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The nurse gently pulled me aside, away from the metal crib, away from my baby. She held me in her arms as another nurse examined Angie. I watched her reach over the crib and shut off the monitor. The arms around me squeezed tighter.
The other nurse turned away from the crib and faced me. "It's over," she whispered, her cheeks wet with tears. "I'm so sorry."
The memory of Angie's pale face remains with me today. She was just 11 months old, a victim of cancer. Angie's father, my estranged husband, was attending college in another state. The lonely two-week vigil beside her crib left me dazed and numb.
I pulled away from the comforting arms around me and wandered, looking for a place to grieve. I don't know who called my pastor, Jon, and his wife, Linda. They found me in the sun room on the top floor of the hospital. I stared out the window, not blinking, not thinking, not feeling.
Linda embraced me as Jon paced the floor. Just one month earlier he had held Angie in his arms at a church service, anointing her for healing. With her arm and its tumor draped over his shoulder, he had paced the altar and wept. As he prayed, I saw Linda through the nursery window, holding their infant son tightly. She prayed for Angie too, placing her hand against the glass.
This was the first time my young pastor had ministered to grieving parents or conducted a funeral for a small child. But Jon's inexperience didn't matter to me; his compassion and concern were what I needed.
He didn't say much. He put his arms around both Linda and me and whispered, "She'll never hurt again." That's when the tears started, releasing months of bottled-up sorrow. They helped me sit down, and we wept together-the three of us clumped in a bundle of grief.
My pastor and his wife ministered to me when I needed most to know God's love. I was comforted knowing they felt the pain and anguish I felt. But their ministry began long before the day Angie died.
Angie's surgeon suggested that if her arm ...