A Mother’s Story

Meet Bre’Aris. She can only be described as a dedicated mother who continuously strives to provide her children with the very best while maintaining a positive attitude.   

Nine years ago, Bre’Aris and Mike were expecting their first child.  As high school sweethearts, they could not wait to start their family.  Full of excitement and hope, they welcomed their daughter, Gabby, who was born at just 23 weeks.   The baby faced a number of medical issues from the beginning, but mom and dad persevered and championed for her through countless medical trials.  After six months in the NICU, Gabby was released to go home with oxygen.  Mike worked and provided for the family as Bre’Aris stayed home and learned to care for her.  At her one-year-old developmental evaluation, Gabby was diagnosed with cerebral palsy.  Bre’Aris and Mike embraced their new norm by incorporating various therapies, adapting their home with the necessary equipment and clinging to their faith to make Gabby happy and able to thrive.   

Life was intense but joyful. Soon, Bre’Aris and Mike learned that their family was growing. Daughter Rhiley was born on time and healthy. The parents were ecstatic to be a family of four. When asked what caring for an infant and a two-year-old with special needs was like, Bre’Aris said, “It was crazy and perfect at the same time.” She enrolled Rhiley into Sheltering Arms and loved that she had her very own school experience that was helping her learn and thrive in a way that she would not have been able to at home.  

Early morning on December 1, 2016, Bre’Aris began her care routine for Gabby and noticed that she was still not fully awake. She called 9-1-1 and the paramedics came immediately.  Sadly, Gabby was pronounced dead upon arrival to the hospital.

Bre’Aris said she really didn’t know how she managed to care for a two-year-old after losing a child. “I knew I had to shift. “I knew that I had to give everything to Rhiley because she deserved that.  So I just put one foot in front of the other and have been doing that ever since,” she said. Bre’Aris was grateful to Sheltering Arms during this time.  “It was so comforting to know that Rhiley had her own little comfort and support system while I was too broken to do anything.”  Bre’Aris received support with her life goals and access to resources that helped the family. 

The surprise of Bre’Aris’s lifetime came when she learned that her family was growing again. On October 2, 2019, she and Mike welcomed their son, Zyon.  While everything was not perfect, life was new again. She says that motherhood changed for her, and that she was not sure that words could ever describe the fragility she felt in mothering at this time.  “I am so appreciative of this chance at redemption and looking at Zyon reminds me of the goodness that there is to be had.”

Today, Zyon is a happy and healthy star pupil of Sheltering Arms Longview’s Toddler 1 Room. Bre’Aris and Mike are both actively involved at the center. She has worked with her Family Support Coach to secure counseling, and has benefitted greatly from donations for her family.  “I’m grateful to have Sheltering Arms as a part of my family. I don’t take it for granted.”  

Sheltering Arms looks forward to supporting and cheering on this family for years to come. 

When asked what her headline would be for life, Bre’Aris said, “Let my headline read: ‘She Conquered It All’. I may not have conquered it all yet, but I will. And Sheltering Arms will be there to see it, I just know it.”

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