“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”
This famous Shakespearean line has been swirling in my head ever since I met the Yost family. When family as we traditionally define it, falls outside of convention, it can still hold all the sweet tenderness family life offers. Tammy contacted me because her unique family situation is one that while it defies convention, floods her with hope and love daily. Her hearts cry was to preserve a beautiful record of three precious children as a surprise gift to her husband and his ex-wife.
I know what you’re thinking, ‘wait, what? Is that a typo? A gift for her husband and his ex-wife????’ Nope, not a typo. This may be a little hard to follow, but you’ll understand before it’s all said and done.
When Tammy sees these three children she sees love that spills over from one family into another. She sees the tragedies of divorce and death which should have driven wedges between two families, instead give birth to a unity and joy that she never could have imagined. She wants these children to know they will forever be linked by love and loss, but love will always win, always!
Tammy’s husband Monty had been married previously to a woman named Jo. Years ago, both Monty and Jo moved on from their divorce to start new families while blending them with their first. Monty’s son from his first marriage to Jo was 11 when Monty married Tammy (who hired me). Just months after Monty & Tammy's marriage, Andy was diagnosed with MDS a form of leukemia.
Upon news of Andy’s diagnosis, both families swung into action to provide Andy with a firm foundation as he faced his battle with cancer. Both sets of parents relocated to Duke, North Carolina where Andy would receive a stem cell transplant for 10 months.
Unfortunately, Andy would require a second stem cell transplant two years later. Both families knew what that meant, it was time to pack up and relocate to North Carolina again. This time Andy would have two sisters, Rachel and Bethany cheering him on from back in Maryland to help him pass the long hours in the hospital.
Unfortunately, the 2nd treatment only provided Andy with a few more months before both families would be grieving the loss of his battle with cancer on December 28, 2005.
Death and divorce most often divide households and create huge walls that seem insurmountable between families. These two families planted a flag in the sand when Andy died and said they would not fall victim to further tragedy of dividing the good that had grown between them. Instead, they vowed to continue in each other’s lives as family.
Being a family to the Yost kids means the three of them jumping in the waves at the beach over long summers, hunting for Easter eggs together, making each other laugh and flying kites and watching fire works in memory for the love Andy had for them.
In 2009 Monty and Tammy were surprised to learn they were pregnant with identical twin boys. Rachel and Bethany would be getting two little brothers! However, at 21 weeks the twins were showing distress. Twins sharing an amniotic sac often suffer imbalances which cause great stress on both babies. Thomas’s heart was under tremendous stress and would require surgery to save his life.
Ultimately the surgery did not save Thomas’s life. Tammy’s delivery of Thomas and Phillip was a day marked with a bitter sweet mixture of great joy and devastating sorrow. Not the kind of delivery any mother ever imagines for herself. Dreams of holding and raising her two baby boys together were dashed. Instead Tammy would be saying goodbye to Thomas who she would never know beyond the 9 months she carried him in her womb and the brief moments in her arms after his delivery.
Phillip is precious to Tammy and a constant reminder that the Yost’s have two boys waiting for them in heaven! Thankfully Phillip is healthy today despite a heart condition that was remedied by surgery this last summer. He has a clean bill of health and I imagine will soon be chasing Rachel and Bethany around with handfuls of worms and other things little boys find as equally fascinating as little girls find yucky! All the while Andy-bear and Thomas-bear stuffed animals will be clutched by the children as comforting reminders of the brothers they have lost and will join for a great celebration in our eternal home one day!
The most stressful thing a person can face in life is the death of child. The cycle of life reverses order and the toll this takes on a person is unequivocal to anything else faced in life. For a family to have gone through this two times seems just so unfair. The Yosts have planted their feet firmly in the hope that heaven awaits them for a glorious reunion. Meanwhile they have a pretty good feeling they have two sons awaiting their presence for one incredible stunt kite show Andy and Thomas have been practicing for years! Probably the show will be accompanied by a display of fireworks the likes of which eyes have never beheld this side of eternity.
Upon seeing this image of Philip, Monty envisioned seeing his identical twins boys together...one day they will be!
"But here on this mountain, God of the Angel Armies will throw a feast for all the people of the world, a feast of the finest foods, a feast with vintage wines, a feast of seven courses, a feast lavish with gourmet desserts. And here on this mountain, God will banish the pall of doom hanging over all peoples, the shadow of doom darkening all nations. Yes, he'll banish death forever. And God will wipe the tears from every face. He'll remove every sign of disgrace from His people, wherever they are. Yes! God says so!"
Isaiah 25:6-8, The Message translation of the Bible.