Love Wins

Love Wins

posted in: Current Events, Mommyhood | 46

For Trucker and his courageous family


“Mommy!” my two-year-old shouted me awake. I stumbled into his room and saw his shadow sitting up in bed, sucking his thumb. “Mom!” He bellowed through the inches between us, “could you put your head down right here?” he patted his pillow.


I crawled into his bed. He curled up beside me, his tiny form pressed against my long tummy. “Thanks, Mom!” He yelled. He was asleep in minutes.


I lay awake for an hour, running my fingers across his chubby thighs, listening to his quiet breath and trying to hold back my tears. It is not my family I told myself, as I pressed a pillow over my face. I don’t even know them! This is ridiculous. But I couldn’t reason away my grief. Or my fear.


The grief had been with me for days. I heard about Trucker more than a year ago, from our handful of mutual friends. Back when one-year-old Trucker was diagnosed with stage IV Neuroblastoma, my own one-year-old was having trouble sleeping. I used to think about Trucker and his brave, steel-clad mama during my early, wearing days of motherhood, when long days melted into longer nights. I was only a spectator outside her story, my home a few miles from hers, but her faith, her sincerity, and her warrior heart encouraged me. She inspired a blog post way back then.


Now my heart was aching. It didn’t make sense, but ever since I had heard that three-year-old Trucker was home on hospice care, my heart would not stop hurting. He wasn’t my little boy. I never held his hand or read him Dr. Seuss. I never heard him insist that he was going to be taller than his daddy or saw him man-up after a tricycle crash. I never felt his head against my leg or heard his little voice ask me to hold him. He was not my little boy, and it was not reasonable to feel the grip of an awful sadness. But I did.


The sun rose dazzling over the rim of Haleakala. I woke up cramped in my two-year-old’s bed, thankful to drink in the sunlight and a big cup of coffee. Sorrow lasts for the night, but joy comes in the morning; at least, I hoped it would.


But joy didn’t come. I took my kids to the playground, and ached as I watched their tiny feet run. I took them home and battled tears as they cuddled together on the couch, pretending to read to each other. I sucked in the wet residue of the rain and prayed for a miracle for a family I’ve never met.


And I wondered why it felt as though MY family were being ripped apart. I’m not usually burdened by excess empathy. The world is dark and families endure unbearable suffering every day. My newsfeed is clogged with famines and wars, starvation, destruction, terror, and flight. My own family struggles and I have enough sorrow of my own; why should I borrow someone else’s? Why was this family haunting me so?


My moms’ Bible study met at my house. We sat around the table, eating bagels while our little blessings tore the living room apart. I tried to look casual so I could share a prayer request. There is a normal way to ask for prayer for people who are distant. We say, with cool, practiced concern, that a husband’s colleague’s brother’s aunt’s step-son is unwell, and could everyone please remember him in their prayers? But that morning I stumbled to suggest we should pray for Trucker and his family. I expected to see Sunday Morning Proper on my friends’ faces too—distant sympathy, quick nods, jots of pens so that prayer was duly noted. But as I glanced around I saw fear. Fear and horrible, gut-tearing grief. One mommy’s eyes filled with tears. Another one pressed her hands to her face and cringed.


“Oh, I can’t,” she hesitated, “I can’t even…”


I shook my head. “Me either.”


“The pictures” said another mommy, “when I see the pictures I just cry.”


I blinked and saw a little, worn-out, tousled head pressed against his daddy’s powerful arm. A weary, brave little warrior cradled like a baby in his daddy’s strong, unyielding grip. I saw thin shoulders and a pale little face streaked with pain. I looked around my table and saw that I was not alone. I am not the only one standing outside this story, looking in, and feeling a terrible grief. There are at least 41,099 of us here.


That afternoon, for the first time in forever, both my little miracles took a nap at the same time. For 18 quiet, beautiful minutes I could just watch them. I pushed my three-year-old’s curls back from her face and tugged a truck from under my two-year-old’s cheek, where it left red tire prints. I wished I could stop time, wrap those minutes up and run them through my laminator so I could treasure them forever. I heard only breath, and the soft scratch of a chicken below the window.


But something was thundering behind the silence. C.S. Lewis says God whispers to us in our comforts, but He shouts to us in our pain. When God shouts, His voice breaks cedars. His voice sends mountains skittering. His volume shakes the desert, twists massive oaks, and strips the forest bare (Ps. 29). When God shouts, hearts melt. But then the wise ones grow quiet and listen.


I have a memory. I am five years old. I’m undersized after an infancy spent on the brink of life. I am curled up beside my mother, my head on her lap, feeling the warmth in her legs. I wish she sat more often. I wish I didn’t have so many siblings, so she could be all mine. I feel her gentle fingers in my hair. “Mommy,” I whisper, “am I your little girl?” My lonely heart wants to hear “Yes, darling! You’ll always be my girl.”


Her answer burns. “No,” she says softly. “Not really. I love you tremendously. More than you can imagine. But you belong to God. He lent you to us, and we give you back to Him.” Her words scald deep, deep enough to glisten after 30 years. But over time, their sting fades and a garden grows in their fertile grooves. My parents are people of invincible faith. And they handed all their children over to God.


My mom almost never talks about the child she lost—the one she physically laid in a little box and released to His hands. But years ago, on a grassy hillside in southern Mexico, she watched a shepherd trying to lead his little flock across a stream. One stubborn, frightened ewe would not step into the current, so the shepherd crossed back, picked up her lamb, and carried it over first. In a heartbeat that mama’s anxiety shrank away as her courage found feet. She galloped across the river. Sometimes I think my mom’s courage was born the day her daughter died. She lives with abandon, like someone whose treasure is not on this earth.


When I think about her loss my heart winces. I wonder if the assurance born from adversity is worth it. I am thankful that the choice isn’t mine to make. I pray I would choose well. I pray I would choose love. Behind the silence, when the grief quiets down and the fear is chained up, I can hear Him asking me.


And that must be it. That must be why, or at least part of why, a great, mighty, merciful God let something so unthinkable loose in our community. God had something enormous to say, something that would reverberate across these islands, across the Pacific, across the mainland United States, down the crowded streets of New York, and into every heart that heard the story, a message so important, so heavy, and so piercing that only a little boy could carry it.


Love wins.


That’s what the steel-clad mama says. “Love wins. Love beats cancer.” When I first heard that I thought No it doesn’t. Love doesn’t stop cancer. Cancer wins. Cancer is going to rip this family to pieces. It is going to claim the sweetest smile that ever went viral on Facebook. It’s going to stop that mama’s heart from ever beating properly again. It is going to steal away that tiny boy, silence his adorable voice, and leave a raw, unmendable hole in his family’s broken hearts. Cancer wins.


But then I saw Trucker. I saw his weary, brave-hearted mama choosing to be all-in. I saw his fierce, tender father standing like a shield around his family. I saw strength, endurance, patience, and hope standing fast in gale-force wind.


And I knew she was right. Love wins. Love beats cancer. Cancer wants us to cringe, to brace, and to look away. Love steps in close, so hairbreadth close you can see the soul in its eyes and feel its heartbeat. Cancer wants us to move apart, to put a chasm the size of our pain between us and those around us. Love packs a bag, brings the Kleenex, and moves in. Cancer wants us to fear, to hide, and to shield ourselves. Love rips off its armor to shield others. Cancer wants us to believe we are in danger; it whispers that we are dangling over an emptiness so painful and vast that no comfort will ever ease it. Love reaches out to cradle us, and thunders that we are safe.


Love wins. God wins. God is love; and love beats cancer.


It’s a powerful message, and He is taking the trouble to write it across my world with the tears of a precious family. I hope my heart is brave enough to hear it.




And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them…He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then He said “write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

–Revelation 21:2-5






Update: on a bright Friday morning, March 3, 2017, love won. Little Trucker left his mama’s arms and went to be with Jesus. But another battle began, one that might be even harder.  Please be praying for Trucker’s courageous family. You can meet them at the Team Trucker website or the Team Trucker Facebook Page (which, when I last checked, had 41,099 followers).



(The image is not Trucker)


46 Responses

  1. Molly Jacobs

    Yes!! Thank you for putting into words what so many have been feeling. <3

  2. Thank you for this! This is so close to home for me… it is exactly what and how I’ve been going through this myself. You have penned it for me!
    Thank you thank you thank you
    Love wins!

  3. Lorraine

    Beautiful, inlightening words, Thank you for saying what so many of us are feeling.

  4. This is like someone has put my heart on paper ❤️😔I felt this too gosh and reading it makes me realize everyone has … I woke up at 3 am last night and started to cry about Trucker as I held my grand daughters hand .. she had woken up with bad dreams so I prayed for her protection and as she fell asleep my heart was in pain for this family …. prayers work sometimes not the way we hope but they do work … I love Shauna and her boy I pray they all be covered by our prayers …. love you Trucker love you with all my heart ❤️

  5. Pat McCauley

    Absolutely beautiful. Thank you so very much for sharing. May God bless the Dukes family and cover them with His Grace.

  6. Wow. You captured this heavy heart of mine perfectly. Thank you❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

  7. Uhhh yes. I’ve been crying about this and my husband asks “why are you making yourself so sad?” This is a special family and I pray everyday for god to heal trucker on this side of heaven

  8. This is exactly how I feel following his story. Thank you for finding the words. I have started to pray again and my son, who is also 3 and born in April, is joining me. My relationship with God has been rocky, and Trucker and his family have helped me find my way back to Him. With that, I have introduced my son to Him. I am grateful to Trucker for this. He is changing lives.

  9. Yes I agree with your words! This path the Dukes family is walking completely breaks my heart and I can’t imagine watching my child suffer this way 🙁 my son and Trucker remind me so much of each other. I know many others feel the same way, that the Dukes’ courage to share their story has helped me focus on what truly matters and be so incredibly grateful for each moment I have with my children.

  10. Shannon Yung

    OMG that is exactly how I have been feeling and not been able to put into words. I cry everyday and beg God to spare him and let him live here and grow up and go to school and have his first kiss and go surfing with his family. Etc. He is a stranger and yet I love this boy like he is my own. Maybe cause I have a 3 year old myself and find myself holding and kissing her all the time. Thanks you for putting some perspective to this journey we are all on with this amazing family. Xoxo

  11. You voiced the exact way I feel! I cry each day thinking about what this family is going through. Thank you for sharing and God is our stronghold!

  12. Jaime Siminski

    Thank you! I have not been brave enough to put my thoughts and feeling into words! It seems almost like a violation of such a personal and private fight this amazing family is going through, to feel so much sadness and pain for them. This child is an angel and they have unselfishly shared their joy and their pain with all of us every step of the way! We love you all, and I pray that Trucker’s tired little body leaves this world seeing the beautiful smiles from both of his parents and all of his siblings. Love conquers all, even when the worst comes your way! Peace for Trucker Boy💜

  13. Nicole Lee-Hubin

    Thank you
    I feel same same

  14. Corky Hook

    God gave you this letter. For over forty years we served across the world in Indonesia and thrilled at all that GOD allowed us to be a part of amidst a precious people group …my heart (as a nurse) wept many a time when a Mom would carry the body of a child away in its net because God said, “Come home now.” And I wept. Death is the enemy but GOD had not left that family or us!

    Since Trucker was DX, I have wept so many times (yes because we served with his aunt & uncle & cousins but for more than that…, as you wrote, at the most unique moments (and every Sunday during the music worship) because I hate the pain this precious family faces…and yet I know my GOD and their GOD the GOD who holds and created this precious little warrior loves them most! And Jesus wept!
    Thank you for a letter I must have thought many times but only you could pen it! Blessings and may we all keep on praying for Dukes for a long time.

  15. Bert Dempsey

    YES….LOVE WINS!! You expressed every thought and feelings that I have been struggling with to comprehend. So many times, I wanted to send a message to the Dukes family but, my heart broke every time I tried!! Prayers and love are so abundant for Trucker and his unbelievable family!! ❤️🙏🏼❤️

    The Dempsey Family of SC

  16. Insert (divorce) (hate) (shame) (abandonment) (suiside) or (war) next to cancer and LOVE wins!
    Continue to Live like your not here living for yourself but instead for your treasure that is not of this earth!
    So perfectly said. – thank you so much for putting all of this all consuming process of loosing a child to cancer into perspective for all of the rest of us who don’t know all the pain even, but greive so much with The DUKES
    Love you all and TRUCKER- thank you for the love you gave to the world 🌎 it surpasses the pain by infinity!

  17. Yes, thank you. Feeling the same but my two sweeties are young adults. That love never weakens or stops! Bless the Duke family and bless you for reaching out.

  18. Lisa Ronan

    As a cancer mom two times over, I wish I could honestly say I do not carry the fear. Scanxiety is very real and never goes away-this past January was my daughter’s first 20 year versary and March 26 will be five from her 2nd dx. I believe that I put 99% of my trust in the Lord but walking this path is scary. My heart breaks for Trucker’s family as I follow them on FB and IG. They are being stronger than I think I could be. I just keep praying for peace for them and for a miracle. I live with one so I know they exist. Beautiful article.

  19. Unbelievably well written. This message applies to so many who have been faced with this same unimaginable grief. I hope this message is shared like crazy. Praying for Trucker and praying for the Dukes.

  20. Barbara coates

    All I can say is thank you for expressing so beautifully what my heart is feeling and for helping me remember the answer to the “Why?”.

  21. This is the written version of every feeling, every tear, every smile, every prayer, literally every emotion I have encountered on this journey we have been on for the past 2 years with our brave warrior Trucker boy and his family. Most of all it has lead me, lead us, on a journey with them but more specifically with God. God has spoken to us, world wide, through this family, through this boy who has no knowledge of what enormous effect he has had on every life this story has touched. God is sending His message to us via a painful form that most everyone is familiar with and a form that attracts our immediate and undivided attention. You cannot turn away from the truth and the truth is that there is a reason for everything that happens in our lives and the timing is always immaculate by His conception. Yes, yes, yes love beats cancer and God IS love. Father, thy will be done.

  22. Thank you for your beautiful words. I learned about Trucker just a few short weeks ago and his journey has cut to the core of my heart in ways that I haven’t been able to understand let alone explain to those around me. You have put my feelings into words… thank you for sharing your heart! Love does win!

  23. Kimberly Shriner

    This torn at my heart💔 Beautifully said, and yes I feel the same, every word, every tear. We lost our son not long ago, not to cancer, he was 34 and all I can think is God please give this family more time to love this precious baby here on earth.💔

  24. Wow, that is incredible. Amazingly heartfelt and full of love. What a gift.

  25. 1000% yes! Thank you for this!

  26. Thank you for publishing this, I am one of the 41,099 followers and I couldn’t have explained how my heart hurts any better than you just did. This was great!

  27. Thank you.

  28. Beautifully said. I too have not met this warrior yet I cry for him, sing with him and splash in puddles in his name.

  29. Shayna Pennington, Southern Ca

    Wow, you have truly captured what I have been feeling since I have followed Trucker’s journey.
    The pain I ache for Trucker is as if he was mine. I cannot get him off my mind, his adorable Shaka image out of my sight, the tears from falling daily. Trucker, I beg & pray to God daily to heal you, grant the miracle you deserve.
    I get on FB every few minutes hoping to see an update that you are feeling better, that you have been healed. Stay brave little dude!

  30. One of the most insightful, painfully beautiful things I have ever read. What an honor to be Truckers sweet mother and what a great sacrifice to inspire so many

  31. It’s like you walked into my heart and wrote down what it felt. Thank you. I’m thankful for the Dukes family and especially for Trucker- for what he has taught me the past 2 years. Love wins indeed.

  32. Michelle Thomas

    Thank you for sharing this. So many have felt the profound impact surrounding Truckers journey. The family has graciously shared some very personal moments. Truly, love wins.

  33. this is so beautiful. i’ve been rocked by truckers battle. my heart is broken for them and your words have helped me to understand how Gods love is revealed and affirmed even though our hearts are breaking.

  34. Carrie Rawles

    Trucker wins. We have all won by loving, praying and believing in this sweet boy. Trucker wins.

  35. Beautifully spoken.. thank you 💛 #prayfortruckerboy

  36. Thank you for writing and posting this. Your words made a difference to me.

  37. Yes! Faith you have put to words how my heavy mama’s heart has felt (as well as soooo many others). We are all processing this grief with Shauna and Ua and Trucker and the other Dukes children. Thank you for your transparency.

  38. MeiLi Coon

    Incredibly well written

  39. Tennille

    Thank you for your beautiful words that have touched my soul so much. Tears are flowing and to know that others are feeling the exact same way I do – means the world to me. Trucker you are loved by so many that only know you from afar and we are all praying so hard for you and your family. Big love – true love x

  40. Caressa Fennell

    Oh, my soul. I, too, have been ceaseless in prayer for the Dukes family. Your words express my own agony for their struggle with life and death. Thank you for your transparency and tangible word picture of how we are all feeling but cannot express with such eloquence. I feel as though your gift of writing is a direct answer to my prayers for comfort and blessing upon Trucker-boy’s mommy, daddy and siblings in these difficult days.

  41. Donna Pritchett

    Such wonderful words, thank you for sharing your thoughts and Love. Tears and PRAYERS come forth as I read your sweet words. We will all be effected by Trucker and his sweet family for a long long time. God is good.

  42. Margaret Strong

    Yes thank you. I’m feeling just like all these others., you spoke what is in my heart. I’ve to have been praying and crying . I long to hold and comfort Trucker and tell him all the grandmotherly things to him. But it’s Truckers and his parents who are strong and comforting us. God blessings to the Duke family and may they all feel Christ peace love strength and comfort.

  43. Ted & Cassandra

    Thank you for penning and posting this masterful expression of truth and love. You have captured the deep sentiment. God is speaking – loud and clear – Love Wins! It will be a privelage simply to share this. It is a certainty that Trucker and his family belong to and have found true life in Christ Jesus!

  44. Oh wow. Thank you. My heart is breaking for a family I have never met. Why? Because of love. Love brings all of us together. It lets us lend our strength to hold up those who need it most. Love wins. Love will always win.

  45. Debra Shields

    Touched by this so much dear sista Faith. What engaging and heartfelt words. Blessed so much. OOXX

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