When I first learned about Caroline and Will being sick, fear took hold of me. I had my 3rd baby boy due in January and Courtney and I had walked through some of our pregnancy together. I let my mind get the best of me with thoughts of "well she and the babies were completely healthy", "the big boys will bring something home to the baby", and many other scary ideas. I went as far as keeping the big kids home from school for weeks because I was scared of the flu, viruses or whatever else the 2018 winter had for us. Of course that didn't help, we ended up with the flu in our house as well as cold after cold and a virus hospitalization for the baby.
I ran into Courtney's mom one day at pick up and asked her how Will was doing and what I could do for the family. All she told me was PRAY. At that moment I realized that God had been trying to show me that fear is a liar. I looked at Courtney and Taylor and saw how brave they have been, how much they have leaned into the Lord with Will's journey. They have been made an amazing example of faith. Their courage, grace, light, love, sacrifice, with God at the center of it is clear to everyone around. Will's life has taught me that God has a reason, and we don't need to fear. Now Will is healed and in the best place anyone could be.
Several of us were together and praying for sweet Will when someone mentioned that I was one that could understand a bit more of what my nephew, Taylor, & his wife, Courtney, were going through as my daughter was born premature with a severe birth defect and lived in the NICU for quite some time. I so admire their faith and commitment to being with Will around the clock. That time was precious. It reminds me how many babies in the NICU and PICU never have anyone visit or someone to hold them. Many children are brought to hospitals out of state that can best care for them, and it is so hard on the families. It has inspired me to start volunteering again at our local hospital and to donate more to the Ronald McDonald house. McDonalds started these homes to help families have a place to stay while their children are in the hospital. The need is great and the nurses will tell you that these precious angels do better when they have that personal human touch. God bless you! Love, Aunt Julie
Although I didn’t have the opportunity to meet my beautiful, special great grandson, Will, not a day goes by that I don’t think of him. Questions daily— how could this happen? Why? Gone way too soon! Thoughts daily enter my mind. Our family has been so blessed till Will. It seems this is what happens to others, not us! One thing I know for sure—-he was appropriately named. He had so much will power to beat the odds against him. So many times I feared the phone call would come, & so many times he seemed to pull through when there seemed no hope. Throughout all of this, my granddaughter showed such courage, composure, strength & unconditional faith. Taylor & Courtney are amazing parents. They’ve gone through something that no parent should have to experience, & they never had doubt with their faith & God’s plan for Will. I’ve put myself in their shoes many times with thoughts of how I would handle losing a child. I know for a fact, they are remarkably strong. They make me want to be a better person. I know deep down I couldn’t walk in their shoes, & do what they’ve done during this extremely difficult time. Will will live on in all of us. His foundation will continue to help so many children. For 96 days, Will impacted lives all around him & he will continue to do so in all of us. Grammie misses you sweet baby Will, always…
Ricki Penna, Will’s Great Grandmother
My second son was born on March 6, the day that Will went home to be with his Father. I remember sitting up late at night trying to feed my hours-old baby, scrolling through Facebook trying to stay awake and I saw Taylor's post, that he'd lost his son that day, just as we'd experienced one of life's greatest joys. I've struggled a lot with anxiety every since becoming a mother, anxiety over their health, safety, their future, their happiness. What I've discovered as I've followed your journey through grief and loss is that the greatest thing I can pray over my boys is that their lives, whatever might pass between birth and death, will glorify God and point others towards Him. Sickness, struggle, danger, etc... these things may all happen, but I know with great certainty that God can be glorified through the most difficult of situations, and I try to rest in that promise for my children. Your son showed me that and I am so thankful for his life.
Although I did not know Will or Courtney when Will was fighting here on earth, I came to know them both shortly after. Aside from obvious devastation, the loss of a child is incredibly isolating. You hear about it happening to someone, but rarely know someone else close by or even personally beyond online support groups. No one else gets the complicated emotions and feelings that go along with the experience.
Courtney’s openness and ability to articulate her experience has been such an immense blessing to me. I HATE that we share this common bond, but love how I can literally relate to every single word she writes in every post she makes. Courtney’s drive to keep Will’s memory alive is helping others going through this not feel alone. I’ve shared posts with my bereaved parents group and often hear “I needed this right now” and gratitude for posting. Beyond finding a comfort in a shared experience, Courtney’s faith and love for Jesus is immensely inspiring. So thank you, sweet Will, for being the most wonderful, beautiful and perfectly made baby boy who forever changed your mama’s heart. I know you are whole in Heaven with my Curry boy and can’t wait to meet you!
1. As a reminder of the perfect, redeeming love of Christ. This is played out daily through your posts and faith, and also when I picture your sweet boy - whole and healthy in heaven.
2. As a reminder to hug your littles, your bigs, your parents, your neighbors and your friends. Life is fragile and fleeting, and I don't want to miss an opportunity to let someone know that I love them.
3. As a reminder of how thankful I am for the dedicated care of doctors, nurses, social workers, chaplains, physical and occupational therapists, etc. that we have right here in our backyard. What a blessing it is to have access to these resources.
4. As a reminder that the trivial things in life I worry over (back to school forms, packing lunches, James waking up three times in the night, dog hair on the floor . . . ) are just that - so trivial. Pouring deeply into those around us is what matters.