When our daughter, Veronica, received her diagnosis, many people prayed for “complete and total healing.” We truly appreciate all prayers, but we never asked people to pray for that kind of miracle. To us, it was, and always has been so obvious: Veronica is the miracle.
While I did not want these prayers for my daughter, I could resonate with people who were praying them. Before I knew my daughter, if I saw someone like her, I would probably think or act similarly. Her life involved so many hardships. She has visual, physical, developmental, and intellectual disabilities stemming from brain tumors, multiple brain tumor resections, a stroke, hydrocephalus, three and half years of chemotherapy, and more.
There have been trials from that first ER visit to every appointment, therapy, and hospital stay in between. All the places we never wanted to go, doing all the things we never wanted to do. We have touched pain and suffering that many cannot begin to comprehend. It has been so hard. So hard, words will not suffice. We have fallen a lot. We have quit a lot. We have been in isolation and darkness more than I would even like to admit.
After years of raising, loving, and learning from my daughter, I started to be more aware of God’s presence in these unfamiliar places.
My daughter, Veronica, carries a lot of crosses. But she is not a cross. Veronica means “true image,” and she is just that.
Every moment I have experienced since my daughter’s birth, God has always been present. Meeting all the children with cancer, bald but smiling. The horrible news. The joyous news. The mom with three kids with disabilities who still asks how she can help us. The faith formation director who doesn't really know us but somehow is ok entering into our pain. The day of the diagnosis. The first day of chemo. The hardest seasons when there seems to be absolutely no end in sight. The last day of chemo. The first time in four years we went on a vacation. The friends with autism who cannot speak but share their joy through their very being. The child who will never walk but can bust the best dance moves at the therapy clinic. The mom who lost her son after a six-year battle with cancer but still wanted to accompany us to Veronica's chemotherapy appointments. The unexpected call from a friend. The people who couldn't handle it. The people who stayed. The people who really stayed. The people who unknowingly pierce my heart with their ignorance. The people who unknowingly show up when we have nothing left. The neurosurgeon who said, "There is nothing you could have done to have caused this."
When asked to share about Veronica’s gifts for this blog post, I found myself speechless. My beautiful daughter is heaven on earth to me. How can I put that into words?
I have always been struck by her perseverance to meet new challenges: learning to walk; going through three and a half years of chemo without being able to verbally tell us what she needed; being able to rest in our arms even when she was in terrible pain; going to school; learning to speak. Would I have the strength to accomplish what my daughter has? I am not sure. I am impressed by her ability to perceive others’ emotions. While often communicating without many words, she knows when someone is uncomfortable around her, and she will respond accordingly. She doesn’t waste time trying to please others. More than anything, she knows who she is and to Whom she belongs. I try to emulate the peace that she has with herself every day.
Veronica brings me so much joy because she loves like Jesus. When she says "hug" and "I love you too," you know you are going to get a great hug. When she walks out of school she says "MOMMY!" it's as if I just won a huge prize.Last weekend she passed by the Crucifix and waved intensely yelling, "THANKS JESUS!" If you watch her dance, your heart will melt. It took her three years before she could stand on her own but the first time she did, she raised her arm and cheered as loud as she could for herself. She loves going for outings so much that when she gets out of the car to come inside for the day, she gets a little sad and says "Thank you, car. I love you. Thank you. See ya soon."
God is fully and completely present in counting us worthy to participate in the life of His beloved daughter, Veronica. He lives and breathes and IS in Veronica so evidently that we cannot contain our joy and love. She has transformed us entirely as only He can do.
When I consider my life before Veronica, I was running from all the people, places, and events that are His very presence here on earth. I was desperately trying to earn a love that is already freely given. I was hoping to find Him in one place, and I missed Him in all the places in which He truly abides.
Jesus, thank you for blessing me with my daughter, and friend, Veronica. Please continue to show me your love in unfamiliar places. Where you are is where I want to be.
How will we ever be the same?
Why would we ever want to be?
Written by Anna Wells.
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