It is with deepest heartache, I share with you the news Sarah died early this morning. Many of you are already aware of this, as word of anything seems to travel quickly around Facebook. Sarah died with Sam by her side, just the two of them, exactly how she had wanted it to be.
I sat in a parking lot after getting this news, and I cried and cried. Then, I went home and went through boxes and drawers and cupboards, looking for any and every physical remembrance I have of her; I was aching to have her near me.
I now have a pile of pictures and letters and cards next to me as I type this, and I am overwhelmed with grief; I have lost my closest friend today. I will never be the same.
Many of you are grieving the loss of her too and all she meant to you and the unique role she played in your life. My hope is each of you will take time to grieve the loss of her life and to also celebrate the incredible woman she was here on earth.
At this time, there are no details to share about a possible service in honor of Sarah. If and when that information can be shared publically, I will post it here. Please do not contact Sam asking for these details.
I will not ever be able to express all the gratitude in my heart for the outpouring of love you’ve shown to Sarah and her family, but thank you once again. May Peace cover your aching hearts tonight and in the days to come.
It's Sam's birthday today, and he'd probably hate I'm bringing any attention to it, but I'm doing it anyway because he's a man deserving of love showered on him even though he doesn't expect it.
“There is a beautiful transparency to honest disciples who never wear a false face and do not pretend to be anything but who they are.”
― Brennan Manning
I read that quote this morning, and I thought of Sam.
He might not say much and often prefers more privacy than most, but I've always felt, in the many years I've known him, what you see is what you get; it's refreshing to know people like that, isn't it?
He's a man staying by his wife's side, continuing to tenderly care for her in her total vulnerability.
He's a man who makes sure to take the kids outside for a short walk, even if 15 minutes away from Sarah is all he can spare.
He's a man who probably can't remember what it was like to spend an evening out drinking beer and enjoying a concert with his friends.
He's a man with such talent to build a great business that he can no longer attend to, but he'd rather lose every material thing he has than to lose any of the precious time he has with Sarah.
So, over this weekend, can we shower him with some gifts? Those gifts will add up to more days spent resting in the knowledge we've taken care of a few bills for them, and that's a birthday gift his whole family will benefit from.
Just a few hours ago, I was in bed with my beautiful friend. This visit with her had been long anticipated. I’ve been unable to visit her for almost a month due to some medical issues I’m currently dealing with, and so tonight felt extra special.
She can’t see anymore, and friends, this tears my heart up, absolutely shreds it to bits. Cozy next to her, we talked, though her breaths were labored at times, and I knew our conversation would probably leave her exhausted.
She used up much of her energy to inquire how I was doing, what the doctors were saying, what my pain was like, etc. So for a little while, the tables were slightly turned, as it is usually me asking her these questions, but during a pause in the conversation I started to cry. She couldn’t see me, of course, and I tried to keep my sniffling quiet. But here’s what got to me as she asked me about my body:
Yes, it’s true; I had my own life and death scare, but doctors are able to treat me. Yes, I experienced fear of death and leaving my babies without a mama, but this scary time has lasted a matter of weeks. But for Sarah? Sarah has lived with this fear for many months, and she continues to live with it each new day.
She lives with this fear, yet asks ME how I'm doing? How is MY anxiety?
Grace upon grace is how a person is able to ask questions like that as they are facing death.
And tonight I can’t stop the tears because in her weakness, in her suffering, she has still been a sweet comfort to me. She’s been a source of comfort in many lives, even before she had cancer. I’m so grateful for her and the gift she is to me, and the gift she has been to you.
I know I’ve written about Sam before, and how good he is to her, but I need to say it again tonight. That man is a warrior. He is a warrior fighting multiple battles, every day. He fights his own fears and extreme fatigue in order to provide Sarah with the emotional and physical support she needs. He fights to let his children know they are loved and cared for even in the midst of the reality their mommy is probably going to die. He fights for the faith it takes to keep going and to trust God will not abandon them in this great trial. He’s amazing, and I love him so much.
Cancer isn’t a battle anyone should ever fight alone, and I want to thank all of you for fighting this with them through your continued faithfulness. Victory is the Lord’s, and we share in that victory as we rally around this incredible family.
A couple weeks ago, my mother's best friend, Janet, went to be with Jesus. Janet had been a supportive and loving friend to Sarah throughout the past year and a half, and they even had the chance to meet face to face while they were both receiving cancer treatments in Mexico.
My mom went to CA, to begin to grieve the loss of her friend and to celebrate Janet's life during a service with loved ones. While she was there, Janet's husband asked my mom to take anything of Janet's she wanted and bring it back home with her. One thing my mom chose was Janet's favorite blanket to give to Sarah; she knew Janet would want Sarah to be wrapped up in her love, even though she'd never get to embrace her or speak encouraging words over her again in this life.
A couple days ago my mom took the blanket to her and wrapped her up in a white, cozy embrace from Janet.
You've all done the same thing this past week. You have wrapped Sarah and her family in love by your continued generosity. You have been Isaiah 41:13 in action, "For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you."
Sometimes you know someone is brave, you know they have beautiful strength within them, but you do not understand how they possess it. You don't know how, for almost two years now, they've lived with the reality that there is something growing in their body, seeking to take their life, but you can applaud their courage from your little corner of compassion.
And then, life gives you a tiny window of time to not just have compassion but to empathize, and you call your friend on the phone asking her, "How? Just tell me how you've done this every day, how you continue to do this every day, tell me how you go to sleep when you don't know if you'll wake back up."
And between phone lines you shed more tears and a tiny bit of laughter. You spend the minutes talking about fear and love and hope. You whisper through the lump in your throat just how much you want more miracles for her. You hang up the phone, grateful for her as always, but on this February evening those minutes on the phone felt a little more sacred.
I didn't expect Sarah to still be here. There was a day I spent with her in the beginning of November that I thought would probably be the last day with her. I didn't expect her to be here to spend Thanksgiving with her family, to meet my newborn daughter at Christmastime, to be here for her 32nd birthday or for my 31st, but I'm thankful for those occasions which turned into more memories for me and for everyone else who loves her. It's a miracle she's still living, there's no other explanation.
She looks better, she's gained weight back, her pain is manageable. But is she actually getting better? I don't know. I'm not sure what "getting better" with cancer looks like. I won't say she isn't suffering, because she is. Her vision is greatly impaired, she has an infection that keeps coming and going, and of course the emotional toll of cancer is ever present.
But she is still here, cherishing the time with her family and her friends. Sam is still dedicating his days to caring for her, trusting God to sustain them.
So, I just wanted to celebrate her life once again on this page, tell you all how thankful I am she's still with us, and to share a couple pictures of special moments these past months.
Thank you for your continued love and support for Sarah.
I am beyond grateful for the gifts given to my dear friends today. Truly. I've cried every time a donation came in since I posted last night. Thank you.
We've now exceeded our goal, but if you still want to donate over the weekend or in the coming weeks, please do so. Rent and bills and groceries and medications are a never ending cycle, and as money is deposited into their account it provides such a tangible assurance that they are not alone.
Again, thank you all for sharing the update, for praying, and for keeping Sarah and Sam and the kids close in your heart. Each act of love matters.
At some point in my prayers for Sarah, I usually end up telling God, “This isn’t fair.”
I believe God already knows this, and I believe God holds Sarah throughout the worst moments of her suffering and says the same thing. One of my favorite writers, Richard Rohr, says, “The cross was Jesus’s voluntary acceptance of undeserved suffering as an act of total solidarity with all of the pain of the world.” God knows everything there is to know about undeserved suffering, and somehow I am able to find peace and hope when I meditate on that.
Late in the summer, it was discovered that the cancer had spread to Sarah’s brain, and for a little while, it didn’t seem to alter her very much (at least, this was my observation in the time I spent with her). I didn’t post anything about this news because it wasn’t something they wished to immediately broadcast.
It has always been important to Sarah that she not be portrayed as being all out of hope for a miracle; she’s still hoping and I know she desires we join her in the same spirit. At the same time, the physical realities of the tumors in her brain have begun to show themselves, and truthfully, it is heartbreaking for me to see.
Sam continues to provide around the clock care for her in all the tender, respectful, and beautiful ways I tried to convey in my last post. He’s always on high alert to make sure to stay ahead of her pain, feed her, and tend to whatever the needs of the hour may be. If you’ve attempted to get in touch with him to inquire about visiting or ask if anything is needed, please understand his focus right now is on Sarah, day and night, and he may not be able to respond quickly or at all.
If you’d like to know how best to support their family, the short and honest answer is: continue to extend financial gifts to them.
A note of appreciation is due to Dover Community Church for the incredible gift of renting an RV for them so they could take a family trip to the beach. It meant so much to Sarah, to be able to see the ocean with the people she loves most, and to have a way to travel comfortably. Thank you for a generous and memorable gift.
As I said in the beginning of this post, what my beloved friend is enduring is not fair; it is scary and tedious and full of ache. Yet, in the midst of this, she continues to hold hope and she loves her family well, and that is a miracle all its own.
I was trying to take a nap earlier this afternoon, but I couldn’t sleep because my thoughts were with Sam and Sarah. A little while later I decided to put words to what I’d been thinking about, and I wanted to share them here on this page with others who love and care for them too.
It’s April and I’m still a teenager, and I’m putting on a dress her mother picked out. She’s putting on a dress too, delicate and sexy, and I know she feels beautiful and perfect in it. Someday she will tell me her dress was what she liked best about that day, aside from marrying the boy, of course.
They’ll promise forever, in sickness and in health, and no one witnessing their vows that night will really understand the weight of those promises. During toasts to their newlywed future, no one will know ten years from now we will be raising our eyes to heaven, instead of our glasses, and begging for more time for their future.
They’ll drive away to continue to live the love story they started many months before, and we will be standing outside the church smiling in hope and happiness.
I will keep the dress her mother picked out, and it will still be hanging in my closet when I am thirty. I won’t be able to explain exactly why I kept it all this time, but I will be able to explain why it is I won’t ever get rid of it now.
Yesterday, just for a minute, I watched her and her love in a moment of tenderness, far unlike what I observed on their wedding day, but beautiful in its own way. One hand beneath her back and the other beneath her legs, he helped her sit up, stand, and ease into a wheelchair. As they moved, their faces were tense, but trusting, and in their silence there was understanding.
I looked at her body as he placed her in the wheelchair, a body so terribly ravaged by cancer it makes me hurt and it makes me angry to think of everything this disease has taken from her, and yet…there he is right behind her. Cancer hasn’t been powerful enough to take him from her side. No one knows the private agony he feels as he is helpless to protect her from this enemy in her body, but he stands with her and for her, and I was more thankful for him yesterday than I was standing as their maid of honor on their wedding day.
She needs him now, needs him in ways she couldn’t have known she would when she married him all those years ago. She needs him in ways she doesn’t want to need him, ways no one wants to ever need another human being, but he is so faithful; faithful in ways that make me bawl like a baby when I think of how he is caring for her every day and throughout each night.
His devotion to caring for her speaks loudly to those of us who know him well and to those who only know him a little bit. His devotion speaks to strangers; the medical staff at Sanoviv had never seen a caregiver like him before, but of course that compliment wouldn’t mean anything to him because, for him, this is his life, she is his life.
…Entrusting Sarah and Sam into God’s arms tonight along with all my love.
I know it’s been awhile since anything has been shared here, and I understand if that’s been frustrating or worrisome for some of you, I do, I really do. As I said in the last post, it was difficult to maintain regular communication while they were in Mexico, and Sarah and Sam were both going through a great deal.
This isn’t an update with any details of new treatment plans or with news of healing which has taken place in Sarah’s body, but it is a post of thanks and a couple personal thoughts.
Sarah and Sam thank you for generously providing the means for them to seek alternative treatment at Sanoviv. While there were many positive experiences during their stay, there were also frustrations and disappointments, and of course feelings of discouragement upon returning home with no significant improvement. Yet, significant improvement is not what was promised to them or promised to us in helping to send them there, but the trip was still a pursuit of hope and an exercise in faith and because of that, nothing was wasted.
Sarah came home with a renewed desire to embrace the beauty and love in her life, and perhaps that was the greatest gift given to her during the weeks away. There is still much suffering, yes, but her passion and her faith far outweigh the decline in her body; she is a picture of hope.
She is under the care of the oncologist she was seeing before she left for Mexico, and has appointments about every other week or so. There isn’t really any new information they’d like to share regarding the treatment she’s receiving since it is much the same as it was before they left, but if there is news they’d like to share in the coming months, they will let me know.
Thank you for your continued prayers and the donations that still trickle in from time to time; I know the monetary gifts are still a great blessing to them. You are all so very much appreciated.
It was my hope to provide weekly updates about Sarah during her stay in Mexico, but communication has proved to be difficult. Unfortunately, I have no new information to share about Sarah's condition or her course of treatment at Sanoviv, and I wish this were different. I'm sure she continues to face each day with courage and hope. Please remember to keep her in your prayers.
My best friend, Sarah Evans, is one of the most incredible women I know. Two weeks ago she was diagnosed with breast cancer and as of yesterday, she was informed that it has spread to other places in her body. The cancer diagnosis means many changes for Sarah and her family and they need our support.
The goal is to raise money to ease the financial burden on Sarah and her husband as they choose the best route of care possible for her. This is a time of severe stress and upheaval in the life of their family; let's offer what financial support we are able to give as a way to love and rally around them.
Words are not eloquent enough to describe the devotion to Sarah that I have witnessed from this incredible man. Great is your reward in heaven, Sam, for your unconditional love for your beautiful wife. Happy birthday.