A heartbreaking photo posted to Facebook three years ago of a young boy sitting against a small gravestone has resurfaced and is crushing the internet's collective heart. The boy, Walker Myrick, now nearly 10 years old, was just 5 years old when his mother snapped this photo of him talking to his late twin brother, Willis, about his first day of kindergarten.
It's said that twins have a uniquely strong bond, and the Myrick family's story proves that there's undeniable truth to that statement, especially as Walker technically never even met his twin brother. Willis died in the womb at 23 weeks due to twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS), a rare disease that can occur when identical twins share one placenta. The boys' mother, Brooke, says that Walker often asks to visit his brother's grave to talk to him and keep his memory alive.
"He speaks of his brother all the time and, when he was a toddler, he would run to the grave and lean down and hug it," Brooke told Mirror Online. "I think their connection is strong, even in death. Identical twins are known to carry a very strong connection and I believe it's still there with my boys. Willis truly lives through Walker — and I think he watches over him."
On the day this particular photo was taken back in 2012, Walker specifically asked to go see Willis after his first day of kindergarten. "Walker told us he wanted to tell Willis about starting school," Brooke said. "I found him like this after getting my baby out of the car. I saw him sitting there and knew I had to snap a photo."
Brooke is using her story to educate people about TTTS, as she had never even heard of the disease before Willis's death. "We were not screened for it, nor did our doctor refer us to a specialist or even know that my boys were identical and sharing a placenta," she said. "We fight for awareness because of the lack of knowledge that our doctor possessed about this disease."
To do so, Brooke holds a walk in honor of the boys' birthday to raise money for the TTTS Foundation every year, called the "Walker and Willis Birthday Walk to Fight TTTS" — this year's walk will be held on March 11.
"Ten years without my sweet Willis does not seem right," Brooke said. "But Willis lives on through Walker and all he does to fight TTTS."