The heartbreaking story behind image of five-year-old boy at dead twin’s grave

Walker Myrick was excited to share his first day of kindergarten with his twin brother but since Willis couldn’t be there, the little boy instead told him all about it.

Getting ready for his conversation, Walker rested on the grass, bowed his head and leaned his back against a tiny gravestone carved with the name Willis Myrick.

“My brother died, I wanted to share how it went and tell him what I did,” Walker said of Willis, who was not alive when he entered the world with his twin on March 6, 2007. Keep reading to learn more about the image that shares the precious moment between Walker and his brother!

The tragic story behind Walker’s visit with his brother at Center Hill Cemetery in Lexington, Alabama, started years before when Brooke Wade (formerly Myrick) was six months pregnant with identical twin boys.

Arriving at the doctor’s office for a routine ultrasound, Wade, now 40, learned some devastating news.


One of the boys, Willis, didn’t have a heartbeat.

Wade had a condition called Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS), where the blood flows unequally between identical twins who share a placenta.

TTTS is not hereditary or genetic and if not diagnosed and treated, it results in one baby, or both, fatally starving of essential nutrients.

“I was 24 weeks when we found out but they said that it had been at least a week, so we really don’t know when Willis passed away,” Wade told People in 2017, stressing the importance of weekly ultrasounds for mothers carrying twins. “That was the thing with being pregnant with twins, I was still feeling movement, so I didn’t know that I had lost a baby.”


Wade adds, “We had already been shopping when we found out. We had cribs, clothes, toys…You’re expecting to bring two babies home.”

‘Really struggled’
On March 6, 2007, after only 32 weeks of pregnancy, Wade delivered two babies but only one was alive.

“Looking back, I don’t even know how I handled it. I think about it now and I get upset to think that I went through that,” Wade said in an interview with Time. “I just had to focus on Walker.”

The mom who admits she “really struggled for several years,” spoke openly with Walker, now 17, and explained what happened to his twin brother.

She also took him on frequent visits to the cemetery so that he could place a toy on Willis’ grave.


“Even as an infant I would always talk to him about Willis and he would smile,” says Wade. “At one or two years old, he would run up to the grave. We would say, ‘That’s your brother. That’s where your twin brother is.’ Because I always wanted him to know where he was going. I always wanted him to know that was an open area of his life and not to grow up ever thinking, ‘I can’t talk about my brother.’”

The family continued to keep Willis’ memory alive with Walker’s siblings Jolie, 16, Cooper, 11, and nine-year-old Bryant.

Also, for a few years, they ran the Walker and Willis Fundraising Walk, raising awareness and funds for the TTTS Foundation. And every year around the twin’s birthday, Wade shares the image that continues to tug at the heartstrings of people around the world.

The timeless image
In 2017, Wade explains she was driving her son home from his first day at kindergarten when he asked her to detour.

“As we were passing the cemetery he said, ‘I want to see Willis,’” Wade, now 40, told People in 2017. “I parked and he ran up ahead as I was unstrapping his baby brother from his car seat. All I had with me was my iPhone. I wasn’t anticipating taking a photograph. But when I walked up and saw him like that, it was just one of those moments where you think: ‘This is really special.’”


Quickly snapping a photo, she captured little Walker, five at the time, sharing a moment of absolute affection with his twin brother.

The heartwarming picture, which was taken in 2012, shows the little boy sitting on the grass, leaning against a gravestone that reads, “Willis Michael Myrick, March 6, 2007, twin brother of Walker.”

Wanting a moment with his twin, Walker’s mom says he was only there for a few minutes, and when he was done, “he was all smiles.”

“My brother died, I wanted to share how it went and tell him what I did,” Walker said. “I feel that he’s happy in heaven, and he’s watching over me.”

As for Wade – who is no longer with Walker’s father Michael Myrick – she believes Willis gave his life to save the life of his twin.

“If Willis had continued to live and the transfusion had continued to happen, I would have been left with no babies,” she says. “Willis could have very well have saved his brother’s life by his passing.”

What do you think of the photo that communicates so much love between Walker and his twin? Please let us know your thoughts and then share this story so we can help keep Willis’ memory alive!

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