Once upon a time, there was a woman who ran out of platelets. It happened to her periodically. Sometimes she went for long stretches with happy platelets. And sometimes they all disappeared.

On this particular occasion, the woman got very sick. Her legs were covered in bruises and red dots and she had big blood blisters in her mouth. When she brushed her teeth or ate a snack, blood came out of her gums.

When the lab technicians poked her veins to check her blood, extra blood came out. It was a strange and scary time. The doctors tried to treat her with magical bags of clear liquid called IVIG. It used to work. But this time in didn't. They sent her home for a few days when things seemed hopeful.

But then she ran all the way out of platelets. All the way to 0. The magical bags of medicine started to make her even more sick. And for the first time, she started to run out of hemoglobin, too. She was very anemic. And had no platelets. It was a bad combination. Her insides were breaking. And her spirit was breaking, too.

There was a picture of Jesus on the wall of the hospital. But it was hard for her to look at it because she was sad and mad and confused and tired.

The woman couldn't eat or drink for many days. It was a scary time. The scariest of all the times she had ever had. There were hospital days she hardly opened her eyes at all. She cried because her body was hurting so much and she didn't know what to do. She had never been so tired before. The colors were fading and everything seemed sleepy and gray.

There was one evening she smelled death in her room as the sun went down, and she couldn't get it out of her nose. It was stuck in her nostrils. She wanted to run away from her body and her life. She felt trapped and sad.

Loving friends and family reached out to her - sending messages and texts, calling and writing on her Facebook wall, staying by her side night and day. But she was too tired and too sad and too sick and too scared. So she slept and slept and the days all ran together. She watched the bags of liquid going into her veins. Sometimes they dripped slow and sometimes they dripped fast. Platelets and red blood cells and medicine and fluids. The machines beeped and buzzed. She wanted to rip the IV out of her arm and run away from everything, and for a second, she considered it. She wanted to go to an ocean and find a boat and never look back. She wanted to find a magical clock and turn it backwards and start her life all the way over. All the way from the beginning. She felt like a prisoner of her own body and life and mind.

It felt like God was gone. Or had never been there at all. So as the days drew on, God crossed her mind less and less.

But once she had a vision that there was an eagle carrying her. They soared across the sky together. His wings were big and protective. She didn't hear any of the beeping machines for awhile. She could only feel the wind and the wings.

Another time she sat on a picnic blanket with Jesus, a deer, and a camel in the sunshine. They all smiled together and didn't say any words. It was just quiet. Nice and quiet.

Everyone said they were praying for her. She was very glad. Because she knew prayers were powerful. But mostly she held on very tight to the knowledge that there were loving people who cared about her enough to wish that she would be well. This felt like medicine. This love. It felt like the best medicine she had yet experienced.

"This is the very worst," she thought. "All of the garbage is drowning me and I can't see the sun. This isn't my life. I want my life. God please let me have my life back. My inner life, my outside life, my soul, my thoughts, my dreams. Please give them all back. I don't know how it all works. I don't know how anything works. But I know somehow You are there and You haven't abandoned me and somehow there is goodness. Help me. Help, help, help."

She remembered that Anne Lamott, her favorite writer, said that prayer sometimes: "Help."

It was the only word that made sense. It was the only word that felt real and honest: "Help."

So she said the same word again and again in her hospital bed. Outloud and in her head. She watched the tiny red second hand travel around and around the clock for a whole day and a whole night. "Help, help, help. Please help. Please help me. Please, please help me."

The help wasn't all at once. First it was a sip of water. Then it was a feeling of hope. Then it was the vague awareness that everything wasn't as it seemed - but that somehow everything would be alright. The awareness that it would never be the way it was again. And that was okay. It would be different and it would be better. The dark, dark tunnel had a beginning and an end, and she was almost to the end.

Today the woman is getting stronger. She likes to think she's all the way strong again. Stronger than ever. And maybe she is. Or maybe she just wants to fast forward through this part. The healing part. Maybe she just wants to be done with it already. Maybe she just wants it all to have been a bad dream, so sometimes she pretends that's what it was. She pretends she doesn't really know what death smells like. She pretends it wasn't really that scary. She pretends she always knew she'd be okay. Maybe that's how she will file it all away in the deep recesses of her mind...the big bad dream. Or maybe she will unpack it, piece by piece.

She will decide how to take note of that chapter when and if she ever wants to do so. But she won't ask permission for how to make sense of her life. She won't seek acceptance for her thoughts and her ideas. She will be free. From now on, she will always be free. And she will never need to be afraid.

It's all pretty hazy when she looks back. But when she looks forward, the lines are less fuzzy. In fact, up ahead, things look clear. She can see the edges of life again. She can see where she ends and everything and everyone else begins. The sound of the birds. The purple of the sunrise. The static of the television. The rush of the faucet. The feel of a sip of water down her throat. The smell of a strawberry. The texture of an avocado. It's all so crisp. And everyone is so beautiful. Every single person looks so beautiful. Their voices. Their worries. Their thoughts. Their kindness. Their strangeness.

Edwina Gateley wrote, "God knows, understands, loves you with an enormous love."

For the woman, this feels true.

It feels like the whole truth. If there is no other truth, then so be it. This truth is enough. God knows, understands, loves you with an enormous love.

And now she prays words first said by an author named Sue Monk Kidd, "To be fully human, fully myself, to accept all that I am, all that You envision, this is my prayer."




  1. Beautiful post, Emily! It's wonderful to see and hear how the Lord saw you through!

  2. Amen!

    May the Lord bless you and keep you in peace.

  3. Wow! What a courageous and beautiful woman you are Emily. May God continue to wrap his loving healing arms around you. God loves you and so do we. Jo & Wayne

  4. Making a brother cry early in the morning...great writitng by a great woman!

  5. Looking good! Stay strong! Thank you for sharing your struggle and healing. My prayer is that you will keep on healing and never have to go through that again! God is good!

    1. Thank you, Wendy - for all the support and prayers!

  6. Beautiful writing. So happy you're getting better. Prayers will continue.

    1. Thank you, Diane! Those prayers mean so much to me!

  7. Happy to hear that things are getting better. Sorry that it was such a scary time for you (and your family)

  8. I read your post this morning, and then while at the (Portland, Oregon) zoo with my daughter this morning I saw a little boy wearing a Quarry Hill t-shirt. I'd have no idea what Quarry Hill was were it not for your blog posts. Seemed like a sign. Prayers to you from the Pacific Northwest.

    1. LAURA! That is so awesome about Quarry Hill t-shirt. :) Thank you for your prayers and support!

  9. Love you, Em! My Anne Lamott prayer after reading this is both "thanks" and "wow".