Chapter 12

We had to return to the clinic between Christmas and New Years for yet another lumbar puncture. I was still extremely weak, but felt we needed to go together as a family. Jeff became very ill in the car following his treatment and it was a long, dreary drive home. And so the treatments continued. They were to carry on for at least another two or three years, depending on Jeff's progress.

On New Year's Eve, we attended what is called a 'Watch Night Service' at our church. After the service, a supper was served in the church basement and we took the boys along with us. Did they ever have a good time! Oh, how they loved to be included in outings like that. They thought it was very special to stay up until past midnight. When the midnight hour arrived, we hugged and kissed each other and Jeff jumped high in the air. Of course, Jamie copied him. When we arrived back home, we all gathered together in Jeff's bedroom and knelt by his bed while his daddy prayed that 1979 would be a better year for our family, and that God would see us through whatever might come our way. Once again, we committed all our lives to His care and keeping. What a peace that gives to a family! We tucked two very tired, but happy, little fellows in their beds that night.

In 1979, at the United Nations, Canada supported the resolution to make this the 'International Year of the Child', and the government set up a commission to promote children's programs. The commission aimed to further the rights, interests, and well-being of all Canadian children and to encourage 'the celebration of the joy of childhood and the very special place that children have in society'. I too was determined that although our son had cancer, he was not going to lose any more of the 'joy of childhood' than was absolutely necessary. I made up my mind to let Jeff live as normal a life as was possible under the circumstances. Sometimes this proved more difficult than I had anticipated.

When his blood count was low and he couldn't visit and play with his friends, Jeff would accuse mommy of 'being mean'. When a neighbor would invite him to come in and play and he would run home to ask permission, sometimes I would have to say, "No, honey, I'm sorry, but you can't go there today". He would become very upset because he just didn't understand his mommy had to say no for his own protection and I don't think he ever knew how much I hurt too when things like this would happen. Often, I would relate this situation to how our Heavenly Father must feel, when we, as His children, ask for things and we feel hurt and angry when His answer must be "No my child". Many times, we also later discover it really was for our own good.

One winter Sunday afternoon, we were out for a drive in the country. Jeff suddenly asked, "Is Nicholas in heaven with Jesus?". As we all discussed this together, we felt that our baby was now safe with Jesus. Jerry and I believe that from the moment of conception, a baby has a soul, and we explained this to the children. This pleased them very much.

It was really amazing to watch how God's hand constantly protected us through the weeks and months. We have actually seen blizzards stop when we would pray before leaving for Ottawa, and it would start snowing and blowing again almost immediately on our return back home. We never once experienced car trouble on the highway. One experience that happened seems to be very special to Jerry. He had taken Jeff that day and when they pulled into our driveway on their return home, it was very obvious our exhaust system had a problem. Jerry took the car to the garage and as the mechanic reached his hand under the car, the exhaust pipe literally fell right into his hand. He looked at Jerry and said, "You know, it's a miracle how that pipe didn't come off on the road". I had driven Jeff myself the two previous days, and I feel this is just one more example of God's protecting hand. There were countless 'little miracles' throughout the entire time span.

In January, we heard of another eight year old boy who had the same medical problem as Jeff. I felt such a burden for that family, but I didn't even know their name. I only knew they lived in Cornwall, a city about sixty miles from home. I told the Lord that if I was to meet and talk with them, He would have to open and lead the way. It again amazed me to watch the way in which this all came about.

About two weeks after I had the miscarriage, I returned to my part-time position at our local community college. I had been there for about four years and was quite shocked to learn I was about to be laid off due to a shortage of work. A new Christian who also worked at the college, came up to me the following Sunday and said, "Joan, I'm so sorry to hear about your job. How can you take much more?". Now, I have to admit I was shaken at all that was happening to me, but I looked at this new child of God and replied, "Well Lucie, I ask God each new day to direct my life, and so I believe this too has to be a part of His plan". Less than three days later, I was to discover how true this was! God truly does know best.

I had gone to Canada Man Power to register for unemployment insurance benefits, and as I turned to leave the office, I saw a former supply teacher of Jeff's filling in forms. I had written a short story about our son and had put a copy in my purse before leaving home. I felt directed to give this teacher the story. As I handed it to her she said, "You know Joan, it's funny you'd give me this today. A friend of mine in Cornwall has a little boy who has the same illness as Jeff does." She gave me the name of the boy's aunt and I discovered, to my amazement, that she lived only one block from our home. That evening I telephoned this aunt and we had a lovely chat on the phone. She gave me the family's name, address, and unlisted telephone number. I wrote a short note to the little boy's mother that evening, simply telling her I really understood what she was going through and that I was praying for her. Later we met them at the Clinic in Ottawa and a friendship developed between our families. As well, the two boys really hit if off and seemed to have similar likes and dislikes. And so, once again, the Lord had proven His love to me and led me in the direction I was to take. How I love Him and praise Him for His goodness to me!!

Jerry and I have had countless opportunities to share Christ's love with others going through similar circumstances, My heart would break each time we visited the hospital, and I felt I wanted to take the other parents and hold them in my arms and make everything all right for them. Of course that was impossible, so all we could do was hold them up in prayer and let them know we shared their burden. No one - psychologists, social workers, doctors, or nurses - can relate to a parent who is going through the heartache of dealing with a terminally ill child the way another parent can. We felt a great responsibility to let our light shine before others so they could see Christ in our lives.

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© Joan McMillan #297587

This page was created April 21st 1997. It is maintained by Jonathan McMillan and Joan McMillan