asking, “Could you work from home and do some typing and bookkeeping for me?” He made it possible for me to provide the care my mother needed and still earn an income.

These “little miracles” eventually add up to what really is the “big miracle” – the miracle of acceptance for you and the terminally ill patient. One day Mom looked me in the eye and asked, “Do you think it’s hopeless?” It was obvious she realized things were not going to get better, yet still seemed to want reason to hope. It was no small miracle that I had the grace and wisdom to respond, “You’ve always told me nothing was hopeless if I trusted God.” She accepted and seemed pleased with this answer.

With acceptance you experience a profound sense of peace and joy. It’s nothing like the surface peace and joy that I had experienced at other times in my life. Under normal circumstances, you look outside of yourself for peace and joy. When faced with your limits, when coming to terms with the ultimate limit of death, you are forced to look inward. Your peace and joy cannot come from other people or sources; it has to come from within yourself, from a “gut-wrenching” faith that allows you to let go and accept.

It has been several years since Mom’s death. I am still awed by her and the other cancer patients I met during chemo treatments. In the face of hopelessness, they never gave up. They struggled against insurmountable odds to continue to live even when life had little quality left. More importantly, they appeared to struggle to continue giving and contributing to their families, friends, and the world in general.

When I look back at those last 18 months of Mom’s life, I am amazed that in the face of hopelessness and death, life went on as usual. We celebrated birthdays, holidays, we laughed, we cried, we did the mundane everyday tasks. A life was ending; but through it all, life went on as if nothing was happening.

Dealing with suffering, accepting my limits and life’s ultimate limit experience – death — changed me. I’m a stronger more compassionate person. More importantly, I now view life through the eyes of faith. I was somewhat cynical about theories that God never gives us more than we can handle and answers every prayer. I definitely felt like I had been given more than I could handle. He doesn’t answer every prayer – there was no cure. He does offer the gift of faith. If we accept that gift, we can handle anything — even suffering and death. If we accept the gift of faith, we do find His answers and they become ours – they become our “little miracles.”

I thought Mom was ignoring the hopelessness of her situation when she insisted that her prayers would be answered. I later realized that her confidence, her trust in God and prayer, the acceptance of that gift of faith empowered her to keep trying, to live life to the fullest against insurmountable odds. I came away from this experience certain that while life may be a gift, the greatest gift of all is faith.

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