It’s been almost three weeks now, since I became an auntie to the most beautiful, perfect little baby boy. My first nephew.

Not a one of us ever even had an idea of what these weeks would hold ~ weeks we thought would be brimming full of joy, and excitement, and wonder at a new little life, turned into weeks overflowing of tears and sorrow and how can this be true.

They have been weeks when the grief washes over and over us, like waves at the ocean, never stopping, just sometimes bigger waves than others.

I’ve been so excited about my first niece or nephew arriving on my side of the family. Ervina’s Southern Maternity shoot was taken last fall when she visited us to excitedly document 20 weeks of pregnancy, and I had so much fun preparing little clothes and accessories for the little love. We were so in love with that sweet baby, even before meeting him.

I come from a long line of baby-lovers. And by that, I don’t just mean the women gushing over a baby. But in my dad’s family, even the men absolutely adore babies. They are seen with a baby in their arms as often as the mother is, talking in sweet tones, chuckling and teasing and adoring. And I have to say, my brother-in-law Kenny topped even that. I had never seen a father-to-be more excited about his baby! So many people talked about his excitement.

When Ervina comes to visit 557

The day finally came when my sister went into labor, and at a checkup before heading to the hospital came the shocking, gut-wrenching news, “Your baby is not alive.”

There is nothing in the world that can prepare someone for words like those. All had been fine just one week earlier at the checkup, and even the day before the baby was moving. There was no warning sign at all that anything was wrong.

Little did we know, as Kenny & Ervina were preparing a nursery for their baby, the most beautiful nursery I’ve ever seen in all my life, that Jesus was also preparing a home in Heaven for their precious baby boy.

Little Kenneth, named after the man who was so proudly anticipating being his daddy, weighed 7 pounds, and 11 big ounces, and was 22 long inches. He was born on March 22, 2014, safe in the arms of Jesus.

Baby Kenny

[photo courtesy of Ervina Yoder]

Whoever knew that a little life could mean so much to us, to me? I am not even the mother, but my heart had all kinds of butterflies when I thought of that little baby joining the family. When he was overdue, I was trying to stay busy and occupy my mind because those six days seemed like an eternity! And now, the loss feels so so deep, a continual ache. And I’m just the auntie, not even the mother. My heart breaks for my sweet sister.

These are her words, about a week after his birth…

It’s been six days since Kenny and I found out we’d never get to see our precious baby boy, the delight and expectation of our hearts, take his first breath. The anguish of this has pierced our hearts beyond what we could have imagined possible. We’ve needed Jesus more than anything and have found Him to be so near, so faithful, so sufficient, so redeeming. We miss our son desperately, but through your prayers, words and presence, God has shown His comfort through His Body… we are humbled and grateful.

“I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel.” [The Apostle Paul, Philippians 1:12]

We have been slammed headfirst into the Grace of God, as my sister Claudia speaks of it. That doesn’t mean the tears stop, or that the hurt goes away. But it means that the presence of God is so precious, He is so faithful. As big as the need, He is bigger still. Jesus is everything.

I spoke with Ervina about a week after the death and birth of her little son, and asked her how she can go on from here, what the anchor of her soul is through this. And her words were powerful and tender… “I don’t know why this happened, and it hurts so much. But, I know my God. I know Who He is, and even in this, I can trust Him.”

In times of deepest grief and tragedy, what truly is within a person comes out. And in Ervina and Kenny, there is a sweetness and strength even in the middle of the agony. The foundation of their lives was built on Jesus long before this tragedy ever happened.

We as a family are so grateful for Jesus, for the promise that He is good, even now. Even though our hearts are breaking in the loss of little Kenny, and seeing our precious sister and her husband walk such grief, we choose to believe Him, and trust His faithfulness to us.

the coming joy[ via]

Without the perspective of eternity, of a Sovereign God, life is hopeless. But Jesus makes all the difference in the world. He gives us strength to endure the pain of today because of the joy of eternity. One day, all tears will be wiped away, and one day, sweet little baby, we will be with you again.

we have not lost him.

Just about a week before the birth of little Kenny, I wrote this quote in my journal, being deeply impacted by the truth of it, and also deeply missing my friend Ruth. And now it touches me so much again, healing and ache all in one.

“We have not lost him, He is only gone a little before us. There we shall soon find him, and enjoy him again and forever – far more than we ever did in this life.” [E. D. Griffin ]

Yes, the loss is still felt so deeply, achingly so. But there is a perspective greater than the pain, that of Jesus, of the preciousness of eternity. For that better world to come, that HOME to come.

Eternity, and Heaven, are all the more real, and precious. We were not made for this world, for all the pain, for the sorrow and agony, for the effects of sin. There IS a bigger reality than what we can see: there is a Heaven, there is a Hell. And it’s real. The life we live here matters. The choices we make on earth matters. ETERNITY MATTERS.

Ten thousand more words could be written, and it still wouldn’t sum up the emotions, the grief, and the way God has carried us these weeks.

But we also want to say we are so grateful for the outpouring of support to our extended family, and especially to Kenny & Ervina. We are seriously blown away by the kindness and care of so many people. The body of Christ has become ever more dear to us. Thank you, thank you…

Please continue to take Kenny & Ervina to Jesus in prayer…




47 thoughts on “gone a little before us.

  1. Cheryl

    In tears by your post. My heart goes out to you sister and her husband. Will be praying for them and extended family as well.

  2. Peggy Born

    My heart is broken for your sister and her husband. My daughter and her husband are due any day / any minute and I cannot even begin to fathom the pain they and the family must be going through. So thankful that you all have such a strong faith in God. He is the only way to get through something so difficult. My prayers will be with the families. Little Kenny – you are in the arms of the Savior – and so precious in His sight.

  3. marisa1985

    I am feeling so weighed down by your post because I have miscarried and know what it’s like to love someone you have to wait to meet. This was definitely not the post I had been expecting and I am so extremely sorry for this loss for you and everyone who was anticipating this sweet baby.
    When I think of my own lost littles peace is brought to me in the knowledge that they were born into the hands of God and when they opened their eyes they saw Gods face first.
    I know that doesn’t make it much easier to fill the soul holes that seem so incredibly deep. Clarita, you may not be Little Kenny’s mama but you love him, unconditionally in the way that our Lord has taught us to love -unconditionally. You are more than entitled to feel pain, anger, sadness and a deep loss. Please don’t feel like you aren’t entitled to your love for this sweet baby because you don’t hold the mom card. Please don’t fight to be strong for anyone. This is real life and while God is the ultimate in control we all struggle to understand the pains we must go through .
    Just remember Little Kenny saw God first, that sweet boy is looking down from the arms of God. Soon he will be playing with the other children in Heaven who were born into those same loving arms.
    When Jesus said “let the little children come to me” he meant it and he is caring for each and everyone of them.
    If you need to talk you can always send me a message to I know sometimes it’s easier to talk to someone you don’t know. I will pray for you and your family and I will pray with you and your family from afar. (((Big Hugs)))

  4. joz299

    Your post is so heartfelt and meaningful! So sorry your family had to experience this loss! I too lost a nephew and it’s so hard. I’m sure you are a special blessing to your sister! Praying God blesses you all with His love.

  5. Rach

    Oh my.. I was not expecting a post like this at all & I am so sad for all of you.. May you feel God near & may you be held up by His loving arms.. {{hugs}}

  6. Breana

    My heart breaks for your precious family. The great faith you and Ervina show has challenged mine. Continue to contend for the Faith!

  7. Elizabeth

    Clarita. :( I think about your sister so often.
    I was listening to the radio yesterday and a girl was talking about losing babies..she said God used her as a vessel to carry her little one to heaven. That is the summed up version, but it was sweet and sad and made me tear up and think of your sister. My mom went through this a few year ago when my little brother died…we had no idea until right before he was born. It wasn’t an easy road for her to walk down. It’s normal to wonder Why? Why not the girl who doesn’t want her baby! Why does this happen to a family that would LOVE more than anything to welcome that little one. But God is bigger and until Heaven we won’t see the bigger picture. What a day of rejoicing it will be when we all see Jesus…and that sweet baby boy!

  8. jennie z

    I have a lump in my throat.

    And what beautiful faith in spite of grief….what a deep love for Jesus you and your family and sister have….it is beautiful and inspiring.

    I think about you all often.

  9. Jenn

    What a heartbreak for all of you. I remember what it felt like to lose our first at 20 weeks, and I think the loss would be even keener to have carried the baby full term. It’s so hard. I wish I could give Ervina the perspective of a few years down the road, and how much healing God can bring in that time. Nobody else can walk that road for them, though. It’s good to know that Christ will be walking it with them.

    1. Mary Landis

      Choking back the tears, dear Clarita. Love and prayer and thanks for these words. Much love!

  10. Lenore

    Oh my, I have no words to ease the pain you and your family are feeling. After trying to conceive for 5 years, I lost my first little girl when I was 7 months pregnant 30 years ago this May. I went on to have 3 healthy children, but so vividly remember the crushing disappointment and grief I felt. I did not know Jesus back then, but I do now, and I know Jesus has that precious little boy in his arms and will continue to comfort your sister and brother-in-law. Love and prayers to all of you.

  11. Oie

    Dearest Clarita, your news is so sad and heart breaking. Your story and photos beautiful as usual. As a mother of early loss, I can empathise a litte – but your faith is so much stronger. I was truly dogged by the ‘why me’ questions for so long. I hope the gospel of peace reigns in all your lives thru this difficult time xo

  12. Amy Showalter

    The truth of the gospel that you share brings life and peace. It is so needed, not just by the whole world but by me! I just got news that makes me feel so heavy and I confess, fearful of what the next phone call might bring, but yes yes, we are not made for this world, there is a bigger reality then we can see. So we go on praising him!

  13. Lauren Lockhart

    My heart broke as I read this post as I have two children in heaven myself and I know the pain that is being felt right now. I can say this, God was there in it all. Do I understand it now 10 and 8 years later? No, but it isn’t my job to understand, it’s my job to trust the perfect plan. Has much beauty come from the trial? Yes. Has God become more real to me? Yes. Do I believe that He is the all knowing One whose plan for each of His children’s lives is absolutely perfect? Yes. Have faith in God, dear ones, He CANNOT fail, though storms of life your path assail. His Word is true, He cares for you. Have faith in God, Have faith in God.

  14. blessedwith8

    I am so sorry to hear of your loss. We are right there with your family. On March 26th, just 2 and 1/2 weeks ago my oldest daughter Kate lost her 1st baby (Our Precious Samuel) at 38 weeks due to a blood clot in his umbilical cord. Just a few days earlier he had been fine. We are shattered. She had such a healthy pregnancy. No words can express the grief we are feeling. we had his funeral on the 5th which is the day he was to be born. I pray your sister has a good support system. We were able to hold little Sam (little he was 11 1/2 lbs) An infant loss support group took pictures of him with his Mom and dad and did hand and foot prints on small canvases. These ladies (who had lost too) were a God send in those 1st few days.

  15. shellynissley

    I just love you and your whole B family . . . the anticipation, sorrow, the precious and memorable hours of honoring Kenny’s 9 month life, and seeing the steadfast faith in Jesus even when it hurts {I LOVE Ervina’s words of trust} are so beautiful and sad and hopeful all in one. It is a testimony to God’s amazing grace. And you, Lovely, are one of the best aunties that little boy has! How deeply he is loved and missed. xoxo

  16. Jan

    I am so sad for all of you. No words can take away the aching hearts and empty arms, but we do have a wonderful Jesus that we can trust to take us through each moment. May you continue to look UP. My love and prayers.

  17. Imperia

    Such sadness and yet such Faith. God now holds Kenny in His arms, has united him with those who have gone before him and will be reunited with those yet to join him. He is in the presence of the Almighty now. There are choirs of Angels singing Kenny’s arrival at this most special time that Jesus died and rose from the dead for us.
    My heart feels your sorrow, knows your pain. May God comfort you, your Sister, Brother-in-Law and all your Family.
    Your Faith will give you all strength.

  18. Kari

    I am so sorry for your family’s loss. I lost my daughter Anna 7 yrs ago. It is still painful to think about her and what she would be like today. My faith is the only thing that brought me through that awful time. God is a faithful and loving God. He sees us through. I can’t wait to see my precious daughter in Heaven. I so feel for your sister. I am praying for your family.

  19. Kim

    What joyous anticipation your family had………………what anticipation of sweet mommying and daddying Ervina and Kenny had prepared for……………..and now this reality of excrutiating loss. As we stand from afar, just strangers, please know that we will be praying for them (and all of you) not just now but in the weeks and months to come.
    Ervina’s testimony, your testimony of implicit TRUST in the Father………….is impacting me, calling me to a higher level of trust. Thank you for your example in the crucible of pain.
    Heaven is becoming a dearer and dearer destination, isn’t it?

  20. Carmie

    This made me so so sad when I first learned about it. My first pregnancy was a miscarriage…now my husband and I have a beautiful five month old baby boy. My heart hurts for Ervina and Kenny.

  21. Kellie

    I had seen your other sister’s post on instagram the day little Kenny died and we have prayed for Ervina, Kenny, and your family. I’m so, so sorry for your loss. I can’t even begin to imagine how heartbreaking it has been for all of you. So thankful that you all have the hope of heaven and you know they will hold their sweet baby again one day.

  22. Shannon

    The ache, the sadness, the pain, the wondering… I know a little about it from a late miscarriage. I have thought of them and you all, prayed so much and just begged Jesus to be the balm to heal broken hearts. {hugs}

  23. Jen Miller

    Wiping back the tears, and feeling at a loss in knowing how to respond…but I just had to say that your beautiful words of pain and faith have spoken to me this morning. The dichotomy of letting go of a precious loved one–the gripping, aching pain of loss accompanied by the sweet reality that what they’re experiencing is what I’m living for….it all leaves me wordless. I pray that Jesus will continue to be enough for you and all of your family–I know without a doubt He will!!

  24. Janessa Miller

    Clarita, I only met you briefly, but I was so touched by how much your love for Ervina and her baby showed… This post brought tears again for all of you, thinking of the ache little Kenny left unfilled. What a testimony you have all shown to Jesus unfailing strength. It is so heart-wrenchingly beautiful, as you send glory to Him even in this awful pain. Thanking God for your whole family’s faithfulness, trust, and surrender…

  25. Lydia

    Still think of you all often and pray too. Because I know that for us, the ache got stronger as people went on with their lives and we began to feel more alone. But yes, God’s grace is so real and strong as you said and we experienced that in amazing ways! I love the quote by E.D. Griffin. Powerful, true and full of hope!

  26. Kim

    We are but “sojourners” on this earth….some of us spending less time here than others….My heart breaks for your sister/brother in law and your entire family and yet rejoices in Gods plan even if we do not understand. prayers…

  27. Lill

    What a sweet tribute to your precious little nephew. Your family, and especially Kenny & Ervina, have been on my mind and in my prayers so much these past weeks. Jesus continue to bring healing and JOY amidst the pain!

  28. Kay

    I just read this now. Made me ache all over again. Such a huge loss in a sweet tiny package. I love that quote by Griffin! I need to copy it down. When you wrote about the nursery, oh my. It seems like it would be a room that would slam them back and forth between stabbing pain and soothing comfort every time they walk into it. God hold them (and you and your whole families) close.

  29. bonniebyrd

    What a beautiful tribute of your love for your sister and family. We have lost four precious souls in our family; my amazing sister lost 3, and my beautiful sister-in-law has lost one. As a sister I have struggled with how to express my own feelings of loss and sadness because I didn’t want to be a hindrance in their healing. I have many friends (too many!) who have lost their sweet babies, and even knowing they are in heaven, it still hurts. I have prayed for you all, and will continue to do so. Thank you for sharing!

  30. Christy

    I can not imagine the sadness of meeting the child you have carried for nine months knowing that he would never live or smile or know you. I’m so sorry for Ervina and Kenny and for all of you who have lost someone you loved in baby Kenneth. Love and hugs.

    “One question no longer gnaws at me as it once did: the question ‘Does God care?’
    Jesus is the answer. In Jesus, God gave us a face. If you wonder how God feels about the suffering on this groaning planet, look at that face.
    By no means did Jesus solve the problem of pain–he healed only a few in a one small corner of the globe–but he did signify an answer to the question ‘Does God care?'” -Philip Yancey

  31. Rachel

    It’s still so hard to believe that this happened. And yet, to still believe that God is in control and knows all things… This life just does not make sense at times.
    We continue to pray for God to comfort and uphold them, and you all.

  32. Kassie

    Clarita, I am so sorry for this unexpected loss! I cannot imagine the pain, but thankful that in times like these, we have the greatest comforter in Jesus. Oh, how He loves us so. There’s another precious baby on the other side and cradled in the arms of Jesus.

  33. tessfull2

    My heart hurts reading this and tears slip down my face. Will be saying prayers for your sister and your family. Intermingled in raw grief, were words I pray I would cling to, if I ever face a searing loss as this.

  34. Sarah D

    Oh Clarita!

    I’m so sorry to hear about this loss. I cannot imagine what it is like to lose a child. Please know that you and your family, particularly Ervina and Kenneth, are in my prayers.

    “…when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done…For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, and charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” I Corinthians 13:10-13 KJV

  35. Joelyn

    I just want to thank you for this beautiful post! I can relate in so many ways as we also had to bury a precious newborn nephew this month, and with all the aching of my broken heart I also think “I’m not even the mother…” and know their pain must be so great. But, like yours, our sister and brother-in-law have been carried by the peace and comfort of walking with a God who came to suffer with us, to be ever near us in the pain. I’m more gratefull than I’ve ever been for this God who is trustworthy and faithful even in circumstances we just can’t understand. Will be thinking of your family as you continue grieve. Thank you for the E.D. Griffen quote…have never heard it but it’s wonderful!

    1. The Cottage at 341 South Post author

      I am so sorry for your loss! Burying a precious newborn nephew is so difficult, there are no words. May the Lord continue to be ever near you and the family of that sweet little boy. He is so faithful! xo

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