Stumbling Toward the Light

"We are closest to God in the darkness, stumbling along blindly" -- Madeleine L'Engle

A collection of thoughts and messages I wrote after my daughter died May 17, 2000. Primarily this blog is concerned with grief, bereavement, the death of a child, hope, courage and a tough faith journey.

Location: Kansas, United States

Husband, father of four, friend, dog owner, owned by a cat, Episcopalian, last liberal Republican left in the U.S.

Friday, September 08, 2006


[This was originally published in the DayByDay email group on August 31, 2006]

August 30, 1999...


"I'm sorry, Mr. and Mrs. Sowers. It's leukemia."

The sun disappears behind a threatening, ugly cloud.

"We'll need to start an aggressive chemo as soon as possible."

The staid, proper world we've known all our lives begins to
shatter. Sharp chards, the remnants of our lifelong beliefs
that "things like that happen to other people," cut into our
sensibilities as they crash down around us.

"Acute Myeloid Leukemia is one of the more difficult leukemias to

The lights of the hospital examing room seem to dim as a bewildering
darkness slowly envelopes us. We stand and yet our souls are bent
over... wounded. We see and yet the mind's eye is blinded with
rage. We listen to the words being spoken but our heart can only
hear a silent scream echoing within us.... "NOOOOOO!!!"

"We'll give you some time to discuss your options."

The doctors and nurse leave the room. We stand with heads down,
broken, defeated. Tears begin to flow... then a small sob. Like
children who suddenly find themselves lost in the night we huddle
together but find no comfort. What happened? What did we do
wrong? Why?... WHY?

"You can't cry."

A small child with bright steely blue eyes stares stubbornly up into
our downcast faces breaking the silence of that room.

"You have to be strong so I can be strong. Promise me you won't cry
in front of me."

There is no darkness that can overcome this small face shining
before us. The room begins to lighten. The unreal slowly becomes
real. Understanding creeps into our minds.

"I won't let this beat me. And I need your help to beat this. You need to be strong to help me."

A small candle of hope is lit showing us a path from this black
place of hopelessness. The child holds the candle up where we can
see it and we follow her...

Yesterday I remembered that little child... her stubborn spirit...
her eyes that could see through candy-coated explanations demanding
the truth be told to her... her drive to live each day.

I remembered... and felt an intense sorrow and yet an even stronger
sense of pride.

Life isn't about accumulating time. It's about filling time with a
stubborn spirit, steely eyes that cut through the crap and a drive
to live each day...

Life isn't existing but being.

I am not a candle person but yesterday I lit a small candle to
remind myself of my dauther, Rachel, who in the midst of a shattered world and
all encompassing darkness held up her head refusing to be beaten
down by leukemia, and led us down a new path. And oh what a journey
it was... and continues to be.

Thank you, Rachel. Thank you.

Bill Sowers
Rachel's Dad, who continues to move down the path holding high a
bit of his stubborn, steely blue-eyed daughter's light

Rachel Diana Sowers
7/30/1992 - 5/17/2000