In true Corr family fashion, Will King has a nickname. Had it during his brief time on earth. Had it during his fight to live. Still has it. God’s Will. If that doesn’t beat all.
I never got to meet Will personally. I did meet him through the tears of his
grandmother, through unceasing conversations with his Maker, and through the words from his mother’s broken heart. With determination and tenderness he persevered. He left his imprint on everyone he encountered. It takes a special guy to make putty out of a know-it-all doctor. He was a warrior to the end. Oh, that we should all have that tenacity, because this life can be quite stormy. He inspired his parents to help other babies like they helped him. They accepted the challenge and set up the Will King Foundation (get your shirt and sticker). They love him well.
I don’t think Will would want his mommy to be sad because he was a tough kind of guy. He tickled her with his twinkling eyes, though. He nuzzled close to her just before he left. He knew his mommy loved him, and he loved her back. My own William told me just yesterday to “chill” when I was a bit overworked about a trial he’s going through. Mothers just can’t help it. Our children are part of our hearts. When they hurt, we hurt. To lose one is to amputate part of the heart, and who can take that without some serious scar tissue?
The most amazing thing to me about this grievous event is how the Hughes are making it beautiful. Refusing to ignore or hide their pain, they’ve embraced it in a how-could-you sort of way. They are letting the light of God’s glory do its thing. They talk of His goodness. They’re giving thanks! They’re showing us their confidence that Will’s absence here points to his presence with Jesus. Isn’t that where we want to be? I do.
C.S. Lewis lost his wife to cancer. In A Grief Observed, he said, “Her absence is like the sky, spread over everything.” I see this feeling in Courtney as she writes. I wish I could put up an umbrella to give her a small reprieve from that vastness, but an umbrella only helps in the rain. I don’t think it would help at all in the storm. I also think she needs, maybe even likes, to stand with her face to the wind of that storm. Just like God’s Will.
I thought about you last night when I put Merriweather to bed in her crib. The stars were out outside her window and I wondered what you might be doing in Heaven? I think about you a lot of nights, and also during a lot of days. Your mommy had this wonderful idea for us to share how your life has impacted ours, so I wanted to share a few of the ways…
When you and your sister were in the hospital together, and then you by yourself for two months, I watched in awe how your family worked together to ensure neither one of you were ever left alone. Your mom planned out a schedule, because she never leaves a detail undone. She is thoughtful and she is driven - just like you. You were both always cared for medically, of course, but above that, you were nurtured and loved on by your mother, father, Lala and Grandaddy.
I was reminded of the power of parents, whether we are a child or the adult. Your parents are some of the very finest and your grandparents are too. I was reminded that the role of a parent isn’t over when a child turns 18, or when they go off to college or get married or even start a family of their own. Your Lala told me how much she loved to read to you. Your dad spent every night at the hospital with you. Your mom passionately sought the best care for you, while she too was recovering and healing from childbirth. Your Granddaddy journaled so affectionately about your days. I was inspired and touched by their teamwork and selfless dedication. They have now worked together to create The Will King Foundation to honor you.
I want to be the same type of parent to my daughters, Eloise and Merriweather, and also the same type of grandparent, should they be so lucky to become mothers themselves. I have promised them I will be there to help them, at a moment’s notice. Sometimes that’s when things happen. Your experience taught me the power of parents and family and the impact you can have when working together. I was inspired by them and I am inspired by you. Each of you is incredibly special.
I enclosed a few pictures of Eloise and Merriweather with two of their favorite dolls. They are twin babies, “Will and Caroline”; named fondly after you and your sister. Eloise chose their names before you were born as we were all so eagerly and excitedly awaiting your arrival. We so wish you could be with us today and every day, but we take our sweet Will doll on many adventures and to many fun places. We are reminded of your beautiful life. Eloise likes to bring her Will doll to do fun things like ride on the swing at Boone Park. Our Caroline doll even went to Cashiers, NC this summer!
You’ve made an impact on us all. We won’t forget you, Will, and we promise to check on and love your parents and siblings. Joshua, Emma Grace and Caroline are some of our very best friends. In fact, Joshua was one of Eloise’s first friends. They met when Eloise was 6 months old. What a blessing your family has been to our family.
So tonight, I’ll look at the stars outside again when I put Merriweather to bed in her crib. I’ll think about you and the tremendous journey you went through here on earth and the unexpected journey of joy and sorrow your mother, especially, is braving through. She chooses joy and we love and admire that about her.
There are a few other special friends who have joined you in Heaven this year. A wonderful mother, Stephanie, and a fun little boy, Owens. Look for them if you can. They are among some of the brightest stars shining in Heaven – just like you, Will.
And The Markley Family
Honestly not a day goes by that I haven't thought of Will. Right there is a way he has impacted my life. He is a constant reminder to me how precious our children are to us. How in the midst of all the things spinning around us each day, where we need to be, what needs to be done, the chaos and the exhaustion, that how we are sharing with them God's love, through our words and actions is our most important task. That their lives are my greatest blessing. My children ask me big questions about God, questions I don't have great answers for. I think about Will everyday..as a mother and a friend to Will's mommy, how could I not think about him everyday. I don't have great answers to my own big questions about why his time on earth had to be so short. But the one thing I know is how clear it is that God had a huge purpose through him to change the lives of so many in so many ways. The impact that has taken place in such a short time is undoubtedly the work of the Lord. It was a plan for something great. The faithfulness of his parents to take something so heartbreaking and devastating and use it to bring hope to others for the glory of God is so inspiring, how could it not leave an impact on hearts and lives EVERYWHERE.
Will was on this earth for 96 day..and through his life, lives have been changed and saved and the impact of his life will go on for generations. Our days are important especially when we have the responsibility of raising a child in this world. Make the days count. This is what I am reminded of when I think of sweet Will.
Life - Will King was knit together in his mother's womb, designed by God, and created for a purpose. We are seeing the purpose of his life in the legacy of his story as it lives on to impact so many lives. In my life I want to God to conform to my plans, but God reminded me again through sadness, joy, grief, and hope that He is for us and not against us. When I truly trust God with my life and the lives of those around me, including sweet Will's, and I am a celebrator of life through God's design.
Parenting - Will's life reminded me of the gift of parenting. Will and his parents had a special relationship while he was in the womb and his 96 days outside of the womb. Will's parents, Taylor and Courtney, gave up their comfort, pride, and desires to love their strong fighter so well throughout his 96 days out of the womb. The relationship of parents and their children is a gift and joy as I and the world around me can see it too often as a burden to our days. Will's life reminded me that parenting is not a burden but instead a joyful, gift to cherish.
Children - Will's life reminded me of the huge impact a child can have on this world from a young age. Oftentimes, we are waiting for our children to have a big impact on this world when they are ___ years old. Instead, Will's 96 days out of the womb impacted so many people in various walks of life and continues to create a legacy today. Children are a gift to us, and when we see them as a gift, we can begin to see their large impact on the world.
Everyone has a story - Will's life reminded me that each person and family has a story. Each one of us is living with a story of celebration, mourning, fun, and hardship. When we love people knowing they have a story, we are more likely to give a little more grace, work to understand, not be quick to anger, and genuinely care for them. I am so thankful for Will's story.
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.