The Sign of the Butterfly

Logging on to Facebook this morning, I saw something that took my breath away.  Ava Gioe, a five year old girl battling DIPG (brain stem cancer) passed away early this morning.  She had been fighting since November 2010.  Her passing was inevitable, because there is a ZERO percent cure rate.  DIPG tumors are inoperable, so Ava’s doctors could offer her family no hope.  She’d had a stroke, which was very scary, as you can probably imagine.  How many four year olds have strokes?  She was in a coma for weeks, and then she woke up and started recovering movement on her left side.  Her tumor grew, and her parents were told to take her home and “get ready.”  Get ready for what?  For her death?  Who prepares for the death of a four year old?  And then a miracle:  her tumor shrunk a little all by itself.  Since then, she had been on an experimental drug.  And now, she is gone…

She loved butterflies, and I thought the above image was fitting for her.  I can only imagine what Heaven looks like, but I like to think of Ava healthy, whole, running, jumping, trying to catch butterflies.  In my head, I picture her as before she fell ill, and she’s laughing.  This is what I choose to believe, because what else could there be?  Fly high, sweet Ava.  You did get your miracle, even though your mommy and daddy and brother and other loved ones are in such pain right now.  You couldn’t be cured on earth, so you are cured in Heaven.  I know you are still here, in your own way.  Your mommy has already received a sign – a pink butterfly pendant in her driveway.   Someone was wearing it around her neck as a way to honor you, but all day long, the chain was coming undone and finally, the pendent disappeared.  It was you, wasn’t it?  You wanted your mommy to have the butterfly.  You wanted her to know that you are all right, that you are as free as a butterfly now.  Mission accomplished, baby girl.

I pray for the Gioes, their extended family and friends as they grief, that the Lord’s merciful hand be upon them, and uphold them when they cannot stand alone.  I know they aren’t the only ones grieving, as there are hundreds upon hundreds of other families in the same boat, and there will be more tomorrow and the next day and the next.  I do not know what God’s plan is here, but I do know that he is Love.  He does not give children cancer.  Jeremiah 29:11 comes to mind:  “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord.  ‘Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

We are more than this world says we are.  The earth may define and limit us for a short time, but we were made for so much more than we can ever imagine.  1 Corinthians 2:9 says, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.”  We just have to trust…

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