An Iowa mom has taken to Facebook in hopes that someone has seen the precious elephant memento she lost during her family’s trip to Disney World.
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In her post, Liz Atkinson described the missing item as a stuffed elephant toy with a pouch on his back. Inside the pouch was a small bag filled with her 7-year-old son’s ashes.
“Our son, Gabryel passed away before we could make it to Disney,” Liz explained. “For his birthday this year we took our surviving son, Sebastyan, on the trip. Gabryel was given this elephant in the NICU and it was at every surgery/procedure (over 50) and hospitalization (too many to count) with him. He slept with it every night and since his passing my husband and I have had it in our bed with us. His name is Bruce.”
Somewhere in the family’s travels, Bruce went missing.
“The trip was a bit hectic with 3 different cities and hotels and grief brain kicked in at some point with all of the emotions, making me really struggle with simple memory tasks,” the post continued.
Speaking to Today, Liz gave some background on her son’s multiple medical conditions and treatments, as well as the joy he brought into their lives.
“He had a skull reconstruction, and multiple airway surgeries, and the right middle lobe of his lung removed,” she recalled. “He was non-verbal.”
She added, “We took his medical equipment on family trips so Gabryel could experience life to its fullest. He was the happiest kid. He loved football and cheered for both teams.”
Liz has specified some of the locations where she believes they may have lost track of Bruce the elephant, including the Palazzo Lakeside Hotel and the parking ramp at Disney Springs.
“Sebastyan is distraught and my husband and I feel guilty,” the grieving mom said. “I struggle with the idea of being a nurse and not being able to (save) my son – I’ve lost him and now I’ve lost some of his ashes… there’s no worse feeling for a mom.”
On the bright side, Liz’s Facebook post has been getting a lot of traction. She even said that some volunteers have been pinning photos of Bruce everywhere in the hopes that someone has seen him.
“People I have never met have spent so much time helping – they’ve spent hours searching,” she said. “There are not enough ‘thank yous’ for everyone.”
Share this story to spread the word about Bruce the missing elephant, and contact Liz Atkinson on Facebook if you’ve seen him!
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