Tonight I lay beside Natalie - keeping her company as she drifts off to sleep. Her little hands move about me - a reassurance that I am still there, since it is dark and she cannot see me. I have been wondering why, encroaching upon the end of this intensive phase of chemo, I have been so nervous, afraid somehow of the end. Then it hits me - I have been holding my breath... waiting for these final weeks of this phase. Some how "maintenance" (the easier phase of chemo ahead) being "the light at the end of the tunnel." But as I see the end coming I realize, it is not the end. There is still so long and far ahead. Even after two years of this next "maintenance phase" we will have 5 years of remission before she is declared healed. I just don't know if I can "hold my breath" that long. God, how do I "breath"throughout this next phase of chemo? How do I learn to live as if I am not bracing myself for great challenges, always on guard for the possibilities of what can go wrong? How does our family get through these next many years without fear of cancer? God, you are our peace, our hope, our comfort, our shield... we need you to get though every "today"

As I lay there next to Natalie, crying as I grieve the consequences of cancer, I feel small. Instead if felling like her mom or the adult, I feel small - just like her. Almost like I was just her little friend and I was spending the night with her. I felt like a little girl crying out to God. It was strange - I don't think I've ever felt that way before crying out to Him, yet somehow it was familiar. It reminded me that I am still His child. I am not expected to know everything or be everything (in other words be God). I am His little girl and He loves me. I then spoke out loud and told Him how much I love this little girl (Natalie) He put in my life.

I had memories of seeing her for the first time in the operating room (above) as they brought her to me all bundled up. I could only see her little face. And then, flashing over her life to this night laying beside her, I realized how much she is a little extension of who I am... and that is why we are so attached- that I love her so. And then I realized that WE are all extension of God... created in His image. And that is why He loves us.

Natalie Orlando

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