Maggie turned from the voices in the kitchen and stared through the window at the gunmetal sky. Winter was surely the worst time to lose a child – not that any other season would have been better. Then again, spring, summer and fall were too full of sunshine, colors and laughter. Perhaps winter was best. Its days were often heavy and leaden, with icy patches. A frozen heart was at home in winter.
She frowned as her sister Glenda’s raised voice intruded on her thoughts. “That’s what malpractice insurance is for!” They were still tossing Dr. Maddox’s failure to see how sick Lyle really was, back and forth like a ball that was slowly losing air. Her husband Scott, even in the most convivial family gatherings, usually “surrendered the field,” as he called it laughingly, when her four sisters came over. However this time he had simply disappeared without a word to anyone. Losing his son, his “best bud,” had left him with little to say and even less inclination to listen.
“Suing a doctor isn’t as easy as it sounds. Other doctors will say he made a judgment call.” Carrie, the eldest, was always the voice of reason.
Nina, an ER nurse who had been with Maggie when 16-year-old Lyle was first diagnosed, chimed in. “Leukemia isn’t necessarily a death sentence these days. If Dr. Maddox is guilty of anything, it’s of giving false hope – and that’s not a crime.”
During the six weeks since the funeral, Maggie had gone through the anger stage of grief and was in full agreement with Glenda. Someone was to blame for her pain! She didn’t want to be comforted - by God or anyone else. However that had started to pass. She still wanted to do something but didn’t know what. Then, as she continued to stare at the drizzle that had begun to fall, she knew.
“I’ll write a letter,” she said decisively and stood up. Like a hissing valve that was suddenly sealed, her sisters stopped talking and watched her walk out of the kitchen. Rachel, who their mother often compared to the biblical Martha, rarely entered into her sisters’ noisy discussions, but was content to participate by cooking for everyone. Now, standing at the stove, she patted Maggie’s shoulder as she passed by. Maggie heard Glenda snort dismissively. “A letter? Oh please!”
With firm steps, Maggie went into the study and closed the door. She sat down, put her elbows on the desk and leaned her forehead on clasped hands. Was Glenda right? Was it Dr. Maddox’s fault that, a week after his optimistic prognosis, Lyle was gone? Was it her fault for initially not taking his bleeding gums and other symptoms seriously enough? In the last days of his life, Lyle had started hallucinating. “CNS involvement,” they said. Who knew? Who knew?!!”
Maggie jerked her head up and looked around. She was alone but she could have sworn she heard a voice. Sitting back in her chair, her eyes swept the room, finally coming to rest on a wall sampler her grandmother had stitched over 40 years ago.The writing,etched in black on a bright blue, flowery background, made her pause. “All the days ordained for me, were written in your book before one of them came to be.” ( Psalm 139:16 NIV)She whispered it to herself, and then read it again out loud. Who knew? God did and at his appointed time, Lyle went home.
After glancing at her laptop, Maggie pulled a sheet of heavy, cream colored stationery from a drawer and picked up a pen. Nibbling the end of it, she thought for a moment. She hadn’t written a letter by hand in a long time because it was faster and more efficient to use the computer. However, there was nothing personal about typing and as she began to write,the flow of ink on paper inspired her.
Dear Dr. Maddox,
If we, as a family,did not believe that God is Sovereign over all matters of life and death, we would seek someone to blame for my son’s death. But we know he is and so we choose to celebrate Lyle’s life instead.
She put the pen down. It was a good beginning. More would come to her later but for now, it was enough. Within, she felt the very faintest stirrings of spring.
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