Just out of college I had the amazing opportunity to work as a Child Life Therapist at a large Children’s Hospital. I had just graduated from Gordon College which is a Christian college on the North Shore in Massachusetts. What is a Child Life Therapist? It is a specialist who works closely with children and families in medical settings, serving as emotional support and helping develop family coping strategies. I worked with children undergoing bone marrow transplants. Mostly due to cancer. Sometimes my job was as simple as rocking a baby so mom or dad can run and take a shower. Other times my job was to help a child plan his or her funeral. The day to day was to offer support to the kiddos there. Because it was a cancer ward some kids got better and that was to be celebrated. Others kids did not and they passed. I had one particular patient whom I will never forget. He was 5. I will call him Trevor. Trevor came from a strong Christian home. His dad whom I shall call Scott was married to Trevor’s mom but sadly she had passed away shortly after Trevor was born in a tragic car accident. So back to the two boys as I used to call them. Trevor had undergone a bone marrow transplant for leukemia. Along with a bone marrow transplant he also underwent chemotherapy as well as radiation. Due to his compromised system, he was in a clean room. This room was germ-free. Anyone going in had to gown up and do a surgical scrub. Anything going in had to be sterilized. All for his safety. The only human touch he had was through medical gloves. Regardless of his environment or his circumstance, this kid was THE happiest kid I have ever met. He had a joy about him that could only come with a true understanding of who God is and giving thanks in all circumstances. Even at just only 5, he was wise beyond his years. Day after day I would spend time with Trevor. He was a neat kid who loves puzzles. I would hunt high and low for puzzles to keep him engaged while in his sterile room. Often times I would find him working on a puzzle. Bald head, swollen face, happy smile. As time wore on it was clear that Trevor was not going to be able to fight his battle with cancer and win. He was going to die. As I slowly watched him fade my heart became so sad. I was sitting by his bed one afternoon and he noticed my smile was more planted that genuine. He asked me what was wrong? We got to talking about his prognosis. He looked at me and said I can’t cry for him. I can miss him but I can’t cry for him. I asked him why? He told me he gets to hang out with Jesus. I can miss him but I can’t be sad for him. His answer rocked me to my core. I had never met a kid with such an honest faith. I remember him reaching over and patting my hand. He said, “I do have one question, do you think there will be puzzles in heaven?” With tears in my eyes, I laughed at his innocence. I told him heaven is going to be perfect and if puzzles make you happy then I am sure God has it under control. He looked at me with his bald head and impish grin and said: “just in case when you come will you bring some?” More laughter through tears.
As the days went on Trevor grew worse and worse. I had the amazing privilege to be there with his dad and hold his other hand while he slipped from this world into the arms of Jesus. There were no gloves, no medical equipment just the peace that only can come from Christ. It was not chaotic. It was not trauma filled. It was a peaceful passing. True love casts out all fear (1 John 4:18). This little boy who fought bravely won in the end. I will never forget what Scott said to me. He looked me straight in the eye and said this little boy was here to teach us about faith. I could only shake my head as there were sobs caught in my throat. I said goodbye to Trevor, gave Scott a hug and excused myself so Scott could grieve in private. I remember standing outside the room in the hospital corridor. I looked around and realized I still had a job to do. There are still children who need to be comforted. Families that needed me to stand the gap between this horrible disease and reality. I went to the bathroom and pulled myself together and somehow managed to go back to work.
Now here I am many, many years later and that little boy has still left an impression on me. For one so young to have such faith encouraged me in my walk. My dear reader, regardless of your belief system you have to admit that life is so much better when we live in a place where we have faith. Whether it be in a higher power or a loved one. We were not meant to walk this journey alone. I encourage you to cling to your faith. My family knows when I pass wether next week, next year or when I am very old and grey, to put a puzzle in my box. Not that I really think this will make it to the hereafter but it is a reminder to myself and others around me that I too have the same faith of Trevor. I know to leave this earth is to be with my Savior. So until I see you next Trevor…keep doing those puzzles and save me a good seat up front!