Today is September 1st. I have been quietly dreading this month - the month of Gavin's birthday. As the summer went on and this month got closer and closer, it would bring me to tears just thinking about it.
But now it's here - September. And I'm feeling a little bit ashamed of myself.
Why should I dread September? Why would I mourn extra just because it's the month Gavin was born?
How am I honoring him by agonizing over my loss? My feelings are the same as yesterday - nothing has changed. I didn't magically wake up more depressed today, September 1st.
I am sure, once his birthday rolls around at the end of the month, I will feel differently. And that will be okay. But for right now, I am making the choice to take back September. After all, it was the month that gave me my first born son. And it was also the month that Darcy was due. This September 21st, she would have been three.
I have a lot of plans to keep myself busy and to feel like I'm proactively doing things to honor Gavin's birthday this month.
As you know, I created "Gavin's Birthday Project" to re-do the Paoli Hospital Children's Waiting room in the ER - inspired by Brian after he was left waiting on the day Gavin was brought in. I am hoping to meet with some folks there this week to talk about what big changes we can make to that room in Gavin's memory with the extraordinary amount of money you've so generously donated.
Next weekend, our little family and some very special guests will be headed to the Gift of Life Family House to be "Home Cook Heroes" in Gavin's honor. We'll be making and serving food to all of the guests in the house that evening - and some members of my family and friends will be able to see Gavin's guest room and the plaques that are on the wall there to memorialize him. We're super grateful to Home Cooked in Paoli, Pennsylvania for generously providing the food we will serve - and even coming along to help us prepare it!! (More on them next week!) The guests of the Family House should be very grateful that I'm not attempting to feed them, let's just leave it at that.
Several weeks ago, I put flyers in every mailbox in our neighborhood asking our neighbors to participate in a "Wish List Drive" for the family house. They run on donations and they keep their pantry stocked with all kinds of supplies, food, detergent, snacks, Ziploc containers and bags - you name it. My neighbors have been coming through - there is a pile of donations in my dining room and some very generous checks as well. We can't wait to bring everything with us to the Gift of Life Family House next week. If you are interested in participating in my Wish List Drive, everyone is welcome! Click HERE to find out what the needs are and where to deliver or ship your donations. Be sure to write that it's in memory of Gavin!
And finally, I am bringing back my original birthday wish for Gavin's birthday. If you remember, back on April 14th - my birthday... the day Gavin died... and the day I knew I was SHOCKINGLY pregnant with Hope - I wrote the following request:
Ed and I will be announcing our choices for "in lieu of flowers" donations to honor Gavin in a few days, but today is my birthday and this is all about me. I've come up with a special, totally FREE way to honor my sweet son who could inspire the most profound emotion without ever saying a word. I'm asking you to help someone... document it with words and or a photo... and place it on the Chasing Rainbows Facebook Page. Then be sure to check the page often to get inspired by the outpouring of love. Here are some great ideas for you... Find a special needs classroom in your community. These are usually low funded and always looking for donations. Perhaps you have toys your kids don't play with anymore that could be used in the classroom or during therapy. Random crayons that are laying around. I know we always needed rug gripper to place under Gavin's behind when he sat - that's a good need. Do you know a special needs Mom in your neighborhood? Church? School? Tell her you'd like to make dinner for her family. What night would work? Then tell her the only requirement is they have to give a "cheers toast" to Gavin during dinner. Help someone struggling to unload groceries into their car in the rain. Donate clothes to a women's shelter. Check with your local children's hospital for volunteer opportunities - even if it's just for two hours of your life. Save all of your magazines and bring a big stash to your local hospital. You have no idea how helpful that is to parents who spend days, weeks or months (as I did when Gavin was a baby) sitting in their child's hospital room. These are just some ideas... be creative! And think of Gavin when you do it. Share his story with the person you are blessing. Tell them that Gavin Leong changed the world with little acts of courage, determination and a sweet smile... without ever saying a word. And then ask them to pay it forward to honor his legacy. This would be the best birthday gift you could give me. There is no time frame - you could post something today or a year from now or five years from now. Thank you for helping me to honor my amazing little boy. And feel free to share this anywhere you want!
The outpouring on my Facebook page, in my email, on this blog - from all over the world - was astonishing. But there was one thing that I didn't expect - some people spent a lot of money on their random acts of kindness. Don't get me wrong - that was awesome! Every reported act of kindness meant the world to us. But for this month - in honor of Gavin's birthday - I want every random act of kindness to be free. Or very, very cheap. Making dinner for a special needs family that you know? That can be cheap! Donating things you already own? Free!! There are so many things you can do.
So for all of you who have written to me and felt sad or embarrassed or bad in any way that you haven't been able to donate money to any of our charities or causes - first of all, please don't ever feel bad about that. This is your chance to get on the Gavin love train and spread his happy, loving, peace-filled spirit all over. I can't wait to read what you all come up with - and please do post it on the Chasing Rainbows Facebook Page so others can see and be inspired!! I will also be posting a new photo or video along with a memory of Gavin every single day this month on my Chasing Rainbows Facebook page.
When I thought about what I would write in this blog post this morning - my thoughts were on the negative, sad side. But as the day went on, something shifted. I think it was when I decided to name this post "September" - but quickly checked to make sure I hadn't used that post title before. I had. And after I read the following, I knew I HAD to take back September... for Gavin.
Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for caring about our little family.
Originally posted on September 4, 2011
Originally posted on September 4, 2011
September is an interesting month for me. It's a happy month because it's the beginning of my favorite season, Fall. And it's happy because it's the month I gave birth to my first son. But September also comes with a reminder...that it was during this month that my life changed forever.
I remember the September of 2007. I think I was the happiest I had been in a very long time. Pregnant with my first child...anticipating his arrival in October...and filled with hope and possibilities. I was finally realizing my dream of becoming a Mom...and wanted to be just like my own Mom. A seemingly impossible task, but I wanted to give it a try.
I remember the day he was born. We had had so many "false alarms" - so many trips to the hospital for early labor - so many injections in and out of the hospital to keep contractions at bay. I remember, vaguely, that Ed was washing the car...that I was inside on the phone explaining my most recent symptoms to my OB who told me that I needed to come to the hospital to be checked out right away. I remember Ed not panicking because, well, we had done this a thousand times. We packed a bag just in case. I remember being in a little room, the concerned face, my blood pressure was so high it was near stroke level. We were going to have Gavin right away.
Still filled with happiness and hope, Ed snapped this photo of me as I laid in the Operating Room.
My plans for a natural birth with the chosen soundtrack (including "I'm Coming Out" by Diana Ross because I'm weird like that) had become a C-Section. Gavin was not only breech - but he was sideways. And he was not only sideways, he was belly up. And he was not only belly up, he was in such a contorted and twisted position that his whole face was smashed up against my side. But I was not worried...no, not me. I was sure. SO sure that everything was going to be alright. Even when faced with a quick kiss and his being whisked off to the NICU so he could get breathing assistance, I was calm. I insisted very shortly after recovery that they wheel me in to see him. And even when I did, I remember being so positive. So positive that he'd be alright.
And before I knew it, September gave way to October. And his due date came and went. We sat in that NICU every single day for a month. My hope never wavered. I knew right then that I had to keep it together. I had to be his biggest believer. His most enthusiastic cheerleader.
His first year was so difficult. With each day - and each traumatic event - I was challenged. It was hard to keep it together at times...and very hard to stay positive. But anytime I felt sorry for myself...or anytime I felt weak...I would look to Gavin. I owed it to him to stay positive. I owed it to him. I recounted his first year in the first video I ever made...which I made for his birthday.
Every September I go through this story in my mind. And every September I thank God that He has carried me through this very difficult journey. And believe me when I say...every September I look to Gavin and know that I'm looking at a miracle. The progress he has made over the last almost FOUR years would make a stone weep.
It didn't take me long to realize that I was right that day in 2007...as I looked into the eyes of a concerned doctor...as I saw my son being rushed out of the room...as I laid there alone in recovery...I was right. Gavin IS alright. He really is.
And if I needed proof? Today as Ed and I unpacked groceries from the car - the boys were left alone in the playroom for a mere three minutes. I came in and couldn't find Gavin...anywhere! Soon I heard his "singing voice" and it was coming from UPSTAIRS! Gavin climbed the stairs by himself and was in our bathroom!! There are too many "greatest moments of my life" to recount...but this is definitely on that list.
And wouldn't it figure that it happened in September?