Ginny Shaffer and Lisa Solomonson

Friends Ginny Shaffer (42) and Lisa Solomonson (41) recall the passing of Ginny’s infant son, Bryson, twelve years ago. At the time, Lisa was a nurse who cared for Bryson and his twin sister, Holland. Both were born with heart defects. Ginny and Lisa reflect on the experience of caring for Bryson and Holland through this difficult time. Ginny and Lisa bonded during the care of Bryson and Holland through this difficult time.

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LISA: “I think it’s interesting to look at how people are bonded, there’s a lot of ways you can bond. And I will remember Bryson as the way that we…bonded”

GINNY: “You know Justin and I, when we delivered Holland and Bryson at 23 weeks, we didn’t meet you until Holland was about, um, Holland and Bryson were 30 days old. And we had had a lot of nurses and you seemed pretty shocked that at 30 days old we hadn’t held either one of our twins.”

LISA: “I hadn’t been there for the beginning of your twins’ life, basically, and I didn’t even know too much about them except that already, at 30 days, they had been through, um, a bunch. And I think for his legacy, for your gift to babies and families beyond is that never again will I want someone’s first time holding their baby to be their last. And that will always be something that he, and you and Justin have given to me.”

GINNY: “I remember Justin and I going home and we were sitting on the living room floor, and we were hugging each other and we were crying, and I remember him saying ‘How do we have any more tears left?’ I just remember that when you walked in you were always a source of comfort to Justin and I. We would rather you in the room and not the doctor. I remember looking directly into your eyes when you handed him to me and you had one tear coming down your face. And I thought to myself how lucky we are that I’m not the only one that loves him! And I don’t think you understand the gifts that you gave us. And I hope that Justin and I conveyed enough to you how grateful we were to you. And I remember being so scared that you weren’t going home with us? Am I, am I truly ready to be by myself? And I remember you walking us out to the car and I remember loading her car seat into Justin’s truck and looking back at you crying. I was crying for a lot of reasons. I was crying ‘cause I was so happy to finally leave this hospital. As happy as I was I was so scared that I wasn’t going to have this beautiful person in my life any more, to help me be the mother I want to be.

LISA: “You know when you get to describe your relationship, we are friends now, and he gave that to us as well. He really is the story-maker. That will be something that he’s given to us. And I appreciate our friendship a lot, it’s been important to my family as well, and I love being able to have this story and really thinking about our story together and how it was your son that started our story.”

GINNY: “And it’s kept us together.”

LISA: “It has kept us together.”

GINNY: “IT’s been almost twelve years.”

LISA: “So, it is, um, it’s a good story.”

GINNY: “Thank you for coming today.”

LISA: “You’re welcome. And thanks for inviting me, it really does mean a lot to me.”

 

Hear Me Now is a partnership with the Providence Institute for Human CaringStoryCorps and Alaska Public Media to record interviews with patients, family and caregivers. Storytelling and listening have proven clinical value, and are keys to whole person care, which addresses emotional, spiritual, and psychosocial comfort, as well as medical needs of patients and those who care for them.

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Eric Bork, or you can just call him “Bork” because everybody else does, is the Audio Media Content Producer for KSKA-FM. He produces and edits episodes of Outdoor Explorer, Addressing Alaskans, as well as a few other programs. He also maintains the web posts for those shows and many others on alaskapublic.org. You can sometimes hear him filling in for Morning Edition or find him operating the sound board for any of the live broadcast programs. After escaping the Detroit area when he was 18, Bork made it up to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where he earned a degree in Communications/Radio Broadcasting from Northern Michigan University. He spent time managing the college radio station, working for the local NPR affiliate and then in top 40 radio in Michigan before coming to Alaska to work his first few summers. After then moving to Chicago, it only took five years to convince him to move back to Alaska in 2010. When not involved in great radio programming he’s probably riding a bicycle, thinking about riding bicycles, dreaming about bikes, reading a book or planning the next place he’ll travel to. Only two continents left to conquer!