George Lagerstrom's Journal
Written Oct 13, 2013 9:26pmGeorge's 8-week-old English Bulldog puppy came from the breeder last weekend. George named him "Chewie", formally "Jedi George's Chewbacca". We had been on the wait list for a Boxer but George changed his mind after he got knocked over a few times by energetic dogs and thought a bulldog was more his speed! Chewie is absolutely adorable, always happy, a little bit stubborn, smitten with food, and hilarious...he has George's spirit all the way. Chewie has been a great distraction for us and has helped make our house not feel so painfully quiet. And somehow it feels like a part of George is with us.
A big "thank you" to Andrea Kellar and all the girls from the Patty Berg league that golfed last Sunday in "100 Holes for Hope" in honor of George to benefit Children's Heart Foundation". The weather was not very nice but it didn't stop these young golfers from coming out to play for George's cause...amazing
It is unbelievable that we have gone six weeks without our sweet George. I came across this beautiful poem that I read often:
A Child Of Mine
I will lend you, for a little time,
A child of mine, He said.
For you to love the while he lives,
And mourn for when he's dead.
It may be six or seven years,
Or twenty-two or three.
But will you, till I call him back,
Take care of him for Me?
He'll bring his charms to gladden you,
And should his stay be brief.
You'll have his lovely memories,
As solace for your grief.
I cannot promise he will stay,
Since all from earth return.
But there are lessons taught down there,
I want this child to learn.
I've looked the wide world over,
In search for teachers true.
And from the throngs that crowd life's lanes,
I have selected you.
Now will you give him all your love,
Nor think the labour vain.
Nor hate me when I come
To take him home again?
I fancied that I heard them say,
'Dear Lord, Thy will be done!'
For all the joys Thy child shall bring,
The risk of grief we'll run.
We'll shelter him with tenderness,
We'll love him while we may,
And for the happiness we've known,
Forever grateful stay.
But should the angels call for him,
Much sooner than we've planned.
We'll brave the bitter grief that comes,
And try to understand.
by Edgar Albert Guest
First Published in a newspaper circa 1930
Thank you again for all your love, prayers, and support. We could not do it without all of you.
Written Sep 9, 2013 5:38pmIf the Lord had come to tell us it was time for George to come home and had asked us how we would want things to happen, I can honestly say that everything went as we would have answered. Not only did he leave this life on earth peacefully and on a high note, his service was truly a celebration of his life. I cannot put into words how grateful we are to all of people who helped make it so special. We felt you embracing us through everything from the hand drawn luminaries and orange balloons lining the streets, the unforgettable video of George and the displays of pictures and artwork, the beautiful mass with amazing music and touching eulogies, the gorgeous flowers and the balloon release, to the great food at the funeral and at home, your generous cards and donations, the volunteers orchestrating everything behind the scenes, and of course your presence at the wake and service. George was definitely loved! We found the perfect resting place for him under a beautiful oak tree overlooking Lake Calhoun, the place Ed and I walked on our first date and where we would take the kids on their bikes and scooters to the nearby park. George didn't like the quiet so it seems only fitting that he is near the constant bustle of people enjoying the lake. Please stop by and say hello to George or wave as you pass by.
If you have ever wondered what it is like to lose a child, it is every bit as painful as you can imagine and much more. We try to focus on what we have rather than what we don't have, one of the many things we learned from George this year. (I'll never forget him singing to Kenny Chesney on the boat "There goes my hand" instead of "There goes my life" or him eating pizza without his prosthesis saying he wanted the challenge). We've also put to good use our ICU coping method of taking it day by day, sometimes minute by minute. Or, like my good friend from Philly who lost her son in March says "Fake it til you make it".
Thank you again for all the generous donations. I've been asked where we prefer donations to go. I think we have covered CaringBridge and American Heart Association pretty well, so it would be nice to have future ones go to Children's Heart Foundation or any of the hospitals George was at (Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia, Amplatz, Gillette, or Shriners).
Many people have asked for a copy of "What I've Learned from George" that was displayed at the service. It was written and given to me by my niece, Katy, and for anyone who knew him, is George in a nutshell! So, here it is:Hi Aunt Julie,So today as I was supposed to be thinking about the lessons that I was going to teach this week, all I could think about was George and the many things that he taught me in his 8 wonderful years. I decided to come up with a list of what I've learned from George and I wanted to share it with you.....10. If you want something, ask. Odds are if you ask enough you’ll probably get it
George was never afraid to make his wishes known and ask for what he wanted. Whether it was a treat at the pool, a bottle of ice cold water, an extensive list of presents for his birthday, or a new Star Wars book; if George wanted it, he’d ask for it. And if he didn’t get it right away, he’d ask again. And again. And often a third time. Eventually, if he was persistent enough, flashed that mega-watt smile, or raised his eyebrows expectantly, he would usually get what he wanted (at least from me!)
9. Sometimes it’s ok to be a little stubborn
When George wanted, or didn’t want, to do something he was never afraid to dig his heels in, give me “the look,” and let me know that he was going to be the one calling the shots. I used to be amazed at how strong-willed such a young boy could be but I believe that his stubbornness served him well. He was determined to give us 11 extra months and I’m so thankful that he stood his ground.
8. Surround yourself with the things you love
George had many loves: family, friends, Legos, Star Wars, good food, joke books, Vanilla Bean Frappes, the cabin, golf, mint chip ice cream, and the list could go on. He knew what he liked and also what he didn’t like. He made sure he did the things he loved and never wasted time on the things he didn’t. I need to remember to not waste my time on things that don’t make me truly happy.
7. Make new friends where ever you go
I’m sure he has already been chatting up a storm with everyone in Heaven. I can’t help but think that little Gilby, Sean and Quinn were waiting for him at Heaven’s Gate with a big “Welcome Home” sign and a bucket full of Legos. I know he’s up there with the other little guys from CHOP’s Cardiac Unit swapping stories about the docs and nurses and telling them all about the pranks he pulled there. And I’m sure he had many stories about all of us to share with Grandpa Ron as they threw a couple lines in the water trying to catch a monster.
6. There are no limitations that hard work cannot overcome
George showed us all what a little hard work and determination can get you. He is a daily inspiration and reminder to me that there is nothing that I can’t overcome if I truly put my mind to it.
5. Be courageous and always put up a good fight
There was no battle that George was too afraid to enter into. His fearlessness and determination to fight were amazing to watch. George did not lose this battle; he simply finished everything he was sent here to do and Jesus was ready for him to come Home.
4. Humor is a powerful healer
This one doesn’t need much explaining. I could always count on his facial expressions, jokes, pranks, and one liners to bring a smile to my face. Even through my tears, I can’t help but smile when I think about how easily he could make me fill with laughter. Laughter is good medicine and George could always give me my daily dose.
3. Cry out for your mom when you need her
George knew that mamas are the best, and his mom in particular, is a rockstar. I’ll never forget the times when he would get mad about something when I was watching him and he would start yelling “I WANT MY MOM!” Like a broken record on repeat he could go on for many minutes and there was no consoling him; all he wanted was you. Of course he absolutely loved and adored his daddy too, but sometimes you just need your mama!
2. Talk to Jesus; he’s always listening
Even at a young age, George knew the love and presence of God in his life. Right now when I struggle to make sense of this whole situation, I just remind myself that George would never want me to doubt the love that Jesus has for all of us. So even in my pain, I am doing what George has taught me and am crying out to God knowing that he hears me and will lead me through this dark time.
1. Children with “special hearts” are God’s greatest gift
I am so thankful that our family was lucky enough to be blessed with a beautiful little boy with a special heart. George brightened my days, made me believe in miracles, and taught me that life is a beautiful, heart-wrenching, amazing journey. I am so thankful for the extra time I was able to spend with George and I will forever cherish the amazing memories I have. George has always been a very special boy to me and my love for him will never fade.Thank you for sharing your sweet boy with me and allowing us to all experience this journey with you. George has enriched my life in more ways than I can explain and I will forever treasure my time with him. I can only hope that if ever faced with a similar situation, I would be able to handle it with just a sliver of the poise, grace, and dignity that you possess. I hope you know that you, Ed, Jack, and Elizabeth are an inspiration to many. I love you all and you’re forever in my prayers.Katy
Written Sep 2, 2013 8:31amObviously, it has been a terribly painful weekend for us but we find comfort in knowing that George will never have to suffer again. He had a great mini golf birthday party with the boys from his class, he had over 100 golfers at the Rhythm of the Heart event, and he got to return to school for a week and learn to count to 10 in Japanese, something he talked about all summer. George had a heart check up little over a week ago and everything looked unchanged or better, except for one lab, BNP, which is a measure of whether a person is in heart failure. We already knew his heart was not functioning normally so the fact that the number was elevated was not unreasonable and he kept looking better clinically. I consulted with several heart docs and everyone was in agreement that we would just keep an eye on him for any changes. Well, he continued to feel good even Friday night when we put him to bed after going to dinner as a family. When he wasn't the first one up Saturday morning, I went to check on him. I smiled as I walked into the room because he looked like he was in a deep dream with such a peaceful expression on his face. When I got closer, my worst fears came to life as I saw he was still and cold. He had been gone for awhile. There was clearly no struggle, no pain, just a calling home in the middle of the night. Reflecting on everything, a heart transplant was most likely going to be our only way out of this and I cannot even imagine telling that sweet boy he was going back in for surgery after he had fought so hard to get where he was, and it would have been a very risky surgery given his high antibody levels that could cause rejection. I am relieved that choice never had to be made. He could have ended up in the hospital waiting for a heart or battling a respiratory illness this winter. While it hurts us all so bad, this was easy and painless for George. George's funeral will be Friday and wake Thursday evening; details will be in obituary in paper tomorrow. Our hope is that the service will be a celebration of an amazing boy who was sent here to make a big impact in a short time. God Bless all you amazing people who are pulling us through.