Darrin Swanson and JoAnn Hardegger, the parents of Baby Brighid, for whom CaringBridge is named, with founder Sona Mehring, right, and the CaringBridge team in Eagan, Minn. (Photo by David McLain)
Twenty years ago, after a pregnancy threatened by hypertension and HELLP syndrome, our daughter, Brighid, was born at 24 weeks. She weighed just 1 pound.
While the survival rate for micro-preemies is much better today, our sweet baby, born in 1997, faced so many complications.
Feeling scared and overwhelmed, we accepted the offer of our dear friend, Sona Mehring, to keep family and friends updated on what was going on. After just two agonizing phone calls, Sona, a computer programmer, said, “There has to be a better way.”
People Felt Like They Were Part of Our Family’s Journey
On Brighid’s birthday, June 7, 1997, Sona built a website for Brighid. Everyone rallied around us, and when our long-awaited baby died, after just 9 days, the love and support lifted us up.
People who came to Brighid’s memorial service said they felt connected, like they were part of our family’s journey. And they were.
All these years later, the single website Sona built for Brighid has become hundreds of thousands of websites, connecting millions of people, at a time when support is truly needed.
But there is more to the story. CaringBridge helped heal our family.
We were pretty much broken after Brighid died. We had lost another Baby, Gabriel, who was stillborn, a few years before.
You never get over losing a child, but as we watched Sona pour her heart and soul into growing CaringBridge, our sorrow transformed. She took our grief and built something out of it.
We realized that through CaringBridge, Baby Brighid accomplished more in her short time on Earth than many do in a lifetime.
Our daughter is not a forgotten child; CaringBridge is her legacy.
Baby Brighid’s Story is the Story of CaringBridge
Today, we have two healthy and happy teenagers (Sepp and Anya). While they never got to meet their sister, they have grown up knowing that Brighid’s story is the story of CaringBridge.
This month, during which our daughter would have turned 20, our friend, Sona, will officially retire. Sona says she is ready for a new chapter in her own personal journey.
The Legacy Continues …
But Sona’s baby, CaringBridge, is strong and healthy and prepared for the future. And like Brighid, her legacy continues.
We wish for everyone the love and support of a friend like Sona. She was with us when we needed her most. Just like CaringBridge.
We Support CaringBridge. Will You, Too?
We give every year to CaringBridge because we believe everyone should have access to a safe, protected, ad-free place in their time of need. Would you consider making a donation to CaringBridge, too?