A stillborn child is an unimaginably difficult situation for a family to face, and it’s only made worse by the constant reminders at home—the nursery decorations and baby clothes, prepared for a child that never made it.
That was the tragic situation Valarie Watts, from Cokato, Minnesota, faced in 2013. She was excited for the arrival of her baby boy named Noah.
But then, the unthinkable happened—Watts felt something was amiss.
“All week, I knew,” Watts told FOX9. “He wasn’t moving as much. I was very nervous.”
Noah’s umbilical cord had become pinched, and he died in the womb.
Months passed, but Watts was surrounded by constant reminders of her loss.
However, despite the grief the baby items gave her, she felt unable to part with them.
The most heartbreaking item was what would have been Noah’s crib.
Nearly a year later, Watts finally felt ready to sell the baby things at a garage sale—except for the crib. Although it was in view of visitors to the sale, Watts thought no one would want it, and she was still not sure if she could part with it.
However, fate had an interesting twist in store for her.
A local man named Gerald Kumpula stopped at the sale with his wife. Kumpula is a builder and welder with his own workshop.
His current project was converting headboards into benches. So when he spotted the baby crib, he inquired about it. But Watts didn’t know what to say.
“When he asked me if I was selling that, that he made benches, I hesitated,” Watts recalled to FOX9.
However, she eventually relented and decided to let that piece of her upsetting past go.
“She was kind of hesitant,” Kumpula recalled. “I knew that maybe she didn’t want to sell it, but yet, she did.”
Kumpula didn’t understand her reluctance, but his wife had learned Watt’s story.
“His wife was there looking through my garage sale—at some of the baby clothes—and asked how old my son was since I don’t use the crib anymore,” Watts recalled to FOX9. “And I told her that he had passed in July.”
On the way home with the crib, Kumpula learned of its sad backstory from his wife, and he decided to alter his plans for it.
“We decided, on our way home, this bench was going back,” he told FOX9.
Kumpula returned to Watt’s home a week later with the crib—but it was no longer a crib.
It was a bench, made out of the crib, and decorated as a tribute to Noah.
It was an incredible gift—something to memorialize her baby, but in a way that would bring her comfort instead of an upsetting reminder.
Watts was overwhelmed.
“I started crying instantly,” Watts told FOX9.
It was a special moment for Kumpula as well, to see his hobby bring such joy into someone’s life.
“It’s fun to be able to do something,” he told FOX9, his voice breaking with emotion.
And for Watts, the bench is more than just a tribute to her stillborn son—it’s a reminder of the kindness and sympathy of total strangers.
“It’s amazing,” Watts told FOX9.
“There’s good people out there. There’s proof.”