This week’s story begins at the end — with an idea that might sound devastatingly sad, at first.
Yet, it has come to give me much comfort and acceptance in recent years.
Everything ends. Every job. Every relationship.
The thought comes flooding in as I have the good fortune to visit with a woman who, chances are, has touched your life. I know she’s touched mine.
Sona Mehring is a computer programmer by training. Her story goes back to 1997.
Her good friends, JoAnn and Darrin, were happily expecting their first baby. A girl. Happy, until the unthinkable: Their baby was born three months premature.
“I simply asked, what could I do to help?” she recounted this week.
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They told her, “We’re overwhelmed trying to communicate and update all our friends and family.”
And so, Sona created a website.
A place where JoAnn and Darrin could leave updates about their baby, the sweet girl they named, “Brighid.” And just as importantly, loved ones could leave messages of support.
Sounds so obvious now. Updating online. Two-way communication.
But take your brain back to 1997. Most of us just starting to make friends with the Internet. About a decade before social media took over our lives. This website had 1,000 hits in one week as Baby Brighid fought. Fought so hard.
Sadly, she died at only 9 days old. The end of a precious life.
Nine days is not nearly enough.
To grow up.
To go to school.
To become a woman.
To have her own children.
Indeed, nine days is not enough.
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To make an impact.
To touch millions of lives.
Nine days, iIt turns out, is what this mighty soul needed.
“We went to the memorial service,” Sona told me. “And everyone was talking about how we were all connected to support this family. These parents. This baby. Through this website.”
Sona became obsessed — determined to create the same access to communication for anyone going through a health crisis.
Baby Brighid, her nine days of life, gave birth to Caring Bridge.
Yes, that is the story behind CaringBridge.org.
A place I imagine you’ve visited or even used when someone you love is facing a challenging time.
More than a half million personal websites have been created over the last 20 years. Almost two billion visits.
Two decades in, another ending comes.
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Sona Mehring is stepping away.
“It’s time to let someone else come in with their fresh perspective,” she tells me.
This one is an ending by choice.
Something you don’t often get.
Brighid’s parents know that.
You probably do, too, Dear Reader.
Sona is not sure what is next.
“I gave myself permission to consider moving on without an exact plan for what is next.”
An inspired thought. That an ending can be the first step of a beginning.
Sometimes grander than you can ever imagine.
A tiny baby.
A grown woman.
Their legacy expands long after their time together ends.