Who is Sawyer?
Sawyer was my niece. She was born on May 29, 2014 with pulmonary hypoplasia (i.e. severely underdeveloped lungs). She lived for only four days, but those four days mattered. She mattered.
She arrived a few weeks shy of her due date. My sister and brother-in-law were as prepared for her entrance as any new parents could be.
She was beautiful. She had dark hair, her mother's nose and her father's ears. She fought as hard as she could for as long as she could. She was born to two of the sweetest people you'll ever meet. They loved their daughter deeply, though she was only with them briefly.
When my sister was pregnant I would fantasize about chasing Sawyer up and down the beach. I'd picture her running to keep up with her three-year-old cousin, my son Henry.
The day after she died, I took Henry to Pass-a-Grille Beach in St. Petersburg, Florida. We swam in the warm gulf, collected shells and watched a school of stingrays glide along the shore. I soaked up every solitary second of this solitary moment knowing full well that our lives are fleeting, whether we're here for days or decades.
Henry and I stayed well past sunset. As the sun dipped behind the horizon, we wrote Sawyer's name in the sand. We stood there until the water lapped it away.
Messages from friends and family began to flood my inbox. People wanted to know what they could do to ease my sister's pain and honestly I didn't know the answer to that question. I shared my photo of Sawyer's name in the sand on Facebook. I asked folks to follow my lead. The response was overwhelming. In just two days the original post was shared over 100 times and that number continues to climb every day.
Each night I open my email and sort through dozens of photos of "Sawyers" scrawled in cities all over the world. My goal is to compile the photos into a book by the end of the summer.
It's the best gift I can think to give my niece and her parents, a simple gesture of widespread compassion.
Please email photos to email@example.com.
IN THE NEWS
WTSP 10 News: Support for Sawyer comes from all over the world