–Mary Ann Boe, Déva's mom
Daniel Déva Ram Dass Pollard was born in Canada on July 20, 1972. By the time he was two months old, he was settled on a farm in Mapleton Minnesota with his friends: Rusty the golden retriever; Gumpa, the sheepdog; nine bantam hens and a rooster. There are many sweet memories about Déva’s infant life. I can still see him bouncing along in his red wagon on our morning trips to gather eggs and the garden harvest. On his daddy’s shoulders he was taller than the giant sunflowers. Afternoons on the farm were lazy, the hammock often called to us where we would rock in the warm sun with the Cobb river flowing and the summer wind dancing through the treetops.
One fall morning, when Déva was three months old, a scream of an ambulance siren pierced through the dream-like serenity of our lives. In response to my call that Déva was having some breathing difficulties, his grandfather had sent the paramedics. One of them rushed in, lifted Déva from his crib and stared in his eyes. As he ran by me again, I saw that the child he was holding, our son, had turned blue. It was his first seizure. Two years later, after many brain surgeries, radiation and chemotherapy, we were told that Déva had only two weeks to live. Where did we want him to die–at home or in the hospital? We took Déva home and he did die... 12 years later.
Who was Déva? Can you put all the rays of the sun into one child’s smile? I think so. Déva was pure light, pure joy. He lived in Mexico, in California, at Lourdes in the south of France–anywhere we, his parents, could track down a new cure or hope for spiritual healing. He lived, filling each moment of our lives, with unconditional love.
When Déva was six years old, a best friend entered his life. He called her “sister” and they were glued to each other’s sides from day one. Déva was preserved at an age of innocence throughout all of his 14 years. Even in his stature, he remained as small as a four-year old cherub. His sister, Bernadette, grew from the baby he protected to become his big sister, his protector.
At nine years old, Déva weighed only 35 pounds. His waking and sleeping hours were consumed with a constant fight for survival. The seizures left him exhausted and the drugs we gave him, in an attempt to stop the seizures, left him numb. Unable to walk, I carried him. His vocabulary, about 12 words. Malnourished, he entered a five-month hospital stay. There was a difficult surgery, a near-death experience and then, a miracle and a new beginning. The seizures that had plagued his life ended.
Although Déva was tube fed during his last five years and was extremely fragile, it was a glorious time. He was able to attend school and soon became a leader among his peers, as he traveled from class to class on his big wheel and was deservedly nicknamed “motor mouth” because of his endless chattering. He proudly claimed ownership of the Boy Scouts, the Dowling Duster Bowling Team, the Lake Washington Beach Club and the raking of our front yard with his kitty pal, Whiskers.
The hospital and its clinics were a second home to our family. One of the last late-night races to the emergency room led to a ruptured appendix. Over the next eight months in the hospital, we did not recognize that Déva had entered into a dying process. Spiritual and emotional needs were silenced by our frantic efforts to keep his body alive. There were, it seemed, endless surgeries trying to save a body that had reached its end. Déva never questioned his fate. He never asked–Why the brain surgeries? Why a gastrostomy? Why an ileostomy? Why a colostomy? The only question I remember him asking was when I brought him to the intensive care unit for the last time. “Mommy,” he asked, “What is my new nurse’s name?”. I told him that her name was Lori. He responded, “Tell Lori I love her. Tell all my doctors and nurses thank you and I love them.”
When Déva died on an August morning in 1986, it was for us a moment full of grace. His intense and prolonged suffering had ended. After they removed all of the tubes and machines, I held him. Bernadette then took her place in the rocking chair and I laid Déva in his young protector’s arms. It was quiet. A peace whispered through my heart like the gentle wind in the summer treetops.
Déva came to teach. His lessons to us were many. Life is pain and great suffering. Life is joy. Life is also marbles in a dump truck, King Castle stories, a Lois Lane sister needing to be rescued, and hospital slumber parties.
Who is Déva? A shining one whose light is ever guiding, ever brilliant. A child, like so many, who comes bearing special gifts that sometimes take all our strength to hold and all our lives to open. And the treasure inside? Perhaps a true healing, a greater understanding of life’s meaning or the longed-for embrace of a natural great peace.
Déva lived much of his life in Mankato, MN–home to his mother, grandparents and great grandparents.
–Mary Ann Boe, Déva’s mom
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