Clancy’s eyes felt like they would drown in tears.
“I can’t believe you came.”
“I always promised, if you needed me, I’d do my best to get to you.” Rayna pulled her niece into another hug.
“Yes, but most of the time when someone says that, it’s just a platitude. Everyone thinks they’ll do it but they can’t.”
“Well, promises mean something to me, and I promised. Now, why don’t you tell me what’s going on.”
Clancy drew in a shuddering breath and, moving away from her aunt, strode to the sliding glass door of her apartment. She pulled it open, felt the ocean breeze on her face, and stepped onto the deck.
Rayna came out beside her and together they leaned against the banister.
“I’m flunking out of school. I always thought I wanted to be a nurse like you were, but I just can’t make it.”
Rayna wrapped her arm around her niece. “You know what I’ve always told you,” she said giving her a squeeze.
“I know. Be who God made you to be not who you think someone else says you should be.”
“That’s right. And I never said you should be a nurse,” Rayna turned her niece toward her so they were facing each other. She rubbed her thumb down Clancy’s face.
“But you’re so good at nursing and helping others,” Clancy said around quivering breaths.
“Clancy,” Rayna raised her eyebrows, “Though I’ve been a nurse for a long time, you know it’s about caring for people. The way I’ve done that has changed over the years as circumstances have changed. Besides, you’ll never be truly happy until you ask God how He sees you and what He has planned for you. You’re His child and until you stand in what that really means, you’ll continue searching.”
“There’s more,” Clancy said barely above a whisper. “I think you need to sit down for this one.”
They moved back into the living room. Clancy closed the slider, and they sat on the old corduroy couch.
“I may not become a nurse like you but there’s something else we now have in common.”
Rayna’s tears came unhindered. She leaned toward her niece and together they hugged and cried for several minutes. “What does the doctor say?”
“Same as what you were told. Steroid treatments. I hate needles.” She shuddered before continuing. “I’ve spent my life watching you fight optic atrophy.” Clancy leaned back against the pillows of the aged sofa. “I just never … I can’t imagine …what am I going to do?”
Rayna reached for her niece’s hand. “You’re going to take one day at a time. We’re going to talk a lot about options and the reality of what you may face. And we’re going to pray for God’s strength in what is ahead. We’re going to cling tightly to each other and to God and when you need to scream and cry … do it. God’s not going to leave you if you express sadness or even anger over this.”
Clancy released Rayna’s hand as they stood. Rayna clicked her tongue and felt the familiar bump on her leg. She rubbed between the ears of the golden retriever now at her side then grasped the harness. “And when and if you need, I’ll help you find a companion like Jazzy here who will help get you through life.
Clancy leaned over and pet the dog and then hugged her aunt. “Thank you for coming. I knew you would. Now let’s go find something to eat and talk some more. I have a lot of questions about what’s coming.”