On October 10th I received a phone call from my eldest sister Cindy saying that our sister Jen had been taken into the hospital for emergency surgery. At the time she was about 5.5 months pregnant with her second child. She did not know much then and did not think it was very serious, but she would call and let me know what was going on. about 6 hours later I received a second phone call from Cindy. The message was simple and solemn: the baby had died. I didn’t know what to do or how to feel. It wasn’t until later that I learned that this situation could have been much worse.
Jen had been having abdominal pain since Tuesday of that week and had been informed she had a bladder infection. When she wasn’t responding to treatment the doctor’s thought she had a cyst on her ovary. This seemed reasonable seeing as how both Cindy and I have had problems with cysts before. The doctors took her in for surgery to remove the problem and found out they were very wrong. Jen had an extra smaller uterus attached to her normal one, which is where the baby had implanted. He grew too big and burst the uterus. About half of Jen’s blood was in her abdominal cavity when they opened her up. She was so close to dying.
A funeral was held for Samuel Aaron McCallister (his initials spell his name) on October 17, 2009. He is buried near my sister’s home in Oregon. I wanted to be there, but it was decided that Nicholas and I should keep our plane tickets for Christmas instead. I heard it was beautiful though. Jen wrote a poem and they put inside his casket a stuffed monkey and a hot wheels. They are such strong people and I know that their family, my family, will all be together again in the eternities. What a wonderful blessing to know they have an angel baby waiting for them in his perfect state.
Even though this is a true tragedy, there are so many things to be grateful for. I am so grateful that I still have all my sisters here with me on earth. I never realized how much I love Jen, and the rest of my family, until one was nearly taken away. They are truly a blessing in my life. I am also grateful for this gospel. It does not take away all the sadness or heartache, but it makes it bearable and understandable. In the words of the beloved prophet Joseph Smith, who lost 6 children in infancy, said this about the deaths of little ones:
“...in my leisure moments I have meditated upon the subject, and asked the question, why it is that infants, innocent children, are taken away from us, especially those that seem to be the most intelligent and interesting. The strongest reasons that present themselves to my mind are these: This world is a very wicked world; and it … grows more wicked and corrupt. … The Lord takes many away, even in infancy, that they may escape the envy of man, and the sorrows and evils of this present world; they were too pure, too lovely, to live on earth; therefore, if rightly considered, instead of mourning we have reason to rejoice as they are delivered from evil, and we shall soon have them again...The only difference between the old and young dying is, one lives longer in heaven and eternal light and glory than the other, and is freed a little sooner from this miserable, wicked world. Notwithstanding all this glory, we for a moment lose sight of it, and mourn the loss, but we do not mourn as those without hope.”Another reason to be grateful is that because of Sam’s courage and strength, all his siblings should have no problem entering this world. He sacrificed his life for his family; what an incredible young boy.
Talking with Jen about this she told me that she felt his spirit, and knows that he loves her. She knows that he is waiting for her. She said they named him Sam for a number of reasons, but one was because Sam always seems to be the name of the unsung hero in stories. Well, Sam, today and forever I will sing of your heroism and wonder. If I knew how to compose music I would definitely write you a song! You are a vital member of our family and I know Uncle Nick and I are looking forward to playing with you and watching you grow and develop in the millennium. Give everyone a kiss for me, and I had better see you in my welcoming party or else you are going to get one heck of a noogie! Thank you for what you did. We will never forget it!
Jen, you are a wonderful wife, mother, sister, aunt, and friend. We are all glad you are still kicking around for a while!
This is one of my favorite pictures of all time! Take just after Anna rinsed out her Mohawk.