Tobias (Toby) Graham Stern received his angel wings after only 12 weeks and 5 days on this earth…
God had a plan for Toby that is far greater than we as parents could have ever dreamed of for him. We hope that one day we can see or understand that plan, but for now, we can only pray for the heartache to dull and do good things for others, in his name.
Toby fit perfectly into our family from the minute he was born. He was the most content baby, hardly ever cried. He loved to be held by anyone that would hold him. He smiled and laughed from an early age, and we loved watching him because it brought joy and laughter into our home. He was so content with Luke. Luke loved to hold him, make sure he had his binky, bring us diapers and pick out his toys. Toby watched him with so much focus, it was amazing. We couldn’t wait to watch them grow up together and knew the memories with them would be some of the most cherished of our lives.
That is exactly what they are. We didn’t realize it at the time, but we had taken so many pictures during the 12 weeks Toby was with us. And now, those are the memories that we look at daily, hold on to when we just want to hold him, and talk about with Luke so he never forgets those moments that he had with Toby and how much love he was surrounded with while he was here with us. It is amazing to think that we had an angel in our home, in our arms, for the time that we did.
Dan and I were immensely blessed in the weeks following Toby’s death. Even more than we realize, we know. By people that we knew and many that we didn’t. After the fog began to lift, we had an immense feeling in our hearts to “find a way to do good, give back, pay it forward” in memory of Toby and in a way that we could also share his story and people could know our precious son who was behind these actions. That is how and where the foundation started.
Our challenge came in creating a name for the foundation. We wanted it to have meaning, even if it was something that was truly special to us right now and we also wanted Toby’s name to be a part of it. For a few weeks, this seemed harder than we thought it would be. We tossed around many names, phrases, things that reminded us of Toby. But nothing seemed it “fit.”
Then one evening it clicked. The Little Fox.
In preparing for Toby’s arrival in May, we decided to use the outdoor/wilderness theme for his nursery. There was hunter green and orange and pictures of a fox and a bear. Dan had nicknamed Luke “bear” from the time he was a few months old, and when we saw the bear and the fox together, we knew that was perfect for Toby. He had a little toy fox that was almost always with him and that was buried with him. And now, anytime we see something with a fox on it, it reminds us of Toby. That is the perfect way to remember Toby and the perfect name for this trust that we are creating.
The Little Fox | Toby’s Foundation
We have ideas on what we would like to see happen or what we would like to be able to do with Toby’s Foundation, not focusing on one independent thing or organization. Whatever we do, Dan and I feel that we have an obligation to Toby, as his parents, to honor him and spread the love and happiness that he brought to our family, until it is our time to be with him again.
Our hope and mission is that Toby’s Foundation can bring joy, laughter and lots of smiles to families within the community. That is exactly what Toby did for our family and that is the legacy that we want to carry on in his name.