The opposite of a complainer is Laura Roberts.

Laura is mother to Elaine — a pretty, soft-spoken girl with an Alabamian accent, who I understand was fire on the tennis court. More than that. Elaine was a cheerleader, churchgoer, swim team competitor, pianist, and a graduate of Alabaster, Alabama Girl Scout Troop 993. The girl was going places. Big places.

And then one day, Elaine had foot pain. No problem, thought her mother. Athletes have foot problems all the time, right? Maybe. But this was different. The doctor ordered an MRI and soon discovered it was aggressive cancer. And it wasn’t just in the foot. It was all over Elaine’s body.

It was like a slap to the face with a brick.

After the diagnosis, Elaine did what normal teenagers do, she logged onto Facebook. For her status update, the words of Jesus: “’You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.’”


Her mother said, “The fact that she told people with a Bible verse speaks to the strength that she has.”

Well, Elaine was right about one thing. Nobody understood the slow-moving tragedy that was occurring. Least of all, the Roberts family, who tried to salvage their remaining years together. Christmas was shaping up to be a miserable holiday. After all, how do parents buy gifts for a dying daughter? How could anyone think of cheap decorations or scented candles?

And then, on Christmas Eve, before anyone opened a single gift, something unexpected. Elaine’s father, Brent Roberts, died of a heart attack.

The entire world caved in. And I don’t know how Laura Roberts even peeled herself out of bed. Or ate.

The upbeat, but weakened sixteen-year-old Elaine wasn’t bothered. She reasoned that whenever she died, she’d reunite with her daddy. Then, no matter what happened, she’d be in the company of at least one parent.

A little over a month later, Elaine joined her father. Her mother attended two separate memorials, two burials, and she cried twice as hard as any human.

The truth is, I don’t think anyone understands what God’s doing. I sure as hell don’t. But according to the late sixteen-year-old, Elaine:

Later we will.