On June 19, 2015, my world was turned upside down. God called my sweet Brecklyn Ava home, the second born of my twin daughters. She was at Dallas Children’s recovering from open heart surgery due to an extremely rare CHD, one that no doctors there had ever seen before.
How was this possible? She had come out of heart surgery. She had survived being born at 29 weeks. She was my little fighter.
We prayed for strength, for God’s will to be done. Throughout my entire pregnancy, their preterm labor, her heart surgery, and her recovery, I always had such a peaceful and calm feeling. I knew God was in control. It was a feeling I couldn’t ever really explain, but I always knew that everything would be okay.
I’ll never forget that day, every detail etched in my mind forever. Her heart surgeon sat on her knees and held me with my husband and family as we all cried. That same morning we found out she also had DiGeorge Syndrome. She had lived for 2 months and 3 days. She fought long and hard to have so many odds against her, but we truly never knew just how sick she really was. Once we found out all DiGeorge could hold, we realized how blessed we truly were. To us, this was God’s reason he needed her more than we did. She taught these doctors something new, and she taught us all that God is always in control. It brought us some peace to know that her little life meant so much and served such a huge meaning.
At that moment, I realized God had given us much more time with her on Earth than some parents ever get. We were broken, yet we were so blessed. God had given us two months to love our daughter, hold her, see her, touch her and talk to her. She knew us. She got to spend twin time with her twin sister, meet many family and friends, and most of all, she knew love.
The days and weeks that followed, I felt numb to the pain. Numb to the loss of my sweet Brecklyn. I was continually told how strong I was, yet inside I knew just how weak and alone I truly was. We were surrounded by family and friends that delivered meals, sent gifts, flowers and all, yet it didn’t feel as if we were truly living. We were just going through the motions. I had her twin sister Bristol to take care of and she kept me busy along with all of the planning for Brecklyn’s service. I missed Brecklyn and my heart was broken but I didn’t allow myself to truly feel the pain, the hurt deep inside that you feel at your core, the pain where you can’t catch your breath and you fall to your knees.
Each day I did what I had to do to get by, to take care of Bristol and to love her and give her the attention that she needed and deserved, but oh how my mind wondered how and what our sweet Brecklyn would be doing if she were here. I should be nursing two babies each night, not just one. I had their nursery to come home to, an empty car seat to carry home, a twin stroller that would never be used, and a heart that would forever be shattered. But I knew I was still blessed in this storm.
I was introduced to Scribbles and Crumbs and The Will to Choose (websites by fellow grieving mothers) and found the strength to open up to the pain I held inside. The day I opened my heart to feel the pain was the day I started healing. I had the will to choose how this was going to affect my life. I started living each day for the sweet child I would carry in my arms and the one that I will always carry in my heart. I opened up to the stinging pain, the hurt, the loss, having only one child to hold and not two. I cried oh, how I cried. I hurt so deep inside that I didn’t know how I would wake the next day.
The next day came, and I awoke to a beautiful daughter on earth and one in heaven, just as I had done for the past few months. But the pain wasn’t as fierce, it was there, but much softer. It has turned into a constant melody.
Grief is definitely a roller coaster that has its ups, downs, turnarounds, and drastic drops, but it has turned into a slower more enjoyable ride, one filled with sweet memories, ones where I can look to the skies and smile. My faith has pulled me from under the rock.
Beauty will rise from the ashes. I am living proof of that.
We do our best each day to talk of our Brecklyn, to let her story and life be known to all, especially her twin, Bristol Grace. Brecklyn’s story and her little life touched many in her short 2 months and 3 days, and she’s changed our lives and hearts for the better. She’s brought people to God. She’s opened the hearts of many. She’s touched more than I could have ever imagined, and most of all, she has helped save another child’s life, one who had the same extremely rare CHD just like hers. I believe God put her in the care of Dr. Kristine J. Guleserian and her team at Dallas Children’s to prepare them for this child that was to walk in their doors after Brecklyn. She will also give the gift of sight to another child some day, she will continue to live on blessing others. Each reason helps me know that God is still using her to not only bless us but others, as well.
In honor of her, on the 19th of each month Blessings from Brecklyn has been started, thanks to my sweet friend Kendra. We pay it forward either by buying someone’s coffee, sending a sunshine basket, or a random act of kindness. I do my best everyday to help grieving parents in any way I can. I look for my Brecklyn in rainbows, butterflies, lady bugs, and coins I randomly find; she’s always letting us know she’s here with us. We spread Brecklyn’s love for all to see, and she now has a family ranch named after her, the Breckland Ranch.
As long as I’m living, she’ll live through me. Always my baby, she’ll be.
I’ll always be a twin mom to the one I carry in my arms and to the one that watches over us in heaven. I’ve never been so anxious to get to heaven, but I’ll continue to enjoy each day I have here on earth with my Bristol and their little sibling that we will be welcoming in September. I know Brecklyn helped God pick this sweet rainbow baby just for us, and I now that we are forever blessed.
To God, we give all the glory.
Kara Barner is a wife to Jeremy and mother to her twin girls, Brecklyn in heaven, Bristol here, and her rainbow baby who is due in September. She is in the process of starting an organization to help other children like Brecklyn and hopes to bring awareness to DiGeorge Syndrome and rare CHDs. Find her on Facebook.