Her face beamed as she handed me the paper this past January.
“I know Christmas is over, Mama, but I’m getting ready for next year.”
That’s my girl. Just like her Mama, always planning ahead. Making lists, checking things off. I skimmed the list, laughing at her practicality and her whimsy: Sharpies, a whole pack! A wish upon a star! Spinning top!
But then three words silenced me.
I raised my head. Gazed at her as she smiled to herself, still chortling and feeling quite clever at preparing a wish list eleven months before necessary.
“Beary? What’s this?” I asked, pointing to the cancer-curing kit.
“Oh, you know, Mama, a kit that I can have to cure Daddy’s cancer. Then he won’t be sick and at the hospital. And if I have a kit, then no one will get cancer again.” She answered with her usual matter-of-factness, dismissing my puzzlement with a wave of her hand.
“Uh, yeah, but I’ve never seen a cancer-curing kit before. I don’t know…are you sure they make them? I mean, that’s sort of what chemo is for, right?”
“A kit works faster than chemo, Mama.” She was so solicitous of my obvious ignorance, so adamant in her certainty.
I had no words. Truthfully? I wanted a cancer-curing kit, too. I wanted Kevin to be healthy again, able to be fully present with us again. Not weakened and dragged down by the endless chemo, the endless poison, the endless…cancer.
So I shrugged and she danced, and we both wished for the impossible. A cancer-curing kit.
We didn’t get it.
Not the impossible and not the kit.
We prayed. We wished. We hoped. And Kevin fought longer and harder than anyone expected. But none of it was enough.
It’s Christmas now, and there’s been no more mention of the kit. But it’s not because she’s given up on the idea. Her whimsy and imagination and absolute certainty in how life should unfold wouldn’t allow it. No, she hasn’t given up on the idea of a kit; she just decided that she’d have to be the one to make it happen.
After an exhaustive discussion about cadavers, infectious disease, and vaccinations, she turned to me and earnestly said, “Mama, I am going to be the one to figure out how to stop cancer from ever growing. Not figure out what to do when it’s already in your body, but how to keep it from even getting there. I can do it. Do you believe me?”
You bet, little girl. I believe you.
It’s funny what we choose to believe in, even when everything in life conspires against our faith and shakes our confidence. Even when things are so hard that it feels impossible to keep going. But we do it. We keep going on; we keep believing, trusting. And right now, at Christmas, there is so much in which to believe, so much to open our hearts to. And I do believe. I believe in the spirit of Santa Claus, as we spread happiness and compassion to those around us. I believe our holy God sent His son as a baby to save this hurting world. I believe Kevin is alive and healthy in heaven and that someday I will be there with him for eternity.
And I absolutely believe in a little girl who is holding my hand and showing me every day there is still joy and hope and miracles and mystery to be found in this world. She believes in God and in herself and she is unwavering in her conviction that she can make a difference. She believes in possibilities, in wishes on stars and cancer-curing kits, and she wants me to, as well.
So because of her, in the midst of this Christmas season, in the midst of the hurt and grief and uncertainty, one prayer will be unceasing in my heart:
Believe in what your heart is saying
Hear the melody that’s playing
There’s no time to waste
There’s so much to celebrate
Believe in what you feel inside
And give your dreams the wings to fly
You have everything you need
If you just believe
(Believe, Josh Groban)