The blog community is so weird. When you check in with someone everyday through their blog you feel as if you know them. You feel invested in their lives. You care about how they are doing. They become a part of your life without even meeting them.
One of my favorite blogs is called Chasing Rainbows. It is written by a woman named Kate Leong, and chronicles her daily joys and struggles concerning her life as she raises two boys. Gavin is a five year old "Superhero Child" who fights every day of his life just to be able to live as normally as possible. Against odds this kid has learned to eat pureed foods, sit up, grasp small objects, and recently has been able to walk holding his parent's hands. Brian is her miracle baby born about a year and a half after Gavin. He is a smiley little boy who loves his brother and (like a kid after my own heart) had a long phase pointing out street signs whenever he was out walking.
Kate will tell you time and again that Gavin, not her, is the inspiring one. That he is the one conquering impossible goals and never giving up. And Gavin is inspiring. There are times I've struggled on my runs and thought, "Gavin worked harder than this just to grab a marker for spin art. Suck it up, Buttercup." But as a mom, Kate has transformed the way I look at parenting. She is a woman who celebrates everything. Nothing is too small for a homemade sign and a victory dance. She is a woman who attacks life through a never ending well of positivity. She deals with every situation with grace. But mostly she has taught me that in a world where success is often measured by outcome, the way to truly succeed at parenting is to love on your babies like there's no tomorrow.
It's with a very heavy heart that I share that Gavin died yesterday. It was Kate's birthday. He had a series of very unexpected seizures and went into cardiac arrest last week. He held on in the hospital for several days before more seizures caused permanent brain damage. Kate and Ed spent a long time cuddling, singing, and talking to their little boy after he was pronounced officially with brain death. Gavin is on life support as they wait for the transplant teams to come from around the country to harvest his organs to give the gift of life to other people. Lives will be saved through Gavin's death. This is a gift of epic proportions.
Yesterday Kate posted this on her Facebook page:
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!