As Jaden Weekes lay dying in bed last week, he found the energy for one last act: forgiveness.
The story was one of many that brought tears to a standing-room-only crowd at the Duryee Memorial AME Zion Church during Thursday’s funeral for the 8-year-old boy. So many people arrived to pay their last respects that the church hooked up a camera to broadcast a feed into the basement, where mourners filled the chairs there, too.
Weekes was the son of Patrick Weekes Sr. and Jessica LeFevre of Schenectady, and had attended Paige Elementary School before succumbing Sunday to mitochondrial disease. He had been fighting the fatal disorder, which affects his body’s ability to produce fuel from food, since he was six months old.
For months, he held a grudge against a family friend who scolded him for angrily telling a nurse, “You’re not my mother!”
His behavior was understandable — he was in so much pain that a mere kiss caused him agony, and in his moments of energy he wanted desperately to go outside and play. The nurses at Albany Medical Center Hospital said he absolutely had to stay inside.
But when a family friend sided with the nurses, he stopped speaking to her. He ignored her visits and even told his pastor to kick her out of his room.
She told him she’d never stop visiting him, never stop loving him. Reminding herself of his age, she tried not to take his behavior personally. But it still hurt, until the day Jaden mustered the maturity to heal the wound.
As death finally approached and he lay in bed with a fever of 107 degrees, he opened his eyes to see her keeping watch over him.
He didn’t reject her this time. Instead, he whispered three words: “I love you.”