I’ve come to be friends with Stephanie Lemoine because of my late sister Ruthie. Stephanie was one of Ruthie’s “chemo buddies,” by which I mean they were  cancer sufferers who met and became close in the Baton Rouge General’s chemotherapy room. Stephanie went into remission; Ruthie, of course, didn’t make it. I’ve gotten to know Stephanie since I returned to south Louisiana, and she’s a key part of The Little Way Of Ruthie Leming.

Stephanie’s cancer returned, and she’s been having a very, very hard time of it. The last time I visited her, she told me that she began noticing that during her lowest times, sometimes after she had been praying with particular intensity — especially asking for her late friend Ruthie’s prayers — a cardinal would appear outside her window. She had come to see it as a sign of Ruthie’s faithful presence at her side as she was on this painful and difficult journey through the land of cancer.

Today we went to Sunday dinner at my mother’s house. She told me that Stephanie is about to go back to M.D. Anderson in Houston for another round of grueling cancer treatment. She — my mother, I mean — was sitting out on her front porch late last night, in the dark, praying for Stephanie, when she heard a loud rustling noise in the bush next to the porch. She shined her flashlight to see what was making the noise, and there she saw a cardinal.

Cardinals are diurnal birds. You never see them at night, and when you see them in the daytime, they are quiet, unfussy birds. But there was one in the bush next to my mother, making noise as she prayed for Stephanie. My mother took it as a sign of Ruthie’s presence for and with her faithful friend, and it gladdened her heart. It gladdened Stephanie’s heart too. And mine. I believe it.

Please pray for Stephanie Lemoine, if you pray.