The Wedding Balloon

The death of a child is something you never “get over”, because you grieve each milestone they would or could have reached if they were still alive. First smile, first steps, going to school, if and what college they would attend, getting married, wondering what career they would end up in. When a childs life ends, there are so many dreams, big and little, you are robbed of that you will never see come true.

And when you have living children, you have tangible examples of what could have been for the missing sibling. That is how every happy moment for our family can be accompanied by a twinge of pain.


But I want to share with you a milestone that I never thought I’d get with Arthur, because of some sweet friends who are like family. These are some of the people who were there during our family’s darkest time, and who have continued to love and celebrate our son in the seasons that have followed.

Brian was involved with our college ministry when we were at Elon University, led in a discipleship group by Artie, traveled with us on a short-term trip to South Africa, lived with us for the summer before Hope was born, has lent a hand with many of our yard projects, and continues to this day to regularly meet up with Artie.

Susan has worked in the Campus Outreach office with Artie since we moved to Matthews in the fall of 2013. She is a co-worker and partner in ministry to my husband, she has become a dear friend of mine, and she is one of my kids favorite people. She has babysat my children and loved them as her own. And she has been our on-call person to come to the house when we have gone into labor for my deliveries. She is affectionately called “Sue-Sue” by Adele and Hope; she is one of the many family and friends who got to hold Arthur; and we couldn’t imagine what our lives would have looked like the last few years without her.

Brian and Susan recently got engaged this past Christmas and set their wedding to be at the end of March.

Brian asked Artie to be one of his groomsmen. Susan met me and the girls for lunch one day in the beginning of her wedding planning with a special question. She wanted to ask Adele and Hope to be flower girls**. Adele had her first try at being one at my sister’s wedding this past summer, and was excited about the prospect of getting to do it again. It’s one of those dreams I’ve seen come to fruition for her.

And then Susan asked Adele if she would carry a balloon for Arthur to be represented in the ceremony too.

*cue the tears*

There have been many points along this journey where people have entered into the hard moments and met me in my grief. People were amazing when we found out the news of his diagnosis and in the months after. People have been great at remembering the important dates and have anticipated certain events being hard for me. They have been there to help us remember and celebrate him, even as time is moving on.

I don’t cry as often these days like I used to, but I never stop wondering what life would be like if he were here in person. What would his personality be like? What would his relationship with his sisters look like? What would it be like to see him and his other little 2 year old buddies? And for an occasion like this, as I planned for my girls to participate in this wedding, I couldn’t help but imagine him being in the wedding party too.

I’ve said this a number of times to others, but for the tragedy of what we have been through in losing a child, we have had it so good. People have been there for us at every step of the journey so far and have loved us better than we could have imagined.

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Adele walked down the aisle with a balloon representing her brother, and after the ceremony – like we did in the months after his birth and death – Adele and Sue-Sue released the balloon together.

Mr. and Mrs. Gerwig – thank you for the special relationship you have with all the Van Sciver kids, for making a dream come true for me for my son, and for loving our family so well. What a privilege it was to be a part of your special day.

Susan Arthur


**While it was a nice gesture, we opted to have Hope NOT participate (as you can see from the pictures). If you know Hope, this decision makes total sense. If you don’t know Hope, having a 17 month-old, during nap time, try to walk down an aisle with other kids (one of them being a sister with a balloon) sounded like a recipe for a not so great time for her, or me, or anyone else involved.

Being Arthur’s Mommy

More and more these days, I am known to some as Adele’s or Hope’s mommy. This relatively new identifier is something I have welcomed over the years as the circle of people around my kids continues to grow. I love being their mom and being identified with them.

Being almost two and a half years since Arthur’s presence in our lives, I don’t get to be known as “Arthur’s mommy” very often.

But there are a few days, every once in a while, I get to be just that.

I was initiated to by a group of nursing students who are working on a group project for a genetics class, and I got to share with them about our journey having a child with a fatal genetic disorder. I got to share some about his condition – anencephaly – that is deemed “not compatible with life outside the womb”. I got to share how we faced some very hard decisions about continuing the pregnancy. I got to share about how we chose the path of excruciating emotional pain, but mysteriously found joy and happiness in the darkness of it all. I got to share how his life and death made me cling to Jesus more than anything else in this world ever has. I got to show how a little life doesn’t have to be long to be meaningful and leave an impact.

Today, I wept afresh over what could have been and what I expected life to be like; but as I have embraced this role I have been given as a bereaved mother, I can rejoice and give thanks for opportunities like today – getting to share the beauty of his brief but impactful life.

What a privilege to have been chosen to be this little guy’s mother.