I was having a hard time going to sleep the other night and Mallory's face popped into my mind. I couldn't stop thinking about her. I was present when Mallory went to Heaven and what an impact she left on me! Mallory was the granddaughter of a friend we met in Bible study several years ago. I will call the friend "Mary." Mary was a divorced mother and she had little or no help from her ex-husband in raising her daughter, "Katie." Katie was the same age as our twin girls, and Mary raised her in church and in a Christian home. Katie married young and had 3 children by the time she was 20. Mallory was the middle child. Sadly, Katie and her husband made lots of wrong choices. They followed the wrong crowd. Abuses - physical, emotional, and chemical - began to enter the picture. Thefts occurred. The young couple went to jail, and then to prison. Mary was left to raise their three children. The baby was about a year old. He is now 10, and Katie is still in prison. So many years wasted....
In August of 2003 Mallory started pre-school and her sister started kindergarten. About a year before, Mary had taken the children for their yearly check-ups and Mallory was immediately hospitalized with severe insulin dependent juvenile onset diabetes. She was stabilized but had to go back to the hospital many times after that. Mallory had the worst diabetes that I have ever known of personally. Her grandmother measured every bite she ate, checked her sugar levels regularly, and administered her shots as needed. One Friday shortly after school started, Mallory felt bad all day and suffered a seizure that night. The ambulance was called and Mallory was stabilized and talking. That was the last time Mary saw her conscious. She was transported to the hospital, but when Mary arrived, Mallory was in a coma and on a respirator.
Because Mallory had fallen while playing days earlier and had a small bruise on her forehead, the hospital accused Mary of abusing Mallory. Her other two grandchildren were put in foster care. The lady who had kept Mallory that day while Mary worked was accused of not being vigilant and maybe letting Mallory get into her medicines, one of which was a strong painkiller. This was not the case as the toxicology tests later showed. Mallory was in a coma for 10 days. The medical staff, after ordering a multitude of tests, realized that Mallory was not abused. She had suffered brain damage from her diabetes. Mary was totally innocent of wrongdoing. However, the state child protective agency was not convinced and would not release the other two children.
The ethics committee had met and talked to Mary about letting Mallory go on to Heaven. She had no brain function and a machine was breathing for her. After consulting with her pastors and friends, Mary made the agonizing decision to turn off the respirator. A date and time were set and Mary honored us by inviting us to be there. Mallory loved us and we loved her. We had tried to help out with Mary's grandchildren by buying clothes for them and toys at Christmas. The children enjoyed going shopping to pick out Easter and Christmas clothes, especially Mallory. She was a little strawberry blonde sweetheart, always loving and kind.
The evening arrived and Amanda (our daughter), my husband, and I went to the hospital. I had visited Mallory before and she was in an open section of the PICU. That night she was in a large room with plenty of chairs. The nurses had braided her hair and put cute barrettes in her braids. Her favorite blanket covered her. Cheery balloons floated in a corner. The room was full of people who wanted to say goodbye to Mallory. The hospital chaplain was there, as well as Mallory's pastor. We hugged her and said what we had to say before the machine was disconnected. After that we could hold her, talk to her, hug her, touch her hand. It was sad that a child was dying, but the presence of God was in that room. I never got to hold and comfort my Meredith, but I could comfort Mallory and her grandmother.
Mallory didn't hold on for long. She was finally at peace. When Mary had told us of her decision earlier, we had taken her to the mall so she could pick out Mallory's funeral outfit and we could pay for it. We were sorrowful, yes, but it felt right for us to buy this outfit for a little girl who loved to dress up and look pretty. Later on, we were blessed financially with a windfall and we were able to purchase her marker. Mary's church furnished the funeral.
My daughters and I made a wreath for Mallory and Amanda took pictures at the funeral, with Mary's permission. We made photo albums for Mary and her daughter (who didn't get to come to the funeral). Over the years I have written to Katie and tried to help her with her grief. Even though she is the one who is responsible for being in prison, I cannot imagine the pain she felt, knowing her daughter was dying and she couldn't go to her.
Mary was officially cleared of any wrongdoing and the grandchildren were returned, but a distrust had grown in those small children. Their young lives had already been upturned by their parents' actions. They last saw their sister being loaded into an ambulance, then they are taken away from their grandmother, and they come home to find their sister gone. Many hours of counseling have been needed to help undo the damage.
I just like to think that our experience with Meredith helped us to minister to Mallory's family. This month she would have been 12. She has been with Jesus for 7 years. Mallory, we love you! Please hold our Meredith in Heaven for us.