Remembering

Just over a week ago, I heard the tragic news that my friend Kerry (a Vancouver doctor who delivered Charlie) was killed in a seaplane accident, along with her 6-month-old daughter, Sarah Grace. Kerry was one of the most gentle-spirited, genuine, caring people I have ever met, and her life was a blessing to so many people. She worked with a team of doctors and midwives at Vancouver’s South Community Birth Program, and you can find their beautiful story of Kerry on their website: www.scbp.ca. The details of her death are heartbreaking, but the story of her life is so joyful and radiant.

Earlier today my friend Liesel told me about a forum on SCBP’s website, and I immediately started writing. Once I started, I couldn’t stop. So many memories of Kerry’s bright smile, giddy personality, and gentle presence. I just adored her, and will never forget her amazing work in bringing Charlie into the world.

I’m going to post my rambly thoughts here, copied from the forum. If you knew Kerry, feel free to check out the site and post your thoughts. The SCBP team is planning to compile them for Kerry’s surviving daughter, 2-year-old Claire.

I first met Kerry through church: I worked in the church office at the time, and Kerry and Patrick were a much-loved part of the community. I didn’t realize that she was part of SCBP until I showed up for an appointment during my first pregnancy. I saw her there with her beautiful baby bump – she was pregnant with Claire at the same time! I assumed she must be a patient . . . and then she called me into the room for my appointment! She was so gentle and understanding and professional, assuring me that it didn’t have to be awkward just because we knew each other outside of the clinic.

As my belly grew and grew and my due date came and went, I appreciated seeing Kerry at church and laughing together about the joys of pregnancy. It was so special to share that season with her.

Baby’s birth day finally arrived. While laboring at home and feeling quite aimless, I learned that Dr. Telford was on call that night and would likely be the person to deliver my baby! I was immediately calmed and reassured. She met us at the hospital in her scrubs (she joked all night long about trying to keep those pants up around her bulging belly!) and stood next to me while we checked in.

Through labor and delivery, Kerry worked with such calmness and authority. And such a smile! She only left my room when necessary, and I could tell that she actually wanted to be there – she never once made me feel like she had anywhere else to be. I found out after Charlie was born that Kerry had been concerned about how long the pushing stage was lasting. She took my husband out of the room and spoke with him about our options. As it turned out, none of those were necessary, as shortly after they spoke, Charlie was born with no intervention. I have a huge amount of respect for how Kerry handled that situation. She could have told me that things were taking too long, only causing me additional anxiety. But she never let on, at least in my presence, that there was anything to worry about. I just kept pushing, and Kerry just kept encouraging!

Kerry was the most amazing delivery doctor I could have asked for. She looked me in the eye and told me I could do it. She laughed and joked when there wasn’t much happening, but was focused and attentive when duty called. My son was born just after midnight, and even though Kerry must have been exhausted, she lingered awhile, talking to us about the birth and making certain we were doing well. The next morning, she came in with a huge smile on her face and said, “You’ll never guess what I did after I left here last night!” She had delivered my friend Alicia’s baby girl!

Alicia and I felt a strong bond with each other and with Kerry after our babies were born on the same day. With our husbands and babies, Alicia and I visited Kerry and Patrick at their home shortly after Claire was born. And Kerry just beamed and glowed in her newfound role of Mommy.

Just a few days later, we moved from Vancouver, but had the opportunity to visit again in February 2009. I was thrilled to run into Kerry at church – both of us were pregnant again! She had the same smile, the same encouragement, the same radiance that I had not forgotten.

The news of Kerry’s death is heartbreaking beyond words. She will be so deeply missed.

I am grateful that in the few short years I knew Kerry, I was blessed to know her as both my doctor and my friend.

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5 responses to “Remembering

  1. I don’t know Kerry, but what you wrote about her makes me wish I’d known her.

  2. Jess: I remember you saying after Lillian’s birth that you’d realized how important rapport with your doctor was–and now I see why. How terribly sad for the people in her life. Your comments make me wish I’d known Kerry too.

  3. Jess- Thanks for sharing your thoughts about Kerry. I read over the forum on the South Community website. I was in tears. Liesel Rios’ post just melted me. I wish I would have known Kerry. Too bad she was on mat leave when we were with the birth program! Also brought back very fond memories of SCBP and how much i’ll miss it when we have a baby #2.

  4. Beautifully written, Jess. I’m glad we got to meet Kerry that day in January 2007 at Tenth. Maybe there is healing in writing and reading about her life that helps in some small way to deal with her all to early (in our eyes) Home going. May God be with her husband and daughter during these incredibly difficult days.

  5. Jess- So sorry to hear about your loss. Sending out a prayer for Claire and Patrick.

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