“What’s been the hardest part of having cancer?” the older Jewish woman asked me. Her incredible eyes shone brightly.
I paused. This wasn’t a simple question. “It’s painful. And it’s been hard on everyone I know, not just me. Other than seeing my kids worry, someone anonymously sent me a 200-page document with scriptures from the Christian’s New Testament. They said it detailed that I’m sick because I’m not one of God’s chosen people.”
Her eyes grew wide, and I perceived a depth in them that’s quite rare. “But you ARE one of God’s chosen people!”
“I am?” the words sounded paltry on my lips.
“Well, you’re here, aren’t you?!”
And as her words sunk in, I felt gratitude pouring over me. Many babies don’t get to make it out of the womb, alive. Then many children and babies don’t grow up—like my angel baby who died in the hospital after two and a half months.
So, the next day I decided to live life to the fullest. “I’m going for a bike ride,” I told my family.
“Um. Elisa, are you sure that’s smart? If you fell…” Mike looked really nervous but willing to help if I pushed the issue.
“You in?” I simply responded.
Mike pulled our bikes from the garage, always ready for adventure. We rode to Edson Fitcher, a nature preserve where the kids love using the rope swing while Mike and I sit and watch an area that seems forgotten by time. While the kids were off playing, Mike and I slowly rode past the main body of water, and I saw some movement less than ten feet from us. “Oh, my gosh!” I carefully stopped and tried staying quiet. “Mike,” I whispered, pointing to the water’s edge, “I just saw two otters!”
Anyone who knows me well, knows that this is my spirit animal. I just couldn’t believe we spotted real ones in the wild. It seemed like the most magical moment ever—I rode a bike AND saw otters!
So, Mike and I sat on the ground. The tumors in my back and hip had begun aching something fierce, but I wouldn’t have moved for anything in the world because the otters popped up again and put on a show for us! They jumped and played. One even stole a fish from a fisherman—that made my day but ruined his, what a dichotomy!
As I watched the otters, I suddenly just broke down and cried so hard on the edge of the water. I hung my head, wishing Mike hadn’t been there to see such an intense moment of weakness.
“What’s wrong, sweetheart?”
“It’s just that one doctor this week said I’ll never get better, and I just need to face that they’re simply trying to buy me time. Another provider said she thinks I might get better. But no matter what, everything is about to change. The kids all still live with us, and they’re so darling. You’ve seen the kids at the rope swing! They’ll be old before we know it. I know I’m sick, but things are actually so good for two seconds. We’re all so happy.” I sobbed. “I just want to appreciate every moment. I wish we could freeze this entire time in our lives—keep these moments forever.”
Mike held me. I knew dirt covered both of us, but I loved being held right there by the magical otters who seemed to know that I needed them.
Not long after that, I received a message from an artist I know through Facebook. “Hi, Elisa. I hope you’re doing well. I’ve been following your story. I’m writing because I painted a photo you posted quite a while ago. I was so struck by the image… Let me know if you’d like to see it.”
I felt so much excitement, but imagine my surprise when he sent me a scene of my two youngest kids from Edson Fitcher! He’d captured a moment for us, something I’d hoped we could somehow freeze in time!
This is the second time this week that God has shown me something amazing through art. These Godwinks are unreal! I might be sick, but life is good regardless. It’s all about perspective and appreciating the moments we wish could last forever. I am so fortunate.
Thank you so much, John Willis. You absolutely made Trey and Indy’s year. They are thrilled beyond words, and one of them said you’re going to “make them famous” because your art is so good!💓
To see more of John’s artwork, please go here: https://www.artisfortheheart.com