On May 28th 2014, at around 11:00am, I got the most gut-wrenching phone call of my life from our babysitter. She was hysterical. In that moment, I knew my baby was gone.
Hello, my name is Alison Surratt. I am married to my wonderful husband, Ben Surratt, and we have the most perfect son, Leo. Let me back track a little here and fill in some missing pieces to our story.
Ben and I have known each other since third grade, but did not start dating until after high school. We got married after a four year courtship and so began our fairytale life. We wanted to start a family right away. We tried to get pregnant for a few months and nothing was happening. Just when I began to worry, our dream came true….a positive pregnancy test! From then on, we were blissfully unaware of anything that could happen to our perfect baby. On March 6th 2014, after a long labor, Leo William was born! Our lives were chaos…in the best way possible. I have never been so annoyed and so in love at the same time. Leo was a whiney little thing; he would let you know if ANYTHING was uncomfortable to him. At the same time, he was so happy and so smiley and would laugh up a storm at a very early age. He found his voice early and always wanted to talk or sing. And he loved to snuggle… Even though he only lived 2 months and 22 days, he had a glowing personality that we were in love with.
When Leo died, the pain and grief we felt was tremendous. We continue to feel it daily. In the early days of Leo’s passing, I began to get many posts on Instagram from moms who have been in my shoes, and from women and moms who just wanted to share condolences. We started to feel not so alone. With infant and pregnancy loss, one of the biggest emotions you feel is loneliness. The world continues on and you are still standing stuck as if everything and everyone else is buzzing past you like working bees in a hive. We felt glued to the floor – unable to move, talk, or think. We began getting packages from complete strangers (strangers at the time…I now call them all friends) – journals, verses, beautiful cards and jewelry with Ls stamped on them. Then an idea struck me.
Late one night while looking at pictures of Leo and sobbing with my husband, I turned to him and said, “We have to do something.” Right then and there, “Project Leo William &” was born. You may look at the ampersand in the name and be immediately confused… That’s ok. I have an explanation. We chose to have an ampersand in the name because, as I stated earlier, this is one of the loneliest times we have ever had in our lives. One of the meanings of an ampersand is that “it resembles a broken infinity, representing that nothing truly lasts forever. But there is always an and.”
We want the families that we are fortunate and grateful to serve, to feel not quite so lonely….even for a moment. After a lot of thought and consideration, we landed on our mission for the project. We have a collection of generous small business shop owners who donate yellow items to us. All items are different and beautiful and help us compile our “boxes of sunshine,” as we refer to them as. We know that nothing can truly take away the pain of losing a child. Our biggest hope is that families can feel loved and supported and surrounded by light in these extremely dark days. The only stipulation is that the babies have died within the past year and within the first year of life. We understand how painful losing a child at any age would be, but we wanted this project to mirror our situation.
As with any charity/nonprofit we are always looking for more funding, more help and more support. If you know anyone who is willing or interested in helping us, please head over to our website at projectleowilliamand.com and go to the contact page. If you unfortunately know someone who is in this horrible situation and could use a “box of sunshine,” please go to our website and fill out a referral.