Ula was born on 20 September 1997; she left this world on 18 September 2013. She was witty and full of joy, the life and soul of the party. She liked to cuddle and speak nice words, but she could also show emotions of anger and rebellion.
In school, Ula was a smart pupil, as is confirmed by her school certificates and letters of congratulation. She and her sister Magda belonged to the community of the Light-Life Movement in our parish. It was there that they matured in faith and experienced the love and presence of God. In the past, I would attribute my daughters’ upbringing to myself and my family. Today, I know that God is our true and only Father, and I thank Him for raising and looking after us.
On 21 January 2013, we learned about Ula’s illness: lymphoblastic leukaemia. We experienced a moment of questions. We asked “Why?! After all, we are close to God. It’s impossible!” There were explanations: “It’s a kind of trial — an experience we must go through.” Ula was probably taking it best. It was she who was reassuring us to trust in the Lord. She said that sometimes we must experience suffering, that this is when we learn humility and patience. Ula wrote in her testimony that the illness itself was not as tiring as its long, dangerous and burdensome treatment.
I remember that the first decision in the hospital isolation ward was dedication to God. We decided to pray the Pompeian novena, and at the same time we asked everybody to pray for Ula’s healing. The steroid treatment resulted in bone and spine pains. I saw the suffering in Ula’s eyes, but she didn’t shed tears. She endured it with patience. Once she asked me to pray all the time when I was with her with the prayer Hail Mary; it was soothing and relieved her pain. We trusted that everything would turn out well and that Ula would recover, as long as we patiently endured the treatment. We were able to spend all the holidays at home. That’s when we had double celebrations, as we rejoiced that we could all be together. Unfortunately, only relatives, and only one person at a time, could be with Ula in the paediatric oncology ward, due to her low immunity.
She said that God knew her best and knew what was good for her, and if He wanted to take her to Himself, then nothing would change it and we must trust Him
We learnt about the first relapse of the illness the day after Corpus Christi; then the doctors decided to prepare Ula for bone marrow transplantation. Together with Ula, we were wondering what God wanted to tell us through this. We didn’t stop praying. Despite the suffering, Ula did not give up. She was eager to have lessons with her school teachers. She decided to learn French, she was developing her skills in playing the guitar and singing, and at home she also spent time playing the drums. She decided not to waste her time, which she had a lot of during her illness, and yet so little: sometimes chemotherapy deprived her of the strength even to talk. Ula found solace in God. She liked to talk to priests and received the sacraments: confession and Holy Communion. That year, Ula’s peers received the sacrament of confirmation. Unfortunately, Ula could not join them. Father Marek, the hospital chaplain, said that in exceptional cases, with the consent and permission of the bishop, such a sacrament could be given in the hospital. Ula didn’t want to postpone it for later. She said that Jesus, present in every sacrament, heals with the power of His love, both spiritually (all those who receive Him with faith) and physically (only those for whom it will be a necessary stage in their maturation to heaven).
The confirmation was held among the immediate family in the hospital chapel. Ula took the name of Saint Veronica. During her illness, she received the sacrament of anointing of the sick three times. One day, when I started praying, asking for Ula’s recovery, my daughter said “Mummy, ask God for me to be healed according to His will. Because God can heal me, but He has planned my whole life and may have a different plan for me. If I reject His will, then I will definitely suffer more or will take the wrong path.” She said that God knew her best and knew what was good for her, and if He wanted to take her to Himself, then nothing would change it and we must trust Him. We gave thanks for every day of her life on earth. One day, Ula felt so depressed. I asked her, “What happened?” She replied that nothing had happened, but she would like to receive the sacrament of confession. Then I said to her that she couldn’t have really sinned lying here in a hospital bed. She answered with a question: “Do you not get angry in your heart, Mummy, when someone or something upsets you?” I realised that I confess these sins during general confession, but rarely in the confessional. Until then, I hadn’t understood the gravity of the smallest sin. Ula taught me to get closer to God and to learn love from Him. We read the Scriptures together in the isolation ward. One day, Ula began to underline particular passages in it. Then I raised my voice, “What are you doing? You scrawled all over the Scripture!” Then Ula replied with a smile on her face: “He’s my God, and I will talk to Him as I want to.” She was right. God often spoke to us through the living word. From then on, I also began to highlight the Scripture passages that touched my heart.
When a new attack of Ula’s sickness repeatedly came after each block of chemotherapy, the doctors informed us that there was no possibility for further treatment. They said it was over, that we should expect her to die, that the final block of chemotherapy would kill Ula, who already had leukemic infiltrates. She couldn’t swallow saliva. Yet after the chemotherapy, Ula began to swallow and drink water. I called it the work of God. From day to day, she felt better. Everything indicated that she would regain her health. Then we were allowed as a whole family to be with Ula, to stand by her for nearly a month. The dreams she had written down in her testimony — that she would give anything to spend time together with her loved ones — came true. Unfortunately, the final news came that the bad cells had revived.
“Mummy, ask God for me to be healed according to His will. Because God can heal me, but He has planned my whole life and may have a different plan for me”
God poured out the grace of faith and love onto our family. We were persevering in the belief that He wanted to heal Ula for His glory. When leaving the hospital to come home, Ula asked if she could now go to the church in Sokółka to pray at the place where in 2008 the miracle of the Eucharist occurred. Some of the consecrated Host had turned into a piece of human heart muscle, which — as researchers said — was suffering in a pre-heart-attack state. The Lord Jesus gave this wonderful sign for us to realise that He is really present in the Eucharist. Immediately after returning home, we went to Sokółka, as Ula had wished. There she told us that the Lord Jesus Himself said to her that she would suffer only a little bit more. And so it was. On Saturday, we went to the hospital for a blood platelets transfusion, and in the evening we went to our parish priest to put on the Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. On Sunday, Ula was visited by volunteers from the “Help Them” Foundation; there was a lot of fun while playing charades. That was the last time I saw her so joyful. On Monday, full of faith and smiles, she said she knew when Jesus would heal her: “When she dies, and He raises her up”. There was so much faith in her … On Tuesday, 17 September 2013, in the morning, a doctor, a nurse and a priest from the hospice came. Ula felt weak and stayed in bed that day. In the evening, she had a severe headache. Outside our house, a lot of people gathered; they were praying the rosary. We also kept vigil with prayer at home. Ula asked us to pray Hail Mary again; she emphasised that this prayer was soothing her pain. Father Kamil, who was with us that day, celebrated the Eucharist at Ula’s bedside. That was the last time Ula received Holy Communion, and the pain subsided. Early Wednesday morning, on 18 September 2013, Ula’s breath began to weaken. We called the priest and continued in prayer. That day Ula was accompanied by four priests, a nurse, a doctor and her family. We prayed the Pompeian Novena and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. Then my husband Chris, Ula’s dad, began to pray and explained to her that he loved her and that he was only her earthly father, that her real dad was God and she should now go with Him. After this prayer, I lit a blessed candle and the hospice priest began to recite the Litany of the Saints. On the last call of the litany, Ula’s breath subsided. She left with all the saints, and the hospice priest read a reading from the Scripture for 18 September 2013 on the paradox of premature death, from the Book of Wisdom 4:7–15. The risen Lord took her. The day on which Ula left was the feast day of St Stanislaus Kostka, patron saint of children and youth. These facts made us realise that God was, is and will be with us all the time. Ula believed it most and she never wanted to burden us with her illness and suffering. God gave us love at the time of our daughter’s death. That love continues in us today and is certainly in part a fulfilment of Ula’s request and is the result of her faith. God took away from us anxiety, sadness and despair and gave us joy, and He assured us that although Ula died she lives with Him in full happiness. Despite our longing for Ula, we stand firm in our faith that we will see her soon. Today I thank God that He gave us a child so good and so devoted to Him.
Margaret – Ula’s mum