Chapter 13

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.

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