A few days before Christmas in 2002, a young pastor and his wife became first-time parents.
Alvin Murdock III was born premature. He weighed 3 pounds. His parents, Alvin Murdock Jr. and Demetria Murdock, were told the child might not live an hour.
"We were hit with a ton of bricks," Demetria Murdock said. "We were told our son was going to die."
The baby had Trisomy 18, a disorder similar to Down's Syndrome.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Herald
Demetria and Alvin Murdock held their son, and he lived past an hour. Past a day and a week and three months in the hospital. More.
Tre Murdock had this disease that children rarely live with. But his parents lived on with him. Medical prognoses were never good. The end was always forecast. They prayed and prayed.
They held their son. They loved their son.
Demetria would go to work two days a week at her job as a computer programmer. Alvin worked as a photographer and pastor at Christ Deliverance Church. Sometimes, they lived at the hospital.
What preachers do is help their flock. Murdock is a fifth-generation pastor. Men named Murdock have always been strong for others.
When people have broken hearts, shattered dreams, illness, whatever, preachers named Murdock give care and guidance. Alvin Murdock had a son who was just like that. But he still had to help others and be strong for them.
"There were times I was preaching about healing and facing the reality of sickness in my own home," Murdock said. "It was tough. My faith was tested. Many times."
The Murdocks decided to have more children. They went on faith. They had Joshua, now 2, and Elijah, 1.
Somehow, some way, Tre grew. He went to preschool for a while and could raise his hands at praise services. He never crawled, walked or spoke, and he had to have a breathing tube. He suffered broken bones, but he still grew.
So did a tumor in his liver.
Alvin Murdock quit his day job to be home with Tre, who needed almost constant care. Demetria, also a part-time computer instructor at York Technical College, worked from home some and went to the office some. His mother and her parents helped in immeasurable ways.
The Murdocks refused to give up on their son who was supposed to be dead already. Tre had been resuscitated several times. Alvin wrote of the journey on a blog and posted pictures of his son as an outlet for his emotions. He pastored other people through their struggles. His wife connected with other parents of sick children.
"Tre's life was a series of miracles," Demetria said.
At radiation one day, a man getting his own cancer treatment approached the Murdocks and said he had been mad at God for a very long time. But the man saw the Murdocks and their son, and he prayed again. He found peace through a little boy who fought to stay alive.
"Tre impacted that man's life," Murdock said. "He touched that man and so many others."
Finally, the doctors ran out of treatment options, the Murdocks said. Tre was on a feeding tube. He needed transfusions. The tumor had distended his abdomen.
Remember, Tre had never talked. But his parents knew him and knew he heard them.
"We put Tre in God's hands," Alvin Murdock said. "I talked to Tre. I told him if he wanted to give up, that he had been so strong for us, we understood. I think he understood."
On March 30, Alvin Murdock III, Tre, died. He lived four years and then some.
The Murdocks continue to celebrate the life of a boy who changed them, and others, just by staying alive. They are working on setting up nonprofits for other families who have similar problems.
In a house off Ogden Road in the south part of Rock Hill, Tre's father and mother and two little brothers live. I asked Joshua Murdock, 2, where his brother was.
"Up there," Joshua said and pointed. "In heaven."