The miracle of Hope Street came through another day.
Riley Friddle, who danced onstage with Tim McGraw and Faith Hill a couple of weeks ago as poison that is intended to help her live coursed through her 2-year-old veins, made it through brain surgery Monday at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte.
For at least one day, a family rejoiced.
Since a story ran in Monday's Herald about Riley's unflappable resolve and the courage of her parents, Todd and Andrea Friddle, more in the community have taken a shine to the spunky Riley.
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Riley has had to endure weekly chemotherapy since she was 4 months old. Pressure building behind her brain from the cancerous tumor made surgery the family's chance at hope. The surgery started early Monday morning and ended before noon, said Andrea Friddle, Riley's mother. By a little after 2 p.m., Riley was wheeled to intensive care, said Evette "Aunt Vette" Hix, Andrea Friddle's sister.
The tiny girl played with her parents right up through the trip to the hospital.
Doctors removed most of the tumor, Hix said. The family knew going into surgery that getting the entire tumor was a longshot.
"She's already off the ventilator, and we are thrilled," Hix said. "We are going to take it day by day. The support we have had is just unbelievable. The care and concern. That's how you get through life. Please thank everybody. Thank Rock Hill for us."
You got it, Aunt Vette.
Nothing needed but prayer
Now strangers are on their knees praying for Riley to live.
"I'm a parent myself," said Alissa Hoover of Rock Hill. "That could be me. I can't imagine what it was like for them going through this. I just want them to know I care."
By early Monday afternoon, family friend Ann Brooks became a one-woman telephone tree. Brooks made more than 20 phone calls and fielded as many from people who heard of Riley. Brooks and others had posted fliers around town asking for nothing but prayer.
"Prayer is all," Brooks said.
Many from the Church of Christ on Charlotte Avenue, where the Friddles go, spent months praying for Riley.
"It is almost like this little girl has become a child of all of us," said the Rev. David Pharr. "We know this surgery is not a cure. There will have to be other treatment. But this is a positive step."
A bunch of churches have added her to prayer lists.
Darlene Dabney has never met Riley or her parents, but now through Riley's story has an attachment that can't be broken.
"I immediately had to drop my head and pray to the Lord to heal this beautiful child and let her live a full and loved life," Dabney wrote to me in an e-mail after reading Monday's story. "I thought about how the parents must be feeling at that time this morning, knowing that their child was in surgery. I also prayed hard for them. I will continue to have this little Riley in my prayers."
More tests are planned for today, Hix said. There is no guarantee about today. Or any day.
The only guarantee is more prayers. More than 50 people showed up at Church of Christ for a surgery-eve service where "there wasn't a dry eye in the house," as Brooks called it. More will be there Wednesday for Bible study.
There are no guarantees for any of us. Riley Friddle and her parents showed anybody whose heart isn't hardened into stone that we don't need guarantees.
We need each other.