West Fargo native reflects after the loss of wife and infant son
Erik Schmidt shared with WDAY News the story of how his wife and newborn son tragically passed within days of each other.
LINTON, N.D. — In March, it started as a surprise of pure joy. The Schmidt family had a baby on the way.
"We found out that we were expecting our fourth child. As Erin put it, he was our plot twist," said Erik Schmidt, who now lives in Linton. "We weren't expecting to get pregnant. She said, 'God had a different plan for us,' and we were excited."
Fast forward to June and Erik said his wife Erin was starting to feel rough. At 40 years old, the couple thought it was just a tough pregnancy, and visited the hospital with what they thought was back pain.
As things move quickly, the family went from Fargo to the Mayo Clinic.
"They delivered James via cesarean section on a late Sunday afternoon. They did a biopsy of her liver and a CT scan. The next day showed that cancer (was) pretty widespread throughout her," Erik said.
James was born on June 26 at Mayo, just 23 weeks into Erin's pregnancy.
Three days after she arrived in Rochester, Erin passed away from metastatic breast cancer, the most advanced stage.
Only 13 days later, Erik and his three girls, Laura, Jill and Heidi, were handed another unthinkable tragedy.
On July 11, their newborn James had passed away.
"I started getting phone calls in the morning. It was not looking good, and I lost him that Monday afternoon," he said.
Erik says Erin was known throughout the Linton community. She was a teacher, a mother and a friend.
It's that small community support that Erik says is a big reason for helping him and his family through this time.
"It doesn't bring back Erin or James, but it is, I guess I can't put into words the amount of support I've gotten from my family and the community that we live in," Erik said, adding he continued to find inspiration in his girls, who push him to keep going.
"It's what Erin would want me to do. It's hard some days," Erik said. "Some days are harder than others, but my three girls are my life right now."
His advice to others is simple. Go to doctor's appointments for preventative screenings, whatever you can do to stay with your loved ones.
"You get home today, tonight, you give your family a big hug for me," Erik said. "You tell them how much you love them for me, and don't take any of those moments for granted."
A memorial walk will be in Linton City Park Sunday, Aug. 14, from noon to 1:30 p.m. The family will serve burgers and hot dogs, and will accept freewill donations.
For those who can't make it to the walk, there is a gofundme to help the family pay hospital bills, and other expenses.