Sunday, September 18, 2016

Please Don't Forget...

Want to know what gets me every single time?


I'm not one to burst into tears - or even get choked up - in moments you'd probably expect me to. I can talk openly about Gavin - about his life and his death - without a single tremble in my voice. Sometimes I wonder if that's an issue - but most times I think it's just one of those things that don't need analysis. 

But, helicopters. They wreck me.

Yesterday, I found myself standing under the giant, intimidating blade of a medical evacuation helicopter. I could barely hold it together.
It was part of a community event we attended that allowed kids to climb into, tour and touch all different type of vehicles. Brian loved climbing into a bulldozer!
We were blissfully playing on the playground when I stopped breathing for a moment. A helicopter approaching. We soon realized it was landing on the field as part of the event, Brian wanted to go over to see it. I smiled and said "Let's go!" 

As we walked, I prayed. Prayed that I'd somehow hold it together. Prayed that if I didn't, that I would use it as a teachable moment. Prayed as I always do for the crew that has one of the hardest jobs there is.

As we walked across the field, my prayer was interrupted with a shriek. "Look! A butterfly!" Brian exclaimed. And off they went to chase it...

We made it to the helicopter and walked under the giant blade to get to the door. The crew guided Brian in so he could look around. 

I could barely see.
The tears were streaming down my face as I took this picture of one son as I mourned openly for his brother. These dang helicopters get me every single time. And I'll tell you why. It was a rare moment for me to not be by Gavin's side. But on April 10, 2013 - after the emergency room team brought him back from death - a helicopter arrived to rush him to another hospital an hours drive away. For me to hand him over to strangers - hoping he'd be alive when I saw him again - it was the hardest thing I had to do. I couldn't be there for him - and it still haunts me. So now, every time I see or hear a helicopter overhead - I flash back to that terrible moment on that awful day.
But you know what? I often think of Gavin's organs getting on a similar helicopter just five days later to rush to the airport to get to the destination of his recipient. A strangely comforting twist of fate.
Today my family and I were invited to an event hosted by the Gift of Life Donor Program. During this event, which celebrated and thanked their many volunteers, they honored me (meaning US - meaning YOU!) with the Fundraising Ambassador Award. (The family picture they took of us will be added later - Ed and Hope were there, too! And so was my Mom!)
If you remember, last November I held a 40 hour fundraiser for the Family House. Together with many of you, we raised $10,820... in forty hours! Here is what was said about me... about you... about us.

You don't have to still be here with us. 
You didn't have to donate to any of the fundraisers I've held in Gavin's memory.
You don't even have to comment on anything I write or do.

But please, if I can ask one thing...
Please don't forget my son.
Please remember Gavin David Leong.

And if you ever see a Medical helicopter flying overhead, say a prayer for that person, that crew, and everyone waiting for... needing... a safe landing.


  1. Wow!!! I keep your entire family in my prayers, thanks so much for continuing to share. You are doing wonderful things in Gavin's memory, and sharing so much love.

  2. Gavin is impossible to forget. Sending love & prayers to you all xoxo

  3. My husband flies those helicopters here in Ireland. These professionals are highly trained and exceptional individuals. But they are also moms and dads and husbands and wives. A couple months after our premature twins died (one at twelve days and his identical brother at 67 days), my husband was tasked with flying one of two critically ill twins from one side of Ireland to the other. He was calm and kind and reassuring. He was going to be flying these precious babies (his colleague flew the second baby) and these precious babies were going to be cared for in the same NICU by the same doctors and nurses who lovingly cared for us and our children. He told me after that he told the father of these babies as much as he could without betraying his own personal experience, after all, it wasn't about our family, but father to father, he wanted to offer as much comfort and reassurance as he could. A couple months later we met the parents of these twins on a visit to the hospital. One of their precious girls had joined our boys in heaven and the other was growing and getting stronger in the NICU. We met in the hallway and cried together for our joint experience and for the night where our fates intersected due to their trauma and my husband's profession. They could not thank him enough and I was so proud and heartbroken for my darling husband who demonstrated his strength and love and who channeled his experience as a father to help another new and scared father. How he flew a massive helicopter with a tiny baby, such a familiar sight, along with the monitors and beeps and terminology that had become second nature to us, I will never comprehend. But these pilots and air medical professionals are something beyond their job titles. I keep them and their precious passengers in my prayers.
    I always remember Gavin and I always will. Thanks to his mama, there is a space carved in my broken heart for him. 💙

  4. One year ago today, my 40 year young brother had an unexpected heart attack on a soccer field. They took him by ambulance to the nearest hospital but he needed to be flown to a trauma hospital in another town which happened to be close to my house. I arrived there before he did and as I waited in that ER, I could sense he was there. I told the nurse "Can you take me now? He's here." He looked at the helipad security camera and the helicopter was just landing. He turned to me and said "How did you know that?" I told him I just felt it. Nine days later he would pass leaving behind a wife, a four year old, an 11 month old, and me and my four brothers. I really thought helicopters would haunt me too, and there are times I wish I couldn't hear them, but mostly I think of how they gave us the gift of time. Without their actions, we may not have had the opportunity to be by his side and prepare ourselves for what was to come. Sometimes my father asks "Maybe it might have been less traumatic for us all if God took him on that field" and my reply is always "That helicopter gave us the gift of hope that some people never get". And so when I look up and see the medical helicopter heading to our local trauma hospital, I have hope. And for that, I am forever grateful.


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