The Gift of Inner Peace:

Jennifer DeBow Borzi

The Gift of Inner Peace

A special moment in the Angel Garden at Virtua Voorhees brings comfort to a grieving mom.


"When I saw that dragonfly on Ava’s plaque, I had such inner peace.
It was beautiful, with iridescent pink on its wings…
My family believes Ava sent the dragonfly to let us know she was ok,
a different form of an angel.”

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When she was 13-weeks pregnant, Jennifer DeBow Borzi received news that no parent ever wants to hear. Through genetic testing, doctors discovered her baby had Trisomy 18, a genetic disorder caused by an abnormality on the 18th chromosome. After all of the diagnoses and prognoses, it really just meant that her second daughter would likely live a very short time.

Sadness set in, followed by planning: for the delivery, for her daughter’s care, for how to grieve when she was gone. “I felt like I had this little gift, like I could prepare,” said Jennifer.

Over the next few months, Jennifer sought comfort among families in the HOPING Bereavement Group for grieving parents. This support group, led by Ann Coyle, RN, a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) nurse at Virtua Voorhees, is available for families throughout South Jersey who lost a baby. Throughout her pregnancy, Jennifer attended meetings every other week.

“You need help to cope with those circumstances. I found the HOPING group so supportive because every family had a different experience,” said Jennifer. “I took pieces of everyone’s experiences to prepare for my own.” But despite Jennifer’s planning and preparation, baby Ava had big plans of her own.

Three weeks before Ava was due, Jennifer went into labor while at work in Haddonfield.  Ava was born in her office and because the birth was unexpected and Ava was in trauma, mom and baby were rushed to a neighboring hospital in South Jersey with a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, rather than to Jennifer’s hospital in Pennsylvania where her chosen doctors knew of the plans she made for Ava’s care.

In the NICU, Ava was placed in the Dragonfly Room where she lived for 10 days before being allowed to go home with hospice care – a totally unexpected gift.

Sabrina, John, Ava and Jennifer

Jennifer and her family celebrated Ava’s milestones: she dressed up in a pumpkin hat for Halloween, had a one-week old birthday party and received a warm homecoming.  “I planned so much for the grief of it all, and I didn’t expect to have all that time with her,” said Jennifer. “We celebrated everything we could in that short time we had.”

Ava didn’t live much longer once she was home, as expected. Jennifer, her husband John and their two-year-old daughter Sabrina were left to carry on with their grief, as planned.

Then, this September, nearly four years since her loss, Jennifer received another gift that eased the grief when the Angel Garden at Virtua Voorhees opened.

For years, Ann Coyle dreamed of creating an Angel Garden for grieving families and began raising funds through grassroots efforts to turn her dream into a reality. When Jennifer learned of Ann’s plan for the Angel Garden, she knew she needed to be a part of it.

The Angel Garden is a peaceful outdoor sanctuary located on the Virtua Voorhees campus for families who face the loss of a baby. It is a respite space with trees and flowers and a stone water wall with plaques featuring the names of angel babies who will always be remembered. A special angel statue overlooks the garden, always protecting the babies honored there. “It was such a unique way to honor Ava, and to have a peaceful remembrance of her,” said Jennifer.

On the day the garden was dedicated, Jennifer patiently made her way through the large crowd to find Ava’s name on the wall. When she did, she discovered a dragonfly sitting on Ava’s plaque, as if it had been waiting for her. Her eyes filled with tears but she didn’t want to blink and risk the dragonfly being gone that fast. So, she stood still and spoke gently to the dragonfly until it flew away on its own.

“Since Ava’s time in the Dragonfly Room at the NICU, dragonflies have come to symbolize Ava’s precious, albeit short life.  When I saw that dragonfly on Ava’s plaque, I had such inner peace. It was beautiful, with iridescent pink on its wings,” said Jennifer. “My family believes Ava sent the dragonfly to let us know she was ok, a different form of an angel.”

Today, Jennifer and her family find comfort in knowing that Ava’s name stands strong under the trickling water of the Angel Garden wall, and that they can visit it whenever they feel the need to see it.



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