Sunday, November 8, 2009


We FINALLY found a chance to take all the toys donated for Gavin's birthday to the Cardon Children's Hospital at Banner Desert. First we got to take all the extra money donated and go on a WILD shopping spree! We had $250.00 left over after we paid for the wagon, and that wasn't including the check for $150 that was donated by Boomer the Dog (and his owners!) that went straight to the hospital!!! The kids thought that was pretty cool...but giving all the toys away afterwards was a little hard. ;)

Mindy, the childlife specialist we worked with, had sent us a wish list of the things they could use. The infants and toddlers sometimes get forgotten, so they don't get as much stuff donated for those ages. They can ALWAYS use items like portable dvd players, crib mobiles, white noise machines, bouncy seats, and exersaucers. So we tried to focus more on that age group with the money, since we already had a lot of school aged toys donated.

We bought a portable dvd player, some crib mobiles, a preschool computer game (also requested), a ride-on spinning zebra toy for the playroom, some clip-on crib toys that play music and light up, crinkle books, rattles, those little piano toys that have pop-up animals when you push the keys, a couple preschool aged board games, some ball poppers, teethers, battery-operated bubble blowers, books, and batteries (I bet they go through those pretty fast!). It was SO hard to restrain myself from buying MORE...we actually had to put some other stuff back because we went WAY over budget (we even ended up throwing in $100 of our own, too).

Mindy gave us a little tour after we put the toys and wagon in Andrea's Closet. We saw the Forever Young media room, which was SO COOL...Steve Young's Foundation donated over $1 million for has a stage for celebs/groups to perform on, or the kids can make up their own plays & dances. There is even a video camera to record them! There is also a movie screen that drops down, and two huge screen TVs for movie nights, lots of chairs for the audience and room for crafts. I wish I had taken a picture of it! I can just imagine all the fun plays, dance groups, comedians, singers, etc that will be able to perform there for all the kids.

One FULL trunk!!!

Now one FULL wagon... 6 FULL bags... 3 FULL sets of hands!!!

The plaque on Gavin's Wagon, it says "In loving memory of Gavin Sprague"

heading to Andrea's Closet:
there's a giant chess set in the lobby:
and silver butterflies inlaid in the floor:

the ceilings are painted to look like the sky:

the new train area!

One of Gavin's favorite nurses came down to chat with us and get a picture!

I was so happy to be able to donate all those toys in honor of our little man. I talked to Mindy the next day and she said she had already opened tons of the toys for some of the babies who didn't have anyone to stay with them (it seriously breaks my heart to think of those little ones all alone with no one to hold and love them). She said they loved the toys! I can't wait until next year and I'm already thinking of new themes we can do. They are going to be opening a brand new outside play area in the next year, so we'll probably focus on that for Gavin's 3rd birthday!
Mindy said before we left "You have no idea how much this helps!" and I replied "Oh yes...we really do know. We know all too well." So thank you SO MUCH to everyone who donated! It meant so much to our family. I hope seeing all these pictures and knowing that the toys are being enjoyed is making you happy, too! Such small things can make such a HUGE difference to those who are in the hospital. It gives me SO MUCH happiness thinking of their days being a little easier and brighter because of these toys.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


I am reading The Unbearable Lightness of Being right now. I almost put it down after the first page because its just SO not the kind of literature I can concentrate on right now. But I pushed onward (besides, it has a really cool title). Then a paragraph in the second chapter stood out to me:

"The heaviest of burdens crushes us, we sink beneath it, it pins us to the ground. The heavier the burden, the closer our lives come to the earth, the more real and truthful they become. Conversely, the absolute absence of burden causes man to be lighter than air, to soar into heights, take leave of the earth and his earthly being, and become only half real, his movements as free as they are insignificant. What then shall we choose? Weight or lightness?"

And I was like, I get it. I totally get it. Its one of the many conflicting battles that rages within me. Sometimes I feel so angry and jealous towards those who still get to reside in beautiful, shiny bubbles...they still get to see the world through rosy-iridescent walls where things make sense and life is good. I use to live in a pretty bubble, too, if only for a short time. And had Gavin lived, I would've been one of those people who get up at Fast & Testimony meeting at church on Sunday and tearfully exclaims, "I know everything is true, and all my prayers are answered, and everything is great, great and HAPPY, and my life is amazing, 'cause I am so blessed, like SERIOUSLY, so blessed." I would never have given a second thought to how soul-crushing those words can be to those whose lives have been reduced to "but if not..."

I would never have known what I know now. I would never have known how black the darkness can be. I would never have known how far down, down can be. I would never have known what abandonment feels like. I would never have known what its like to lose all knowledge, then all faith, and even all hope. I would never pause like I do now, to really, truly look at someone and wonder what hidden wounds they harbor. I would never know what its like to really, truly love someone that I just met, simply because we both know.

But is it worth it? Is it worth it to have your bubble popped, your life absolutely shattered, and your whole soul broken and beaten into the earth? Is it worth it to lose all beauty and hope to understand uglyness and despair? Is it worth it to have that knowledge, that understanding? Because there is no other way to gain that only comes through your own personal suffering. And once your bubble is popped, you can't go back. You can't think, feel, believe all the things you used to before, even when thats all you really want because it would just be so much easier. Things just don't make sense like they used to through those rosy walls. So would you rather live a life where your actions are insignificant, but blissful...lightness? Or would you rather live a "real", raw, painful existence down in the dirt...weight? The Garden of Eden or The Fallen Earth?

I know what I want.

I want to be back in my damn bubble.

At least, most of the time I think I do. But then I am confronted with the unbearable lightness of being in others around me, and I have second thoughts. Am I grateful for this knowledge? I don't really think so...not yet anyway. I'm still wondering why I am apparently destined for lifelong defeat (sorry if that comes across as dramatic, but thats I how I truly feel sometimes). But when I read that paragraph, I thought...maybe there is something in all this.

Maybe there is some hope after all. Maybe someday I'll be grateful for this knowledge. Maybe someday I will say, yes, I would rather be down here in the dirt than up in a bubble. Maybe someday I will notice beauty down here that can't be observed from up there. Maybe someday I will find that in the dirt down here, flowers have bloomed from all the tears I have cried.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Flowers for Gavin

These flowers were planted by a friend of Gavin's liver buddy, Martim, a little boy who also has Alpha-1 and lives in the UK. Martim's mom, Alice, found Gavin's blog last year after Martim was diagnosed, as she was struggling to find answers about this seldom heard of condition. We e-mailed back and forth a bit, and she even has a picture and a link to Gavin's blog on Martim's blog. She is such a caring woman...she has never met us, but she reads here and comments often, and thinks of Gavin as she watches Martim grow.

Their friend, Patricia, found us through that link. She planted some flowers in her garden in honor of Gavin and e-mailed me some pictures. She said "I chose Amores Perfeitos. In English, they are named Pansy Flowers, but I prefer to translate, and call them Perfect Love - like a mother´s love. Perfect." She posted more about it on her blog (its translated in English below the Portuguese!)

Somewhere in Portugal these beautiful flowers are blooming just for my baby boy...

This lovely sunflower bloomed in Susan's garden on Gavin's Angel Day. Her daughter is another one of Gavin's Liver buddies. She said she thought of Gavin when she saw it. I have such great friends from the Liver Families support website! We only knew each other for such a short time, but they all continue to give us so much love and support. It really, really means so much to me. I've had a handful of people e-mail me after finding Gavin's blog when their child was diagnosed with Alpha-1 (like Alice!), and I always refer them to LF for support. They are the best!

My cousin, Kim, and her little boys picked out this plant to put in their apartment to honor Gavin. They recently moved to California so they couldn't attend his birthday party, but they wanted to participate in some way. She said later that day she noticed it was just under their picture of the Temple, so now she is reminded of "Forever Families" every time she looks at it. I am really grateful for our family. They are so good to me.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Gavin's 2nd Birthday Party- pics!

{Happy Birthday, my little Baddabink!}

{We had such a fun time at Gavin's Birthday party! Thank you to everyone who celebrated our little boy's life with us!}

{And thanks to those who helped bake cupcakes, and a BIG thank you to my cuz, Jenny, who helped me decorate all of them!}

{Gavin would have loved his Baby Einstein caterpillar was his favorite part of those movies! I teared up every time I walked by it.}

{Our garden BEFORE...}

{Mommy planting a flower...}

{Big Brother planting a flower...}

{Daddy planting a flower...}

{Big Sister planting a flower...}

{and Baby Sister eating peaches!}

{We got a visit from Boomer the Service Dog...he is a Bull Mastiff and is SO big! He helps carry the oxygen tanks for his pal, Lee, who has Alpha-1. The kids LOVED getting to pet him!!!}

{All the toys donated that night!}

{There will be a LOT more once we use all the cash that was donated...after the wagon is paid for, there will still be $250.00 left for MORE toys!!! We are going to go shopping Monday morning, so there is still time to donate if anyone wants to!}

{Our garden AFTER...}

{Slideshow of everyone else's pictures! Let me know if you'd like copies of any of them and I'll e-mail them to you!}

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Happy Birthday

Happy 2nd Birthday, baby boy.


Gavin's 2nd Birthday
Tuesday, October 6th
"Come and Go"

We are going to have a birthday party and toy drive for Gavin's 2nd Birthday! Everyone is invited to stop by our house for a birthday cupcake and to drop off an unwrapped toy to be donated to Banner Desert Children's Hospital. They give these toys to the children during their stay and after having procedures done (which is SO appreciated- its so hard keeping kids entertained and happy in those little rooms 24/7, especially when you are there for a week or two!).

We are also going to be donating a wagon to the children's ward in memory of Gavin (he loved those wagons SO much!), if you'd rather donate a few dollars towards that. I am pretty excited about the wagon...since it has a canopy on the top, the kids will be able to go outside! (I remember always wanting to walk around outside with Gavin, but we never made it past the courtyard because the sun was just too bright and in his eyes). His paypal account is still open, so donations can be sent online through Paypal to, or we will have a cash jar set up at our house tonight as well. (Any extra money will go towards purchasing more toys.)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

1 year

Just one straight and narrow way, at the end of which, though we arrive trailing tears, we shall at once be “drenched in joy.” - Elder Neal A. Maxwell

So we made it. It was true that the anticipation was worse than the actual day. The night before was actually harder for me in some ways. But the day of, I really didn't feel that differently...I was sad, but I'm always sad when I think about not having Gavin. Throughout the day I would cautiously assess my emotions to see how I felt...Hmmm. Yep, today sucks. Just like every other day! Time was still slipping away, life was still charging on...and Gavin was still not here.

The kids stayed home from school with us and we slept in late, went out for breakfast, bought way too much dessert to take home, and took another long nap. Later that evening we went down to the cemetery to plant some grass seeds on Gavin's grave (I hate saying that). But surprisingly, there was already grass grown over the entire thing. It was sort of comforting, I hated seeing that rectangle of dirt...but it was also disconcerting. You couldn't even tell he was there anymore. It made me really want to finish his headstone. We cleaned up the flowers, and left some yellow and green butterfly decorations. Then Andre and I layed in the grass and watched the stars come out while the kids ran around and played.

Later that night we watched the picture montage video that my cousin made for Gavin's funeral. Andre and I hadn't seen it before, since it was playing out in the foyer. The kids remembered it however, and had been asking to watch it for the last 6 months. Andre and I didn't really want to because we knew it would hurt, but we did anyway. It was really, really hard. All of us cried through the entire hour long video.

Let me tell you what almost hurts worse than losing a child...watching your remaining children sob uncontrollably because they miss him so much. My heart truly shattered. In that moment I hated God so much...I didn't even care about my hurt could He do this to such innocent, loving children?? How could He let them hurt so much at such a tender, young age?? And when my kids hurt, I get angry!! I think He understands. The feeling didn't last long, but its still so hard to understand why... How do you even begin to explain something like that to a child who just loved their brother with all their heart and soul? You can't. I almost turned the video off a few times because I just couldn't bear to see them hurting like that anymore, but they begged me to leave it on.

Afterwards, Andre and I tried to comfort them as best as we could figure out. We cried some more, hugged some more, and discussed what they remembered about the day Gavin died. Mostly I just tried to listen to them. When they finally stopped crying, we drew pictures and wrote letters to Gavin. Joenick ended his with "please come back soon"...

But even with all that, I never felt that terrifying, uncontrollable, black hole feeling. No nightmares. Just sadness. I did find myself occasionally checking the clock and thinking back to what we had been doing at that time...but I wasn't gripped by the trauma of what we went through that day. I think the therapy we have been going to helped a LOT with that. I'm so glad we were able to get through most of the sessions before this day came.

Thank you so much to all our friends who stopped by to check on us and to drop off cards, etc. It helps to not feel so alone in this. We also received some emails of flowers already planted for Gavin, and donations towards the wagon!

Monday, September 21, 2009


There's been a CHANGE in plans...we went to buy flowers today and apparently Fall flowers won't be ready for another 1-2 weeks. There was pretty much nothing to choose from. SOOOOO, after much thought we've decided to just combine the two events into one.... TOMORROW is cancelled, and we'll plant flowers, eat cupcakes, collect toys, etc all on Gavin's birthday instead, in two weeks: Tuesday, Oct 6.

SORRY for the last minute change, but I think this will work out much better anyway. It was getting a little stressful planning two parties. :P We hope to see you all in two weeks!!! :)

The Spragues

Honoring Gavin + his 2nd Birthday
Tuesday, October 6th
6:00pm-7:00pm "come and go"

We are going to have a birthday party and toy drive for Gavin's 2nd Birthday. Everyone is invited to stop by our house to eat a birthday cupcake, plant a flower, and donate an unwrapped toy to be donated to Banner Desert Children's Hospital!

Sunday, September 20, 2009


We have figured out what we would like to do for the 1 Year Anniversary of Gavin's "Angel Day", and for Gavin's 2nd Birthday (only two weeks later). Anyone, and I do mean anyone- friends, family, blogger friends, hospital friends, etc, is invited to help honor our sweet little boy!

Gavin's 1st Angel Day
Tuesday, September 22nd

We are going to plant a tree for Gavin in our front yard, and also green and yellow flowers in our flower bed (Gavin's colors!). We will be starting at 5:00pm and going until 7:00pm-ish. Anyone is welcome to stop by our house, help plant a flower and eat some angel food cake! Just "come and go" me if you need directions. If you are unable to make it, or would like to honor Gavin on your own, too, we are asking those who want to, to plant some green and yellow flowers at your own house. (I would love to get pictures of them in my email!) :)

Gavin's 2nd Birthday
Tuesday, October 6th

We are going to have a birthday party and toy drive for Gavin's 2nd Birthday. 6:00pm-7:00pm, "come and go". Everyone is invited to stop by our house for a birthday cupcake and to drop off an unwrapped toy to be donated to Banner Desert Children's Hospital. They use these toys to give to children during their stay (which is SO appreciated- its so hard keeping kids entertained and happy in those little rooms 24/7, especially when you are there for a week or two!) and then the kids get to take the toy home with them. They also use them for Andrea's Closet, a program started by another AZ family who's little girl passed away of cancer. They have a closet full of toys where the kids get to pick a toy to take home on their last day.

We are also going to be donating a wagon to the children's ward in memory of Gavin (he loved those wagons SO much!), if you'd rather donate a few dollars towards that. I am pretty excited about the wagon...since it has a canopy on the top, the kids will be able to go outside! (I remember always wanting to walk around outside with Gavin, but we never made it past the courtyard because the sun was just too bright and in his eyes). The wagon will cost $145.00, including tax. His paypal account is still open, so donations can be sent online to (Any extra money will go towards purchasing more toys.)

I also wanted to mention that anyone is welcome to visit Gavin's grave whenever...we don't mind if others leave items there for him either. (I don't know that anyone would want to, but I just wanted to say it in case maybe someone ever did?) I know we all loved that little boy. :') You can go to the office at the Mesa Cemetary and ask for a map & directions, or just turn left on row 11 and its towards the end on the right handside, right below my dad's headstone. (there isn't a headstone for Gavin yet, but we're working on it).

Thursday, September 17, 2009


The last couple of weeks have been really hard. I can feel the waves getting stronger as it gets closer to the 22nd. I liked to think I was just sitting on the shore observing them, but now they are starting to crash all around me. I can feel the undertow lurching around my body, threatening to pull me back out to that vast, dark, deep ocean.

Its frightening...these emotions are so powerful and I feel weaker and weaker against them. I try to keep telling myself the anticipation will turn out to be worse than the actual day. I try to keep myself busy and distracted. But whether I mentally acknowledge it or not, my body and spirit feel it coming. Its looming over everything I do. My patience has been short, my anger quick to ignite, and over all is a dark depression. My body feels weighted down. Inside I feel panicked...everything is moving too fast again...the helplessness, the hopelessness, the fear. He just needs more time...

I don't know what to do on that day. What do you do? What do you do on the day your baby died?! There is no manual for things like customary rituals or ceremonies. Will we want to be alone? Will we want to be around family and friends? Should we do something to acknowledge it? Should we go to the cemetery? Or should we try to ignore it? Should we go somewhere far away? I just don't know.

At first, I think we should do something special. But then a part of me revolts...NO! I just want to feel horrible!!! I want everyone else to feel horrible, too!!! Its a horrible, horrible thing that happened and everything that day should be HORRIBLE!!!

But then instantly I think of my little perfect angel baby...and the screaming inside quiets to a whisper...your sweet baby boy. And its decided. I have to do something to honor him. Something special. I just don't know what yet.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


I've been thinking a lot about this lately. Its almost been one year since Gavin died. I've spent a lot of time looking back over the last 11 months and how things have progressed, and regressed, and changed. What stands out to me, is how strange (and frustrating) it is that so many people seem to think a grieving person has a choice in how, or how long they grieve. That if they just had more faith, more humility, more sanity, more would somehow not be "as bad" or last "as long". I hear accounts from the other angel baby moms that I know, and my heart hurts for them. Most of them have had searingly, horrible comments made to them about their grief. They've come from friends, family, church members and even Bishops....those in their lives who should be the most sensitive to their pain. Its so confusing to me that something like grief, something we will ALL go through at some point in our life, is so misunderstood by our current society.

Thankfully, I haven't had any instances quite as bad as theirs. Almost all of our friends and family members are so patient, understanding and loving towards Andre and I. They make us feel safe in expressing our feelings, no matter how crazy or scary those feelings are. They let us work through our thoughts without worrying that we will be judged. They give us permission to feel and think what we need to, and they love us no matter what. Its the most valuable thing anyone can do for us. One of the most important things in the healing process is the allowance to feel, and to have those feelings validated.

However, I have occassionally received negative impressions from others. I'm sure a few people read my blog and think some of things that I write aren't "healthy". I'm sure a few probably think all the above...that my grief must be abnormal, that surely other parents who go through this don't take it "so hard". That I shouldn't "allow" certain things to bother me anymore, and that they shouldn't have to be careful of what they say or do around me anymore. That I must be wallowing, or not trying hard enough, or I need to be more humble, pray more, read scriptures more, go to the Temple more. Or that I need to just get over it and force myself to move on. I know this (and it hurts). However, I'm glad those who do think these things at least have had the sense not to say them outright to my face! For that I'm thankful. (a little sad, right?)

The "funny" thing, is what I write on here is soooo censored. I am thinking and feeling things a million times worse than anything I've ever written on here. I usually only write after the storm has blown through, and I've typed and retyped a dozen times. But I can confidently assure everyone that everything I have thought and felt is indeed quite normal for a grieving mother. I have about 20 books on the subject sitting on my bookshelf that all attest to that (yes, even the ones from the LDS bookstore)- its pretty much standard textbook. Normal, natural, and most importantly, necessary. The process of grieving is not just emotional, its physiological. The shock, the numbness, the conflicting thoughts and feelings, the guilt, the circular reasoning...these are all things the brain and body are hardwired to do when faced with such trauma. Its how you survive such immense, physical pain. Its not just "feeling sad" and "missing" your loved one. Its a series of natural responses.

This is reassuring to me most of the time (I'm not crazy after all!)...its only when I start to feel others' judgement that my defenses start to cave in. I'll be trying so hard to take one step forward, and thinking that I'm doing so much better, and then I'm shoved two steps back. Its hard enough having to grieve without others making you feel like you're doing it wrong. (seriously, how hopeless do you have to be to mess that up?!) One of the books I have says that in some ways, the second year is even harder than the the first, because even though some of the pain may be subsiding, most people no longer give you permission to feel and grieve anymore. They are done feeling uncomfortable, sad, and scared because of your loss. They are done being sensitive in the things they say and do around you. They get impatient and frustrated and want you to go back to being "normal". They want to forget about it, focus on their own lives, and move on. How incredibly hurtful and scary for those grieving! There is no magic switch that automatically turns off at one year (or five years, or ten years...)! And no matter how much times passes, there will ALWAYS be moments when the tide comes crashing in and the tears fall. Knowing that other angel baby moms have had such harsh judgement against them makes me so sad...for them, for me, for anyone else grieving a loss. One of the hardest parts of grieving is having to endure the sharp, pointy barbs that others unintentionally (and intentionally and seriously misguided and ignorant) throw our way, especially when its done by those we trusted.

I know it must be hard for those on the outside looking in. Those grieving the loss of a child don't have any visible markings. I have no gaping, bleeding wounds. I have no scars. I have no bandages or crutches. I have no x-rays to prove my injury. I have no prescription to validate my pain. I have no doctor in a white coat telling those around me that I must be allowed to do this, and I can't be allowed to do that, and that it will take 'x' amount of months to heal through a very specific process. And yet, I have been physically injured. Was Gavin not of my own flesh and blood? Was he not a part of my physical body for 9 months? Did I not feel his heart beating next to mine, his breath upon my skin, his body clinging to my side every day for a year? He was a part of me...mind, spirit and body. You may as well have cut off my leg when he died. I feel the emotional, spiritual and physical loss every day. I hurt physically.

It makes me think...if I had been in a horrible accident, if I had lost a leg...would people treat the healing process as negatively? I think if I had lost a leg, nobody would question the need for years of physical therapy to learn how to cope with the loss. Nobody would eye me suspiciously if I continued to struggle to walk for the rest of my life. Nobody would judge my crutches as something that was "holding me back". Nobody would second guess my faith by the length of my healing. Nobody would think I couldn't run a marathon just because I wasn't trying hard enough. They wouldn't say "Don't feel pain, you have the gospel!" or "Don't struggle to walk, you'll be made whole during the Ressurection!" or "You don't need surgery, the Atonement will heal you!" Its laughable, right? Its asinine, actually! And yet these are the very things people think about the healing process for those grieving a very real, and a very physical, loss of a child.

When someone loses a child, a child...some people second guess, they judge, they question, they doubt! They doubt the validity of your ongoing pain! They judge the amount of time necessary to grieve! They second guess your faith if you continue to outwardly struggle. They assume you aren't praying enough, you aren't humble enough, that you must be doing something wrong to still be healing. That its abnormal and unnatural. They decide you are just choosing to dwell on it and that its unhealthy. They decide they must confront you, they must shove your loss in your face and make you accept it, and then they must force you to get over it. The very words make me cringe...and yet this is what is being done when others judge someone's grief. How ignorant to think that they know how you should be grieving, when they haven't ever lost a child! When they have no idea what it feels like! When they haven't even read any books on the subject! Losing a child is horrible, and as such, you are going to feel horrible!

When good things happen to someone, no one raises an eyebrow when they feel good. When someone gets engaged, people don't say "Don't feel good, 50% of marriages end in divorce!". If someone gets a promotion, people don't say "Don't be happy, you'll probably get fired!" But when something bad happens, its "Don't feel bad, you'll have your son in the Ressurection!" and "Don't be unhappy, he's not in pain anymore!". Its okay to feel bad when something bad happens. Its okay for a grieving person to feel sad, angry, confused. At times its okay for them to feel hatred or bitterness or doubt or fear. They're just feelings, and once felt, expressed and validated...its a whole lot easier to work through those feelings. A grieving person needs a safe place to express those actually say what they are feeling and thinking outloud, without any eyebrows raising...just unconditional love.

There is a real process to grieving and healing from a loss. Your mind, your body, and your spirit all must go through specific things to heal, and its not something that happens in a few months, or even a year. Everyone who grieves must follow this course. You don't have a choice. You can't speed it up or skip certain parts. It doesn't matter how spiritual or how smart you are. You can't outsmart it or outpray it. Your mind and body go through very specific responses...numbness, disbelief, anger, avoidance, may not be in a certain order, and its not the same for any two people, but what it is, is NORMAL and NATURAL and NECESSARY. If there's anything that anyone takes away from this blog, I hope its this....if you know someone grieving, just listen and love. Don't try to convince or explain or justify, don't judge, don't doubt, don't set timelines, don't force, don't push. Just LISTEN and LOVE. That's all we need. Thats all I need.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


Looking at her today, but only seeing him.
Tears threatening to fall.
Wishing for rain...its too bright outside.
11 months.
Its a sad day.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

July 4th

I wasn't really expecting how hard this holiday would be. It has been the hardest one yet. I guess because Gavin wasn't really old enough to "participate" in the other holidays...Thanksgiving, Christmas, Halloween. But he had SO much fun on the 4th of July. Our whole family did. In fact, I would say its one of the best days we spent together, even though we were in the hospital.

The kids came to the hospital and we wheeled Gavin down to the cafeteria in his little red wagon, where we ate KFC and he took bites of corn on the cob and mashed potatoes and gravy. Then we all got popsicles, which Gavin loved, too! :) When it got dark, the hospital staff got all the kids who were able to leave their rooms and we all went up to the top floor to watch the fireworks over at the community college from the windows. It was so fun! They had a huge box of Americana toys and treats. Gavin kept waving his little flag was so funny!!! Joenick and Evienne had so much fun being there with him. Gavin loved them so much. Everytime he got to see them he would smile so BIG. They made him happy and made him laugh, no matter where he was. I was completely happy that day. It makes me sad to think about it.

I miss him so much. It really hit home when we were walking out the theater (we took the kids to see Ice Age 3) and I was lingering behind and then I looked up and saw my family walking together. Andre holding Olivia, Joenick and Evienne skipping and jumping around...and no Gavin. It broke my heart. He should have been there, too. My little, almost 2 year old guy. I just started bawling and didn't stop. When we got home I told Andre to keep the car running and I went in and grabbed some items, then told him to go to the cemetary. We put some red, white and blue pinwheels on Gavin's grave, and some little flags, too. I just cried and cried and cried, like I haven't done in awhile.

I wish I could have wheeled him and Olivia in their little red wagon around the block in our yearly neighborhood parade. I wish he could be going swimming with us. Olivia loves it...I know Gavin would have, too.

I keep looking at Olivia and thinking, she is 3 months old. This is how old Gavin was when it all started. When he had his first surgery. It makes me hold her just a little closer, for a little longer. I am so, so thankful that we don't have to go through any of that with her.

Gavin, my dear little boy...thank you, thank you for your beautiful life. Thank you for your smile and your eyes and your waves and your laughs and your little fingers and toes. Thank you for your scars. Thank you for hanging on so long. Thank you for your happiness. Thank you for letting me love you. I miss you so, so, so much. I hope you got to see the fireworks from the best seat in the house this windows to block your view! I love you so much, baby boy.

Friday, June 26, 2009


I read a blog post recently by a woman who had lost a child a few years back. She used two words to describe something, and immediately I knew what she was talking about before she even explained.

shadow children

There are so many shadow children in my life. Children, who when I see them or hear about them, I can't help but imagine Gavin doing the same things. In my mind's eye, these children have the shadow of my little man constantly around them. Every thing they do, he should be doing, too. Seeing them run across the room, reach up to their moms, smile, play, hold hands, laugh, talk...and the sad little shadow that follows...

These children have such a special place in my heart, I really can't even describe it. But even so, it hurts SO much to see them and to hear about them. The only thing I can feel is MY child should be doing those things, too! Gavin should be running and talking and playing and smiling and laughing. Gavin should be reaching up to me when he falls and bumps his knee. Gavin should be going to playgroups and learning how to share. I should be playing with my little boy in the front yard. I should be telling stories of the funny, cute things he did this week. I should be telling everyone what his latest achievements and milestones are.

The place where I belonged in the world no longer exists. I miss being a part of that world. I miss being a part of the play dates and the mindless chatter and the camaraderie. I was the mom of a one year old, and now I'm not. I'm the mom of a shadow.

I really, really miss being the mom of a one year old. I miss being Gavin's mom. Its just not fair. It really, really isn't. And no matter what, it can't change. It is what it is. That part is the hardest.

Thursday, June 4, 2009


I didn't even realize the 22nd came and went this month. When I did realize it, I had to count back on my fingers. 8 months. I hate forgetting, but at the same time I am glad that the grief isn't so constant and all-consuming anymore.

I don't want to forget though...I want to do something. Something. I don't know what yet. Something to honor him...something to help others. But whenever I think of something, I realize I've got a someone at home that I can't leave for more than a couple of hours. Right now, thats fine by me... (Do you think mama cats like to smell their kittens as much as I like smelling my little Olivia? Because I can't think of much I'd rather do than sit here all day and night and sniff her hair and her neck and her fingers and toes.) ...but someday soon. I've been inspired so much by the other Angel Child Moms I've met and their various goals and service projects. (I'm going to be adding links to their blogs, too, since sometimes they express thoughts and feelings so much better than I could have. We've realized that it helps those in our lives to see how others are dealing with the grieving process, too.)

They had a memorial service at UCLA on Mother's Day for all the children who died at the hospital in the last year. Obviously we didn't go. First, we didn't get the invitation in the mail until the week before, and second, I don't think we would've wanted to go back there so soon anyway. I do wonder who spoke and what they said. I wonder if his doctors would've been there. I wonder who the other parents were sitting in those awful chairs. I wonder what the programs looked like, and if anyone felt anything when they read Gavin Charles Sprague. I wish I could have been there, without actually being there...Los Angeles... (I just realized how appropriate the name is...City of Angels) doesn't hold so much promise and life for us as it once did. I don't know if I'll ever want to go back.

Mother's Day wasn't all that bad surprisingly enough. In fact, it was pretty nice. We all stayed home from church and Andre made breakfast. He gave me this pendant:

Its an opal...I didn't really get it, until he told me to turn it over...

He bought the stone, designed the setting and had it made for me. Opals are Gavin's birthstone. I love it. Its hard to photograph, but its really shiny and colorful when the light hits it. I just need to figure out what sort of chain to wear it on. I think it needs a super long chain since its so big.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Mom "Award"

One of my fellow angel baby friends "nominated" me for Mom of the Year "Award" (Thanks, Jen!), in which I have to answer the questions below. I haven't done any silly questionnaires like this in a long time, but I thought I would do it with Gavin in mind.

Here are the rules I have to follow in order to receive the "award":

Admit one thing you feel awful about involving being a mom. Get it off your shoulders. Once you've written it down, you are no longer allowed to feel bad. It's over with, it's in the past. Remember, you're a good mom!

Its hard to narrow it down, but I feel like I was always so tired with Gavin and rushing to get to "the next thing" every day so I could sit down and relax in between. I wish I would've just held him more.

Remind yourself you are a good mom, list seven things you love about your kids, you love doing with your kids, or that your kids love about you. These are the things to remind yourself everyday that you Rock!

1. I loved giving him bubble baths...he loved it so much, too. I would give him a bath after breakfast, right before his morning nap. He would sit in there for up to half an hour while I poured the warm water all over him and washed his hair. Sometimes he would even fall asleep. It was so funny.

2. I loved getting him all snuggled up for his naps, too. I'd put him in a clean onesie after his bath, feed him his bottle and then tuck him into bed with a full tummy, his soft blanket, his little pillow and his stuffed puppy dog. I'd turn on the cool mist humidifier and turn down the lights and I always thought "he must feel like he's in heaven right now!" because it would be so calm and cool in there. He had to deal with so much pain and stress that I just loved making him feel relaxed and comforted.

3. I loved feeding him food...we had to wait so long to give him anything solid, so once we were able to it was a real treat for both of us! It was just fun to see the looks on his face and sneak him sweet treats. I'm glad now that I did, it wouldn't have been very fair for him to have only tasted applesauce and baby cereal. Especially since he had to stomache that yucky formula and so many awful tasting medications every day. I'm glad he got to taste cotton candy and snow cones and jello w/ whipped cream and mint chip popsicle and pumpkin pie.

4. I loved taking him for walks. He loved laying back and just watching the world go by, whether it was at home in our neighborhood or in the hospital.

5. I loved taking pictures of him! He was so cute with those big brown eyes, big smile and round cheeks. He was my cutest baby, hands down. (sorry, other kids!) :P

6. I loved dressing him up in cute outfits. We hardly ever got to do that since we couldn't really take him anywhere, and at home he just wore onesies since it was so hot. And at the hospital it was always just white t-shirts. So any time I did get to take him out (usually to the doctors) I dressed him up in a cute t-shirt, his little denim overalls and his trademark tennis shoe socks. I loved those overalls...pants never fit him because his tummy was too round, so it was always overalls! He looked so cute in them.

7. I loved playing Itsy Bitsy Spider with him...I always emphasized the "washed the spider OUT" part and he would anxiously wait for it and then smile real big.

Send this to five other Mom's of the year that deserve credit for being great moms and remind them that they are the best moms they can be!!

Monday, May 11, 2009


We got the test results back today...Olivia doesn't have Alpha-1! We're very relieved. Now we can just enjoy our little girl.

Saturday, May 2, 2009


I can't believe its almost been 6 weeks already. The first 3 weeks went by soooo slowly, but the last few weeks have gone by so fast. We still don't have the test results back yet...and trust me, when I know- everyone else will know. Its been hard to not worry about it because everyone keeps asking us, and that translates to it being brought up a handful of times every day! I know it probably seems like the kind, concerning thing to do...but you all have my permission to act like it doesn't exist right now (cause that's what we're trying to do).

I predicted correctly that in some ways having Olivia here would be good, and in other ways hard.

The hard: the first few weeks have hurt a lot. It is so confusing...she reminds me so much of Gavin. The sounds she makes, the angles of her face, the little movements, the baby stuff being out again, the nursing, the diapers, the crying. Sometimes it feels like a second chance, that it really is him, and this time could be different...maybe? I have to consciously remind myself every time I walk into the bedroom that "this is Olivia, not Gavin". I keep saying "him" instead of "her". Its like an arrow through the heart when I accidently call her the nicknames I used to call Gavin. Sometimes I just hold her and cry because I wish it was him. Sometimes I pretend that it is. Sometimes I resent that its not. It doesn't help that I'm getting little sleep and I am up alone with her all night. It leaves a lot of time to think. And that is definitely not a good thing.

Its hard taking her to her pediatrician appointments. It brings back so many memories. I sit in the room and think, "Gavin breathed this air. He touched this bench. He crawled on that table. He looked at that picture. I read him that book. He was alive in this room." I do that everywhere I go. He is everywhere, and he is nowhere at all. I miss him.

The good: I actually smile every single day now. I smile. And not just a smile that you do, a smile that you feel, all the way in the depths of your soul. We all do. That is amazing to me. The kids are sooooo happy. As soon as they wake up in the morning, its "Where's Olivia?". As soon as they get home from school (well, right after they wash their hands- they never forget), its "Where's Olivia?". Its fun having a little girl again...tiny bows and dresses and pink, pink, everything pink. Its getting easier to look at her and just see her. She's becoming her own person. As few as these things are, it feels like it outweights all the hard things. At least most of the time.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


This post is long overdue...but I just didn't really feel like committing myself to it, for reasons I'll explain below. Most of our family and friends know by now (I hope so anyway!) that I am expecting baby #4 (a girl) to our family. This may not be surprising, but the fact that I'm actually due on April 12th (Easter Day) might be. But since I've delivered all my babies early (5 weeks, 3 weeks, and 10 days) it could be any day now***.

***Well, I should've posted this sooner, but I just couldn't get myself to do it. I feel like I'm somehow going to jinx the situation by speaking about it. Olivia Alice was born on March 25th. So far she's doing fine. We're still waiting for test results. The kids are loving having a baby in the house again. For Dre and me its been good in some ways, and really hard in other ways. But its nice to have a smooshy, lovable baby to distract all of us.***

Before you start counting dates in your head, we found out I was expecting back in August, so we knew while we were in the hospital with Gavin. Obviously this wasn't "planned". And as you can imagine, it has been very emotional and complicated for us. I don't want to get into too many details, but sufficeth to say, it is hard to celebrate a life when you are mourning a death. Of course there is a small piece of us that is excited to hold and love a little baby again, but this is overshadowed by our fears and grieving at the moment.

Gavin's liver condition was genetic, therefore this baby has the same chances of being born with Alpha-1...25% that she won't have it at all, 50% that she will be a carrier, 25% that she will have it. Although having Alpha-1 doesn't mean you will need a liver transplant (Gavin's condition was at the worst end of the spectrum), it is still obviously a scary thing for us. They will test the baby as soon as she is born, and we'll have results in 2-6 weeks. Honestly, I feel as if I'm marching to the gallows and I won't know until I get there if I will be pardoned. And spending time in a hospital is pretty much the last thing I'd rather do right now. I don't know how I am going to be affected by all of this, but Im not looking forward to it at all. It is going to be a very sensitive and hard situation for us, and generally, we don't really like talking about it, and I'm not sure that will change anytime soon.

I do think that having this baby will help us in our grieving in some ways, at the very least by giving us something to concentrate on. But this is not going to "make it all better". I suspect that there will not be a dramatic change in our grieving. We are still going to feel the horrible pain of not having Gavin, perhaps even more acutely than before. So we just hope that everyone remains sensitive to our grieving process, and our future fears, even while trying to celebrate this new life.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

6 months

I've dreaded this day, and now its here. 6 months. How is it that every day, all day, my mind STILL refuses to accept this? That every morning I still wake up and for a split second I have hope that it was all just a bad dream. That when the reality hits, its like being punched in the stomach...every. single. morning. That all throughout the day my inner voice cries in the back of my mind..."This can't be real, this can't be my life, I can't do this, My God, how could this have happened???" That my mind still reels at the thought, the world tilts on its side and I feel physcially ill. I still scream "WHY?". I still blame myself. I still wish for my existence to just end...not to die...just to not...exist anymore, to not feel this pain anymore, or have to think these thoughts anymore.

It just won't STOP. Sometimes I feel crazy. I thought by now I'd be past the *constant* thoughts and pain. Last night I could barely breathe, one of those on the floor cry sessions. Some days I just don't know how I'm going to keep going. How does one live through the agonizing pain of heartbreak over and over and over? At some point you think your heart would just give up and stop beating, and yet it just continues on...the pain searing through without mercy or end in sight. Each day begins again, life goes on not caring that my precious little boy was left behind. I look back to him pleading while my feet unwillingly carry me further and further away from him...

I miss him, I miss him, oh, I MISS HIM. I want to look at his pictures and watch his videos, but I'm too afraid of the pain that I know will accompany it. I should be buying him a cute Easter suit and a book with baby bunnies and chicks in it and debating whether or not its time for his first haircut because his pretty curls are getting too long...

Pslam 22
1 My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?
2 O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent.
3 But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.
4 Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them.
5 They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded...
9 Thou art he that took me out of the womb: thou didst make me hope...
11 Be not far from me...
14 I am poured out like water, all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of me.
15 My strength is dried up; my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death...
19 But be not thou far from me, O Lord: O my strength, haste thee to help me.
20 Deliver my soul from the sword...
21 Save me from the lion’s mouth: for thou hast heard me...

Sunday, March 8, 2009

"Men don't cry"

It must be very difficult
To be a man in grief,
Since "men don't cry" and "men are strong"
No tears can bring relief.

It must be very difficult
To stand up to the test
And field the calls and visitors
So she can get some rest.

They always ask if she's all right
And what she's going through.
But seldom take his hand and ask,
"My friend, but how are you?"

He hears her crying in the night
And thinks his heart will break.
He dries her tears and comforts her,
But "stays strong" for her sake.

It must be very difficult
To start each day anew.
And try to be so very brave-
He lost his baby, too.

~Eileen Knight Hagemeister