What to feel about this day.
The day I was born... 46 years ago.
The day I said goodbye to my first born son.
The day that I realized - before any scientific confirmation - that I was expecting a daughter we would name Hope.
What to feel about this day. It's a confusing one.
I'll tell you what my heart says, often in the mirror as a pep talk: I brought him into the world on his birthday - and it was a privilege to usher him into Heaven on mine. I mean that. And it was an all around, awe inspiring privilege to be his Mother in those 5 1/2 short years in between.
I'll also tell you what my broken heart says, never in the mirror or even in the light: Why did everything have to happen all on one day?!? What am I supposed to feel? Think? Do? I want to be sad - but I should be happy - but it feels wrong - but what great news to know Hope was on the way - but I watched my son slowly slip away and then die on my birthday and I want to run away right now - but Brian is excited to celebrate Mommy's special day so, yay! It's sometimes a big, mixed up, confusing mess.
But isn't that life? I experienced every high and low - had to make major, grown up decisions - had to choose to celebrate life in the midst of death - had to care for myself in order to get home from the hospital without my son to properly care for his brother. Every worst and best case scenario all in one day.
What to feel about this day.
I never really know! So you know what I decide to do? Something. I find that in choosing to DO something instead of wallowing, I find myself feeling like Gavin's Mommy again. When he was alive, I was constantly "doing" for him. And I loved every minute.
The other night I was re-reading my entries from his final days. And I was remembering how we sat some of his favorite things on and around his bed to make him (and us) happy. One of them was his favorite book that played music. Gavin LOVED books. We always had a HUGE collection of books (still do!) and we were constantly reading (still are!). I remember laying next to Gavin and reciting "Ten Little Monkeys" and "No, No, No Little Turtles" - and other stories I had memorized from the millions of times we read them. I am sure he heard me.
I was remembering the HUGE role that a book played in Brian's grieving after Gavin died. The Child Life department at the hospital gifted him with a book called "The Invisible String" that talked about the invisible string that connects us all to those we love - here and far. We read that book nearly every day to Brian for over a year.
Gavin and Brian loved spending time looking at books together at home.
And books were a big part of Gavin's therapies! He always responded well when books were involved.
As I sat and reminisced, it suddenly came to me what I could do to honor Gavin on this three year anniversary and celebrate my 46th birthday: host a book drive in his memory!! I hope you will join me.
I will be "hosting" an ONLINE book party that will be a win-win for you and two organizations I've chosen as recipients! (Or any organization of your choosing!!) You may have heard of Usborne books. I just discovered them through my niece, Emily, who will be running this online "bookraiser" for Gavin. They have engaging, educational and fun books for babies up to teens and were named Children's Publisher of the Year in 2014. I love their selections.
So, here is my vision: you can buy a book (or books) for the child in your life, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, gifts, whatever... and/OR... you can purchase a book or two or more to ship to one of the organizations in honor of Gavin! One is the Child Life Department at the hospital where Gavin died... and the other is the Chester County Intermediate Unit that provided school, teacher, therapy services and so much LOVE for Gavin. (The shipping information will be at the bottom of his entry) If you buy a book for your home, I get credit for books - which I can then turn around and use for the organizations! If you buy a book for the organizations, I get credit for books - which I will STILL use for the organizations! It's truly a win-win either way you look at it. If you have another place in mind where you'd like to donate books, by all means do! Gavin would be thrilled to see children all over the world enjoying books because of him. The whole goal is to spread Gavin's spirit far and wide. This child was always happy.
This is not a traditional fundraiser and I will not be accepting monetary donations of any kind. There is obviously no pressure and no need to explain if you can't purchase a book or don't want to participate. I just ask that you remember Gavin today and do something nice and unexpected for someone in your path.
So, how can you participate? Here are all the important details:
The book drive (or "bookraiser!") runs from:
April 14, 2016 - April 24, 2016.
If you would like to participate in an "email party" - hosted by my niece, Emily Locke, you can sign up using THIS link. She will personally email you and send you fun videos to learn more about the books Usborne offers. She'll also be able to answer questions and recommend books based on what ages you're shopping for!
Alternatively, you could go straight to the shopping page, look around and make your purchases on your own. You can get to the shopping page HERE.
If you choose to send books to the organizations I've chosen in memory of Gavin, here is the shipping information:
Nemours Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children
Child Life Department / Gavin Leong
1600 Rockland Road
Wilmington, DE 19803
Chester County Intermediate Unit
Gavin's Book Drive
455 Boot Road
Downingtown, PA 19335
I can assure you that either organization will greatly appreciate having book donations. I recently bought this book, "Here in the Garden," for our own bookshelf.
It's about a young boy who connects with someone he lost through nature. It obviously reminded me of Brian who blows his "wishies" to Heaven to his brother. This would be a good choice for the hospital who could give copies away to children who have lost a sibling.
The Intermediate Unit can use any books for their "kids!" I personally love the "lift the flap" books that would be great for kids who need occupational therapy. When therapy is fun and engaging, it becomes more like play than work. At least that's how it was for Gavin!
There are books for $5.00 and books for $20 and there's really something for every child. I hope you have fun looking through all the selections! Just remember - the party closes on April 24, 2016.
Whatever you decide, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for always remembering Gavin. We have sailed and stumbled and sometimes fallen as we've learned to navigate this wild life without him... and you have been with us through it all.
Every year since Gavin's birth, my birthday wish has been: "Please let me do right by this sweet boy and be a good Mommy to him." And that will continue to be my birthday wish until my last day.
Thank you for helping to make this year's wish come true.