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  2007 Paula Baker

Rebecca Marie Dasch

January 31, 1991 - August 25, 2000

BeckyI first met Becky Dasch shortly after Christmas of 1999. I had been told that she was eight years old and had, at the age of four, been diagnosed with Wilms Tumor, a rare childhood cancer of the kidney. She had undergone surgery, chemotherapy and radiation to stop the growth of the tumor. Although she had experienced periods of remission, the cancer continued to come back. I had been asked by one of her physicians to visit her and offer reiki treatments. The cancer was mainly in her lung at this point. I agreed to do this with mixed emotions. Although I felt honored to be included in her care, having worked with critically ill and hospice patients in the past, I knew what could possibly lie ahead. However, I quickly put all that aside and called her Mom, Marie, to set up a "meet and greet" appointment.

Paula, Marie and Becky As I drove to her farm, I prayed for strength, bracing myself for what I thought I would encounter when I met Becky. Expecting a thin, withered, sickly child, I was shocked to see a beautiful, vibrant little girl with shiny black hair and dark mischievous eyes. She was with her best friend Maggie, giggling as they sat together at the oak table in their spacious, warm kitchen. As I watched the two little girls, it was hard to believe that one of them was so seriously ill. It didn't seem possible. Glancing around the house, I saw love everywhere. Becky's younger brother Josh was running around, there were cats, dogs, a beautiful Christmas tree in the living room. The wood stove put out wonderful warmth and coziness. The window by the kitchen table looked out onto the trees holding bird feeders filled with birds. This home was truly filled with life and love.

Marie introduced me to both girls, and went on to explain why I had come to visit and how I would be coming over on a regular basis to help. We chatted for a short time and after talking with Marie about convenient days and times for me to come back, I left this very normal, pleasant scene. Little did I know how meeting this child would have such a profound impact on my life and on my ministry.

Paula and Becky I quickly became very fond of Becky. She was easy to love. She was always cheerful, agreeable and fun to be with. She loved school, her many pets including her horse Chaise, and her wonderful family. She would sometimes come to my house and took great pleasure in going out to our pond, scooping up tadpoles and putting them down my shirt. She would giggle and run around, enjoying her pranks. Because she had such energy, it was hard for her to lie still long enough for me to do a full reiki treatment, but she did her best. We used various visualizations, such as pretending that her cancer was golden bread crumbs and a beautiful white dove, (The Holy Spirit) would come down and gently eat the golden crumbs, healing her. Other times she liked to use her cat Sandy, picturing her cancer in the form of Friskies dried cat food. We tried to make it a game, yet somehow I always knew that she was aware of what was really happening. I often wondered how much of what she did was for our benefit, rather than her own.

As the months went by, experimental treatments failed, complementary methods were not working, Becky began to change. They were subtle changes, but shifts in her energy were definitely noticeable. It became more difficult for her to come to my house, so I would drive to her farm. We would have talks. We talked about God, about cancer, about the possibility of dying.

One beautiful spring day, with all of the flowers in bloom and everything so vibrantly alive outside, we finished her treatment and she didn't seem to want me to leave. She was weak, but that beautiful spark was still in her dark, knowing eyes. She had such wisdom in her eyes. I scooped her up on my lap and held her to me and asked The Question. "Becky, are you afraid to die?" She said, very matter of fact, "No, I'm not afraid, because if I live, God will take care of me, and if I die God will take care of me, so either way, I am ok". As I blinked back my tears and swallowed hard, I said, "Well, I am glad you feel that way because you are absolutely right! I just wanted to talk with you about this in case you didn't want to worry Mommy". She said, "Mommy isn't ready to hear it yet, but it will be ok".

Becky's Tree

She then stood up and took my hand, telling me that she had a present for me. Seeing how weak she was, I told her that I would get it if she told me where it was. She said, "No, I want to give it to you myself." She led me out onto their deck where her little greenhouse was located. Becky had the most incredible green thumb and could grow just about anything. She carefully lifted the lid to her portable greenhouse and pulled out one of the drawers. She reverently handed me a tiny maple tree seedling, approximately 3" tall. She said, "I want you to have this to remember me by." This time, the tears wouldn't be blinked away. I said, "Becky, I couldn't possibly ever forget you. I love you and you are always going to be in my heart. Besides, there are many people in your family who would love to have one of your beautiful trees." She then reached into the drawer a second time and handed me another precious seedling and said, "Take another one in case this one dies. I know you will take good care of them." I looked down at my hands which held this priceless gift and then looked into the eyes of this sweet loving child, and silently thanked God for that moment, etched in my mind forever.

That was in the spring of the year. I had begun to see a number 8 over her head each time I went to see her. I knew it was a message, so every 8th of the month, the 18th of the month, the 28th of the month, I would ready myself. Yet each month passed and Becky continued to hang on. She grew weaker in body, but her spirit and sense of humor was ever present. My visits had become a daily ritual and I would have trouble finding a place to park in the driveway and yard, now always filled with cars, bringing visitors and gifts to this special girl. Each day was a gift, a treasure to be cherished.

Becky Becky thought of everything. She forgave children who had hurt her, asked for forgiveness of anyone whom she felt she had hurt. She thanked each of us for trying so hard to help her. The week she passed, as I was leaving, I bent to kiss her goodbye as always and she said to me, "You have been one of my special Angels. Now I will be one of yours." I cried all the way home. And then, on August 25th, Marie, called me very early in the morning, to tell me that Becky had gone to be with Our Lord. She was now a glorious, powerful angel in heaven.

I learned many lessons from Becky Dasch. I learned about faith, about acceptance, about grace, and about living each and every day with love, joy and gratitude. This special little girl who loved God, her family, her friends, school, her pets, her plants, inspired and taught us all by her fine example.

As one would expect, news of her passing spread quickly. Everyone had stories to tell about the impact she had had on their lives. At the calling hours, family members, friends, teachers, medical personnel and neighbors, stood in lines which extended through several rooms. The procession to the cemetery stretched on as far as one could see. As we gathered at the burial site, all of us standing together to honor her, we suddenly heard the sound of a horse whinnying nearby. Everyone turned to see Chaise, Becky's beloved horse, her dear friend, standing at attention behind the crowd. What an unforgettable moment.

At her funeral, as we sat in the packed church, filled with everyone who loved her, including all of the students from her beloved St. Helen Catholic School, I looked down at the program listing the readings and hymns to be sung. At the top, was the date, August 28th, 8-28. Becky was 9 years, 8 months old. I had known her 8 months.

Paula with Becky's Trees