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Missing My Prayer Partner

alec vanderboom

Two days before Christmas, the granddaughter of my mother's close friend got diagnosed with a severe form of blood cancer at age 10. I never met Kami, but through the mystical body of Christ, she was already dear to my heart.

Her Grandma Shirley is a strong Baptist, whose son converted to the Catholic religion after his marriage. As Grandma Shirley navigated the alien forms of Catholic baptism, First Reconciliation and First Communion she shared her cheerful granddaughter stories with my Mom. I'm grateful to sunny Kami who made the Catholic faith less feared and foreign to my Mom.

Everyone prayed hard for Kami Fortney, last Christmas. Within weeks, the news came back that her four year old sister Jillian was a perfect bone marrow match. Everyone rejoiced. Kami bravely started chemo treatment at Children's Hospital in Columbus.

Her Mom, Rita, sent an update to my hometown prayer list that went straight to my heart. Kami was having a rough time vomiting after the chemo treatments caused a strange metal taste in her mouth. Turns out that a simple remedy of mints before chemo solved the problem. Rita wrote "Keeping the faith" at the end of her update.

Thirty minutes later I was laying on my bed feeling awful with pregnancy nausea. "Maybe Kami's mint trick will help?" I thought. I started sucking ferociously on a cough drop and felt less ill.

I thought about that little girl in a hospital in Columbus. We were separated by many states and 25 years, yet both of us were building up the kingdom of God through nausea and fatigue.

From that moment on, every time I got sick, I gave up my pain for Kami. She was my prayer buddy through the last miserable month of the first trimester challenge.

Last Sunday Kami died. On Friday, Kami was looking at at 90% chance of full recovery with a sibling bone marrow match. Within 24 hours, she suffered severe complications from her bone marrow surgery and died.

Yesterday, I was walking around still feeling nauseous and tired. Every time I instinctively prayed for Kami, only to realize that my "Lord, help her carry her cross" prayer is no longer needed. It still comes as a hurtful shock to stop that familiar prayer in mid-sentence.

Now, I'm retraining myself to pray TO Kami and not for her. A 10 year old who never kissed any boy but her Daddy is now my "go to" saint for pregnancy pain. Great is the glory of God!

May the angels of God lead Kami into Paradise! Our Lady of Keboho, pray for us. Please wrap Kami's family in your loving embrace. May we always remember as Catholics our Lord's promise "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted."

The mystical body of Christ is a true reality. Today, give up some pain or discomfort for someone suffering from physical or spiritual sickness.