Two Sisters & a Brain Tumour by Emily J. Maurits
Published by Daughters of Love & Light
Review by Ella Quist
Testimonies. The beautiful and soul-reaching stories that move us, teach us and change us. Often in testimonies we hear of someone's fierce internal, physical and emotional battles, tragic or perfectly ordinary circumstances that, ultimately, bring glory to God.
Two Sisters & a Brain Tumour is a beautiful, vulnerably written memoir that is a testimony of God's mercies, love and faithfulness amid sickness and fear. It is a story of trust, prayer, sisterly love and God's character. The pages meet you where you are, spiritually and circumstantially, bringing tears to your eyes and fresh, biblical understanding to your heart.
The four-part memoir, which includes scattered reflections and diary entries, begins with a devastating diagnosis for Emily’s 16-year-old sister Jasmine: a large craniopharyngioma (a rare type of non-cancerous but often fatal brain tumour).
Having grown up with a chronically ill mother, questions of God's plans continue to plague Emily as she navigates the emotional and spiritual toll this new diagnosis brings into her life. Through her intimate style of writing, she is able to shed great insight on how sickness truly impacts family life and dynamics and gives her readers a new empathy for those they know in similar situations.
When trouble comes it is easy to retreat… It’s hard to trust that others will say the right words… be enough for you during this time… Is it really them I’m trusting? Or is it God, who can use all people and heal all wounds? (pp74-75)
All things for good
A sister's love is one of fortified strength, nurturing and protection. This couldn’t be more plain through Emily's internal monologue, trying to balance being a blood sister and a sister in Christ. This is one of the most heart-wrenching aspects to read. Emily gives readers access to her emotions, taking us along the journey with her. Ultimately, God's mercy and character are highlighted so brightly through the faithfulness of Emily and her family amid the multiple struggles they endure.
“I’ve been thinking… ‘all things work for the good of’… But getting a brain tumour helped me see how supportive the church is… that's the good” (Jasmine, p95).
In the above excerpt Jasmine lies in her hospital bed, drowsy from drugs after her second surgery yet deeply contemplative. Of course, this wasn’t the only good thing to come from Jasmine's brain tumour but, in these moments of spiritual reflection, the reader is prompted to pause and reflect on their own life. How has God used my trials for his good? How has God been glorified in my suffering? How can I bring God’s love to people through these times, whether it be I or another who is enduring it?
At the end of the day, all God asks of us is “that we seek him one dark day at a time” (p241).
For a gripping read to evoke deep thought and to stir your emotions, Two Sisters & a Brain Tumour will not leave you wanting. The real impact of the memoir is the encouragement to focus on who we can encourage in Christ. The sisters are pillars for each other, not only as familial sisters but as sisters in Christ. The pair walk alongside each other through their spiritual journey as much as the physical one.
It’s an important reminder to reflect on your commitment to seeing your friends and family walk with Jesus, and be encouraged to trust God through even the darkest seasons.