When Death Hits Home

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 Cody Creech

I’ll never forget that phone call nine years ago.

“Rachel, this is Mom.”

From the tone in her voice, I sensed something was desperately wrong.

She quivered as she told me the news. “There’s been an accident. Cody was hit by a tractor trailer while on his four wheeler. He’s on life support at the hospital.” She barely sobbed out the next words, “They—they don’t think…he’ll make it.”

I was stunned, not knowing what to say. I had just seen my sister a few days earlier. Although miles separated my family from the rest of my extended family, and my sister lived even further away, I had seen my sister for a brief time before she and her family spent a few days skiing over their Christmas vacation.

That mild December night as I walked under the stars in my neighborhood cul-de-sac, I cried out to God to save Cody’s life, but most of all to give my sister and her family His all sufficient grace to bear the grief ahead and the painful decisions that had to be made.

I kept hoping that this was just a bad dream, and that I would wake up to find everything all right. Why would Cody, a bright young boy just shy of his 10th birthday, have to face the grim reaper? Cody was a delightful boy so full of promise. It seemed unfair that my sister would lose one of her two biological children, while I was expecting my 5th child.

I looked up at the stars and imagined Cody’s soul already in heaven. Even as I thought of death, the baby within my womb kicked reminding me of the life growing within me.

Nothing could be done to save Cody’s life. His soul had already left his body; only the life support was keeping his body alive for possible organ donation. On New Year’s Day when everyone else was celebrating, my sister made the painful decision to remove the life support.

Only those who have lost a child understand the deep pain a person experiences at the death of a child. I know the loss of miscarriage, but I still have my five children.

Yes, it hurts to know that you will never see your child on earth again, but we have the assurance that we will one day be reunited with him. The previous summer Cody had accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as his Savior and he is waiting in heaven for us.

Even in his death, Cody made a difference: his organs helped others live. While the pain of death never goes away, you learn to cope and become a stronger person in the process. My sister has helped so many others in so many ways. And after being out of school for so many years, she decided to go back to earn her teaching degree (with highest honors). She is now making a difference in the lives of precious boys and girls as a 3rd grade teacher.

Yes, we miss Cody, but we know that one day death will be swallowed up in victory.

O Death, where is your victory?

O Death, where is your sting?

1 Corinthians 15:55

Cody Creech Memorial Site

Happy Birthday in Afghanistan

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Specialist John Keller

Specialist John Keller

Twenty years ago today was a very cold, snowy morning. My husband and I had carefully traveled the icy roads late the evening before in anticipation of our oldest son’s arrival.

He wasn’t due for another two and a half weeks and I wasn’t in labor, but my water bags had broken and my doctor suggested I come to the hospital. We didn’t relish the idea of rushing through more snow in the early hours of the morning so we left late that night.

Although I had taken childbirth classes, I really didn’t know what to expect since every woman is different. (And I can tell you after having five children that each pregnancy and childbirth varies even with the same woman.)

I tried everything I could think of to get my labor started, but it was past midnight and nothing was happening. I reluctantly agreed to pitocin. I assumed that my labor would be long, so when the pains became intense very quickly, I decided to try an epidural.

The anesthesiologist was with another patient and by the time he began giving me the epidural, I felt a strong urge to push. I was fully dilated and ready to give birth.

I don’t think the nurse realized how quickly I would progress, and if I had known, I would have chosen all-natural. (I chose all natural with the next four. Yes, I had an emergency, C-section with my fifth child, but it was only after going through the whole labor sans drugs, and I began pushing that the doctors realized I wouldn’t be able to deliver a double footling breech baby. Only then, did I agree to an epidural and the C-section.)

Shortly after 5 in the morning, I gave birth to my first-born son. He was one ounce over six pounds, and the most beautiful baby I had ever seen! My heart filled with love as I held him close and nursed him for the first time.

With the thoughts of joy, however, came thoughts of fear and inadequacy. How could I ever possibly teach this baby all he needed to know for life? Would he learn to love God and treat his fellow man with kindness and respect?

As the years passed, I tried to imagine what my son would look like as a grown man, and what he would become. Despite my mistakes—and I made plenty of them—my son John grew up into a fine young man.

My only regret is that this is the first birthday that I can’t give him a birthday hug and kiss. I can’t make him a special birthday meal or a birthday cake.

You see, my son is part of the United States Army, and his unit is currently serving in Afghanistan. It hasn’t been easy, but he is fulfilling his duty to his country, and I couldn’t be more proud of him. He also received his E-4 promotion today on his birthday, which makes him a specialist.

Congratulations, Specialist John Maynard Keller, and happy 20th birthday!

How does a mother feel about letting her son go out of her protective arms and across the world to a dangerous situation? Carried in His Arms. describes the emotional struggled I encountered as the day of my son’s departure drew near and how God sustained me during that time.