One of my most favorite little patients died last week.

She would put with my silly Ukrainian language even as she soundly beat me at dominoes over and over again. Chempionka! I gave her a sticker each time she won and she rapidly had quite the collection. I tried beating her at ‘picture’ bingo…but she would grin and proudly proclaim in English: Bin – go!

When a team from Huntsville came to serve the children of Ukraine this summer through vacation Bible school, Zhenya could no longer get out of bed and be upstairs with the other patients as she had in years past. But the team instead went to her and painted her nails and simply sat nearby. And her mother was so thankful for the attention.

I loved to act like I was going to tickle her feet — her whole face would scrunch up in anticipation of the tickle and she would giggle the sweetest little giggle.

We gave her a wheelchair in August so that she could go home with her Mama for a few weeks (thanks, again, to our friends in Switzerland who left that chair for us last summer) and fully expected to be losing games and stickers to her regularly this fall.

But, God had other plans for her. She spent time in and out of an intensive care unit in her hometown and eventually succumbed to the multiple diseases her body so valiantly fought for so long.

My last picture with her was the day before she left…outside in her new wheelchair. We said good-bye and rather than me instigating a farewell kiss, she grinned and blew me one first.

Love that little girl. Love her Mama. Wish I could give her Mama a big hug.

So thankful that we will meet again and we will all be able to hop, skip, jump…and play dominoes!

And even speak the same language!



  1. Mina Podgaiskaya says:

    I am sorry you lost your domino queen. How blessed you are to have such a friend waiting for you in heaven.

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