Our family went from a family of four, to a family of five.
We had just started attending a new church. We knew very few people, and were still adjusting to the lifestyle changes expected.
I was five years old...I would be turning six in February. My brother David was four.
I don't remember John's birth.
I don't remember him coming home from the hospital, or where David and I stayed while Mama and Daddy were at the hospital.
There were no ultrasounds.
There was no indication that there was any problem...it looked like a perfectly healthy, normal pregnancy and birth.
There was just this one little thing, noted after-the-fact to have some significance.
Mama and Daddy brought John home.
Everything seemed to be going well.
Except, then they weren't going so well.
Our sweet, smiling little brother wasn't growing like he was supposed to be growing.
Again, I don't remember the doctor's appointments.
I don't remember statistics.
I just remember the stress, the tension, the tears.
I was six by the time they were taking him to Charleston, for what was hoped to be a life-saving surgery.
How do parents send their 4-month-old baby away with the surgeons, knowing he may not live through this surgery? Hoping and praying that he does?
David and I stayed with the pastor's family, and I went to school. David was still too young for school.
And then, suddenly Mama and Daddy were back.
How this had to have been a knife in the heart of the newly grief-stricken parents!!
He died on the operating table.
His little heart couldn't handle what had to be done.
I don't remember the adult-type details.
I know we didn't bury his little body...they donated it for research on the defect with which he was born.
I know the memorial service seemed to last forever.
I still remember the scrapbook the church gave our family. The sticks of gum are still on some of the pages, more than 40 years later.
John Joseph would be 41 years old this year. I look forward to seeing him again.