Abigail: pronounced ah-bee-guy-eel, emphasis on the ‘bee’ and it works best if you also emphasize the ‘eel’ by stretching your neck out and bobbing your head with each ‘e’.
Yep, you got it.
Abigail made it to my long term memory through this picture:
I was flipping through Lauren’s album of children I don’t know and stopped on this one. Fingers were poised on the keyboard as I formed a witty remark about her missing leg (which she was clearly sitting on). Then I looked at the picture a little closer. Gasp! Thankfully, it sometimes takes me a while to form my witty remarks. She’s not sitting on her leg. Insensitivity faux paux avoided. Phew!
She lost her leg to osteosarcoma.
Osteosarcoma – “A cancerous (malignant) bone tumor that usually develops in teenagers. It occurs when a teen is growing rapidly.”
Aka – bone cancer
For some reason, that I have yet to figure out, I spent a lot of time with the girls at Nueva Esperanza in July. Ergo, I spent a lot of time with Abigail. Please picture Nueva Esperanza…survival of the fittest, locked in the girls’ dorm for hours and hours every day, lacking in consistent love, affirmation, food, education comfort and where everyone longs to be home. Now let me insert a picture of Abigail.
Finding the crutches cumbersome, she hops everywhere, or rather, she stomps with one foot. (I considered saying that she hops like a bunny rabbit, but the reality is that this child is not overly graceful in her hops. If the floors were made of wood, I would pity whoever sleeps below…) Other than the stomping, she has mastered the art of the hop. She plops on the bed to join a gaggle of girls looking at a camera and then jumps right up and speeds across the linoleum when someone produces a coloring book and crayons. Her smile is quick. Her hugs are genuine. Her desire to learn is strong. She seems to honestly enjoy her surroundings and the other girls. She made no sense in Nueva.
We talked about her health one day. According to her, her leg was removed because she had cancer in her knee. Other than being annoyed by the crutches, she’s thankful that she received help. (This is why she was in Nueva – her family couldn’t afford treatment.) But then she says that they found more, and points to her back. Being my inquisitive self, I start asking questions. Then I realize that what I want to know is too technical and nothing an 11-year-old should have to be reminded of. We go back to coloring.
Good news was received about two weeks ago. She has been moved to a new and smaller girls’ home. A place where she’ll receive an education, medical treatment and lots of love from volunteers and employees. Wonderful!
Then this happens… They take her to the doctor… Her cancer has spread… There is nothing more that can be done… She has between a few weeks to a few months…. Make her comfortable…
I sat on this information for days. I wondered if they had told her. I agonized over how the other girls in the home, who love her and have already lost so much, would react. I considered my schedule on this upcoming trip and thought some selfish thoughts. Do I spend time with her on this trip and enjoy what will probably be my last chance? Or do I focus my time (and emotions) on kids who will most likely still be here in November? I got mad at Nueva and the whole government system. If they had started treatment sooner…. would things be different? My heart broke for her family whose lack of access to health care allowed the enemy raging in her little body to get an edge.
Does anyone notice what I have been lacking throughout this entire post?
I had already given up.
It was while I was sweating profusely in hot yoga last Thursday that I realized that it hadn’t even crossed my mind that her story might not be over. How humbling this realization has been. My prayer life usually centers around petitions for strength, wisdom, clarity and acceptance of His will. I had prayed about whether or not it’s wise for me to become more emotionally attached to her. I had prayed that the other girls in the home would experience peace after her death. It took days for it to cross my mind to pray that she would be healed. It’s embarrassing, really.
Here’s where you come in. Will you join me in praying for this little girl? I mean, really, really praying. Top of your prayer list type prayer. Prayer that keeps God’s absolute power to heal at the forefront. I am going to go see her this month. I am going to invest in her and begin to love her even more. And I’m going to believe that God has the power to make her stick around here for quite some time.
If you are willing to engage in prayer without ceasing ( more or less of course…) please contact me. (firstname.lastname@example.org) I’ll send you updates on Abigail as frequently as I get them. (Just make sure you pronounce her name ‘ah-bee-guy-eel’ so God knows who you’re talking about.)