Ricky stood back and watched as his wife closely inspected the new crib he had bought. As usual, he thought that she was being too critical about his purchase. He sighed as he waited for her approval, but just then, she let out a piercing cry that sounded like it was right out of a horror movie.
He sprinted over to her, trying to see what was wrong. But when he saw what made her shriek, he felt his heart begin to race.
Happy To Say The Least
Valerie Smith was extremely happy when she found out that she was with child. She was going to be a single parent and the best mom ever! She was so excited for this new chapter in her life.
But Valeria had no idea how her world would change soon enough.
In her excitement, she had spent a lot of effort and money preparing a nursery for her baby. She wanted it to be perfect. Who this baby was, he or she was about to be her partner in crime. A little human to love, protect and nurture, and share the best of what she had with.
She couldn’t wait for her life to change. But she had no idea that nothing was as it seemed.
Selling A Crib
A year after her pregnancy. Valerie needed money and so she decided to clear out some of her clutter at the same time. She had a yard sale and among the things she looked to sell, she noticed her crib in the corner of the room.
She knew it was time to sell it. She posted an ad for it online and waited. But she had no idea that there was a detail about the crib that was truly horrifying.
In the same town, there was a carpenter by trade named Gerald Kumpula and his wife named Lorene. They noticed the ad for the crib and knew their granddaughter would need one for her pregnancy.
It looked perfect. It was at the right price and was in good and sturdy condition. They thought it was a bargain, but they didn’t know what they were actually paying for.
Making The Purchase
The elderly couple decided it was perfect and called Valerie to arrange a pickup. They didn’t want to wait and wanted to pick it up as soon as possible.
Gerald called Valerie and asked if he could come and collect it. She was more than happy to let him and told him to bring his truck. But he didn’t expect what would come next.
What Was Wrong With It?
When Gerald got there he saw Valerie coming to greet him. She was dragging the crib along with her and it looked in great order. He wondered why she was selling it.
Gerald walked up to her to give her a hand moving the crib. He greeted her warmly before grabbing the other end of the frame. Then they shuffled to the truck together. But something was wrong.
No Small Talk
Gerald made an effort to be friendly with her, asking her how she was and if she was having a good day but her replies were blunt. She replied with short, one-word answers.
Gerald thought she was probably just uninterested in small chat so he asked her what her child’s name was. Maybe this would get her talking but she ignored his question completely. Why was she ignoring him?
Avoiding The Question
He asked her one more time what her child’s name was, maybe she didn’t hear the first time. It’s not like the question was a delicate one.
She hesitated and then quickly said, “Noah”. Gerald didn’t really believe her. It was the way she looked down at the ground when she said it. Something wasn’t right about her.
Nonetheless, Gerald persisted to sound her out. He smiled politely at her but Valerie didn’t smile back. She then asked him for the cash and then told him to leave.
Gerald was taken off guard by her attitude. He confronted her and asked her if she had a problem with him. He was only there to buy her crib, after all, it wasn’t like he wasn’t doing her a favor too.
Valerie replied, “Just take the crib, pay, and leave please”. Gerald had never been talked to like this before. Being the kind and polite old man that he was, he rarely had unpleasant conversations with anyone.
He felt like he was being pushed out the door and he didn’t understand it but he still wanted the crib so he gave her the cash and left. Completely oblivious to what he was taking home.
Showing The Wife
When Gerald got back home, he was excited to show his wife the crib. Looking at it again earlier, he was very happy with it and hoped his granddaughter would be just as ecstatic. It was a great gift.
But when Gerald’s wife came over to inspect the crib, she cried out in a fit of anguish. What was wrong?
Gerald sprinted over to see what the matter was. He saw his wife bent over the side of it. Her hand on her stomach, her face wincing like she was in pain.
Gerald couldn’t see anything wrong with the crib. He put his hand on his wife’s shoulder and asked her what was wrong. She looked up at him, visibly upset, and pointed at the crib.
Shock And Horror
Gerald followed her finger. She was pointing at the wooden frame. Gerald looked closer. Suddenly, his heart pounded as his jaw dropped.
Immediately, he loaded his truck with the crib and drove straight back to where he bought it. Gerald knew something wasn’t right with that conversation and now, he knew exactly why.
Back At Valerie’s
Gerald arrived at Valerie’s home and knocked on her door. A minute later, she answered looking confused as to what he was doing back. Then she saw her crib. The same crib she had sold him just a few hours ago.
“I’ve seen what was on the crib”, Gerald said. Straight away, he could see the shock in Valerie’s eyes.
Gerald caught her off guard. Her face went pale. She had no idea how he knew. He brought over the crib and showed her what he found.
Her eyes teared as she stared at the wooden frame. “I know about Noah”, he said. “Please”, she begged, “I just wanted to get rid of that crib”. What were they seeing?
Straight away, he could see the sadness in Valerie’s eyes. It was at that moment that Valerie revealed the truth to Gerald. And he wasn’t prepared for it.
She explained how she had forgotten she had put that there. She didn’t want any trouble and said she’d give it to him for free if he’d just keep it. But he wasn’t having any of it.
You see, when she was more than halfway through her pregnancy, Valerie started to suffer from backache and stomach pains.
At first, she brushed it off as just pregnancy symptoms, but as the weeks went by she knew something was going on. And she was right. “All week I knew something was off,” she recalled. “I was very nervous.”
Determined to find out the truth, Valerie went over to the hospital for a check-up. While she was sitting in the waiting room, she had hundreds of questions flooding her mind.
She took a deep breath before composing herself. “Everything is going to be ok,” she said. But had no idea what was coming.
Valerie waited while the doctors conducted their scans and checks on her unborn baby and she felt sick with nerves. She seriously hoped there was nothing wrong.
And finally, the doctors had the results. The umbilical cord, doctors theorized, had become compressed in the womb, making it impossible for the necessary nutrients and oxygen to make it to the fetus. Valerie lost her baby.
It was a devastating blow for Valerie. A loss that was almost impossible to process. For the past few months, her life centered around the arrival of her unborn child.
The excitement of making her home child-proof, buying toys, making a nursery, reading first-time mother books. Her grief was overwhelming.
There is so much a parent has to process after learning that they won’t be bringing their baby home with them. Not only did Valerie have the mental and emotional side-effects of her loss to deal with; she also had to face up to the fact that her home’s nursery wouldn’t be used.
For her, the implications of the empty nursery were just too much to deal with.
Valerie was devastated to hear the news. She so badly wanted it to be a nightmare that she was about to wake up from. But this was no nightmare. This was her reality.
As the weeks passed, Valerie became a shell of herself – she was hardly eating and she hadn’t left the house in weeks. Valerie could feel herself sinking further and further.
In the days and weeks after her tragic and heart-felt loss, Valerie didn’t know what to do with herself.
She was supposed to be having sleepless nights because her baby was keeping her up, not because her house was eerily silent. It didn’t help that there were so many reminders of her baby everywhere she looked.
Eleven Months Passed
But eleven months after her baby passed, Valerie knew she had to make a change. It was what her baby would have wanted. Valerie missed smiling and laughing. She missed her old self.
So first on her list was to have a yard sale and get rid of any unwanted items. She came across the crib she had bought for her baby and she felt a lump in her throat. She knew she had to sell it. She didn’t need it anymore, and perhaps somebody else did.
It was the item she was most excited to have and one that she put a lot of money and time into finding. But looking at it now, she knew she had to sell it.
She didn’t need it anymore, and she didn’t need the painful empty reminder it now served but somewhere out there, perhaps it could give somebody else the hope and excitement it gave her. Like Gerald.
Learning The Truth
When Gerald and his wife came across the crib advertisement online, he thought of his own pregnant granddaughter and how much joy it would bring her.
But it was only when he had taken the crib back to his home and his wife looked inside that he leaned all about Noah and Valerie’s horrific experience.
When Gerald’s wife looked inside the crib, she saw something that stopped her cold and made her scream. As soon as Gerald heard his wife, he came over to look at what the problem was.
And then he saw it too. A piece of its wooden frame that changed everything.
As he looked closely, he saw a faint but visible message scribbled into the bottom of the crib. With wide eyes, he read what it said, “R.I.P Noah 2019-2020.”
Gerald and his wife immediately felt like they could not buy this. Something about the scribble was so painful, it would drive anyone to tears. But Gerald reacted differently.
Straight away Gerald felt heartbreak and devastation knowing the truth about this crib. He felt guilty for buying it off Valerie, as it obviously meant a lot to her.
But he felt even worse for asking her so many questions about her child when he went to collect it and even confronted her on her deflated behavior. It all made sense now.
Making it Better
Valerie wasn’t being rude, she was just sad. Very sad. Gerald thought it was because of him but it had nothing to do with him at all. The guilt was unbearable.
Gerald knew what he had to do to make things better. So he got to work and completely transformed the crib into something spectacular.
As parents to 15 children, Gerald and Lorene knew what a child meant to a young mother; and as grandparents who’d lost a grandchild, they knew, at least partially, what the loss of a child can do to a family.
Gerald and Lorene agreed that the crib needed to return to Valerie. Still, Gerald knew it couldn’t go back to her in its current form. He needed to work his craftsman’s magic.
Working Some Magic
Gerald brought the crib into his workshop. There, pieces of wood lay on the floor, half-finished benches lined the walls, and one of his more ambitious projects — an ATV made out of PVC pipes — sat amid a daydream-worthy tool collection.
The retired grandfather started tinkering away at the little white crib.
Labour Of Love
He started cutting and measuring the wood, hammering nails and mixing paint. He had a vision in mind and hoped to transform this into something that would last a lifetime.
It would now serve a different purpose. Instead of reminding Valerie of a loss, he hoped it would honor a life.
He worked day and night, inputting countless hours until he got it finished. And when he finished, he stood back and hoped that Valerie would be delighted.
He wanted to give her something that would not only make him feel at peace with causing her more hurt but also make her feel at peace with what she had been through. What was it?
With incredible handiwork, Gerald turned the crib once relegated to spend a lifetime in the corner of a dark garage into a bright, beautiful bench, a memorial for the beautiful life taken far too soon.
This, Gerald figured, was the perfect way to honor the boy he never knew. He explained…
Speaking about the idea behind the crib, Gerald said, “an unused crib is a sad reminder. A bench is more of a memorial. It’s part of that sad happening, yet it’s not a reminder like an empty crib would be.”
He wanted to turn the crib into something that Valerie could use and keep with her.
Valarie offered Gerald money. Money for his time. Money for his work. Money for being so kind in a sometimes painfully cruel world. He declined any payment. “It’s just nice to be able to do something for someone,” he said.
It’s people like Gerald that make the world a better place.