Parents of Baby Brighid: CaringBridge is Our Daughter’s Legacy

Darrin, JoAnn, Sona

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-two 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.

Baby Brighid was born at 24 weeks, and weighed 1 pound.

Baby book of Brighid Swanson, for whom CaringBridge is named.

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?

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Comments (7)

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Anne O'Brien Jun 30, 2018 9:44am
Thank you so very much for creating Caring Bridge. Friends/family have used it many times & it creates such a wonderful sense of community in addition to being very helpful on a practical level (organizing meals, rides, etc) It makes some pretty rough times more manageable & lifts the spirits of those receiving & giving words of encouragement & help. God bless you all.
Marcie Jenkins Jun 07, 2018 10:14pm
Thank you for this page. it let my family out of state know what was going on with my duaghter back in jan.2013when she had open heart surgery @ 4 mins. Old. My other3 girls also were able to have their teachers read them to them in class when they were in school so they knew what was going on with their sister down in the cities 6hours away.
Amy Amundson Jun 07, 2018 11:22am
Thank you for bringing Caring Bridge to life and to all of us. It is more than a legacy. It is truly a beautiful gift that all of you have given to the rest of the world. I will forever be grateful for the way that Caring Bridge has touched our lives and become a part of our story of healing. Thank you, and blessings to you all as your journeys continue.
RAM Jul 14, 2017 12:07am
Chris Travis Jun 06, 2017 8:18pm
CaringBridge was a way for me to be able to do something while our daughter was going through chemo for Leukemia. When she was first diagnosed, I felt so helpless in that I could not comfort her and tell her that daddy was going to take care of her. We discovered CaringBridge from another parent at clinic and I started Amaya's page right away. It was a way for me to communicate to the rest of the family since I am very bad at making phone calls. It gave me a feeling that I was able to do something for our daughter. This year on July 10th, will be her 9th year as a cancer survivor. I never knew how a person can be so strong until I watched my daughter go through treatment, beat cancer, and still going strong today.
Mary Barrett Jun 06, 2017 2:33pm
Our daughter, Terrilynn, died of colon cancer at 38, and she had her web site with Caring Bridge. We walked her journey, day by day, and could support her and her hubby. She had 2 small children. We now have a book made with pictures and all her daily stories in, and many memories. This was all a great thing to do!
Jodi Weaver Jun 06, 2017 9:14am
Congress Sona! You created a legacy that will go on forever! We use it on a daily basis right now for three friends.