Bethany’s Story

The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away;
blessed be the name of the Lord.”
~Job 1:21b

The following is the eulogy my brother-in-law gave at the funeral of my niece last Friday. I was affected so greatly by the passing of this little girl. My wish is that as you continue to read, your hope would be found in the God who restores. Thank you to everyone who prayed and is continuing to pray for my sister and her family.

“Funerals often have stories from the life of the person who has passed away.  You may not expect a story for Bethany after such a short life, but she has a story that Stacy and I wanted to tell.

When we got married, it was our desire to spend several years together as a couple before having children, start with 2 kids ideally spaced 2 years apart, and then expand from there.  That came to pass almost perfectly.  After our first 2, we both knew we wanted a third.  After 3, we didn’t feel our family was complete and decided to grow by another.  After 4, we paused, at peace with the size of our family but not quite convinced we were done.  Time passed and we decided we were going to be done having our own babies, so we gave away all of our baby stuff.  Any future growth would be through adoption, so we thought. 

That’s why Bethany came as a complete surprise to us.  However, what was a surprise to us was not a surprise to God – he chose this new baby for us and began knitting her together inside of Stacy.  We found out in early June and were in disbelief when the test showed positive.  It took a few days to let the idea soak in.  How would we home school with a new baby in the house?  Which room would the baby use?  Do they make infant snow pants for these Chicago babies?

My excitement grew first as he began hoping for a little girl.  The kids all wanted a boy.

Stacy spent the summer with morning sickness, similar to prior pregnancies but more extreme.  Our family was thinking about taking a missions trip, but Stacy was too sick to go over the summer.  Though we postponed that idea for a future year, we did continue forward with hosting back yard bible club with 15 kids from our neighborhood, depending on lots of help from our church friends to get through that week.

Stacy’s excitement also grew and she began to cherish the shared experience with her close friend Jill, both going through their 5th pregnancy.  They had journeyed through the previous 4 pregnancies and it was fitting that they’d both be going through the 5th together.  Stacy also got excited about nursing, one of her favorite parts of having a new baby.

Beside Matthew, we didn’t want to find out about the sex of the baby and we didn’t want to know this time either.  Internally, Stacy felt like it was a girl, but didn’t want to get my hopes up, so she often compared the pregnancy to those of the other three boys, leading myself and others to conclude we were having a boy.

The fall was good.  Stacy was better and we had time to think through life with our new baby.  We started working on plans for where the baby’s room would be.  After rejecting the laundry room, a build out of the basement for Joshua to free up an upstairs bedroom, and the addition of a second story above our family room, we decided on moving all the boys into the same room and putting the baby in the room between the other kids’ bedrooms.  Stacy began to trust God that homeschooling 3 children with an infant would work and started preparing Joshua and Merideth to be more independent learners.

As the third trimester began, Stacy began feeling uncomfortable.  December ushered in 3 straight weeks of increasing pain for Stacy and we began questioning what was going on.  Extra doctor visits and an overnight stay at the hospital on Christmas Eve were unexpected and didn’t really improve the situation.  Stacy was only 34 weeks along and we didn’t feel like 6 more weeks in her condition was going to work.  So back to the doctor we went early last week which resulted in an appointment for an ultrasound for Friday, January 3rd, to help figure out what was causing Stacy’s issues.  It was that afternoon that we were shocked to find out that something was wrong with the baby.  Within 5 hours, we went from expecting a healthy baby to holding our little girl after she had passed away.

The hospital staff treated us so well and helped us through the very difficult hours that followed this dramatic turn of events.  They helped us introduce Bethany to our kids, for which we couldn’t be more grateful.  They will be forever etched in our minds.

One thing we know about Bethany is that her favorite color was purple.  How do we know?  Each of our children has a favorite color.  They have dishes, towels, pajamas, clothes, etc… that are their color.  As a young toddler, Joshua favored yellow in very noticeable ways.  As a girl, we tried to get Merideth to like pink but she migrated toward blue and has claimed that color.  True to his personality, Caleb has chosen red.  By the time Matthew was born, color selection was getting a little limited so we used parental power of influence to instill a love of green, which has taken a firm hold in his life.  Using the same technique we mastered with Matthew, Bethany was going to have purple as her primary color.  That is why she is wearing purple this morning, has a purple stuffed animal with her, and a purple bracelet that Merideth made for her. 

We are deeply saddened to miss out on watching Bethany’s personality blossom and will miss the memories that we looked forward to making with her.  We are a family of 7, with six of us still together now and Bethany awaiting the rest of us to join her in the presence of our Lord.  We have been struck by God’s intentionality for Bethany in our lives.  He gave her to us last summer and he took her away this past week.  We were reminded a verse of scripture found in Job chapter 1, verse 21.  “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord”.  It’s easy to bless the Lord when abundance flows, but our desire is to bless the name of the Lord even in the midst of our suffering.

Thank you for your prayers, love, and support of our family during this time.  Without you, it’s hard to think we could have made it this far.  We are especially grateful to everyone who has taken care of our kids, sent encouraging notes and emails, delivered food, poured love into our family, and prayed for us.  It has meant more than words can express.  May God bless you greatly.”

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