Letters from Heaven

Letters from Heaven

By Jennifer Sue

The doctor checked Jimmy during his morning rounds. “Doc, I’d like to thank you for all you’ve done for me. Please tell the staff thanks for me too,” the brave boy spoke in a breathy gasping voice. Then he turned and smiled at his ever attentive mother. “Mom, I’ve fought this cancer but I know I can’t beat it. This will be my last morning and I want to die on my own terms. I don’t want to be hooked up to machines. All that will do is make my pain and yours continue. Doc, I’d like you to witness mom signing DNR paperwork for me, now, before it’s too late. Also Mom, I want to donate my body to the medical university where student doctors can see what the cancer has done to my body. It might help in finding a cure for others. Mom, those are my last wishes, please sign the donation paperwork.”

In tears Sally at first refused but seeing that Jimmy was so serious, she sadly acquiesced, signing the paperwork so that when his heart stopped, his epic war would be over and no attempts to revive him would be made and his body given for research. The grieving mother had no choice but to agree to her dying son’s adamant demands.

“Thanks, mom,” he smiled wanly. Exhausted by the exertion, Jimmy closed his eyes for a nap. Sally knew she had to stay strong for her dying son and stifled her anguish to sit by his bed holding his hand.

As night fell Jimmy rallied but was only able to whisper. “Mom, I love you.”

“I love you too, baby,” Sally replied as teats trickled from her eyes.

“It’s almost time,” Jimmy solemnly declared. “Jesus is here. He has his hand on my head and the pain is gone. The angels have been summoned to collect my soul. I’m not afraid, Mom. Please don’t be too sad. You’ve been the best mother in the world! This is the last time I’ll be able to talk so just remember I love you.” With that he smiled at her, squeezed her hand and closed his eyes.

Sally could see he was still breathing but the ragged breaths were shorter and struggling. She knew he’d never wake up. Tears flowed down her cheeks as she rested her head on his forearm.

She snapped awake as soon as the monitors alarmed. It was just a few moments before midnight. The emaciated child lying on the hospital bed was still. His body had finally failed. Even in her grief the mother marveled at the angelic smile upon his gaunt pale face. Then she noticed his hands, lying atop the sheets at his sides. Both were clenched into fists with the thumbs pointed up, just like Fonzie from Happy Days, one of his favorite shows. She could almost hear his weakened voice saying “aaay”.

Following the sound of the alarm, nurses rushed into the room but did nothing other than to check the body for signs of life.

Sally knew the doctors and staff had done all they could for her boy. Sally gasped in grief as she touched the boy’s still, smiling face. "Why do children get cancer? Doesn't God care any more?” Then she looked heavenward and asked, “Where were you, God, when my son needed you?" Then the tears began.
A nurse asked, "Would you like some time alone with your son?”

“No, we said goodbye earlier but could you please stay with me while I say my final good bye?” Without waiting for an answer she ran her fingers lovingly across his chemo balded head recalling his red curly hair, a few bravely struggling tufts were all that remained. Tears fell upon his face as leaned in to kiss his forehead.

"Would you like a lock of his hair?" the tearful nurse softly asked.

Sally nodded yes as tears continued to run down her face.

The nurse cut a lock of the boy's hair, put it in a plastic bag and handed it to Sally.

The distraught mother said, "It was Jimmy's idea to donate his body to the University for study. He said it might help somebody else. I said no at first, but Jimmy said, 'Mom, I won't be using it after I die. Maybe it will help some other child spend one more day with their Mom." She went on with a teary smile, "My Jimmy had a heart of gold. Always thinking of someone else. Always wanting to help others if he could."

Sally again kissed her son goodbye before they took his body to the morgue to be transported to the university. A nurse brought in a box and assisted in gathering up the boy’s personal possessions.

Sally thanked everyone she saw for their efforts to help her son and asked them to tell the other shifts of her gratitude. Sally walked out of Children's Mercy Hospital for the last time after spending most of the last six months there. She put the box with Jimmy's belongings on the seat beside her in the car. The drive home was difficult. It would be even harder to enter the empty house.

After pulling into the garage and closing the door with the remote she left the engine running, reclined the seat and closed her eyes. The memories... living nightmares... streamed through her mind.

Jimmy had been four when the accident happened. An over the road trucker on uppers smashed into the back of the stopped car at a red light. Sally, eight month’s pregnant with the daughter that would complete their family, lost the child and her ability to ever have another child. Her husband was killed instantly. Jimmy, asleep in a child seat in the back survived relatively unscathed. The tough little guy put on a brave face during the funeral. The fatally injured baby was placed with her father in the coffin. The insurance and large settlement from the at fault driver and his employer left them financially secure. Sally no longer needed to work.

While Jimmy greatly missed his father. Fortunately the man had instilled a powerful sustaining ethic in his son. Jimmy did his best to be the man of the family and it was his strength that helped Sally endure. Even when he was diagnosed with a brain tumor when he was six, he helped his mother keep a positive outlook. For five years he’d heroically fought a valiant see-saw battle for his life, always maintaining a smile on his weary face. It was only in the last year that he knew he would loose the battle for his life, but as long as he didn’t give up he would win the war! Even as he deteriorated, he kept going. Despite spending the last month confined in the hospital, he spent his time motivating and cheering up the other sick children rather than bemoaning his fate. The other children could see he was dying and often asked him if he was scared or upset.

“Not in the least,” he’d smile through his pain. “Jesus is with each of us, holding our hands and comforting us. All we have to do is let go of our fear and let Jesus help us. That’s what Jesus promised us when he died on the cross. All we have to do is accept his sacrifice and thank him for his love! I know the cancer will destroy my body but with Jesus by my side I’ll win the best prize ever! When this body of mine finally stops, Jesus will have the angels take my soul to heaven for all of eternity! I’ll be graduating to eternal life! The pain will be gone and I’ll be free!”

The entire population of Children's Mercy Hospital would sorely miss the plucky eleven year old. Only the day before his death he insisted he be taken to the common room of the children’s cancer ward to say goodbye to his friends. They couldn’t believe he was smiling in the face of imminent death but couldn’t help but be buoyed by his unbreakable spirit.

Jimmy had been the only bright spot remaining in Sally’s life. Her husband still held her heart strings, their’s was a love death couldn’t stop. No man would ever fill his shoes. But now with Jimmy gone, there was no reason to live.

Jimmy... oh how she missed him already... his quiet strength... she felt it even now... telling her to snap out of her funk and live. At first she was too distraught to listen but it seemed as if she could hear his insistent voice telling her she had to live. Reaching out she turned off the engine and opened the garage door to let the deadly fumes escape, then she placed her hands upon the steering wheel, lowered her forehead upon them and cried. She had to honor the brave lives of her husband and son. As they had unselfishly helped others, now it was her turn. She had to help others. With a deep sigh she closed the garage door once it had aired out.

Sally carried Jimmy's belongings and the plastic bag with the lock of his hair to her son's room. She started placing the model cars and other personal things back in his room exactly where he had always kept them. She laid down across his bed and hugging his pillow while clasping the bag containing the tuft of hair and cried herself to sleep.

It was nearly noon when Sally awoke. Laying beside her on the bed was a folded gold colored letter that had not been there when she’d lain down. The letter said:

"Dear Mom,

I know you're going to miss me but don't think that I will ever forget you or stop loving you just because I'm not around to say "I Love You". I will always love you, Mom, even more with each day. Someday we will see each other again. Until then, if you want to adopt a little boy so you won't be so lonely, that's okay with me. I’m know there are a lot of kids that need a loving mother and I know you’re the best mom ever! He can have my room and old stuff to play with. But, if you decide to get a girl instead that’s cool too but she probably wouldn't like the same things us boys do. You'll have to buy her dolls and stuff girls like.

Don't be sad thinking about me. It was so wonderful the way the angels pulled me out of my body as it died. They carried me straight to Heaven! Dad met me at the gate when I got here and he had a cute little girl with him, my sister Lisa! He told me he carried her to heaven when the angels came for his soul. They showed me around some, but it will take a long time to see everything. He said we’d all be waiting at the gate when you get here but that you should take your time because you have to stay there to help someone who really needs a mom who will love them.

This is really a neat place! The angels are so cool. I love to watch them fly. And, you know what? Jesus doesn't look like any of his pictures. Yet when I saw Him I knew it was Him! And guess what, Mom? I got to sit on His's knee and talk to Him, like I was somebody important. That's when I told Him that I wanted to write you a letter, to tell you good bye and everything even though I already knew that wasn't allowed. Well, you know what Mom? Jesus handed me some gold paper and His own personal pen to write you this letter. I think Gabriel is the name of the angel who is going to drop this letter off for you. Jesus said for me to give you the answer to one of the questions you asked Him when my body died. 'Where was He when I needed him?' Jesus said He was right there, as He always is with all His children. And he was too! I even told you he was with me, remember?

Oh, by the way, Mom, no one else can see what I've written except you. To everyone else this is just a blank piece of paper. Isn't that cool? I have to give Jesus His pen back now. He needs it to write some more names in the Book of Life. Tonight I get to sit at the table with Jesus for supper. I'm sure the food will be great. Oh, I almost forgot to tell you. I don't hurt anymore! The cancer is all gone. I'm glad because the pain was getting to the point I couldn’t stand it and Jesus couldn't stand to see me hurt so much, either. That's when He sent The Angel of Mercy to come get my soul. The Angel said I was a Special Delivery! How about that?

Signed with Love from Jesus & Me.


ps Dad and Lisa send their love too!

Sally sobbed and clutched the letter to her breast as she blinked away the tears. Only now they were tears of joy. She knew the letter was from Jimmy and came from heaven. She’d never told him his unborn sister’s name would have been Lisa. She would honor her son. She spent the afternoon notifying the pastor, family, friends and the school that Jimmy had graduated. After a light meal, she turned in for the night. For the first time in months she slept soundly.

The next day was spent making arrangements for a memorial service and taking the calls expressing sympathy from friends and neighbors. These were gracefully accepted in the spirit she knew they were made. Most were surprised by her upbeat demeanor even as she told them Jimmy’s pain was now gone. When they looked surprised by her serenity, she merely smiled. “Jimmy passed his final exam, the same exam we’ll all face when we finish our lives on earth. Passing the test means he’s graduated to Heaven. I know he’s with God and Jesus as well as with his father and sister. They’ll all be waiting for me to get there when I graduate. I also know they want me to take my time getting there because I have to help others here on earth.”

The Saturday memorial service was crowded with friends, neighbors and classmates. Every level of staff from Children’s Mercy Hospital was well represented. Sally insisted the service be a celebration of Jimmy’s life, not a sad memorial. When the pastor finished his impassioned eulogy, he asked if anyone would like to share their feelings. The speakers were many and all praised Jimmy’s bravery determination and unflinching faith. The last to speak was Sally.

“Like everyone here, I’ll miss Jimmy,” she began solemnly. “But I know he’s with his father in Heaven... both of them. When Jimmy died... and he did die... the term passing away is simply too politically correct... he simply had an early graduation from this earthly life to eternal heavenly life.”

There was a quiet murmuring, many who knew Sally were concerned about her mental stability now that her beloved son was gone.

Serenely smiling she waited for quiet. Then she drew a tear stained gold colored paper from her bosom. “I know many of you are concerned about my well being,” she began. “I appreciate your thoughts and until I received this letter the night Jimmy died, I was quite distraught and even made an effort to end my life but I felt Jimmy’s presence and his strength stopped me. I fell asleep on his bed and awoke to find this letter. I’d like to share it with you.”

With that she began to read the letter. There wasn’t a dry face in the crowd.

“As you can see, to you the paper appears blank except for my tear stains,” Sally sniffled as she smiled. “As he stated in the letter only I can see the writing. Even if I’m imagining it, it’s still a Godsend. There isn’t one of you who knew him who can deny these words weren’t Jimmy’s. He wants all of us to honor his life of giving... even in the face of death... by doing what each of us can do to help others. May God bless each of you with the strength of spirit and faith that Jimmy showed in his short life on this earth.”

The clapping started slowly, then spread until everyone was standing and the applause thunderous. No one could ever recall a more moving or upbeat memorial service. Jimmy’s life had indeed been a shining example of God’s commandment to love your neighbor.


Sally spent the next week regrouping. The years of hap-hazard sleep seldom sleeping straight through a night were over. The same went for her personal appearance, not that she’d been slovenly, she’d kept herself clean and neat, but now she began to get back into the habit of making herself look good.

Then she began looking about for some way to make a difference, to help others. She knew enough not to jump into something she couldn’t sustain. Whatever she did, she had to enjoy it. Unfortunately while she appreciated the many opportunities available and would be willing to financially support them, none motivated her to make it her life’s work. She also realized she missed nurturing a child. To put it bluntly, she missed helping kids.

Three weeks after leaving Children's Mercy Hospital for what she felt would be the last time, she returned. As she walked onto the floor caring for the critically ill children the staff was startled and at first feared she might make a scene. Their concerns were quickly put to rest as she greeted each familiar face with a smile and hug. The mothers of the children still in the ward welcomed one of their own. Sally asked after each child and family, expressing encouragement and love. Knowing of her recent loss, her demeanor and words meant a great deal.

With permission from the staff and mothers, she visited the common room where the children met to play and socialize to the best of their ability. Most of the children recognized her and returned her smile and greetings, and where appropriate, the hugs. She shared her faith by being loving and strong.

Sally became a daily visitor, her mere presence offering a powerful ray of sunshine into the lives of those she touched. The mothers knew they could depend upon Sally to sit with a critically ill child while the mother took a short but much needed break. She paid particular attention to the children who didn’t have a parent’s daily attention. They seemed like sponges absorbing her love and attention.

Two weeks after she began her daily visits a new patient arrived. When he was brought to the common room it was plain to see he was depressed. The shy sad boy never smiled or mingled with the other children. Most of the time he sat reading or longingly looking out the windows. Everyone went out of their way to be nice to the forlorn lad but he politely declined all overtures. This frustrated Sally who desperately wanted to help the tough little guy who appeared to be about Jimmy’s age. By the end of the week it occurred to Sally that she had never seen anyone visit him. That shocked her to her very core... had the poor boy been abandoned by his family? Sally tearfully asked the head nurse about the clearly lonely and unhappy child.

Nurse Jackson discreetly took Sally into her office. “Patient confidentiality prevents me from revealing Heath’s personal situation,” she explained. “All I can say is his family provides all he needs... except love.”

“Is there any way you could contact them,” Sally asked. “I’d like their permission to get closer to him... to help him emotionally.”

Nurse Jackson said she’d try.

A week later Sally received a registered letter asking that she call the offices of Lyman, Chetes, and Shiester, attorneys at Law, to set up an appointment to discuss her interest in Heath. Naturally Sally made the call.

Three days later she anxiously sat in the office with Attorney Chetes. After the greetings were completed, Mr. Chetes got down to business.

“You’ve created quite a furor in my client’s life,” he began. “Fortunately Heath’s mother stopped her husband from filing a restraining order against you. At her request we ran a background on you, all legal, I assure you. I’m sorry for your recent loss.”

Sally could only nod.

“Heath’s mother wants her son to have the best life possible,” Mr. Chetes continued. “Unfortunately his father wants nothing to do with the boy. He’s a tough self-made man who expects his sons to be All-American boys. The oldest son fits the bill but Heath was never much good at sports and showed little interest in even watching games. When Heath became ill, he sent him to the best doctors. Unfortunately the diagnosis was testicular cancer and the only solution was an orchiectomy. The father couldn’t face his son knowing he was no longer a male. While acknowledging his financial responsibility, he no longer wants the boy. His mother has been devastated but is forbidden under threat of divorce by her dominating husband to even see the boy. Since they have two other older children he promised to make sure she had no parental rights to them if she didn’t do as he wanted. She’d also be left penniless so she really has no choice but to do as he wants. However, she did prevail upon him to have me meet you to see if you can give Heath a mother’s love.”

“Of course I can,” Sally eagerly replied. “But you’ll need to give the hospital something to let the staff know I have permission.”

“I’m afraid it won’t be that easy,” Mr. Chetes sighed. “Mr. Landers intended to place Heath in a sanatorium in Latin America when he completed his chemotherapy. We’ve already begun making arrangements.”

“That’s absolutely horrible,” Sally gasped. “How could he do that to his own flesh and blood?”

“Mr. Landers can not accept failure,” Mr. Chetes replied. “Sadly he considers Heath’s condition to be a failure that needs to be shut out of the life of the family.”

“Can’t you do something to make him stop?” Sally asked as she struggled to keep from crying.

“We tried, believe me we tried,” Mr Chetes sighed. “As long as he financially supports Heath, he can do what he wants. Our firm has established and will administer a trust fund of five million dollars to see to the boy’s needs and education. When he turns twenty one he’ll gain full control of the fund. So the boy will not be totally abandoned.”

Sally could only shake her head sadly.

“That brings us back to you, Mrs. Carter,” Mr. Chetes declared. “At Linda Landers urging, she’s prevailed upon Mr. Landers to agree to have them sign off all parental responsibility for Heath if you’ll adopt him. The trust fund will pay for reasonable living and educational expenses until he reaches twenty one when he will gain full control.”

Needless to say Sally was left momentarily speechless. When she gathered her wits she spoke. “That’s unbelievable. Are you serious?”

“Quite. We have the paperwork already prepared,” Mr Chetes answered. “All we need to do is appear before a judge to sign off.”

“I’ll do it on one condition,” Sally declared with steely resolve. “I want to meet Linda at the hospital so she can explain what’s going on to him and say goodbye to Heath. They both deserve that much at least.”

“I agree,” Mr. Chetes nodded. “I just hope Henry Landers will allow it. As soon as I get in touch with him I’ll call you.”

Sally left the office shaking her head at the callousness of Heath’s father as well as the helplessness of his mother.

The call came that evening. Sally would be meeting Linda in the hospital coffee shop at nine the next morning. An early afternoon appointment was set up in the courthouse for a judge to sign off custody and for the adoption.

Even though she’d never seen her, Sally recognized Linda as soon as she entered the coffee shop. The forlorn woman was seated at a corner table nervously mangling an empty styrofoam cup while glancing at the entrance. Her red eyes and numerous crushed tissues were a sure give away. Sally felt her heart go out to the clearly distraught mother. She knew all too well the heartache of losing a child. Her’s had been due to disease, Linda’s was due to an asshole husband. As Sally headed toward the table Linda’s face lit up with hope.

“Mrs. Landers, I’m Sally Carter,” she said as she walked up extending her hand.

Linda smiled wearily and gladly accepted the proffered hand. “Please, call me Linda.”

After exchanging pleasantries, Sally went to the counter and ordered coffees for both, then joined Linda seated at the table.

“I can’t begin to tell you how relieved I am to have you agree to take on Heath,” Linda sniffled. “I’m just devastated that it’s come to this. Henry is such a pompous ass. If it wasn’t for the sake of Henry Jr. And Mary I’d be so out of there! But if I leave for Heath, he’ll cut me off from the others and I can’t abandon them to him. If I’m not there he’ll do all he can to turn them into bigots like him!”

“I understand your dilemma,” Sally sighed. “I can’t imagine how this is ripping you apart. That’s why I asked for you to be here when I meet Heath. You need to tell him what his father is doing as well as explaining you want me to adopt him.”

“Heath is smart,” Linda sighed. “He knows how his father is and I’m sure he knows he’s being discarded. I want to thank you for insisting I be here. It will give me a chance to say goodbye.” Tears began trickling down her cheeks as she unsuccessfully tried not to cry.

An hour later the women along with the Nurse Jackson stood outside Heath’s room firming up plans. Then Nurse Jackson headed inside.

Heath looked up to see who entered. The crestfallen expression upon his face clearly revealed his hopes of seeing his mother were once more dashed.

“Heath, I need you to be strong,” Nurse Jackson began. “Can you do that?”

“If you’re going to tell me the cancer has spread and I’ll be dead soon, yes, I can be strong,” Heath replied with perverse hope.

“No, sweetheart, no,” Nurse Jackson fought to control her emotions. “Everything points to you beating the cancer.”

“Woopie,” Heath sank into his pillow. “What good will it do to live if my family doesn’t want me?”
“It’s your father who doesn’t want you, not your entire family,” Nurse Jackson replied with a bit of heat.

“I know that,” Heath sniffled. “I’m a freak now.”

“But I love you, baby,” Linda exclaimed as she tearfully entered the room.

“Mom!” Heath exclaimed as a million watt smile lit up his face and he reached his arms out to welcome her loving embrace. Several moments of tearful reunion followed as they hugged. “Are you going to take me home?”

“Heath, I wish I could talk sense into your father but it’s hopeless,” Linda sniffled. “I’ve begged and cried, so have Junior and Mary to get him to change his mind. He absolutely refuses to let you come home. He’s threatened to throw me out and keep me from Junior and Mary if I don’t stop pesting him about you. You know what he’s like. Without me to counteract him he’ll corrupt them.”

“So I’m getting tossed in the trash,” Heath dejectedly whispered.

“No,” Linda firmly assured him. “He has set a sizeable trust fund to see to your needs and education.”

“Joy,” Heath sourly rejoined.

“In a way, hopefully, yes,” Linda stated. “Have you seen the woman who comes in every day to be with the children here?”

“Yeah, the other kids said cancer killed her son and she comes in to try to help them,” Heath answered. “She tries every day to cheer me up but I have nothing to be happy about.”

“Well, it’s because of her I’m here,” Linda smiled. “She asked about you and why no one ever came to visit, then asked the nurses to contact us. Your dad flipped out but I managed to calm him down and we had the lawyers check her out. She’s a good person and very concerned about you and offered to take you in.”

“So you’re passing me off to her?”

“Not exactly,” Linda sniffled as she hugged her forlorn son. “Your dad declared if she wanted you, she could have you. He had the lawyers draw up papers signing off all legal responsibility for you if she’d adopt you but you’ll keep the trust fund. She agreed provided I came in to explain what’s going on and to give me a chance to say goodbye.” With that she broke down in tears which Heath quickly joined.

Sally slowly entered the room and silently watched the mother and child crying. Tears were rolling down her cheeks. She knew what it was like to give away a son... Jimmy had been given to God, Heath was being given to her.

It took five minutes for the mother and son to cry themselves out. Snuggled protectively in his mother’s embrace Heath drew in raged post crying jag breaths. When he finally opened his eyes he saw Sally standing by the door. It was easy to see she’d been crying with them. “You’re going to be my new mother?”

“If you’ll have me,” Sally answered softly as she approached the other side of the bed. “But I won’t be your new mother, I’ll be your second mother. And we’ll keep in touch with your mother and siblings. I won’t cut them off from you like your father is trying to do.”

“Why do you want me?” Heath quietly asked. “Will I be replacing your son?”

“No one could ever replace my son, just like no one can ever replace your mother,” Sally explained. “Just as I’ll be your second mother, you’ll be my second son. We’ll be filling a vacancy in each other’s lives.”

“You’ll let me see my mom?”

“I’ll never stop you from seeing your mom,” Sally promised. “Or your siblings. However it will depend upon how much of a hard ass your father wants to be. Hopefully, since he’s willing to have me adopt you, if no one makes a big deal out of visits and they don’t get out of hand, I’ll work with your mother so you can get together.”

“Thank you,” Linda sniffled as she gratefully looked at Sally. “We’d have to come to you. I KNOW he’ll never let Heath come visit us.” Then she stroked Heath’s chemo thinning hair. “Baby, I wish there was some other way but there isn’t. Your father has closed every door but this one. I promise to visit as much as I can. Baby, I love you and always will! I don’t want to give you up...” With that she hugged him to her breast and broke down in renewed tears.

Heath promptly joined in as did Sally. Reaching across the bed she gently squeezed Linda’s sob wracked shoulder. Then she slipped the hand down to touch Heath’s head stroking his hair. Even though it tore her soul apart, Linda understood it was time she left. Slowly she loosened her grip on Heath and tenderly transferred him into Sally’s warm welcoming embrace. Although he didn’t want to Heath understood too and buried his face in Sally’s breast. Doing her best to stifle her tears Linda forlornly turned her back and shuffled from the room.

Heath eventually cried himself to sleep. Sally held him until it was time to go to the courthouse. Tenderly she settled him on the bed and lovingly tucked him in with a kiss on the forehead. Then she headed out to ask Nurse Jackson to keep an eye on the slumbering lad until she returned with the paperwork declaring her to be his mother.

The judge just shook his head in disgust as Attorney Chetes once more explained the circumstances for the custodial transfer. Proof of the trust fund and assurance Sally would have access through the firm administering the trust to get any funds she might need to see to Heath’s needs smoothed the way. Henry Landers’ notarized signature on the appropriate forms and witnessing Linda’s tear stained signature sealed the deal. At first Sally was surprised when Attorney Chetes had her sign a change of name request as well as the adoption paperwork. Mr. Landers had insisted Heath’s surname be changed to that of his new mother as a final sign of his separation from the Landers family. At the attorney’s insistence, a dozen notarized copies of the adoption and name change were given to Sally The judge took a bit of solace to note the former mother and new mother tearfully hugged.

When Sally returned to the hospital she saw Heath forlornly sitting in the common room blankly staring outside. Heading to the nurse’s station she gave Nurse Jackson copies of the adoption and name change forms. Nurse Jackson told her Heath hadn’t spoken a word and seemed to have lost all hope.

Sally nodded. “Could you please have a second bed put into Heath’s room? I have a feeling he’s going to need a lot of love and reassurance for a while.” Wisely, she’d brought in a suitcase with spare clothes.

Nurse Jackson smiled her agreement. As soon as Sally headed into the common room she placed the request for the second bed, STAT.

Pulling a chair up beside Heath Sally sat by him. After a quiet minute she gently laid a hand on his shoulder. Slowly he turned his red eyes to look at her. “You’re officially my son,” Sally whispered.

Heath’s body began to shudder as tears filled his eyes. Sally pulled him into a loving protective embrace as he silently cried. This was the first time the other children saw any emotion from Heath. The other children in the room grew quiet when they saw tears trickling down Sally’s cheeks.

Neither Heath nor Sally said much during the next three days. Except for bathroom breaks, the pair were seldom apart and were nearly always touching, often hugging. On the fourth day, Sally received permission to take Heath outside as long as he stayed in a wheelchair. A timid smile appeared on Heath’s face as Sally pushed him through the large park like garden behind the hospital. It had been nearly six weeks since he’d been outside. The gentle breeze, the dappled sunlight, the sweet fragrance of the flowers, the chirping of the birds in the trees all served to finally relax the uptight lad. After a few moments he reached a hand over a shoulder to place it on Sally’s hand. When they reached a bench, Sally sat and took his hands in hers.

“C... can I call you mom?” Heath asked in a soft voice as he looked at their hands.

“Of course, son,” Sally answered clearly and lovingly.

Heath raised his eyes and looked into her’s only seeing love. “I have to know,” Heath hesitantly whispered. “What happened at the courthouse?”

“The judge was clearly disgusted with your father who didn’t even show up,” Sally declared before going on to explain the proceedings.

Heath was clearly upset to learn his father had insisted his surname be changed. “So my name is officially Heath Carter?”

“Yes, but there’s no reason you can’t change it back to Landers at a later date,” Sally assured him.

“Uh uh,” Heath shook his head. “There’s no way I’d every change it back! You’re my mom now, so being Heath Carter is right.”

They sat in silence for a few moments. Then Heath spoke up again. “If it’s not too hard, could you tell me about your son?”

“It’s not hard at all,” Sally smiled. “My other son would have really liked you. In fact, he told me he thought I should adopt a child. You may find this hard to believe but he wrote me a letter from heaven and had an angel deliver it to me when I came home from the hospital!” With that she pulled the tear stained gold colored paper from her purse and read it to Heath. When she finished she saw tears were trickling down Heath’s face.

“He really loved you,” Heath sighed. “Since I’m your son now, will Jimmy and Lisa be my brother and sister and your husband my father?”

“Oh yes,” Sally smiled. “Richard, my husband, would have loved you as much as I do and I have no doubts that Jimmy and Lisa will be delighted to have you as a brother. In fact, I’m sure they’re up in heaven watching us right now with big smiles.”

“That’s really cool,” Heath smiled.

In the following discussion Sally explained about the accident that killed Richard and the unborn Lisa. Heath felt himself becoming part of the larger family.


“Mom! Mom!,” Heath squealed when he woke the next morning waking his sleeping mother. “Look! I got a letter from Jimmy too!”

Sally instantly awoke to see her son waving a blank sheet of gold colored paper. Her heart leapt in her bosom. “Could you please share it with me”

Heath smiled broadly as he held the paper and read.

Dear Heath,

Welcome to the family! Of course I’ll be your brother! Sally is delighted to be your sister and dad is proud to be your father! Please tell mom we all send our love too! We’ve been keeping an eye on mom and we totally approve of her adopting you!”

I checked in on your other family. Your mother and siblings really miss you. None of them are talking to your dad unless they absolutely have to. He hardly comes home anymore because they’ve made it clear they disagree with what he did to you.

I asked Jesus how a father could do that to his son. He said it’s because your grandfather verbally abused and regularly beat your dad for doing anything that wasn’t manly. Your dad had to play every sport and had to be the best on the team always putting out more than 100%. If your grandfather even suspected your dad wasn’t giving his all, he got beat really bad. Your dad was literally beaten into being the tough, demanding, hard driven man he is today. Jesus said he quite literally doesn’t know any other way to be. Your dad isn’t really a bad man, he just does bad things and Jesus still loves him. Jesus was hoping your cancer would force him to open his eyes but it didn’t. Jesus did his best to take care of you, but he has to do his work through people. Your mother, the lawyers, the judge, and our mom came through for Jesus and you.

After we saw you and Mom talking in the garden I begged Jesus to let me write you a letter like I did mom and he just shook his head. Told me if I didn’t watch out he’d have to promote me to an assistant angel. Then he gave me his pen and this gold paper. Just like on my mom’s letter, you’re the only one who can see the writing here.

Jesus said I should tell you it’s all right to tell our mom your secret. He knows your secret and said he loves the true you. Mom loves you so much she’ll help you be who you are inside. Believe me, I KNOW my mom and she’ll help you become the true you!

Well, I gotta go now. We all send our love.

Your brother,


Heath smiled as tears of joy flowed down his cheeks as Sally hugged him warmly.

After a few moments of Sally asked, “So what’s this secret you’re supposed to tell me? Just as Jimmy said, whatever it is, I’ll help you.”

Heath looked down and began to sniffle. “You’ll hate me.”

“Heath, I could never hate you,” Sally reassured him. “You can tell me, it’ll be all right. I promise!”

“I... I didn’t read you the entire letter,” Heath shamefully admitted. “I was too afraid.”

“What didn’t you read?”

“The ps,” Heath whispered as he began to shiver.

Sally hugged the quaking clearly fearful boy and waited. After a few moments he settled into her embrace. Then he spoke in a quiet fearful voice.

ps Lisa said she already has a brother and adores the idea of having a big sister!

Heath held his breath as he felt Sally stiffen. The terror of rejection by his second mother began to overwhelm him.

Sally felt his burgeoning terror and hugged him harder. “Well Heather, I’ve always wanted to pamper a daughter and I missed out on raising Lisa. So, my sweet adorable DAUGHTER, once we get you out of here, I hope you’re prepared to shop till you drop because we’ll have to get you an entire new wardrobe!”

Heath... or rather Heather’s eyes opened wide in shock as she looked into Sally’s loving gaze. All her life she’d known she was a girl trapped in a boy’s yucky body. Her father’s efforts to force her to man up had made her life hell. Tears of hope and joy flowed from his eyes as she fiercely returned his mom’s hug. “You’ll really help me be a girl?”

“Of course,” Sally reassured her new daughter. “I’ll talk to Nurse Jackson about having a psychiatrist familiar with gender issues come in to talk to you. Since, as your dad so crudely put it, you’re no longer a boy, it shouldn’t take long to have you diagnosed as gender dysphoric. Once we have that we’ll legally change your name to Heather.”

“Oh mommy... I don’t know how to thank you,” Heather gushed.

“The best thanks you can give me is to be the best girl you can,” Sally smiled as she stroked Heather’s hair.

“Oh mommy I will! I really will!”

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