St. Charles boy, 8, dies after long struggle
By Elizabethe Holland
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
For more than eight years, Sandy and Suzan Cross were told again and again that their precious Jeremiah could die any day.Early Thursday (Dec. 11, 2008), after spending nearly every moment of his life in his family members' arms, he did.Jeremiah Brower Cross, of St. Charles, died of complications from surgery he underwent Monday. He was 8.
When Jeremiah's heart stopped early Thursday at St. John's Mercy Medical Center, his mother's hand rested over his heart. "We said, 'We love you so much,' and he was gone," Suzan Cross said.
Jeremiah and his family were the subjects of a 2006 Post-Dispatch feature story that prompted nearly 100 e-mails, letters and phone calls from readers who wanted to send best wishes to the family.
He was born Aug. 27, 2000, to Nina Brower. He had a functioning brain stem that controlled his breathing and heart, but the rest of his brain never developed. He was diagnosed with microcephaly, cerebral palsy and a seizure disorder. He was legally blind, unable to walk or talk, and lived without a sleep-wake cycle.
No one expected him to live very long.
Six weeks after his birth, Jeremiah was unhooked from life-support machines. Sandy and Suzan Cross, who had become close with Brower, told people at the hospital they would take him home and hold him until his death.
They kept their promise. The couple and their children held Jeremiah virtually every moment of every day, patting him, singing to him and showering him with kisses.
"He was so good," Suzan Cross said. "All he wanted was kisses. We held him all day and all night, and we just loved him."
The Crosses were not related to Jeremiah but stepped in as foster parents. When the boy was about 8 weeks old, Brower gave her parental rights to the couple.
Each time in the last eight years that Jeremiah underwent a medical procedure, his family gathered to say farewell. That was the case Monday, when Jeremiah had surgery at St. John's to relieve his stiffening legs. It was supposed to be a simple procedure, his father said, "one that was going to help his quality of life."
That night, though, Jeremiah's fever shot up to 109 degrees. His organs began to fail. This time Jeremiah couldn't bounce back.
Sandy and Suzan Cross were with Jeremiah in his hospital bed early Thursday. They were holding him when he died, his mother said.
"He just fought so hard," Suzan said. "We said, 'Jeremiah, if you're tired, you can go. We love you enough that you can go.'"
I was so honored to take care of Jeremiah. We're the lucky ones because we got to have eight years with him."
Visitation is scheduled 3 to 6 p.m. Sunday at Alexander Funeral Home, 11101 St. Charles Rock Road, St. Ann. The funeral service, also at the funeral home, will be at 6 p.m.
There is a touching audio slide show by the Post dated about two years ago here.