Today is a day I quietly celebrate the birth of my second son. He would have been 17 years old today. There will be no party with balloons and exciting festivities, but instead a sweet dessert and reflection of memories.
Alexx was diagnosed with cancer just a few months prior to his 8th birthday. Initially when considering a post my thoughts went to the final birthday that he celebrated, but I struggled for words.
The other day my husband was cleaning out his car, and dumped out his ashtray full of change. As he sorted through it, he handed me a coin sized object that someone had given him. As I held it in my hand, I was flooded with memories and emotions. It is from this that I have words to share.
Alexx was diagnosed with a rare and terminal childhood cancer. For weeks he had displayed occasional neurological symptoms. He experienced sporadic clumsiness and slurred speech. We worked closely with his pediatrician. When his symptoms severely and suddenly increased he was immediately schedule for an MRI and a tumor was found. What should have been a normal Friday afternoon left me facing a mothers worst nightmare. By days end I did the only thing I knew. I put my trust and my son in the hands of God.
After several hospital days of visitors, movies, vending machine runs, silly games and tricks that made even the nurses laugh, and many prayers, Alexx was homesick and longed for his room and familiar surroundings. As he responded to initial medication it was decided that he would receive radiation treatment. He had to be fitted with a plastic mesh looking mask that would cover his entire head and literally attach him to a table. The day he had to be fitted for the mask, he was terrified. I hugged him, I encouraged him, and then I prayed with him. “Lord, I thank you that you did not give Alexx a spirit of fear, but of love and of power and of sound mind. Thank you for giving your angels charge over him. Please let him feel Your peace….” I prayed with a confidence I did not know that I possessed.
Despite my display of confidence around Alexx, at day’s end I was exhausted. At seven months pregnant I knew I needed to keep up my strength and get plenty of rest. To my son I was mom. A mom’s reaction is an indication of the depth of challenge to every trial. Mom’s are often the gauge to success or failure. I had to show him that everything was okay. Each morning I began my day with a hot shower. As hot water poured over me, I allowed myself to relax and receive comfort from the Lord. Hot tears mixed with the water as my true weakness was revealed. I was weak. I was afraid. I was unsure. Despite my shortcomings I was always refreshed by the Lord and emerged ready to face a new day. I knew my strength was not my own. What I felt then I recently read , at On Life & Laughter. in the words of a friend to her daughters….You will be strong for the sake of your child…by the power of One who gives lavishly, perfectly, lovingly. And when you are done, or even in mid-battle, you will draw away and cry…hopefully crying out to the One who is always there to hear, to catch tears, to lift your weary head and heart. You will let your weakness wash over you and be strengthened by His strength…
After just over a week of hospitalization, Alexx came home. He was so excited to be home with his family and sleeping in his own bed. Clearly still fragile, we faced nights of interrupted sleep to attend to him. One morning we awoke startled as we had not been awaken during the night. Over breakfast Alexx told us he hadn’t slept well. When we asked why he didn’t call for us he responded “I was okay. An angel came and held my hand.”
In his best teasing tone my husband asked “oh, really, was it a boy angel or a girl angel?”
Alexx thought a moment and responded “I don’t know, I had my eyes closed….wait, no, it was a girl.”
Continuing the teasing tone my husband ask, “wait, you said you had your eyes closed. How do you know it was a girl?”
Very matter of fact, Alexx replied, “Because she had long fingernails.”
Although he did not speak of attending angels again, I believe the veil between life and death can get very thin when one gets so close to death. We had shared his comfort of an attending angel with some of our family. One family member was so touched by his story that they sent him a small coin sized object reflecting a carved angel. He adored the small trinket and stashed it away in his treasure box as a reminder of how God gave His angel charge over him. So, among a variety of pebbles, a lost Robbins feather, a favorite hot wheel that suffered a broken wheel, and other priceless mementos of an 8 year old boy, lay the coin sized trinket carved with an angel.
As Alexx’s radiation treatment began he held onto God’s promises. During our drive to his first treatment he and I prayed together numerous times. In the car at every red light. In the elevator that took us to the radiation department. In the waiting room surrounded by other patients.
When Alexx was finally called and he bravely went into the radiation treatment room, he willingly climbed onto the table that he would be locked down to with a tight mask. He looked nervously at the thick door that would separate him from any other human contact. He had to be shut in the room, alone, locked to a table by his head….. The two technicians tried to coax him to lay back, but he said “no, wait…” They continued to coax him and spoke non-stop words of encouragement. Finally, in frustration Alexx raised his voice and said “WAIT!” As the room became quiet he said “my mom has to pray first…”
So I prayed, “Heavenly Father Your word says that You have given Your angels charge over us. Fill this room with Your presence. Fill this room with Your angels. Give them charge over Alexx. Comfort him and show him that he is not alone but that instead he’s receiving treatment in a company of angels……….”
Please continue this story……. Attended by angels part 2