Rachel's Story - Watching Loved Ones Suffer

This is a story told from a different perspective that I thought I would share because it might be helpful to someone in a similar situation, someone walking beside a friend or family member, but not knowing exactly what to say or do...


There came a time in my life that life itself became very precious. I know it sounds stupid, but I did take certain things in life for granted. I was 24 and a new mother, when my youngest brother died tragically at the age of 18 and then my maternal grandmother followed him 4 months later. These events occurring so close together, and the fact that my mother was so deeply grieving shaped the next few years for me as a young adult. 


We had been attending Couts Methodist Church for a year, and met many supportive, wonderful people there. The Vantines were among the group that we found there. I had known Carol previously and it helped immensely that she is one of sweetest, most genuine people on Earth. The Vantines had a really rough year of deaths, to say the least, and it kind of bonded us to them. Their girls straddled my son in age so we were together a lot for children's events. 


Carol became pregnant with Matthew around the time my husband and I decided to just 'see what will happen' and try for a 2nd baby. I was jealous of her and her ease at pregnancy, but also happy for her as a friend. Then, tragedy struck again for the Vantines when she lost Matthew, and I was at a loss as a friend. I remember my sister and I taking a Scentsy warmer to her because that is what she wanted. She wanted her house to smell good when people stopped by. When we brought our seemingly pitiful gift of comfort to her, I just couldn't find the right words to say. I now know that just following her request without question was enough at the time. 


As time went on, my husband and I became more adamant about having another baby. Our son was six and he needed a sibling! It was urgent in my mind. I was volunteering as a Sunday School teacher for Carol who was the Children's Ministry director and she and I again bonded in our quest. I had no one else that I could verbalize how badly I wanted this next baby and not sound completely insane to. She was able to start trying, as well, and it shaped our friendship. I trusted her to know the depth of my disparity every month because it was not even comparable to hers. To make matters worse and better, my sister was able to conceive without even really thinking about it. Our two older children were 7 months apart and had been only children together. I say worse and better because I would at least have an infant niece to hold and love. My brother and his wife also conceived at that time, and that just about threw me over the edge for unmentioned reasons. I was not thinking very Christian-like thoughts about them.


It finally happened, and I will never forget the morning we found out. It was a Sunday and my husband and sister were the only people who knew before I called Carol. She was overjoyed for me. I can't believe she was able to celebrate this with me. In hindsight, it must've been killing her. I was on the roller coaster ride with her, and then I exited the ride. Unbeknownst to me, the roller coaster ride would continue.

My brother found out that their baby had serious complications early in the pregnancy. Down's syndrome was one of the many diagnoses. The baby boy's heart would never be strong enough to support him. I felt horrible because I had not been happy when hearing that she was pregnant and now this baby was going to die, or live only a short while. I was carrying my precious cargo and driving back and forth to the hospital to see my newborn nephew fight for his life. It was so confusing. How can these terrible things happen!? He had a heart surgery which did prolong his short little life, but he passed away with just having 2 months of life full of fighting, pain, and suffering. His poor parents were so angry and hard to comfort. Carol was a HUGE help in the whole process. She gave me words of wisdom to speak and hold on to as comfort. Going to an infant's funeral while visibly showing in my own pregnancy was just awful. 


I know deep in my heart that horrible things like this DON'T happen for a reason and I absolutely detest when people say that. There was no reason for my brother and his wife, or the Vantines, or anyone else who has lost a child at any age to have to go through that. There are times, however, that I believe we go through horrendous pain and grief and then, one day, look up and realize that things have clicked back into place and again we REJOICE! We had a flood of babies that year at our church that were happy, beautiful, bouncing boys and girls. It was our happy beginning and healing from the times that can literally tear us apart. I also feel like certain people are put together for reasons that are unknown to us. These people link arms and walk together through the darkest storms and help each other find Christ over and over again.