Have you ever tried to see through tears? Everything appears so blurry and abstract. You look forward but all you can see is shadows. Shadows of your life of what you want it to be, what you need it to be. Once you start to make out the shadows and see through the tears you notice HIM. You notice God in all things. Guiding you, holding you, uplifting you. This is how I have felt the past couple of months. I have seen past the sorrow, past the ache and hurt and seen Our Lord. He has carried me and helped me and is bringing me through the unthinkable. The loss of my beautiful son Adam.
Adam Marshall Bertram was born on April 2, 2011 via a scheduled C-section. I birthed Adam into this world and immediately upon arrival he was sick. There is a long list of medical diagnosees and I will not go into detail that is not what matters. Adam was taken to Akron Children's NICU and stayed there for 26 days. Adam was born during Lent and although this should have been comforting I found it to be a dark cloud looming over us. The passion of Jesus left me feeling scared and mad. Was Adam's outcome going to be death? I had so many questions for Him and I could not see the answers. I was in a very dark place and not in control. Looking back on those moments of dout brings me to my knees in repentance. I became fully aware of the lack of faith I had in God. I remember turning to Him in prayer and asking Him to help me be more like His mother, Mary, but found myself acting more like St. Peter. Denying Him every chance I could get. I still had so many crazy thoughts going through my head so I decided to write them down, to get them out of my head and on paper and to start my Litany of thankfulness. Thanking Our Lord for everything. For the Good, for the bad, and for the ugly. For being there and for understanding my pain. I still had some crazy thoughts but I knew how to get rid of them to step aside and let them pass by me. I acknowledged them and gave them over to God. He started to mold me again and made me new in Him. He began to transform me and to heal my son Adam through the intersession of Our Lady, HIS mother. I asked her to go to her son and ask Him to heal Adam to take all his suffering away. To rub away the mass on his head which doctors thought might be neuroblastoma, to heal his kidneys, his liver, and his lungs. I begged her mother to mother. Through the rosary I meditated on Jesus' life and I begged for grace. I yearned to know my son. To spend at least seven months knowing him and loving him. On Good Friday Adam was scheduled for brain surgery. The mass on his head was growing bigger and starting to put pressure on his brain. Again I had so many questions. The feelings I had at the start of our NICU stay seemed to be flooding back. I was drowning in a sea of disbelief. I kept praying to Our Lady and to Our Lord. Physically trying to rub away the bump on this head and praying for the same intersession. On Holy Thursday Adam's surgery was cancelled. Praise the Lord! This change of events quickly went from despairing to optimistic. The doctors started to talk about going home. Just like that my prayers were answered. How quickly things turned around for Adam. Since the beginning of his life we were told that Adam would be in the NICU for months. Here we were not even a month later talking about going HOME.
On April 28, 2011 we brought Adam home. Adam was seen on an out patient basis. Things were getting better the mass on the inside of his head was completely gone by July and his liver enzymes were also continually reaching normal levels. I was so thankful to have a healthy baby boy. I looked back to reflect and to grow in faith seeking a spiritual advisor and starting a book study. During this time I grew in faith and I started out on this new journey. I am thankful that He lead me to wonderful faith filled women as friends because once again I would need them along with my family to get through to the next hurdle in Adam's life.
On November 14, 2011 I took Adam to Akron Children's once again. For months doctors kept telling me Adam's chronic pain and discomfort was from teething. I was so unhappy with this prognosis that I decided to take him back to where his journey to healing began. I went strait to the ER and because of his previous medical history was seen right away. Adam was given an ex ray. The doctors discovered a couple of masses in his belly and it was also eating away at his rib bone. Neuroblastoma is what the ER doctors thought it was. They admitted Adam to the PICU for further testing. I fell apart how could this be happening to my seven month old baby? I thought he was done with this. How could the doctors have gotten this so wrong? Two days into Adam's admittance we met the oncologists and they decided to do a biopsy of the mass and bone marrow. The surgeon also had to put in chest tubes because there was fluid around his lungs and the pressure was making it hard for Adam to breathe. She told us it was most likely neuroblastoma and that since he was little he had a good chance to fight this type of cancer. The results didn't come back for weeks. Two weeks turned into four and still no definitive answer. We never received one. We did start a chemo protocol called Euwings a very aggressive type of chemo treatment used to treat a NUT Carcinoma. On the days Adam received the treatments he was a happy baby boy. These days were some of his best. We bounced from PICU to 5600, the Oncology floor, back to PICU, 5600, and then stayed in the PICU. We really spent the most time in the PICU and that is were Adam and I formed the best relationships with nurses and doctors. On December 20, 2011 my husband and I were faced with the reality that Adam was not getting better with the chemo treatments and that there was nothing medically that the doctors could do to heal Adam. I had been fervent with pray from the beginning of this hospitalization and knew that God was preparing us for this moment. I was confident in my prayer that God would give him total healing. The biggest decision my husband and I had to make was to wait in the hospital for the final opinion on his pathology or to bring Adam home with hospice care. We decided that we wanted our baby home for his first Christmas. On December 21, 2011 we brought Adam home to spend his time here with family. Our house had been decorated for Christmas with our family tree and the nativity. It brought tears to my eyes just how perfect it all was for him. It was just how I would have prepared it for Adam. Just as we prepare the way for Christ during Advent my family prepared our home for Adam. The next day was a hard day for Adam his pain was hard to control and we had issues from the get go with the hospice team. I was drawn to prayer again and the Holy Spirit came to me while praying the rosary reflecting on the Luminous mystery of the Wedding Feast at Cana. I tried so hard to push away His words to me and I just wanted to cry. Once again God was preparing me for another indescribable moment. It was raining outside and we were anxiously awaiting the hospice nurse to help us with Adam. While looking out the window my husband noticed a caravan of cars parking along our road and out from the darkness came light. Tons of lighted candles held up by many friends showing their support and love for one little boy. This gave us great comfort in knowing just how many people cared for our son. Later that night we decided to take out his chest tubes because they were blocked and unable to be stripped. We wanted to hold our son with out the tubes in. To lay with him in our bed and comfort him to sleep in heavenly peace. Adam passed away on December 23, 2011 at 5:15am. Adam's miracle was not in his healing but is in his passing. Many people have been touched by Adam and I am so blessed to be his mother. This is where my journey starts anew. I am laying it all down for Him, for Our God. With Adam as my little Saint in heaven. It gives me great consolation to know that the Passion of Jesus Christ has afforded me the opportunity to be with my son once again for all eternity. The Passion of His death that I was so afraid of I can now see with new eyes. His divine mercy pours out to all of us. Please join me in my new chapter in life with God as my guiding light.
Love and Blessings,
I am forever grateful to the nurses and the care they gave my son. They treated him like he was one of their own and I will never forget that. They will forever hold a place in my heart. The doctors and nurses became an extension of my family. They cried with me and laughed with me and showed me support when I was alone at night after friends and family had gone. I miss them.