It seems like tragic circumstances tend to either bring people closer together or tear them apart. Some marriages are made stronger when faced with a difficult situation, while others break under all the stress and strain. Mike and I had to work very hard to cope with Christopher's health problems. It took a committed and concerted effort to deal with our very painful predicament and keep our marriage strong.
Others around us were not so lucky. During our time in the hospital I saw more than one marriage end in divorce. I saw families overwhelmed and destroyed by unexpected tragedy. One particular situation comes to mind that really speaks to the toll that difficult circumstances can have on a family.
At one point we were in a room with a little girl named Jessica (not her real name). She was only 9 months old, and she was suffering from Cystic Fibrosis. She was being fed through a feeding tube, and her lungs were in terrible shape. Her breathing always sounded very labored, and she often would gasp for air. Her prognosis was not good. She was terminal, and had very little time left on this Earth.
When I first saw her in her hospital crib she was all alone. She had pictures of what must have been her family, as well as, stuffed animals lining the inside of her crib. I wondered where her parents were. She was so small and so sick. I couldn't imagine that anyone would leave her all by herself even for a minute. I hoped that maybe they had gone home for a change of clothes or stepped out to get a bite to eat. After several days went by, it was clear that she was alone, sick and alone. What happened to her family? My curiosity got the best of me, so one day I asked the nurse about it.
My heart sunk, and I felt so sorry for little Jessica (not her real name) when the nurse told me her story. The stress of her illness had just been too much for her parents. They had divorced. Her mother tried to care for her, but she had two other small children at home. She was a working mom, and the strain of trying to "do it all" sent her over the edge. She had decided to relinquish her parental rights. She gave Jessica up for adoption.
Sick children don't make the best candidates for adoption. Adoptive parents want healthy children. Most are unwilling to adopt a child who is about to die. Jessica had been placed in foster care. Actually it was a specialized type of foster care called medical foster care. The nurse told me that Jessica was luckier than most. She already had a medical foster mom who had lots of experience taking care of sick children. Lucky was not the word I would have used to describe Jessica's situation.
It just so happened that Jessica's family was coming up later that night to visit her and say goodbye. Her mom still needed to sign the papers to finalize everything. Her little sisters were coming too. They were going to have their chance to say goodbye to their little sister.
As you can imagine, I was distraught! I was grieving for Jessica and her family. I couldn't imagine EVER leaving Christopher alone to die no matter how hard it would be for me. All day I waited and agonized over what was about to happen. I prayed...no begged...that God would help Jessica, help her family.
The room we were in was very small. Jessica's crib and Christopher's crib were side by side with very little room in between. As night fell, Jessica's family entered the room. Her sisters were very young, probably around 3 and 5. They had brought pictures of themselves and crayon drawings they had made for their little sister. They both kissed her and hugged her. They said such sweet goodbyes to her. My heart ached as I watched. I kept praying that Jessica's mom would change her mind. She had brought family pictures too. As she wiped the hair from her daughter's forehead, she kissed her gently. I thought to myself...she loves her daughter. Surely, she won't do it. She won't sign those papers.
The nurse came in with the medical foster mom. I knew she was an experienced and caring person, but she wasn't Jessica's mom. That's who Jessica needed, her mom. I couldn't say it out loud, but in my head I was screaming...DON'T DO IT! SHE NEEDS YOU! I know my uncomfortable body language gave me away, but I just couldn't help myself.
I watched in abject horror as she signed those papers. I couldn't believe she really did it. Then the tears began to flow. Jessica's mom and sisters were crying. Even the nurse and medical foster mom had tears in their eyes, so did I for that matter. Then they turned and left the room. They left Jessica alone with her fate, alone to die all by herself.
The only good thing that I can say about the whole scene was that Jessica was blissfully unaware of what was happening. She didn't know they weren't coming back. It was an incredibly awful thing to witness. I felt completely torn up inside.
|Jesus loves the little children.|
P.S. The last time I saw little Jessica she was extremely ill. I don't know for sure, but I suspect that she is now in the arms of our Saviour. Rest in peace, little one. I will never forget you.
If you have never accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you can pray like this: