Childhood Leukemia Story - Jason - 13 - Rebecca

Jason Story of Child LeukemiaREBECCA

Time passed, and once more we fell into the routine of juggling life around hospital visits. It wasn’t easy, as we were expecting a new baby in the spring and I was extremely tired all the time. Jason looked forward to the new baby. At ten he really would fill the big brother role well. He, as well as the rest of us, was interested to see how the “tie count” of boys and girls in the family would be broken.
As May approached, we filled the nursery with baby things and waited. It had been a long time since we had a baby in the house and the excitement grew. While everything seemed fine, medically, I experienced a sense of uneasiness that I can’t explain.
Monday evening, May 8th, my labor started while Jason and wes were out for a walk. I rested, waiting for them to come home.
When they returned we telephoned Jacki Smith to come stay with the children. She arrived quickly and we were off to the hospital. Other than shaking with chills, I was feeling quite well. It was nearing 1 A.M. by the time I was settled in the birthing room. As I undressed I prayed for safety, realizing how much the children needed me.
The doctor came in and tried to get the fetal monitor working. He asked the nurse to check it. Something was wrong. He was suddenly nervous and demanding. The electrode he had inserted to find the baby’s heartbeat was not working either. Beep... Beep... Beep... it sounded. An alarm was going off inside my head as well! This baby was dead! The doctor did not say that but rather yelled for an I.V. nurse and began to wheel me out of the room, explaining as he went.
“No time for a spinal, Martha, we must get that baby out now! You will have a C section under general anesthesia.”
I nodded in agreement, knowing that I did not have a choice. The urgency in his voice said so much. He was a soft spoken gentleman who was now giving orders like a sergeant.
The anesthesiologist arrived and, with very little explanation, told me to breathe into the mask and count backwards from one hundred. One hundred. .ninety nine. .ninety eight. .a coldness in my arm...ninety seven.
“Martha, Martha can you wake up, Martha?” Someone was calling me, but who? Oh yes, I was in the hospital. I opened my eyes to see Wes leaning over me.
I asked, “She’s dead, isn’t she?”
Wes shook his head. “No, she’s alive, but she’s very sick.”
I can’t recall being told we had a baby girl. Perhaps another conversation had taken place as I fought to come out of the fog I was in. Little Rebecca Naomi was indeed very sick. She had been without a heartbeat for thirteen minutes. A special team from Boston Children’s Hospital came to take her to their neonatal nursery. Minutes before they left, they brought her to my room. As long as I live I will never forget looking down into her darling little face and holding her velvet hand. She was so beautiful. As I took her hand and whispered, “You poor little thing,” I ached to hold her. Never had I wanted anything as much as I wanted her to live.

New sister Sarah 

New sister Sarah


Initially we were told that Rebecca might wake up all of a sudden and eventually be fine. However, as the hours turned to days, she grew worse. The tests showed no brain activity and she was having seizures repeatedly. Though I was still hospitalized and in a great deal of pain due to the infection I had, Wes agreed to take me to see her at Children’s Hospital. As we sat holding her we wished that time would stop. How it hurt to give her back to the nurse. We realized that nothing could be done for Rebecca. It had been decided that her life support systems would be shut off on the following day.
When we returned to Children’s Hospital the calendar read Friday, May 12. Four days earlier Rebecca wiggled and kicked waiting to be born. Now she lay waiting to die. There are no accurate words to describe the hurt I felt as her mother. It was so comforting to have our mothers and my sister Becky and her husband Dale with us that morning. They were able to see our baby and to love her for a little while. We all moved to a conference room and waited for the team of nurses and doctors to bring Rebecca.
As we waited Wes took a Bible from the shelf and read Psalm 27: “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?... I had fainted unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord... be of good courage and He shall strengthen thine heart; wait I say on the Lord.”
The words of the Psalm soothed me. I gained a greater appreciation for my husband that day. He too was broken-hearted, yet was able to thank God for His blessings and ask for help for me. The team arrived with Rebecca. They placed her in my arms. She smelled so wonderful and felt so good. I dressed her in a light blue, hand-smocked nightie I had made for her and hugged her. We all looked at her as the doctor stopped the respirator.
“Open your eyes, darling. Breathe, please breathe on your own.” But there were no miracles, no eyes flickering open, no respiration. She did not suddenly look around and smile. Or did she? In those very moments — so sad for us — our dear little daughter was smiling on a world far brighter than she would have known here. She went from the safe shelter of the womb to the splendors of glory, hardly stopping here. She did not know sorrow or pain in this world of disappointment and limitations, only happiness and peace forever.
I raised her over my shoulder, feeling her soft head against my cheek. The ache was crushing. How I wanted her! Everything within my being wanted to cry out, “This can’t be happening.” Instead, I sat semi-composed and handed her body to the nurse. Rebecca was gone.
That night as I lay awake, unable to sleep, the words of a hymn came to me.
“What was it, 0 our God, led Thee to give Thy Son, To yield Thy well-beloved for us, by sin undone?
’Twas love unbounded led Thee thus
To give Thy well-beloved for us.”
It was incomprehensible. Give His Son to die? My baby was gone and I would not have given her for any reason. She was a baby I hardly knew while the Son of God, the Lord Jesus, had been with His Father eternally, in perfect fellowship and unity Yet God gave His Son for me. Incredible! It was indeed “love unbounded.” As I lay there in the quiet I wrote a little poem to Rebecca. It helped me to put her death in the proper perspective, as well as to say goodbye.
On Sunday, Mother’s Day, I was discharged from the hospital. It was the day of Rebecca’s funeral. It was nice to be home. We all needed each other and the sense of normalcy that being together brings.
At first, Jason did not want to go to the funeral. Then he decided that he would go since every one else was attending, but he was not comfortable with the idea. He found a job as doorman and was pleased to have something to do. We had decided on a small funeral asking only family, and friends from the Gospel Hall. Rebecca looked like a china doll in a bassinet, all pink and white and lovely. The service was brief, with Jon Procopio reading from II Samuel 12 and Dale reading the hymn “Under His Wings.” We gathered our family around Rebecca for one last look. I kissed her cold little nose and turned to leave. The words of the poem I had written and pinned to the quilt in her casket rang in my ears...
For months we’ve been together
Every moment of each day
And always I have loved you
Just as I do today
I waited long to hold you
To hear your first sweet cry
To wrap my heart around you
Yet soft and still you lie
Had you only stayed awhile
We might have had such fun
Yet today I let you go
Dear precious little one
My Father in his wisdom
Has taken you above
And heaven is much nearer
Since you are there, my love