Celebrating life

Sunday, December 5, 2004

Among human experiences, the miracle of childbirth is beyond adequate description. But a recent series of Southeast Missourian stories about Barb and Kenny Elfrink by staff writer Bob Miller did about as good a job as possible.

The series was remarkable in so many ways. The stories shared the despair and joy of a couple who unsuccessfully tried for so long to have another child. Then fertility drugs led to Barb Elfrink's pregnancy with triplets.

The stories were remarkable, too, because of the details Mrs. Elfrink was willing to share with newspaper readers she didn't know and will never meet -- readers who quickly became confidantes and were privy to the details of the effort to bring new life into the world.

These details were already familiar to countless women who have tried to have children but, for one reason or another, couldn't. The stories resonated with women who have had miscarriages. And the nail-biting drama of giving birth prematurely was familiar territory for hundreds of other women.

Barb Elfrink's story represented, in its own way, the threads of stories many women could have told -- stories that are so intimate and emotional that most women cling to the sanctuary of privacy.

Tears were shed and shouts of joy were heard at who-knows-how-many breakfast tables over the four days of the series. The outpouring of support and praise in response to the series was unprecedented at the Southeast Missourian.

We are indebted to the Elfrinks for sharing the drama that dominated their lives for several years. We are indebted to Bob Miller's delicate narrative that captured the emotional turns and twists of one couple's private lives. And we are indebted to our readers who have demonstrated -- again -- that a story cannot be judged by its length, but only by its message.

In the end, the Elfrinks' story was a celebration of life. In the process, all of our lives have been enriched.

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