An eternity of gratitude isn’t enough

Published 12:08 am Wednesday, October 19, 2022

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I’ve been reading my 20-year-old journals. My daughter Elise was 10 years old with persistent stomachaches.

August 13, 2002: East Jefferson Hospital. Elise is sleeping. Into how many pieces can the human heart be torn? Surely, it’s the strongest, most versatile organ. It breaks, then heals; gives, then grows. And the more it breaks and gives, the stronger and larger it becomes.

August 14, 2002: Still waiting on the biopsy results. I’m thankful God gives free refills on grace. Grace supports your legs when your knees buckle at the words ‘emergency surgery.’ It hides the pain in your eyes when your child cries out in agony and lets her see only strength and love. Grace lets you urge that child to walk after surgery when you’d rather carry her in your arms and calms you so you can sleep on the hospital couch, existing on coffee and graham crackers, which is more than she’s been allowed to have. Grace pushes out fear of the unknown and replaces it with a stronger and deeper faith that what’s to come will be infinitely greater than what has gone.

August 15, 2002: Yesterday afternoon the doctor brought me into a conference room and said, “The tumor has been identified as lymphoma.”

When I told Elise the news she cried then said, “I’m going to be all right. I’m ready to fight this.”

September 14, 2002: As Elise goes through treatment, I’m reminded of what happened during mine. With every step is a painful memory.

November 23, 2002: Her well runs deep. Stripped of the external comforts of a carefree childhood and placed in a world of doctors, tests, and treatments, Elise has learned to dive beneath the surface to the Source of life for sustaining power.

She returned to school despite a discolored neck, skinny legs which stretch out forever from her navy shorts, and a bald head covered by her brother’s baseball cap.

Elise no longer asks why it happened to her, but questions why it happened to others she meets. These questions force her to dig deeper to a place where comfort can be found. Rarely are they resolved while kicking the dust on the surface. While she may never find an answer, she swims in the strength from her Source, and this immersion in what I imagine as God’s Gulf Stream has begun to wash away nagging questions and silence fear and self-pity.

Every day: Eternity’s not long enough to thank God for healing Elise.


Ronny Michel may be reached at