I was a nurse in the oncology unit of a hospital when one of my cancer patients asked me a question that took me completely off-guard. She asked if I would take care of her eight-year-old son, Wesley, if she passed away. We had only known each other for 10 days.
Tricia had some stomach pains and a CT scan revealed she had an extremely rare form of vascular cancer. She had undergone a number of difficult chemotherapy treatments which had some devastating side effects. She got extremely sick very quickly, and had to be hospitalized. As her nurse on her first day in the hospital, I knew her condition was serious.
She wasn’t my patient after that first day but I felt a nudge to continue checking on her after taking care of my other patients. I enjoyed our chats and learned a lot more about her situation.
After being around her, I could sense that she didn’t have many people in her life that could help. Tricia’s parents had passed away and Wesley’s father wasn’t active in his life. She had moved to Pennsylvania because she was the victim of domestic violence and needed a fresh start. So she didn’t know a lot of people here.
She was due to check out after a 10-day stay, so I stopped by to say goodbye. Tricia had just gotten the lab report from her biopsy. It was a terminal case of cancer and doctors had told her there was nothing else they could do for her.
That’s when she asked if I would take care of Wesley when she died. Her question took my breath away. I told her to take some time to think about what she was asking. She said she had no doubt and a complete peace about this. She called me her angel and believed I was sent to help her and her son.
But asking me to care for her son? My husband and I were already the parents of three teenage girls and a 10-year-old son. About a year earlier, my husband and I felt God calling us to become foster parents and possibly adopt. So we followed God’s direction and went through the training. But the process was taking so long and becoming very frustrating.
When Tricia asked us to take care of her son, we reflected on how we had prayed to have a child come live in our home. But this was way too complicated and too messy to be God’s plan, wasn’t it? Our only thought at the time was to help Tricia get better, to be cured. We didn’t want anything bad to happen to her or for her to leave Wesley.
My husband said we just needed to follow whatever it was that God wanted us to do here. So we continued to grow close to Tricia. We had Tricia and Wesley over at Easter for a day visit. Then for Mother’s Day, we had them overnight, just to enjoy one another. Our son had always felt outnumbered by his three sisters so he loved having Wesley around. But over that weekend, I realized how frail she was; how hard it was for her to get around. She was barely eating, and I could tell fluid was accumulating in her legs. She could not walk more than 25 feet at a time.
Soon after, she was hospitalized once again. This time, the doctors said she was in no condition to take care of herself, much less Wesley. They lived in an apartment and she couldn’t manage this by herself. We felt an overwhelming call to be a support system for her. She was alone and walking through something terrifying. When I told my husband they wanted to send her to a nursing home, he verbalized something we were both thinking: “Why doesn’t she bring Wesley and come live here?”
We were now all in on granting her wish of Wesley living with us if and when she did pass away.
When we both went to her hospital room to ask her if they’d live with us, she broke down crying, not able to even speak. The doctor said she may only have a month to live, that no chemo would cure her cancer. But for palliative reasons, chemo would slow its growth and give her more time. This was important for her but also would give Wesley more time to adapt to our family.
Tricia actually improved when she lived with us. Maybe it was the life of a busy household around her. Or the good hot meals. Or someone making sure she took her medicine. Ladies from our church would come sit with her and keep her company when I was at work. They folded the laundry and fed her when she was too weak to feed herself. She saw what a church is all about: supporting and helping one another.
The Lord was gracious and gave us all more time together. This time allowed us to be named Wesley’s legal guardians as well as get Tricia a will.
Tricia and I spent an incredible amount of time together during her final months. I wanted to learn as much about her and her life as possible. I asked every question imaginable about Wesley as a baby and toddler, trying to have as many answers to questions I knew he’d ask as he grew into a young man.
Tricia passed away just nine months after I had met her. God had given Wesley a smooth transition into our family. During that time, we had all grown extremely close to one another, and Tricia and Wesley both accepted Jesus as their Savior while she lived with us. So I know we will all spend eternity together with Him. I feel so blessed to have known her and now have the privilege of raising her incredible son.
Now, eight years later, Wesley has grown into an amazing young man. He has a desire to serve the Lord with his life. His biological father never wanted responsibility or custody but was very hesitant to give up his parental rights. But in 2020, he finally agreed to sign off and we had the chance to adopt Wesley. He is such an integral part of our family.
Through this entire journey, our family all learned that when the Lord is leading, you go with it. We felt His guidance and direction at every step along the way.
More about this incredible story can be found in Tricia Seaman’s book, God Gave Me You.