Will’s daddy and I got married seven years ago. We had graduated from college one month before our wedding day and we have experienced all of our “adult life” together - first jobs, first apartment, first baby, first house and everything in between. We said things to each other on our wedding day that carried so much meaning, so much weight, things that many couples say. For better or worse. Richer or poorer. In sickness and in health. To have and to hold. To love and to cherish. Until death do us part. We recited these things to each other and in that moment had no idea how many trials, how many people, how many situations, would try to make those vows null and void. We experienced some trials but Will’s passing, obviously, is the most tragic circumstance we have endured together and it’s not over, grieving the loss of our son will be forever. Multiple people have said something like, “You know 90% of couples who go through something like this get divorced.” I’m sure that’s true but I’m not really sure what I am supposed to do with that information. I know what we have gone through could easily tear us apart. It may not always be easy and we may not always be fully connected but we are committed and the covenant we made with each other seven years ago means a great deal to us.
I met Will’s daddy in college. He was this energetic, outgoing, kind of goofy guy who everyone loved. I saw him as a leader and someone who cared deeply for his friends. He loved Jesus and he had big, grand visions for how he would glorify God with his life. He had this way of getting everyone excited about something as simple as a snowball fight or a dodgeball game, he was a rally-er. I don’t think that’s a word, but he was this guy who could get a bunch of people together and having fun no matter what the circumstances. He loved sports and games and was up for anything, anytime. I was student teaching our senior year and went to bed much earlier than most college students. I always felt a little jealous because he had this whole other life at night when I was sleeping. He was going to late night meals and playing basketball and video games in the middle of the night. And somehow he still got good grades, which I was also jealous of because I had to study really hard to get an A or B. It seemed like everything came easy for him, he was good at almost everything and he enjoyed life no matter what he was doing or who he was with.
We had our first baby about a year and a half after getting married and he was a natural daddy. He wasn’t nervous about holding our seven pound little boy, he rocked him in the middle of the night and really enjoyed him, even though neither of us had any concept for how fleeting life is at the time. Then, three and a half year later, we had our little girl and in the way little girls do, she wrapped him around her little chubby finger and he hasn’t moved since. Watching someone you love become a parent is very special. You see them in a whole new light and there are parts of them that come out that you never knew were there before - good and bad - but nevertheless is it a special transformation to witness.
Will’s daddy stayed with him every single night he was in the hospital. I am so thankful for that. It probably sounds silly that we didn’t want to leave him there. He was in good hands with doctors and nurses in his room 24-hours a day and we were reassured and encouraged many times to leave him overnight, but it’s different when your mommy or daddy is there. Taylor is fun-loving and goofy, but he is also made for being in that type of high-stress environment. He was emotional, yes, how could you not be, but he could stand strong and remain calm when everything was so uncertain. One thing I admired was that he had this ability to be all in, wherever he is. He could compartmentalize his emotions somehow. When he was with Will, that was all that mattered in the world. When he was at home, he somehow enjoyed our children and played and engaged with them in a way that was much more difficult for me. It was remarkable to me, how he could be at home and not be consumed with thoughts about Will and how he could be with Will and not worry about what was happening at home. I couldn’t be more opposite from him in that way.
I think Daddies have a big responsibility. They are responsible for a lot, entrusted with little minds and little hearts that rely on them for love and security and laughter. Sometimes I watch Taylor with our children and I am hit with sadness for what he is missing out on with Will. I am heartbroken that he will never get to take Will to a baseball game or to get a haircut. I wish I could send Will off with his Daddy and big brother for boys only “sleep-outs” and monster truck rallies. I could go on. Loosing a child is different for fathers, I don’t fully understand how but I know the way we process and move through the grief is far from similar. Even though I don’t know exactly how Will’s daddy feels all the time, I do know that his heart is broken that he doesn’t get to spend Father’s Day with Will. We will hold fast to the hope we have been given in Christ and praise God that Will is spending eternity with his Heavenly Father, safe and whole. Will’s daddy loves Will, he loves all his children, and I am so thankful that we have him. For better or for worse, he is there for me, he is there for us and we are all confident that he always will be. In sickness and in health, richer or poorer, he will take care of his family just like he took care of Will.
Our mission is to children from developing countries receiving heart treatment in Jacksonville, FL.
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!