Good evening. Please allow me to apologize in advance, for I'm sending an unusually personal email full of tragedy, suffering, vulnerability, faith, hope, and love.
Over the course of this year, one of my closest friends, family physician Craig DeLisi, MD (UASOM class of 2000, IHI class of 2003), his wife Tonya, and their other 8 kids have weathered the joy of finding out they were having a 9th child, a little girl, Anastasha Kalil DeLisi... and receiving the eventually fatal diagnosis of anencephaly.
Craig and Tonya made the unusual decision in this circumstance to carry Anastasha to term.
Over these 9 months, they have chosen to extremely vulnerable and transparent in this journey, allowing one of Craig's and my attendings from In His Image, Dr. Walt Larimore to publish his emails to family and friends to his blog. Their insights, hopes, tears, and - yes - joy is worth the time.
Anastasha was born - and died - on her mother's birthday, October 26, 2010 - this past Tuesday and I've just spent the weekend with them and have been profoundly moved by their journey of suffering, faith, and hope.
Over this past month, Craig and I put together these slideshow / videos that were shown at the funeral that I think will bless you as well, especially the slideshow of the birth and Anastasha's ~50 minutes of life. (Update: full 18 minute video of the slideshows from the funeral)
The second song on this slideshow, "I WIll Carry You" was written by a couple who also lost a child in a similar way.
Finally, our close friend and family physician, Michael Gaertner, MD (IHI 2002), who has lost two children in infancy, shared this powerful message of suffering and love that is worth the listening.
In Craig's words to me earlier this week: "I'm good. [The experience] almost feels like a dream... but I will say it is an awesome feeling to walk through the valley of my greatest fear and come through realizing that Jesus is enough."
I'm not sure if what I've experienced by sharing this journey with them in some small way and having been so deeply moved by will totally translate via blog & video & sermon... but I felt compelled to share the stories and the videos and the message anyway.
Thanks for letting me take a personal moment.
Blessings to you all,
John B. Waits, MD