A short story written by Karin Lynn-Hill
July 30, 2011
Suzy’s mother slowly lifted her head, the stream of tears continued to gently flow from her eyes as she said, “So this is it?” The doctor replied, “I’m afraid so. The cancer is spreading too rapidly, like the wildfires we get here in California each year. There is nothing else we can do to stop the progression.” She thanked him for all he had done, and left the room.
When the doctor went into Suzy’s room, later that day, he expected the seven year old to be sullen, or hysterical. Instead, what greeted him, were Suzy’s eyes, sparkling even though her overall appearance was one of paleness. She smiled up at him, “hello Doctor.”
“Hello there, Suzy. Did your mommy come and talk to you today about your being here in the hospital for a while?”
“Oh yes, Doctor, she did. She told me that I was still very sick and that you had worked very hard to help me. She said that I would have to be here so that I could rest for my trip.” The smile never left her face, and he heard hope in her words as she spoke through a soft, strained voice.
He knew that she most likely would not be able to comprehend the diagnosis, as she was still young. But, surely she has completely misunderstood, a trip? She is smiling, happy, looking forward to going somewhere. How could her mother have lied to the poor thing? He shook his head slowly and asked, “a trip?”
Suzy’s smile got wider, her eyes even brighter (which for the moment were captivating, bringing almost a normal look to her pallor) as she replied, “I’m going to get to be with my bestest Friend, soon. We’re going to go fishing in a great big river, not like the little creek in our woods! I am going to run, jump, sing, dance and He’s going to take me to meet to a very special place that He made just for me.”
At a loss as to her words, the doctor wondered if he should try and explain to her how grave her situation was, and that she wasn’t going to be able to go on any trips, soon, or ever. Unfortunately, he dared not speak his thoughts without her parents there with her. They were at dinner in the cafeteria downstairs, and he had other patients to see. He would have to speak with them another time and ask them if they could help Suzy to understand. He bid Suzy farewell and left on his rounds.
The doctor and Suzy’s parents kept missing one another for about a week. Every day he would go in to see Suzy, and every day he would hear her excitedly telling everyone that she when she finished resting here, she was going on a long trip with her Friend. Each time, he would read the chart, seeing the sad progress of this beautiful little girl with the big smile and bright eyes shining through her illness, and leave the room with his heart wrenching and shaking his head. “This is too sad,” he thought, she is just too young to have to go through this. He hated what cancer did and was wondering if he had chosen the right profession for himself. He wanted to make a difference, to help heal. That was not happening. Instead, there were precious children, like Suzy and those in their prime of life, perhaps newly married, or a young parent. It did not matter for cancer was a disease that many would die from, no matter how hard he tried as a doctor. Now, he just was not sure.
One evening, on his rounds, he saw Suzy’s parents in her room. He thought to himself, “Now, we will get some answers out in the open. Even though Suzy is young, she has the right to know what is happening to her.” They greeted one another, and even chuckled about their not being able to ‘meet up’ for a bit. Then, he asked them to step out in the hallway for just a moment. He straightened himself upright, cleared his throat and said to them in a serious voice, “Mr. and Mrs. Jones, Suzy’s condition is following down the path we spoke about quite rapidly. She has been greeting me every day with a smile and talking very excitedly about going on a trip with her friend; talking about fishing, swimming, running, and various other activities. Now, we know that none of these things will be possible for her. Don’t you think it is time you shared the truth with your daughter, instead of allowing her to continue on with her fanciful dreams?”
Suzy’s parents eyes started to sparkle, their smiles got larger, and they looked at one another with a knowing glance. They were hand in hand and together they looked back at the doctor and her dad said, “Doctor, she does know and she does understand, completely. She is not having ‘fanciful dreams’ as you call them, at all. Why don’t we go back in and you can ask her to tell you about her Friend. I’m sure she would be quite happy to do so.” They did not even wait for his response, the simply turned and went into the room. Going over to her bedside opposite the doorway and stood, waiting for the doctor to join them.
The doctor, trying to compose his thoughts, joined them. “Suzy,” her mother asked, “you have been sharing all about your trip and all of the wonderful things you are going to be doing. Have you ever told him about your ‘bestest” Friend? Have you ever told him WHERE you are going on this trip?” Suzy thought a moment and said, “No, Momma, I don’t think I have. I have been so happy to know that I will be free to do things again, that I guess I forgot. I’m sorry, Momma.”
Looking over at the doctor, who actually appeared to be wanting to dart from the room, distraught over this whole illness the child had, they turned back to Suzy and said, “Suzy, I think you had better tell him everything. See how sad he looks, maybe he would like to go on a trip like yours, too.” With those words the doctor darted questioning eyes towards them, and then wanting to just leave the room, the hospital, and perhaps even his career, he heard the word, “okay” slip through his lips.
Instantly Suzy spoke up in a voice much stronger than her condition should have allowed for and said to him, “My bestest Friend, ever, is Jesus. He lives up in Heaven with His Daddy, who is my Heavenly Father. That is God, in case you did not know that. He made the whole world and everything in it, even me. And, He loves us so much that He let Jesus come down to earth for a while to be with us and to teach us things. The people did not like what He was teaching, because it was not like their old church teachings. Those people were mean and they killed Jesus! They beat Him up a lot and then they put big spikes through his hands and feet and nailed him to a cross (that is two really big pieces of wood put together). Then they hung him up in the air. It was so sad, He came to help them, but they killed Him instead. But His Daddy, God, got Him out of the grave after three days, alive! And He is my bestest friend in the whole world. I love Him so much! He has promised to come and take me to Heaven to be with Him and His daddy real soon. I won’t hurt any more, and I won’t have to have all of these tubes in me. I will be strong and able to play again. He even said I could swim and fish with Him in the really big river that runs all the way through Heaven, straight from the throne. He said it looks like glass. I’ve never seen that kind of river before, have you? Do you like to fish, doctor?”
All three of them, Suzy, her mom and dad, looked over at Dr. Thomas. He had sat down on the chair by her bed, and was crying. Suzy said, “Doctor, you do not have to be sad, this is a good thing. I am so happy I get to go and be with Jesus! Mommy and Dad will join me in a little while, you can come to, if you want. I’m sure Jesus wouldn’t mind, He loves everybody! Right, Momma? Right, Dad?” “Yes, Suzy.” They replied.
The doctor looked up at the Smith family in wonder, with tears still in his eyes. He said, “I went to Sunday School with my grandmother when I was little. I remembered hearing about what Suzy just said, but it isn’t really real, is it?”
“Oh, yes, Dr. Thomas. Heaven is very real. Jesus is very real. God is very real.”
“But how do you know?” he asked, “How can Suzy call Him her Friend when He’s gone and she is here, when she is suffering? If He IS real, and if His love IS real, and if the smiling face of this sweet little girl is real even in the face of dying, I want to know.”
One-by-one Suzy and her parents took turns sharing their faith. How Jesus became real to them. How He could become His Friend, too. How their friendship with Him can grow, and how he could look forward to Heaven at the time of his own death. Dr. Thomas then shared with them about his struggle with his career choice, the sadness, the feelings of hopelessness it sometimes brought. They prayed together and Jesus became a new Friend to Dr. Thomas right there in that hospital room.
Things were different for Dr. Thomas, then. He realized that God was the One who called him to this place, at this time. He could help make a difference in the lives of those who came in with such horrible illnesses as little Suzy was facing, and still bring them hope.
His daily visits with Suzy were bumped to the end of his schedule so that he could sit with her, and her family if they were there. They had wonderful conversations about their mutual Friend. He always felt so much stronger, happier, more at peace when he left her room and headed home for the night.
One day, as he entered her room, he saw not only her parents, but a group of others as well. They formed a circle around Suzy’s bed, holding hands and praying. He stood back a bit and bowed his head as they prayed. When they were finished, they noticed he had come in. Through teary eyes, that still had a peace about them they greeted him. The circle broke up so that Dr. Thomas could come over to his favorite patient. He saw that she was breathing very shallowly and even gasping periodically. The oxygen was raised up to its highest level for her small body. She looked up at him and smiled, weakly. “Hi.” “Hello.” “Not feeling well enough for our little chat today, Suzy?” “I don’t think so, Doctor, Jesus is coming.”
Dr. Thomas stepped back and looked around at all the people in her room. Every one of them had tears dropping from their eyes, yet it was a different kind of cry than he had experienced from others going through difficult situations. Facing the death of a loved one is one of the worst things about this life!
He did not leave, he found himself drawn to simply being in this room with Suzy. He did not understand, but he found that he just could not bring himself to leave.
“Oh!” they all heard. Looking towards Suzy’s frail frame laying in the bed, they saw her eyes get bigger, and one single tear as they heard her ask, “are you going to take me to Jesus?” They all held their breath, some with their arms around one another, others with their hands crossed over their hearts.
Suzy looked one more time around the room. “I love you, Mom, Dad, Grandma, Grandpa. And, thank you for coming to pray for me on my trip. I’ll see you in a while. You should see the angel – he’s so big and bright. He is strong and he is going to carry me to Jesus!” You could barely make out her whispered words, but they were all sure of one thing. The time for her trip to be with her bestest Friend was here. They watched as she took a few more short breaths. Then, with the most beautiful look of peace upon her face, she was gone. The alarms started beeping and the nurses rushed in, but Dr. Thomas shook his head and told them she was gone. They quietly turned off the machines and left the family to say their final good-by’s.
Dr. Thomas slipped out of the room knowing that his life had been forever changed by the faith of one very special little seven year old girl, Suzy. He offered up a silent prayer of thanksgiving to the Lord and asked for comfort for her parents during their adjustment to not having her physically with them any longer, and went home.
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The Lord gave me this story as I was waking up this morning, and I had to share it with you. You see, we have such a loving Father, that even in the midst of our most horrible situations, He IS the Hope we have. Our lives, here on earth, are only temporary – fleeting at best. It is only in and through Christ Jesus, Son of God, our Lord and Savior that we can have this hope. I pray that if you don’t know Jesus as Your personal Savior, that this story will help lead you to Him. How; just by asking Him! Call 1-800-NEEDHIM, someone is waiting to pray with you now.