A Rock and a Hard Place

Sweet Hailie Marie. This girl has shown me more about perseverance than most adults I know. This world is going to feel more empty without her.

Hailie’s father, Mark, and I first became friends in middle school. Thankfully technology has allowed us to maintain our friendship through many moves and life changes. There is a quote from Harry Potter, however, that I feel explains the foundation of our friendship even better.

“There are some things you can’t share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a 12-foot mountain troll is one of them.” -JK Rowling

Our 12-foot mountain troll came in the summer of 2011. Mark tragically lost his wife while giving birth to their son. I tried to be a supportive friend without really having any idea how to walk with someone through that. Several weeks later, I unexpectedly lost my baby girl, and entered a whole new world of understanding the hurting. Going through those great losses helped give my friend Mark and I an understanding of each other, and forged a friendship of encouraging each other through a pain we both now knew very well.

I’ll never forget the phone call which seemed only a short time later. Mark’s daughter Hailie had brain cancer. It was an extremely hard thing for me understand, but I watched the family take this new challenge with strength and calm.

This is when I became privileged to know a little girl with fight and determination that is awe-inspiring. Three times over the next few years she fought this beast. She bravely faced the treatments that stole much of her childhood, and she pressed on. She’s fierce, and she’s gentle, and that girl always has a smile. It’s been tough watching her family walk through this suffering, but seeing how they handle it with such calm perseverance and deep trust has been inspiring to me.

Now we know that the time to fight has come to an end. That beautiful, courageous girl is not going to be with us much longer. It’s excruciating. It’s confusing. I know I have argued with God many time over allowing so much heartache in this family’s life. Answers to questions we’ll never know, but I do know that Hailie, as well as her family have given us all a lesson in perseverance, the importance of family, and the hope that can never be squelched by the darkness.

Will you keep them in your thoughts and prayers with me? These days ahead promise to be heart-crushing, and sometimes I lose the words to pray within the searing of watching my friend walk this path of suffering.

Please leave me a comment, it lets me know you’re listening!

6 thoughts on “A Rock and a Hard Place”

  1. God knows your heart even without words Hannah. Praying for Hailie, her family and always for you. Love you…


  2. Every time I read your posts (and I read them all) I pray for you and your family Hannah. I knew your husband from when I was active duty. So sorry to hear about Hailie. Her and her father are both in my thoughts right now. I’m praying for a speedy recovery and strength to get through this ordeal. God Bless.


  3. This is so beautiful… Tears are flowing down my face just reading your words… They are such a strong family, I know they can get through this together especially with friends like you on their side! Mark stay strong we are all here for you! Steph all of our prayers are with you and your family.


  4. I am in tears. I have seen and been thru the struggle this family is going thru. Hailies fight will soon end and she will be in no more pain and she will become your beautiful gaurdian angel. My Prayers being said for Hailie and her family.


  5. Hi Hannah,
    I worked with your husband at USAFA. Sending thoughts, prayers, and hugs to Hailie and her family. Watching anyone struggle through the fight of cancer or any other terminal illness is heartbreaking. My mom is currently fighting cancer as well and it has sure taken a toll on her, not sure how much fight she has left. We just have to keep keep faith and know that they will always be with us.


    1. Lisa, I’m so sorry you’re walking that hard road. It’s painful. I prayed for you and your mom today. Wishing you strength for the days ahead.


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