Sunday, November 28, 2010

Do One Good Thing for Hudson’s Birthday

It’s almost here. I can’t stop it from coming (as if doing so might mean that Hudson had never died). In a few days, Hudson’s second birthday will be here, but she won’t. Somehow, we will have to find a way to live through that day without her. Somehow, we will have to find a way to honor her life while we still so deeply mourn her death. Somehow.

After much thought and discussion about how to commemorate Hudson’s birthday on December 1, Ed and I came to the conclusion that for us, giving of ourselves in some way or another is the very best way to honor our sweet girl. We figure that it is also the surest path to more healing. And most importantly, it helps us live Hudson’s message of One Good Thing: we can’t have her here with us, but One Good Thing that we can make of such a terrible loss is to keep her memory and her life alive in the world that she adored.

Because we can’t give her any gifts this year, we collected several of Hudson’s favorite books and several Elmo dolls, and on Wednesday, we will drop them off at Dr. Bear’s Closet at Children’s Hospital where Hudson died. Dr. Bear’s Closet is where the hospital collects donated toys and games for children all over the hospital who are undergoing difficult treatments; it also stocks the hospital’s playrooms.  Hopefully these gifts will put a look on the faces of many children not unlike the one you see below:

Hudson opening her beloved Elmo

Because Hudson loved animals so much, and in particular, her beloved Bess, we are also donating a collection of dog treats and toys in Hudson’s name to the Washington Humane Society on Wednesday.  Hopefully some more dogs will be able to feel Hudson’s love in a different and special way.

And finally, because Hudson loved the outdoors, and especially the National Arboretum, where we took her for many a day of adventures in all seasons, we will visit the Arboretum on Wednesday. We plan to sprinkle a small portion of Hudson’s ashes there—while we struggled somewhat to decide whether to leave any of Hudson’s ashes here, we finally decided that DC is the place where we shared our lives with her, and we would like to have a place here to visit with her whenever we come back. And of all the places in DC that we could think of to do this, the Arboretum is the most beautiful, the most peaceful, the most serene, and it is the place where we shared some of our most special memories with her. Most recently, about a month before she died, we took a long hike through the Azalea Collection and took some beautiful pictures of her both there and in the central meadow (the picture above of Hudson hugging Bess was also taken at the Arboretum, last winter in the Asian Collection). The Arboretum is so special to us that we have not been able to go back there since Hudson died—her birthday will be our first visit there without her.  It seems only fitting that we leave a small part of her (and therefore of ourselves) there, as we remember and honor her very special life.   

There is some talk of drastically reducing the Azalea Collection, so Ed and I will also be making a donation to the Arboretum in Hudson’s name. (And if you’d like to make a donation to the Arboretum, I’ve posted a link to the right to do so).

In the spirit of One Good Thing, we’d like to invite everyone to help us honor Hudson’s life by doing One Good Thing sometime this week. This can be any act of kindness you can think of, for a child or other person, a friend or a stranger, an animal, the outdoors, whatever comes to mind. And if you are so inclined, please feel free to come back here and share your One Good Thing for Hudson’s Birthday by posting it as a comment to this post.  And please feel free to pass this on to others who might want to participate. 

(And many, many thanks to the anonymous reader who helped us crystallize this idea in our own heads—we’d been thinking in this direction, but that comment really helped us put it together. Another grieving family did the same to honor their sweet boy’s birthday, and while blatant imitation feels a little strange, I figure the world can always use some more kindness).

We can’t stop it from coming. We can’t bring Hudson back. But in the spirit of the lesson she taught us, we can continue to help her light shine in the world by finding the One Good Thing, and this week, that means doing One Good Thing.


  1. This is a wonderful, splendid, totally-in-the-spirit-of-Hudson idea. This will touch lives (just as your story has) in ways that you will never know.

    Ironically, as I was struggling into my apartment building tonight, unable to manage my home improvement supplies and opening the door at the same time, several people walked on by with no one stopping to lend a hand, and I thought "I am going to introduce this city to random acts of kindness."

    So glad to do those acts in honor of Hudson's special day.

    Much love to you, Ed and the Penguin.

  2. a couple of weeks ago I purchased two sweet olive trees. the next day I called our town's community nature center and explained to the director about Hudson's death and our desire to remember her sweetness by planting one of the trees there on her birthday. The director immediately agreed to meet me and pick out a spot.
    I love the winsome flowering habit of sweet olives. Down here, they bloom off and on through the year sometimes in December. The flowers are tiny and even if just a small cluster of them are abloom, their fragrance can thread all through unseen alleys, stop a person in her tracks, send her looking for the source. I imagine Hudson's spirit floating to folks as they go about their way, maybe knock them off course, maybe set them wondering on a different sweeter course.

  3. Mandy, this is beautiful. Just beautiful.

    We have always loved the arboretum - and I especially loved our couple of mom-baby outings during maternity leave with you and Hudson - but now we will cherish it even more knowing that Hudson is there with us.

    Thank you for continuing to share your girl with us all.

    love, Kate Z.

  4. What a beautiful young woman you are, Mandy, and what delightful and meaningful ways to honor your girl on her special day. The photo above of Hudson looking serious, in the middle of the yellow blooms, is my favorite photo of her - then she is up and away, smiling proudly as she walks on her own through the flowers. I love your idea of doing One Good Thing for someone this week in Hudson's memory. I already know who I will choose: a very elderly, sweet and lovely woman going through a hard time. I will take her a small cake Just Because - because of Hudson, and you, and in an affirmation of the goodness in peoples' hearts - a heart like yours, that has broken, but still opens itself to care about others. Way to be a human being. Hudson has the very best mom in the world!

  5. I read your post and just called our local Share Your Christmas hotline. My 4-year-old daughter and I will go shopping this weekend to fill the Christmas dreams of a mom and her 3-month-old baby. We'll think of Hudson and your story. I do not know you, but think of you so often as I have read this blog. Thank you for inspiring me.

  6. I'm just another stranger who loves Hudson because of this blog and am SO grateful to you for your amazing eloquence. In honor of Hudson's birthday Wednesday, I am sending a small contribution to her school, St Anns in DC. In addition, because I want you to go easy on yourself in every way possible, I will pledge to forgive myself for my 5 yr old's newly-found cavities, which have wracked me with guilt for days. I wish you so much peace.

  7. I just put together a package of toys for Dr. Bear's Closet and sent it in Hudson's memory. It is an honor to help you share her light with the world. My thoughts are with you.

  8. Mandy,
    On December 1 I have taken the day off from work to volunteer with an organization that offers support to children infected with HIV/AIDS. I do so in Hudson's memory, hoping that fewer young lives will be cut short, leaving their parents devastated.

  9. Mandy,
    For months I have been struggling to find some volunteer work that means something to me. I have always volunteered and offered my time to others, whether through mentoring, building houses, or supporting domestic and sexual violence survivors. And, while my past volunteer work has certainly been meaningful, after Hudson's death and Clara's ordeal, I could not seem to find the right thing to do that would honor both of them.

    Over the weekend, I finally remembered the Ronald McDonald House family room at Duke Hospital that we used some while Clara was in the NICU. I just sent off my application to volunteer at either the house or at the hospital. I hope that I will be able to do one good thing each time I volunteer for parents, siblings, and other loved ones of children who are at Duke Hospital. I will do so in Hudson's and Clara's names.

    Much love to you, Ed, and the little Penguin this week and always,
    Lisa S.

  10. Mandy, this is a wonderful idea to honor Hudson's beautiful life. Although I have never met you, Ed, or Hudson, it is clear to me that all three of you are constantly making the world a better place. As I've said before, Hudson's life (and the fact that you are so bravely sharing her with the world) has inspired me on more than one occasion to not only look for One Good Thing, but also to be more grateful for all of the wonderful people in my life.

    This week, I will find a child to sponsor this Christmas season. In Hudson's memory, another child will be able to celebrate Christmas. I will also donate to St. Ann's, (inspired by a previous comment) as I can tell from what you've written that it is an amazing place. I teach preschool, and I know that daycare centers like St. Ann's are rare.

    I hope that you and Ed can find some peace this month, though I know that will be hard to come by. You guys and Hudson and the Little Penguin are constantly in my thoughts, especially this week.

  11. Dear Mandy -- What a wonderful expression of love for your darling beautiful daughter! My children and I will be bringing toys to Good Shepherd Church in Alexandria - the new toys will be distributed to children who are in need -- each toy we bring will have a tag that it is in Honor of Hudson's Second Birthday - 12/1 - and given in Loving Memory of Hudson. We will also be bringing bags of dog food to Lost Dog Animal Rescue as we adopted our hound from them and those bags will also be donated in Honor of Hudson's Second Birthday and in Loving Memory of her. Prayers for comfort -- Mariann

  12. Been thinking on this one, and saw a bin today for Toys-for-Tots, an organization all of our old CLS dances used to benefit. So, later today, Caroline and I are going to purchase some Elmo toys to donate in honor of Hudson. Thank you for helping us all find a way to honor your beautiful baby.

    Lots of love to you, Ed, and the Penguin.

  13. Mandy,

    I love your idea to celebrate Hudson's birthday! What an amazing way to let her bright little spirit shine on. I just want to say that I've been a reader here since June and how much your blog has changed my life, though I know that's was not your intention starting out and I am so very sorry for your loss. One Good Thing is that Hudson's life has encouraged me to live and parent with out abandon and most especially not to take things (or people) for granted. In honor of Hudson's birthday I have made donations today to both Toys For Tots and Proctor and Gamble's Safe Drinking Water Program. Prayers for peace are being sent your way.


  14. Thank you for shairing Hudson's beautiful life with all of us. I am just a stranger whose life has been forever altered by the sadness of your story and the grace with which you share it. I am now teaching my own kids One Good Thing.

    My daughter just celebrated her first birthday and we received an abundance of toys. This week, I plan to take many of those toys and donate them to a local shelter for single, pregnant women. In additon, my boys and I just made a trip to Target where they each purchased a toy with their own money that will also go to the shelter. My prayers are with you.
    - Polly

  15. My son and I will buy some toys and donate them to Toys for Tots to mark Hudson's birthday. No act seems sufficient to honor Hudson's beautiful spirit, but I decided I just have to find something, no matter how small or trivial it seems because something done is better than the best thoughts.

    Hudson and you remain in our thoughts and prayers and I hope that each act of kindness in honor of Hudson this week brings a small measure of peace to you.

  16. ...made a small donation to St. Ann's in memory of Hudson's beautiful life. I wish I could do more, but I figured that was a fitting tribute and definitely a worthwhile cause. Love & peace to you, Mandy...


  17. Heartbreaking and intensly sweet. I think it is a beautiful idea. I will make a donation to the Arboretum.

  18. We made a donation to the Arboretum this morning in memory of Hudson. Tyler and I did a little thing too, I will send you pics to your e-mail. Love to you guys, thinking of you so much today.

  19. I donated to St. Anne's in Hudson's name today. Erin H

  20. I'll dedicate a yoga practice to her.

  21. I first heard of Hudson's story from a friend whose daughter suffered a severe GBS infection, and it turns out we have another mutual friend in common (the Cox family). My heart aches for your family. My family will drive over to Children's this weekend and make a donation to Dr. Bear's Closet in Hudson's name.

  22. Today I responded to an email from a man I do not know who is despondent about his wife's brain tumor recurrence. My brother also has just had a recurrence of his brain tumor. What I wrote to the man is that I hope he will be able to "keep on keeping on" because the other option is to fall apart and give up, and I refuse to do that. Hudson's all-too-brief life and your openness remind me to be vulnerable. Thank you.

  23. Mandy-- I met you and your Hudson once at a Brookland playgroup and remember you both vividly. (I did the mom-share with Andrea and Jake during their last year in DC.) I have been following your story since Andrea first posted it on Facebook. Truly amazing what you have done through your grief-- and I thank you for having challenged me to be a better mother. Know how many good, wonderful, beautiful things have happened because of Hudson's life.

    I am living in Guyana now and am donating baby clothes and diapers to an Amerindian village here in honor of your daughter and her second birthday.

    I am thinking of you and am thankful for your courage in sharing,
    Caroline Henry

  24. I made a donation to Hudson's fund at Children's Hospital in her name today. May God bless her sweet soul.

  25. I donated to Multnomah County Animal Services' "Shelter Dreams," which will fund opening a new shelter in close-in Portland, OR. The current shelter is too small and poorly located far from the city. Consequently they have low adoption and high euthanasia rates.

    A larger shelter in the city will give more animals a chance to find a good home.

    Happy Birthday Hudson!

  26. I paid for the car behind me at Taco Bell tonight...even though I made a donation to St. Ann's last evening, I still wanted to do something nice for an individual ~ just to brighten someone's day. When I told the cashier at the window to ring up the order behind me as well, she said, "Oh, do you know them?" I said "No, I just want to do One Good Thing to honor someone's memory today."

    We had beautiful blue skies here in Winston Salem this morning, and I have been thinking about you, Ed, and Hudson all day. And I think she would have LOVED Elmo cupcakes. :)


  27. To help conserve our sea turtles, your special animal for Hudson, I adopted one in Hudson's name. Everyone can keep track of Pati here:

    Love you, Lindsay

  28. I have been thinking of you through my friend Kelley.... I am so very sorry and sad for your loss. Hudson is so precious and she was only surrounded by perfect love during her life. How lucky she was to have you as her mama.

    Be strong, hang in there. Much peace, LBS

  29. Mandy, I donated today to the CureSearch walk to find a cure for children's cancer. I specifically donated to a "team" for a 3-year-old girl in my community who is fighting Wilm's tumor (and doing really well).

    Eve's mom keeps a blog that I really love -- it's really funny most of the time, but also so obviously filled with mama love and her desire to protect her daughter and other kids.

  30. I donated to the Boston Children's Museum today while thinking of Hudson.

    Take care, and thank you for sharing your daughter with us.

  31. In honor of Hudson...

    My 4 year old and 8 year old each took a name from the angel tree and then went shopping to make sure that these children had something to open on Christmas.

    We also rounded up clothes and toys that don't get much use anymore and donated them to the battered woman's shelter that houses families in need.

  32. I am a friend of Jake and Andrea Grillot's and heard about One Good Thing from Andrea. My daughters love animals, too, so we took a donation of food and toys to a no-kill animal shelter called Safe Harbor here is Cape Girardeau, Missouri. I hope it helps even the tiniest bit to know that Hudson's spirit and the amazing love you share is being spread around the country.


  33. We donated toiletries and games to a shelter for homeless children in San Diego. We think about you guys so much! Thank you for sharing this way to celebrate Hudson's birthday!