Medina couple grateful for community support after death of newborn daughter
Falker family creates Avery’s Pearls, where people are welcome to leave a prayer request
MEDINA – A Medina couple is grateful for the many cards and kind gestures they have received from the community since the death of their newborn daughter on Nov. 4.
“It helps to know you’re not alone and that people love you,” said Olivia Falker.
She and her husband Max Falker became parents on Nov. 4 to daughter Avery. She was born without kidneys and functioning lungs. She also had a tumor on her head.
Before the birth, doctors detected the lack of kidneys and the tumor. They feared her lungs weren’t developed because there was low amniotic fluid.
She was born a month premature and weighed 4 pounds, 9 ounces. She was able to breathe for about 15 minutes on her own after her birth at 11:21 a.m.
She passed away at 1:05 p.m. Her funeral service was Nov. 11. Mr. Falker dug his daughter’s grave at East Shelby Cemetery, an act of love for Avery.
In August, the couple learned Avery wasn’t expected to live long after her birth. The Falkers last month announced their plan for Avery’s Pearls. It’s a spot in a wooden hut in their front yard on Pleasant Street in Medina where people are welcome to leave a prayer request, read the Bible and seek peace. They are urged to note a Scripture in the Bible that helped them through a difficult time. The Falkers will often have hot chocolate and coffee for the visitors.
Avery’s Place was unveiled on Nov. 4 and will be available through the Christmas season.
The Falkers have a Korean fir next to the hut and people are welcome to leave an ornament on the tree in memory of a loved one. The tree will eventually bear purple pine cones. Mr. Falker will give the tree a permanent spot on the property.
People have left ornaments, cards and many prayer requests since the Avery’s Pearls was made available about 2 1/2 weeks ago. Many say they are praying for the Falkers. Many have shared their own stories of loss, including the death of a newborn.
Mrs. Falker, 23, said she didn’t know so many people in the Medina area have endured the loss of a child or suffered other heartache.
She believes Avery has brought together many people in the community, and inspired them to share some deep wounds. Falker is hopeful those people can find healing, too.
“It’s about helping other people because we have had so many people help us,” she said today at her home.
The couple has received at least 200 cards since their daughter’s death. Many people have dropped off meals, ornaments for the tree, and helped in other ways to honor Avery’s short life. Mr. Falker cited the efforts of one friend who worked overnight to create a wooden cross for Avery’s grave.
During her pregnancy, Mrs. Falker would dream about elephants, a symbol of strength, honor and stability. Many people have left elephant-themed ornaments and gifts in Avery’s honor.
Falker, 30, said he is amazed by the kindness of so many in the community.
“There’s a lot of good people out there,” he said. “We have met so many good people.”
He praised the efforts of the doctors and staff in the neonatal intensive care unit at Golisano Children’s Hospital in Rochester.
“The doctors and nurses in the NICU are some of the best people you’ll meet in your life,” Falker said.
The Falkers met at the East Shelby Community Bible Church, where they remain active members. The church has been very supportive in consoling the couple and honoring Avery, they said.
The Falkers will move Avery’s Place to their backyard after the holidays, and then they expect to bring it to the front yard again next year so people can again leave their prayer requests.
“My hope is we can do it yearly and honor Avery,” Mrs. Falker said. “It can be useful to others. We want to continue to encourage people to leave prayer requests and to read the Bible.”