Chapter 18

The first thing I did on our arrival home that day was to take each and every bottle of medication out of the cupboards and poured it all down the toilet and flushed it away, "Thank you Jesus. Jeff never has to swallow another pill."

God's word tells us in Isaiah 57:1 that "the righteous perisheth and no people layeth it to heart: and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come." I realized then that Jeff was never going to have to experience grief such as we were all feeling now for him. He was never to know what it felt like to be unloved. Never had there been a child more loved than he was. Also, if our world was to continue in the direction it seems to be heading, I had to believe Jeff was much safer than the rest of us. He was in a better place.

It was so good to feel the protection given us because of our friend's prayers on our behalf. It seemed that as we became stronger to cope with the loneliness, God gently eased us 'off our cloud'. How good of Him not to let us hurt while we were so vulnerable.

On our arrival home, the pastor came to visit our home and we made plans for our son's funeral. We wanted God to be seen in this as He had in all else. Faye and Terry stayed right with us. Oh, how we appreciated that. When I came down the stairs carrying Jeff's favorite clothing his daddy had given him for his eighth birthday - his Star Wars pants and velour shirt - poor Faye burst into tears. Jeff had loved that outfit, and we wanted him to be buried in something he'd been happiest in.

Faye and Terry accompanied us to the funeral home to make the necessary arrangements. Numerous friends and neighbors came bringing more gifts of love. Our cupboards overflowed. People were so generous once again, as they had been throughout Jeff's illness.

Sunday morning dawned bright and beautiful. A perfect May morning. There was no place we wanted to be other than in church. Was it only one short week since Jeff had played his organ solo? It seemed like an eternity. 1 played the organ for the morning worship service and again felt God's presence in a very real way. As I looked down from the organ, I could picture Jeff's shining little face in the pew where he always sat with his daddy. This still happens to me Sundays when I play. I find it helps to simply close my eyes for a few moments, and try to form a mental picture of Jeff sitting beside Jesus. It eases the hurt.

How good it felt to worship together with the family of God. Even though our physical family was no longer complete, we still had the love and fellowship of our church family. I felt that each and every face displayed the emotions they were feeling that day, and somehow I felt both Jerry and I must remain strong for them. Family friends came from Toronto and we had a house full of people for dinner and the afternoon. Jamie was somewhat bewildered by all that was happening and didn't really seem to be grasping what was going on. Many friends and neighbors continued to pay us visits all that day and Corey's parents took Jamie out for a boat ride.

Both Jerry and I seemed to be at peace about the situation, but we couldn't help but recall that it had only been one short week earlier that we had told God to take Jeff home if that was His will. That's what I meant when I said we need to be sincere when we talk to God. I think the only time the tears started for me that day was when mom took the ice cream from the refrigerator for dinner It was Jeff's favorite kind, butterscotch ripple.

Before we left for the funeral home that evening, another family friend brought us a beautiful poem he had felt inspired to write for us. This dear friend had written at the bottom of his poem - "To Joan, Jerry, and Jamie McMillan, whom we love deeply. At the time of the 'passing on' of their son, Jeffrey. (Written for the message that it brings - not for its poetic value.) Signed, Handy, Marie, and Laurie Nevers, May 20, 1979." This is what he wrote.


WHY?? We ask the question for the millionth time,

Should life be taken from us, when in its very prime?

Why should it be at all, we are so prone to say,

Indeed why now, why us, or in this very way?

But-God omniscient, simply says, I had a plan,

I love, I care, I understand.

Above your ways, My ways are higher far,

Than lowly earth is from the highest star.

Think not of what you lost, but what you've had;

Think not of what is gone, but gone on before.

Though for the moment now, your hearts are sad,

Rich blessings yet for you I have in store.

The love, the joys, the hopes, the tears,

I gave you for a time;

But do remember through the years,

In the end, all things beautiful are 'Mine'.

Our Heavenly Father does truly give,

He also takes away.

Blessed be His Holy Name who lives,

Forever and a day.

In a moment, in an instant, in the twinkle of an eye,

We shall be changed, we all shall rise,

And grasping the eternal prize,

We all shall meet Him in the sky.

Then shall we know, as we are known,

Though now we darkly see.

That which was here in weakness sown,

Shall rise, to ever be with Thee.

Meanwhile until that day shall dawn,

Our faith in Thee, please keep it strong;

And deep within our souls, this truth instill,

Our Savior doeth all things well.

Is there any greater blessing God gives us than to have friends such as these? How we appreciated Handy sharing his innermost feelings with us in this beautiful way.

At the funeral home on Sunday evening, we had asked Terry if he would make us up a bulletin board which would display many of Jeff's pictures he had drawn concerning his feelings of Christ, particularly the crucifixion. The latest one he had done less than a week before his death was a picture of Jesus walking alone carrying the cross on His back. He had drawn a crowd of people in the background. When his daddy had asked him who the people were, Jeff had replied, "Those are the people who are mocking my Jesus".

Many hearts seemed to be touched through Jeff's art work and many questions were asked. We had requested that the casket be kept closed, but had photographs of Jeff smiling and healthy on display. There were so many beautiful flowers and remembrances. One very special one was from the kids in the Junior Choir. We had a floral display arranged on his beloved Bible as well.

Many friends and acquaintances came to be with us We repeatedly told people we did not want this to be a morbid affair, and in fact, encouraged them to bring their children to help fill the room with sounds of happy, healthy children's talk and laughter. Jamie wandered around with his little stuffed animal and once we heard him, as he stood at the head of the casket, saying, "Jeffy, if you're really in there, please say goodbye to me". Although we were all very, very tired it was beautiful, even at this time, to be able to share God's love with others.

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© Joan McMillan #297587

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