Serena | CaringBridge

Serena’s Story
My name is Serena Rose Marie Priest... I was born on Oct 1st 2009 and I am a beautiful, sweet, precious, little angel... and now I am a future saint. Read my background story...

Please keep our little angel in your prayers as
we continue on this journey....

The biggest joy in our lives arrived on Oct 1st. We have been in the middle of the adoption process for about one and a half years and on Oct 1st 2009, we got the call that she was ours. Serena Rose Marie came home with us on October 4th.

She weighed 6lbs 2ozs! She was a beautiful baby, and now, at the age if 4, she is a gorgeous little girl!! We love her so much. She truly is an angel, and we are so blessed.

On Nov 24th 2009 we took Serena for a CT scan of her head, and that is when she was diagnosed with "hydranencephaly", which in a sense means she has about 1/3 of a brain.

Her challenges that lie ahead are unknown completely, as there are no two cases the same, we will take one step at a time. We love her so much and we are up for the challenges.

On December 23rd, 2009 our adoption was finalized... what a perfect Christmas present!!!! On January 1st, 2010 she was bapitzed... and
that makes her our little Saint!!!!

Please keep Serena in your prayers, and pray with us that a miracle will happen. We are truly blessed with this beautiful little girl.

Love and Prayers,

Joe, Juliet and Serena

Newest Update

Journal entry by Juliet Priest

It just occurred to me that I never shared this on here.  We had this at Serena’s visitation. They incorporated beautiful pictures of our Puddin as well.

Serena Rose Marie came into this world as an answer to the prayers of Joe and Juliet after several years of marriage.  They named her after the little flower, St. Teresa.  Serena was a direct answer to her auntie's rose novena to that saint, arriving just in time for her feast day.  From day one she brought light into every room she entered therefore she was always known as Sunshine.  Serena was an earthen angel who provided family and friends with so much love.  Serena was the definition of love.  


At nearly two months of age it was found that she was not only the answer to all their prayers but that she was in fact a miracle child.  She was diagnosed with hydranencephaly, a rare neurological condition that didn't allow her brain to develop in utero.  In short her life was a miracle from the start.  Her diagnosis was grim, her life was anything but.  In researching her condition, Serena's mommy met her good friend Brayden and Ali, his mom.  Ali started the Global Hydranencephaly Foundation in honor of her little "bee" Brayden.  They were a huge help in getting Serena the help we needed.  The bond that Brayden and Serena shared was truly amazing.


Through her disabilities she taught patience, faith, hope and love to many.  She helped her mommy learn what patience means, a miracle in & of itself!!!  Serena’s condition was proof perfect that with faith and love anything is possible.  She developed seizures at a young age and had health problems throughout her life yet she smiled and laughed through it all.  In learning to manage Serena’s health problems, she taught family, friends and even many health-care staff that medicine can only do so much but God can do ALL, and without the grace of God, medicine could not have progressed as it has. 


Serena lived nearly 8 years, and she is proof that faith, hope and love give strength in helpless situations.  Without faith, hope and love in Serena’s life she could never have lived such a full, meaningful and fruitful life.  Some people live with only long term goals of riches and or fame, Serena was a teacher, showing her family and others that how you live today is extremely important and tomorrow is never a guarantee.  

Serena was a busy girl with many friends, she traveled far and wide for her young age.  Traveling wasn't Serena's forte, however she loved having fun in many destinations, from Virginia Beach to Upstate New York, Michigan to Florida, Serena left her mark on every place she went.   The caravan that was required for her travel did nothing to slow her adventures to fun and exciting places or to visit loved ones.  Her favorite trip by far was her Make a Wish trip to Give Kids the World and Disney with her cousin Kyla. 

Always known as Sunshine, Serena was able to light up a room anywhere.  Some thought communication was difficult for her, but Serena had a subtle way of making known what she liked and wanted.  She had a great sense of humor, often laughing at her sister and parents, especially when sarcastic remarks were made. 

Serena was especially attached to her sister, Amelia.  Her interactions with her were very precious. Amelia enjoyed hearing her sister laugh so much that she would repeat her crazy shenanigans just to hear the repeated laughs from Serena.  This would continue until Serena finally became bored and quit laughing about it, or until mommy brought out the camera!  Amelia did get eye rolls from Serena, though, when she brought out a stethoscope and pretended to be Dr. Amelia, listening to a "mooo" cow, a frog, a piggy, an elephant or an Olaf in Serena's heart.

Even when she was having a bad day, Serena would respond lovingly to her sister.  From laughing at Amelia for bouncing the ball erratically when mommy was trying to do therapy, to dancing with sissy to "Bop's" polkas, Serena loved her sister and taught her to be compassionate.  She loved when sissy would sit on her feet in her wheelchair, even though sissy liked to go much faster than Serena would have appreciated.  Serena also thought her sister was a bit crazy for wanting to ride on the bottom of the IV pole any time it was moving.

Due to her mom and Aunt Sheila, Serena acquired many bows for her beautiful hair.  She grew to love these bows, and even though Aunt Angie told her that they were too "girlie", she knew that they looked good!  Serena also was good at sharing these bows, although when questioned, she told her mommy that she wanted her sissy to ask every time to borrow them!

Serena loved spending time with all her friends. From playing with her cousins Legacy, Legend and Honor, to going to parties with Emily, Joseph, Bryce and Cohen, Hannah, Kaylee and many others, she always loved being social. 

She had a special bond with her best friend Caitlin, with whom she was inseparable.  They loved to hold hands and swing together.  Serena was always thrilled when Caitlin shared her toys. They both were so excited to become big sisters at the same time! Their friendship was so innocent and special, one of pure joy, we are so thankful for the beautiful relationship they shared. 

Cuddling was a favorite pastime for Serena.  She liked to be held and daddy liked to hold her.  She also loved to cuddle with mommy, but was very willing to share when little sissy came along.  Many others had the special blessing of holding her and she loved all the time that was spent cuddling with them.

Serena had a special love of music.  From going to music therapy with Miss Paige, to listening to her aunt and grandpa play their accordions, and grandpa play his harmonica, she always loved hearing a tune. She also had a special love of grandma's random crazy tunes, and when grandma would sing all the words to grandpa's polkas.  She also loved dancing with grandma, grandpa and her aunties, and did so on many occasions. 

Mawmaw and pawpaw also played a special part in Serena's life.  She spent many hours having fun with mawmaw while mommy was away taking care of things.  They both accompanied her to many therapies, and were always there to visit when things were not good.  She had a special love for going to Flowerama to see them, smell the roses and listen to the wind chimes.  She also loved "being the boss" by sitting in pawpaw's chair or supervising from her pumpkin seat.

Some of Serena's favorite toys played music. When her grandparents caught wind of this, they made sure that every musical toy that was found was purchased for her, which didn't help her parents sanity, even though they really did appreciate the toys.  Serena didn't mind, though, and Amelia quickly learned how to play them ALL at the same time.

Serena also had a special love of her aunts and uncles.  She loved her auntie sisters who made sure the whole convent was praying for her. She also loved all her aunts on her mommy's side of the family, many of whom can be mistaken for the other (even by her dad) when she couldn't see their faces, which could make family gatherings a bit confusing and very loud.

Serena's favorite therapy by far had to be the pool.  She loved the special care that was given to her by Miss Connie.  It was so relaxing!  She found some of the toys in the pool to be very amusing, especially when a Christmas tree was sitting in the pool next to her! Her reaction was to keep looking, because who has ever heard of a Christmas tree in the pool?  What a nice surprise!

Serena has left a mark on all who have encountered her.  The precious memories of Serena and her life will never be forgotten. Thank you to everyone who has been a part of her life, she loved every one of you and will be praying for you from heaven.

  • Here is Serena looking at the silly Christmas tree in the pool.  Her reaction was so funny.
    Here is Serena looking at the silly Christmas tree in the pool. ...
  • Daddy’s favorite part of the day!!!  Snuggle time.  Amelia is hogging the phone while they are talking to Grandpa Bop. 
    Daddy’s favorite part of the day!!! Snuggle time. Amelia is ...
  • I love this picture of Serena looking at the Christmas tree from the standing harness. 
    I love this picture of Serena looking at the Christmas tree from ...
  • Dr Amelia is getting the stethoscope ready to check on all the animals in Serena’s heart. Will there be a "mooo" cow, a frog, a piggy, an elephant or an Olaf in Serena's heart?  Serena wanted nothing to do with this, since she is just getting home from a long in patient stay at the hospital. 
    Dr Amelia is getting the stethoscope ready to check on all the ...
  • Amelia sits comfortably on Serena’s feet at they watch their show together.

    Amelia sits comfortably on Serena’s feet at they watch their ...
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