CLARK COUNTY, Wash. (CBS Seattle) — A 5-year-old girl suffering from a terminal illness is choosing heaven over the hospital.
Julianna Snow is dying from spinal muscular atrophy, an incurable disease that affects the part of the nervous system that controls voluntary muscle movement, KOIN-TV reports.
Doctors told her parents, Steve Snow and Dr. Michelle Moon, that each hospital visit could be her last. That prompted Moon, a neurologist, to have a conversation with her daughter about if she wants to go to the hospital or stay home when she gets sick again.
In a blog post in May, Moon recited a conversation she had with Julianna, where her daughter said she hates the hospital and wants to go to heaven. Julianna was 4 at the time of this conversation.
Julianna: Mom, do you want me to get a shot?
Me: It depends. If you need the shot…
J: Do you want me to go the hospital and get a shot?
M: You don’t want to go to the hospital, right, J?
J: I don’t like NT [naso-tracheal suction, the thing she hated the most from the hospital].
M: I know. So if you get sick again, you want to stay home?
J: I hate NT. I hate the hospital.
M: Right. So if you get sick again, you want to stay home. But you know that probably means you will go to heaven, right?
M: And it probably means that you will go to heaven by yourself, and Mommy will join you later.
J: But I won’t be alone.
M: That’s right. You will not be alone.
J: Do some people go to heaven soon?
M: Yes. We just don’t know when we go to heaven. Sometimes babies go to heaven. Sometimes really old people go to heaven.
J: Will Alex [her 6-year-old brother] go to heaven with me?
M: Probably not. Sometimes people go to heaven together at the same time, but most of the time, they go alone. Does that scare you?
J: No, heaven is good. But I don’t like dying.
M: I know. That’s the hard part. We don’t have to be afraid of dying because we believe we go to heaven. But it’s sad because I will miss you so much.
J: Don’t worry, I won’t be alone.
M: I know. I love you.
M: Yes, I love you madly. I’m so lucky.
J: And I’m so lucky.
J: Because you love me madly.
“She made it clear that she doesn’t want to go through the hospital again,” Moon told CNN. “So we had to let go of that plan because it was selfish.”
Moon said her daughter is scared of dying, but has “demonstrated adequate knowledge of what death is.”
“She hasn’t changed her mind about going back to the hospital, and she knows that this means she’ll go to heaven by herself. If she gets sick, we’ll ask her again, and we’ll honor her wishes,” she told CNN.
Moon continued, “Very clearly, my 4-year-old daughter was telling me that getting more time at home with her family was not worth the pain of going to the hospital again. I made sure she understood that going to heaven meant dying and leaving this Earth. And I told her that it also meant leaving her family for a while, but we would join her later. Did she still want to skip the hospital and go to heaven? She did.”