Make Today Matter
Having just returned from the funeral of a child whose days were tragically-limited by cancer but so beautifully-filled by the family who loved her so, Abrazo’s message for this week is simply this: make today matter.
Veronica was the beloved daughter of Mitch & Chrissy, the birthchild of Walker & Jessica, and the sister of Simon. Hers was an open adoption, so her forever family knew and loved each other, and she was blessed to know and love them all.
Just around the time of her first birthday, little Veronica was hospitalized for what was thought to be dehydration. Tests were run, and the child was found to have an aggressive and malignant brain tumor. The baby underwent an intensive surgery, which went well, but doctors discovered the tumor had already spread, and warned her parents that a lengthy course of chemotherapy lay ahead of her (one that they anticipated would need to continue for months/years.)
Veronica had the very best of medical care. Her parents tirelessly tended to her every need, and they had the support of their entire faith community. Her big brother kept her entertained. She was lifted in prayers all around the world, and the Pope himself said a mass for her.
And God heard those prayers and lovingly responded to them– even if all those prayers weren’t answered with the earthly healing for which we had all so fervently hoped.
Veronica’s specialists cautioned her family in April of this year that a full recovery was not to be, and that the end was but a week or two away. Against all odds, Veronica still lived to see her second birthday on August 1 of this year.
“Make today matter,” God whispered, and so her parents did. Hospice came in, and Veronica’s parents gave thanks for another hour, another day, another week.
This month, knowing their time together was drawing to a close, the adoptive family undertook the remarkable challenge of taking a family vacation together to the Grand Canyon.
It was most surely not an easy road trip, given the demands of traveling with a busy preschooler and a terminally-ill toddler, but they made family memories they desperately needed to have, they reveled in God’s handiwork, and when after the family got back safely, Veronica went Home, as well.
Our hearts break for all four of Veronica’s parents, for her brother in the home and those who live elsewhere, and for her extended family, also.
We know they filled her days, brief as they were, with all the love and nurture and security and attention that every child deserves in life.
Her adoptive parents are people of faith, and they had taken every step to raise her in the faith, as well, so her funeral was filled with friends and relatives and church members who have been strengthened by their faithful witness in the face of unimaginable tests.
It’s human nature to question why bad things happen to good people. It’s normal to feel angry that God did not see fit to cure Veronica as we’d hoped.
Yet as the priest at her funeral reminded the mourners, “we asked God for a miracle, and I still believe our prayers were answered.”
For Veronica has been spared the continued sorrows of this life. She is now freed of the cancer which so limited her earthly body, and she has been released from the painful burdens of the continued treatments which would have been necessary to prolong her days.
She lived as pure and full a life as any two-year-old could, and it was a life filled with love and joy and blessings.
Yet those of us left behind cannot help but grieve her passing, and we are painfully aware of all the potential that has been lost.
We may never know why pediatric cancers happen. We’ll never know what Veronica’s life accomplishments may have been, had she been given more time here on earth. We will never understand why she and her family had to undergo this sorrow. We cannot begin to make sense of such tragedies.
But there is something we can do, in little Veronica’s memory, and that is to make today matter.
Put down your phone and make today matter by truly focusing on the people around you.
Take time out to appreciate the beauty of the world around you and make today matter.
Make today matter by going the extra mile on behalf of somebody else in need.
Because all our days are limited, so we owe it to our ourselves and our Creator to recognize our many blessings, share these whenever possible, and end each day with the certainly that we did all we could to make today matter.