A Walk Through the Valley of the Shadow, Part Two

A Time to Grieve and a Time to Dance
Earlier I posted about my mother’s hospitalization. I shared how God led me down a path, different from my usual course, in response to her illness.

During her illness I frequently felt His hand upon me. One day He gave me a beautiful glimpse of the eternal renewal of life.

My husband’s oldest son, Sean, had died in an accident in 2006, leaving behind his beautiful widow Rachael and their precious son Ayden. Rachael was young–Sean died on her 24th birthday–and we expected that she would go on with life as her grief abated. Later she brought a fine young man, Kevin, into our family circle. And at Christmas time in 2007 she phoned to tell us that Ayden would have a baby brother or sister in August of 2008.

Rich and I were thrilled with her news. Rachael had chosen to remain close to us after Sean’s passing, a huge blessing on our lives. As her pregnancy progressed, we offered to care for Ayden when her time came. She told us that she’d rather have us with her at the hospital. Feeling incredibly honored to be included in the arrival of this precious new baby, we made plans to do so.

Meanwhile Mom got sick. As I wrote previously, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, stage IIIC, in late June. Her recovery from surgery brought a string of setbacks. She developed an infection and had to return from the rehab facility to the acute care hospital. All told, it was a month from her admission on June 17 until she returned home. Her oncologist in Reno had scheduled a consultation to discuss treatment options for July 30. My sister and I made plans to fly to Reno on July 29 and attend the 8 A.M. appointment the next day. I would return home immediately; my sister would stay to be with Mom and Dad.

The morning of July 29, I was up at 4 A.M. Inexplicably I slipped my cell phone into my robe pocket. At 5 A.M., I stood at the stove cooking pancakes for Rich’s breakfast as he showered upstairs. My cell phone rang. It was Kevin. “Rachael’s in labor. I’m on my way to a job site in San Diego, riding with my boss, but I’ve arranged to jump into a buddy’s truck and drive back to Redlands as soon as we arrive on site. The buddy will come home with my boss.”

We confirmed the hospital in Redlands where the baby would be born. I hung up, went upstairs to share the news with Rich, and sent my boss an email: “It’s baby day! Rachael is in labor and we’re on our way to the hospital.”

I had a 6 P.M. flight from Orange County to Reno for my mother’s appointment the next day. I changed my ticket to fly from Ontario (much closer to the hospital where the baby would be born). Rich and I were on the road by 6 A.M. and arrived at the hospital before 7 A.M.

Rachael’s mother was with her. Rachael looked up at me and said, “I thought you had an appointment for your mom.” I explained that I had changed my departure airport and told her I could stay until 4 P.M. without missing my flight. She smiled. “Well, I guess I’d better get on it!”

Kevin arrived a short while after we did. Later his aunt joined the circle of love surrounding Rachael’s labor bed. Once she had been made comfortable with an epidural, we shared stories, talked, hugged, and laughed together. It was a wonderful interlude.

The day wore on and Rachael’s labor progressed. Rich and I expected to leave the room prior to the baby’s delivery. “No,” she said. “You’ve been here with me all day. Stay.” Rich positioned himself at the head of her bed to honor her modesty. To be present at the miraculous moment of birth was more than we had hoped from the day.

At 3:17 P.M., 12 days ahead of schedule, our exquisite granddaughter Carly debuted. Since hospital policy dictated that no one besides the mother held the baby during the first hour following birth, Rich and I went to the gift shop and chose flowers for Rachael and a small gift for our newest grandchild (and first girl!).

At 4 P.M. we said our goodbyes. Time was short; Rich drove me directly to the airport from the hospital.

My sister had been booked to fly from Ontario and she and I flew together as a result of my change in itinerary. This change in plans afforded us time to talk during the flight. We arrived in Reno about 10 P.M., picked up our car, and drove to our hotel. It was the same casino/hotel complex I could see from Mom’s hospital room when I’d stayed with her at the hospital in June.

The next morning we rose early, shared breakfast, and drove to meet our parents at the oncologist’s office. He was running late: I could see Mom growing weaker as she sat in the waiting room. I sat beside her and told her of Carly’s birth the day before. She smiled.

When we met with the doctor, he gently delivered the news: chemotherapy was our best hope for extending Mom’s life, but she wasn’t strong enough yet to withstand the ravages of the treatment. He discussed nutrition and gentle exercise and encouraged her to focus on strengthening herself. He was careful not to rob us of hope but I remained convicted that Mom’s remaining time with us on earth was short.

Still, I had a sense of peace. The change in itinerary had provided me with the gift of time to share with my sister. More importantly, God had provided me with a wonderful juxtaposition: a new life arrived just as another life, so dear to me, was being called home to Him.

1 For everything there is a season, a
time for every activity under heaven. 2 A time to be born and a time to
die. A time to plant and a time to
harvest. 3 A time to kill and a time to
heal. A time to tear down and a time to build
up. 4 A time to cry and a time to
laugh. A time to grieve and a time to
dance. 5 A time to scatter stones and a time to gather
stones. A time to embrace and a time to turn
away. 6 A time to search and a time to quit
searching. A time to keep and a time to throw
away. 7 A time to tear and a time to
mend. A time to be quiet and a time to
speak. 8 A time to love and a time to
hate. A time for war and a time for
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (NLT)


  1. What a touching story. I'm so glad you were able to share this wonderful news with your mom. Her smile was just a hint of what must have been in her heart.


  2. Yes, Houston, I am sure you're right. And as we both know, Mom had a HUGE heart! Plenty of room for one more baby in there 🙂