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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.

May 12, 2022

Sometimes, it feels like the world is really big and at other times, it feels really small. When I first spoke with today’s guest, Jen, the world actually felt quite tiny. She is from my home state of Iowa and lives in the town where I went to college, beautiful Decorah, Iowa. She graduated a year ahead of me and we even have two mutual friends - Sarah a friend from high school, and Meredith, one of my best friends from college.

This is amazing enough, but even more precious to me is the timing of this introduction. You see, Sarah introduced Jen to the podcast about two years ago. Meredith knew about our similar stories from the first days after Andy died, but she did not introduce us until now. Why would that be? What triggered Meredith to connect us now? 

I feel like Meredith must have been nudged by God at just the right moment in time. I certainly always would have appreciated talking to her and our shared experiences, but honestly, I needed to talk to her now. Brendan died shortly after graduating from high school, 105 days into his freshman year of college, to be exact. Right now, in my life, I find myself constantly thinking about what ‘should be’ happening. We should have just celebrated Andy’s 18th birthday. We should be 2 weeks from his graduation from high school. We should be starting to buy things for his dorm room as we prepare to send him to college.

Every graduation announcement is a trigger. Innocent conversations at work about graduation parties make me want to burst into tears. I seem to be experiencing trigger after trigger over the past few weeks. Now, at this moment in time, because of Sarah and Meredith, Jen is here for me. Brendan did graduate from high school and even started college, but then suddenly died in his sleep from a seizure. Jen appreciates those precious memories in ways that other moms just can’t. These are some of her last memories of her son so she truly understands the longing that I have right now.

So today I say, “Thank you, Sarah. Thank you, Meredith. And finally, thank you, Jen. Thank you for listening. Thank you for understanding and thank you for bringing a bit of Iowa home to me at just the right moment.