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Losing a Child: Always Andy's Mom

As a pediatrician, married mom of three biological children and one foster son, my life was busy, rushing off to my office four days a week, seeing patients for three and working as a medical director of a local physician organization for one. I balanced this with rushing off to shuttle my kids to after sports and other after school activities. All of this changed one day in August of 2018 when my 14 year old son, Andy, was killed in a car accident. I felt like my life was over, and in some ways it was over, and a new life was forced to begin in its place. 

Grief is seldom discussed openly in our culture, and the death of a child makes people feel even more uncomfortable. On this blog and podcast, ‘Losing a Child: Always Andy’s Mom’, the topic is approached openly and honestly, speaking to people who have lost loved ones and experts who help care for them. Whether you are a parent experiencing loss or someone who wants to support another going through this tragedy, this blog and podcast strives to offer hope and help.

Apr 27, 2023

When listening to the story of Donna's son, Andrew, I was immediately struck with how his life was touched by God. That is not to say Andrew didn't encounter difficulties. In fact, quite the opposite is true. God seemed to shut door after door in his face, but would at the exact right moment, open a window for life to take a new path. Andrew obediently crawled through each window.
From a young age, Andrew dreamed of being an Air Force pilot. As he grew taller, he was eventually told that he would be too tall to be a fighter pilot. He was crushed, but soon afterward, God opened that window. He started going on church mission trips and met a missionary pilot. He found his answer - he could combine his love for flying with doing work in the mission field. After high school, he packed up and moved from Colorado to Spokane, Washington, to train to be a missionary pilot.
Then, another door closed. His log book that he had to keep meticulous records in to become a pilot was stolen not once, but twice. In the meantime, he had started volunteering at Peak 7 Adventures, and God opened a window. Peak 7 is a faith-based non-profit providing outdoor adventures to under-resourced young people. He found a new purpose in life. He taught climbing and was a guide for white water rafting. Over 4 years, he spent more than 4500 hours teaching, loving, and encouraging young people. Even as he thought about returning home to Colorado, God intervened, and Andrew met and eventually married his soul mate, Emily.
Stories like these are weaved throughout today's episode, but it certainly seemed like Andrew's final door was closed when he died suddenly from a fall just as he was getting ready to work on repairs in a local climbing area. As much as it felt like the end, however, Donna can now see that even in Andrew's death, a few smaller windows opened for others to crawl through. Peak 7 started a new program, naming it after Andrew. Fellow climbers continued the work Andrew started by replacing old, rusty pins in the climbing areas around Spokane. 
Donna started going through windows as well. Initially, she went to a local GriefShare, then to a bereaved moms group 30 miles away. Next, Donna went through training to become a small group facilitator. Now, she hosts bereaved moms in her own home several times a year, giving them love and support as they suffer the worst pain a mother could know. 
Thank you, God, for both doors and windows.