Part I of Kolbe's Story can be found here.
My husband, Eric also wanted to share Kolbe's story. Which is wonderful, because we reacted differently to the news of losing Kolbe. I went into shock/this is not happening to me and Eric went into action. His side of the story shows just how amazing our friends and family are in how they helped us in our time of need.
vividly remember the day Brooke called me about the news of Kolbe.
Brooke was going to her second pregnancy check–up. From the first
check-up, we received favorable news, so I was not nervous about the
appointment. An hour before the appointment, I spoke to my old friend,
Fr. Bernhard. Fr. Bernhard was finishing his summer assignment as
associate pastor at the same parish I was working at. As I helped him
clean out his old office and load up his vehicle, we talked about
planning for Kolbe’s baptism when Father returned. Fr. Bernhard was
leaving for Rome to finish up his dissertation but would return to Tyler
around February when Kolbe was expected to be born.
saying good-bye to Father, I returned to the parish and spoke with Sister
Susan. Sister Susan is in charge of the baptism preparation. We
shortly spoke on the requirements for Brooke and I, and Kolbe’s future
god-parents and the paperwork I needed to complete. I was truly excited
that Fr. Bernhard could baptize one of my children since he was unable
baptize my other two girls due to studying in Rome.
the information from Sister Susan, I returned to my office to complete
some administration work. Within ten minutes, my phone rang; it was
Brooke. I was expecting to hear good news and hoped to possibly hear
the sex of our baby. Upon answering the phone, I could hear Brooke
crying and trying to get the words out that we had lost our child.
Brooke painfully explained our child was too far along for the doctor
to do a D&C and she would have to deliver the baby. We ended the
conversation agreeing that we would go to our house and discuss when to
go to the hospital for Brooke to deliver our child.
hanging up the phone, I shortly cried and tried to collect myself
because I knew something had to be done with Koble’s body. Brooke had
to go and pick up our two daughters from our friends house, so I had
about 15 minutes to try figure out what to do. My first thought was I
wanted Kolbe to be treated as a human person and not piece of tissue
that many people might view him as. I wanted him to be buried and
treated with dignity. I googled “catholic late miscarriage burial.” I
only found a short post from a catholic message board about couple who
went through a similar circumstance and what they had done. I am
grateful for the post because it allowed me to collect myself and
identify what I had to do.
called Fr. Bernhard to tell him the news and ask if he knew of a
funeral home that is respectful to the Catholic faith. Being in East
Texas, Catholics are the minority. Father gave me a couple of names of
funeral homes. I called the first funeral home and spoke to a gentle
and helpful man. The man informed me that a funeral home does not need
to be involved unless there is a certificate of death. It varies from
state to state, but the state of Texas issues a certificate of birth
only if the body is over 350 grams, which is a little over 12 ounces and
averages around 20 to 21 week old baby. The gentlemen also informed me
of the cost of burial. There were no Catholic cemeteries in the area
but I found one about 45 miles away. I placed a call in to request the
cost for a burial site at the Catholic cemetery.
the way home, I received a phone call from my friend, Fr. Bernhard. He
told me he was going to delay his trip and stay with us to help us
through the process. Getting home, Brooke and I began to talk about
when it would be best for Brooke to deliver Kolbe. We had to make a
decision quick because Brooke needed to go back to the doctor that day
to start the procedure if she was going to deliver Kolbe the next day.
We decided that Brooke should deliver the child the next day and so
Brooke headed back to the doctor.
Bernhard arrived at my house shortly before Brooke left for the doctor.
I spoke to him about the information I had receive from the man at the
funeral home. Fr. Bernhard informed me that he had called a couple
friends, Ben and Amy, who had do some research on the issue. They had
found in the state of Texas I could sign over the body either to a
funeral home or to an individual. Fr. Bernhard offered himself to be
the pallbearer to take the body from the hospital. I gratefully
accepted his suggestion but wanted to talk it over with Brooke.
expressed my desire to get a casket for Kolbe. We did not know how big
the casket would need to be so we look it up on the internet. I found a
growth chart which stated Kolbe would be 3 inches and 1.5 ounces. I
did not know how such a small person could stay together during the
birth process. I remember overreacting and thinking the hospital would
not allow us to keep the body. I began to cry again. I just could not
let someone treat my child as a piece of tissue.
Bernhard then informed me that Ben and Amy had offered their property
for a burial site. Ben and Amy had recently put a small one room
building on their property to be used as a chapel by visiting priests
and seminarians. Kolbe could be buried by the chapel where Mass would
be offered. Again, I accepted the offer, but wanted to talk it over
Brooke got back from the doctor, our friend Amy came by to help Brooke
with our girls. I had to run and get Brooke medication for before and
after the delivery. That afternoon was a long and grueling time.
Trying to keep my composure with our kids and how I was going to tell
my family. I remember making a few phone calls to my parents and
brother but did not want to talk to anybody else about it. While I was
holding it together, little did I know that Fr. Bernhard and my other
friend Ben were building Kolbe a casket and finishing out the small room
to make it at chapel. I was amazed that within a day and a half those
two has dry walled the room and built an altar. Without me even asking,
they had built a small beautiful casket, finished the inside of the
chapel, dug a grave site, and planned a funeral Mass for Kolbe after the
day he was delivered. I am extraordinarily grateful to have such great
night became even more grueling than the afternoon. When we put our
two girls down for bed, Brooke and I decided to have Fr. Bernhard as the
pallbearer and we would bury Kolbe out by the chapel. After Brooke and
I talk and cried that night, I could not sleep because I could not stop
thinking about salvation of my child. I knew baptism is essential for
salvation because all people conceived with original sin. I also knew
the church taught that one is usually baptized by water but in
extraordinary cases baptism is granted by blood through martyrdom or by
desire for baptism by the individual. I had had many discussions with
fellow students on the issue while getting my undergraduate in the
theology, but it seemed like none of those conversations mattered. I
remember hearing arguments about when the parent or church desire
baptism on behalf of the individual. In infant baptism, the parents
make the act of faith for the child. The argument follows that since
parent make the act of faith in the rite of baptism, they can make the
express of desire on behalf of the individual. The argument just did
not settle with me because when the Church explains about baptism by
desire, the desire is only referred to as belonging to the individual
and not to the person presenting the individual to be baptized.
wanted to know what would happen to the soul of my child, who I so
badly wanted to be baptized. I began reading International Theological
Commission on “The Hope of Salvation for Infants who die without being
baptized.” If you read this document, I suggest you go to the end where
the commission states its conclusion. Overly emotional and sleepy, I
began reading the beginning part that states the history of different
theories on the issue. The different theories held by St. Augustine and
St. Thomas who had a very grime and not very hopeful view on the
stance. Not able to finish the document and read the conclusion of the
document, I went to sleep with great pain and hopelessness in my heart.