Mothers have such an intimate relationship with their small children that we must credit them with an intuition that accompanies their love in times of danger that brings forth surprising wisdom and courage.
Jeremy had acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. He endured chemotherapy, bone marrow transplants, multiple red cell and platelet transfusions before his mother decided he should be subjected to no more. He had cried enough! No more interventions, no more invasions of this tiny body, no more futile treatments. It was Jeremy’s decision too. He was a very wise four year old. His mother took him home to die.
Jeremy wanted to live – but not at any cost, and this cost was too much for some remote chance of living later. He wanted to live now. He wanted to be with his family, visit his friends at pre-school, and he especially wanted to wear his batman outfit again. Jenny, his mother, was later to talk about that decision in favour of home.
“It gave me the chance to be his mum right to the end. More than that, it gave me the opportunity to make sure he didn’t suffer in those last days. I was able to minister to him in his pain. I didn’t have to wait any time for a doctor or a nurse to come and attend to him. I could do that immediately.
“With a child as young as Jeremy, who would know him better than his mother? I knew him better than a doctor or a nurse, or anyone else, for that matter. As a mother you end up being a better doctor or nurse to a child this young.”
This was said in an interview about eighteen months after Jeremy died. Jenny found consolation in how well her mothering him so closely had alleviated his pain so much better than anyone else could have done.
If only we adults could remember clearly enough to express in words how essential it was for us to have a mother close when we were sick as little children, how long the hours were, how unrelieved the pain when she was not there.