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Anna’s Story

Anna Margaret Dahl

Born: February 22, 2005

Diagnosed: Stage IV Neuroblastoma, February 26, 2007

Died: March 28, 2008

Please, click Read Story for more.

"Pray. Pray, please." - Anna, 02/24/07

Anna Margaret Dahl was born on February 22, 2005 at 10:14 AM. She was 21 inches long and weighed 7 lbs 10 oz.

She developed an early love of reading and was always intrigued by new and "great" words. She was meticulous when it came to order and thrived on structured learning and playing times. She spent her days at home, but enjoyed spending time most mornings at the YMCA's Kids Stuff program, playing and working on crafts, while Mom exercised.

Late during the night of February 24, 2007, we took her to the St Paul Children's Hospital Emergency Room due to her lethargy, stomach distention, and acute constipation. When constipation had been ruled out, she was run through a series of scans until the early morning hours. During her tests, and after several unsuccessful attempts by the staff to find a vein for an I.V., Anna, through her pain and in a quiet voice, said, "Pray, please." It took us several attempts to understand her request. Finally, I asked, "Pray?" "Please," she said. Mom prayed and she was calmed.

Anna was diagnosed with Stage IV Neuroblastoma on February 26, 2007. She received treatment for 13 months. All the while she continued to learn and love. She began to explore the facets of her personality and we soon learned that she loved the simple things in life. Among her favorites were the colors purple and pink. She loved books (those she knew and all the new ones, too) and Hello Kitty (from adhesive bandages to coloring books to stickers). She spent hours watching her Cedarmont Bible Songs videos and gazing at her room adornments, that we put up the first night of each of her extended hospital stays. She grew to love her nurses and clinic staff and even cried one Saturday when a clinic visit was not on the day's itinerary!

During her treatment, she underwent 15 rounds of chemotherapy, had 2 major resections (Children's Hospital, St Paul in June, 2007 and Memorial Sloan Kettering, New York, February 2008) and multiple lesser operations, and traveled to 3 states in search of treatment options and clinical trials.

On March 28, 2008 around 7:15 PM, Anna died.

We were all with her when God called her home. She had endured several rigorous weeks but was beginning to feel better. She joined us at the table during dinner and for play time in the basement that evening.

Her body was laid to rest at Oronoco Cemetary in Oronoco, MN on April 5, 2008.

We are grateful that Anna is our daughter and cherish the 3 years (1,130 days, exactly) that she was with us. We love her and miss her very much. We know that she is with Jesus, and we glorify God in that knowledge. We look forward to our reunion with her when our lives are ended and Heaven becomes our home, as well.

We thank God for answered prayers and for the encouraging words and gifts from so many during Anna's treatment.

Please visit the Journal and Guestbook to read of God's faithfulness during these, our toughest of times. In sadness, He brought joy. Through the pain, He provided comfort. During sorrow, He granted peace. During all, He was "Emmanuel" - God with us.

Soli Deo Gloria

Latest Journal Update


Peace. Quiet. Tranquility. That was the plan for the day.

"Tonight," I thought this morning upon waking, "I will get home and we will have a pleasant dinner followed by some time together watching videos of Anna. In this way, we will honor her and keep her memory alive, in us and in the little ones."

Then life happened.

I felt much like my 4-year old son when the stack of puzzles and games topple out of the cabinet. He works himself into a frenzy because he can't figure out how to keep them from falling. Well, he could figure it out, but doesn't have the emotional aptitude to remain calm and solve the problem. Yeah, just like a 4-year old. I'm glad I'm not like... No, wait. I AM like that.

Today was one of the hardest days I've had in a very long while. Nothing went the way it was supposed to go.

I started the day behind schedule.

Then there were stressful conversations at work.

Finally, between meetings and in a hurry, I noticed that little yellow pump illuminated on my instrument cluster. I made a quick call.

“Hey, I’ve got to get some fuel. I’ll meet you there.”

I stopped at the first station I found and inserted my credit card into the reader and removed it. Then, I pulled the nozzle from its resting place and shoved it in the hole in my car. I pushed the "87" button and waited for the magic to begin.


So, I pushed it again, and again, and again, so many times that the transaction timed out on me. Watching me, you'd think it was the first time I'd pumped gas! I replaced the nozzle, grumbling under my breath, and started the whole process over again. Same result.

I put my gas cap back on and moved forward to the recently vacated Pump 11 and tried again.

"See cashier," was the message on the screen.

"You've got to be kidding me."

I acquiesced and spoke to the cashier.

"Would you like to prepay?"

"No. I want to use my credit card at the pump."

"Oh, sorry about that. It should work, now."


Go out. Insert card. "See cashier." Hello Kitty!

At this point I considered abandoning SA and going to KwikTrip but realized it would take me 10 minutes to get across the intersection. I was, after all, in a hurry.

I went to see the cashier, again…

"Would you like to prepay?"

You know what? You wanna know what I’d like to do? First, I’d like to get some gas. Then, when I’m done with that, I want to light a match…

“Yeah. I’ll take ten bucks…” I was in a hurry, after all. 

“Thanks! Have a nice day!”

“Unlikely,” I muttered as I exited.

As I drove home, I stopped again to hit up the local station. I inserted my card, pulled it out, removed the nozzle and flipped the switch. “No! Not 89!” I lowered the switch and replaced the nozzle. Pulled out the 87 and flipped the switch. All it did was blink $3.439. I pulled the trigger. Nothing. By now I’m Steve Martin in “Planes, Trains and Automobiles”.

“Come ON!”

The gas began to flow after another attempt, and a long pause. I put in $32.00.

“Please pay cashier.”


Dinner was rushed and serenity never came. Lost toys needed finding and chores needed completion. The kids and I played with balloons, static, and the ceiling. Then we watched Anna’s funeral slide show.

“Daddy, are you sad about Anna?” Zach asked.

No, my face usually erupts like this when I watch TV…

“Yes, Zach, I am sad about Anna.”


And that’s the real question. Why?

“Because she is not here with us.

“Because you and Josie can’t play with her.

“Because she endured so much pain.

“That is why I am sad.”

Romans 5 – Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. (1-6)

Romans 8 – For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. – For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also, we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it. In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groaning too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and those He predestined, He also called, and those whom He called, also justified; and those whom He justified, He also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? (18, 22-31)

Today marked the third anniversary of Anna’s death. Today is the day that she died and went to live with Jesus. That’s how we explain it to the kids. We are sad because she is gone. We can now only see her in video, photos and our memories. And so we hope. We hope for what we cannot see. We groan within ourselves for that day when our bodies, too, will be redeemed, that is, taken back by God. Now, we live in bodies affected by sin. Then, when hope becomes sight, we will see her. And I know that as much as we long to see her, seeing Him will greatly outweigh the satisfaction of seeing her. Frankly, I struggle with how that can be, but know that it is. I long so much to see her.

It is on days like this when I am, we are, supposed to turn to passages like the ones above and from those we are to reawaken hope. Unfortunately, we far too often don’t have the emotional or spiritual aptitude to go there first. I didn’t. Not today. Today I ranted and raved and stormed about citing how unfair life was. “Why won’t this pump work?” Maybe God wanted me to slow down. Why? I don’t know. But we do know that all things work together for the good of those who love God. That verse is on our gravestone. It was chosen directly as a result of Anna’s death. It’s a great verse that speaks to God’s sovereignty. It speaks to a higher purpose for our daily concerns. Why didn’t the pump work? I don’t know. Why did Anna have to die? I don’t know. But my fuel pump problem, a small thing, caused me to reflect on God’s Word. It is my hope that Anna’s death serves to do the same, only so much more. Not only to reflect, however, but to act. Wherein lies your hope? Do you wish you had control of things like I do? Do you think there must be some greater purpose that what can be seen? If you have this hope already, do you rest in it, first?

All I know is that God’s purposes are far beyond mine and His wisdom goes beyond what I could hope to comprehend. And so we have hope and faith and put it in His care. We miss Anna. We long for when hope becomes sight.

Thank you for your well wishes, cards, notes, facebook posts, flowers and unknown prayers today. They are all greatly appreciated.