TITLE: Boogie With Becky
By Terry Atchison
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My sister called me one evening, thanking me for this story, telling me that it made her realize how much she had been using the death of her husband as a "crutch" for over one year after he lost the battle to cancer.
Boogie with Becky
Jean was getting tired of all this! This is the third time in two weeks that she had to quit work and go get Becky at school. 'What's wrong with her this time?', she was thinking. The school nurse asked if she had eaten this morning. 'Of course she eats in the morning! What kind of mother does she think I am who let’s her seven- year-old girl go to school without something in her stomach?' She said that Becky was white and could hardly stand up. Just like the last time...
When Jean entered the nurse's office, she understood that this time would be different. Becky was lying on her back, asleep. Her breathing was shallow. She was very pale.
“Mrs. Thompson brought her in about thirty minutes ago, after recess. She has been sleeping for about ten minutes.”
“Becky. Becky, honey. Mama's here. Can you wake up now?”
“My God! What's wrong with her voice? I can hardly hear her!”
Becky's eyes close again and nothing her mother or the nurse can do, will make her wake up.
“Please, call an ambulance.”
“Right away Mrs. Cooper.”
'Oh Lord. What's wrong with her? God, please don't let this be too serious.' Thoughts of the past couple of weeks filled Jean's head. 'Why didn't I take the time to show her how much I love her? All I have been doing is griping at her because of my missing work. What was I thinking? What's going to happen to her now? Please God, let me talk to her again.' Jean was crying now. The school nurse had her sitting on a chair and gave her a glass of water.
“The ambulance just arrived, Mrs. Cooper. Do you want to ride with your daughter?”
Jean's head nodded 'yes'.
Roy was waiting outside the emergency room when the ambulance got there. Becky was wheeled inside and Jean collapsed into Roy's arms.
“ The nurse called me, honey. She told me to get here asap. What happened to Becky? She looked so pale.”
“I don't know, I don't know”, was all she could whisper.
After what seemed an eternity, a nurse came out of the emergency room.
“Mr. and Mrs. Cooper?”
“Is she going to be all right? Can we take her home?”
“For now, we will have to do some tests. She is very weak. This might take some time. We probably won't know anything sure until tomorrow.”
“May we see her?”
“Not for an hour or so while we do the tests. Why don't you go have a coffee or eat, then come back. You will be able to see her once she gets to a room.”
“A room?” Jean didn't like this.
“Yes, the doctor wants her to stay for observation...at least twenty-four hours.”
When the tests were finished, the Coopers saw their daughter in her room. Becky was sleeping soundly. A nurse told them that Becky was very tired and needed rest. Roy suggested that they should go home and get some rest too...that tomorrow, things will work out. Jean reluctantly complied with Roy's suggestion. On the way home, the comforting turned to blaming, then turned to bickering. By the time they reached home, they were yelling at each other.
Silence...Becky opens her eyes. Lights, chrome bars, some kind of tube running down from somewhere and stuck under the two band-aids on her right arm. 'Where am I? What happened to school? I'm thirsty and hungry! Where's mommy and daddy?' Tears were rolling down her cheeks. She falls to sleep again, crying.
Roy and Jean were yelling in front of the door. They didn't even see Seth walk up to them.
“Hi kids. I love you both.” He put his arms around both of them. Seth was the pastor of their church. Roy had telephoned him from the hospital and asked him to meet them at home.
“Oh Seth! Becky”, was all Jean could say. Hugging Seth, Jean and Roy cried together. Seth convinced Jean to eat something, and it actually calmed her down to prepare supper . The three of them prayed and talked positively about Becky. The couple knew that they could count on the church members as brothers and sisters. That was really comforting, and needed.
The sun was brilliant this morning. It filled up the bedroom where a mother and father had held each other, tenderly, all through the night. Jean and Roy had just slept their last restful sleep for many months to come.
“Mommy, mommy!” Becky was wide-awake and feeling back to normal. She only wanted one thing now; to see her parents. “MOMMY!”
“Good morning, sweetie. You sure sound in good health this morning!” A big warm smile took up most of the place on Gilda's face. She was big. Very big! She could scare most male patients into following her orders, but was gentle as a lamb with children. She already knew that this one was going to be a 'heart-breaker'.
“You must be hungry! Well, this morning, you can just eat all you want and more. Doctor's orders. Your mommy and daddy will surely be in to see you within the hour. So let me just prop you up there and you can stuff that little belly of yours.” She ended her sentence with her finger planted on Becky's stomach. Becky laughed and was fascinated, sort of, with the friendliness of Gilda. She forgot about crying and started to satisfy her hunger. 'Mommy and daddy will surely take me home in a little while. I feel so good after sleeping for so long.' This is what was going through her little head when her parents walked in.
“Mommy, daddy!” Big smiles and kisses.
“Am I going home now? I don't want to stay here anymore. Can we go now? Please?”
“We must talk to the doctor first, hon, but I am sure that you will leave after his visit at ten o'clock. Doesn't she look in the pink, Roy?”
“Yeah! You're lookin' good Bec'! How would you like to go to the 'Petting Park' this afternoon? We might even find a little puppy that needs adopting by a little girl.”
So plans were made for the coming afternoon. As soon as Becky had eaten, she went to sleep. A deep sleep. Nurses came and went. Of course, they were like nurses everywhere; smiling, polite, helpful. But the mother and father seemed to sense that 'something' was just not right. Guess it was that 'fleeting glance' that you could see in the nurses' eyes that made them feel uncomfortable.
Waiting was the hardest part. Ten o'clock came and went without the doctor's visit. It was almost eleven when he finally arrived. Nurse Gilda was with him. Both were smiling very sympathetically as they entered the room.
“Mr. and Mrs. Cooper, I'm Doctor Tengenchoo.”
Roy was thinking 'gesundheit'.
Doctor Tengenchoo was from the Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean. He was of Indian decent and had an accent when he spoke.
“Is she going to be all right, doctor? Did the tests show anything? Can she go home today?”
Jean kept asking questions until the doctor put up his hand.
“Please Mrs. Cooper, let's take this one question at a time. The tests revealed an elevated white blood cell count.”
“Oh my God! Roy!” Roy's eyes were wide open and jumping from the doctor to Jean; looking for comfort in one and trying to give a look of comfort to the other.
“Mrs. Cooper. May I call you Jean?” She nodded yes.
“Please don't jump to conclusions. We need to do more tests and I need to ask you a few questions. Has your daughter been complaining of aching joints, feeling weak or has she been tired all of the time?”
“Yes doctor. Almost every day for the past week or so, she has been complaining about her knees and elbows hurting. But I just thought it was from playing. And this is the third time within two weeks that she was weak like this and I had to get her at school.”
“Jean and Roy, if I may?” Roy nodded yes.
“We really should do two tests now...just so we know what we are dealing with. One is a bone marrow biopsy and the other a spinal tap. This will be to determine if Becky has any sign of cancer and to see if it has spread. Time is of the utmost, and we need your permission to continue.”
As the doctor spoke, Jean and Roy were both feeling an icy cold sensation and stomach-wrenching hurting like they had never experienced before in their lives! The hospital odors they had not noticed until now seemed to smother them. They both were thinking that this must be a mistake. Becky was looking and acting like a normal child when they had entered her room. Gilda had moved up beside Jean. Sometimes women fainted when they heard the news. Jean turned to her and smiled with tears in her eyes.
Finally, Roy was able to speak. With a soft voice, he told the doctor to do whatever needed to be done.
“When will we know something?”
“If we do the tests tomorrow, we should know the results the day after. You must think positive now. It is very important for your daughter, and for you. The hardest is waiting for the results. But until we get there, there is no reason to be sick or panic. Easy to say, I know. But, just show Becky your love and talk positive. She might be a child, but they understand things sometimes quicker than we would like for them to do. I must leave you for now. We shall meet the day after tomorrow. Gilda will accompany you to the office to sign the necessary papers.” Smiling, the doctor left the two parents with Gilda.
“ Mommy, can we go home now?” Becky was waking up. Her eyes were only half-open. Jean bent over the bed and put her arms around her little girl. Jean was praying and thinking of the sacrifice that God had given; His Son. She stopped crying. Roy was on the other side of the bed, holding Becky's hand. He couldn't speak as he looked down on his baby girl. He was ANGRY! Why was God doing this to them? Why is it always good Christians who have to suffer? What did we do to Him? And on, and on. He had a bad feeling about all of this, and it was as if he had already given up.
“Daddy, are we going to the 'Petting Park' now? Can we go home, mommy?”
Roy and Jean looked at each other. Both were hoping that the other would be the first to answer their daughter.
“so, this is what we call ALL.” Doctor Tengenchoo had received the results and was explaining them to the Coopers, in his office.
'A-c-u-t-e L-y-m-p-h-o-b-l-a-s-t-i-c L-e-u-k-e-m-i-a. A-L-L. So this is the evil poison inside my baby girl.' Jean was surprised to stay calm. 'Who cares if they call it ALL? Is that supposed to make it easier to talk about it?' She was starting to get angry, so she checked her thoughts and tried to concentrate on what the doctor was saying.
When Roy heard those words, he felt cut up inside and 'black'. 'I hate you, God! You're a traitor! Is this any way to treat your children? Why us? I will never set my foot into a church again for as long as I live!'
"and this is why I suggest that we commence the chemotherapy as soon as possible."
The doctor did most of the talking from there on. Something about other options and combinations. He talked of radiation therapy and bone marrow transplantation and new technics. The Coopers just nodded or shook their heads from time to time. Both of them had thoughts going through their minds, like in a kaleidoscope. Nothing fixed. Just flashes. From time to time they would hear a word or phrase spoken by the doctor. At the end of this meeting, more papers to sign. They then looked at each other with empty faces and walked outside of the building to get some fresh air.
The chemotherapy with the radiation seemed to have started a remission. Becky was strong enough to walk and talk. She had lost a lot of weight, but now it seemed to be coming back very quickly. A few girls from her Sunday school class had convinced their mothers to let them have 'crew cuts'. A picture of them and a bald Becky hung on her wall. Roy thought of this and much more as he sat on the stool at the bar. During these past few months, he seemed to have aged ten years. Jean was looking older than her age too. He sipped his whiskey slowly. Since that day in the doctor's office, he had not returned to church. He had no contact with his friends. It seemed that all he concentrated on was his hurting, and his hating for God. Each day after work, he had a drink or two, then went the hospital. Jean had quit her job. She didn't need to work anyway. So she was at the hospital all day, every day. Sundays, she went to church and didn't falter from having complete faith in the Lord. She enjoyed the strength she received from praying. There was a never-ending stream of church members that came to see Becky and her. Roy never stayed longer than an hour because he had to work the next day, and because of the pain he felt to see his daughter like this. He had turned completely away from Jesus and was doing the same with Jean.
"May I have a puppy before I die?" Jean and Becky were sitting on the grass under a shade tree on the hospital grounds. They had just finished a picnic. Becky's hair was about one inch long now and her tests showed that total remission was not far away.
"You are NOT going to die! Never say that again!" Her mother was shaking like a leaf. Becky had never talked like that before.
"Mommy, it's almost my birthday. May I please have a puppy? Please?"
"But you are in a hospital, Hon, you can't have animals in a hospital."
"Then take me home. I want to go home! It's not fair that I should have to stay here all of my life!"
"Honey, you will be going home soon. The doctor said that one more round of treatment, and everything will be normal. THEN you may go home."
"I want a puppy. I want a puppy now!"
"Let me talk it over with your father, okay?"
"Where is daddy? He doesn't come so much now."
Roy staggered out of the bar. This time he had overdone it. As he got to his car, he recognized the blue car across the street. It was Seth!
"YO, SETH! 'Member me? H'ya doin'? SETH!"
Seth heard someone yell something. He looked towards the dark parking and saw an arm in the air moving back and forth.
'Who is that? Well, guess I'd better see who it is and what he needs.' He pulls up next to Roy.
"My gosh, Roy! Been a long time since we have seen each other. Never see you at church anymore, and you are always gone by the time I get to the hospital. How are you, brother?"
"Who cares? It's how Becky is that counts."
"Why do you say that? God loves us all and we all count for Him."
"WRONG! If we counted for Him, Becky would be in good health today...and me too." As Roy talked, he sort of stumbled from left to right, next to the lowered car window.
"C'mon Roy. Let's get you home."
"Okay! My place! Party time! I got some on ice just for my buddy, Seth."
"Wow Roy. I've never seen you like this. And by the way, I AM you preacher. Preachers don't drink, remember?"
"Well that's just fine with me, ol' buddy. There will just be more for old Roy! Home James!"
"We should be there in about ten minutes. How long have you been this way?"
"Evr' snce Bec ben th' hosptl....."
'Guess I'll just let him sleep for awhile'.
After much tugging, pushing, yelling, and coaxing, Seth got Roy into the house and onto the sofa. He called his wife and told her the story. He then called some brothers from church and asked for their help. Seth was not going to leave Roy alone and in this condition. Neither physical nor spiritual. He would not leave before things were back to normal.
Monday morning, two weeks after the picnic with Becky, Jean AND Roy walked into the hospital room.
"Daddy! You're not working today? May I have a puppy?"
Roy looked at Jean whose eyes were looking up towards the ceiling.
"I'll have to talk with your mommy about this."
"But she said that she would talk with YOU about it!"
"I don't know, honey. We will have to see what the doctor says." That was the usual answer that satisfied Becky's questions.
"Okay, I'll ask him myself." She was grinning from ear to ear.
"The doctor would like to see both of you in a few minutes, if that's okay with you?" Gilda seemed tense as she spoke.
"Sure." Roy was back to his old self since the evening Seth and his fellow brothers spent the night and next day with him. Amazing how they sacrificed their time for him. Praying, crying, praying more, praising the Lord all night long. Roy remembered repenting again and again. He felt the Holy Spirit come into his body again. That was such a GOOD feeling! Last Sunday and yesterday, he was back in church again with Jean, and he felt as if he had returned home. Wonderful feeling, loving and being loved by God!
"We must do a bone marrow transplant as soon as possible!" Dr. Tengenchoo seemed in a hurry for the first time since the Coopers had met him.
"We have already found a match since Becky was first entered here. Her last tests show that her cancer is back, and worse than it's ever been. Her body is not responding to treatment anymore. If it keeps up, at this rate, she will be gone in just a couple of weeks. I'm sorry..."
Sometimes nightmares come during the middle of the night and change beautiful dreams into horror. When a nightmare comes during the day, it is worse because you can't wake up from it.
Jean and Roy were dumbfounded! 'What about the puppy?', was all that Jean could think of. Roy had a flash of big-time anger, then thought of Jesus and His sacrifice for us.
"When can you do it doctor?"
"Tomorrow morning. The sooner the better."
"It's THAT bad then?" Both parents were looking for some sign of warmth in the doctor's eyes; something that would reassure them. But the doctor's eyes seemed fixed, almost stern.
"Yes, it's that bad."
"Okay for tomorrow then." Roy's voice was almost a whisper.
The doctor left them alone in the office. Roy and Jean were once again holding each other close. Very close. They were trembling but not crying. The pain they felt in their bosoms kept them from letting go their tears. Finally, pushing apart, looking each other in the eyes, they vowed their love for each other and prayed, and prayed, and prayed.
Becky was not a happy camper! Not at all! Gilda had explained the procedure and said that she would soon be feeling stronger. Well, she hadn't felt anything new yet! Sleep was taking over her little body. 'Mommy and daddy are getting me a puppy. I'll call him Boogie.' She knew that this was going to happen. She was sure. Next week was her birthday. Becky prayed, like she did at home and at church. She thanked Jesus for her parents and how happy they were together again. She thanked Him for the nice doctor with the funny name. She thanked Him for all her little friends who came to visit her. And she thanked Him for grandma's visit last night. She had told Becky that soon she would be with her in heaven and not to worry. Grandma had told her that she would bring a little puppy with her; a little puppy called Boogie. Well, this suited Becky just fine because she was tired of the hospital and feeling weak all of the time. She wanted to go home.
Despair...three weeks of despair. There was just no hope anymore. The doctors can do no more and have given up hope. Only a miracle could change her condition now and save her from death. Death is a word Jean just couldn't use. She has known no other pain like THIS excruciating pain that she was feeling at this moment. All of her praying and faith in the Lord has never stopped...and never will. It will be hard to understand the reason, but only He knows why he calls the little lambs home. Jean knows that soon Becky will be in heaven with Him and her grandma. She knows that one day they will ALL be together for eternity...and that's what it's all about anyway. She smiled to think of that moment.
"mommy, daddy, where is my puppy?" Such a small, frail baby girl lying there on the bed! She could hardly move now...her voice almost a whisper. Roy left the room and came back with a carton. The Coopers and Dr. Tengenchoo had agreed that a puppy would be okay. Roy placed the box on the bed next to Becky.
"Look honey!" Roy lifted out the cutest little Yorkie you have ever seen! Becky smiled and tried to sit up a little.
"boogie...boogie. at last, you're here..." Her little voice was so faint! Becky cupped her arm around him as best she could and stroked his head with her little fingers.
"mommy, daddy, thank you. he is beautiful. may I take him to heaven with me?"
With tears rolling down their cheeks, Roy and Jean both answered with a yes.
"I want grandma to see him. she told me that I would have my puppy. can Boogie sleep with me? I'm sleepy now..." Her small voice was barely audible
The Coopers took turns kissing Becky on her little white cheeks. Then they both held hands and each one a hand of their little daughter, and started praying silently. When they opened their eyes, they both sensed that she was gone. She was no longer breathing. There they were; Boogie with Becky...and Becky had a big smile on her face. Roy started to pick up Boogie from their baby's arms. Boogie was no longer a part of this world either!
"They've gone together to play with grandma in heaven. Thank you Jesus!"
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