Michele & Kyle Caruso, Jessica & Lloyd Gary
Six years ago (2013) on Christmas Eve, my best friend Jessica and I started on a path neither of us wanted to take. Instead of celebrating the birth of our Christmas babies, we were transformed into grieving mothers in an instant. Our daughters, Savannah and Ramona, were born a day apart, but both were dead by Christmas Day.
Neither of us are really 'joiners.' We've never been moved to volunteer with groups or show up to large events. We are both givers, but the idea of joining a group of complete strangers was never something we entertained. Then we discovered Metro Detroit Share.
Metro Detroit Share is a non-profit dedicated to supporting families who have lost a baby during pregnancy through the first year of life. MDS provides peer-to-peer support meetings, funeral assistance, memory boxes and early pregnancy loss support bags for area hospitals and OB offices, and more recently, Caring Cradles. A Caring Cradle is a device that allows families to spend more time with their baby in the hospital. We had no idea a group like this existed, but made the out of character decision to try a meeting. We didn’t know what to expect at all.
In February 2014, we walked into a room at the Taylor chapter of the VFW, full of complete strangers who were also grieving the loss of a beloved baby. We sat down at a long table with our husbands and probably 30-40 other men and women. We listened to their stories and when the meeting was done, we were shocked. There were so many other people who had experienced what we had, why didn't we know about them? It was overwhelming. On our way out, we were approached by a woman. Her name was Angie, and she hoped we’d come again next month. We weren’t sure. That meeting was hard and we weren’t sure yet if it had even helped. The next month, we found ourselves back in that room at the Taylor VFW hall, though.
We attended another meeting, then another. Before we knew it, a year had passed. We went to our first Walk for Remembrance that fall. 2015 brought Savannah's baby brother and Ramona's younger sister, but we still went to meetings. In a way, monthly meetings became a way to honor Ramona and Savannah. It was a special day each month just for our girls. Another year went by, and in 2016 we volunteered at the walk; the next year, we helped plan it. In 2018, we celebrated our girls' fifth birthdays by raising over $1,000 for Metro Detroit Share at a fundraising dinner in their honor. In the course of six years, Jessica and I have helped raise almost $10,000 for Metro Detroit Share. All of this by two women who never dreamed about joining a group, much less advocating and raising awareness for a cause. Today, along with five other amazing women, we are part of the board of Metro Detroit Share.
Ramona and Savannah changed us, and even on the days we are exhausted from work, raising living children, and dealing with everyday stresses, we still make time for meetings, fundraisers, and walk planning, because it matters. Metro Detroit Share matters to the families who show up to a meeting two weeks after their loss, or have been holding grief inside for years. It matters to every family who leaves the hospital with a box instead of a baby; to every mother who pushes one last time, desperately hoping the doctor was wrong, that her baby will cry, only to be greeted with silence; to every father who makes the phone calls to waiting grandparents to tell them the devastating news; it matters to the parents who are told there is nothing else they can do for their baby. Metro Detroit Share matters because we operate with one simple principle: “Each new life, no matter how fragile or brief, forever changes the world.”
I still wonder why, in a room full of grieving men and women, Angie made it a point to stop us and ask if we would come back. I don’t know if she was being polite, or if she saw something in us and knew we needed Metro Detroit Share. I know that I’ve formed some of the strongest relationships of my life in this group, and that we do incredible things to help families and honor babies. I know pushing myself out of my comfort zone has been one of the most amazing things in my life. I know that doing this together with my best friend, Savannah’s mother, has helped us form a truly unbreakable bond. I know Ramona and Savannah have a lasting legacy thanks to Metro Detroit Share. In loving memory of Ramona. Savannah. Wesley. Gabriel. Nevaeh. Baby N. Baby Reno. Baby West-Reno. Baby S. Baby E. Max. Brooke. Addeline. Easton. Anthony. Rose. BellaMae. Marcus. Hunter. Amber. Juno. Henry. Grace. Alex. Dany. Quinn. Carla. Emelia. Addie. Gabriella. Jackson. Benjamin. Mason. Jillian. Jiana. Emelia. Seth. Sloan. James. Peighton. Ada. William. Babies Duley. Emmanuel. Preston. Baby L. Carly. Hunter. Logan. Amelia. Babies Barlow. Alia. Leo. Michael. Damien. Baby Gary. DJ. Wren. Thomas. Babies B. Ryder. Evelyn. Xander. Aden. Eliza. Connor. Marlo. Yousef. Aahi. Mira. Mabel. Ameera. Dylan. Jonathan. Sandy. Mia. Alice. Ruby. Zephyr. Isaiah. Stella. Adelyn. Charlie. Nora. Sydni. Baby Casados. Ember. Emily. Morgan. Ashley. Baby Sturgill. Twin Baby Sturgill. Rosalia. All babies who are dearly missed.