In the month of July, a mother delivered a stillborn child, and her heart broke into pieces. She was still in shock, but she made the difficult decision to sell or give away most of the things she had purchased in preparation for Noah’s arrival.
However, the woman named Valerie was adamant about not giving up the white crib, so she opted to keep it for herself and not include it in the garage sale that she conducted a month ago. However, when Gerald, a retired man, saw it, he expressed interest in purchasing it.
28-year-old Valerie hesitated but finally relented when she heard that 75-year-old Gerald was a craftsman who made benches from secondhand footboards and headboards.
“I was a little bit at peace with it because he’d be making something nice,” Valerie said. She parted with it for $2.
Valarie had a conversation with Lorene, Gerald’s wife, and she shared her heartbreaking story after Lorene saw the newborn clothes at the sale and asked Valarie how old her son was.
On the way home, Lorene shared Valerie’s story with Gerald. The couple, who have 15 kids and dozens of grandchildren, knew that the crib belonged to Valerie. A week later, the couple delivered a bench to Valerie made from the crib.
Valarie said: “It’s beautiful. I thought, ‘There’s still kind people out there.’”
She placed the bench in her living room, where she could remember Noah.
“I’m overwhelmed with joy that it’s not just sitting somewhere unused,” she said. “Now I can sit in it, hold his bear, and think about him if I need to.”
Valerie had felt less fetal movement in the final days of her full-term pregnancy, and Noah was delivered on July 22 via cesarean section, just hours after Valarie and her fiancé Jimi learned that there was no heartbeat. According to doctors, the umbilical cord became compressed, depriving Noah of oxygen.
Gerald and Lorene, whose first granddaughter was stillborn, understood Valerie’s pain better than most.
“An unused crib is a sad reminder,” Gerald said. “A bench is more of a memorial. It’s part of that sad happening, yet it’s not a reminder like a crib would be, an empty crib.”
Valerie offered to pay him, but Gerald refused.
“It’s just nice to be able to do something for someone. It’s nice to help people,” he said.
Valerie has a 7-year-old daughter, Nevaeh, and will be marrying Jimi this fall. She stated that the bench, which sits near a corner bookcase that holds Noah’s photos, his handprints, footprints, and ashes, is helping her cope with grief.
“In a way, when I’m sitting in it, I feel comforted by his presence, even though he’s not here,” Valarie said. “It’s like a peaceful, it’s OK type feeling. When I feel down, I can sit on the bench and I’ll feel OK; everything’s going to be OK.”