Another Kind of Miracle

Another Kind of Miracle

From Chicken Soup for the Breast Cancer Survivor's Soul

Another Kind of Miracle

Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold.

Helen Keller

It was a beautiful, clear spring day when Laura, my best friend for the last ten years, called to say she was dying. “The doctors say it’s in my brain now, and it won’t take much longer.”

Thirty-seven years old, the mother of two young children, and the doctors were right. She died the following November.

“It wasn’t supposed to turn out this way!” I shouted at God. “Laura should have had a miracle. Damn it, she deserved a miracle.”

She was first diagnosed with breast cancer at thirty-two, a shockingly young age for such a vicious disease. The younger you are, the more virulent the cancer. When Laura first told me her news, I, being a published writer, sat down to write an inspirational novel for her.

In my novel, she was a character who’d had cancer many years before, a strong and resilient woman who’d beaten the odds and survived.

Although I may still finish that novel even though Laura didn’t make it, I soon put the novel aside and embarked on a more practical plan. Along with Jamie Miller, another friend of Laura’s, I began to work on collecting stories of Christmas miracles. Not only would a collection of Christmas miracle tales find an audience, I thought, but it would also bring in some money for Laura and her husband.

Jamie and I interviewed many people who had experienced miracles at Christmastime, and then we wrote up their stories. Laura kept track of the administrative end of the project, and we produced a book for William Morrow, Christmas Miracles: Magical True Stories of Modern Day Miracles, that became a national bestseller.

How wonderful it was to be able to spread the word about the incredible things that can happen when we open our hearts and believe. Interview after interview convinced me miracles are everywhere, if you just open your eyes to the mystery of life.

I had a secret goal during the miracle book project. I believed with all my heart that if Laura was involved in this miracle project, if she lived and breathed the idea of miracles day in and day out, if she helped to spread the word that miracles can and do happen, then she, too, would be given a miracle. The hand of God was everywhere in these tales. We believed that same hand would reach down to allow her to stay with her children, to be the mother they needed her to be.

Our one Christmas book turned into a series of five books on miracles. But all the while, as our books grew more popular and we gathered more tales of miracles, Laura grew sicker. Five years after she was first diagnosed, she died.

In the months following Laura’s death, I was furious with God. Why, after all of the good that she had done in her life, did God allow her to die? Why didn’t she get her miracle?

The answer came to me on another clear spring morning, an eerie twin to the day that Laura had called with her devastating news the year before. As I looked out my office window at the blooming azaleas, the astra lilies hanging heavy from the weight of their flowers, I suddenly realized that there had been a miracle for Laura after all: I hadn’t noticed the miracle of the last few years because it wasn’t the one I wanted.

I wanted Laura to live. That was what I was asking from God, and anything less was unacceptable. But God knew all along that Laura would die, so God gave her the miracle she would need. She would need help with her children, so he gave her a circle of friends who would pitch in. She and her husband would need help with their finances, so he sent the miracle books project and allowed her to earn an income that would not require her to spend time away from her children in her final years of life. She would not live long, so he gave her a way to have an impact far greater than most people have in their first three decades. Her name will live on in her books, and even after her death she will continue to inspire others in their time of need.

God gave her the miracle she needed, even if it wasn’t the one I wanted. I am grateful that I finally saw it.

Jennifer Basye Sander

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