Stern Family’s Donation Fills Children’s Section Book ‘Wish List’ at Monroeville Library in Memory of Infant Son Toby

2017, Family, Joy, The Little Fox | Toby's Foundation, Toby

On Saturday, Nov. 4th we visited the Monroeville Library and met with Nicole Henline, Director. Following our book drive in August during Toby’s Random Act of Kindness Campaign, 24 children’s books were purchased, by friends and family, to be donated to our local library.

It was a bittersweet moment to make this delivery. We were able to meet with Adrienne & Hope, who oversee the Children’s Section and Programming. They were excited to see all the titles and new books that we were helping them put into circulation.

Each of the 24 titles will have a name plate inside the front cover that will have a dedication message for Toby.

DSCN5222

Currently the new titles are being processed and the name plates being placed onto each book. Once those items are complete, the books will then be in circulation and be considered “new books.” This should be around the beginning of December.

Hope offered to display all of these in the Children’s Center for the month of December, along with a flyer with Toby’s story and the making of The Little Fox | Toby’s Foundation.

This was above and beyond what we had imagined happening with these, but we were grateful for the opportunity and thankful for the Monroeville Library’s generosity in offering a platform for the community, especially families within the area, to see Toby and know where these beautiful books have come from.

From the beginning, our goal with this large children’s book donation was to give back to the community and give joy to the children and families that read them, for years to come. We have no doubt, after our visit on Saturday, that these 24 titles will do just that.

Nicole also offered that Luke could come to the library when they got their next shipment of picture books in and select one book that would be donated in Toby’s name from him. This was a wonderful way to include Luke and to let him have a special contribution to this donation. We look forward to that over the next few months.

Book Donation in Toby's Memory

Thank you to Nicole, Adrienne and Hope and the rest of the staff at the Monroeville Library for agreeing to help our family make another connection and partnership within the Monroeville Community. We know that Toby would have enjoyed the library, picking out books, and all the fun things you have to offer to children, just like Luke does. Even more, we now know that pieces of our son’s memory will find their way into the fun times of children, families, play groups, and classrooms across the community. We couldn’t ask for more as a piece of Toby’s legacy. We are forever thankful.

To our friends and family that so graciously helped us fill the Children’s Section “Wish List” – thank you! In less than 48 hours each book from the library’s list was purchased and when they arrived we were touched by the messages for Toby and the love that was sent with each one. We hope that you will get a chance to visit the library, even during the month of December when these particular books will be on display, to see Toby’s books and see the joy that is within the Children’s area.

book donation

 

Dr. Seuss Book Quote

Month 14

2017, Family, grief, Toby

Toby in his favorite chair - Copy

I love this picture. It is one of the last pictures we have of Toby. I remember this moment so vividly. This was the first time we put him in this chair – and he loved it! He sat up so well and he giggled looking at the little toys attached to the top. Luke and I laughed with excitement, watching his eyes open really wide and looking at us, being so proud of what he was doing.

I look at this picture now and it makes me cry. I can’t look at it without thinking “What would you look like today?” I get angry that I didn’t take a video of him laughing. I’d give anything to hear him giggle. My heart breaks knowing that these pictures won’t be replaced with new ones, older ones, recent ones.

We’ve reached another 24th day of the month. 14 months since Toby left our family and went to Heaven. I continue to struggle with sadness, guilt, anger, jealously, an emptiness in my heart that I know will never be filled.

I love you my sweet Toby. I miss you beyond belief. ❤️

#ourangeltoby #14months #october24 #wemissyou

Small Businesses Providing Hope

2017, Creating Change, grief, loss

I wanted to take a moment, in the month of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness, and spotlight a few small businesses that offer some amazing items for families that are grieving.

Some of these I have been a recipient of one or more of their items, some I’ve bought for our own home, and some I am regularly swooning over their amazing talents.

Many of these businesses were created to honor a loss – either of their own child/children, a family member, or someone in their community.

If you know anyone that is grieving this Holiday Season, please consider one of these shops. Their gifts, I know from personal experience, can offer comfort, support and encouragement in a time of year that those in the bereavement community often feel so alone and very sad.

No automatic alt text available.

laurelbox

  1. laurelbox – www.laurelbox.com
  2. Luminous Light Studio – http://luminouslightstudio.com/
  3. A Thread Runs Thru It – www.athreadrunsthruit.etsy.com
  4. Mint + Birch Jewelry – www.mintandbirch.com/collections/forever-mama 
No automatic alt text available.

Luminous Light Studio

I would love to hear from others! What have you received that you’ve really loved or what have you gifted to someone who is grieving that you’ve found to be helpful and appreciated?

 

My Boys Hero

2017, Dan, Family, grief, loss, Parenting

I am sharing this today as a tribute to my boys hero. He loves them unconditionally. He is the best role model and the best teacher. Luke is his shadow and if you’d ask him, “Daddy can do everything better” 😉 but I’m ok with it.

Toby was Dans twin, right down to the hair on his head. He loved to be held by daddy and he laughed and smiled so much in his arms.

Often times, I think Dads get sidelined in the grief journey. But they shouldn’t. They grieve too. They cry too. Their hearts are broken too.

Wave of Light 2017

Uncategorized

“You were here for a moment, but loved for a lifetime.”

Tobias “Toby” Graham Stern

May 27 – August 24, 2016 


We love you, Toby. ❤️ We hope you see every candle and flicker lit for you tonight. Your short life has made a bigger difference in this world than some will make in an entire lifetime. We are so proud to be your parents and every single day, we miss you, we love you and we live to carry on your memory.

I love you my angel.

❤️🦊✨

………..

A few photos from the Wave of Light hour in our home. To watch our live feed from 7pm and hear our reading and prayers, visit the Joy for Toby Stern Facebook page.


#PILawareness #waveoflight2017 #october2017 #ourangeltoby #tobiasgraham #imissmyson #sids #infantloss #grievingfamily #joyfortobystern 

My Faith in God

faith, Family, grief, loss, Marriage, Parenting, Toby

This has been a difficult week for our family. Grief is hard. It’s exhausting. It comes from nowhere. No warning. And it stays, for as long as it likes. You can have a good moment and the next you are crying. That happens with me a lot. Your body can ache from the physical pain of grief, not just pain from your heart.

We pray for strength. We pray for understanding. We pray that Toby sees every tear that we cry, not because we want him to see the pain – there is no pain in Heaven. Our prayers are that he see the love. The love that comes with every break of our hearts and every tear we have shed over the last 14 months.

I am sharing this because we have said from the beginning that we want to educate people on what it is like to be grieving parents. To have our infant son, die. This is what it is like.

 

Image may contain: grass, plant and outdoor

Today I read a post from another grieving mother reflecting on what she feels when she visits the cemetery. She talked about experiencing peace and a connection with being there with her child. I envy her perspective. I envy this amazing trust she seems to have in Gods plan.

Today, while it started off well, quickly turned difficult. My arms ache to hold Toby, to hear him laugh with Dan or Luke, to feel his hair and see his bright blue eyes.

I drive home past the cemetery most days and most times I need to stop. But today there is more anger here. I hate that the ground has fresh cut grass – that reminds me of how long it’s been since we buried him. I hate that the leaves are falling – a reminder of a season that I used to love, but now holds my broken heart. I look at his stone and want to pull his name from the marble. I don’t want there to be an end date etched in there. I don’t even want to be here. As I start to descend over the hill to this hand-picked spot, I can’t make it past the last stone before his, before tears stream down my face. Every time.

I want to have faith in God’s plan. I want to have joy in knowing Toby is in Heaven walking in His Kingdom. I want to take heart in knowing that he felt no pain – that his heart will never break, like mine or Dan’s.

But as a grieving mother, sometimes my faith in God is shaky. My vision in his goodness is blurred by days of tears, wishing for my Toby to be back here, on Earth, with us. Sometimes, even falling to my knees to pray, my heart still feels heavy and my arms empty when I get back up.

——

 

Do not be afraid to ask about Toby. Do not be afraid to ask how we are feeling. And also, on a day when we may not want to talk, please understand and do not hold it against us. You do not know what we are struggling with. You do not know the memories that are flashing through our minds. We understand that too. We only pray for patience, consideration and respect.

We are parents of two beautiful boys, who are our world. They are loved unconditionally and they make us very proud.

To My Firstborn – On Your Third Birthday

2017, Family, Lucas, Parenting

To our handsome Lucas: 

As you wake up on your third birthday, I want you to know a few things…

1. I really cannot believe you are THREE! Where have these 3 years gone? I look at you every day and I am so very proud of you. You are smart, athletic, thoughtful, strong, kind, and so loving. You go through each day determined to learn something new or become better at something you have been working at. You have no idea how long Daddy and Mommy prayed for you and the day you were born was truly one of the best days of my life. 


2. This last year has been hard. We know that you know that. I’m sorry that Toby is not here with you, or that you cannot see him each day, or hold him like you did. But, you have showed us that you know where Toby is, what he likes, how he is doing and you continue to be THE BEST big brother he could have ever been given. I know that we have had more bad days than good, but I really pray that as you grow you know that the reason Mommy and Daddy get up every day, take another step forward, laugh on a day when all we’ve done is cry, is because of YOU. You, my sweet boy, are our rock and our reason for continuing on.

3. Over the past three years you have taught me many things. A few being – you can love someone even more than you did the day before; being a Mom is hard, but being a toddler is harder; how to have more patience (I’m still working on this one); sometimes you need to figure things out on your own; it’s ok to not do everything “by the book” some days; you should always have a “Plan B (or C, D, E)”; there will be hard days, and on those days, it’s ok to sit on the floor and have a good cry, not get out of your pjs till noon or have breakfast for dinner.

4. As you continue to grow, I hope you know that you won’t always be the best, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try! Mommy and Daddy are, and will continue to be, your biggest cheerleaders. We will continue to encourage you to try anything you want and to not to give up if it doesn’t go as planned. Have confidence in yourself – you are growing into one amazing little boy! Be kind to others. Other children won’t always act the same way. It’s hurtful and not right, but I pray you are still kind to them, stand up for yourself, and walk away. Always tell the truth. This is a hard one, especially when you don’t want to get in trouble, but it’s much easier to talk through something and learn from it, then to not tell the truth.



My beautiful Lucas, I hope that this year for your birthday, you have an amazing day and that whatever you are wishing for comes true! 

I hope that you get to see or hear Toby and that he tells you how much he loves you and what an amazing brother you are. 


I hope that you know how very much you are loved and you are as excited for year THREE as we are. We know you’ll knock it out of the park and next year at this time, we’ll have another long list of amazing things that made us so very proud of you! 


One more thing. Please stop growing so fast. I worry that I’m going to miss something or that you won’t want to read a book at bedtime, or walk to the park, or sit in my lap or hold my hand. I tell you all the time “you will always be my baby boy – no matter how old you are.” I mean that! 


I want to cherish every single second of this next year. I want to grow with you and learn how to love each day, just as much as you do. 

Happy 3rd Birthday, Lucas Elliott! I love you to the moon and back. 

xoxo, 

Mommy ❤️

September 4, 2017

12 Months in Heaven

2017, Family, grief, loss, Toby

My sweet Toby,

I have dreaded this day. I have tried for a month to get my thoughts together for this day, but every time I’ve sat down to write, only tears come. It isn’t writers block. It’s grief. It’s anger. It’s rage. It’s absolute heartbreak.

toby and mommy

My running partner. {August 18, 2016}

I sat on the back porch last weekend. The sun felt different. The smell of the air gave me chills. There was silence.

I was immediately taken back to the morning of August 25. We hadn’t slept. It stormed that night and I kept going up to check on Luke and then I’d walk to your room, not able to breathe, as I looked at your crib. You weren’t there. Your things were everywhere, but you weren’t.

I sat on the deck, around 6 am, staring into the yard. Murray sat right next to me. He knew.

Later that morning I was sitting at the patio table. It was so quiet. It was never that quiet in our neighborhood, but yet, I heard nothing. The world had gone silent. Our world.

I heard the front door open and then the door to the deck. I looked up at the steps and Uncle Matt stood there. He shook his head looking at me and said “Too quiet here to be alone.” I cried.

I don’t want to be alone, without you. I don’t want to go for a run, without you. I don’t want Daddy to hold Luke’s hand and not be holding you in his other arm. I don’t want Luke to play without you. I don’t want to wake up in the morning and not see your smiling face. I don’t want Luke to count “Mommy and Daddy. Murray and Theo. Lucas and Toby.” and you not be here.

I have searched, for 364 days, for answers. I have searched for a reason. I have searched for any possible sign in my life, in my faith, as to why God could have possibly needed you more; I cannot find one.

Today I pray that your angels will shelter you from the tears that will fall minute by minute. I pray that you will feel all the love for you, my beautiful boy and that you, without a doubt, know that we would NOT change one minute, one hour, one day – not one second of time that you were in our life.

KLC_9180

I pray that you see that everything that Daddy and I do is for you and Luke. Every time we speak your name, Toby, we do it with love and pride because you are our son and your legacy, your story, your joy has touched the lives of so many, in such a short time. I am not perfect. I have not been able to surrender to ‘having no control.’ I carry anger and sadness with me. I pray that you will help me, lessen the grip on those emotions, and hold tight to the joy and memories of the time we had with you.

…”I’ll love you forever. I’ll like you for always. As long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.”

I love you, Toby.

Xoxo,

Mommy