An upset woman is looking for her late son’s beloved plush elephant, which has some of his ashes.
It went missing when the family was on vacation in Florida.
She is absolutely anxious and hoping that this blows up and they locate elephant, Liz Atkinson, an emergency department nurse in Iowa, posted on Facebook on May 6.
Their son Gabryel passed away before they could make it to Disney, she said of her 7-year-old son. They took their surviving son, Sebastyan, on the trip for his birthday this year. Gabryel received this elephant in the NICU, and it accompanied him to every surgery or procedure (over 50) and hospitalization (too numerous to count). He slept with it every night, and her husband and she have kept it in their bed since his death. Bruce is his name.
I am completely desperate and hoping this blows up and we find our elephant! So SHARE SHARE SHARE! Our son, Gabryel…Posted by Liz Atkinson on Saturday, 6 May 2023
The toy, which held Gabryel’s ashes in one of its pockets, was placed in the family’s baggage for the 12-day road trip across Florida in April. Bruce vanished sometime along the road.
Atkinson retraced the family’s movements in the article, beginning at the Beachside Resort in Cocoa Beach, where they went parasailing. The family then went to Disney Springs in Buena Vista before continuing on to The Palazzo Lakeside Hotel in Kissimmee and Disney’s Art of Animation Resort.
During her 20-week pregnancy screening, Atkinson and her husband Ande found that Gabryel would be born with chromosomal abnormalities that were probably “incompatible with life.”
She explains that they weren’t willing to end the pregnancy; they wished to fight for him.
Gabryel was born at 31 weeks, facing infections and difficulties that “surgeons had only seen in textbooks,” as well as developmental impairments, according to Atkinson. She explains that he underwent skull reconstruction, multiple airway surgeries, and had the right middle lobe of his lung removed. He was non-verbal.
The vibrating and musical blue and red teddy elephant soothed Gabryel, especially after surgery.
They took his medical equipment on family trips so Gabryel could live life to the fullest, Atkinson explains. He was the happiest kid there. He was a football fan who supported both teams.
Gabryel’s digestive system worsened when he was 7 years old, according to Atkinson, and he began palliative care. Gabryel passed away on April 9, 2022, just 16 days before his eighth birthday, with Bruce by his side.
The Atkinsons brought Bruce to Florida as a gesture to Gabryel; tucking some of his ashes into Bruce’s pouch was a last-minute choice.
They had jewelry made from his ashes, and the company shipped the remainder back, inside plastic and mesh bags, Atkinson explains. They thought Bruce would stay in their hotel room, so they wouldn’t lose track of him.
They answered yes when Sebastyan, 6, begged to go paragliding with Bruce.
Although they have no recollection of seeing Bruce anywhere other than aboard the boat, Atkinson is certain that he was not abandoned at the pier.
Someone who works at the marina examined the (security) cameras and saw Sebastyan exit the boat and enter their car with Bruce, she says. When they pulled away, they said Bruce wasn’t on the ground.
The couple checked their vehicle and baggage, as well as the locations where they stopped, including Walgreens, a Lego shop, and Planet Hollywood, but no one has seen Bruce.
She is sick, having trouble sleeping, and is desperate, said Atkinson on Facebook.
She wrote that kindly no comments about how she shouldn’t have brought such a sentimental thing on a trip or how she should’ve known better. She has OCD, so everything has a place in the suitcase, and he’s been with them on every trip since their son was born. She never in a million years believed that grieving would have damaged her memory enough to forget him anywhere, and she worked very hard to make sure he was constantly in a bag or in her arms so that this didn’t occur.
Her worst fears are that Bruce will be rained on, run over in a parking lot, or that if another kid has Bruce and their mother washes it, she will find human ashes, Atkinson adds.
Sebastyan is upset, and her husband and she feel guilty, she adds. She struggles with the idea of being a nurse and not being able to save her son. She has lost him, and now she has lost some of his ashes. There’s nothing more awful for a mom.
Atkinson’s Facebook post has been shared over 11,000 times, and his mother claims that volunteers in Florida have posted photographs of Bruce all around town and are looking for him.
Atkinson explains that individuals she has never met have spent so much time assisting —they’ve spent hours searching. There are not enough ‘thank yous’ for everyone.
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