All Part of the Plan

I had been diagnosed with breast cancer and I needed God's reassurance. I found it during a church service I attended.

My sister and I shared a corned-beef sandwich at the Irish Heritage Festival in the park. “Do you want to join in the ceilidh dancing?” she asked.

“You go ahead, Mary. I’ll watch.”

Mary wove her way around some laughing children and took her place in the reel. I dreaded telling her my devastating news. I’d gotten my diagnosis the day before. Breast cancer.

Only my husband knew about it, and I’d made Scott promise not to tell anyone. I imagined the sadness in Mary’s eyes when she found out. Worse yet, I could feel her fear. It would be the same with everyone I told: my parents, all of my friends—and my daughter, Molly, only seven. How could I bear hurting the people I loved?

Mary rushed back to me, her cheeks flushed from dancing. I didn’t have the heart to tell her my secret. I couldn’t imagine that I ever would.

“I can’t do it,” I said to Scott once I got home. “I’m afraid and I can’t worry everyone I care about.”

Scott tried to reason with me, but it was no use. I had to face my illness alone.

That night I went to bed early. I dreamed I was surrounded by darkness so deep no light could reach it. And I was by myself, disconnected from everything that mattered. No love, no hope, no family. No God.

I woke with a start, trembling with the sense of overpowering loss. That must be what hell is like. I pulled the covers over my head and shut my eyes.

Sunday morning I sat up in bed and massaged my temples. My terrible dream still lingered in my thoughts. Scott was already dressed—in a suit, no less. “Where are you going?” I asked.

“I’m coming to church with you,” he said. That was unusual for Scott, but I knew he was doing it for me.

Molly and I got dressed, and after breakfast we headed out to the late-morning service. The church I attended was some distance away, but I didn’t mind the quiet morning drive through the wooded New Jersey countryside. I looked forward to sitting in the pew with my family around me. I wanted to feel God’s reassuring presence. I wanted to forget all about that awful dream.

Going south on Route 23, we hit a roadblock. A police car was pulled across both lanes of the highway. Flashing lights signaled some trouble down the way. An officer motioned for us to turn around. He wouldn’t tell us what the problem was. We had no choice.

“I don’t know any other way to get there,” I said. Scott turned the car around. “There must be another church around here,” he said. “Let’s look.”

Up ahead a steeple rose above the treetops. “There!” I said. I read the sign as we got closer. Cars were just pulling in for the eleven o’clock service.

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Eileen Fisher
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