We instantly liked Tina & Tony when they moved into the house across the street from us over a year ago. Warm and friendly, we were happy and grateful to have such nice new neighbors. We were even more delighted when we found out months later that Tina was expecting a baby! Tina and Tony had married in their 40's, so this special little person was a highly anticipated blessing. We were so thrilled for them!
Two weeks before Tina was due, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. We were all simply devastated. But Tina did indeed give birth last June, to Ava Christina - the sweetest and most beautiful baby on earth :) In his quiet way, Tony immediately swung into action as the most calm, loving father and husband imaginable. I never saw him when he wasn't holding their new little bundle. Extended family members came to stay with them and rallied around them night and day. It was lovely to see. As frightened as Tina had to be with her recent diagnosis, she powered through being a new mom with a smile on her face and optimism by her side. Unbelievable.
As the weeks wore on and Tina had more tests, we found out the cancer had spread to her liver. That was... huge. It changed her condition from stage 2 to stage 5. Dire. We were simply heartbroken for them. Heartbroken. They had waited for Ava with such joy and anticipation - and were the dearest new parents. Now I wondered to myself if Tina would even have the opportunity to raise her sweet baby. If Ava would remember her wonderful mother. The thought made me want to sob. It still does.
Tina immediately started treatments, lost her pretty hair, has endured it all with grace, and has continued to be an adorable new mom to Ava. I know she and Tony must have their moments of sadness or fear or discouragement. But I have never seen anyone with such faith and determination. She just smiles her beautiful smile and says cheerfully that they need a miracle, and that's exactly what they are expecting. I don't doubt it for a second.
So what does fruit salad have to do with any of this? Well, most neighbors try to help, us included, and we have occasionally taken things across the street to them. One Sunday afternoon who should knock on our door but Tina. I opened the door to find her returning one of my bowls - and she had filled it up with a *gorgeous* fruit salad and included a thank you note! The thought of Tina cutting up all that fruit for us when I know she was probably tired and not feeling so well... yet there she stood smiling at our door... brought tears to my eyes. Such an act of kindness from someone who desperately needs her own miracle. That is the kind of person Tina is.
~ cutest family ever ~
~ sweet Ava Christina ~
~ Halloween ~
I'm sure both Tina & Tony would be embarrassed if they read this. They take everything in stride and don't seem to be nearly as amazed at their positive attitude as everyone else is. But since they don't even know I have a blog, I'm not too concerned :) Which is why I'm going to ask you to keep a prayer in your heart for Tina and Tony and Ava. I have a lot of faith in prayer and the mountains it can move. I've seen prayer work in mighty ways my whole life. Please pray for them.
In this month dedicated to gratitude, I want to express how grateful I am to Tina for her example of faith and kindness, even when her entire world has been turned upside down. She is a constant source of inspiration to me. I will continue to pray every single day that she gets her miracle. I can't imagine anyone who deserves it more.
with love xoxoxo