We could see a difference in Jeff's progress right after Christmas. He suffered from a lot of
headaches and nausea. Some bouts were becoming quite severe. It seemed his resistance was down
and it took him longer to recuperate from his treatments than it had previously. He continued to go
to school as much as possible and did really well considering what he was going through.
Regardless of how much a couple love one another, their perspectives on dealing with a child
differ from time to time. Under circumstances such as the situation we were living with daily, it was
very easy to lose control and for tempers to flare over even little insignificant things. We had been
warned by the staff in Ottawa that many marriages crumble under the pressures involved. Thank God
we had His love in our relationship as well as our love for each other. I had to constantly fight being
too over-protective of Jeff, and Jerry often accused me of this. I felt Jerry pushed him too hard,
particularly regarding his attendance at school, and I would accuse Jerry of trying to pretend things
were still normal in our home when they really were not. I realized it was very important that Jeff
lead as normal a life as possible and I tried so hard to do the right thing.
I spent countless hours at home making games out of Jeff's school work and we did spend
many pleasant hours in this way. However, he would become frustrated very easily, the tears would
flow, so we'd have to go on to something else. I felt it more important that Jeff enjoy the good things
in life than it was for him to learn his times tables -- I wanted him to take time to just live life to the
fullest and 'smell the flowers'. It was very difficult to determine whether Jeff really was not feeling
well some days, or whether he was using normal eight year old boy tactics to get out of going to
school. I must admit, it was almost impossible for me to see him unhappy about anything. It took a
lot of love and patience to resolve conflicts that would arise daily, but we tried to do our best and to
live one day at a time.
As any mother knows, when your child is sick, you don't get much rest. At the slightest noise
in the night, I would literally jump out of bed and run to his room. Therefore, I felt exhausted most
of the time.
Jeff had been wanting to take music lessons, and so he began piano lessons in February. He
did really well and enjoyed it immensely. Music was a wonderful outlet for his frustrations, and he
would spend hours at the piano. One day he sat down and played 'Jesus Loves Me' all the way
through all on his own. I would take him each week to the church and let him practice his lesson on
the organ as I wanted him to develop a touch for this instrument as well. He had a beautiful touch
and it didn't seem to take any effort on his part. One day as he was working on his music theory, I
asked him where 'High C' was. He grinned at me and replied, "Well Mom, you usually find it in a
can", referring to a brand name of juice on the market. Then he laughed and laughed. He was always
coming out with something and certainly kept the ball rolling.
One afternoon in early winter, Jerry had taken Jeff to Ottawa. We had requested an
appointment because we had noticed a large lump which had formed in his neck. I was very upset that day and extremely uneasy. After Jerry left, I decided to tend to the banking just to try and keep
my mind occupied until they returned home. When I went to leave, the car wouldn't start. I came
back inside the house and decided, O.K. then, I'll just do the laundry instead because I needed to keep
busy. Then I discovered the dryer wouldn't work either. Frustrations piled up and as I was standing
at the fuse box trying to figure out whether I'd blown a fuse or what the problem was, the tears began
to flow and I had an extreme case of feeling sorry for myself. At this point, Faye walked in the back
door. She has told me since that she had a hard time keeping up with me as I paced from room to
room. I went on and on about 'poor me' and how everything I touched went bad -- my car, my
dryer, and maybe even my little boy. Then I realized I wasn't being a very good hostess, and I asked
her if she'd like a cup of coffee and a piece of cake. She smiled and asked, "Did you make the cake
yourself, Joan?" I replied that I had and she said, grinning at me, "Well I just want you to know --
after all you've had to say, I wouldn't touch that cake with a ten foot pole!" Even under the
circumstances, we sat together at the kitchen table and had a good laugh. Faye has been a friend who
has laughed with me, cried with me, and always done her best to uplift me. I feel I can never repay
her for all her many kindnesses.
Jerry called from Ottawa later that afternoon to say the doctors were not unduly alarmed
about the lump, but they would keep a close check on it in the future. However, I remained very
uneasy about it.
One winter evening, Jeff called to me after I had settled him in bed. I sensed he needed to talk
and sat on the edge of his bed. He chatted for awhile and then, looking directly into my eyes, he
asked me what it was like to die. Immediately the thought came to my mind, "Oh Lord, I gladly
accept the responsibility to teach my son how to live for You, but I'm not really sure how to prepare
him to die and that is becoming my responsibility too". I silently prayed for wisdom and said,
"Honey, I only know about death from what I've read in God's word. But the other night on
television I saw a man tell his story. He had been clinically dead for over two hours and he told us
about the lovely flowers and the peace and joy he felt in God's presence." Immediately Jeff responded
with, "But how can flowers grow when there's no rain in heaven? I think the sun shines all the time
up there." Then before I could say anything he answered, "But I guess if God could take a little bit
of dirt and make a man, that certainly wouldn't be a problem for Him, would it Mom?" I agreed with
him and then he said, "Mommy, I'm really ready to be with Jesus. There is no place I'd rather be."
At this point he filled all up and with little eyes brimming over with tears he said, "But Mommy, I
want everybody to go to heaven, but not everyone will 'cause people have to make a choice and not
all of them decide to go there". We had a time of prayer together and I held my darling child as close
in my arms as was possible. Oh, I didn't want to have him leave me and yet I felt this evening was
a part of the preparation I must make.
As I came downstairs to sit in the family room and enter this latest conversation with my boy
in my journal, it was with a sense of wonderment. It's hard for me to describe exactly how I felt at
that moment as I reflected on what had taken place upstairs. I wanted to cry and yet I was filled with
awe at the way God was continuing to prepare me through Jeff himself. At the same time, I sensed
Jeff's great burden for others, and it seemed, somehow, too great a burden for such a little boy.