Climbing the rock mountain during daughter’s fight

Published 10:22 am Thursday, March 16, 2017


The time between a cancer diagnosis and starting treatment is gut wrenching, shocking, scary, and heartbreaking. The first thought is, “This can’t be happening!” and the second thought is, “Will I make it?”

When my child was diagnosed with cancer in 2011, it was such a thunderbolt I thought there was some cosmic mistake. How could a 37-year-old, tiny, mother of one with no family history be diagnosed with cancer? Surely, this is wrong.

However, within 24 hours, our family’s world as we knew it was tossed aside like a twig in a wind storm. The diagnosis was correct and begging God began.

Every day for weeks all I did was beg. I would take a daily walk down the Florida streets where my daughter lived, repeating, “Please, please, God, please.”

Those days were cast in granite as the worst days of our family’s collective lives. Those days of not knowing and having to learn. Those days of screaming, crying, and begging. Those days of complications, deciding treatment courses, seeing doctors and hand holding.

The day that you must tell a six-year-old that her world is no longer pain-free. The days that you must watch the heartache unfold before your eyes as the reality of living and losing becomes almost unbearable.

I can’t tell you exactly when I had the dream, but it was one of those restless, exhausted nights that followed one of those days.

The dream began with my struggle to climb up a rock mountain. Each boulder was sharp and angled with different cuts and jagged edges. I started to climb, desperately knowing I had to reach the summit. I would turn a ridge and scrape my knees and cut my hands, but determined, I kept lifting myself toward the top.

Everything was gray. The sky, the rocks, the air. There was no sun, no rain, no clouds of white, no sign of life.

I finally saw the top of the mountain. I stopped on a large rock surface and was on my knees getting ready to climb up when I knew I could go no further. I was stopped about 20 feet from the top.

There was a large figure of a man dressed in gray looking upward toward the heavens of doom above him. He looked to be the actual crest of the mountain as if carved of stone himself.

I did not want him to be real. In his arms was a lifeless woman. Her arms dangled from her side, and her hair fell toward the ground in damp gray strings. He held onto my lifeless daughter and looked upward to a gray sky as tears ran down his cheeks. I wanted to scream, yet, no sound came from my mouth.

I couldn’t retrieve her from the man. I couldn’t beg for her to come alive. All I could do was look to the God above me as he lifted her up. When he did, His eyes met mine.

Not a word was spoken, as I knew her life was in His hands. She belonged to Him. There was nothing I could do. I started to climb back down into the green of the world below without her, and that is when I woke up.

I was covered from head to toe in perspiration. Tears were falling down my cheeks and I tried not to openly sob. I was shaking so violently that I thought I would wake my granddaughter lying beside me.

The next morning the dream haunted me as I drank my coffee. With a certainty I can’t explain, I knew what it all meant and what was expected of me.

I was to boldly ask people to pray. I was to write about the experience and share it. I was to not beg God, but beg others for prayer. I began calling on people I had not conversed with in years and emailing churches that I never visited.

I reached out to my old high school class and they spread their prayers across the country along with my clients, my friends, and my family.

There was no shame in begging for me. When my daughter wanted privacy, I told her that normally I would do whatever she asked, but not this time. That was incredibly difficult. However, I knew that God knew it would be.

The prayers spread and, with it, hope and courage grew.

I sat down one morning alone and it dawned on me what the other part of the dream was about.

Our lives, as well as those we love, began with and belong to God. We don’t live in paradise so horrible things can and do happen to us. None of us are immune to sadness, loss, and heartache.

The dream of climbing the rock mountain taught me that I had to have the faith to ultimately trust God no matter how painful.

No greater love for my child is God’s love. I learned that I couldn’t control life, disease, or death. The only thing I could control was the faith, love, and obedience that I was to give the man who sits atop the mountain of life.

That was six years ago, and Heather still thrives in the green below the mountain. I never stopped writing and sharing. I also learned that there is only one person that could love my child more than her mother. It is the Father who wept with me on top of the rock mountain.