Remembering Karsten Elias Anderson, February 20, 1985.
After three difficult births, we prayed that this one would be different. We blessed him at night along with the other children. But one week before he was due, there was concern as her ankles were swollen. An ultrasound was ordered when Karen reported no movement. The technician asked when we had last heard a heartbeat. Karen answered, “Friday.” It was Tuesday. The lady said no more for ninety long seconds. We thought, “Oh, no.” After searching in vain, she said, “I am afraid I have very sad news. There is no heartbeat.” Karen in shock went into the other room and began to sob with horrendous heaving cries coming from deep within. He was due in a few days.
We went to the hospital and had labor induced. Karen delivered Karsten Elias twenty hours after we arrived. The short cord wrapped about his neck three times was the first possible explanation. An autopsy revealed nothing more. It was hard to have questions without answers.
Our children comforted us best. Naomi at five expressed deep disappointment at not being able to bring Karsten home: “But I wanted to stroll the baby.” When we explained what happened, she said, “Then God will have to stroll the baby.” One day she announced, “We’re going to have a girl next time, and she’s not going to heaven.” Naomi was right on both counts. Erikka (due on Karen’s birthday) came weighing in at twelve pounds, almost twice the weight of Karsten, truly a “double blessing,” which helped to bring healing and feel God’s love. She was followed by Israel and Karis. I was so proud of Karen for having three more after losing one at birth. Brave woman!
How do you un-plan when you have planned for a year? The difference between life and death is great. Karen felt abandoned and rejected. It took many months before she could sing again. We are thankful that we will see Karsten again! We agreed that during our grieving we had never felt so loved by people. We thought of those who had gone through similar hardships without the support system we had. We prayed that we would learn better how to comfort others. People sometimes wonder if they should bring up the deeply grievous situation. We found help in sharing our sorrow. We discovered that healing comes (ever so slowly) from remembering. Karen began to experience healing when she finally allowed the Holy Spirit to come to her and slowly comfort her–eight months after holding a lifeless body of the boy we had looked forward to meeting. We will one day. Don’t know how old he will be or whom he will look like. He will most likely look like an Anderson.
I emailed this note to our children on February 13, 2018:
Tomorrow is a happy day and a sad day. It is Valentine’s day and Ash Wednesday. We lost Karsten Elias on Ash Wednesday. Time does not take away the great loss, but it has eased the pain. It helps us to remember when others remember with us. Saying something comforting to Mom would be well-landed words. It had been prophesied that this birth would be different.. It was different all right. How could God let a perfectly healthy baby die? And not only ours but all the grief and pain in the rest of the world.
Others helped carry her grief, like Sue Guldseth her mentor. The light began to come back into her dark soul when she “gave God permission” to begin the healing process. The real culmination will happen when we see him on the other side. Until then, we remember, and we do our best to “weep with those who weep.”