Caroling with an angelBy Melodie Davis
I ran across a photo stashed between some of my photo albums the other day.
It was a scene from caroling last December. It included Laura and her son, Ethan, from my church. With the voice of an angel, Laura was one of our favorite soloists at church. There were other choir members in our group that night, so for once I was in a caroling group that sounded really good.
Laura had not felt like going caroling at all that night. But her son, age 5, begged her to go. So they came.
It was not simple pre-Christmas busyness that made Laura feel like staying home. She was suffering from incurable cancer, already outliving the doctor’s timetable. She was fatigued and frequently nauseated.
But there she is in my photo, singing with a smile, a wig replacing the natural blonde hair she was blessed with.
I’m sure she sensed that, short of a miracle, it would likely be her last time caroling with her son. We all knew it. She never shied away from facing her cancer with candor and honesty.
She did not dance around her prognosis or her feelings, except when it came to Ethan. She wisely answered his questions yet did not give him more information before he needed it. She told him mommy was very sick and would lose her hair, not that she was going to die. Later, she told him she wouldn’t be returning to work at his school, and so on.
In late January, I interviewed Laura for the Shaping Families radio program we produce at MennoMedia. Laura lived until the very day her program was broadcast on Palm Sunday in our area, April 17. She died that afternoon.
Her program was the most accessed of the website all year, partly because she was also a much-loved first-grade teacher. Teachers, parents and students appreciated being able to still hear her voice and amazing outlook.
Much of what Laura did in her last year was for Ethan. They took a trip to Alaska to see the mountains and wildlife. Laura said Ethan kept her going. When she received her devastating news, she first screamed in disbelief and locked herself in the bathroom. But knowing how much her son and husband needed her, from that day on she didn’t allow herself to be depressed. She focused on her family, her faith and her first-graders.
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