Although our lives were shattered, we managed to pick up the pieces and move on. I was promoted to Major on December 1, 1988.
On December 7, 1988, Pandora gave birth to a baby boy; he weighed 5 pounds, 13 ounces. His name is Brandon Christopher Love. His looks and build are very much like Lil’ Charles’. Three years later, on September 19, 1991, Pandora gave birth to another baby boy. His name is Christian Allen Love. He looks even more like Lil’ Charles than Brandon does.
In retrospect, I believe God would have been more merciful if he had taken Lil’ Charles and I at the same time. I had almost given up. I truly wanted to die, too. But I just couldn’t quit. I thought, “I have a wife and children to care and provide for. How can I just quit?”
Years have passed since Lil’ Charles departed life. I am no longer upset with the people that did not support me. I understand there are various reasons why some people did not come to our rescue; people have problems of their own to worry about. I’ve been told by a number of people fighting to save their children and relatives that family members will give you a cold shoulder, which is even harder to accept. I found this to be true. Somehow you have to let it go! I forgive those individuals, so-called friends, whose kids made fun of Lil’ Charles. That really hurt us more than anything else at the time. With shortages of funds for treatment, other stresses, and working a full-time job, I found it easy to hate people who did not support us. Now that it’s all over, I don’t hate them--I just try to avoid them and others like them.
My wife and I weathered this storm, but there were times when communicating was difficult. It took all the fight that we could muster to keep our relationship open. I realized that Pandora is a quiet person, and that she was badly hurting. By showing that I loved and cared for her, and vice versa, it helped us from giving up on each other.
Amber had to tolerate the least attention of all, but she is making up for it now. She talks continuously about her big brother and states, “Lil’ Charles is in heaven.”
I am sorry that I did not allow my sisters to visit Lil’ Charles during his illness. I kept insisting that he would have plenty of time to see his aunts when he recovered and, since he didn’t recover, I felt terrible about that. I thought Lil’ Charles would live a long life.
I wish that I could have seen and heard Lil’ Charles sing in church. I have been told that he was good and especially loud. He had singing in his blood. One of his aunts sang with Lionel Ritchie in high school, and one of his uncles was a musician/manager for a popular band. Lil’ Charles was so fond of the band--especially the group’s trumpet player. The trumpet player let Lil’ Charles blow his trumpet. I believe had Lil’ Charles lived that he would have been a trumpet player. Lil’ Charles may be playing a trumpet in heaven right now.
I had tried to arrange through a production manager of the famed Michael Jackson to get complimentary tickets for Lil’ Charles to attend a concert in Detroit. That was a terrible ordeal, and some people in the entertainment business are so arrogant and distrustful. However, a production manager for Michael Jackson did finally arrange for Lil’ Charles to meet with Michael Jackson. The production manager gave me the hotel, room number, and time to have Lil’ Charles there to meet the star. It took over a month to get the appointment. I didn’t tell Lil’ Charles about the meeting because I knew he would be so disappointment if they (the arrangements) fell through. Lil’ Charles died a week before the concert. I wish I had told Lil’ Charles about the plans.
Our parents would call and boost my morale. There were friends and other family members giving us all the support one could ever ask for. I turned to booze. I consumed more alcohol during Lil’ Charles’ brief illness than any two year period of my life. I’m now getting my life back to normal, that is, if there is a normal adjustment after such a tragic period.
I had temporarily lost my belief in God. I now believe again, but I have yet to pray. I feel that the prayer which needed answering the most is over and done with. I now have some peace with God, but frankly, I still suffer about the meaning of this. Why did Lil’ Charles have to die?
The incident at the funeral home was not entirely the fault of the funeral home. What happened was that the arrangements made between me and an associate director were changed because the government paperwork arranging payment for the transportation had not been provided the funeral home, and the shipment of Lil’ Charles’ body had been delayed. As a result, his body was to be shipped to Tuskegee, Alabama two days later than originally planned. So it may have been perceived that we wished to view the body prior to it’s pre-planned shipment.
I believe that periodic progress reports from the doctor would have made this period less painful. We were told up front that Lil’ Charles’ chance of survival was very poor. However, I feel that sometimes doctors become desensitized and may not truly understand some parents’ desire to be kept informed. I do not mean to give hope where there isn’t any hope, but to receive the results of tests months after the results are made available is insensitive. I realize, too, that I’m insensitive to the doctor’s workload and only concerned with my loved one. The shoe fits, and I’m wearing it.
I still feel that a cancer cure exists but is expensive, and the average person can’t afford to pay the price. What is debatable is whether a person is in the advanced stages when the cancer is detected. I met a guy who told me, “Your son is going to die.” I was crushed by his comment, but I listened to him anyway. The man continued to say that “he had a 12 year old son die of a similar cancer, and that if you’ve got cancer there is no hope of surviving.” He went on, “It’s just a matter of time, and your days are numbered.” I don’t think I’m that bitter about cancer. There are those who survive it. Unfortunately, there seems to be more victims of cancer who never recover.
I felt guilty from the beginning that maybe I was being punished for something I had done wrong in my life. I may have allowed Lil’ Charles too much freedom in living his life, guilty about something he ate, his living conditions and/or the environment which I placed him in, or for even allowing his participation in karate which could have caused his demise. But whatever I had done and/or whatever guilt I placed on myself, I had been taught to believe that his leaving at an early age is God’s will. That is what all Christians are taught to believe. Also, as scientists have been able to determine, nothing you or your child did or did not do caused the disease, and there is no evidence it can be prevented. The fact is, no one knows why children get cancer. Lil’ Charles is no longer here with us, and whatever I feel at this point isn’t going to bring him back. Now that’s the sad truth of the matter.
Pandora and I have been strengthened by this ordeal, and we could not have made it through without the help of relatives and good friends. I thank you all for your love and support. There is not question that your deeds and words of sympathy helped me and my family through the most difficult times.
Perhaps Lil’ Charles was put here to teach me to reprioritize my life. Had I known that Lil’ Charles would only live eight years, I would have given him more attention. The last seven months of his life were filled with joy and excitement on a very frequent basis. But that joy was brought about as a result of his illness, and the realization that maybe he would not survive may have been what I needed to have happen in order to give 100% everyday to my own son. I certainly give 110% to my job. If there is a lesson to be learned, the lesson is to love your children and to treat them like everyday is their last. By doing that, the impact of a situation like my own would be minimized because you would know in your own heart that you had given everything you had. I gave a lot to my son, but a lot at this point is not good enough. I could have given more!
My darling son, Lil’ Charles, is dead, and a large part of us died with him. I shall never fear death again. I loved him so much. Lil’ Charles took his fate in stride. I’m convinced that most men would not hold up as well as he did. Lil’ Charles was a true champion, a son any man would have been proud to have.
So now we concentrate on the future of loved ones still with us. As we go forward, we shall not forget what we have left behind us. Lil’ Charles was and still is an integral part of our lives. The fond memories we have of him will always be our most cherished possession. His memories will continue to live as we live. Lil’ Charles will always be remembered.
APPENDIX A---Going Forward