Rest in peace, Baby Corbin

What is it that we’re supposed to do with our time here on Earth? This can be answered any number of ways, but for Corbin Alfred McHenry – or Baby Corbin – it seems as though his purpose was to reach out and touch thousands of hearts and minds across the globe. While his journey on Earth has ended after 135 days, the impact he has left behind continues.

It was determined during Unadilla Valley alum Kara McHenry’s pregnancy that she and husband Lance Corporal Shane McHenry’s child had Trisomy 13 – a rare chromosomal condition. Baby Corbin was brought into the world via emergency cesarean section eight weeks prior to full gestation. Doctors told the family to prepare for the worst, and that there was a one percent chance he would be born breathing.

Now I don’t often pay attention to posts on social media sites about ill children. Call me insensitive if you want – it’s typically just not my thing as I feel I’m meddling in someone’s personal business, I guess. It also has something to do with the fact that many of the pages are titled something akin to “Prayers for...” and praying isn’t my gig. For some reason the Team Corbin Facebook came across my newsfeed and I couldn’t help but pull for the little tike almost instantaneously.

Baby Corbin had a fight ahead of him, but he was up for it. His mom or other family members would update the world just about daily on his progress and would post a photo. Kara’s updates could be read as if she were speaking directly to him. I don’t consider myself all that emotional – I don’t usually cry on a moment’s notice – but a lot of those updates sure made my eyes watery.

His parents created a bucket list for him, and I’m so happy some of the goals were checked off; ride on an airplane, travel to another state.

When I learned Saturday he had moved on, the first thing I thought with tears rolling down my face was, “Man, I hope he had a stuffed giraffe and that he got to pet it.” His list had “pet a giraffe” and in my book, a stuffed animal counts.

Before I learned the story of Baby Corbin, I knew nothing of Trisomy 13. Now me, along with thousands of others, are cognizant and informed; part of which his mother said was his purpose.

Baby Corbin fought hard. He went through more in 135 days than many do in 70 years. Folks worldwide are sporting “Team Corbin” shirts or drinking out of tumblers in support of him. Thousands pray daily for he and his family. I’d send positive vibes his way as often as he’d cross my mind.

It’s hard to think about a little guy going through so much. It’s also hard for me to imagine what it has been like for Kara and Shane, yet based upon their updates I will affirm they are incredibly strong and rightfully proud parents to a beautiful little boy.

This precious boy and his family came across my mind earlier today when I realized his parents were able to each spend a Mother’s Day and Father’s Day with him, and those silly eyes of mine started leaking again. Not because his life on Earth was brief, but because against all odds he was able to do so much, to affect so many.

In a crazed world, Baby Corbin – a total stranger – brought innocence, hope, strength and faith to countless individuals and families. He has helped spread knowledge about his diagnosis by being such a great little fighter and his reach and impact will not cease because his time here has ended.

Baby Corbin was deemed by some doctors as “incompatible with life.” His family found doctors who saw the fighter inside of him and fought alongside.

He spent 135 days here. He was able to go outside and wear some pretty spiffy shades. He took a real bath. He met his doggie, Zeus. He spent his last days surrounded by those nearest and dearest to him.

On day 122 of Baby Corbin’s life, his photo was taken with a piece of paper reading, “At any given moment you have the power to say this is not how the story is going to end.”

I don’t believe Baby Corbin’s story is over. Not in the least. According to updates still provided by his family, plans are to celebrate his wonderful life, not to approach the situation from a negative light. Baby Corbin will don a yellow bow tie, gray suspenders and black dress pants for his services today in North Carolina. The folks in attendance are encouraged to not wear black, but to wear bright colors in solidarity with the celebration of his life.

A balloon release is slated for 4:30 p.m. Monday. If you’d like, feel free to set off a blue, teal or white balloon into the air in celebration of Baby Corbin’s life. Since folks are partaking worldwide, I suppose any time will do, and it may not seem like much of a deal to some – but I know I’ll grab a couple balloons and do my thing.

Both life and death are weird, funny, confusing things to me. Why are we here? What are we supposed to do? The questions I asked and answered as a child are back to being questions for me. But for Baby Corbin … it seems like he got that all figured out, and has done an outstanding job fighting the fight and fulfilling his individual purpose, which consequently affected so many more.

I’ve lost some dear friends and family members throughout my life, and it’s not the easiest thing to go through. There’s a song I listen to sometimes when I’m feeling down about these things, and there’s a part that seems to make everything okay ... “So watch the days ‘cause they all turn into the night, and watch the sun ‘cause it turns into the moon. And in a world that won’t stop turning us around at least we know who we can turn to now.”

So here is my message to sweet Baby Corbin:

I’m so very proud of you for what you’ve accomplished. Thousands of people now know what Trisomy 13 is, and that’s very important. I really liked the sunglasses you wore outside, and I hope you loved your doggie Zeus. You’ve got some pretty stellar parents who love you a whole lot. It’s been a pleasure getting to know you through your families updates, and I hope you know how many friends you have. You’re such a popular little tike, and for such an amazing reason. You defied the odds and fought like a trooper; you’re an inspiration to so many. Rest easy, kid. And those seven balloons with weird looking giraffes drawn on them … those are from me.

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