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Tender Mercies

A couple of years ago, I did a post about a remarkable little girl and asking for prayers. Often when such pleas come, we never really find out how the story ends, especially when it’s a prolonged battle. However, no matter the final outcome, sometimes through the pain those closest to the trial grow and learn so much as they find themselves so completely in the hallow of God’s hand.

So, though overdue, I wanted to share the tale of a pure Child of God and a few precious lessons from her earthly father.

On December 23, 2009, William and Audrey’s 16 month-old baby Talitha had an MRI to see if they could find out why she was beginning to lose her balance when walking.

Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you want to look at it), the scan showed a substantial brain tumor that was causing severe hydrocephalus.

They immediately took her to the Primary Childrens’ Medical Center (PCMC) where she underwent a 6 hour operation on Christmas Eve to remove as much of the tumor as possible and get a drain in her head to release the built up pressure.

She was in the Pediatric ICU for 10 days from December 23 to January 1, 2010 and then in the Neuroscience Trauma Unit for 4 more days.

Tali began intense chemotherapy on January 18, 2010 to fight the Medulloblastoma cancer.

After months of chemotherapy and three full bone Marrow Transplants, Talitha entered the maintenance phase of treatment in June 2010. The cancer is in remission. Maintenance will be ongoing for at least seven years.

Q: William, what was the scariest moment for you, as Talitha’s father?

On Christmas morning, less than 24 hours after Tali’s brain surgery, we arrived at the hospital to the news that Talitha was not responding as expected and needed an “emergency” MRI.  We were standing at the entrance of the MRI room when they wheeled Tali in and I was not prepared for what I saw. There was the body of our little girl and her eyes were open but it wasn’t exactly her looking out of those eyes. If you’ve heard the expression, “the lights are on but nobody’s home”, that’s what it seemed like. The blank, scared expression of those little eyes are seared into my memory.  Our little girl was lost in there somewhere and I was completely helpless to do anything about it. I couldn’t even pick her up and hold her with all the wires and gadgets and monitors…

The wait was more than I could bear. I cried. I prayed. I pled. I hyperventilated.

Relief came unexpectedly in the form of a song I had recently taught the children:

A verse from How Firm a Foundation began playing in my mind:

“Fear not, I am with thee; O be not dismayed!

For I am thy God, and will still give thee aid;

I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,

Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.”

Q: What would you say was the best part of this journey so far?

In reviewing the blog http://talithablack.blogspot.com/, these entries seem to be a representative sampling of innumerable lessons that have changed our lives forever:

Talitha in 2012

Q: Can you share one or two priceless lessons we’ve learned through this?

  • There’s way more to this life than this life.
  • Grace is real.

Q:  What’s one line of advice you’d give to someone facing dark times or trying to help another who is suffering?

  • Harness the enabling power of gratitude
  • Worry less; trust more

One more bit of advice for someone going through trials:

Put your faith in Jesus Christ, not in the outcomes of any trial. (When we trusted God more than the ups and downs of doctors’ reports and hospital monitors, we were able to see the bigger picture and have peace and strength even when the going was really, really tough.)

Perhaps the beautiful hymn, The Lord Is My Shepherd, says it best (all three verses are amazing–here’s verse 3):

In the midst of affliction my table is spread.
With blessings unmeasured my cup runneth o’er.
With perfume and oil thou anointest my head.
Oh, what shall I ask of thy providence more?

Thank you so much William for sharing.


About Ren Black

Part-time novelist. Weekend artist. Full-time Mother. Ex-poet. Perfectionist by training. Compulsive researcher sporadically. Prone to fits of linguistic commentary Unorthodox Renegade occasionally. Sarcastic by habit... Dreamer Always... Consider Yourself Warned

One comment on “Tender Mercies

  1. Awesome. Stories like this help me remember to give thanks that my trials have been pretty puny, comparatively speaking. Thanks to William for being willing to share.

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