when fears are stilled

My youngest is six years old. She is the most expressive when it comes to confusion, fears and grief surrounding the cancer in my body. A few months ago, she drew a picture of herself and me. I was passed out, laying down. She was standing. I was bald. She had hair. A tornado was hovering above us. She was pulling me with a rope to rescue me. 

 I just noticed the tears. Somehow, I had missed those.

I thought of this drawing the other night* when she frantically said at bedtime, “Don’t leave! I can’t stop thinking about hurricanes! Hurricanes are stuck in my mind.” I asked her why she was thinking of hurricanes. “I read a book at school. Do NOT go to Florida from June to November! That is when there are hurricanes. It is so scary. I told Elwyn to NOT read the book!”

I had a trip planned to go to Florida in mid-November. I did not bring this up. It was time for me to be a comforter. I needed to offer conversation to calm her fears. As my mama bear instincts flared up, I got scared that I wouldn’t always be there for her to do this. I needed my Comforter. So I had a silent conversation with God about my fears, while I spoke to her. 

“Remember: I was born in Florida. I lived in Florida until I was six, your age.” 

God, please give me enough years to see her graduate from high school. 

“And, I lived there for all the months of the year. Hurricanes didn’t happen often, but when they did, we got a warning from the weatherman.”

I just met someone…she had stage 3 cancer. She has lived eleven years since. Is that enough? 

“The homes have special shutters and are prepared for hurricanes. They make sure the windows don’t break.”

Six years old plus eleven more…what is that??? Six plus eleven..? Six plus eleven is only 17. That isn’t enough.

“You drive away from the ocean when the weather man thinks you’re in danger.”

God, I admit that asking to see Phoebe graduate from high school is kind of a trick request because it means I get to see all the kids graduate from high school. 

“Maybe you stay with friends or at a hotel, but either way it’s pretty fun.”

God, give me more years. 

“Then, you come home and usually it’s no big deal.”

Phoebe was satisfied. “Weathermen are the best people in the whole world! I love them the best! Well, not the best, because I love God first and then mommy and daddy! But, I am SO glad there are weathermen.” 

And oncologists, and surgeons…and the One who calms the storms…

*This post was originally written in November and has been sitting amongst the drafts for awhile.

3 thoughts on “when fears are stilled

  1. Oh Jenna. Thanks for taking it from draft to publication. #stormcalmer (This should be the intro to your book, btw).


  2. Sweet Phoebe. It’s a strange burden for you, feeling the anxiety for yourself about your life, and then also carrying everyone else’s anxiety about possibly losing you.

    I just heard a beautiful interview with a Benedictine monk, Brother David Steindl-Rast, about gratitude and gratefulness. He talked about anxiety v. fear. I’ll listen to it with you, because I need to listen again.


  3. It is the eye opening innocent words of our children that often bring us closer to understanding the love God has for us. Kid fears are so intense because the world is so new and big which is why they need loving parents to guide them. As adults we often are told not to be afraid or minimize it. Yet as we look at the big scary world around us we need a parent to calm our fears. Sweet Phoebe was able to minister to you through her own fear of cancer. Her picture is very interesting too because only Phoebe is standing in the Tornado. She is trying by herself to wrangle this big scary monster with a tiny rope. Then around her legs is a mud puddle from all the tears she’s cried. This is a picture of a little girl who is overwhelmed by fear, grief, and doesn’t understand how this tornado of cancer is going to affect her life. Her beloved Mommy is lying down. You did a great job explaining your thinking in between your calming words to Phoebe. You gave her the tools to wrangle this “tornado”. More importantly, you let her know that she doesn’t have to feel alone with those feelings because there will always be “weathermen” family, friends and others who will give her safety during the storm! #sensitivemom #sweetphoebe #comforted


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s