An excerpt from the book And Twice the Marrow of Her Bones by board member Sara Petersen Avitsour:

Whoever has lost a child to a long illness – those who trusted their own doctors and those who didn’t, those who tried all kinds of alternatives and those who put their faith in conventional medicine, even those who bankrupted themselves to try yet another promising treatment – all of us are left with the questions. Did we make the right choices? Did we do all we could?

And if that were not enough, I also ask myself things like: If there was really nothing that could have saved my daughter’s life, should we have at least saved her the pain, nausea, fear, and body changes that two bone marrow transplants, several courses of chemotherapy, and anti-rejection medications caused her?

And could/should I have made life easier for her in other ways? When she returned to school after her first year of intensive treatment, I sometimes think, I might have brought a psychologist or social worker to explain things plainly to the other children in her class and to speak with them about their own fears. At the very least, shouldn’t I have spoken with their parents about how they were behaving toward her? Not to speak of the choices we had to make in our parenting – how much time should we have devoted to Timora, who could easily have taken every minute of the day, and how much to our other children? Any answer I might give myself today feels like neglect of one or more of them. Oh, and that trip to Spain – shouldn’t we have realized Timora might get sick, and cancelled it? And come to think of it, how could I have ever gotten angry with her, even fought with her as if she were an ordinary teenager, during those six extraordinary years?

The comfort I take in Yom Kippur is that I can let go of those questions. Although they will never be answered, I don’t have to allow them to torture me. In this imperfect world, there’s sometimes nothing we can do to get things “right.” I could not have prevented Timora’s illness and death; these things were in God’s hands. And though I might have chosen differently while she was still alive if I’d known then what I know now, God loves and accepts me as the imperfect human being that I am.

I am forgiven.

And Twice the Marrow of Her Bones is the memoir I published in 2010.  It revisits the years of my daughter Timora’s battle against leukemia, and tells of my own fifteen-year journey with, then without my daughter.  In it, I ultimately face the challenge so many of us must confront in the course of their lives: How to affirm faith and love in an unpredictable, and often cruel, universe. My site is called Loving, Losing, and Living: