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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.

Nov 5, 2020

For most of my adult life, I had claimed Romans 8:28 as my own personal Bible verse. 'And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.' I clung to that verse, believed it and tried to live it. After I became a doctor, I remember thinking to myself that if I had not gone through the pain of my parents' cancer treatments and my mom's eventual death, I would have never learned about the field of medicine in such a personal way, and almost certainly, would not have become a physician. 

Throughout all of the trials in my life, I really tried to think from that Romans 8:28 perspective. This experience was molding me into the person I was to become. Each of these struggles had a purpose and even through the tough times, I was becoming a better person for it. That perspective changed though, the day that Andy died. I wanted to push that verse as far away from me as possible.

In my head, I knew that the verse was still true after August 15, 2018, but in my heart, I really did not want it to be true anymore. I wanted to think of Andy's death as 100% bad. Any thought that some good might come from it made me feel sick to my stomach. I didn't want to look on the bright side. I just wanted my son back.

Today's guest, Victoria clung to that verse as well during her daughter, Sydney's, entire life. Sydney was born with four tumors on her brain and spinal cord. She underwent surgery after surgery, and was in some type of physical therapy all of her life. They lived that verse, however, just knowing that there was a greater purpose for all of the suffering. Sydney believed her whole life that God would eventually heal her from her tumors. Victoria and her mom planned to write a book about the miraculous healing work that God would do in her life. That would be her purpose on earth.

Except that it wasn't. Showing God's miraculous healing power was not God's purpose for Sydney. Sydney died just days shy of her 15th birthday. Victoria says that she personally struggled in those last months. How could God not heal her daughter when she had such great faith? How could her prayers not be answered? Sydney, however, found peace at the end of her life. She realized even before Victoria did, that she had completed God's purpose for her. Throughout her almost 15 years, she spread God's love wherever she went. She lived the miracle of being able to walk and talk, laugh and play for most of her life. She was tired, and she was ready.

It's funny how your perspective changes on a Bible verse when you live through tragedy. I was fine living life according to Romans 8:28 when it helped me get through medical school. Victoria was 'ok' watching her daughter battle through her tumors, when she thought that the end result would be a miracle. That's not how life works though; we can't know ahead of time what the final result will be. That's what makes trust such a hard thing.

Now twelve years after Sydney's death, Victoria can again hold onto Romans 8:28. She sees the many good things that came after Sydney's death. She met and became friends with a woman who received Sydney's kidney in a kidney transplant. She sees how Sydney's life impacted others in a profound way. Now, she is even writing that book that she and Sydney always planned to write. It still even has a good ending, just not the one that they thought it would.