Friday, December 9, 2011

Andrew = Love

His day has come and gone. In many ways, I'm relieved. I think that most loss mothers can agree with how the anticipation of that one year date can really hang over our heads. It's just a day-- but with such incredible significance. That very day a year (or two, or three, or...) prior changed who we are today. Some good, some bad ways.

This post is meant to be about happiness that has been spread as a result of Andrew's birth. He may no longer be alive, but man is he loved and remembered by so many. People have sacrificed a lot for a child that wasn't even theirs. A child they never had a chance to lay eyes on. For all the love, respect, donations, gifts, cards, emails, heartfelt sentiments, volunteer hours and beyond, the Wilson family is so completely thankful. We'll never be fully whole without our son, but we do have these memories of love to carry us as we continue living and hopefully raising more Wilson babies.

I fear that I might forget someone who did something lovely that I wanted to share... because all the lovely gestures were overwhelming (in a great way). I apologize if I have forgotten you as this isn't something most people even have to write about! I don't feel under pressure to write about these things either, but want desperately for this blog to be my reference to all things Andrew and his memory. I want to be able to read back on every anniversary of his birth and see all the goodness and love that people have shown in his honor. So again, I'm sorry if something you did was left off the list, as it was unintentional. Feel free to remind me of this and I'd be glad to add. I also hope that I am not embarrassing anyone by listing beautiful things they've done or said/written in Andrew's honor. So to credit them, I will only supply first names and not links to their blogs (if they exist). Thank you again. In no particular order...

Jenny & Nick: Planting bulbs in honor of Andrew and anticipation of our coming child.
"I'm deeply a nature/gardening person and something on my mind since last March's first thaw are Snow drops and Glory-of-the-snow. These are bulbs that are planted in late November/early December and which flower first in spring, before we can really believe that the snow will be gone. The blooms will appear before trees leaf out, and the leaves will likely be finished storing food for next year by the time you first mow so they could be naturalized in your lawn or planted in beds. These bulbs are 'ephemeral,' meaning that they are dormant most of the year and then have a glorious display of flowers for a short time. My thought was simply that we'd celebrate Andrew and anticipate your next child with hope." Also, Jenny and Nick volunteered for "Friends in Need" with Derrick & Liz by buying and wrapping toys for children in need this Christmas.


Jenny came to plant bulbs around the small tree in our front yard this weekend on 12/11. Such a wonderful tribute and symbol of love and life. Three types of bulbs were planted: Galanthus nivalis (common snowdrop-white), Galanthus flore pleno (double snowdrop-double white), Crocus "remembrance" (giant crocus-blue/purple). Some may bloom in February or March of 2012-- just in time for the birth of Andrew's brother. Hoping that some do bloom during the springtime with the beautiful pink flowers that already bloom on that tree.

We had our first snowfall and coldest day of the season thus far (yesterday on 12/10) and we had to break up the frozen soil before planting.
Jenny & Ray planting bulbs.
Bulbs placed for planting. The Crocus remembrance bulbs were placed on the interior and the snowdrops on the outside of the tree.
Derrick & Liz: Feed My Starving Children volunteering & Family in Need Giving
"Today felt like a dent in honor of A-dub. Shift #2 161 volunteers, 186 boxes packed, 40,176 meals...cost efficient at 24 cents a meal - and my favorite: enough to feed 110 children for an entire year. That always staggers me considering how much we our country spends on meals. Wow. Truly an awesome, awesome way to remember Andrew & touch many, many lives. Can't wait to hear final total - it was over 80,000 at the end of our shift - with a goal I think of over 100,000 meals. Ahh - I cried and we danced to the music playing. Then we prayed. I miss him - & I miss seeing his cute hand and feet push through your sweater at Thanksgiving last year.  I love that we got to know early, and know him by name feeling him as family from near the beginning. A gorgeous boy of yours." and the Family in Need Giving event: "A family in need will be selected and we will do a deal-focused shopping blitz. We picked 2 families in need of basics. First fam with 3 kids - thinking of you guys and 3 pregnancies, with one boy same age as A-dub. Second fam has special needs (found via "Little Friends") reminded us of your passion for serving kids of all abilities in your career."
Also, they dropped off a package in our flowerpot with a text message:  "Want to respect your time, but still a sucker for ding-dong ditch (we have a history of this with them) - so check your flower pot outside garage - shiny wrap may attract raccoons or ppl like me." Package contained a beautiful note with a lovely quote I used on the blog to Andrew one day...
The card read... "I heard you say (or write), "I love you to the moon and back" when expressing your love for A-dub. We saw this in the store the other day when we were out. I know the price was more than you would have paid (being a value shopper that I am...) so I told them they need to give me 40% off. He conceded after I agreed to do a Yelp review. I may not be Elite status, but I thought you'd be proud. We love you guys for always as a family. Andrew will always be in our hearts."

This will most certainly be going in Andrew (and siblings') nursery. We love the tribute and are so grateful for such a beautiful piece to share with Andrew in our hearts and hopefully future children in our arms.

Rob, Jonathan, Kim, Kristi, Liz, Alli, Luke: Volunteering time at Feed My Starving Children.

Jim & Kristi, Joel & Kirsten: Opened up their home for homemade cake on Andrew's birthday from 6:30-9:00 for all local friends to come celebrate. Also, they offered a donation to NILMDTS or Faces of Loss. "Here is a picture of the cake we made for Andrew. I had a Tweety Bird cake mold that I'd never used before so that's what we used. Joel did add a bulldozer candle after I took the picture. We sang "Happy Birthday" and then prayed for your family. Also, some people from your small group are coming to our house tonight as they want to eat some of Andrew's cake. We love you all!! Also, this is for Andrew...

Hey little buddy,
I want you to know that we are tearfully celebrating your first earthly and heavenly birthday today. Your friend, Joel, made you a cake with sprinkles in it this morning. He believes that you will be eating cake in heaven, so he wanted to share it with you. We love you and miss you. There are so many things that we'd love to say to you and adventures we'd like to go on with you, but instead we just cry and pray for your family. We pray specifically for your mom and dad, they miss you more than we can imagine. You have amazing parents, but you know that!"

Tim, Danielle, & Kathy: All enjoyed the delicious cake above with Jim, Kristi, Joel, and Kirsten. :)

Andrew's Grandparents (Foster): "We provided Thanksgiving meals to 4 families that would have gone without otherwise... done in honor of our Grandson's birthday. We will also be going out to dinner on Andrew's birthday (this year and every one after this to celebrate Him) and having dessert (I believe that CHOCOLATE is in his DNA having you and Ray as his parents) and so something Chocolate is in order!"

Celebrated with a chocolate & strawberry crepe
 ... and had these ordered from a local Chicagoland bakery for us to celebrate!

...and yes, the Wilson babies (including Andrew) are/will all be that white-skinned. Haha.

Andrew's Grandparents (Wilson): Cards, emails, and love. "Today we will celebrate Andrew... and his wonderful parents. He will continue to be loved by each of us and remembered always." 
...and celebrated with chocolate-chocolate cake!

Gramie & Papa (Andrew's great-grandparents): Beautiful plate made to remember Andrew. Made by the same artist who created our wedding plate.
...and celebrated with Reese's cup pie!

Heather: "I'm thinking of you both and Andrew today. I had some ice cream to celebrate his first birthday."

Tiffany: Sweet email from fellow baby loss mom to Ellie at Ellie's Light. "I’ve been thinking about you guys and hope that you are surviving- it isn’t easy- that’s for sure… I was doing play doh with my nephew last week and we made this Andrew’s Bday… just wanted to send it to you!"

Brooke & David: Card and Donation in Andrew's honor to St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital. "Perhaps they are not stars but openings in the heaven where the love of our lost ones pours through and shines down upon us to let us know they are happy. Remembering Andrew on December 5th and always." Attending a candelight vigil for their daughter on her birthday (12/6) and leaving a white flower for Andrew.

Caroline & Miles: Donation in Andrew's honor to NILMDTS. "I will cherish them always (pictures of her son), I wish so desperately that I had more - that I took more and that I knew of Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. But I am so, SO grateful that so many people in our horrible situations did know about that organization. I'm so grateful that they took beautiful pictures of your beautiful son. So today, for Andrew, I'm making a small donation to NILMDTS. Thankful for the service they provided you and thankful for all the other broken hearts they comfort. Thinking of you and your son today and always."
And a candlelighting:
"I have one lit for Addison and one for your little Andrew. Tomorrow we will light one for Eliza. Please know he's not forgotten. You honor his memory every day and bring him to life in the process. Thank you for sharing him."

Tiffany: "I just wanted you to know that I'm thinking of your little boy today and always. My candle is lit next to my little man for him."

Cole & Michelle: "Thinking of you guys today." Celebrating with ice cream sandwiches!

Heidi & William: "Ray & Brandy. Thank you for including us in celebrating Andrew's life. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. Cupcakes for Andrew...
 Box reads: "Love you guys. Thinking of you today. :) Celebrating Andrew."

Molly: Candle lit in honor of Andrew and Addison-- both birthed on the same day. "These candles on Hayes' table will be lit in remembrance of you babies today!" Plus, a cupcake. :)

Helen & Ceil: A beautiful bracelet with Andrew's name, made by a local artist in their area. Also, remembering Andrew with co-workers (from Helen) the morning of 12/5... "I know as you face this day know that you are surrounded by love and though Andrew is not with us; he is also surrounded by God and his angels love, too. Since mornings are my most favorite time of the day; I wanted to share that with my co-workers."

Ceil, Alan & Helena: "We are thinking of you guys - Alan, Helena and I said a prayer for Andrew in church this Sunday during the "Sharing of Joys And Sorrows". Today - I completed a kiln load of tiles after school for my seniors who are in the middle of exams....We sell tiles and coffee which help El Porvenir Farmers..... My act of kindness was to my seniors. Helena also thinks of you every lunchtime (Brandy & Helena photo in her lunch box ;-)) I am sure she thought of Andrew's birthday today ......

Ben & Katie: Countless cards, emails, and letters of encouragement leading up to and on Andrew's birthday. "My heart and prayers are with you and Elliot! I had a root beer float for lil Andrew tonight (12/4, her birthday) and for sure will be having more dessert tomorrow!" They also sent over a beautiful bouquet of roses and card. Friends through the blogging world that continue to amaze me with generosity and an outpouring of love and support.

Alli & Tommy: Volunteering with local friends for Feed My Starving Children, my favorite "Andrew" scented and lots of encouragement. {This scent was given to me by family for my birthday in October 2010. I immediately thought it smelled like "baby" and put it in Andrew's nursery. Each time I went in, I smelled this. Now I love the scent as it has so much meaning.}

Jessica: Candle lighting in honor of her sons William & Ethan, Andrew, Addison, Eliza, and Greyson-- all babies who were gone all in the same weekend and all so desperately loved.
Aunt Samantha: Constant love, support, phonecalls, and cards. And of course celebrating with dessert!

Kelly, Jim, Natalie and Adam: A sweet card of heartfelt words... from one baby loss family to another.

Laura Jane: Being the best dang BLM friend on the planet! Also, a beautiful bouquet of flowers for Andrew's birthday.

Lauren & Keith: Love, support and cookies!

Jan: Beautiful card of remembrance & support

Keleen: Addison and Andrew were born on the same day. While celebrating her daughter's one-year anniversary/birthday, they also celebrated Andrew.

Ronnie & Dutch: "Uncle Dutch and I just spoke to Andrew and told him how we wish we could have gotten to know him. We also wished him a happy first birthday and blew out the candle on his cupcake we decorated just for him. We love you both and wish so much you find peace and understanding, especially with the birth of his little brother."

Krista & David Hart: Sweet words via email + celebrated with brownies: "We've been praying for you and thinking about you throughout the day today as you celebrate Andrew's birthday. We enjoyed some yummy brownies in his honor tonight and pray that the Lord will uphold you and comfort you as you miss your son. We miss you and want you to know that we think about you and pray for you often. I know it must be very painful to think of us because our children were supposed to be friends, only a few days apart. You have been an amazing mom to him this year and I know you will be a fantastic mother to this new little one on his way... please know that you are constantly in our hearts and in our prayers."

Solange, Nik & Caity: Celebrated with a cupcake and happy birthday song!
They also took video of their daughter (and Solange) singing Happy Birthday to Andrew. It was totally sweet but I don't want to embarrass them. That, and I have no idea how I'd be able to put that on the blog. Thank you so much, you guys. We love and miss you, too.

Melissa & Madison: Blogging about our precious boy and baking a cake in his honor. "This morning I baked up a batch a chocolate fudge chip bundt cake in honor of Andrew. I frosted half in peanut butter chocolate frosting and the other half in a vanilla butter cream with sprinkles. His mom and dad love dessert and they felt like a great way to honor their son on his birthday would be to enjoy desserts.  I "met" Andrew's mom through blogging.  I have never spoken to her other than commenting on each other's blogs and emailing one other about lots of things... but I've still mourned her losses and celebrated her joys with her. I think about her often... and especially today she is in my thoughts.  I am wishing much happiness in the upcoming months for her. {The star on the sign Madison made comes from the potato print art we did this past weekend}"

Katie & Jeremy: "Just wanted to let you know we were thinking of you guys and Andrew yesterday. We had some yummy caramel brownies in honor of Andrew. :) "

Alison, Nic, Gabrielle, Scotty: "We all picked out whatever ice cream we wanted tonight! Took a little explaining for Gabby to understand what we were "celebrating" but she gets it now. Love you guys!"

Amanda & Brandon: "Just wanted to say I was thinking and praying for you both and your precious Andrew today. My students even said a little prayer to grant you peace and wished him a wonderful earthly and heavenly first birthday. We do the same. Brandon and I love you guys and support you."  

To the countless people who offered to celebrate or show support with love and encouraging words (and let me know) via blog comments or emails that I haven't already mentioned, thank you. So many of you have encouraged and loved us through your words, donations, and support over the past year and we are ever-so-grateful: Amy, Jessica & Jason, Dana, Julie, SG, Lissasue, Rachel, Chrissy, Amelia, Sally, Josh, Alissa, Renel, Natasha, Danielle, Erin, Brian, ASP, Katie, Zooblflt, Uncle Tim, Samiya, Marianne, Becky, Susan, Brianna, Sherri

Wilson candle lighting for Andrew, Addison (12/5), William & Ethan (12/4), and Eliza (12/6).
 Cupcakes for Andrew from the bakery.
 We look like hell since dessert was definitely the hardest part because it's supposed to be the best part of any birthday and we were missing the celebratory guest of honor, but must document the Andrew love.
 We love you, son.
Not totally related to his birthday, but recently we bought these ornaments from an Etsy artist. If you'd like to order from her, you can get 30% off by using this link. She did a wonderful job and was so wonderful in my accommodations to honor our son.
I also bought this necklace from Etsy. I plan to purchase another with Andrew and his new brother's name on it... once I get my act together and reveal the name we've chosen.

Also, we attended our first SHARE remembrance service on December 6, 2010 in honor of all babies gone too soon through pregnancy loss, miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant loss. Since we attended on our friend Brooke & David's anniversary of their sweet daughter Eliza's birth, we hung an ornament in their honor as well. Ornaments from this Etsy artist.
It was an honor to be read as parents to Andrew and to light a candle in his honor and hang ornaments in honor of he and Eliza. We loved hearing Andrew's name spoken in front of a room full of people who understand. It was a bit baby-filled and kid-filled, the service. There were a good 200 people in attendance as I estimate and we talked about how normally the babies would've bothered us, but in this case, we were thankful to see families of {even loud} children because it showed they were able to pick themselves back up and find hope again. Also, they were acknowledging their babies with their live children present and I thought it was a nice tradition and very sweet.Who knows. This might be an annual tradition for us as well. I love the idea of buying a handcrafted ornament for Andrew every year to be hung at the ceremony.

Again, thank you. Quite the post. We're just so thankful for such love. Our little boy continues to shine.


LauraJane said... [Reply to comment]

Dear friend. The sheer quantity (as well as quality) of the love shown for your wee little man is overwhelming to me and so I cried. So many people loving on you and E, while also loving on Andrew. It makes me very proud FOR you, and also OF you.

Speaks volumes about the love you've shown for him and the kindness for others that they would want to "give" that back to you.

I'm so glad Andrew was so celebrated. xox

Kelly said... [Reply to comment]

This is such an amazing post and an amazing tribute to a sweet little guy. Thank you for including me in this post. I'm touched. And thank you for letting me share in Andrew's day. Much love!

Becky said... [Reply to comment]

Beautiful post and couldn't help but cry reading it. Andrew is incredibly loved and missed by so many.

Melissa @ A Dozen Years Later said... [Reply to comment]

I cried too. I loved reading about how your friends and family celebrated Andrew on his birthday. I especially love the plate and the ornament.

Molly said... [Reply to comment]

Amazing. Simply amazing. :)

Tiffany said... [Reply to comment]

Dear Andrew, I hope you can feel how much you are loved and what great things you have inspired with just a brief stay here on earth. Truly amazing, especially for such a little guy. Thinking of you and your parents.

Ben and Katie said... [Reply to comment]

Wowzers! Lots of calories were eaten in honor of Andrew all over the country and he was worth EVERY SINGLE BITE! These other treats put my root beer float to shame...what delicious looking treats! Might have to eat a treat in honor of Andrew every day!!
So happy and honored to participate and be apart of this lil mans and his parents lives!
Lots of love!

Sherri said... [Reply to comment]

Beautiful! I'm happy that you, and Andrew are sooooo loved!

Tiffany said... [Reply to comment]

Wow wow wow that little boy is loved by so many. Those pics broke my heart and made my heart swell with love all at the same time. I'm sorry that he could not be here with you guys celebrating his special day.

And did I read right? Andrew is going to be a big bro to a little boy! Congrats! How very wonderful.

I love all of the things you bought in honor of him. Those ornaments are gorgeous. I just might get one.

Thinking of you and Andrew always...

Maggie said... [Reply to comment]

I just found your blog and I wish that there was some way to reach through a computer monitor. I just want to hug you and pray for you and tell you how incredibly proud I am of you.

I realize that sounds funny since we clearly don't know each other, but I am not even going to pretend to know what your life has been like over the past year. Praise God for healing, friends, family, love and mercy. I pray that this Christmas is a little easier and that tomorrow is easier than today was.

Caroline said... [Reply to comment]

I just love how much he's loved. He deserves all that wonderful love. And then some.

boo and stacy said... [Reply to comment]

WOW how special everyone has made this moment. What an amazing family and support group you have. Blessings this season!!

Nasir said... [Reply to comment]

These pictures are awesome.

Print vip cards
Transparent business cards

sarah said... [Reply to comment]

What an amazing testament to the love that Andrew brought into this world, and the love that continues to shine out in his memory. This is truly amazing, you and Ray are phenomenal parents to Andrew and his little brother. Thinking of you and sending lots of love.


Brooke said... [Reply to comment]

So amazing, and such a beautiful tribute to a little boy loved so much by so many.

Hope's Mama said... [Reply to comment]

Such an amazing post, full of love and remembering. So glad you are surrounded by such beautiful people who made the day that little bit easier for you. On Andrew's birthday, I went to my favourite little place to get macarons and got a beautiful salted caramel macaron, which I enjoyed while thinking of him.
Andrew is loved and remembered, the world over.
I'm so sorry he's not here, but so glad you were so well supported on his very special first birthday.

Solange, Nik and Caitlin said... [Reply to comment]

You are loved by so many!!!! You are SO welcome. I really hope to go out there soon-I just miss you guys too much :(

ASP said... [Reply to comment]

What a whoooole bunch of love. Loved everything about this post!

J. said... [Reply to comment]

Wow, look at year 1! Andrew *will* be remembered and celebrated until we can meet him face to face.