I have this wonderful friend named Julia. I have known her for the past 10 years and Chad has known her for 20 years! Not long after I became friends with Julia her sweet 8 year-old sister, Carol Joy, was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. Carol Joy had surgery to remove the tumor but a lot of permanent damage had been done. She was hospitalized for months and my dear friend Julia would make the 140 mile round-trip drive to visit her sister as often as she could, sometimes more than once a week! I was able to accompany Julia on some of those visits. In the beginning, Carol Joy was in a coma but Julia would sit by her side and hold her sister's hand and talk to her about anything and everything. Then, as Carol Joy started to wake up, Julia would paint her nails or color with her. Once we took Carol Joy to a "play date" to visit another young girl who was a patient at the same hospital. I remember once visit when Carol Joy asked me to draw a dolphin. I don't even pretend to know how to draw, but I tried anyway. When I showed her my drawing she started to laugh, a lot. Through her giggles she told me that what I had made looked nothing like a dolphin.
I wanted to be a comfort to my friend Julia as she watched her sister struggle through her illness, but my visits started to turn into something else. I wanted to be around Carol Joy. In spite of the long drive, the sometimes scary hospital setting, the difficulty of seeing a child having to suffer in this way, I always left feeling uplifted and hopeful and at peace. I can't help but think that the Lord was preparing me for the arrival of our daughter, another one of these precious spirits whose body would not be like as strong or as healthy as other children's.
A few weeks ago Carol Joy went into surgery to help her smile again. Then last week, she unexpectedly passed away. When I heard what had happened, I had two emotions. I felt sadness, of course, that her life had been so short. I was sad for her family, that they would have the opportunity to see her again in this life. But, I also felt relief. All the pain and the struggles Carol Joy had, it was over now. She was free of the body that had so many limits and frailties.
Carol Joy passed away unexpectedly and like most of us who have a special needs child, her family is having some financial difficulties. An account has been set up to help pay for final expenses. Please donate what you can. Please helo the Knapp family with the last thing they will do for their daughter on this earth. Click here for a link to the Carol Joy Memorial Fund. My friend Ruth whose daughter has the only documented case of a specific chromesome deletion, wrote a beautiful tribute about Carol Joy coming to visit her daughter in the NICU.
2 years ago