Friends and family – quick update for you all since it’s been a couple days. We are slowly working through the grieving process, but it has been fun to tell Oakesie stories and to replay the day he passed. I mentioned it in my last note, but it was a very magical day. In fact, Becky said it reminded her of the day he was born and how perfect that day went. It just seemed everything fell in line. Many more details about that later on. It will be therapeutic to tell the story of Wednesday to all of you.
In the meantime, Oakes’ little body was transported to Mid-America Transplant Services late Wednesday night. They harvested his eyes and as much tissue as they could (his organs, obviously, weren’t viable). He was then transported to Barnes-Jewish Hospital (adjacent to and affiliated with St. Louis Children’s Hospital) for an autopsy. Due to his two open-heart surgeries and lung transplant, his sternum had to be broken to access his heart and lungs. Each time, when the sternum was closed, it was literally wired shut with three pieces of stainless steel wires. We saw those wires for over a year, every time there was an x-ray. His precious little heart sat right behind those wires. So, we have asked for Barnes to set aside those three pieces of steel so that we can have something tangible to remember Oakes by. Not sure what we’ll do with them, but the possibilities are endless and we’re excited to brainstorm on that topic!
At some point, likely early next week, Oakes will be cremated. We’re in the process of picking the least-ugliest urn to keep his ashes in. We have decided that there will be no wake or “viewing” nor any formal funeral. However, we are planning a memorial celebration service for Saturday, June 16th. We have not determined what time or where this service will take place or how it will unfold, but we will try to communicate that to you all as soon as possible for those of you who may want to travel in. We are thinking it will be a very fun and kid-friendly day and, again, it will be a celebration! The planning is underway and the Fox girls know how to throw a fun party.
I do not want to sound assumptive here, but in the case that you are considering a gift or flowers, first of all, please do not feel obligated – we are blessed with so many things and your love and caring and thoughts have been palpable every step of the way along this journey. Secondly, we are strongly encouraging donations to Mighty Oakes Heart Foundation in lieu of any gifts or flowers (www.mightyoakes.org). The foundation has already helped several families and with our extra time, we will be more aggressive with our help! We recently paid for a two-week stay in a St. Louis hotel for a family which lives four hours away whose father had lost his job and whose daughter, Jane, was just born this past week with a congenital heart defect. We are staying in touch with that family to see how else we can help. These are the types of families the foundation will continue to help into the future. What can I do to help? We get that questions all the time. This is how we are very, very humbly asking for your help. It is and will continue to be a passion of ours and a blessed legacy of our son’s.
Another compassionate way to help would be to donate blood and/or platelets at nearest blood bank. Oakes received so much blood and platelets over the last 16 months, we are forever indebted to those donors. This is a cost-effective and extremely humble way to help. Signing up for organ donation is yet another loving way to help. Oakes would not have been here so long without this intensely precious gift.
We cannot wait to celebrate Oakes’ life with all of our loved ones in 8 days!
Love to you all,
Becky, Greg, Isla P. & Mighty Oakes