Be Patient With One Another {Her Story}

Someone has said, “Patience is love on the anvil, bearing blow after blow of suffering.”

Long ago, the Apostle Paul expressed it this way: “Be patient, bearing with one another in love.” (Ephesians 4:2)     

And in his famous “love chapter” from I Corinthians 13, Paul said it like this:   

“Love is patient…   

The first of 15 qualities that Paul ascribes to love is patience.  Longsuffering.  Literally “long-fused”.  Slow to anger.  Bearing with another’s imperfections, faults, and differences. 

Just a couple of years ago, after 24 years of marriage, Peter and I thought we knew what it meant to “be patient, bearing with one another in love.”  But nothing prepared us for the quake that rocked our world as we watched our beautiful baby daughter die in my arms…and the aftershocks that would take us to new depths in the quest to patiently love and bear with each other as husband and wife.    

Shortly after midnight on May 18, 2014, only days away from my due date with our ninth child, I realized that our normally vigorous baby had gone motionless.  No amount of prodding my belly or plying me with sugary foods could move her.  In the dark hours before dawn, Peter drove me to the nearest hospital, both of us trying to remain calm but each sensing something was desperately wrong.  Once on the L&D floor, I felt a small kick for the first time in about ten hours and knew our little one was still alive.  But very shortly we learned that she was struggling, and within the hour, our long-awaited baby girl, Beatrice Ruby, was born by unplanned C-section, weighing 7 pounds 7 ounces.  Her faint cry at birth, the only one she would ever utter, was followed by silence.  The medical team worked tirelessly to help her breathe, brought her to my side for a brief glance, then whisked her away to the NICU. Our concern over what we thought might be a lung problem soon morphed into shock at the news that our precious daughter had a rare combination of heart deformities.  After her airlift transport to a specialty hospital came the final blow.  All our hopes of saving her were dashed.  No surgery could fix her.  Her heart was not made for this world.   

In the space of 49 ½ beautiful, horrible hours, we all took turns holding our beloved Baby Bea and soaking her up for a lifetime.  My heart broke again and again as I watched each of her grief-stricken brothers and sisters say their hellos and goodbyes in the same breath.  And then, as swiftly and sweetly as she had come into our world, she left it while I sang her off to Jesus.  Her heart was finally whole, but our hearts were left shattered. 

In the days, weeks, and months ahead, my husband lived up to his name.  Peter.  My rock.  When I couldn’t put two thoughts together for many months to grocery shop or cook a meal, he patiently bore with me.  When I found myself weeping and barricaded yet again in the last stall of the ladies’ room at church, he rescued me and took me home.  When all I could do many days was lie in bed and sob, this man held me in his arms and spoke life into me.  How he always knew just what to say, I will never know. 

One day in particular, just six weeks into our grief journey, is impressed on my heart.  Peter was recovering from surgery he’d undergone three days before.  I was supposed to go to the store for his prescriptions and a host of other things, but instead, a grief ambush knocked me flat.  I couldn’t contain my tears and I wound up weeping on Peter’s chest as he lay recuperating at home.  His words pierced through my sobs: “It’s good to cry, for as long as you need to, for as many months as it takes…always call out to the Lord…take it to Him again and again.”  Then, as I remained curled up under the covers, he got out of bed, summoned the strength to get dressed, and ran my errands for me.  Two hours later, he returned with a beautiful bouquet of white daisies and red roses.  No condemnation.  No complaints.    

But the biblical instruction to “be patient with each other and lovingly accept each other” is not always so easily fulfilled.  It is really no secret that men and women grieve differently. But when YOU are that man and that woman agonizing the death of YOUR very own precious child, it’s not just a saying anymore.  It is a grave reality that will test the very core of your marriage and will require of you the kind of longsuffering, patience, and love that God showed us through His Son, Jesus Christ. 

While I gave full vent to my sorrow, my husband often kept his at bay.  After all, he had to be strong.  He couldn’t understand my fervent need to hear and read about other moms’ stories of loss.  And why did I LONG to look at our daughter’s pictures again and again when all he wanted to do was avoid them for the pain that it brought his soul?  Although Peter could not grasp it, he was again patient with me, enduring my way of grieving.    

While I began to find solace and comfort through the Hope Mommies online communities, the Hope Group Bible studies, and the annual retreats, my husband carried his burden alone.  Together we attended a grief recovery support group at a local church a few months after Bea had gone to be with the Lord; all the while, my husband dreaded those Tuesday nights of “opening the wounds” of his torn heart.  But I know Peter did it patiently for my sake. 

One of the severest tests to our forbearance with one another ultimately led to one of our most intimate bonding moments.  After Beatrice left us, we had given away her mountain of baby supplies and gifts to a couple who had chosen life for their unborn baby.  To know that our daughter’s precious things were blessing another little one who had narrowly escaped death brought me such comfort in the midst of my sorrow.  Seeing pictures of the young mom and dad and their newborn did trigger my grief but allowed healing at the same time.  Peter worried that I was obsessing over this baby, that it was not healthy for me to hear reports about the family’s progress.  He sought out an answer to this dilemma, wanting only to help me, and one night we went for counsel about this specific issue.  But in an odd twist, I ended up feeling scolded that I was still grieving my baby a year after her death.  I cried at the hurtful “advice,” and through my tears, I turned and saw in my husband’s face such bewilderment and regret.  Afterwards, we sat in the car and wept together, both of us allowing the rawness of our grief to escape, just missing our girl.  We had learned another painful but powerful lesson in bearing patiently with one another. 

Not long after, I had a conversation with Peter’s 92-year-young grandmother, Ruby.    She remarked what an “ideal marriage” Peter and I have had.  I nodded, but quickly added that it has had its hard times.  Nana interlocked the fingers of her hands together and knowingly replied, “Oh, yes, it’s the fire that melts metal together.”

Be patient, bearing with one another in love.  Even in the crucible. 

Kelly enjoys life at home in Texas, as wife to Peter for 26 years, and mom to eight children on earth (ages 8 to 25), a new son-in- law and daughter-in- law, and three precious ones in heaven. She is a homeschool teacher by day and “life coach/counselor/confidante” by (late) night.

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1 Reply to "Be Patient With One Another {Her Story}"

  • Katie Tokarsky
    April 21, 2017 (2:14 pm)

    What precious words and God-vision you’ve been given to bear and tell the story of sweet Bea. You are a blessing Kelly!! I’m grateful for the ways our Lord has guided and comforted your hearts in this terrible beautiful journey.

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