Bernadette is our six-year-old ray of sunshine. She loves to dance, draw, watch My Little Pony, and play Barbie. She also enjoys baking with Mommy, reading books with Daddy, playing cards with her sisters (especially Pokémon), and roughhousing with her brothers.
Bernadette tried to spend the summer at the beach building sandcastles with Daddy but she just didn't have her usual energy. Her biggest focus all summer was a count down to when she could begin ballet classes. Come October 1st she finally had her first class and the first words out of her mouth after the class was over were "When can I go again. I love it!" For the next two weeks Bernadette would miss class due to a cold that zapped her energy even further. By the next ballet class she'd been to the doctor and they discovered she had a large mass in her liver.
Within two days Bernadette found herself in Children's Hospital in Vancouver hooked up to an IV for dehydration, undergoing tons of tests: MRI, CT scan, heart test, hearing test, PET scan, more blood work than she cares to remember, and had a biopsy taken of her liver and a central line put in her chest.
Over the course of the next week doctors were able to determine that Bernadette had a Hepatocellular Carcenoma tumour infecting 75% of her liver. Unfortunately the scans also showed that the cancer has already travelled to her lungs and lymph nodes. The real kicker in all this is that the tumour is inoperable because of its size, and chemo is relatively ineffective on this particular type of cancer. A liver transplant might have been an option except for the cancer spots on her lungs.
After agonizingly weighing our options we decided to bring Bernadette back home to enjoy her family and friends for as many days as God has allotted her – which we still hope and pray will be about 88 more YEARS. Through the intercession of all the saints and angels in heaven, and so so many prayers from everyone here on earth, we trust that God will do what’s best for Bernadette. We know His ways are not our ways, but we also believe in the power of prayer and His infinite mercy. So we continue to pray and be open to where He is leading us in our care for His precious Bernadette.
For those of you who have not followed this blog from the beginning when it was first started back in November and this original story was written, Bernadette fought courageously for three months before she returned home to Jesus on January 29th, 2015 at 3;35pm surrounded by her family and was buried at Mt. Ida Cemetery on February 7th. You are welcome to go back to the beginning and read Bernadette's story of her fight against her liver cancer and our continued story as we struggle through our grief of losing her.
One day I asked Bernadette if she wanted to go to heaven and she asked me, "Will I be sick in Heaven?" I told her she would not and she replied with all confidence and peace, "Then I would like to go to Heaven, yes."
We all long for the day we can be reunited with her again - for eternity.
In the early afternoon of the 29th of January, I'd finally come to the full realization that Bernadette was going to die - and soon. Up to that point I still held out the hope of a miracle and that the Vitamin C treatments might work. But that afternoon I just knew. Bernadette had already started to slip away. After the nurses had all left and Bernadette was all cleaned up and back in her clean and dry bed, we were alone and I held her hand and told her, "Bernadette, I think Jesus is coming to take you home very soon. I have a favor to ask of you, please. When you get to heaven, can you please send me two dozen unique roses to let me know you arrived and that you are happy. Make them really unique so I'll really know they're from you, not the usual pink or red or yellow, but really different." I don't even know why I said two dozen because who gives someone two dozen roses! I only mentioned it the once. Bernadette didn't respond and I didn't know if she even understood. She passed away about an hour later.
The day of her funeral, while the family was gathering in the coffee room in the back of the church I was told someone had given me a bouquet of flowers but they were immediately put in the sink for safe keeping so I didn't see them. Later when we were going to the cemetery the funeral director brought out the bouquet just in case we'd forgotten them and wanted to bring them to the cemetery. I said no, they were for me so he returned them to the kitchen.
Later that evening I finally had a chance to look at the flowers. Turns out they were two dozen beautiful and utterly perfect dark purple roses!!! The second I understood what I had in my hands I started to cry. Bernadette had fulfilled my request and had reached out to me at the most painful moment of my life with her most joyous news. She was in heaven with Jesus and yes she was happy. I think if I'd looked at the roses there in the church I wouldn't have been able to hold it together. As it is, it's been six months and I still can't tell this story without shedding enough tears to fill my tear pot; I can't imagine how I would have managed at Bernadette's funeral. But they were there, the message was there just the same. Bernadette had reached out to let me know she was indeed happy.