Jeri Wray

Jason was born May 1st, 1972, two weeks before Mother's day. He was healthy, happy and full of energy. As he grew, it became apparrent that he was in a big hurry to cram as much living into each day as he possibly could. To say he was active, would be a gross understatement. On top of that, he suffered from mildly severe asthma, and a propensity for getting hit by baseball bats and falling out of playground equipment, that sent us on several wild rides to nearby hospital emergency rooms. While he was here, all our lives pretty much focused on watching him, finding him, worrying about him and laughing at him, because he was, along with everything else, blessed with an amazing sense of what was truly hilarious.His hair was a pale gold, and his eyes were like two blue quartz crystals...just like his sister's. Just before his fourth birthday, I heard him crying one night and went and sat down on his bedside. I asked if he had had a bad dream, and he looked up at me and said,

"Mommie, Jesus was here and HE sat down on my bed and looked at me and I knew that my heart was dark. Then he came real close to me, and now my heart is clean!"

As a "good mom", I felt it was my duty to teach Jason that all females liked flowers on their bithdays, and all other special days.One day when he was around seven years old, we even made a special trip to the plant nursery to purchase rose bushes. He chose a red one, and I picked a white one. We planted them right by the front porch, along the sidewalk so they could be easilty seen as we went in and out the front door.The white one has bloomed every year since, but Jason's little red one was continuously chewed on and sat on by the cats, and never bloomed after that first year. Over the years, I was the happy recipient of many floral offerings from him, ranging from small bouquets of onion flowers, delivered in a tight, sweaty little fist , to a whole iris plant, pulled up from the roots from a neighbor's yard and proudly handed to me with the words,"I "found" these for you, Mom!" As he got older, he sort of cut back on bringing flowers to me, but turned his attention to giving them to his girlfriends. I wa s proud of that. Once in awhile I got a rose on my bithday, but mostly, there was one from him each year on Mother's Day.

Jason turned 18 on May 1st, 1990. He had developed a bad sinus infection, and wasn't feeling very well. Over the next few days, we took him to the doctor, who prescribed antibiotics, which Jason sometimes took, and sometimes didn't. On the Saturday night before Mother's Day, Jason borrowed $5.00 from his dad and drove to the store to buy me a card. It was the last time he was able to walk out the front door under his own power. Later that same night Jason became much worse, very quickly. His condition deteriorated so swiftly during the day, Sunday, that on Monday morning, we admitted him to the hospital. It didn't take them long to discover that he had developed a virulent case of bacterial meningitis, stemming from the sinus infection that had penetrated to the lining of his brain. In a few hours he was in a coma, hooked up to a respirator and fighting for his life. One of the last things he said to me as he held my hand tightly from his hospital bed was, "Mom, I'm sorry I screwed up Mother's Day." I told him to forget about it. Actually, I had , in all my worrying about him, done just that.

As Jason's fever raged and his heart rate soared, the doctors began to warn us that, if he survived the disease and ever come out of the coma, they weren't sure just what Jason would be like. Meningitis causes the brain to swell and it destroys brain cells at will during the process. Noone comes through it without sustaining some sort of brain damage. But, more than that, they were preparing us for the fact that Jason might not live at all. By Tuesday night, it had become obvious to them that his body had lost it's fight with the disease. On Wednesday morning, they ran an EEG and it showed no brain activity whatsoever. That morning, we had them turn off his respirator, and we let him go to his real home. The next few days became a blur as our house filled with relatives and friends and we prepared for a funeral. To this day, I still refer to it as "Jason's Graduation". I was so proud of him that day. SO many people there... People of all ages, sizes and colors...People we had never met, but who all said Jason was their friend. The love they all poured out on us was overwhelming!

The following Monday, when all the friends and relatives had gone, and my husband had gone back to work, I was finally alone with my thoughts and my grief. I decided to get out in the sunshine and take a little walk around the neighbohood. As I went out the front door and stepped off the porch, I saw a flash of red just off to the right in my field of vision. I started to walk on, when I realized there was nothing there that should be red. I turned back to look again, and saw Jason's little rose bush, proudly lifting one perfectly formed red rose up to me, as if to say, "Take me. I'm your Mother's Day rose from Jason." As quickly as I could, I ran into the house for a pair of scissors, and ever so carefully, I cut the rose and put it in a vase. Eventually I pressed it and framed it.

God, ALONE, has gotten us through these past 6 years. Jason's whole life was such a gift to us all that it is hard to be angry, now, that he was called to go home. I realize we had him so much longer than many people are allowed to have their children. We can only be thankful, now.

Jeri Wray

You can send email to Jeri at [email protected]
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Crisis, Grief, and Healing: Tom Golden LCSW