When Barry Lovell walked into the NICU, he thought the nurse caring for his granddaughter Juliet looked familiar.
Nurse Jamie Huynh had noticed Juliet Lovell's last name and wondered, could it be?
Then they locked eyes, and Barry Lovell burst into tears.
"It's you," he said.
The lasting legacy of a mother gone too soon
The last time Barry and Jamie met was 22 years ago; he was newly widowed with two small children and she was accepting a nursing scholarship named after his late wife.
Lovell’s wife, Liz, had died from leukemia before she could fulfill her dream of becoming a nurse, and her family awarded a scholarship fund to carry on her legacy.
“Barry was at the ceremony when I received my scholarship,” Huynh, 40, told TODAY Parents. “He walked into the room carrying a baby and holding the hand of a little boy.”
Huynh was the first, and only, recipient of the one-time scholarship.
That little boy holding Barry's hand grew up to be Tyler Lovell, father of Juliet.
He brought Juliet to the hospital last month after the newborn became ill. Huynh happened to be the nurse assigned to Juliet in the NICU at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett, Washington.
Though Huynh recognized Juliet’s last name, she didn’t think much of it.
The connection comes full circle
“I’ve had a few babies with the last name Lovell,” she explained. “I was listening for clues to see if they were related to Barry and Elizabeth, but I wasn’t going to pry. It’s not my business to ask for a family tree.”
Lovell, 48, recognized Huynh right away. He was entering the hospital and Huynh was leaving when they locked eyes.
“I started crying,” Lovell TODAY Parents. "I said, ‘It’s you.’ That connection coming full circle was pretty incredible.”
Huynh was just as emotional when she realized that Juliet’s dad, Tyler Lovell, was the 3-year-old boy holding Barry’s hand at her scholarship ceremony.
'I promised Liz's mom I would carry a light of her'
“Tears were running down my face,” she revealed. “The stars truly aligned. I’ve always been on a quest to honor Liz, so being able to take care of her granddaughter and her son at a scary point, it made my heart feel so full. I promised Liz's mom I would carry a light of her inside me."
After her stay in the NICU, baby Juliet is recovered and doing fine. Lovell and Huynh both believe their connection was a sign from Liz.
“Over the years Jamie had asked herself, ‘Why was I chosen to get the scholarship?’” Lovell said. “Then all of the sudden, she had her answer.”