Sunday, February 3, 2008

Memories (installment 6)

Once there was a family. Mom, Dad, Big Sister, Little Brother. Then they added a little baby, and lived happily ever after.

Isn't that how the story is supposed to go? Everyone grows up, and gets married, and everything is just peachy. As we all know, life doesn't often deal us that perfect hand. So, reality...

I was 6 years old, and we were going to the Mennonite church. I started school at the school operated by a neighboring church. My dad was working in sales. Mama was home with my younger (by 13 months) brother. Mama got pregnant and everyone was excited.

Fast forward 9 January, brother is born. He looks normal, healthy, happy. The only thing of any note was that his ear was folded when he was born. Apparently that SHOULD have been a clue to the doctors, had they only known.....

Mama and baby John came home from the hospital, and things were uneventful for a little while, but soon clues started to pop up...he was not responding normally to things.

"Doctor, there are things that just aren't right."

More doctors' visits, tests.

"Ma'm, we're sorry to tell you this...your little baby was born with a heart defect."

John was happy, but he wasn't healthy. The doctors wanted to try to fix his little heart, but he needed to gain some weight first. So, a couple of months later, brother and I stayed with the pastor and his family, and my parents took John to the University Hospital in Charleston, SC, for his surgery.

I never saw him again. The doctors' attempt to repair John's heart didn't work...he died on the operating table.

I remember Mama and Daddy coming in, and they didn't have John with them. I kept asking, "Where's John?" I was only 7, my brother was 6. How do you explain to LITTLE children? What do you tell them?

There was a memorial service....there was no body. His body had been donated to the University, hopefully to help others....

Fall-out. There is always fall-out from these types of tragedies. Daddy's sales job went away. At least the insurance lasted long enough to cover most of the bills. Still, my parents came away from that hospital stay with $8 to their name, and 2 more children, and a farm and animals....there wasn't time to be able to take off and grieve. Work had to be found, and money made to pay the bills.

I miss my baby brother. I grieve his short 5 months of life. He would have turned 31 this year. John Joseph....we'll always miss you.

I also think of my parents, living through what had to be heart-breaking pain. Mama was 30 when John died. Daddy was 34. How do you go on? Pull yourself together, and parent your remaining children, who are too young to understand? I hurt for them, too.


Bobbie-Jo said...

Wow. Such a sad story. I imagine it has shaped who you are today...

Thanks for being so open about things that aren't all "peachy".

I just popped over from Queen to my Three Boys. Had a little look around. Your kids are cuties!

Laura said...

What a sad story.

How do moms and dads go on after loosing a child. I have written abit about my friend who lost her 3 year sad.

My parents lost baby boy twins 38 years ago and we still all feel sad on Feb 22 mourning their passing.

God Bless.

Cricket's Hearth said...

I think it is wonderful that you still remember your baby brother, you were so young and he had passed in and out of your life so quickly. I do know a little of what your parents went through. My first daughter, Lorenda, died shortly after birth. I was not permitted to see her. John, my husband at the time, and the doctor decided I was too young at 16 to be able to handle holding her and watching her die (she was born pre-mature and in 1968 they did not have the equipment they have today), so they kept me drugged until she was gone. I have always held an anger for their decision. I have spent many hours at her gravesite over the years, just sitting and talking. Her 40th birthday will be this summer. My grandmother told me one time she believed that when children die, they remain the same age for all eternity. She told me this when I was sharing with her how angry I was that I didn't even get to hold my baby girl. She said. "Now Cricket, when you get to Heaven you will have a baby to hold for all eternity. How blessed you will be." It took many years before I understood what grandma was saying. And she is right, how blessed will I be to have a tiny little baby girl to rock and cuddle through eternity. And you will have a baby brother waiting for big sis to hold him too. Blessings, Cricket