Childhood Leukemia Story - Jason - 06 - California

Jason Story of Child LeukemiaCALIFORNIA

The packing was done, the house taken care of, the goodbyes said. Watching the ground disappear below, I had a tremendous sense that life would never be quite the same again. But isn’t life like that for everyone? It comes with no guarantees of smooth roads and gentle breezes. We just don’t anticipate the ruts and the winds.
I looked over at MaryEllen. She was falling asleep in her car seat, which we had strapped into one of the six seats in this small jet. She seemed so little to be going so far away from those at home we all loved. She’d probably be running around by the time we returned. Now, at eleven months, she was quite mobile but didn’t walk. Wes was in front of me with the other children. Bryan watched out the windows, full of wonder as the cotton-like clouds sailed by. Almost three, he seemed small to be facing this strange life ahead. Bethany, a grown-up five, tried to busy herself with sticker books and the big bag of surprises she had been given when we left home. The going away party in kindergarten had been fun but now it was all behind her and she wondered if her friends would forget her.
Then there was Jason, sitting somberly on Wes’s lap, occasionally letting a few tears fall. It’s hard to be brave all the time, especially when you’re six years old and you don’t know what’s ahead.
“I’m scared, Dad. I just don’t know what this is going to be like. I’m afraid it’s going to be real hard for me. I don’t know if I’ll ever be going home again.”
Wes rubbed Jason’s head and spoke softly, “Jason, there are a lot of things we don’t know. Shouldn’t we be thankful that we have a God that knows everything? He will help us through this and He wants you to trust Him no matter how hard it gets. You have always done that and this time won’t be any different as far as that goes. It’s all right to feel scared. We all do. But we have Someone to turn to when we’re afraid. You know who that is, don’t you?”
Jason nodded. “A lot of people don’t have a Savior to help them.” Jason brightened and it wasn’t long before he too was totally involved in the flight.
He was delighted when the pilots invited him to sit with them for a while, but when they actually let him steer the plane, that was too good to be true. He was still smiling when we landed at a little airport in Sauna, Kansas, to refuel. Everything was so flat! Miles and miles of field stretched out in every direction. New England was not like that at all! A very pleasant lady in the building at the airport fed the children homemade chocolate chip cookies and let them talk to her parrot, and then we were on our way again. The scenery was breathtaking — immense patchwork quilts of fields waiting to be planted, peaks of mountains piercing the clouds, the tail of the Grand Canyon, and, finally, the many lights of Palm Springs. California at last! Enjoyable as it had been, it was a relief to know that the flight was behind us.
Old family friends Charlie and Pat Spataro were waiting at the airport with a rented car for us. We piled all the luggage into the big station wagon and went to their house for a snack. We felt at home within minutes. The strangeness of an unfamiliar city was lost in the closeness we felt with these friends who were giving so much of themselves. Once again we were grateful for the luxury of having Christian friends. Although we would have loved to stay longer we were due in Monrovia, one hundred and twenty miles further, by nine or ten that evening. So we were off again.
“Wes, what’s that ticking?”
“Oh, probably an engine noise, don’t worry about it.”
But when the engine noise developed into a steady banging the “don’t worry about it” turned to “get off the road as fast as you can, something is really the matter with this thing!” And Wes took over the wheel. We were in San Bernadino and pulled into the first motel we saw. As we coasted into a parking space the car shuddered, coughed and died. Monrovia would not see us that night! To make matters worse, the kids had been awakened by the commotion. MaryEllen was wailing and I was soaked — one of the more dramatic lurches the car had treated us to before dying had showered me with a full cup of coffee. We settled into the motel room and started making phone calls.
Charlie felt terrible when he heard the story. “I’ll take care of everything in the morning. Pat and I will bring you a new car by the afternoon.”
I don’t know what we would have done without him. Looking back now I’m glad the car broke down. We all had time to stop and catch our breath. We walked to a restaurant for breakfast. The children enjoyed seeing many birds and plants — especially cacti — that they had never seen before. They were sure that walking was more fun than watching everything go by through car windows.
When we finally were on our way again none of us were disappointed to be a day behind. We watched the California landscape and read the signs with interest. Every mile was leading us closer. We were anxious to begin.
Before long we pulled up in front of 818 Valley View, the house we would call home for the next several months. A modest stucco ranch, it had a beautiful lawn and gardens boasting gardenias, lilies, petunias and roses of every color. Everyone liked it immediately. Bethany noticed the swing set in the back yard and was thrilled. The boys couldn’t believe that there were real oranges on the trees. It was awesome! Little MaryEllen was glad to be out of the car. She would explore everything later! We were greeted warmly by Lilyane and her parents Lily and “Monte.” Lilyane had agreed to move in temporarily with her folks and let us rent her house. Once more we had Christian friends to thank for coming to our assistance.
That night, as we closed tired eyes, we were truly thankful to the God who had taken us across the entire country with four little ones, found us a place to live, a car to drive and above all a hospital that would take Jason. A few months before we had not been certain that any of this would happen. A few years before we could not have imagined that any of this would be necessary! But the Lord had known it all and had gently led us each step of the way.