I took care of both of your babies at different times, and was Will’s nurse on the night that he passed away. I haven’t been a nurse for that long, only a few years, but it sometimes feels like it has been longer because the PICU is a physically, mentally, and emotionally draining place to work. I have had many moments of self-doubt, unsure if I can handle the stress of the job anymore. I spent so many shifts with your son and because of him, I learned to love what I do again. He definitely kept me busy, but I so appreciated your thoughtfulness and your commitment to his care. It was refreshing to witness. When I got back to the elevator after I walked you out of the hospital that night, I was overwhelmed with emotion. It was such a privilege to take care of your son and I so admire his legacy. Thank you to Will and to your family for reminding me why I chose to be a PICU nurse.
Thinking of you often!
Watching Courtney, Taylor and their family go through what I can only imagine is the worst experience a parent and family can go through, their strength is admirable. Instead of letting their devastating loss take hold of their lives they have been witnesses of God and how great our Lord is, even through tragedy. To see a foundation created in Will’s honor and to get the emails with the precious children this foundation is helping makes me smile and cry at the same time. God is glorified through Will and His Love is being spread across the world. Will’s 96 days on this earth will change the lives of many people forever.
One of the many ways Will has impacted my life is realizing in the midst of the pain, the heartache, the grief and the anxiety of the hospital stay and his passing that the Lord met us in it and prompted us to worship right alongside of praying. It seems counterintuitive but while kneeling to pray and pouring out our hearts for Will and Caroline we worshipped and gave honor to the God who made them.
“Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.” Psalm 95:6
Janie Hughes, Will’s Grandmother
Today, I want to share a letter written by one of Will’s nurses, Misty. Misty took care of Caroline and Will during their time in the PICU and I cannot describe what an amazing person she is. She loved Will and was with us through everything, from the beginning to Will’s very last day. I cherish this letter and we will always hold Misty in a special place in our hearts. Please take a few minutes to read her beautiful about what Will means to her.
If I could count the times I’ve thought about you, and your amazing family I could probably create a new number. There are many people that we meet in our lifetime who make lasting impressions, impacts, or imprints on us. Each has a different story, some of our stories continue being edited daily and some are written deep in our heart, and hopefully will never be edited or erased. I always get asked how I am able to do my job, that it must be so hard. But, I think of the special trusting relationships and the loving bonds I build with my patients and their families, and I always answer with, “I can’t imagine doing anything else”. I met you shortly after you and your sister came to the PICU, I still remember hearing your nurse call to me, “Hey Misty, I think he’s having SVT” (that’s a type of really fast heart rate). I walked in and saw your dad standing in the corner, he looked worried, and you did in fact have that fast heart rate. I helped your nurse stabilize your heart rate, and told your dad that we were going to run some tests and that the doctor was going to start some new medications to help your heart. I wasn’t your bedside nurse until you had faced ECMO, and your parents had walked through some of the scariest days of yours and Caroline’s hospital stay. I would watch you from her room as I cared for her, gave her medications, and even washed her once she was stable enough to really get a bath. Once she was able to leave the PICU, I watched as your mom brought her to your bedside to see you, you were still so sick, on the loud ventilator, but fighting like a little warrior. I remember the look on your mom’s face, she was scared to leave you, but was happy that your sister could graduate out of the PICU. My heart hurt for her, I knew that she and your dad would have a difficult time trying to be in two places at once.
I loved being your nurse. You kept such a sweet angelic face and even a gentle smile while you endured the medicine, IVs, procedures, dialysis, and extensive nursing care. You were my “why”. Your dad and I would talk about Disney trips, so of course Disney classics and lullabies had to fill the room. I remember giving you my famous bath and putting the blue sleeper on you, and using the star blanket (it was my favorite of yours because I called you my superstar), I may have taken a picture, but I’ll never tell the truth. I was so happy for your family to see you dressed. I loved keeping faith with them, and praying silently while they watched you sleep. And your sweet grandmother, she would read books to you, she was nervous of all of the equipment, but she knew that reading to you and letting you hear her voice was comforting, both for you and her.
As your hospital stay lengthened, and you started facing some more challenging days, I had my concerns, and fears. I never let you or your family know my worries. I would pray and hold back tears. You were so special to me. You ARE so special to me. Then the day came that I feared, your family started asking me difficult questions…. You are so loved. You and your family have stayed on my mind since that day. I didn’t want to leave the hospital. I sat in my car for a while before I drove away. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your care, thank you for that sweet smile, thank you for coming into my life and sharing with me your family of ultimate faith, unwavering love and selfless giving. Will, your strength and fight will be a “why” that I tell future nurses about to encourage them, and remind them that no matter the length of time you know someone, you can have an impact on their life, but more importantly they can have a lasting impact on yours.
Will’s 96 days on earth have taught me so much about the strength one family is capable of by the grace of God. Also that the greatest strength can be right around the corner from you. And a community of friends can care for each other on a level where we feel each others pain and love each others children like our own. Will has also taught me that unimaginable grief and sadness are not the end. They can be the beginning of something bigger - helping, healing and inspiring others.
Will fought hard for his life, and that fighting spirit lives on in the children served by the Will King Foundation. His family is fighting hard by sharing his story and staying strong to rejoice in their three children on this earth. Witnessing this strengthens my faith and inspires me everyday.
Will, I think, has had the biggest impact in my life…he saved my daughter, Avery. Will is such a blessing!
I was especially touched by Will’s strength when I was in the hospital on bed rest with Leila and was following your babies through friends and your posts. I remember learning Caroline had gotten to go home but Will was still in the hospital. At that time, I was given the incredible gift of time. Being in the hospital and away from all my responsibilities to my family and work, for the first time, I could really focus on my devotionals and in prayer without any distraction. Whenever I began to get upset about my situation or worried about my husband dealing with the two older kids at home, I drew so much strength from Will and the situation you were all in. You all were also split amongst your own family between the house and the hospital and Will’s fight kept you all going- and it kept us going as well. Without ever meeting Will, I felt as if he were so close to me during that time, as he was such a big part of my thoughts and prayers and became such a source of strength for me.
I remember briefly texting with you after Leila was born when we were in the NICU but before Will’s condition took a turn. In my heart, I felt so close to Will, knowing he was ALIVE and fighting for every bit of his little life somewhere in the same hospital as I was with my baby. I envisioned play dates and stories for years to come of all the babies in the hospital at the same time(there were so many of us at that time!). When Will passed away, we were still in the NICU and it all felt so surreal. Still grieving the loss of another baby boy so close to us, I just couldn’t believe it was happing again to another family we knew, within the same hospital walls I was sitting in watching my own baby get stronger. In the days the followed, I continued to pray continually for you all and for all of us “left behind” to feel Will’s presence always...to feel his strength in our weakest moments. In the weeks that followed, we were close to leaving the NICU and I ran into another family I knew who had a daughter in the PICU. I later learned their daughter was next door to Will. Months after both of our babies came home, we continue to talk about Will and the strength they felt from him, without ever knowing you all. They too, found their way to Will’s story on Instagram and have followed your journey. It was clear they too will never forget Will’s strength and his memory will continue to live on through all the many who knew him, and the strangers whose path he crossed and path he changed.
Thank you so much for sharing so much with all of us!
Will’s life teaches me about my limitedness, God’s limitlessness, and the power of prayer. We wanted to be there - crying tears, bearing burdens, waiting room sitting, hug giving, but we couldn’t, so we prayed. In my own selfishness that didn’t seem like enough. But God taught me and patiently reminded me. There’s nothing in the world like being faithfully on your knees for your friends. Will reminds me of the power in praying bold prayers and that God truly is greater than me in any of my efforts. Will rooted more faithfulness in me. We would pray and ask God for miracles, for specific things. We prayed with anticipation and we knew it would love return void no matter what the answer would be. We truly felt the Lord’s power and his closeness as we can to him in prayer.
Will’s life teaches me that every life is truly a miracle. You hear it all the time when babies as born- “what a miracle,” but I don’t think we truly believe it sometimes. Instead, unconsciously, we assume that our pregnancies will result in a healthy baby and my babies will result in healthy kids, and so on. I dare say I can feel almost entitled to it, but it’s the furthest thing from the truth. Life is miraculous, and it is not guaranteed as simple as that sounds. We should daily be in awe with thanksgiving. I remember not being that far away from delivering Wyatt and feeling so many conflicting emotions - grief, joy, fear, anticipation, etc. We live in a constant state where all of those can exist at once, but we have a God who is the author of life. We gives and he takes away, but he promises to be the comforter.
Will’s life teaches me about the GIFT of motherhood. The calling isn’t to be taken lightly.
I love watching Will’s life redirect y’all’s purpose, mission, focus. He’s ignited passion in you Court that I love watching it from afar. He’s rooted you guys even further in Christ. Even your gift of writing - I would have never gotten to see that beautiful gift to come life. I’m thankful that Will’s life has brought more beauty to the world in your writing. Will’s life is synonymous with strength. And I also see that in his mama. I’m reminded of the strength of a mother when she’s rooted and pressing in to Christ.
Will’s life reminds me to look outside my life and remember those around me. When I’m celebrating milestones, holidays, and first days of fill in the blank, I should remember those who grieve and be quick with my words and actions to love them.
As a nurse, Will’s life reminds me of who all I am really taking care of when I step into my patient’s room and to do so with patience, care, understanding, tenderness, and bold faith.
When I first came to your house for a Bible study you said that in college you and your husband had dreamt of being missionaries. Not too long after that night Caroline and Will were born. Following along with Will and Caroline's story was incredible--to see the strength of those two babies alongside the faith of your family. It was clear to see that Jesus had equipped you with the voice to share His love in the midst of your painful experiences. When Will passed I distinctly remember thinking that you had ministered to a huge mission field and that thought has remained as you've grieved his loss and established The Will King Foundation in his memory. For me, Will's life is a reminder about the power of Jesus and his legacy is definitely a fulfillment of your heart to be a missionary.
With love and respect,