12-Oct-2015 18 FEB
Jennifer Doolabh taught what us heroic motherhood looks like
By Brendan Malone
Earlier today we learned the sad news that Kiwi mum Jennifer Doolabh had finally passed away after a lengthy battle with breast cancer.
I never met Jennifer, but I followed her story closely and received the regular Facebook updates about her final journey from the moment this brave mother was introduced to us via the mainstream media coverage of her situation.
People have used words such as ‘inspirational’ and ‘brave’ today in their personal tributes to Jennifer, and they are right - she was a woman who truly embodied heroic motherhood.
Her first and most courageous act was her decision to halt her cancer treatment when she discovered she was pregnant after starting it.
Her decision to place the needs of her unborn child ahead of her own should stand as a shining example to all of us about what true bravery in the face of adversity really looks like.
Her son was born to her and her husband Aneal two days before Christmas 2013, and they gave him the name Matthias - which, appropriately, means ‘God’s gift’ in Hebrew.
But Jennifer’s bravery wasn’t just found in her amazingly self-sacrificial love for Matthias. It was displayed for many, many months after that as well in her willingness to allow us, the public, into her difficult family journey of suffering.
The last thing that most of us who find ourselves facing serious difficulties would ever want to do is expose ourselves to the world, instead we’d much rather try and avoid such vulnerabilities by keeping our personal struggles as private as possible.
To allow the world into those moments is something that was truly heroic in my mind, and I believe that we, the total strangers who were allowed into this beautiful Kiwi family’s hardship are truly blessed to have been granted such a unique and honoured privilege.
Jennifer, Aneal and their children have spent the last few years walking the way of the cross, and they have done so in the full glare of the public eye with a raw honesty and courage that mere words cannot adequately describe.
In an age that harbours irrational fears around suffering, and wrongly equates human dignity with perfection and control, Jennifer has taught us the true meaning of dignity, and how to embrace the cross even when its weight seems like it is simply far too great to bear.
She also taught us what authentic love looks like, by giving life to her son without counting the cost for herself.
Thank you Jennifer for your courage, and thank you Aneal for yours.
As a married father of a young family I can’t even begin to imagine what you are going through at this moment, or the journey that now lies ahead for you and your children.
Thank you both for allowing us, the total strangers that we are, this vitally important glimpse into a very private, difficult and intimate family moment - the final journey of a wife and mother from this life to the next.
Please know that our family will be remembering your family in our prayers over the coming days.
"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband; and I heard a great voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away.”