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Unfinished Love: Walking by Faith Through Pediatric Cancer

Unfinished Love: Walking by Faith Through Pediatric Cancer

by Sherry Tucker

Learn More | Meet Sherry Tucker
Unfinished Love

By Sherry Tucker

Chapter One


Will this traffic ever get better? I was racing across town to pick Zach up from the summer daycare program at his school. After much pleading and many persistent phone calls, I had managed to get him into the pediatric neurologist’s office. Quite an accomplishment since the previous week the earliest appointment they could give me was a month away.

What was going on with Zach? Nearly three weeks had passed since he had quit using his left hand. It had become clumsy and uncooperative—his fingers would no longer extend. We had dismissed it as a sports-related injury until I noticed that during the previous week, the condition had worsened. It seemed his left arm was becoming more difficult to lift.

My concern intensified the night before as I held his bike seat and took a few awkward steps next to him, watching as he giggled nervously and tried to make his left leg and arm work the way they had in the past. My heart sank as I realized he could no longer ride his bike—a skill that had come to him so easily three years ago when he was four. A quiet panic set in later that evening as I watched his face and could see that as he giggled and smiled, the left side of his face was not performing in concert with the right half as it should.

I had attacked the internet searching for an answer. Why would a healthy normal seven-year-old suddenly lose the function of his left side? The urgent-care doctor we had seen ten days before felt it was a temporary condition caused perhaps by lying on his arm and pinching a nerve, something he called radial palsy.

The pediatrician we had seen a few days later was stumped. They both suggested we see a pediatric neurologist. I felt sure it had to do with a virus or something similar. Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and stroke came up as I searched online. I never thought to use the word paralysis in my search; perhaps if I had, a brain tumor would have entered my realm of thinking.

My worry increased as I continued driving in traffic that afternoon.

“C’mon, c’mon, light—change,” I protested. Tedious and cumbersome best described the drive I had been making the last two years to Hall Printworks, my place of employment.

Tampa was a wonderful place to live, but left much to be desired in traffic flow. Unfortunately, the neurologist I had made the appointment with was near my office, but about an hour away from Zach’s school and our home. My thoughts drifted to the schedule we were living.

I had felt a growing desire to simplify things and was hoping to find work closer to home soon. Leaving the kids at the aftercare program in the summer filled me with guilt. I felt like it shortchanged them of what summer break was really about.

Lord, we need to change our lives. Please guide us in the right direction.

My prayer time had been sorely lacking lately with our busy schedules. It had been easy to shove it to the background when life became too crazy when I added fulltime work to my schedule. I promised myself to be more diligent with prayer as soon as things calmed down.

Relief washed over me as I parked the car next to the school. It was good just to lay my eyes on Zach. His beautiful hazel eyes seem to fill with relief as well when I entered the room. I had allowed Lexi, his ten-year-old sister, to spend the day with a girlfriend instead of at the school’s program. I knew our day could be long if the neurologist needed to do some extra tests. Zach was angry because Lexi and her friends were going bowling, something he loved to do. Throwing his backpack over my shoulder, I hustled him into the car for the return trip across town. As I looked back at him curled up in the seat, my heart exploded with love and panic. What could be wrong? His eyes were shooting daggers in my back.

“Are you mad you have to go to the doctor, buddy?” I asked.

“No ... but it’s not fair Lexi gets to go bowling with Allie and Michele and I don’t!” he snapped.

“We have to find out what is going on with your hand, honey,” I replied, wishing I could be as worry-free as he was about this. “Maybe if we finish quickly with the doctor we can catch them for the last game, OK?”

“OK,” he grumbled with a frown.

An empty waiting room greeted us as we walked into the neurologist’s office, prompting me to wonder why it had been so difficult to fit us in when there were no other patients there. After filling out the exasperatingly large stack of forms our litigious society has created in order to visit a doctor, I gave the receptionist the $230 in cash they required just to see us. I settled back into the waiting room chair and Zach struggled as he climbed into my lap.

I pulled his left arm, which was dangling lifelessly at his side, up across his tummy and held it there. I hugged him tight and slowly rubbed my cheek on his soft dishwater blonde hair. My apprehension of what the doctor might tell us grew as we waited. Trying to calm myself, I mentally ran through my list of questions about Lyme disease and all the other strange things I had found on the internet the night before. Apprehension aside, it was good to know we would finally get an answer and hopefully a solution for Zach’s condition.

Zach had been going crazy being limited by his uncooperative left arm. Now that his entire left side was hindered, it was imperative to determine the cause. Sports, games—playtime of any kind—were what Zach was all about. I had missed the methodic thumping sound of his basketball the last couple of weeks—but not nearly as much as he had missed producing the sound.

Finally they called us back to a room. More waiting.

Zach’s mood improved as he inspected an extensive collection of baseball memorabilia that covered the walls and desk in the exam room. Carefully trying to figure out who had signed the various items, he scanned each one. To pass the time after he finished that diversion, I had him try to do various things, hoping to see improvement. He could not jump on one foot; he could not lift his left arm or move his left hand. He would burst out laughing at himself after each failed attempt to do something. He loved to be silly. In his unassuming mind, it was merely a game we were playing.

When the doctor came into the room, he had a very businesslike air of complete self-confidence. He did not waste any time starting his exam. He barked questions at Zach like a drill sergeant in the military and had little patience or tolerance for hesitation. With pleading eyes, Zach looked at me for help, but the doctor made him answer on his own. Nervous giggles punctuated Zach’s answers. After the questions, he asked Zach to do many of the same things I had asked him to do while we waited. As he checked out Zach’s reflexes, he had Zach do a big belly laugh. He was so silly, even the doctor finally cracked a smile at him.

Zach’s smile and laugh always had come easily to him. With Lexi’s help he had quickly learned to smile as a baby. Deep-down belly laughs could explode from him at a moment’s notice if something struck his funny bone. His silly, easygoing nature had earned him many friends and captured many hearts.

Before I could even begin my barrage of questions about viruses, the doctor looked me in the eyes and his tone softened noticeably.

“Mrs. Tucker, I am sorry we did not allow you to come in sooner, but the diagnosis the urgent-care doctor gave you does not typically indicate an emergent need. I had a strange feeling about your call this morning. We should have seen Zach last week.”

Feeling an increase in my heart rate, I smiled at him nervously. Why was he suddenly so serious?

“In the brain there is an area called the motor strip,” he explained as he took out an anatomy book and opened it to a page with a picture of a brain. “This area controls the body’s movements on the opposite side. I think there might be something creating pressure in Zach’s brain that should not be there next to this motor strip on the right side.”

It felt as if an electric charge went through my body. My heart fell to my feet as I looked from his finger pointing to the picture to his eyes that were filled with concern. My mind, teeming with questions just moments before, was suddenly blank. I went into “mommy shock,” the kind where you know you have to stay calm for your kids, but you want to start crying and screaming, “Are you crazy? You think my perfectly healthy boy has something wrong with his brain?”

My hands began to tremble as I felt adrenaline pump through every inch of my body. The only word I could produce was “OK” as he stood and continued his conversation.

“I will have my nurse call St. Joseph’s Hospital to admit Zach and schedule an MRI. That will give us a clear picture of what is really going on. OK? St. Joe’s is just around the corner. They will take good care of you there. I will come over in the morning and we will go over the results.”

I felt light-headed as I again answered, “OK.” Zach had been sitting on my lap. Grabbing his hand, we both stood and followed the doctor into the hall. Our eyes met as I gave his hand a gentle squeeze and forced a smile on my face. I heard the doctor repeating the same instructions about St. Joseph’s Hospital to the nurse, except this time his voice seemed to express more urgency as he said to schedule the MRI Stat. Stat—that means life or death. My heart felt like it was trying to burst out of my chest it was beating so hard.

Breathe, Sherry, breathe, I thought. Paste a smile on your face; be strong. Zach needs you now. He is watching you to see how to react. Trying to appear calm, I watched the nurse as she listened attentively to the doctor. A look of complete pity filled her eyes when she heard the words “MRI Stat.” It was as if an unspoken message had been shared between them. It confirmed my fears—this was very serious.

She looked at me and asked if I knew how to get to St. Joe’s. “I–I think it’s just around the corner, right?” I stammered in a shaky voice.

It was apparent I had failed to mask my fear. The nurse gently grabbed my elbow and walked us out to the parking lot to physically show me which road to take. Thankfully the hospital was less than a block away and within sight.

Breathing had become a challenge to me as I could feel the very essence of our future fall into question. I had just learned Zach could have a brain tumor—a brain tumor! Forcing myself to place one foot in front of the other, I helped Zach climb into the backseat. My thoughts turned to Dirk as I placed my body behind the steering wheel. I needed him to be with us. My hands continued to tremble as I fumbled for my cell phone. Tears were tumbling from Zach’s eyes as he watched me. I felt the tears stinging my own eyes; I could not hold them back.

“Honey, I promise we will go bowling another day,” I said through my tears.

“I’m not crying because of that, Mom,” Zach replied. “I don’t want to go to the hospital.”

My heart broke. I wanted to climb back to him, hold him in my arms and dissolve in a puddle of tears. How could this be happening?

“I don’t want to go either, baby, but we need to figure this out. Are you scared?” I asked.

“Yes,” he replied.

I was scared, too. Indescribable fear had gripped my innermost core. It was so oppressive I could hardly catch my breath or stop my body from trembling. My intuition was screaming that there was something terribly wrong.

“I have to call Dad to let him know where we are going.”

It took an extreme amount of concentration to find his number in my phone. Breathing deep, I again tried to steady my voice as I waited for him to answer.

“This is Dirk,” a greeting he always used when answering his cell phone.

“Hey, um ... we ... um, just saw the doctor and are headed to St. Joe’s for an MRI,” my voice began to falter as I uttered the words.

The tone of his voice filled with concern. “Oh really?”

“The doctor thinks ... there might be something in Zach’s head ... that shouldn’t be there. So he wants us ... to go right now.” The words came tumbling out between my sobs.

“OK, Sherry. I’ll be right there. Just calm down; everything will be OK,” he said reassuringly.

Turning the key in the ignition seemed to snap me back into reality. A sense of calm and strength surrounded me as I drew in some deep breaths. Working on autopilot, I somehow found a parking space and the correct entrance for admissions.

Zach had gained control of his emotions as well. We held hands tightly and shared small smiles as I gave the necessary information to the person at the admission desk. It was a strange feeling to have gained such frightening news just moments before and yet be expected to function as if everything were normal. Our reality had entered a new dimension, while everyone around us remained oblivious to our plight.

The hospital was foreign to us. Except for having the kids and a short stay with pneumonia, I had never spent any time in the hospital. Zach had only had an occasional earache or sore throat his entire life. We managed to find our way to the correct nurses’ station and they settled us in a room. It was nearly 3:00 in the afternoon. Two hours had disappeared since Zach and I had arrived in the quiet waiting room a block away.

The hospital experience suddenly became an adventure once Zach discovered the bed moved when he pushed buttons and he found the remote control for the television. His eyes sparkled and a grin covered his face as he changed his position many different times. He was quite amused that he could make the bed contort into many different configurations.

Our brief escape from the reality looming in front of us evaporated when a nurse appeared at our door. She needed blood and to place an IV in his arm. Neither Zach nor I had expected this to be part of our day. She explained they needed to test his blood and during the MRI they would need the IV to inject contrast into his body to help make the images clearer.

The smile quickly disappeared from Zach’s face as he grabbed my hand and we followed the nurse to the “procedure room.” It had an ominous ring to it. I could sense fear in Zach’s voice as he whispered, “Will it hurt, Mom?”

“Remember when you were going into Kindergarten and had to get four shots? You laughed as they were giving them to you! It should not be as bad as that,” I said smiling, trying to bolster his courage.

Zach sat on my lap as the nurse carefully laid out all the tubing, tape and gauze she would be using. He whimpered in protest and pressed into me when he saw the needle. The nurse studied his arm, trying to locate a vein while rubbing an alcohol swab on his skin. When a vein did not readily appear, she enlisted the help of a more seasoned veteran. They went from arm to arm, tying the rubber tubing around his bicep, pushing on his skin, hoping to see a vein pop up. It was apparent his veins were going to be a challenge.

Zach became more nervous with each wipe but remained brave and still. We opened an I Spy book in an attempt to distract him. After three unsuccessful tries in his arm, they finally found a vein in his hand. Little did we know this would be the routine for many months to come.

Dirk soon arrived and sat with us while we waited for the MRI crew. We exchanged a few worried glances as he and Zach flipped the television channels from one sport to the next, finally settling on the Disney Channel. The nurses questioned whether Zach would be able to lie still for the twenty or thirty minutes required for the MRI scan. Because of his relaxed nature, I told them I felt sure he could. Even though he was athletic and strong, he had always been a mellow child. Zach seemed more confident when they assured him I could be in the room during the entire procedure.

Around 6:00 p.m. the technician came to take us to the MRI room. Before we could go, the nurse administrator entered the room with a look of concern. She informed us our insurance company was in the middle of a battle with St. Joe’s Hospital and we would be considered self-pay for any procedures performed and for the night’s stay. I was dumbstruck! I immediately called the customer service group at the insurance company to find out what was going on. The nurse was very apologetic and tried to reason with them that it was an emergent situation.

My mind kept hearing that word, emergent. It did not seem to fit with our family. Do they honestly think Zach really could have a tumor? It had to be a cruel joke—a mistake. No one in our immediate families had ever had a tumor.

Fighting to stay calm, we worked through the cost scenarios. An answer was our main priority; a couple of thousand dollars was an insignificant amount at this point. My heart broke as I saw tears dripping from Zach’s face. Our confusion and concern over insurance issues had worried him. I assured him there were no problems with money. We signed all the necessary paperwork to get the MRI underway, but he would not be admitted. As long as we were not in the room for twenty-four hours, we would not be charged for an inpatient stay. I did not want to contemplate a reason we would need to stay longer.

The MRI was an experience in itself. I felt confident Zach would be able to lie still. What concerned me was how he would feel while enclosed in a tube. The technician was very kind and eager to make Zach comfortable. He gave us both earplugs and positioned me at the foot of the machine. With the magic of mirrors, Zach had only to look straight up to see me sitting at the end of the machine. True to their word, the entire process took about thirty minutes. Our eyes were locked on each other the entire time. My mind was racing during the process. I reasoned there would be no tumor. How could there be? It just wouldn’t make sense. This had to be some type of virus or freaky brain thing—but not a tumor. A tumor had never entered my realm of thinking, so it could not be real.

The noises coming from the machine were extreme. They were loud and in every pitch and frequency imaginable. I made up songs to them as they thumped through their rhythms. “I want to go home” and “Please, God, no tumor” became the overriding themes of my songs. With every change in noise, Zach’s eyes lit up with surprise and a smile would spread across his face. I kept giving him the thumbs-up sign for encouragement.

Zach had no problem staying still. The tech commented on what a great patient he was. Dirk, who had been waiting patiently outside the room, greeted us with a smile after we were done. It was approaching 8:00 p.m. as Zach climbed back into the hospital bed in our “temporary room.” We decided Dirk would head home to rest and pick up some things for us. He planned to come back early so we both could meet with the doctor. Dirk smiled with confidence as he said he was sure the MRI would be clear. I smiled and shook my head in agreement.

As 9:30 p.m. approached, Dirk gave us both a hug and a kiss and we said good-bye. Zach and I relaxed together on the bed, searching for something to watch on television. I never knew when to expect my feet to rise or my head to sink as Zach continued to entertain himself with the adjustable bed. We were giggling and talking when I saw the doctor approaching. He appeared to be dressed for an evening out and irritated his attention had been diverted to us.

I laughed nervously and said, “I didn’t expect to see you until the morning.”

“I didn’t expect to be here so late. Are you alone?” He responded with a concerned look around.

I knew he did not come to tell us the MRI was clear.

No, God no! This cannot be happening!

My mind raced, ready to explode with panic. Our confidence the MRI would be clear was not to be true. He asked Zach if he could talk to me for a few minutes. Zach was hesitant, but agreed if it would only be for a minute. I felt like I was walking to my execution in slow motion as I followed him out of the room to a nearby conference room. Somehow this all had to be a dream. It was time to wake up! I was screaming in my head.

He asked if Dirk could return to the hospital. When I told him he had been gone for at least forty minutes already, he asked me to call Dirk on my cell phone. My entire body began to tremble as I dialed the number. I placed the phone in the center of the table between the doctor and me and pressed the button to turn on the speaker option. The doctor’s face was somber and firm as he stared at the ringing phone.

“Hello?” Dirk answered, surprised I was calling so soon.

“Dirk, the doctor has come back and wants to talk to us about the MRI. How far away are you?” I said quickly letting him know this was no casual phone call.

“I–I’m in Brandon, about fifteen minutes from our house.”

Realizing this was too far for him to return in a reasonable amount of time, the doctor began to speak. “The MRI shows there is a brain tumor on the right side of Zach’s brain. I cannot tell you what type of tumor it is or how it will have to be treated. I have arranged for you to be transported to All Children’s Hospital tonight so that Zach can be scheduled for surgery tomorrow. They have fantastic neurosurgeons who will do a great job for you. I would send my own family there if I were faced with this situation.”

The words just flowed out like it was an everyday conversation for him. Each word pounded my ears like a ten-inch nail. My head was spinning and my heart was pounding so hard I was sure he could see it from across the table. Dirk’s voice came through the phone in a frantic manner. “What does this mean? … How long does he have to live? … Could he die now?”

The doctor repeated that he could not comment on those types of questions at that point. After surgery, they would be able to tell us more. Dirk continued to insist on something more concrete until the doctor threw up his hands in frustration and I intervened.

“Dirk, he cannot tell us any more right now. Go home and call me back so that you can pick some things up we will need. I will talk to you soon.” It was like I had become a robot. I shut down my emotions so I could try to function and process this unreal situation. He had been blindsided while driving down the road. I was trying to calm him so he could get home safely for now.

The doctor asked me to look at the MRI scans with him. I blindly followed him, still trying to get my bearings. The world had taken on a dream-like state as I walked—I could not feel my feet hitting the floor, and everything seemed to be shrouded in a mist around me. We sat at a desk with a computer and he brought up the scan. There in front of my eyes I saw the cause of Zach’s problems. The inside of my child’s brain contained a golf-ball-sized tumor. The tumor was bright white against the gray and black brain matter surrounding it. It almost seemed to glow. The MRI was a series of scans—slices of Zach’s brain either from the top to bottom of his head or side to side. We were looking at the view from the top. The tumor was bulging into the left half of his brain, creating pressure on the left side as well.

The doctor stood over my shoulder, pointing to the images with a pen as he spoke. He was saying things that were only halfway registering—things like the tumor was deep … a lot of circulation. I was not sure what to do. I looked up at him with tears welling in my eyes and asked in a whisper, “What do I tell Zach?” What do I tell my seven-year-old baby? This was impossible. This had to be a dream! My mind raced with a million thoughts, but my body felt like it was in slow motion.

He replied, “I will help you explain it to him as we prepare you to go to All Children’s.” As we walked back to the room, I tried to put a smile on my face. I am sure it looked as transparent as it felt. Zach turned from the television to face us as we entered.

“Hey, baby,” I said gently walking to the bed, “we get to go for a ride.” I looked at the doctor for help.

“Zach, you remember the pictures we took earlier today of your head? They show there is something in there that should not be in there. We are going to send you to a hospital called All Children’s and they are going to work on fixing things for you,” he explained in a calm clear voice.

Zach just stared at him and then looked at me. The doctor patted him on the leg and went to speak with the nurses. I climbed into bed with Zach.

“Why are you shaking, Mom?”

“Oh, I am just cold and I need to snuggle with you.” I pulled him close in my arms. That seemed to satisfy him and we turned to the television. It would be a couple of hours until the ambulance would arrive to transport us to All Children’s. I began to try to relax my muscles so my nervous shaking would stop. He and I held hands and watched the television screen in the darkened room like nothing had happened. I wondered if he would sleep tonight. I was sure I would not. Even though my eyes were staring at the screen, the devastating state of panic I was feeling kept me from seeing anything. I knew I should be praying but, all I could manage was to think was no, God, no.

It was approaching midnight and Zach was finally getting drowsy. He was usually one to fall asleep easily and sleep soundly where ever he laid his head. I was thankful for that now. The less stress he had the better. Could he die right now? Why had the doctor not been clearer on what we should expect? Why didn’t I ask more questions? I called Dirk to see if he was OK. He was not. He had made it home safely—a small miracle in itself—but he was an emotional wreck. Trying to speak to me was an effort through his sobs. Periodically, he would actually gag. I began shaking again as I spoke. I tried to use as calm a voice as possible. “They should be here soon to take us to All Children’s. You will meet us there, right?”

“Yes. I am trying to figure this out, Sherry. I think God is punishing me. This can’t be real,” he said between sobs. “I have called our parents and the church. What do you need me to bring you?”

I quickly told him a few things to bring. A change of clothes and a toothbrush would get me by. I had no idea what we were facing as far as how long we would be at the hospital. My emotions began to overtake me as we spoke. I hadn’t even cried at this point because I couldn’t. Zach needed to know I could be strong for him. A few tears slid down my face as we finished our conversation.

The paramedics arrived and were ready to load us up now that Zach had fallen asleep. He would be sad he slept through the ride in the ambulance. I gathered our things and we were off. I followed the paramedics to the vehicle and climbed in the back with one of them and Zach.

I had never been in an ambulance before. As I buckled myself to the hard plastic seat, I took in the surroundings. There were many instruments and tools hanging securely all around, but they rattled and banged with every bump and turn. I sat on one side of Zach’s stretcher and the paramedic on the other. She was young and soft-spoken. Her large brown eyes would shift from me to Zach. She seemed nervous about Zach sleeping. I felt like she was not sure if he would make it to the next location. I wasn’t sure either. Silently, I watched the scenery go by out the slim windows in the side doors, thinking how many times I had traveled these roads, never dreaming I would be making this trip with Zach.

My gaze went to Zach. I stared at his sleeping face and my memories slid back to the countless mornings I would go in to wake him for school. He would always continue sleeping no matter how many kisses on his face or pats to his rear I gave him. Eventually I would turn him onto his back, grab his feet and pull him to my lap. Carefully, I would lift him to my arms and out of his bunk bed so I could carry him to the chair in the family room. I always kissed and admired his precious face as we walked. His sweet face looked just like I imagined an angel’s would look—so beautiful and filled with peace until the lights hit his eyes. Then he would screw up his eyes and wrinkle his nose to protest the intrusion into his sleep. His face held that same peacefulness now. I felt like he was a lamb going to slaughter. The tears flowed down my face as I finally released some of my emotions.

Lord God, please let my baby live! I have always asked for both Lexi and Zach to be wrapped in Your love and protection. Lord, we need You now. I am not ready to lose my baby! It was 1:30 a.m. little did I know, Dirk and I were about to begin the biggest nightmare of any parent’s life.


July 11, 2005—a day that would begin a new journey for our family. On this day all the future hopes and dreams we had once dared to imagine dissolved into a black abyss of unknowns. I was naïve enough to believe our family was somehow protected from the broken side of life. Tragedies swirled around us daily; yet, I only allowed them to enter my mind for the moment I read about one or another in the newspaper. Our lives had been normal. I had even prayed the prayer of Jabez—asking for God’s favor, love and protection over and over when the kids were young! We had to be protected, right? My expectations of our future had contained only pleasant, happy scenarios.

I never expected to encounter this storm. Maybe hurricane would be a better description. Because of this complacency in my heart, I now realize I was taking so many things for granted! Dirk and I had bought into the worldly view of life. This worldly view had us chasing our tails as we both worked trying to buy our family happiness through material things and feeling the frustration of never achieving quite enough. The true implications of living a life centered around God did not quite fit our lifestyle. Had we known how hard our world was going to be rocked in the summer of 2005, we would have lived so differently. But isn’t that true for anyone of us that has been thrown a major curve ball in our lives? If only we could start over …

Although this new journey took us kicking and screaming down a road we never wanted to see—much less travel—it also was the beginning of a journey into the center of our hearts. The Tour Guide we would be consulting and come to know in a much more intimate way had been waiting for us all of our lives. He knew we would be walking this path before we were even born. This journey would not only lead us through the world of pediatric cancer, it would lead us to challenge and understand God’s purpose for our lives. Little did we know it would be a path filled with such unconditional love sent directly by God to soften our hearts and bring us closer to Him in a way we had never allowed ourselves to go.

The lesson to take from this is there are no “do-overs” in life. We all have one shot at this life on earth. We cannot afford to waste it. My relationship with God was in its infancy at best. He was my friend of convenience. I only called on Him when it fit my schedule or when I had an issue I wanted help solving. I had given Him little quality time. For this reason, I felt ill-prepared and confused when faced with this trial. My heart had not learned to surrender and have complete faith in our mighty Creator, no matter what the challenge. I know now it is the only answer. This life on earth is for learning … it is only the beginning … there is so much more waiting for us.

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