Seventeen Months and Counting


Sadie was 17 months old when childhood cancer took her from us, and today it has been 17 months since we said goodbye to her.  Goodness, in some ways it seems like all of this happened yesterday, and in other ways, it seems like it’s been 50 years.  It’s no wonder we miss her so much.  We had 17 months to love on her, play with her, watch her grow, and see her personality start to take shape.  She was a part of us, and a part of our family.

I remember the day I found out I was pregnant with Sadie.  It was the Sunday after Thanksgiving, 2010.  Tim preached that morning, and I just KNEW I was pregnant.  Eli and I left after the first service and, believe it or not, I took him to Gymboree to get a “big brother” t-shirt before I even took the pregancy test.  I could just tell that there was a precious baby inside of me.  Sure enough, the test was positive, and when Tim walked in the door, instead of, “Hey, let’s talk about how preaching went today”, it was, “Hey Eli, show Daddy your new shirt that we bought after church”.  I remember exactly where we were standing, and I remember exactly what Tim’s face looked like.  He had this deer in the headlights look, like, “what are we going to do with another one?!?!”…

Well, it didn’t take long for us to embrace the fact that we had a baby coming, and we were thrilled when we heard we were going to be blessed with a little girl.  We had considered the name Sadie when we were considering names during my first pregancy, so it didn’t take much thought for us to settle on her name–Sadie Caroline. 

I also remember the day I delivered Sadie.  Everything went incredibly smooth.  Much easier than when I had Eli.  She was healthy, beautiful, and perfect.  I remember thanking God for this healthy little girl.

For the next 16 months, Sadie was a picture of health.  She was beautiful, fun, and was the perfect addition to our family.  I remember getting her out of her crib one morning, soon before she got sick, and saying out loud, “What would I ever do without you?”.  Needless to say, I found out, and I will never ask that question ever again.  I didn’t really want to know the answer.  It was my way of saying how much I loved, treasured, and valued the life of my beautiful daughter.

When I reflect on the past 17 months, much of it is a blur.  I think back to our days in the hospital and think, “HOW did we not fall completely apart?  How did we survive that?”.  The answer is, we didn’t have a choice.  No one in their right mind can picture something like this happening, and react by saying, oh yeah I could handle that.  But we didn’t get to choose.  We were along for a ride that we never wanted to be on.  Then to try to soak in the fact that this sifted through the permissive hand of God was even more baffling.  WHY would He let this happen to Sadie?  To us?  Why didn’t He just fix it?

Well, I am learning the answer a little more every day.  I will never in a million years be happy about the fact that we lost our daughter to cancer.  I will, however, walk with my eyes open to God’s grace.  To His mercy.  To His love.  I have had to (very reluctantly) grab on to the concept that God’s plan for Sadie’s life journey is just different than I had expected.  And, His plan for MY life journey is different than I expected.  I thought it was okay to coast along, like people, have friends, raise a family, enjoy my job, go to church, etc., etc., etc.  Normal stuff.  What I didn’t realize is that the purpose of our time here runs far deeper than that.  There is something about this place that is supposed to prepare us for what lies ahead.  So, what can I do while I am here to make a difference, and to accomplish whatever that purpose is?  I’m not asking that to see how busy I can get (I do that naturally).  I mean what am I REALLY here for?  To pursue holiness and live it out.  To pursue Christ-likeness and live it out.  Not to watch others do this, but to do it myself.

Another thing that I am realizing is that oh yes, I do have the time.  I am not too busy.  If there is a desire in my heart, I’ll find the time and energy to get it done.  That doesn’t mean that I think we should over commit and do every little thing that comes up.  No–sometimes rest is what we need to spend our time doing.  But it does mean stop using time as my excuse.  I am embarrassed when I see the difference having the “want to” can make in my life, and in the lives of so many others.  What if we all lived with the “want to”?  It took my daughter’s death for me to realize how self-serving I had become.  How much I was full of talk about how much I cared, but lacked the ooomph to get up and do something besides watch other people make a difference.

I remember at one point during our hospital stay with Sadie–it was the Wednesday before Thanksgiving 2012 (interesting how all of this happened all around Thanksgiving).  Sadie was already in the hospital, but had some sort of seizure episode.  25-30 doctors and nurses rushed down the hall toward us.  She was nonresponsive.  Her oncologist turned to me and said, “Amber, I am not sure what’s happening, but I don’t like it.  You may want to call Tim to get over here asap”.  I saw his face when he said that to me.  It translated to, “Amber, I think your daughter is dying”.  Well, we didn’t lose her that day, but I think that was the moment that I realized how serious all of this was.  It dawned on me that we may really not get to keep her.  But we did get to keep her a whole month longer.  To me, that was eternity.  I treasured every single second with Sadie, until she breathed her last.  I remember vividly where I was that day, too.  It replays in my mind a lot.  I remember people that we interracted with that day, I remember talking to her, singing to her, reading to her, praying for her.  I remember when we got in the elevator to leave the hospital–a couple with their newborn got in the elevator to take their baby home, and I was just stoic.  I was like, “I cannot BELIEVE this is happening to us”.

What I’ve realized since then was that yes, it did in fact happen to us, and it happens to far too many others.  I just had no idea.  Or maybe I just wasn’t capable of realizing the emotions to go along with the statistics.  What was once words and numbers became feelings and emotions.

All this to say, I feel like I reside on a different planet now.  I don’t need Mother’s Day to remind me to miss my child.  I miss my child every second of every day.  I think of Sadie all the time.  But I carry it differently now.  I still cry almost every day, but I am doing much better.  I don’t care less about what happened, but I care more about what to do from here.  How can we move forward in a healthy way, always carrying Sadie Davis right in our hearts?

My child has changed me.  She changed a lot of people from what I hear.  I am and forever will be SO INCREDIBLY PROUD of Sadie’s part in this world.  I don’t like the pain, and I miss her so much, but this child is making a difference.  I couldn’t ask for more.  I am honored and will always be so grateful to be her mommy, and for the precious time we got to have her here with us.

About amberhilldavis

I've always been referred to as a "happy gal"...someone who could make light of almost any situation. But in December of 2012, my 17 month old daughter, Sadie, lost a 40 day/40 night battle with a very aggressive form of leukemia called CNS AML. This has taught me that everything in life is not mind over matter. Sometimes life is really really hard. I don't look at this as a reason to give up on life, though. God has brought me through lots of things--I know for a fact that He will not forget me now. And so now my true journey of complete faith in God Almighty will dictate my future. I plan on ending this story victoriously.

4 responses »

  1. “I don’t care less about what happened, but I care more about what to do from here. How can we move forward in a healthy way, always carrying Sadie Davis right in our hearts?”
    Goodness, these words are profoundly important and precious. God is doing a mighty big thing Amber. There will be a way to do that every single day and the path of beauty from ashes will be breathtaking. I love you and I love remembering your darling girl and wondering what wonderful things she is doing each moment.

  2. I continually pray for you dear Amber, each and every day. Your words are beautiful and so honest. You have done so much in Sadie’s honor for others. Her sweet little life has made such a huge impact on so many. May you find peace in knowing how you and Sadie have changed so many lives and continue to do so. Love always,
    Susan Pankratz

  3. Thank you so much, Susan. You have been an amazing encourager throughout this journey.

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