Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Wind Knocked Out of Me

I was just checking my regular blogs and learned of another horrible loss this week. I follow a writer at, Vicki Forman, who writes a beautiful column called "Special Needs Mama." Vicki had premature twins nearly 8 years ago, a boy and a girl. The girl died soon after the birth, and her son Evan survived. He had quite a few disabilities--he was blind and nonverbal, along with many other issues--and Vicki wrote eloquently and honestly about the challenges of raising a disabled child. She had an essay in a wonderful book I recently read, Love You to Pieces: Creative Writers on Raising a Child with Special Needs.

Her beautiful son, Evan, just died yesterday, less than a week short of his 8th birthday. I am just stunned.

Because of our association with the NICU, we have known many parents who have tragically lost their beloved children. Starting with Chloe, who was a 25-weeker in the NICU who died after we began getting to know her parents, and Jacob, Parker, Olivia, Collin, Sadie, Ashleigh, and many others who we never got to meet but have had our lives enriched by getting to know their parents.

Then, in November 2001, our dear friends lost their beautiful, 4-1/2-year-old little boy, Zacary, who had a heart defect. Witnessing their deep-seated grief and anguish over his death changed my life. Watching all of these wonderful parents grieve for and honor their children for years after their deaths has inspired me. It has deeply affected Chris, too, who knows that he was very close to dying himself. The loss of Zacary, his little buddy, continues to affect him to this day. Whenever we mention Zacary, it brings tears to Chris' eyes. He was only 5-1/2 when Zac died.

Zacary Coy Bentley

I only have a fraction of understanding of what Vicki and her husband (and their older daughter) must be going through at this time, but my heart goes out to them, and all parents whose babies and children die too early.

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