My eyes are still sore from all of the tears I shed last night while reading Jeanne Damoff’s account of her son Jacob’s near-drowning in Parting the Waters.  If you’ll indulge me, I’d like to give a quick background of how I even became aware of such a book about a blessed family from Texas.


Back when I had just begun blogging I was looking to make comments on other people’s blogs in order to generate a little bit of interest in my blog.  I stumbled across (Re)Publican written by Aaron in Kentucky (I am trying to convince Meredith that he’s okay in spite of being in Kentucky).  I liked what he was writing, both as it pertained to current events and God-related matters, so I made some comments on his blog.  He replied to my comments on his blog and read a bit of mine.  And now we have each other’s blogs listed on our blogrolls (I prefer my blogrolls warm with butter).

I go back occasionally to see what Aaron is writing about and one time he had reviewed a book called, Parting the Waters. I made a comment on his blog about his review and looked into the book. He replied to my comment and encouraged me to get a copy to read knowing what my family is going through. I checked it out and thought it looked interesting, but I dragged my feet because I already have probably 100 books in the hopper waiting to be read and not nearly enough time to read them all.

A week or more went by and I get a comment on my blog from Tina Howard who asked me if I would be interested in receiving a free copy of the book so that I could comment on it while she prepared the book for a book tour. Not being one to pass up an opportunity for a free book, I accepted and agreed to move the book to the top of my queue so that it would get read in time for the book tour.

About a week ago I received a (signed, thank you!) copy of Parting the Waters. I carried it with me back and forth to school in the hopes that I would find a few minutes here and there in order to read it. I really wanted to honor Tina and Jeanne for the free copy with my speedy read and review. Well, I never got further than the back cover and the acknowledgments for several days. Finally, I read the first chapter. I wasn’t sure I would be able to read more.


My wife, Meredith, was discovered to have a mass in her brain on February 20th last year. Later we would discover that this mass was a cancerous tumor called a pineal blastoma. What ensued after the initial discovery defies summary in this post, but we are almost a year later with my wife’s life (and mine) having been forever altered. Jeanne Damoff’s book touched me on every page. There was rarely a chapter that didn’t reduce me to tears that needed time to subside in order to continue reading. Before I began the book I acknowledged that Jeanne had taken an incredible risk in publishing her account of her son’s near-drowning. It wasn’t until afterward that I realized it was not a risk at all but a fulfillment of an instruction from Paul:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. (2 Corinthians 1:3-5, NIV)

It was as though Jeanne, and her husband George, had invited me into their home and tenderly told me about their turbulent life while putting their own arms around me to comfort me during my own tumultuous life. Even after two surgeries and six weeks of radiation, Meredith still has the tumor (albeit smaller and possibly shrinking) and we live from MRI to MRI not knowing what the scan will show us. In addition, the surgeries damaged the right side of her brain so that she has to contend with significant loss of mobility on her left side. One or the other would be discouraging enough on their own, but the fear of imminent death and the dramatic change of physical limitations have been difficult to bear.

The account of what Jacob went through after nearly drowning is nearly identical to what Meredith has experienced. (So identical that even some of the therapists have the same name!) It has been over ten years for the Damoff family and I know that they still face difficulties with Jacob’s recovery, but their perseverance has given me strength to keep going even as life’s difficulties threaten to engulf me. I would ask for God’s blessing on Jacob and his family, but is evident to me that He already has in countless, unimaginable ways. Instead, I’ll praise God for a work that, even though it defies human logic, is truly beautiful.