Splash Pad Planned to Memorialize Twin
The Shaw children (L-R): Kaitlyn (2), Matt (8) holding Ben and Sophie (6)
Wendy and Jon Shaw have lived in Bellingham the past six years with their young children, but this past spring they experienced what no parent ever thinks will happen. Their infant son Alex (left), six weeks old, died very suddenly with no warning. Alex’s twin brother, Ben, now nine and a half months old, has a bright smile and deep blue eyes; but, as young as he is, even he knew life had changed when his twin died. Wendy noted, “Whenever the two boys were next to each other, they snuggled up and looked at each other. Ben was pretty lost for a while after Alex died.”
The family, with their four remaining children, are still pulling their lives back together. Part of their healing has been searching for a way to remember Alex. “We received so much support from our friends and neighbors who helped pull us through this experience,” Wendy said recently. “We don’t want Alex’s short life to have been in vain.”
The family came up with the idea of building a splashpad at Silver Lake Park. Ever since they moved to Bellingham, the Shaws have spent countless hours at the local park. They learned that a splashpad was in the original design of the park, but was never built because of lack of funds.
“My husband, Jon, has been meeting with the Board of Selectmen and is now working closely with Denis Fraine,” Wendy said. “The board recently approved the project, and we’ve done the research and all the groundwork, so now we hope to raise the money to pay for the 1000-sq. ft. design.”
The family received numerous donations after Alex’s death, which will cover a portion of the cost, but the project is expected to total $65,000—$70,000. “We’re hoping people in the community will come forward to help provide building materials and services, which will reduce the total cost,” Wendy explained. “We already have containers for donations set up at the two Catholic churches in town, and we’ll be approaching local businesses that may be willing to provide collection containers for donations.”
Life goes on for the Shaw family, but it’s changed. “We’ve learned that life is precious and can be changed in a moment without warning, so we try to appreciate and enjoy the moments of joy in our lives,” Wendy said. “The experience of losing a twin has really shown us how intertwined joy and sorrow can be. But it also gave us no choice but to keep moving forward because Ben was still very much a newborn who needed lots of care when Alex passed away, and our other children needed us as much as ever. Our children bring us great joy, and we hope the splashpad will bring joy to many other families.” She continued, “We are doing this project in memory of Alex, but I always say it’s also for the other little angels who left the world too soon. We hope it will be a place to honor them all, though Alex’s death is what drove our efforts.”
At the end of our visit Wendy smiled and said, “What’s a happier thing than to watch kids have fun? Watching kids can be joyful. That’s what we hope will be a result of our efforts.”
Anyone interested in donating to this cause can mail checks made out to the Town of Bellingham to Town of Bellingham, P.O. Box 752, Bellingham, MA, noting that the money is designated for the splashpad. Note: Donating to the town by check will ensure that the donation is tax deductible. You may contribute using PayPal, but your contribution will not be tax deductible. The link is PayPal.Me/LittleAngelsSplash.
To contribute time and/or materials, or sponsor a bench or table, please contact the Shaws at firstname.lastname@example.org or 508-928-2193.