“I have pancreatic cancer, Yvonne.”
“The tests showed that?” Tears streamed down my face. “Oh, dear God.” I bit my lip so I wouldn’t cry on the phone.
“I’ll have surgery to remove the tumor.”
I struggled to concentrate on what she said next. I remembered her bout with breast cancer eight years ago. She went through radiation but didn’t need chemotherapy. Now this.
I attempted to get more information even though I wanted to curl up on the floor and sob. “Where will you have surgery?”
“Sentara Norfolk Hospital.”
Arleta has been my friend and spiritual mentor for years. We met when she and her husband were missionaries in Puerto Rico, and I lived in military housing. They moved to California. I left for California a year later. What a joyous reunion.
Three years later, they transferred to Virginia Beach. God knew I needed their friendship and a spiritual mother. How wonderful when he brought me to Virginia one year later.
I hated the news from her doctor. What a brutal reminder that life is fragile.
“God loves you, and I do too.” Even though I’m a cancer survivor, I grappled for words.
Inside, I felt fearful and angry. Arleta and Bob served as missionaries in Haiti for fifteen years and in the Dominican Republic for fifteen years. Now in their 80s, they traveled yearly to France for a month to minister to the churches there. Arleta still taught Sunday school. God, this isn’t fair. They’ve served you all their lives. Please have mercy on her. Her husband and grown children need her. I do too.
“I’ll pray for you,” I told her.
“Thank you, honey. I knew I could count on you.”
“I love you and will pray for you and your family.”
After I hung up, I prayed through tears for them. O God, please don’t take her from us.
Copyright © June 2008 by Yvonne Ortega