JULY 1998 | VOLUME 2, NUMBER 2
RECENT FICTION | Emotions erupt in a ritual that highlights childhood fears:
JANE LONNQVIST, a high school special education teacher, is from Ashby, MA. She is a contributing writer to Renaissance Online Magazine. more
"He's still a sick little boy," Dr. Robert Stevens told Molly and Mitch Morrison as they met in the doctor's office to discuss the next step in the treatment of their son. "I've run all the tests again," Dr. Stevens continued. "The pneumonia's gone, but Jamie just doesn't seem to be recovering the way I'd hoped. I can't find anything else physically wrong. I consulted with Dr. Mazik. He's our staff psychiatrist. His feeling is that Jamie's become depressed and listless after the months of being sick and in the hospital. We both agree that it's time to send him home. We're hoping that being home will help him to recover faster. Maybe he can start putting all of this behind him. As he starts doing more for himself, he'll build up his strength faster."
"Thanks for everything, Bob," MoIIy responded, hugging her doctor and long time friend. "I don't know how we would have gotten through this without your help. I never imagined how frightening it would be to be faced with the possibility of losing one of my children. I guess none of us ever think of our children dying. When Jamie started coughing, I just assumed that he needed an antibiotic, again, and that he'd be fine in a few days. This has been a nightmare." Tears came to her eyes as she remembered the day when she was told that Jamie would have to be hospitalized. He was getting worse, and there was a possibility that he could die.
For nearly two months, Jamie had bounced back and forth between small recovery steps and relapse. He'd had numerous tests and an almost constant I.V., all of which he hated. Somewhere around the end of the first month, Molly had noticed a change in her son. Instead of screaming every time he saw another needle, he just held out his arm and didn't say a word. In fact, he didn't say much about anything. He slept a lot. She'd attributed the change to the medications he was being given to treat the pneumonia and to stop the coughing so he could sleep. Still, she'd expected to see some signs of the happy, active, talkative nine-year-old who loved spending his afternoons delivering newspapers with his best friend, Adam, and the rest of his time complaining about, or fighting with, his older sister, Tara.
"He's had a lot to adjust to," Mitch continued. "While we love the new house, Jamie hated leaving his friends. The only other boy in the neighborhood around Jamie's age is Adam. We were surprised when Jamie wanted to spend his afternoons delivering newspapers, but he and Adam seem to enjoy being together. Adam's father's in the service. While they're walking around the neighborhood, Adam tells Jamie stories about the places he's lived. Jamie was coming home with a new story every day."
"It might be a good idea to have Jamie talk to Adam, but I think it had better be over the phone, at least for the time being. Kids tend to spread germs very easily, and I don't want Jamie exposed to anything unnecessarily. Even a cold might put him back in the hospital. He needs to move back into the world slowly, starting with just the immediate family. Even Tara should be kept out of his room most of the time. "
"No problem there," Molly responded. "The two of them fight constantly. It may be terrible to say, but I think that Tara's actually enjoyed having Jamie out of the house for the last few months. Don't get me wrong. I don't think she'd want him to die, but I don't think she'd be heartbroken if he hadn't ever been born. Keeping them apart won't be a problem."
So at the end of November, Jamie was brought home. His bed was moved so he could see out the window. A phone was added to the things already in Jamie's room. He'd talked with Adam a few times, but then the phone calls stopped. Molly and Mitch tried to help their son, but he still didn't see interested in life.
"How can I help?" Molly asked Jamie again and again. Finally, after a few weeks, she got an answer.
"It's too late," Jamie replied.
"Too late for what?" Molly asked, puzzled.
"Too late for Halloween. Too late to play football or soccer or basketball. Too late to pass the third grade. Too late for everything. And I don't care about Christmas. I can't play with anything anyway. I don't want to be sick any more. I just want to sleep so I don't have to think." With that, he closed his eyes. Molly wasn't letting it go that easily.
"Jamie, listen to me. Halloween will come again. You can play football and soccer and basketball next year. There's still time to play baseball this year, if only you get well. We can get a home tutor to get you caught up in school. You have to help us to help you, Jamie. I know it hasn't been easy for you, but you can get well. "
"Even Adam has somebody else to help him. I see them every day. He didn't say it, but he knows I'm just a sick baby. He doesn't even call me any more. Now, I don't have any friends. The only kid around is dumb Tara." Jamie had soon cried himself to sleep.
"He isn't getting any better," Dr. Stevens told Molly and Mitch. "We'll give
it another week. If he's still losing weight, I'll have to put him back in the
hospital. This may sound ridiculous to you, but he seems to have given up the
will to live. I've seen it happen before, but it's usually with older people who
are very sick or with people who have had a death in the family. Jamie needs to
find some reason to get better. Try to think of something that will make him look
forward to the future. "
For the Love of Jamie Continued