Emily Parker spoke with Tricia Seaman about her book 'God Gave Me You', the extraordinary story of how she met and befriended a young single mother with terminal cancer, and the remarkable journey God took them on making two families one.

Tricia, Wesley, Trish (Two mothers, one well-loved little boy!)
Tricia, Wesley, Trish (Two mothers, one well-loved little boy!)

Emily: Set the scene for us. Tell me about yourself, where you're from, what you do as a job and a bit about your family.

Tricia: I'm a mother, wife, an oncology nurse and I live in rural central Pennsylvania in the United States. I've been a nurse for over 20 years, working mostly part time while my children were small, and steadily increasing a little bit as they've grown. My husband Dan and I have been married - it will be 23 years this November 5th. He's a wonderful husband. I'm so blessed to have him. We live in the country. My husband works as a data security analyst and, as I said, I work part time as a nurse. So, life is busy, and life is good. We enjoy the outdoors; we enjoy spending time together as a family. Our two oldest daughters are now in college so the house is a little quieter than it used to be. Then we have the three that are still here with us.

Emily: Your book, 'God Gave Me You', was the story about one day when you were at work and how you met a lady called Trish. Please could you tell me about that day and when you first met her?

Tricia: Sure. It was the spring of 2014 and I was working an evening shift. Nothing out of the ordinary. I went to work, got my assignment and I was assigned to take care of a young woman, 45 years old, who was diagnosed with a form of liver cancer. She was initially diagnosed back in the fall of 2013 and they were thinking that it was not growing; it was not moving or doing anything and really weren't offering any treatment at that present time. They felt that she was going to be ok, that it was a slow growing cancer. But unfortunately she continued to have all this pain. So doctor visit after doctor visit they finally decided to put her back in the hospital to see if they could determine what was causing the pain. The day that I met her, she was recovering from a procedure called an exploratory lap, where they basically went in, and looked around inside with a small camera to see if they could see what the problem was.

Emily: This wasn't any ordinary day because from that moment when you went in, you started to build a really extraordinary and a very special friendship with Trish.

Tricia: That's correct. I went into the room and she was very sleepy; she was coming out of her anaesthesia, just kind of waking up. I said to her, "Hi, how are you?" I said, "My name is Tricia and it's gonna be very easy to remember your name because we share the same name." Even the way it was spelt was the same. I said, "That's kind of neat, isn't it?" She just acknowledged that, nodded and smiled.

So we started to chat and as I was checking everything over she started to wake up a little more. She just seemed to really need to talk. She obviously had been through quite a lot and I noticed right away that there was no family in the room; there were no visitors there. Typically, when somebody has an operation, there are lots of family and friends waiting there, but she was by herself. So that was one of the first things that I noticed that was very odd. So we began to chat and she started to tell me about her journey.

Emily: As you talked and got to know her a bit more, you kept on going back and seeing her afterwards.

Tricia and Trish
Tricia and Trish

Tricia: Yes, I did. The time that I took care of her that initial evening she pretty much told me a good bit about her life and her little boy Wesley. Then also about her parents who had both passed away with cancer. Lots of different things about her life. I felt the need to continue to visit with her every time I was at the hospital. I would go back even though I wasn't assigned to her again. I would go back in and chat with her to see how she was doing, and if she had heard anything from the doctors yet. She was feeling better all along because they were giving her medicines to help her. So it came to the final day that she was there and I went in to say goodbye because I saw that she was going to be discharged and she looked very sad that day. The room seemed very heavy and dark. I could tell immediately that she had got some bad news; that was for sure. I tapped on the door, walked in and I saw that she was with the social worker and I said, "I'm sorry, I'll come back later, I just wanted to say goodbye." She said, "No, I really need you to stay." She stood up, walked towards me and she said, "The doctors gave me some news. The biopsies came back and I'm going to die. I'm terminal. The cancer is through my entire abdomen and that's why I was having all the pain." So I gave her a hug and I told her how sorry I was to hear it. I told her that I would pray for her and her little boy. She said, "No, there's something else I need to ask you." And I said, "Ok." And she said, "When I die, will you and your husband raise my son?" So that was what she asked me.

Emily: That's a huge question for her to ask and a testament to the friendship that you both developed and the trust that she had in you. How did you feel at that moment when she first asked?

Tricia: Oh, my! Well, I was just in shock. First of all I was very sad about what she had told me about her diagnosis, but when she asked if we would raise her child I was just in utter shock. I really felt that she was probably reacting out of feeling very desperate and just so overwhelmed by all this information. So I really wanted her to take some time with it. I said, "This is a huge decision and you don't know me very well. Just please take some time with this." I think I encouraged her to consult with an attorney because I knew that there was a biological father and I knew that it would not be that simple. Although in my heart I just wanted to say yes; I wanted to help her, I wanted to help the little boy. I was just so sad for what she was going through. And with that I left. I said my goodbyes and left the room, and never exchanged a phone number or an email address.

Emily: Wow, that's incredible. You and your husband were both already talking about potentially adopting anyway, weren't you?

Tricia: That's correct.

Emily: So would you tell me more about where you had got to in your own family life, to have Trish come along and ask you that question?