Your gentle touch, your tender care. A smile as bright as sunshine; a heart of no compare.
A spirit that will glow forever, in the memories that we share.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Letter to First Grade: Aidan's Star

This is the letter that explains the star that the First Grade students are receiving;  a hard copy will go home with each student in early January.  It explains our intentions on giving the kids a token by which to remember their friend and classmate, Aidan, and is our way of thanking them for the tremendous efforts they have taken to keep his spirit among them:

To the First Grade Class at Brandywine Wallace Elementary School:

We wanted to thank you for all your hard work and love and care that you’ve shown to Aidan and his memory.  You did such an amazing job on the bookmarks, the memory book, and in choosing a special way to honor Aidan by getting a real star named after him.  We love that there is a star in the sky just for Aidan. 

We stopped in to see Mrs. Laverty, and what meant the most to us hearing about how you keep Aidan’s presence strong in your classroom.  Sometimes, Mrs. Laverty tells us stories about you and what you miss about Aidan, and we love knowing that you remember so many good times together.  We also loved to see that you keep Aidan’s seat where it was that first week of school, and you even put a rose there, and check him in every day.  We truly believe he is with you every day.  He loved being your classmate.  More importantly, he loved being your friend. 

So as a thank you, we wanted each of you to have a token of our appreciation to remember Aidan at home.  Each of you will receive a star, just like the one your teacher has.  You can keep it in a special place and take it out when you think about Aidan.  You have done so much for Aidan and his memory; we wanted to do something for you. 

You are all a very special class, and you always will be.  As you get older and grow up, our hope is that you remember that Aidan is not just with you this year; he is with you always.  And that while even we adults don’t understand why he had to leave us, we are so thankful for the many happy times that we did get to have with him.  That big smile of his will stay with us forever. 

We love you all very much and hope you have a wonderful holiday and a Happy New Year!

Mr. and Mrs. Silva and Devin (who will be in Kindergarten next year!)

About the Star Ornaments:
Please know that your star is fragile.  It is ceramic, and therefore, is very breakable.  Please be careful with it.  We think that Aidan would have liked how the stars are handmade by less fortunate people in a small country on the other side of the world, and that, by buying you these stars, many people can buy food for their families*.

*HEED Handicrafts is a job creation project of HEED Bangladesh, a registered Christian, nongovernmental organization in Bangladesh.  These ornaments were purchased at the Ten Thousand Villages store in Exton.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


As our Christmas cards are finally making their way to you, and you're perhaps checking out our blog for the first time, there will probably be a hope for learning about why Aidan suddenly passed away on the afternoon of September 4th.  And I've had in my mind draft after draft of the letter I would write regarding what we know, or more aptly, don't know, at this point, but I've been a busy little elf, and it's late, and I'm tired, and it's crushing to recount the last three-plus months of autopsy and histology  reports, doctor visits and phone conversations, Internet research, frustration with the provincial  'opinion' of the coroner's forensic pathologist, and the reversal of that opinion by our group of highly specialized CHOP medical professionals.

In summary, we still don't know what caused Aidan's heart to stop suddenly, on that afternoon, after a morning of riding his bike and running errands and playing in the yard with Devin.  He was fine.  It was a normal day.  And yet, at some point during the few minutes during which I was helping Devin change his clothes, Aidan collapsed without a sound in the hallway just outside the bedroom door, and when I went to him, he was already gone.

Our doctors, who are all highly-renown specialists bearing 15 syllables to each of their professional titles (I kid you not), have been baffled.  The plain truth, we're learning, is that medical science "just isn't there yet."  We just don't know enough about the electrical conduction system of the heart to understand exactly what trips it now and then.  We've also been told, redundantly, sometimes with more compassion and sometimes with hints of impatience, that there's a good chance we'll never know exactly what happened.  Genetic testing, which we're about to undergo, is far less defined and produces far greater nebulous results than we'd assumed would be the case, in the year 2010, in one of the most advanced countries in the world.  And somehow, we're supposed to accept that.

Common phrases that have been reiterated to us are:

Unfortunately, sometimes, this just happens.  We don't know why, but it does.  The hearts of kids thought to be perfectly healthy and with no pre-existing conditions suddenly stop.  Rare, but it happens.

Nothing could have been done to help your son.  You didn't miss anything.  The best doctors in the world could have been in the room with you and the results would still have been the same.

And this one, which always confounds me because our doctors, all parents, and whom have all been wonderfully supportive and compassionate, somehow find the ability to say with just a little more detachment than I find comforting:

You are living a parent's worst nightmare.  

Since September, we've learned about other families who have suddenly lost their school-aged children to some kind of "cardiac event," sometimes eventually with a cause determined, sometimes not:  a 9-year-old on Long Island; an 11-year-old in New Hampshire; another 7-year-old whose state of residence is unknown to me but whose father is a cardiac specialist and is so devastated by his loss, even two years later, that he couldn't bring himself to make contact with me at the request of his friend, my aunt.  It happens.  We don't know why, but it does.

I can tell you that, on our end, this 'unknowing' has forced our left brains into hyper-drive, causing us to experience almost a delayed sense of grief, as our shock and lack of a medical explanation (on top of the trauma experienced that day) leave us still in disbelief.  And very much concerned about the health of our other children, and ourselves, and our extended families.  The chances of Aidan's death having been caused by a genetic arrhythmia are "minute," we've been told:   this "won't happen again in your family, or probably to any other family you'll ever know."  Except that we've already experienced the nearly impossible.  We've already been jilted.  We've spent the last seven years trying to protect our kids from accidents, kidnappers, and strange illnesses; in fact, we spent our efforts ridding our house of BPA-filled plastics, chemical cleaners, and pesticide-laden food, like many of you.  We were even, no doubt, on the front page of PECO's weekly company newsletter with the caption, "CRAZY," as we insisted that an EMF reading be taken of our backyard fence, which lies under a power line, before we bid on our house.  Yikes.

And still this happened.  And still we don't know why.  If we think about it cosmically, as in 'what did we do to deserve this,' our minds implode.  So right now, at this point, with the rest of the world taking the next two weeks to not answer work phone calls and to let messages sit on desks, we're taking a break.  We've got holidays, Devin's 5th birthday, and the quickly-approaching due date of our newest little guy to focus on.  And we'll need your phone calls, your emails, your texts, your visits, your little notes in our mailbox, to get through.  Please don't be concerned if we don't answer right away; you can rest assured that your effort, however, is making a difference to us. 

Thank you for checking in-- and now it's really late-- that's what the week before Christmas is all about, right?!  xoxo to all-- and to all a good night--


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Books for Children

So many of you are grappling with how to explain Aidan's death to your children and how to help them understand a very tough life lesson.  Attached is a link to a list of suggested books provided by the Sudden Unexplained Death in Children (SUDC) organization, which has been a source of tremendous support for us.

I'd like to add to that list the book that Aidan's First Grade teacher gave to us, written by the author of The Kissing HandChester Raccoon and the Acorn Full of Memories by Audrey Penn.

Please let us know what we can do to help your family during this time.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Need a Chuckle? Devin's Letter to Santa

Written completely of his own accord...

Dear Santa Claus
How is Rudolph
How's your sled
Did Rudolph
Take care of it
Oh and
By the way I told (you) what I want
But I do not remember
What I want for Christmas

Devin, 12/10/10, Age 4

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Friday, December 3, 2010

Best of Summer 2010

Before winter sets in completely...

I was just going through our pictures to try and figure out what to put on our Christmas card (yes, we're going to try to do one, and please send us yours!!!), and I couldn't help but smile, grin, and giggle as I went through a flashback of our absolutely best summer ever.

Need a pick-me-up?  Though it might bring a few tears at first, this quick little album is guaranteed to leave you light-hearted, assured that the Aidan we love and miss lived a happy-go-lucky little life...


Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Similar Case: 9-year-old SCD (Sudden Cardiac Death) in 2008

As we continue to look for answers as to what happened to Aidan, very few stories have come to light that share similarity with our experiences on September 4th.  Here's one of the few that shares similarity in age of child, the fact that he was awake at the time, lack of symptoms, and, of course, the love of athletics...

NYTimes Article: Levine Family

Thank you, Alison, for sharing this story.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Privacy Settings Removed

Please Note:  Because we'd like to open up accessibility to this blog to our many friends and family, it is no longer necessary to sign in to view the blog or post comments.  Please feel free to pass along a link to those who have been a source of support for you and for us.  My goal is to post at least once weekly, so check back often,  or get automatic notification of new posts by "following" us (see below).  Thanks!

Finding the Right Words: How to Help Us

I came across this article in one of the 'mom' magazines I've been delving into lately.  Many parts of it totally resonated with me.  For those of you who want to help in some way, but aren't sure what's helpful to us at this time, feel free to check it out.  I especially love the part about the little story someone shared with the author about one of his memories of her husband.

Thank you!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

To Devin, With Love from Mommy and Daddy

Click here to view this photo book larger

Aidan's Fire

As many of you know, the name "Aidan" means 'fire'.  In fact, since "Silva" means 'wood,' and at times, we used to joke and call him "Firewood"...

Anyway, the Gionta family graciously donated a Cleveland Pear tree to us in Aidan's memory, and on October 21st, it was delivered and planted.

Today, on this rainy and cold November Tuesday, Aidan reminds us that his spirit is still burning... like a fire... among us.  Please take a moment to look at these beautiful colors against the stark gray sky.  Aidan is with us.  And I'm pretty sure that this is his way of wrapping his arms around us, trying to comfort us as we feel cold and gray with the sadness of his loss...

Thank you for burning bright for us, Aidan J...