I was surprised at how hard it was to decide to write this one. In some ways it is not my story to tell. But it is hard to be authentic about who I am if I do not include some of the more difficult things of this life.
Danielle passed away last month. It hardly seems real sometimes. Danielle is my – first cousin once removed – by relational standards – but she and her family seem to be so much more than that.
Danielle’s mother, Arlene, and I share grandparents through my father and her mother who were siblings. But Arlene is so much more than a cousin. She feels more like my older sister. When she immigrated from the Netherlands, she stayed with us. When we moved, she moved with us. Then she spread her wings and I am grateful that she did not fly too far from us. We did not have very many relatives close by and so Arlene and her family has meant a lot to us. For decades we would have get-togethers and spend Christmas Day with each other. Arlene’s sense of artistry had her dinner tables bedecked with the most charming of name tags. We got to see some of the most magnificent works of art come from her brush or her needle or her glue gun or her sewing machine. Talent abounds in that woman. So when we both started having grandchildren the family Christmas dinner table got crowdeder and crowdeder. One year it was decided that we simply would not fit in one house any more. And life, more or less, went on.
It was just last year that we found out that Danielle was battling colon cancer. She was expecting her second child and we followed her blog as she started chemo and had surgery and then gave birth and then restarted chemo again. We followed the blog and we prayed and prayed and prayed.
If you ever want to read of a brave, honest and God-filled woman who was given the challenge of living with cancer you should read her blog. Her journey was told so eloquently by Danielle herself and her words are candid and heartbreakingly beautiful.
I hope the link works.
We had a chance to visit Danielle and Timothy at the hospice at the beginning of August. It was a lovely visit that allowed us to relive some old memories and have a few laughs.
I think that my biggest sorrow at Danielle’s passing is the void that she leaves in the lives of her husband Timothy and her two very young daughters – Martha and Ava. For Arlene and Henry and her sisters Rachel and Lauren I feel a sorrow that simply breaks my heart. There is a bible verse (Romans 12:15) that says “Weep with those who weep” and I along with very many others have wept and wept and wept.
We go on, as we must, but as a broken people who look forward to that great day.
The last card I gave Danielle had these words:
“I don’t know that it is scripturally accurate but I believe it will be something akin to this: “And just at the moment when someone says ‘She’s gone’ there are other eyes watching for her coming and other voices ready to take up the glad shout ‘Here she comes”