My fever broke that night and in a couple days I was up and back to work.
I was also confused by that cross. I was an Atheist and crosses did not magically appear on your wall to cure you. It had to be how the moonlight or something came through the window.
But I had never seen it before. I had never seen any kind of light on that wall before. Every night for weeks afterward I lay in bed before going to sleep watching that wall to see if it would appear again so I could find the source. It never did and I forgot about it, at least consciously I told myself I forgot, but obviously I didn't or I couldn't tell you about it now. No, I didn't forget, I just pushed it aside where every once in a while it poked at me.
The statements that follow are quotes from correspondences I had with various ministers between the time I had that illness and 1970. You will see I was not converted by my vision:
In the follow up examinations after my wife lose Amy at birth, the Doctor told us this: "Your wife can never have a child of her own. Her history has shown this. It would be impossible for her to carry a baby long enough to be viable outside the womb and her previous loses have totally weakened her to a point she would endanger her own health, and possibly, life if she tried."
So we had put such a thing away and moved on, or so I thought.
We went back to her gynecologist, but he would not take her as a patient again and scolded her for her folly.
We tried obtaining the services of other doctors.
He then ordered her to bed for her term. She was allowed to walk a few steps, so she could go from the bedroom to the living room or to the bathroom as needed, but she was not to be on her feet otherwise or to do any kind of household work. I took over those tasks. I set up a cooler by the living room sofa so she could have some refreshments and food while I was at work. I did all the cleaning, laundry and shopping when I was home.
The church formed a prayer group, who met weekly and prayed for my wife and the child. Women from the church would come by and bring us meals, so all the cooking didn't fall on me.
But then on a snowy late February day the same pattern returned as it always had before, the pains, the spotting and the water breaking all too early, way too early. I took her to the hospital through the snow storm and she was taken to a labor room. They hooked up an IV with a drip to retard the labor. They hoped to stall it off perhaps long enough to save the baby, but during the week they became concerned about lung development.
The doctor came to see us in the room and said, "We feel the lungs are too underdeveloped. What we would like to try is a new experimental drug called steroids to see if that will strengthen the babies lungs. It is experimental, so there is some risk. We are not certain what the long term effect will be."
We took the risk.
A couple days later, "We fear the baby's lungs are still too underdeveloped to sustain life, but we can't continue to forestall labor any longer. The risk to your wife is too great. We really have to induce labor now."
It looked like Number Eight on the miss parade was about to be played.
Meet Laurel Christine a few hours old and lungs working just fine.
Because my name is Larry, people assume Laurel is named for me because both names have the same root and mean Victory. Well, that may be so and it certainly was a victory, but she is named for the church that prayed for her becoming, Laurel Hill Bible Church. We gave her the middle name Christine (meaning Little Christian or Follower of Christ) because Christ is central in our lives.
Laurel was premature and so small. Her weight dropped, but not far and it quickly went back up to five pounds so we were allowed to bring her home. We had to bring some clothes and dress her before they would let us leave. The nurses stood to the side and giggled as the two of us struggled to fit this tiny, wiggling child into the smallest size baby clothes we were able to find. They hung on her like an old man's coveralls.
If it were a movie the credits would roll now over the happy ending. But life isn't a movie. It simply continues and there was to be more to our little drama.
Shortly after her birth my employer announced he was moving the business to Chicago. I got a new job at a medical center in Darby, Pa and we moved from New Jersey back to Pennsylvania, but not to Philly. We moved to Springfield. Both my living in and working in Philadelphia had come to an end. We were now in the official Post-Philadelphia period of our life.
Laurel got whooping cough a few months later. She had to go into Children's Hospital in Philadelphia, where my wife could stay with her. It was scary because her lungs were still a question mark. But she made it.
A couple of years went by. I had just been told I was out of a job at the medical center. I hadn't quit. I wasn't fired. The nuns who ran the hospital simply wanted one of there own to be the Budget Director. "So if I'm not being fired," I asked the Personnel Director (It still hadn't become Human Resources) "what am I being?"
"Well, we call it..." and he was stymied. He just kind of stared with his mouth open and shrugged. "It's just not a firing is all," he said.
Call it what you will, I was out of a job. Not immediately, but I'll talk about that some other time. The non-firing firing came in July. I did land another job in September, but in the meantime I lost my Health Insurance.
Then in November deja vu.
"Honey, I'm pregnant."
We rounded up an emergency babysitter for Laurel and I took my wife to the county hospital. They rolled her away out of site and I sat down in the waiting room and waited for the inevitable bad news while I worried. I worried about my wife and I worried about the cost. I had new hospital insurance with my new job, but it did not cover pregnancy during the first year of the policy.
A doctor came to me and called my name.
"Congratulations", he said, "you are the father of a girl."
How could that be? I brought her in for a miscarriage. My wife hadn't been pregnant long enough.
No, it was true, she had a baby, a tiny baby, but a baby. Then came the bad news.
The other hospital was one where I had been budget director. It was the only hospital in the area at that time that had a neonatal ICU unit.
The doctor at County explained that was the reason they were sending her there, but he also said we should not get out hopes up.
I had a couple "What to Name the Baby" books. They said Daryl was a Welsh name meaning "dearly loved". So I settled on it. My wife suggested we give him the middle name William after my father. So we gave the hospital the name, Daryl William. Someone, somewhere added the extra "R" making his officially recorded name Darryl William.
And now when I look up the name, all the sources seem to say the name isn't Welsh, but French from d'Airelle meaning from the town of Airelle.
Indeed, he does.
But what of the others who didn't make it? Have I forgotten them? Did having these children take away the pain? Is that how you get over a child's death?
No, no and no.
I could never forget those who died either in the womb or shortly after birth. They were human beings with souls, too. They were part of my wife and of me. They were a lose for us. It is my belief that the unborn and young children are precious to God and receive special Grace from Our father and go to Heaven to be with him and will be there waiting for us. And I believe Scripture supports this belief and that should be a comfort to anyone who has lost a young child or baby or fetus. (Click here to read my supports for my belief in this: "Tuff Stuff; Suffer the Little Children"
Is it having these children that took away the pain? Or does time erase the pain?
Pain is a symptom. Whether it is physical pain or emotional pain, it is not the problem. In is expected when we are injured, whether we cut our finger with a knife or whether it is the inner pain of losing a loved one. If that pain does not go away or is not cured, then there is something wrong that must be dealt with. Clinging to our sufferings of the past, no matter what they may be, only turns pain to a bitter infection of our heart.
No decent and/or sane person wishes to inflict constant unending pain on another, especially a loved one. When you hold onto the hurt of what you have suffered you push out love. You may not know it, but clinging to grief too long hurts other people even if you never realize it does. Living the rest of your life weeping over your losses make those losses your idol and your god, and he's a mean one. Everyone who is living is one more person who is going to die and every single one of us who lives a long life is going to see some one we love meet death.
When I die I have no desire to take my wife and my children's joy of life to the grave with me. That would be cruel to them and that would be the ultimate cruelty to me.
When some one dies, you never forget them, but after a period of grief in their honor you live your live with all the joy and happiness life offers to be grasped, because when you do you share that joy and happiness with their Spirit. That doesn't mean you don't ever visit their grave or look at their pictures. It doesn't mean you can't have occasions when you grieve a bit again, like their birthday or perhaps the anniversary of an event such as a wedding.
It simply means you put them in the memory book with all your other memories that on occasion you sit down with and remember. You just don't build a shrine that you sit before every single day for the rest of your life and weep.
And the only god you should have is God, and He has promised to wipe away our tears if we do.
First of all, it was my wife's greatest dream was to have a child. When we had lost several even after trying everything science had to offer, she claimed repeatedly that she had her tubes tied . (After the birth of Darryl she actually did. She was almost 41 when he was born.) But she lied repeatedly as well.
I don't think I had heard of a vasectomy back then and no one ever suggested such a thing to me. I think that procedure might have become more known and popular after 1985 when the first no-scalpel vasectomy was done in the United States.
In all honesty, even if it had been suggested, I can't say for sure I would have done it. But it wasn't suggested, I didn't have one, and I am extremely glad every Father's Day that I did not.
My children are adults now. Laurel is 32, Noelle will be 30 this December and Darryl will be 28 in August.