We are so honored to have our friend Sarah Rodriguez, author of the book From Depths We Rise, here with us today sharing her story. It’s a story of tremendous loss and tremendous beauty and we know you will be as moved and encouraged by it as we are!
Life can be a thing of beauty. I’ve seen it with my very own eyes. It was not always that way. Life has taken my family to radical depths in repeated fashion. I thought I might never know beauty again. Yet each new day, I see it blossoming before my eyes.
Let’s open the book on Chapter One. An Oklahoma girl meets a New York boy and falls in love. It started as quickly as we married our lives together. My husband Joel and I longed for a child yet years of infertility had left us reeling. Then, the unthinkable, my husband was diagnosed with kidney cancer at the age of 32. He fought the disease with fierceness, enduring a surgery and one year of intense chemo to follow.
Then came a break in the clouds. Remission, a beautiful baby boy and the hope of normal life again. It was not to be.
Within days of my son Milo’s birth, we found out Joel’s cancer had aggressively returned. Again, we found ourselves in the battle for my husband’s life. This time we would not win. Joel passed away at the age of 35.
Sometimes when a story looks like it is ending, it is really just beginning.
Because of our earlier trials with infertility we had used In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) to get pregnant. After my husband’s death there were two remaining embryos. I had a decision to make. My choice was to place this in the hands of God, surrender to His purposes and place the embryos in my womb. What would be, from that point, was out of my hands. My heart soared when I found out I was pregnant, later giving birth to a beautiful baby girl named Ellis.
Life was perfect for her first two weeks of life, blissful really. Then it turned on a dime, yet again.
My beautiful daughter Ellis woke up lethargic, fussy and warm. Concerned I took her to the pediatrician, who had her transferred to a local children’s hospital. By the end of the night my daughter was on a ventilator, diagnosed with bacterial meningitis and fighting for her life.
Once again my family was thrown into the depths of despair, as fear and sorrow abounded. How could we lose what we had only recently received? It seemed unfathomable. Especially after all we had previously endured.
But the story was not over yet.
Ellis quit breathing along with her vent and a difficult decision was made to remove her from it. We gathered to say our goodbyes as I held her in my arms, weeping. Then our present ashes were resurrected, bringing beauty back to life again.
By miracle of miracles she lived…and now she thrives. The beautiful baby has grown into a spunky toddler, doing many of the things they said she never would and spreading sunshine in her wake.
It’s not ever how I would’ve written the story, had the pen been mine to hold. I, of course, would have chosen an easier path, trading awe for the mundane. Yet it is in our lowest moments I’ve seen Him face to face. He has walked before us every step of the way, leading us to higher ground, to a joy that defies, to a hope that inspires…to a life that is beautiful.
About the Author: Sarah is an author, speaker, vlogger, blogger at www.journeyofsarah and the Huffington Post. She is the founder of the Choose Joy Project a “random acts of kindness” initiative to honor the life of her late husband, Joel. Her life’s greatest role is that of Mommy to Milo and Ellis. Sarah is a one-time NYC transplant who now makes her home in Oklahoma, where the best sunsets on earth are found. Her memoir, From Depths We Rise is available in stores now.
Thank you so much for meeting us (and Sarah!) at the fence today sweet friends!