Over a week ago, a group of elders from My in-laws’ church came to the hospital to pray for my daughter. It meant a lot to me.
We are both so grateful for the prayers and support of people all over the world. Some have prayed for a miracle, some for peace and understanding. It's all very touching to Brandi and me, whatever the prayers are for.
As for me, long before this nightmare, I'd given up on prayer. I’d prayed zealously, thankfully, openly, quietly. For years my prayers for wisdom ended in silence. My prayers for change and for miracles were met with no change. I’d screamed prayers into my pillow. I’d meditated openly, just listening. My prayers of thanks for all I had were met with silence, although arguably I suppose those prayer were rhetorical…
In short, my prayers were negligible on a practical level, and so I got sick of doing it. I don't remember when, but one day I told God, "you're obviously not listening, or uninterested in responding, or just not there. I'll keep my ears open, but I'm tired of barking in the dark. If you want something, I'll be here".
I had kept my promise since that time.
There's a 1/35,000 chance of someone being born with a brain tumor. There's a 1/6,000,000 chance of someone developing what Scarlett has: a congenital glioblastoma. It's so rare that the summary research of the leading Oncologist on the matter, our doctor, has only about forty cases to analyze in his research paper on the topic. He and our neurosurgeon are trying a standard route: surgery-then-chemo; this works with other tumors on rare occasions, and we hope, will work with Scarlett’s ultra rare condition. 1 in 6,000,000. What are the odds of contracting and then being cured of a congenital glioblastoma?
I am surrounded by religious people, like the elders who prayed for Scarlett, and so I am often surrounded by prayer. When other people pray, I kneel and bow my head with them. It’s respectful to them I think, and also – it’s less embarrassing to me. It avoids the discomfort of explaining myself.
So the other night, I respectfully knelt with the elders of my in-laws’ church as they did what they thought they could do. They prayed for healing...for a miracle. They prayed for understanding and peace and a number of other things. They took turns praying, their hands on my daughter’s body as per tradition. They prayed for the sorts of things I would have prayed for during a time when I thought prayer could do something. And then, inspired in the interspersed silence, I said something out loud.
"Listen to me. I'm talking to you. And by talking to you I am breaking a promise I made to you. But I'm breaking this promise to make you a better one. I'm praying this prayer to ask you to fix her. Take this away from her as though it weren’t there and make her well again. If you do this, I offer you a better promise in return. This is a deal I'm making with you. Take this away and I'll change what I believe. I’ll follow you. Take this away from her and I’ll do whatever you want. I can do it. I'll do it if you do this. I broke my first promise to offer this better promise. Please, please, fix this. I broke my first promise, but this second one is the last promise I can make or break with you."
And so with nothing to give my daughter except my own rationality, I prayed. My own thoughts, my feelings, are nothing. As long as she's fixed.
So I prayed.