|Naomi Boone, age 18|
"I love my body, it has been so good to me." These were among the last words my daughter Naomi Boone
spoke as she died at age nineteen. What is remarkable about Naomi's exclamation is that it came after a grueling two year battle with cancer.
I had been an intimate witness to her suffering. As soon as Naomi entered high-school she immersed herself into meaningful activity—joining the German club, the Ski club, and in sports running track and field and cross-country. When her cancer was diagnosed, she had been painfully lifting her leg into her car to drive to school. The verdict was grim for her survival.
The next two years were full of pain, exhilaration, uplifting victories and dreadful defeats. Naomi had expressed that she did not want to die a slow, painful death, but this is what fate had in store for her. In the end, she was forcing herself to eat, she could not walk, and was attached to an oxygen tank. Her lungs were full of disease, so that she suffocated to death. How was it then, that her final words were, "I love my body, it has been so good to me."
Naomi formed a special relationship with her mortal form. She knew that her body was in a life and death struggle, and she developed a tremendous compassion for it. She cheered it on, begging and supplicating, caressing and loving it. She saw her terrible conflict with cancer as an epic spiritual battle of light and dark, and she firmly planted herself on the side of light. As the disease gained the upper hand, and the life force she loved so dearly could not save her crippled form, she remained loyal and praised her troops for such a brave fight against insurmountable odds. Not a trace of bitterness.
When I meet tests, and get frustrated, I think of Naomi and her walk through the "valley of the shadow of death."
23rd Psalm, The Book of David
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.