Today has been one of the hardest days since the hospital for me. The grief that washed over me was unexpected and all consuming that I actually - gulp - asked for help.
The trigger? Going to Gavin's classroom to clean out his cubby. Sure, I could have had someone else do it. Gavin's teacher even offered to leave it all on my doorstep so I wouldn't have to go in at all. But I wanted to do it. I needed to do it. And I'm glad I did... but boy, it was hard.
The one thing that made it a little bit easier? I was also meeting the wonderful women from the Chester County Intermediate Unit that have helped me with Gavin's Trust project. Nancy Saul, who will be overseeing Gavin's Trust Project... Jessica Cratty who was Gavin's incredible service coordinator and a great support to me over the years... Miss Megan, Gavin's teacher... and Deb Hiller who makes sure that all the students in the county have everything they need from a seating, equipment and assistive technology standpoint.
On behalf of the many generous readers of Chasing Rainbows, I presented them with a check for $15,000. I am hoping it is the first of many large checks. (You are always welcome to give - encourage your employers to match - tell your friends to donate - and spread the word!) The latest total is over $18,000 - but I left some money in my PayPal until it becomes another large check for me to present. $15,000 is not a shabby start. To every one of you who gave - from $1.00 to $500, thank you. Collectively, we are managing to make the impossible... possible for so many kids like Gavin.
When we were deciding where to stand for this photo, some great ideas were thrown out - outside in front of the school sign... in front of flowers... in front of the cubbys... but I had my own idea. It only made sense to me to stand right in front of the sink. Gavin LOVED that sink. And it was there, ten days before his death, that he made the connection with a communication device - asking for the water to be turned on in that very sink behind us.
He was on his way to great things.
It was very difficult to see his little friends. One little girl in particular, who reminds me of Gavin in many ways. She loves lights and music - and when I got there, she was laying on a mat playing with a toy that Gavin loved. I got on the floor with her to chat and play and was so happy to get some smiles and some vocalizations from her. Every morning when the bus would arrive, we would see her little face in the window - so happy to see her buddy, Gavin.
Gavin's walker was still there - along with some speech therapy items that we've used with him for some time. Ed and I gifted all of those things to the classroom so they could be used to help his classmates. His cubby was filled with his favorite cup, a change of clothes, the chest strap that my Mom made that was a wonderful tool to support him in chairs (and on rides on the boardwalk!). Looking at every item broke my heart.
And then, Miss Megan showed me the butterflies. Gavin's friends each made him a butterfly...
She also gave me a pile of papers and artwork and his laminated name card from his cubby and his birthday cupcake that was on the bulletin board and more. Here are some of his works of art...
After I hugged everyone goodbye and walked to my car... carrying a bag of the things he left behind... the tears started to flow. And they wouldn't stop. All the way home... all the way inside... all the way to Gavin's room to the rocking chair where I once held him and fed him and sang to him.
I knew the tears were good for me - but I also felt a little bit out of control. The more I tried to collect myself, the worse it seemed to get. I texted my sister, Bean, and bravely asked for help. I shocked even myself. I didn't know how I was going to get through an afternoon with my adorable, energetic, full of questions and constantly chatty little Brian. She texted back that she was on her way. I breathed a sigh of relief... calmed myself down and by then it was time to pick Brian up from school.
Here is his school picture from this year that was just sent home. He's wearing the shirt he wore to his big brother's funeral.
Bean saved me today. She really did. Brian had a great time with her. They went to the carwash, the playground, walked her dog, Daisy, and took a trip to the grocery store. Brian even ate his very first Ice Cream Sandwich at Aunt Bean's house and I heard about it all night. She really saved me today. It's worth mentioning twice.
I had a scheduled ultrasound for tomorrow, but called to see if I could be seen today since I had some free time. I had some worries that seemed amplified given my emotional state today. I knew if I saw that everything was okay with "Project Hope" - it would help me feel just a tiny bit better.
I was right. The baby looked great.
Heartbeat was strong, growth was better than expected and we even saw some movement. You can see it here on the video...
Home again, with some time to myself, I tried to accomplish something. Anything. But everywhere I turned... I saw more of what he left behind. Every room had a reminder. Every other day these things made me happy. His toys in the playroom... his shoes perfectly lined up on the laundry room shoe rack... his favorite books... his art projects in the window. But today, they were daggers to my already fragile heart. Tomorrow, I hope, I will love seeing them once again.
The things he left behind don't matter, though. It's something none of us should worry about. Gavin left behind so much more than things. A family who loved him so much. A life that should have had so many more years. Progress yet to be made. A voice that I know we would have heard. And a legacy that is unmatched by many adults.
Today has been a very hard day for this Mommy.
I am missing my sweet Bugaboo tonight.