Building Will's legacy through this foundation has been filled with a lot of joy. After experiencing the pain, loss and complete devastation of Will's passing, this has been a light. It has been a blessing to see our children meet children from other parts of the world, learn about their culture and play with them. Showing compassion to the sick, helping the brokenhearted, praying for the weak - all things Jesus calls us to do - all a blessing and joy to do. Honestly, I guess selfishly, I would give it all away if I could have Will back. I sometimes feel a big mix of emotions, I love what has been created in Will's memory but we wouldn't be doing this if Will was still here. The foundation wouldn't exist, we wouldn't have met these children and their families but we would have our little boy. If it were up to me, I would choose to have Will back over and over again. Obviously, it's not a choice, but what is a choice is what we do in response to losing Will and I love how he is being remembered, the impact he is making. Those days and weeks after he passed were a blur, we didn't know what to do or say or how to act but I am glad God put this on our hearts. It's meaningful and each one of these families is special to us. I will always make sure he is remembered and I am determined to leave a legacy for him. A legacy that glorifies God and helps others.
My family got to spend some time with Paula and her parents this weekend and it was wonderful. My husband had met them when Paula was still in the hospital but my children and I hadn't yet. Last week Paula was discharged from the hospital after her heart procedures and she is staying in Jacksonville for a few more weeks for monitoring. When they walked outside Paula was asleep in her mother's arms and I noticed her black t-shirt, the Will King Foundation t-shirt that was in the basket Taylor took to her. I was filled with pride when I saw her in that shirt, his name right on the front, the one who was bringing so much joy, the one who was helping another sick child, the one who was bringing together our families who would have otherwise never met. It's all Will. He is the light. It's like when you light a match, the small flame quickly turns into a big light, one that can light up a whole birthday cake, one that can make a candle burn bright in a dark room, one that can set off a firework that lights up the sky. Will is the small flame on the end of the match, everything that happens through his foundation - every family helped, every heart changed, every bond made - it all started with him. He is the spark. It makes me so proud of my sweet little guy, there was something so special about him that he inspired all this.
Paula and her mother speak Spanish and thankfully her dad speaks English because we could barely remember any Spanish from our high school days! I just can't imagine being Paula's mom. It's the hardest thing in the world to live in the hospital with your child. Your baby is sick, you are waiting while they get operated on and listening to doctors and watching monitors. I was overwhelmed by it all but then to be in a totally different country and not be able to communicate well with your child's doctors and nurses has to take the feeling of being overwhelmed up a few notches. And then sweet Paula. I kept thinking about Will's big sister Emma Grace because she is two just like Paula. I thought about how scared she would be in another country, in a hospital and going through all that Paula went through. I thought about how confused she would be if doctors and nurses were speaking to her in another language. I thought about trying to keep her quiet and calm in a hospital bed while she recovered. I thought about not being able to take her outside and seeing her hooked up to monitors and medications and machines. All the unknowns and new people and restrictions. She had unbelievable strength and courage wrapped up in such a little person.
We started walking to a nearby playground, but with dark clouds looming in the sky we decided to stay closer and stopped at a little park on the river. Will's big brother brought a toy piano for Paula to play with. He got it for his first birthday and it has been a favorite of his and his sister. He brought it because there is a Spanish setting and when I told him that Paula spoke Spanish he thought she might like it. This is the type of thoughtfulness and compassion I am thankful to see developing in my children. He set the piano up on a park bench and Paula loved it. Her dad told us that she loves music and animals. She was so smart too. She could say all the colors and numbers on the piano and her and Emma Grace even had a little dance party. The children played a little bit before we ran back in the rain where they spent some more time playing under the covered parking area. It was pretty amazing that they had the one piano and some rocks that lined the sidewalk and were able to play happily with each other. I kept thinking about how we have so much stuff and we really just need each other, it brings the most contentment and all the other stuff seems to get in the way.
We really enjoyed learning about Paula and her family - what her life is like in Venezuela and how her medical needs have affected her and her family. She is a bright, sweet and very loved little girl. Although I wasn't able to directly communicate with her mom very much, I could just feel how much she loved Paula, her dad too. She was so playful with our children as well, she played with Emma Grace and tickled Caroline. It was really sweet and amazing to connect with someone that you can barely talk to. Paula has one more surgery in her future, her dad said probably as a teenager, but otherwise should return to Venezuela in a few weeks where she is expected to grow stronger and be healthy. I am honored that she is included in Will's legacy, grateful that we got to spend time with her family and thankful that she is doing well. Sweet baby Will, this is all because of you, you are an amazing little guy and God is being glorified through you here on Earth.
Our mission is to glorify God by supporting children undergoing life-saving heart treatment and creating a caring community for their families in honor of our son, Will.
My name is Courtney Hughes and I am Will's mommy. I am happy that you are here to read Will's story and make a difference with us!