When Coleman and Tracy Pratt anticipated meeting Hannah, their first child, the words of David’s prayer in Psalm 139:14-16 became one of their most repeated passages:
For you created me in my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in secret.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me are written in your book
before one of them came to be
Her parents prayer for nine months was that the child in Tracy’s womb would be shaped in and for God’s glory. He intentionally created an abnormal stitch as He knitted her from their genes. She was born with the genetic disease cystic fibrosis.
Coleman and Tracy desire Hannah’s broken body be remembered as God’s gift of severe mercy. Hannah carried an ache in her soul that produced a depth in her eye and a beauty to her music. Her hazel eyes were like looking into a pond where shafts of sunlight hinted of another world beneath. Her laugh came from that deep; it filled her face and spilled from her eyes and mouth. Its greatest overflow happened when she made music. It touched the soul and filled the house even when her fingers ran up and down the piano keys in arpeggios and scales.
Hannah’s love for other worlds began with nighttime stories read or told by one of her parents. She visited Narnia, Prince Edward Island and the spunky Ann of Green Gables, Laura Ingalls, and traveled through the Wrinkle in Time. Star Trek and Lord of the Rings were worlds she visited as a teenager. But her most treasured world was worship music whether listening alone, leading an adult choir on Sunday morning or children in Vacation Bible School. During one mission trip to Philadelphia a photograph captures the essence of her joy. There she led children in praises with head thrown back, eyes heavenward, and hands lifted. She beamed from the sole of her shoe to the tips of her fingers. Her soul soared out of this world to another and the ache was satisfied.
Diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at six weeks old she began a daily maintenance regime that was as normal as shoes tied and drinking from a glass. It took courage to face the morning because of the medical regime. Even when days became more about beating death than living life, she never complained. And as the disease’s tyranny strengthened she continued to courageously wield her life against its attack. But, it squeezed the strength out of her.
Four years before she died, Hannah entered a world where others fluently spoke the language of cystic fibrosis; the entire community preached the sole goal in life was to stay well enough for a transplant. That was good news because cystic fibrosis had simplified Hannah’s life to that. Staying in transplant housing for fifteen months released her to work full time on her health. The lung transplant community became her family and friends. During that time Hannah’s encouragement became her legacy to many of them. Her inner strength gave everyone confidence that her spirit could defy the lifetime of cystic fibrosis and trauma of transplant. But her body was a weakened fortress. Her inner strength transcended this world; Hannah was ready to enter the world for which she was always made.
Hannah’s life and body incarnated this quote from Joni Eareckson Tada, a quadraplegic since high school, now fighting cancer:
“Broken bodies, broken dreams, broken promises only serve to crush the illusion that this earth will ever satisfy, that this earth will ever keep its promises”
Now she is where her soul is unfettered by a broken body and her music is untainted by the longing this world and dreams could not satisfy. She is with her Creator for whom she was created; it is He that satisfies. And her deepest ache here is now transformed to her greatest joy there.