Kyle Porter may have started his career in the insurance business, but his heart was in sports. So in his spare time, he started his own college sports blog. After that, he made a few connections, and eventually, it led to his job as a golf writer for CBS Sports.
At 30 years old, his career was blossoming; he had been happily married for five years; and he and his wife, Jen, were expecting their third child. However, last month, just four weeks shy of her delivery date, Kate Noelle Porter died in the womb.
In his feature article called, “We Lost a Child, and Gained Something Greater,” Kyle recently wrote for The Gospel Coalition and shared his family’s heartbreaking journey. He also did an interview with us and allowed us to ask some follow-up questions about what he and his family have been through.
1. Your recent article at The Gospel Coalition really got under my skin because my wife is pregnant with our third child. I can’t imagine the horror of parents realizing they won’t get to know the child they’ve been waiting for. What would you like to say or ask Kate when you meet her in heaven?
I would like to ask her what it feels like to have been the conduit for God’s influence to hundreds of thousands of people like she’s been. I don’t know that feeling personally. Even though I wrote the piece, it wasn’t really about me.
2. In a particularly tender part of the article, you describe spending one night in the hospital with your daughter. What was that like, being there for those few hours with the shadow of your baby girl?
Here’s what I’ll say about that: There are a lot of life-changing decisions you make in a short amount of time when it comes to stuff like this. One we almost fumbled was choosing whether to spend the night with her. We almost didn’t. If anyone reading ever has to go through something like this, I would advise spending as much time as you possibly can before saying goodbye. It will sting more, but you won’t regret it.
3. The older you get, the more you hear tragic stories of failed conceptions, miscarriages and stillborn births. For those of us who know people going through this trauma, what is the best thing to do or say?
Great question. We have thought a lot about friendship in the last month after going through this. Our friends and family were monumental in helping us walk through it. We wondered things like, Would we be this kind and this caring if we were on the other side of it?
The best thing to say is nothing. Three of my closest friends came over right after we found out and we just cried and cried and cried in the hallway in our house. They just cried with me. They didn’t try to offer theologically sound reasons for why Kate died. They just cried and hugged me. A lot of people sent us scriptures to read during the delivery. That was sweet — it sustained us.
As for doing, people took care of needs we didn’t even know we had. They delivered food, paid for the funeral and all the medical bills, mowed our lawn, cleaned our house and took care of our kids. These logistical solutions helped us grieve well and spend really good time with each other as well as our other two kids. That was really important. People were incredibly kind and generous with their time and resources. We could not possibly be more thankful for that.
4. This bold statement from the article stood out to me: “I’ve always enjoyed the spotlight to a degree. I think everyone does in some way. That feels like a pretty personal thing to admit, but I’m also writing about the loss of a child, so I guess we’re beyond that.” That’s an incredibly vulnerable thing to share — especially in the context of the article. Do you fear being judged for that honest admission?
There’s a stigma with people who say, “Yeah, I like performing. I like it when people are looking at me,” even though we sort of all like that in some respect. The important thing is that when the spotlight is on you (because it’s on all of us from time to time), what are you doing with it? Are you internalizing it and telling the person running [the spotlight] to turn the wattage up, or are you redirecting it and pointing to Christ? I try, even in my writing and reporting about sports, to always do the latter.
5. How does it feel to mix your prominent CBS Sports image with such a painful story that has now gone viral? Does it scare you at all?
Yes, absolutely. But who am I if I preach to my Christian friends and people in our church and home group, “Always point to Jesus,” and then turn around and don’t take the platform I’ve been blessed with to do the same? What is that? That’s just a bunch of empty words and nonsense coming out of my mouth to other Christians.
The craziest (and coolest) thing was how, as a result, many people shared the Gospel who might not have even known they were doing it. I think the Lord enjoys working like that. Ultimately, my job on earth isn’t about covering golf or writing about sports. It’s about what I’m doing about eternity, and if my day-to-day activities here in the world can affect that, then how could I not take advantage of it?
Kyle Porter covers golf for CBS Sports and runs the Oklahoma State sports blog Pistols Firing. You can on Twitter @KylePorterCBS.