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Amy finds hope amidst heartache

1 November 2016

Amy finds hope amidst heartache

Despite facing unspeakable tragedy, Amy has a quiet resilience and depth to her life that inspires hope.

Amy and Ben were eagerly awaiting the arrival of their third child, a girl, due just after Christmas. Sadly, though, Ben was battling a terminal illness.

“He got really, really thin,” says Amy. “We saw a doctor who said he had a stomach bug and gave him medication. The symptoms went away temporarily, but kept returning.

“We tried different doctors who would all say, ‘It’s this. It’s that. It’s in your mind. It’s depression’. Finally, one doctor suggested an MRI and our fears were confirmed.”

Less than two weeks later, Ben was in the operating theatre.

“We were definitely in shock,” says Amy. “But at that stage we were still hopeful.”

Just holding it together

In the months following his surgery, Amy kept working and their kids went to school. Together, they did their best to remain positive. But as the endless hospital visits dragged on and her pay packet finally stopped, Amy realised she needed help.

“I was a bit embarrassed to have to ask, but they were really kind,” she says of the staff at Salvos Connect Centre, Caloundra. “I was amazed to discover the extensive support network available through The Salvation Army.”

When her children needed respite, they were introduced to Family Doorways – an innovative partnership between the Caloundra Coalition of State Schools and The Salvation Army Caloundra Corps (church). The program identifies families where children are struggling and offers an experienced case worker to provide support and counselling.

“It was just our eldest at the start,” says Amy. “The care made a massive difference. It was invaluable.

“I think because she was the oldest, she might have been expected to cope. She had to take on more responsibility and was much more aware of what was going on. It gave her some time out and put some normality back in her life.”

From sorrow to solace

As Christmas drew closer, Ben’s condition worsened. He needed comfort, so Salvo ministers prayed with him.

“It made him feel so much calmer and more at peace than anything else had,” says Amy.

“It was like a rollercoaster of emotions,” says Amy. “It was really hard to keep it together for the kids, but Ben was just that much of a great dad.

“I remember him saying, ‘I’m glad it was me and not one of the kids’. They were his life. He was always about them, even when it came to his illness. When we realised there was no beating it, everything became about prolonging a decent quality of life, because he very much wanted to meet the baby.”

Sadly, Ben passed away a week before Christmas and just one month before his daughter was born. His service was held on Christmas Eve at Caloundra Corps.

“Before coming to the Salvos, neither Ben nor I had an active faith in God,” says Amy. “But by the time he passed away, he was sure God loved him. He died confident of this. When you are in that situation – when you don’t know what is going to happen next – it sort of brings you home. It really makes what matters shine and what doesn’t matter fade away.”

Wrought with emotion, Amy had found it hard to do even the basic things a family enjoys at Christmas.

“I couldn’t really face going shopping. They [the Salvos] definitely stepped in to support us with hampers of food and lovely presents for the kids. They rang and came over to make sure we were all right and to let us know they were praying for us.

“It brought the kids a real sense of magic and fun in the middle of it all. The Salvos most definitely carried us through that first Christmas.”

Paying it forward

Packing a special hamper on Christmas Eve – to personally deliver to a heavily pregnant mum whose husband had just been diagnosed with a terminal illness – Amy can’t help but reflect on her own journey.

Although she doesn’t know the reason a young, beloved husband and father died before he got to meet his child, she has faith that there is still so much more to look forward to.

“I stay positive and happy. I do have sad days, but I feel as though I have told that part of my story and now it is time to move forward. It will always be a part of me, but will never define me.”

This inspirational outlook feeds Amy’s passion for nursing and her aspiration to work for an overseas aid agency when she has completed her studies. It drives her love of volunteering with the Salvos and her desire to give back to her community, especially at Christmas.

As a volunteer at Salvos Connect Centre, Caloundra, Amy helps with emergency welfare relief and talks with other people who are facing tragedy.

To those who support The Salvation Army, Amy is eternally grateful.

“By giving something little, you are not changing the world, but you are changing someone’s world,” she says. “It definitely makes a difference. It brings joy in times when joy is hard to find.

“I'm so thankful for all the help I've received. I am slowly becoming a new person, and I am sure God has called me to take the lessons I have learned and use them to make a difference.

“Now I don't just have hope for my own life – I can help others find hope as well.”

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Hope where it's needed most