Early in the pregnancy they learned of “baby B’s” heart syndrome. “Baby B”—Justin—was diagnosed with a treatable heart condition. A portion of his heart didn’t develop appropriately in utero, so he would require three surgeries over two years to help his body deliver the blood that his body needed. They busied themselves with their boys at home, Ethan and Evan, with MD appts, and planning for Justin and Brandon’s arrival.
September 21st Brandon and Justin’s journey with us began. The doctor’s kept Justin on a breathing machine his first several days to lessen the workload on his heart. On September 26th he went in for his first heart surgery. (Not to be outdone by his brother, Brandon decided he needed heart surgery as well.) Both of the boys did remarkably well with surgery, and within days both boys were off of the breathing machine. The boys were doing all of the things that newborn babies should do. They were learning to take a bottle and suck a paci. They were sleeping, eating and pooping. Both boys were cleared for snuggles, so mom, dad, friends and family visited, held and rocked them, and took in that sweet new baby smell. Brandon was a champ. His heart problem completely fixed with just the one surgery, the medical team began discussing discharge for him. Justin’s recovery was a bit more complicated, but he was growing, getting stronger day by day. The IVs and tubes went away one by one. Justin was a fighter. He appeared to be on the road to recovery. He was a tough little guy with a brave heart and an innocent soul.
The early morning of October 14th Karen and Ken got a call from the hospital that Justin had stopped breathing. They rushed to the hospital to find a team of doctors and nurses working tirelessly on Justin. Despite their greatest efforts, Justin was gone. At just 23 days old Karen and Kenneth lost their sweet baby boy. Ethan, Evan and Brandon lost a brother. Justin will not get to live the life his family dreamed for him. The loss is so profound. The heartbreak so great. We grieve for him in a way that words cannot express.
Those that know Karen and Ken know that their positivity and sense of humor have gotten them through some tough times. But truly, how much can one family take?! In the wake of this devastating loss Karen and Ken are being forced to make decisions no parent ever expects to make. In addition, they have the cost of the burial and headstone looming over them. If you know this incredible family you know they have had more hardships in the past five years than many live through in a lifetime. Phrases like “life isn’t fair” as well as a long list of expletives have rattled through my head these last few weeks. But mostly what I’ve been thinking is “how can I help?” I think I have the answer. We-as family and friends- can help relieve some of the financial burden that Karen and Ken face as they plan Justin’s burial. If we could come together and help lift some of the weight of this burden that would mean something. It would allow them to focus on their grief and loss instead of the stress the financial burden places on them. Please consider a donation to help pay for Justin’s burial and headstone. Anything raised above and beyond what is needed for the burial will help cover medical bills.
Justin Gouge- you will forever be loved, always missed and never forgotten. Fly free in Heaven sweet boy.
Angela (Trimpe) Wills
These Are My Footprints
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