When I was pregnant with Gavin, every purchase we made was calculated and well thought out. My diaper bag was no exception. I wanted it to be functional... not too girly, so Ed would want to carry it... and something that would last. My first place to look? Lands' End, of course.
Turns out they had exactly what I was looking for. A light green backpack that was a diaper bag. Functional - check. Not too girly - check. Quality - check. And, as a bonus, it could be monogrammed!! I gave them specific instructions to please write Gavin's name in all lower case. What can I say - it's my thing. When it arrived - it was perfect and even nicer than I expected.
We couldn't have predicted how much we would rely on that backpack in the years ahead. It carted breastfeeding supplies and comforts from home back and forth every day to the NICU for the first month. It lived with me at DuPont with Gavin... and Ed would bring it home to fill it up with more books and toys and clothes... back and forth for three more months. It went to every specialist appointment, doctor appointment and surgery.
When Brian was born, the boys shared the diaper bag. One pocket had Brian's diapers - the other had Gavin's. And I intended to use the same bag when Darcy joined our family... but she never arrived.
Gavin used this backpack when he went to pre-school. It came back and forth each day with his art projects and empty lunchbox. I loved seeing it hang on the back of his wheelchair as he got on the bus in the morning. And I looked forward to the day I would watch him enter the doors of his Kindergarten with the backpack that had seen him through so much.
But that day never came.
About a month ago, I finally emptied Gavin's backpack. I lovingly scrubbed it clean and remembered all that it had seen us through. The triumphs and the tragedies. After it dried, I was about to carry it up to Hope's closet - where it would stay until we would use it for her - when I had an idea.
I sat at my computer and composed an email to Lands' End. I told them everything I just wrote - how this bag had come to mean so much to us. How Gavin used it... and then Brian... and how we lost Gavin so suddenly... but were now expecting Hope. I told them that this was more than just a backpack to us. It symbolized so much more. I knew they no longer carried this diaper bag backpack (which is such a shame!) - but that I wasn't looking for a new one, anyway. I HAD to use this bag for Hope - but I had a favor to ask. I asked if there was any way - if I shipped it back to them - that they could embroider Brian and Hope's names under Gavin's. I wanted all three of my children's names who used this special backpack to be on there. I pressed "send" and held my breath.
I couldn't believe how quickly I got a response.
Thank you for contacting Lands' End with your lovely, and heartbreaking, story.
First of all, on behalf of all of us here at Lands' End, we want to say how sorry we are to hear about your loss. Little Gavin must surely be one special little angel in Heaven! He was lucky to have such a loving and caring earth family as well.
We love that you shared your story with Lands' End and we certainly look forward to making your special request come true!
Have a blessed day! (And congratulations on your joyous gift arriving this Christmas)
Gavin's story circulated around the company and I soon started receiving individual emails from people who worked there. It was such a touching experience. They embraced this project with so much enthusiasm and love - making our original backpack even more special than it already was. I asked the group that worked on "Gavin's backpack project" to photograph themselves so I could share it with you, and was so happy that they said yes!! Thank you to ALL of you for making this happen!!
(In the back row: Karen, Nicki, Barb, Di and Gail - Gail did the monogramming! And in the front row: Lisa, Jodie - who I had the most communication with - and Linda.)
Last night, the Lands' End box arrived on my doorstep. It felt like Christmas - and when I opened the box and saw how they had boxed it up with a ribbon, I instantly welled up with tears.
They even included a lovely handwritten note.
When I picked up the backpack, it felt heavier than usual. I unzipped it and looked inside only to find two special presents. Beautiful personalized towels for Brian and Hope. A perfectly appropriate superhero towel for Brian...
And a princess towel for Miss Hope... complete with a crown!
I can't wait to fill this special diaper bag backpack with all things pink... just in time for Hope's arrival. It was fitting that I would get a glimpse of her the morning after receiving this special gift. Click below to see images of our little girl...
Thank you, Lands' End, for making my wish come true. To most, it would be just a "backpack." But not to me. Not to us. It's so much more...
...and I can't wait to add even more history to every pocket inside.