Chapter 16

We returned to Ottawa on April 27th, 1979. The X-ray results and blood count reports were very good. At this time, there were no signs of tumors and Jeff's blood count was stable. We informed the doctors that Jeff had been in direct contact with a little boy who'd come down with chicken pox the day after we'd visited them, and so they gave him a serum intravenously which was supposed to help. They said that even if he did come down with the chicken pox, this serum should at least keep him from becoming extremely ill.

We gave praise and glory to God the following Sunday morning in the worship service for the good reports we'd received. Jeff glowed with happiness. It seemed that of late he had such a sweet smile. In fact, many people had been mentioning to me that he seemed to have 'the smile of an ange'".. Of course, being a doting mother, I'd always felt that way, but there did seem to be a radiance about him that was rather special.

The next day, Monday, Jamie came down with chicken pox. He was really sick. Jeff expressed a great fear of getting them. He'd sit on the steps leading to the upstairs, and say, "Oh, Mommy, I hope I don't get that disease. I'm scared of it." If only we'd known before we had accepted the dinner invitation a couple of weeks prior to this that we would be exposing Jeff to chicken pox. Of course there was no way of knowing and we had continued to pray daily that the Lord would direct our lives, so we tried not to be too upset about it.

While Jamie was recuperating from his 'spots', we stayed at home doing very little, but I noticed Jeff had begun bruising very easily and extensively. He also had some minor nosebleeds and his eyes had different red spots in the white of the eye. On May 12th, we were invited to a neighbor's home for supper. This family had a son Jeff's age, and Corey and Jeff had been best friends since the age of two and a half. They had played together constantly and attended school together since Kindergarten. Corey and his mommy had been out to visit Jeff in hospital in Ottawa and Jeff had spent many happy hours in their home on different occasions. We had a very nice time together that evening. Later that night, when I got Jeff ready for his bath, I noticed his leg was purple from the knee down to his ankle. When I asked him what happened, he said he didn't know. As far as he knew, the only thing that happened was he'd run into the hedge when they'd been playing but he said he didn't hit it hard enough to make his leg look that bad.

Jerry and I spent a long time together in prayer that night. We told the Lord we did not know how much longer we could keep on coping with this way of life, and if it was not His divine will to heal Jeff and make him completely well, we'd rather He take him home where nothing could ever harm or frighten him again. We should never ask God for anything unless we are very sincere in our request.

The next day was Mother's Day. The boys gave me patio lights for our travel trailer. Jeff once again sang im the Junior Choir and he played his first organ solo in Sunday School in front of a very large congregation. After I had set the organ up for him, I leaned over and kissed him 'for luck' as he was quite nervous about playing in front of so many people and he'd also complained quite a bit of stomach pains that morning. Tears welled up in my eyes as I walked over to the piano to play along with him on one song. Somehow, I felt all that day that Jeff's stay with us would end very soon.

I don't mean to give the impression that I had no faith for Jeff's healing. I knew without a doubt God could heal him had He chosen to do so. Many, many times I have asked myself the question -- where is the line drawn between accepting God's will and still having faith? I have come to the conclusion that the two go hand in hand. Faith is a part of accepting God's will and believing He really does know best. I do not believe afflictions come from God. It surely must grieve Him as well as the person suffering. However, I believe that sometimes a loving Heavenly Father allows these sufferings to take place because it helps us grow in our faith; it makes us more sensitive and compassionate to the pain others must go through; and it teaches us to place our trust in Him alone. I felt I was truly learning how to really hurt for other's problems.

That evening after church on Mother's Day, there was a time of fellowship held in our church basement which was to be a time for people to become acquainted with new members in our church family. We had a lovely time, and Jeff confided to me when we got home that he had "eaten six pieces of Mommy's rocky road cake". Again that evening, a friend mentioned to me that there was just something special about Jeff's smile. She said she'd been feeling that if Christ wanted Jeff to go and be with Him, we'd all have to accept this and not become bitter. It was exactly what I had been feeling all day, and although I felt uneasy about it, once again I did the only thing I could do. I gave it all to Christ and thanked Him that our lives were in His hands.

The next morning Jeff woke up with the chicken pox. By Tuesday, he was a very sick little boy. There was no sleep at all during the nights, and as Jerry was working the night shift and was gone from 7:00 P.M. at night until 8:00 A.M. the next morning. I simply sat with Jeff in my arms, or laid him in bed beside me. Tuesday night, very late, he put his dear little arms around my neck, and looking straight into my eyes he said, "Mommy, I'm not going to make it this time, but I really love you. You're the best mommy any boy has ever had". Oh God! The terrible, terrible hurt way down deep inside!

His little body became totally covered with these horrible lesions. They were inside his mouth, his eyes, his ears, and even grew up through his hair. They were much different looking than the spots Jamie had had. They were huge and looked more like smallpox than chicken pox. By Thursday morning, it was evident he would have to be hospitalized. When I told him, he cried and cried. I wanted so much to keep him at home, but by now he was spitting up blood, couldn't stop coughing, and he really did need professional help to make him more comfortable. It broke my heart because I had made up my mind that unless things got desperate, my boy was staying at home. However, when I telephoned the clinic in Ottawa and talked with the Jeff's 'special nurse', I broke down and cried. She said, "Joan, please let us help you. There comes a time when you just can't do it all by yourself any more". I had to admit she was right. Also, the public health nurse had come to see Jeff the day before and she had recommended he be returned to hospital as soon as possible.

I telephoned my mother and Faye, and told them if they wanted to see Jeff one more time, perhaps they'd better come to the house They both came immediately, and with very heavy hearts and tear-filled eyes, they said goodbye to a little boy they both loved very, very much. I made up a little bed for Jeff in the back of the car. Jerry insisted on taking him to Ottawa by himself because he wanted me to try and get some much-needed rest. I was absolutely physically and emotionally exhausted, but I felt so sorry for Jerry. He hadn't slept at all either for over two days and I was worried about him handling the driving and everything all by himself. But I was just too tired to argue and so stayed home with Jamie.

I placed my precious darling in the car, held him so tenderly in my arms, and kissed him goodbye. Oh the feeling of indescribable sadness as I watched that little red car pull out of the driveway. About one block from the entrance to the hospital, Jeff began hemorrhaging and this frightened him. He had already been vomiting blood for two days and the sight of it was very scary to a little boy who knew this was what usually happened to the kids at the hospital before they died.

Jerry came home late that night, very upset and tearful, and totally exhausted. We just held each other. There were no words to be said. A part of us was dying.

We left very early the next morning, Friday, to be with our son. He was so sick, he barely responded when I entered his room. I had to leave for a moment to regain my composure after seeing how terrible he looked. I suddenly became very lightheaded and sat for a short time with my head down on my knees trying somehow to regain my presence of mind to cope with whatever lay ahead. I sent up a constant prayer that God would allow me to appear calm and relaxed in front of Jeff. My brother and his wife visited that morning and Jeff didn't respond at all. We all knew how much love he had for Auntie Lorna and Uncle Ron, and this proved how very sick he really was. A pastor friend from Ottawa came to visit that day as well, and when he saw Jeff's physical condition he literally laid his head in Jerry's lap and wept. He told us he really didn't know how he personally could handle this if it were his boy instead of Jeff. He had a son the same age. We appreciated his honesty, but assured him we knew he would be able to because God's strength is available to each of His children if only we ask for it when the need is there.

When I would look at my little one's body laying naked on the bed with a large fan circulating on a table beside him, his entire body was coated in the filth of that disease. I wondered 'Oh God, why? He just doesn't deserve all this.' It seemed to me as if all the sin of the world had fastened itself to Jeff''s innocent little body. I couldn't stand it any longer and gently pulled the white sheet up to his chest as I knew if he were aware of how he was being seen, it would upset him very much. We sat by our son's bedside and over and over we sang 'Jesus Loves Me'. When we asked him if he still loved Jesus, he replied in a barely audible voice, "Oh yes!" He could barely talk because the chicken pox were numerous in his lungs and throat as well as covering his tongue and mouth. He was also bleeding from every opening in his body and from each lesion as well.

That morning I had made Jeff's favorite chocolate pudding and had watered it down so it was very thin in consistency. He was having great difficulty in swallowing. He was in a very deep sleep, but every once in a while, he would try to sit up and he motioned to me that he was hungry. I got permission from the nurse to try and feed him some of the pudding, and although he was choking on even sips of water, he ate a good deal of the pudding throughout the day. I guess God knew how much that would help me; I was still Jeff's mother feeding him something he loved.

My suitcase was out in the car and I planned to stay over night with Jeff. However, I was still completely exhausted, and both Jerry and the medical staff felt it would be wise for me to return home and sleep in my own bed that night. Also, there was a terrible odor coming from Jeff's body by this time which made me very nauseated and I had to keep going for fresh air in order not to be sick in front of him.

I don't know yet why I let everyone talk me into leaving Jeff that night. I had never left him before when he was really ill. However, I guess the Lord knows what we can and cannot bear and what is best for us. I leaned over and kissed my precious boy and asked if it was all right with him if mommy and daddy went home for awhile and I assured him I planned to stay the next night for as long as he needed me. He replied, "Sure Mommy, but please come faster tomorrow". I promised I would come as fast as I could without getting a speeding ticket and he tried to give me a little grin.

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