It began harmlessly enough—just a little bit of numbness in three toes. At first it was no more than an annoyance, but then the numbness spread to her foot and began to creep upward. Soon it was accompanied by fatigue, nausea, headaches. She visited a doctor and then a neurologist who promptly arranged a battery of tests. And then the diagnosis: “I am so sorry, but it is a brain tumor.” Though the tumor was benign, it was in a bad spot, right at the junction of the brain and the spinal cord. In that moment she knew her life had changed forever.
This is the story of Elaine Grant, a dear friend of my family’s, a sister in Christ, and a woman of exemplary Christian courage.
One Who Knows Christ
Let’s back up a little bit, all the way to the early 80’s. Back then Elaine lived just down the block from my family in a beautiful North Toronto neighborhood. She and my mother were both young moms, dedicated to raising their children. Elaine was articulate, meditative, and the kind of person who read right through the Globe and Mail, Canada’s weighty, national newspaper. The two families bonded immediately.
Around 1981 Elaine suffered a series of tragedies. In close succession she lost her father, her mother, and her marriage. But amid all the loss, she found Jesus. Or, better said, he found her. My parents shared the gospel with her, introduced her to their church family, and watched her begin to pursue God.
Some of my earliest memories in life are of Elaine and her children, Erinn and Logan. Erinn was a year or two older than me, and Logan a year or two younger. We played outdoors together, racing up and down the sidewalk in front of our homes. I have a snapshot memory of arguing with Erinn at the top of a flight of stairs, trying to settle a meaningless childhood squabble. I have another memory of her singing at a piano, singing beautifully. The two families shared life together for a time.
Those years as a single mom brought Elaine many personal and financial challenges, but she clung to the Lord, and, in the most important ways, she and her children thrived. But that was two decades before Elaine received the news that would change her life.
One Who Knows Suffering
“I am so sorry, but it is a brain tumor.” The doctor recommended exploratory surgery and, once he got a better view of the tumor, determined it would be best to leave it for a time. The tumor had room to grow and leaving it for now would delay the inevitable neurological damage that would come when he removed it.