Friday, September 9, 2011

One Year Later

One year ago today Nathan and I held Elliot in our arms as he took his last breaths.  It feels like yesterday and a lifetime ago.  I feel so lucky to have had those last moments with him, because they have really carried me through the last year.  And, in another sense, when I remember it, it's like looking at someone else's life . . . . it feels impossible that I have really lost a child.

This week has been difficult, as we imagined that it would.  And, what has been surprising to some, myself included, is that Elliot's birthday was the hardest day of all.  All day I kept thinking that we should be watching our chubby healthy little boy shove cake in his mouth.  On the other hand, the year anniversary of his surgery, and today of his death just make me feel so grateful that our family has come through this year with strength.

On Elliot's birthday Nathan took the day off of work and we tried to make the best out of a really hard day.  We dressed Gavin and Quinn in their Big Brother and Little Sister shirts - originally bought for each other, but the morning of Elliot's birthday, I realized that Quinn is Elliot's little sister and Gavin is Elliot's big brother and so on went the shirts.  We took the kids to the zoo and Gavin was thrilled to take Quinn on her first train ride.

Later in the day, just when I thought that I couldn't make it through anymore of Elliot's birthday and I wanted to hide in my room, Nathan suggested we hang the acts of kindness on Elliot's tree.

Gavin's favorite part was taking the acts of kindness for swing rides . . . which turned out to be really beautiful.

This is how it looked when we were done.

And there were a few more acts of kindness . . . .

On the morning of Elliot's birthday, I went with Nathan while he picked up bagels and coffee and brought them in to his office for everyone to have breakfast.

An old family friend and her husband volunteered at a community garage sale that raised money for a good cause.

A friend of mine wrote out cards to all of her employees telling them how much she learned from each one of them and what her hopes were for them for the future.

A family member (who maybe did the most acts of kindness!) donated a lot of school supplies to a teacher who was just starting out.

The mom of a friend of mine did this one:  In the last month there were three times that she went into Subway and ordered a foot-long sub, asking them to wrap up the two halves separately.  She kept one half for her lunch, and gave the other half to a homeless person.  She mentioned that it wasn't something "grand" but it felt good to do, to which I responded that so many people had made that comment about their acts of kindness, but it was typically those that I loved the most.

One of Elliot's aunts and uncle spent the evening of his birthday folding one paper crane for each day of his life. They then walked around leaving them here and there hoping that people would find them and it would bring a smile to their day.

A good friend took the high road.  (This is one of my very favorites!!)  This friend was having difficulty with someone in their life, when they realized that the only person they were hurting by holding on to the anger was themselves.  This friend made it a practice to be kind to this person, and said that they would not have been as committed to it had it not been for Elliot's giving tree.  At the end of the message to me, my friend said, "Thinking of Elliot has reminded me that life's too short to be holding ill-feelings towards someone and how great it can be when I can make the choice to be kind instead."

I realize that there have been so many that I have said, "I love this one!!" to.  The truth is, I love each and every one.  As I was writing out all the acts of kindness, I was a little overwhelmed that so many people had taken time out of their busy lives to do something kind for someone in memory of our dear Elliot.  And even though it POURED the day after Elliot's birthday and all the acts are a little worn now, they have endured and hung on the tree all week long, reminding me that in the midst of my sadness and agony over losing my Elliot, kindness and love is still all around us.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.

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