A Mother's Story of loss of her son..............

by Balsam 63 Replies latest watchtower medical

  • Balsam

    Some names have been changed or removed to protect those in the family who would not want their names known, or are still active JW's. Ruth


    Today March 11th 2008 I take out a video of past family reunions. The family reunion disc I pick up randomly happens to be from 1986. I have not seen any of the videos sent several weeks ago to me, but I know they cover a range spanning 25 years within the ________ family. I remember bits and pieces of them but I look forward to the video jogging more of my memories. I smile a little, thinking of my sons in 1986 so small back then.

    I’m glad that my husband of 5 years is out for a while so that I can look at them without the distraction of converstation. When my boys were small, we could never afford the luxury of a video camera. Uncle Clarence and Aunt Martha had generously given me copies of all of the family reunions that they had filmed over the years. I smile remembering those good times with my ex-in-laws; they are all fine people I’ve come to love and have continued to have affection for.

    This video of my ex-husband’s family reunion was taken 22 years ago, when our two sons Drew (4 ½ yrs old) and Dak not quite (2 years old) were very young. I see my two oldest sons running around playing as the picture comes to life on the TV. I smile and laugh watching them all those years ago captured by the camera, playing and laughing with their cousins. I see myself very big and pregnant 6 months gone with Dirk our 3rd son (he was born a few months after this reunion). I recall suffering from the summer heat, being pregnant made me hot anyway and this was filmed in late August. I had gained weight and collected lots of fluid in my legs and ankles; no matter how active I was all day chasing the boys. Then there was the fatigue from a long 2 hour bus ride with two whiny children to listen to as I tried to occupy them hoping they would fall asleep during our trip there.

    Gosh watching this video, the whole day is coming back to me like it was yesterday. I watch as our ______ clan lines up along the wall for a photo, all together captured in time. I see Uncle Clarence and Aunt Martha and there is my ex-mother-in-law Mae, Archie’s sis Donna and her son Jimmy 15 months old, another sister Carol smiling and talking. I spot Archie’s brother Paul with his wife Angela large and pregnant, ready to give birth to their second-daughter, and great Uncle James and Aunt Aileen though they have since passed in death today. I smile at the memories touching the screen as I sit close; video paused, as I reach for it longingly. Nice memories of happier days.

    I look so exhausted in the video, I remember being up all night with Dak the night before. He had a fever and just wanted me to hold him all night as he sucked his thumb and held his blanket snuggled against me. My children’s father Archie looks handsome, fresh, and full of energy searching for our oldest boy Drew. He snatched him up laughingly from playing and brought him over to the group setting him down in front of us. In the video I am holding Dak and I handed him to Archie to hold so that he doesn’t press on my big pregnant belly where I feel Dirk kicking in protest inside of me. I remember it seemed we stood there for such a long time. Everyone taking pictures wants the chatting to stop so that they can get the shot and move on to the next family group. All the while we were being captured on video unnoticed by us all. I see Dak pulling at my shirt from behind wanting me to take him and begging me to hold him. He is crying and reaching. I had forgotten this happened and am struck by this vivid image of that moment. Dak’s very black hair and black eyes are so intense and determined to climb back into my arms. I clearly see Dak wearing the little gray corduroy overalls I loved him in, with trucks and planes embroidered on them. I remember how I carefully saved them for Dirk to where when he was born. Dak is struggling & kicking so hard against his Dad to get to me to take him; I can see the tears on his sobbing face. I am struck with such a pain and guilt as I see myself pushing his hands away, as he is laying his face on my shoulder leaving wet tears on my shirt and my look of irritation as I looked at him on my shoulder, pulling me from behind. I can feel it and I can feel how horrible it was of me now years later, for losing that precious moment of holding Dak because I was tired, hot and sleep deprived.

    I start crying as I’m watching this scene. I’m gripped by emotions, as I see Dak tugging on my shoulder crying “Mama, Mama”, and seeing my hands pushing him back. In frustration I turn to Dak and say “No Dak, be still just a few more minutes, Mommy is just too tired and hot to hold you now.” I can hear my comment to him which cuts through me like a knife. Drew stands and squats alternately in front of me and his Dad waiting to go play again laughing and making funny faces. Dak’s whining and then crying and I remember feeling so frustrated in that moment with the responsibility of having 2 little ones to deal with 24/7 and being pregnant as well. I just wanted my sons to leave me alone and quit needing me so much. I remember my thoughts back then of “What the heck was I thinking having kids so late in life, I’m 36 years old and it’s just too much for me. No one warned me that it could all be gone in less than 4 hours and that I’d better enjoy it while I could. No one every told me that every moment with our children is precious and that bad moments like that one caught on video can come back to haunt you years later.

    I’m sobbing now I can’t watch anymore; I remember how frustrated I was that day and how I feel right now. The guilt I feel as my middle son cried for me only to have me push him away. This forgotten moment is coming back to slap me hard with guilt from years ago. I feel like my heart is being ripped from my chest, and I can’t breathe. I’m vomiting now on my carpeted floor as I hear the noisy family reunion blaring from my TV. I want to die, the guilt is too much, and too painful as images of the past are clearly shown as though they are today.


  • Balsam

    Today is the 7th year anniversary of Dak’s death. I scream out loud, “God Almighty just let me die. Please ease this terrible physical pain I that feel in every corner of my flesh and bone. I killed my son, how could I have pushed him away from me that day, when I had so few chances to hold him close before he died at age 15. There is no one there to comfort me, plus my husband would be scared if he saw me like this; - retching, crying, and heart pounding. It feels to me that God is punishing me with this video capturing a moment so painful now. How could I have let my son die and not speak up, why did I let fear and intimidation rob me of my voice that day at the hospital? The sobbing pain filled screams, won’t stop now as I’ve lost all control and the guilt of raising my sons in a cult is at full impact making my heart beat like a crazed beast in my breast. I deserve to die; it should have been me and not Dak who died. How can my heart continue pumping blood to my body when it hurts so badly? I wish that it would stop because the memories are so fresh and raw now because of these captured images of a day 23 years ago.

    A religion called Jehovah’s Witnesses demanded all of us followers to refuse blood transfusions as a medical procedure because Jehovah God forbids it. I really believed it. I felt like I had done all of the studying on the matter to be convinced that it is what God and Christ wanted me to do. I felt proud at one time to say I would not take a blood transfusion for any reason if I needed it, willing to die for my trust in God. I knew with great confidence Jehovah would resurrect me if I died honoring him this way. Even Witnesses who did die refusing blood were honored. We told their stories of heroism in the face of the evil medical community who tried to pressure them to take blood to save their lives, and how they refused martyring themselves with courage and bravery.

    Among us Jehovah Witnesses it is a badge of honor to have the opportunity to have been put to the test and refuse a blood transfusion and live to tell about it. When we had children we faithfully taught our children to refuse blood transfusions in case of an accident or emergency assuring our kids that they would be resurrected in the paradise earth where their Dad and I would welcome them back. We said it so casually because none of us ever believed that it would really be something that we’d ever have to face. It is Jehovah God’s will that we never take a blood transfusion as a show of loyalty and faith. We parroted the words without feeling anything but pride in the martyrdom for our faith through our understanding of God. Refusing blood transfusions or anything including medications that had blood fractions had become a special designation of uniqueness from other so called Christian religions, which we said were run by Satan and the demons.

    The reality of what we taught our beloved children never caused us any serious concern or questions. We have video’s of all the boys proudly saying “Jehovah is our God” when they were preschool age. We thought that the boys were cute, as Archie had them recite biblical teachings we impressed on them as Jehovah Witnesses children. It was a true mark of loyalty to Jehovah being tested in such a way, facing death for something we believed God wanted. Our faith was all consuming and demanding of us. We knew when the time came that we would stand proud and be counted among Jehovah’s faithful followers through blood or some equally dramatic way. We almost challenged Satan to bring on the tests. “We’ll show you our faith in God you Devil,” as we stood proudly with stubborn pride on our faces imagining facing down anyone who challenged us to break God’s rules in a moment of difficulty.

    The day that Dak died was like any other Sunday afternoon; nothing unusual about it. Dak was riding home with his two brothers from the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses that we attended that Sunday, along with two other fleshly brothers from our congregation near their age. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon and my oldest son Drew had just gotten a car a few months before. Drew was 17, Dak was 15, and Dirk was 13 that day. The other William’s boys, Philip age 21 and Reggie age 16, were close friends of our sons. Our sons had all gone back and forth between our respective homes spending the night often at each other’s houses. They had grown up together going to the same Kingdom Hall and schools. All of our children had been raised in the faith and all were good kids basically. The kids of both of our families came to us asking if it was OK to go lunch together. Since they had gone in the door to door preaching work the day before covering the weekly requirement we put upon them we parents all said yes.
    We parents said, “Sure, be careful”, we’d see them later. They hugged us and headed out in a group. We all believed that this was good wholesome association for our kids. We would head on to our own door to door preaching work, since we missed the day before. We worked for about 1 ½ hours making some return visits on interested people we had talked to and placed literature with previously. It felt like a good day we arrived home satisfied with our labors. We barely got in our front door and the other brother Craig was suddenly in the drive way calling us rushing in and telling us to come now. He said there had been a bad accident and we were needed at the hospital immediately. We both said “Oh no, what has happened?”

    My heart sank as I knew that this must be serious; I choked back my fear and began praying “please help us.” We tried to keep out negative thinking, and prayed for the best. Craig had said that Dak and Phillip were injured in an auto accident. The Ambulance driver came out to greet me and tell what happened. I’d known the paramedic for several years and his look of sadness and concern for us made my heart run cold with fear and dread. The hospital nurses took us immediately to a special waiting room apart from others in the emergency room where they had Drew and Dirk who were crying and frantically waiting for us. The Doctor came and told us that Dak had told the ambulance drivers no blood as soon as they arrived at the scene, and then became unconscious. The three boys Drew, Reggie and Dirk, all pulled Phillip and Dak from the wrecked car. A neighbor seeing the accident called 911. The boys were crying hysterically hanging onto us saying that they were sorry. Drew and Dirk said, “Please Dad, let Dak have blood, save him Dad, you’ve got to.” The doctor said that Dak would die without blood because of massive internal bleeding.

    Archie shook his head slowly as tears ran down his face, “No, we can’t, Jehovah forbids it.” “You both know that we must never save our lives by disobeying Jehovah’s Law against blood transfusions,” Archie said as the doctor looked on disbelieving what he was hearing. I kept silent praying that somehow God would make an allowance this one time and just save Dak even if it meant giving him blood against Jehovah’s restrictions. I knew that was impossible though, as our God didn’t make exceptions for anyone.

    Soon the nurse came and told us to come back to see Dak one last time before they put him on the helicopter flight to the trauma hospital for children 200 miles away. I touched Dak’s hand, as he lay there unconscious. It was gut wrenchingly painful. I was crying softy looking at Archie and begging him with my eyes to change his mind and said softy “Please Archie”. Dak was so helpless and needing us to say “Yes, do everything you can do to save him.” His dark black hair with pieces of grass clinging to it and his eyes closed. Though it was so hard for Archie he was determined to be strong and again confirmed to the doctors and nurses that no blood could be given Dak, even if it meant him dying.

    The flight paramedic who was preparing Dak for flight to the trauma hospital waited looking at us with contempt and disgust. “What kind of parents are you; that you would let your son die for something so stupid and wrong?” she asked as she wheeled Dak away from us in the hallway. I stood mute, stunned into frozen horror as I listened to her words feeling her contempt, even hatred for us. The Doctors and nurses, once Dak was loaded in the helicopter, turned their backs and walked away. They were not interested in comforting such parents who would let their child die, for what all the hospital personnel considered a wicked belief of religious zealots who belonged to a cult. Never in my 30 years as a Jehovah’s Witness had I felt so publicly shamed, hated, and dismissed as garbage in my life. I saw other people from our town starring at us shaking their heads as we stood in the hall way frozen in our shame and grief. My mind raced wondering if they could be right about our worthlessness as Christian parents. Could we be wrong about what our God Jehovah wanted from us? But the Brothers told us to be strong repeatedly over the years when faced with medical emergency that hospitals said required blood, and they told us hospitals and doctors were usually wrong anyway. Trust in Jehovah, He is the one that saves your eternal life rang in my head as we headed to the car to make the long drive to the second hospital.


  • Balsam

    During the ride to the other hospital my mind and heart raced with all kinds of thoughts about how we viewed ourselves as opposed to how the world at large viewed us. The world around us thought that we were nothing more than religious nuts for believing that God wouldn’t want us to save ourselves with blood. The contrast was hard to bear, especially if we were wrong, which I’d begun to feel might be the case. I couldn’t speak; our ride was mind numbingly quiet except for our quiet sobs from time to time, as the scenery zoomed by us. Why hadn’t I studied up on the Bible scriptures better and fully understood why it was wrong to take blood transfusions? I recalled that the publications likened it to eating blood, but now the example seems lost on me because who eats anything in a hospital to save their life in an emergency? I shook my head as it throbbed with questions and wondering what we would do if Dak died that day? How could this have happened to us? Why was this happening, can there be some purpose to such events. Of course I thought, no it can’t because “Time and unforeseen occurrences befall us all” the Bible says. Still I searched for meaning in all of this despite my knowing otherwise.

    The day had been so perfect up until we left the Kingdom Hall. I had thoughts of Dak and how he had planned to go to Bethel in N.Y. to serve as a full-time volunteer at our Bethel headquarters. How excited he was to have his newly acquired Learners Permit and was always giving me and his Dad tips when he rode with us in the car. We had taken him to the empty parking lot at Wal-mart to practice his driving skills as much as we could. He was such a special and heart-warming individual that made us laugh at ourselves. Dak raised racing pigeons and his up-coming trip with his Dad to take the young birds out for time trials in a month or so was something he looked forward to so much. Dak loved life, and had a big sense of humor. Now he was struggling to live after being a passenger in a car accident that was not his fault. He was just coming home with another young brother from our Kingdom Hall. The reality of our situation felt bizarre, why did Phillip race the car up to 85 miles an hour on a road that had a posted speed limit of 55? What was Dak thinking as the car tumbled 6 or more times as it crashed on the bank of the hill beside the road? Why did Phillip only have a broken arm and minor scrapes and Dak was dying? It should be Phillip dying not Dak. Drew had said that Dak was riding in the front passenger seat buckled in when they pulled him from the crash. Drew, Dirk, and Reggie were all in the other car following behind Phillip. Then Philip stomped on the gas and raced ahead of them out of sight for several moments. The boys saw the accident when they sped up to catch up with him, wondering what he was doing. So many questions, would we ever have answers to them?

    When we finally arrived at the second hospital where Dak had been flown we waited as the team of Doctors and nurses tried to save Dak. Three Elders from our Kingdom hall were called and had traveled behind us. Archie’s family was called and his brother Paul and sister in law Angela and their two daughters met us at the hospital. We waited in an emergency waiting room for a while, and then we were all moved to a private room apart from others. The doctor came out to tell us that Dak had not made it. The shear feeling of this being a nightmare was unlike anything that we’d ever experienced. Our son Dak was dead and it was directly linked to not allowing him blood transfusions. He had hemorrhaged inside losing vast amounts of his blood leaving his heart with nothing to pump. Because of our refusal to let him have blood they were not able to save him. The kind doctor said that Dak was terribly injured internally and he might not have made it even with the blood transfusions. We’d never know for certain if the blood transfusion delivering oxygen to his body and heart along with surgery would have saved his life. One thing was for sure we had robbed him of any chance he might have had by teaching him to say no to blood transfusions and then our own stubborn refusal to OK it at the hospital.

    The video of the family reunion has come to an end as I tortured myself with the memories of Dak needing his mommy that day of the reunion when he was 2 years old. The events that lead up to his tragic death was still fresh, and I still feel the guilty for not just telling the Doctors myself, “Yes give him blood”. I’d let a religion decide for me what medical treatment my family needed rather than really trusting that God wants everyone to live.

    I feel a broken hearted calm come over me now, the pain eases and the remnant of my tortured pain lingers. My stomach is like a big ball of tension. “Dak’s Dead”, “Dak’s dead”, “Dak’s dead” I cry out into the room, choking on the words as though someone will hear me knowing that I want forgiveness, absolution so that I can forgive myself. Where is God in this dark moment?

    Not the God of Jehovah’s Witnesses who lets His followers to sacrifice their children in blind obedience. We are exactly like the ancient people of Phoenicia who followed in blind faith what men told them their god Molech demanded of them. The Old Testament speaks of the false god Molech. The worshipers of Molech had faith enough to sacrifice their first born babies by laying them in the god’s outstretched arms that were heated white hot. The babies were slowly burned to death as the hollow metal arms were heated from inside the statue of their god, while Flames from the base lapped up high to reach the innocent child. The parents of the baby would sacrifice their children to their god Molech and watch without showing emotion or care as it took place. When the flames were high enough, and arms white hot, one of the parents laid their child in the burning arms. They watched while their babies burned to death screaming in tortured pain and agony. The onlookers would beat drums as loud as they could so the cries of the children could not be heard clearly. This beat of the drums continued until the child’s cries stopped leaving only the sound of crackling flesh burning a stench into the heavens. I was reminded of this story when Dak died, as this was our story too.

    I’ve come to realize that we are the same as those ancient parents sacrificing our son Dak without care or show of emotion deep enough to have stopped us from our destructive thinking. No amount of logic, excuses, and reasoning can ever wash away our shame of believing our Creator who created this beautiful earth filled with intelligent humans could wish such a sacrifice ever on His behalf. As we continue breathing and living each day the stench of our child’s death clings to us like an invisible cloud. Like those ancient Phoenician parents as they walk home with the stench of their child’s burning flesh clinging to their noses, and the memory imprinted as it happened on their minds for the rest of their lives. We can never escape our part in letting Dak die.


  • Balsam

    29 years of devoted service the very action of going to a Kingdom Hall was enough to make me feel ill. I closed myself off behind a wall of silence from my children’s father and husband of 30 years. I found it hard to talk to him or look at him. He thrived in his grief as our brothers and sisters spoke proudly of Dak’s refusal of blood and of Archie’s strength in saying no also. Drew, Dirk and I would look at each other, as we heard our friends at the KH almost happy, giving praise for Dak being faithful unto death. It made me shiver, repulsed by the happiness and joy showered upon us for a faithful stand against blood. They wanted me to wear it like a badge of honor saying to me, “Don’t grieve you will be reunited with Dak in the coming New System under Jesus coming reign.” Our son was dead, didn’t they get it? A life was lost! We lived every day with the empty void that Dak’s absence left us with. How can we as God’s servants take pleasure in such a sad tragedy? Like the Phoenician parents of sacrificed children, were rewarded for their faith, so were we, but it left a bitter taste in my mouth that never went away.

    Four months later I left the father of my children. I could no longer bear him and I wanted no more of him ever again in my life. I froze completely in my feelings for him and knew that it was time to go. We’d been married for 30 years and it wasn’t a happy marriage for me anyway, but it was over now. I decided to leave the Jehovah’s Witnesses religion also and though I struggled with it for the months to come I was glad in the end that I had awoken from my blind devotion to it. My oldest son Drew was a month away from turning 18 when I left the house. He already was making plans of his own and it didn’t include staying a Jehovah’s Witness. Dirk my youngest son stayed a while with his Dad till he married another JW woman whom Dirk grew to hate, and treated him badly along with his Dad. He too in a short time came to the realization that the JW religion held nothing of value for him. The boys are disfellowshipped as am I, which means we are shunned and spiritually dead to the congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses. But that is fine with us because we have no need for its cultish demands on its followers.

    It took some time but I began to look around with my new husband Howard, and we decided to search out Church communities that would give us a relationship with a kinder, more loving God. Today I’m Presbyterian and very satisfied with my place in God’s plan. I was glad to learn that Jehovah’s Witnesses have the wrong understanding of God and what He wants of them. Today I feel happy and blessed by serving my community and helping others to understand Jehovah’s Witnesses teachings and feeling on blood. I’m a volunteer for Associated Jehovah’s Witnesses for Reform on Blood available on the internet at www.ajwrb.org. We are non-profit organization and we do what we can to help Jehovah’s Witnesses, the medical community, hospitals and family members of Jehovah’s Witnesses understand this teaching against blood. Trying to help them see how the leadership is mistaken in continuing to hold the followers to such policies.

    I believe now that if any religious practice is not based in love, mercy, and understanding it is wrong. Everything good is about love and “GOD IS LOVE”.

    By Ruth Baker aka Balsam

  • snowbird

    What is to be said?

    My heart is full.

    Ruth Baker, you are a treasure.

    May the God of love bless you and keep you as always.


  • Balsam

    Thank you Sylvia, its been 7 years since Dak died and I know he would want his story told, how we failed because of a trust in an organization we believed represented God but didn't. Its no easy thing to live with, and I can only hope that active witnesses will come and read our story and save their own children from the burning arms of Molech incarnated in the WTBTS.


  • lisavegas420

    Thank you for sharing your story with us Ruth. So heart breaking.


  • BluesBrother


    I cannot adequately respond to what you have told us , but I salute a courageous woman who has sufferred much.

  • BizzyBee

    Ruth, your story reminds me of this quote from a poem by Sydney Lea, "After Labor Day" (from the book, A Broken Heart Still Beats: After Your Child Dies)

    Your son is seven years dead.

    "But it seems," I said, seeing your face

    buckle in mid-conversation

    as over the fields came winging the trebles

    of children at holiday play---

    I said, "But it seems like yesterday."

    "No," you said,

    "Like today."

  • choosing life
    choosing life


    Such a tragedy. I am so sorry for your loss. To lose a child in such a way is heartbreaking. I am glad you have your 2 sons with you out of the jws. The blood issue is what finally brought me out of the witnesses. When they changed to taking fractions, I knew they were making it up as they went along. I went to the reformed site on blood to investigate. It was the first internet site I visited that spoke the truth about jws. It helped me realize that others saw things wrong with the blood issue too. So your help there is not in vain.

    Sincerely, choosing life

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