Jonathan


Russell's Christian Page


 


 

Jonathan (7 weeks old )
at the University of Michigan Medical Center
Ann Arbor, Michigan (July 1990)

 

"There is no part of the body that when broken,
hurts as badly as the heart."




 

Jonathan's Story

How do you tell people about a beautiful little baby boy that never had a chance to experience life in this world as we know it. Other than being born with the original sin of Adam, Jonathan never committed any sin in his life. Why would God allow something like this illness to take Jonathan away from us? After all, we (his parents) were believers. Well, we can say that we live in a fallen world full of sin and disobedience to God. But still, why did this have to happen to Jonathan? The story you are about to read is our story of sadness, deep hurt, loneliness, and finally our hope that we have in Jesus Christ our Lord. We pray that your faith will be encouraged through Jonathan's life story:

OUR TIME WITH JONATHAN

This Story about Jonathan is going to be very hard to do, but I feel people need to know that with God's help, you can make it through any crisis that may befall you. It's hard, but you will make it with God's help.

Our time with Jonathan was a very special time and a sad time too. Jonathan was born on May 8, 1990. He was a healthy 9-lb. baby boy. The doctor said that he was going to be a football player because of his big shoulders.

We spent three days in the hospital after Jonathan was born. My mother took us home because my husband, Russell, was working. Jonathan came home to an excited family that included David (age 5) who was excited to be a big brother now. We enjoyed our newest member of our family so much as we watched him progress to pulling himself around the crib already at this early stage of life. However, at 7 weeks of age, his life changed as he got very ill and we got very worried about him. I took Jonathan to our family doctor because of the high fever. The doctor told me it was a viral infection and that he would get over it. The next day Jonathan's fever was still going up, so I took him to a Pediatrician in a town 45 minutes away. Jonathan was seizuring in the doctor's office so he gave him some Phenobarbital and sent us home. The doctor should never have sent him home in that condition & should have known what he was doing. I was so upset that I didn't question him about what was happening. At about midnight, 8 hrs later, Jonathan was still seizuring, so Russ and I took him back to the hospital emergency room. They admitted him at that time.

Jonathan stayed for a week, but the seizuring never stopped with any of the medications they were giving him. The doctors had been giving him antibiotics but with no results. Finally, the doctor on call sent him to the University of Michigan Medical Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Ann Arbor is a 4 hour drive, so they took him by ambulance and we had to scramble and drive down there also that night. The date was July 4, 1990 and the time to vacation turned into a time of unreal sadness and tragedy.

The doctors in Ann Arbor did all kinds of tests and finally said that Jonathan had a vary rare disease called Viral Encephalitis. It damaged all but the brain stem of our little boy's brain. Perhaps if Jonathan had been sent a week sooner, this terrible sickness might not have affected him at all. We (Jonathan and I) were in the hospital for three weeks because Jonathan was on a medicine called Acyclovir which was the only medicine available to treat this virus at that time. They had to give him the medicine through an I.V. After about three days, the doctor in charge of Jonathan's care said that Jonathan had suffered too much damage to his brain because of the virus killing the cells. He told us that Jonathan probably would not live much longer. This news just took the life out of us and we sat there stunned and numb to everything that was going on. God gave us this absolutely beautiful little baby boy that radiated so much love to everyone and now He was taking him away from us. Why?? Why would God do this to us and to Jonathan?? Was He punishing us for all our sin in the past?? We both cried and wondered why this was happening. We both had prayed so much for His help to heal Jonathan and this was the result. Why oh why did this happen? I was so mad at God that I now hated Him for what had happened. Russ told me that it wasn't God that did this to Jonathan. Russ said that he didn't know why God did not stop this though. Neither one of us could really think at all. The grief is so unbearable that there can be no escape at all from this sadness of knowing that your beautiful baby will never be able to have life as we know it in this world.

While we were in the University of Michigan Hospital, (Mott's Children's Hospital), I called our Pastor back home. He is a sweet and loving man and I asked him if he would baptize Jonathan, as I was raised a Catholic and I thought that he would not go to Heaven if he was not baptized. (That is what Catholics believe) Pastor Verlyn said that he would, but he needed us to know that everybody has sin in them and that being baptized doesn't mean that he will go to heaven. I said yes, I know now that this is true, so Pastor Verlyn and his wife came down to Ann Arbor to baptize Jonathan. It meant so much to our Family to know he cared for us. We told Pastor Verlyn that we just wanted to have Jonathan baptized before he passed away. We wanted the world to know that Jonathan was a Christian boy even though he never had the chance to give his heart to the Lord on his own.

After the 3-week stay at the University of Michigan Hospital, we came home. An Ambulance brought Jonathan back to the smaller hospital where the rest of the medicine was given to kill the virus. The doctors in Ann Arbor had said that Jonathan would not live more than a couple of weeks in his condition. They had already called the County Medical Examiner and the local authorities that Jonathan was probably going to die very quickly. Russell and I went to the funeral home to make arrangements, which of course was very hard to do. We made all the choices etc, that had to be made. We then went back to the hospital to bring Jonathan home with us. While all of this was going on, we totally had neglected David as we were so busy with Jonathan and all that was going on. We continue to pray to this day that we didn't hurt David too much.

There were many nights he almost died. But the Lord let him live. WHY? I stayed up with him many nights and when I was too tired to care for Jonathan, my husband and my mom helped me.

To make a very long story shorter, I will tell you that my mom and I gave our lives to caring for Jonathan around the clock. There were many nights that Jonathan would stop breathing and we thought that this was going to be the end. However, God had other plans for us and Jonathan. Slowly over time, Jonathan got stronger and stronger. He soon was out of immediate danger of dying. Little did we know that our Lord would let us have Jonathan for the next 10 years.

Jonathan was like a newborn because of what had happened to him. Over the next few years, my Mom and I took care of Jonathan around the clock. If we were able to get some sleep at night then this was considered a good and easy day. a lot of the time, I was up nights caring for him also as he frequently caught upper respiratory infections. Normal children are active and burn away a lot of the virus that cause these types of illness. Because of the damage done to his brain, Jonathan's eyesight was very bad. He could distinguish between light and dark, but that was all. His hearing was left pretty much intact. When Russell would come home from work and say something, he would immediately turn his head in that direction. We played music for Jonathan most of the time as it seemed to make him much calmer. Jonathan would never walk, talk, or in any way communicate with us except through his eyes. He would always look at who was talking to him. He had real big brown eyes that were just beautiful. His long eyelashes were the envy of all the nurses. Jonathan was very good-looking indeed !!!

In December of 1991, when Jonathan was 1-1/2 years old, my father died at the age of 57. After this happened, my mother could no longer help me to take care of Jonathan because she had to go to work. I was having a hard time with his care and all the time it required. Because my mom was no longer helping me, like she did before my father died, I was getting very tired and was having a lot of different feelings. I couldn't talk to my husband because he was having a hard time with his own feelings. Men and Women's feelings are so different, so I kept things to myself.

For the next 3 years, I devoted my life completely to caring for Jonathan. Russ helped by spending as much time as he could with David and also by helping with Jonathan when he got home from work. This gave me the chance to get out of the house a little bit and also to play with David. However, this was not enough help for me. With the help of the State Health Department, I finally received some respite care provided by them. I still took care of Jonathan 7 days a week for the next few years.

When Jonathan was 5 years old, because of his not being able to walk or exercise, he had to undergo an operation at the University of Michigan Hospital again to help relieve the muscle tension in his hips etc. When he came home, he was in a body cast for about 8 weeks. This was so very hard on him and us. When we think back, it is almost unbelievable the problems we had to go through. Endless trips to Ann Arbor (230 miles) and to Petoskey (32 miles) because of all the respiratory problems he had. He could not walk because after getting this virus he got a secondary disease called Cerebral Palsy. Because of this, Jonathan couldn't walk, so I contacted the local school system to have a physical therapist to work on him and a occupational therapist to help make his muscles work. These two ladies would come to the house once a week to work on him. Also at this time, I learned how to insert a feeding tube through his nose into his stomach. I had to change the tube about once every week, so it was hard on Jonathan. This went on for the next 2 years. It always took about 1 hr to feed Jonathan by mouth also. Russ used to listen to Radio HCJB from Quito, Ecuador, while he was feeding Jonathan. In that way, we kept a little bit closer to the Lord. HCJB is a Christian Radio Ministry on shortwave radio. Because of the care involved with Jonathan, neither one of us could really belong to or enjoy many activities in life. With Russ, it was go to work and then come home and help with Jonathan. With me, I usually went to the store and did what I had to do and then get back home right away. We didn't have much time for David or anything else for that matter. We both prayed that God would help us in some way.

Jonathan is now 7 yrs old and we are now noticing that he is still not getting enough nutrition. The doctor suggested that we have a feeding tube put directly into his stomach. PLEASE get all the facts before you have this done. Listen carefully and ask a lot of questions. I was very upset about what happened when the doctor put the feeding tube in. She put a 4 -Inch cut in his stomach. My Husband said that she was going to do this, but I don't remember her saying anything like this would happen. I was upset that my baby was going through this. I didn't like seeing him in pain. So WHY did they do that? Jonathan was hurting from that for a long time. He couldn't tell me he was hurting but I could tell, mothers know. Jonathan did very well after the tube was put in. He gained a lot of weight which made him so very hard to carry around. He really started putting on the weight after that. My back was really starting to hurt. I finally got help from Crippled Children's of Michigan. They not only provided a new wheelchair for Jonathan, but they helped to pay for all of his medications that were required.

During this time, we were always wondering whether or not God would send someone to help us in his care. We were getting so tired with the years going by so fast. We loved our little Jonathan so much, but we could see no end to what was happening. There was a new couple that started going to our church, Dennis & Janine Tacey. They offered to help us and we were so excited about that. They finally got to the point where they might be able to take Jonathan for the night. We really are not sure what happened, but it never really worked out. The couple had their own family to care for and so we were back to caring for Jonathan around the clock. We kept praying a lot for some extra help. Most of the respite care providers we didn't trust. We couldn't leave Jonathan with anyone who smoked, had small kids, or pets because Jonathan was totally helpless.

I called make -a -wish foundation because it's a great organization that helps children and their parents to make their children's lives happier before they die. We told them about Jonathan and he qualified for help. We asked for a hot tub for him, to help with his muscles. I asked the doctor that put the feeding tube in if Jonathan could go in the tub. She said she would have to ask another doctor. Wouldn't you think that she should know if he could go in the tub or not? Anyway, we used the hot tub to help with relaxing his muscles. Meanwhile, Jonathan would have to go to the hospital for a 3 day stay because of the respiratory infections turning into pneumonia. This would happen a lot and because of this our family was always shook up and disorganized. David seemed to be able to be on his own without too much trouble. By now, he was on the computer a lot and was really getting very good with them. David had a hard time, like all of us living with a handicapped brother and son. And I was so busy with taking care of Jonathan and my feelings of sadness, that I didn't take care of David like I should have. I feel bad about that and wish I could change things but I can't. He is so upset with me. Maybe someday he will forgive me.

Jonathan is now 9 yrs old. We are so tired and discouraged because we are getting no help at all from anyone with his care. I'm very mad at my mom because she does not do anything to help me now. Russ tries, but his work is very hard and he is so tired also when he gets home. We are both now praying for God to help us....PLEASE HELP US WITH JONATHAN !! We prayed a lot and asked God that if He was to take Jonathan home, that he might just fall asleep in my arms and not suffer. Our Heavenly Father helped me so many times by giving me the strength to go on when I was so tired and is still helping me in every thing I do today. During these later years, our marriage almost broke apart because Russ would get mad at me when I said Jonathan needed to go to the Petoskey Hospital again. I always knew when he needed to go to the hospital and I think Russ is really starting to wonder if this will ever end. In January of 2000, Jonathan was seemingly doing ok and then one day I took him to the doctor again because he had a very serious lung infection. They gave him antibiotics and we came home. This was nothing unusual as this was always happening. During the night, his lungs completely filled up with fluids. Russ got up to check on him and get ready for work. He saw that Jonathan was not breathing well and that his color was not good. The day was January 27th, 2000. We both had been praying to God for help. Today, God in all His mercy and grace helped us and Jonathan by what He did next. Brenda called her mom and her mom called some nurses that she knew. They all came over right away. Russ wanted to rush him to Petoskey, but we all knew it was too late for that. He never would have made it there alive. God took Jonathan from us by allowing him to just fall asleep in my arms as I held him. There was no suffering for Jonathan. God in all his love and mercy took Jonathan home to be with Him. People that cared about us came over as soon as they heard. Our prayers had been answered but the loss was so complete that Russ & I and David just cried and suffered alone that night.


Jonathan come to me
God saw you were getting tired,
When a cure was not to be
He closed his arms around you
And whispered, "Come to Me"
In tears we saw you sinking,
We watched you fade away
Our hearts were o so broken,
You fought so hard to stay.
But when we saw you sleeping,
So peaceful from pain
We could not wish you back
To suffer so again So keep your
Arms around him Lord And give
Him special care
Perhaps it will make up for
All that seemed unfair

During the last year of Jonathan's life, Russ & I started searching for a new church home. When the funeral took place, there were 5 pastors there and two other pastors that would have been there but they were out of town. I only mention this because we didn't realize how much Jonathan effected other people in this small town we lived in. There were so many people there and we never realized how much others cared. All of Jonathan's doctors and some nurses were there. The song that you are listening to is called "The Masters Hand" sung by Annie Herring. This was the song we played at Jonathan's funeral.

I don't know what would have happened to Russ & I if we had not been believers in Jesus our Lord. Our marriage would not have survived, David would have suffered much more and our lives would have been wrecked forever. God brought us through this and Jonathan taught a lot of us what true unconditional love really is. Oh yes, Jesus is the perfect example of unconditional love, but Jonathan made all believers that knew him experience this awesome love first hand. There are a lot of parents that would not have gone through this 10 yrs of caring for a child. But God, in all His mercy and grace, helped us along the whole time. We both know that Jonathan is in Heaven now with Jesus and that all of us will see him again when we are called home also to be with our Creator. I Thank him all the time for giving us our precious little boy.

Jonathan lived for almost 10 years with us. Now he is with our Heavenly Father and he is healthy and happy. He can walk, talk, run, and do everything that a healthy 10 -year- old boy can do. Jonathan no longer lives with us on earth, but he lives in our hearts and no one can take that away from us. Knowing that we will be with him one day is the greatest joy we can have. It is going to be a beautiful reunion to be with our Father in Heaven and to be with our son Jonathan Curtis Bresser, in our Father's house. We had a lot of hard times too. It was very hard taking care of a handicapped child. Russ, David and I learned a lot by taking care of Jonathan. The lord is preparing us for something, we don't yet know about, but we will be ready for it. In the Lord's time we will know. Thank you for reading this story about Jonathan. We hope and pray that anyone who has problems in this life will be encouraged by this testimony. May our Lord bless all of you abundantly with His Grace & Mercy & Love.


This poem was given to us by my mother at Christmas time after our son died:

HEAVENS VERY SPECIAL CHILD

A meeting was held quite far from earth
"It's time for another birth,"
Said the angels to the Lord above.
"This special child will need love."
His progress may seem very slow
And he'll require extra care
From the folks he meets way down there.
He may not run or laugh or play;
His thoughts may seem quite far away.
In many ways he won't adapt,
And he'll be known as handicapped.
So let be careful where he's sent,
We want his life to be content.
Please Lord find parents who
Will do a special job for you.
They will not realize right away
The leading role they're asked to play.
But with this child sent from above
Come stronger faith and rich love.
And soon they'll know the privilege given.
In caring for this gift from heaven.
Their precious change, so meek and mild
Is heaven's very special child!


This little boy was a gift from our Father in heaven. The Lord gave us an Angel. This little person gave us unconditional love. Not too many people can say they know unconditional love, CAN YOU? We all love this little boy.......OUR LITTLE ANGEL
 

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.

I said this serenity prayer a lot when I was taking care of Jonathan.


Many of you might be wondering why
I chose a frog background for
my site.
Well here is why I did it:

There were many mornings, when I went into Jonathan's room to get him up for breakfast etc, that I found him laying on his stomach with both of his legs drawn up. He always looked like a frog :-). When he was being put through therapy, he would also at that time draw up his legs and again he looked like a frog. The rest is history !! Russ and I are not doing this page on Jonathan just to get sympathy from people. We just wanted to share this story about what all of us went through so as to encourage others that might have problems like this. Please rely on God and pray often for His help. Our Heavenly Father knows our sufferings are very real in this world. He just wants us to go to Him with our prayers. Our reward for believing in His Son (Jesus) is eternal life without any pains, sufferings, illness or death. Jonathan is with Jesus now and they are both alive. Jesus will come again to this world to take home all of us who believe in Him. If you have not given your life to Jesus, it is our prayer that you will do this right away. What have you got to lose? Believe in Jesus and spend eternity in Heaven with God. Don't accept Jesus and spend eternity in Hell. It is your choice and God wants you to choose Him. Just pray to God and ask for forgiveness of all sin in your life. Then ask Him (Jesus) to become your Savior & Lord of your life. Do this today and don't put if off any longer. We don't know when Jesus will come back for His own. God bless everyone reading this page.
 


Jonathan as a Pumpkin (November 1994)


Jonathan taking a nap (1994)


For you my Brother Russ.

By Brother Joe


Jonathan, I can not imagine what you have gone through. Jonathan, I can not begin to say how sorry I am, but in the same breath say how happy I am for you Jonathan! Oh what you have seen !! Think brothers he is caressing our Father! He is holding hands; he is in no pain; he is singing with angels; he is flying with angels in the warmth of His presence our Lord Jesus Christ!! Brothers can you imagine? Think of warmth, think of glory, no pain, no hate, no anger, no long suffering. Then think multiplied by a billion more times than you just imagined to multiply by, And we would still be a billion times short. Jonathan you are where I can only imagine. Jonathan you are where angels breath. Like the tingling I feel when I read His Word, Like the chills on my back of things heard. Do the mansions have a great view? Inspire me, tell me tales, send me notice. always was ? and is, with you ! Thank you, You will be missed !

" Nothing you love is lost; not really.
Things, people - they always go away, sooner or later.
You can't hold them, any more than you can hold moonlight.
But if they've touched you, if they're inside you,
then they're still yours. The only things you ever really have are the ones you hold inside your heart." *


Can I Still Grieve?

How much time am I allowed, are there rules I must go by?
Does anyone ever keep track of the thousand tears I cry?
Will I someday know the answers,
have it figured out in my head? Just how long am I supposed to grieve,
now that my child is dead?
People think they know the answers, to the questions I may ask.
But only if you've lost a child, can you understand this task.
I'm reading all the books I can,
to know what grief's about.
But do these rules apply to all?
It's hard to figure out. While driving home from work tonight,
I feel I'm sinking low.
I try to put grief off my mind, but where can I now go?
You think grief has a pattern,
with a beginning and an end? But I'm grieving for a lifetime,
can you understand my friend?
So when I really need you,
will you stay or will you leave??
What will be your answer, when I ask ?
"Can I still grieve?" *


Wherever a beautiful soul has been, there is a trail of beautiful memories.


My son is calm and peaceful
God took him to his rest
No longer will he suffer
He is his welcome guest
Jesus came to get him
With host of angels near
An honor guard to lead him
To a home of no more tears
Gardens of great beauty
Castles in the sky
Wings that glitter stardust
That gather in our eye
Sadness all around us
For a child that we have lost
Memories are gathered
Smiles and precious thoughts
Love will always follow
Words will find a way
To ease the pain and sorrow
Subsiding as we pray
Watch us all from heaven
Send your special light
Coming down on moonbeams
On every starry night
Clouds of ribbons gathered
Cascading in the sky
The very best of angels
With special place on high
Love is overwhelming
The colors are divine
Hues of special sunset
My son joins this glowing shrine *

Author Unknown


 



 


 

Jonathan's Page was created by Brenda Bresser
with help from a very special friend Peg Capron
from Warriors For Christ Webring

 

Peg's Place
 

* Some of the poems on this site are taken from the Heavenly Lights Newsletter Heavenly Lights


Graphic from Jeremiah Calling Again

 

 

They Shine As Lights


Jonathan Bresser
Viral Encephalitis
5/8/90-1/27/00
 


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