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Sister Act

My sister and I have always struggled to appreciate each other’s inner beauty. “This is what you should do,” Faith would say when we were younger.

“But I’m not you, remember?”

“Oh, Chick, don’t be so sensitive. I’m just trying to help.”

Now we are adults, and God has blessed us with some grace along the way. But often, it is still difficult to communicate effectively and validate each other.

One summer afternoon we sat on my patio, sipping iced tea. Faith scratched her foot, then glanced down. “Oh boy, it’s bleeding. It’s time to have a doctor check this out.”

As I inspected her foot, I immediately felt alarm. “It looks like an infected mole. How long has it been raised and discolored?”

She scratched her head. “Two months.”

“Two months? Faith, this could be dangerous. Let’s call my dermatologist. He’ll take you right away.”

She saw Dr. Bednaz the next day. “We’ll take a biopsy,” he said, “and I’ll call you when the results come back.”

“It’s probably nothing,” Faith told me on the ride home. “I’m not a bit worried.”

Of course not. Your butterfly brain is already a million miles away. “That’s a good attitude,” I told her quietly.

Faith called the next day. “The doctor said that mole is cancerous—malignant melanoma. He scheduled me for surgery two days from now.” She began to sob. “Chick, I could lose my entire foot.”

I tried to breathe evenly. Help me, Lord. Give me the right words to comfort her. “Faith, Dr. Bednaz has the facts. But we know The Great Physician.”

“I’m still scared,” she said softly.

When we hung up, I sank to my knees. What should I pray for, Father?  Secretly, I held no hope that Faith could claim victory over this illness. Finally I mumbled, “Dear God, for Your Glory, please heal my sister.” To occupy my thoughts, I washed a load of laundry. Yet my fears worked overtime. Maybe Faith felt the same way. I phoned her. “Want to go out to dinner tonight?”

“Yes,” she said immediately.

A hour later we sat in the Olive Garden and picked at our meals. “Nothing is impossible with God,” I said optimistically. Yet when I flashed on how long she had been in denial about that suspicious mole, I grew furious. The next instant my heart softened as I considered all we’d missed by not fully accepting each other. Lord, help me to be good to her while I still can. 

Faith wavered between the valley of despair and the pinnacle of faith. As she pushed her linguine around her plate, she said, “I’m going to be fine.”

“That’s the spirit.” If only I had her confidence.

When I later returned home, I recalled Pastor Jim saying, “Ask God for what you want. Then thank Him for it, believing it is already done. Above all, have faith—mustard-seed size will do.”

I sank to my knees again. Lord, thank You in advance for healing both Faith’s foot and my unbelief. My prayer felt weak; nevertheless, it held a pinch of faith.

On Operation Day, I hugged my sister before she went into surgery, then I sank into a chair in the waiting room. Hours later, Dr. Bednaz joined me. “Faith’s surgery went well. We were able to save most of her foot. However, I also took five lymph nodes to see if the cancer’s spread to other organs. Results should be back by tomorrow morning.”

I cringed. The drama wasn’t over yet. Would there be a happy ending?

I drove Faith home, and settled her in bed. After eating a tuna sandwich, she said, “My foot is throbbing. I’m taking a pain pill so I can sleep.”

“Okay.” I plumped her pillows and she dozed off minutes later. At 10:00 I turned out the light and went to bed. About 2 a.m., I heard my sister holler, “Chick.” I jumped out of bed and raced into the bathroom to find her poised on one foot while clutching the door frame and trying to pull herself upright.

“I slipped,” she cried as I gently lifted her into a standing position and held her. She was drenched in sweat and obviously exhausted from her efforts. We rested there until she caught her breath. “I didn’t want to put my bad foot down,” she kept saying.

“It’s okay now,” I whispered. “Come on, let’s hobble back to bed.”

Several minutes later I tucked her in. As I turned around, she grabbed my hand. “Thank God you heard me, Chick.”

“I wish you had yelled before you got out of bed.”

“I did, but you were snoring.” We both laughed, and for a moment the tension eased. Then Faith asked, “Do you think I’ll die from this melanoma?”

I wanted to run away. Instead, I sat on the edge of her bed and looked into her eyes. “I don’t know.” We both burst into tears. For the next several hours we cried and talked until we were empty. About 6 a.m. Faith said, “I’m starving.” So as the sun rose, I cooked up hash browns and cheese omelets, and served Faith breakfast in bed.

“Now I’m ready to sleep again,” she said after she devoured everything on her plate.

“Good.” I gathered the dishes, returned to the kitchen, and loaded the dishwasher. Suddenly I realized that Faith’s health crisis had served to strengthen our relationship. I now genuinely accepted her light attitude, and she appeared to value my intensity. But something else was different too. God’s peace was upon us, and I knew His strength had carried us this far. I had no doubt that I would glorify Him, no matter what may come.

Just then, the phone rang. “Hello, Dr. Bednaz,” I heard Faith say. I prayed silently as I walked into her bedroom. She turned toward me with a huge smile. “Chick, I’m cancer-free.”

I breathed a sigh of relief. Thank You, Lord, for giving us a second chance at true sisterhood.

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About Diane E. Robertson

Diane E. Robertson

writes from Venice, Florida.

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