As a kid growing up just outside Philadelphia, I found my way into a passionate love for our sports teams. I’d root for the big four any time I could. I’ll always remember watching the Phillies win the 2008 World Series and the honor of watching the Philadelphia Eagles get their first Super Bowl in 2018 at the right arm of Nick Foles.
Foles was a draft pick from the University of Arizona, an affable guy who initially flourished with the team. He was traded away and eventually returned. He was a grinder, humble and driven, a kid making magic on the football field as he won the hearts of a city. Yesterday, on his wife Tori’s Instagram page, they announced she’d miscarried a baby at fifteen weeks. The child was to be their second, a younger brother to their daughter.
The post hit me hard. My wife Valerie and I suffered a miscarriage last year and yesterday was the one year anniversary of the memorial service laying our child to rest. Val was almost twenty weeks into the pregnancy and, like Tori Foles details in her post, ended up in the Emergency Room in active labor.
The pregnancy was not an easy one. The night of the miscarriage, Val had gone to bed before me. I’d made my way upstairs to find her getting dressed and telling me we were headed to the hospital. She’d started active labor after we’d arrived. The pain was intense. I’d called both of our parents and Val’s arrived soon after. The doctor told us at around 4 a.m. that we were headed to the ultrasound room.
The room was dark and quiet. The machine buzzed softly. The tech prepared the equipment for the test and, as she conducted it, I’d tried to watch the screen. A heavy silence fell over us.
I still hear her words when she said, “I can’t find a heartbeat.”
Days turned to weeks. Weeks to months. We’d explained to our sons, Carter and Aiden, what happened. They were excited to have a sibling. Carter, our oldest, took it hard. Aiden was still young enough to not fully understand. We’d taken them both to the cemetery and the spot where our baby would be laid to rest. Carter sobbed in Val’s arms.
As a guy, your reality shifts. Life is lived in lines of demarcation. Val and I met in high school. We’ve been together since 1999. We’d married in 2007, had children and our share of ups and downs. That morning when I walked out of the ER, with the sun starting to rise, a new line existed. We were now a family that had lost a child.
The journey wasn’t easy. After some searching online we’d connected to Through the Heart and have been able to donate and support the organization. We had friends reach out with similar stories, more than we’d known, and it is nice to be there for each other.
Sports still plays a large part in our lives. My son Carter is a baseball fanatic. I’ve coached his teams for five years now. His heroes walk the fields of Major League Baseball every week.
Nick Foles, this guy I’ve never met, will always be a hero of mine. Not just for the Super Bowl win, but for being a man of faith. I know, deep down, we share that connection now, the experience of loss. The depth of sorrow and rise of hope in the end. Suffering is a chance to build relationships and help others through their times of trouble.
For us, as a family, we believe one day we will meet our child again. Until then we go forward. We pour our hearts into love and service, parenting our boys and preparing them for the future.
Nick, I’m here for you brother. Thank you for all you’ve done for this city. Thank you and Tori for speaking out about your loss. Keep fighting and know we are all behind you. From one dad to another, you’ll make it through.
About the Author: Matt Shaner lives in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania with his wife Valerie and sons Carter and Aiden. He works at a surgical hospital by day and is a writer by night with multiple publications. He believes in the power of words and story to connect people and help deal with the struggles of life.
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