Edited by Roxanne K. Young, Associate Editor.
Today I attended the funeral of a
3-year-old boy. The bumpy gravel parking lot was overflowing at the
Pleasant Valley Mennonite Church, a one-room clapboard chapel nestled
among gently rolling hills deep in upstate New York. It was a cold,
gray, raw day, but a fresh coat of wet snow whitened and cheered the
landscape. Perhaps it was signaling the arrival of a very sick little
boy in a better place.
Six months ago he was like any other 3-year-old: wild and seemingly
untamable, scattering toys all over the house, joyously bullying his
little brother. Then came headaches, vomiting, and lethargy. An MRI
scan of his head revealed a huge tumor, and the boy and his family were
swiftly ushered into a brave new world of high technology, operating
suites, radiation, and intensive chemotherapy. The boy persevered, but
the tumor was relentless. It grew after every treatment. Eventually the
exhausted little boy said good-bye to his parents. And now in this tiny
rural church, it was our turn to say good-bye to him.
Korones DN. Saying Good-bye. JAMA. 1999;281(19):1778. doi:10.1001/jama.281.19.1778