For the past two years, I’ve been faithfully reading a caring bridge blog written by a lady in Charlotte, NC whose daughter has neuroblastoma. Her daughter, Isabella, was diagnosed at age 2. A week ago, at age 7, she died.

The blog has been updated by friends with service information, how to help, etc. It wasn’t until today that her mother, Erin, wrote her first post since watching her little girl die (entitled “How did this happen?“). Her words are raw & brutal as she describes her daughter’s last moments, how she forced herself to watch the last breath, & how she & her husband bathed Isabella’s tiny body after it was over. It’s horrific & fiercely beautiful & I found myself wanting to shut it out because it’s too real, too honest.

A few minutes ago, at 1am, I was awakened by Rose’s screams. It was the cry of a baby not fully awake, but terrified, & I ran to her room to comfort her. As I rocked her, she stared up at me with complete trust… trust in my love for her, in my ability to protect her from bad dreams & bogeymen & hunger & danger & cancer. Her little hand gripped my finger until it finally relaxed into sleep. And I wept, trying to keep my sobs quiet so as to not wake her. I can’t keep her safe. I can’t protect her from this broken world. I can’t. There’s nothing I can do to keep cancer out of her body, or a horrible car accident from happening, or a million other tragedies. I suddenly felt my old religious upbringing rearing its head with an almost uncontrollable urge to beg — beg God to keep her safe, to grant her health, to protect her, to not take her from me. But I can’t pray that. God isn’t Santa Claus, giving according to who’s good or who makes the most well-timed or eloquent request.

I can’t believe that Rose deserves exemption because that means that Isabella didn’t.

Most of the time, I keep these thoughts at bay. I concentrate on our daily routine & being thankful for Rose & for every funny, quirky thing she does & for those little insignificant moments that add up to something huge & irreplaceable. But sometimes, like right now, I’m terrified by everything that could go wrong. I’m terrified by how much I have to lose & by my sheer helplessness.