We were delighted with our firstborn, a son. His red hair reflected the Scottish portion of our heritage and his cheerful demeanor was engaging. Though he did not walk until after his first birthday, he began speaking when he was nine months old, and parroted word after word that we modeled for him.
Dedicated to God
We dedicated each of our children to the Lord when they were infants. This child, on loan from God, was entrusted to our care. We knew we needed wisdom beyond our years to rear him properly, and so we asked God for His help. We also stood with open hands before the Lord, acknowledging that we understood that this child, like everything else that we claimed as ‘ours,’ ultimately belonged to God and that He could do with our son as He pleased.
Our son was thirteen months old on American Thanksgiving. That year we spent a joyful time of feasting and giving thanks with family and friends. On Friday my husband and I loaded David into a stroller and enjoyed a leisurely walk through the mall. The next day David was unusually fussy and was running a slight fever. Had he picked up a bug when we were out? Was he getting a cold? Teething?
Sunday dawned. Our son’s fever had climbed slightly and he was unusually placid. My husband was in seminary, preparing for the ministry. His philosophy was that if we expected others to attend church faithfully, we should lead by example. After some discussion we decided I should stay home with the baby. We thought we were bending our self-imposed rule that we had to be at death’s door to miss church. Little did we know then that that was exactly where we would be in a few hours.
My mother-in-law, a nurse, shared the house with us at that time. We took turns tiptoeing in to David’s room and checking on him. After a couple of hours he opened his eyes, but didn’t move or cry. He had a vacant look, and was extremely listless. The slight fever had suddenly skyrocketed to 105 and his skin held a definite grey pallor.
Call the doctor
We called our doctor and described the symptoms. “Come immediately to my office. I will meet you there.” All of us knew these were symptoms of meningitis, and several children in our vicinity had been diagnosed with it lately.
This looks very, very serious
The office was only minutes away and the doctor and his nurse met us there where they immediately did a spinal tap. The spinal fluid was very cloudy. He told us what we feared, “This looks like meningitis and it’s very, very serious.” “Where’s your husband?” asked the doctor urgently.” “At a required meeting at the seminary.” “I’ll track him down. Waiting for an ambulance or for my husband to join us would have taken too long. Every minute was critical.
Don’t break down now
“Can you handle driving to the hospital?” We gulped back tears and nodded. We couldn’t break down now. David’s life may depend on it. The doctor gave my mother-in-law and me an evaluating look. Mom was obviously shaken. “You,” he pointed to my mother-in-law, “hold the baby” and “you,” he said to me, “drive.” He sent along the spinal tap and called the hospital to give orders and prepare for our arrival.
We arrived at hospital emergency where the staff whisked David and his spinal tap test away. My husband arrived and soon after so did our doctor. Test results quickly came back positive for bacterial meningitis.
It doesn’t look good
Massive doses of IV antibiotics were administered. Our doctor gently drew us aside and told us, “David’s symptoms are quite advanced. It doesn’t look good,” then asked my husband to lead us in prayer.
Did we really mean it?
Suddenly we were faced with the reality of what dedicating our child to God might actually cost us. At the time we sincerely meant it when we told God He could do whatever He wanted with this child. Was He requiring David’s life for some reason we did not see or understand? Did we really mean it now when our son’s life was in the balance?