Advent Day 6: Do Not Be Afraid

The day of my mom’s biopsy, after hearing what the doctor thought they found, I handed over my valet ticket and filled the waiting time with Google statistics and life expectancies. I felt my face hollow out and droop. I thanked the driver, ever forgetful about the tip, and drove, sobs and a faucet of tears sudden as the GPS directed me which way to go: turn left, in 500 feet, turn right; stay straight and narrow and focused on today, how can you know what’s ahead, do not worry, do not worry, I love you, I love you, I am always with you, peace, peace, Child, peace, don’t you know you have only today, just today, today, today, today?

I didn’t listen. I drove by instinct through the historic neighborhoods hysterical and ritzy suburban stretches sobbing into the wooded valley aflame with golds and rubies ripe and ready to be flung by sudden gusts into ditches and gutters, all things discarded to dust. I called my husband and calmed enough to speak objectively–here are the things I know and here are the things I don’t–just the facts, ma’am, because I can handle no more than that, and drove onward to my old stomping grounds, almost home to my parents’ house.

There, we gathered as a family unit, my brothers and me and my parents, retold what we knew so far and what we’d learned online and cried again. I bought food enough to feed a dozen of us and stayed all afternoon.

I thought I was all cried out, but when I went to say goodnight to my daughter, Lydia, the tsunami hit again.

“I’m just so worried about Grandma Rose,” I wept into her shoulder, her nine-year-old arms around me, my 33-year-old arms around her. I held her holding me holding her.

2014-11-30 18.51.48
Lydia and Grandma Rose at the Nutcracker in 2014

We were both quiet for a little while, me still sniffling, Lydia grabbing a Kleenex, then, “It will be okay, Mom,” she said. She handed me the tissue. “Even if she dies, we’ll see her again in heaven, with Great-Pop and Tex.”

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

John 14:27

God-With-Us in the quiet, in the stillness that descends, the peace that carries us through each season of distress. God-With-Us in my little girl. This is the hope that we have, isn’t it? Heaven now and heaven later? Do not be afraid. Do not be afraid. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Turn right. In 500 feet, turn left.

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’

Isaiah 30:21

Published by Sarah M. Wells

Sarah M. Wells is the author of The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Gospels to Help Kids and Parents Love God and Love Others (2022), American Honey: A Field Guide to Resisting Temptation (2021), Between the Heron and the Moss (2020), The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Bible to Help Kids and Parents Engage and Love Scripture (2018), Pruning Burning Bushes (2012), and a chapbook of poems, Acquiesce, winner of the 2008 Starting Gate Award through Finishing Line Press (2009). Sarah's work has been honored with four Pushcart Prize nominations, and her essays have appeared in the notable essays list in the Best American Essays 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, and 2018. Sarah is the recipient of a 2018 Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council. She resides in Ashland, Ohio with her husband and three children.

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