Community support helps Trevor Black’s family heal
Tamara Black believes no one can go through heart-wrenching grief without faith in God and the support of family, friends and caring strangers.
She and her husband Clayton, 40, his son Brayden, 11, and their children Logan, 6, and Colton, 3, went through months of hospitalizations, separation and anguish with baby Trevor. He died April 16 at nine months of age.
"We can't thank everyone," said Black, 30. "We have been truly blessed by support from so many gracious people and we are forever grateful for that."
The little boy was born July 2, 2009 and went home with his mother in three days. Black was concerned that Trevor had not had a bowel movement, so she took him to Dr. Michael Grossberg, a Chambersburg pediatrician. He immediately sent the infant to Hershey, telling her Trevor would likely have died within the next 10 hours. That began a lifetime of medical care punctuated by pain for the youngest son of the Greencastle couple.
Trevor was diagnosed with colonic atresia but had a host of other problems, some of which were never determined.
"We were told it was not genetic, but how could it not?" pondered Black. She and her extended family suffered from digestive ailments. So did Logan and Colton.
Trevor underwent multiple surgeries and spent six months of his life in several hospitals, with Black by his side. The homefront kept going with Clayton's mother, Cindy Black, watching the other children while Clayton worked as general manager at Keystone Ford in Chambersburg. Neighbors sent food to their Celestial Terrace home for three months so cooking was not one more task to add to the difficult days.
Trevor died unexpectedly at home.
The outpouring of support already begun continued in meaningful ways.
"As hard as it has been, God has taken care of us with the support," Black said.
The congregation from Five Forks Brethren in Christ Church was involved all along. Pastor Buck Besecker led a candlelight vigil in the Black's front yard two days after Trevor died, with 60 people attending. An inexpensive candle was still burning 24 hours later. Clayton told Trevor he could let it burn out, but Black responded that he wouldn't until the wax and wick were gone, because Trevor had fought so hard during his life. Finally, at 39 hours the candle extinguished.
During Trevor's last hospitalization, his brothers released butterflies which emerged from their caterpillar cocoons. That became the theme for remembering and honoring Trevor. Black knew the outdoor temperature should be 75 degrees for a successful release of butterflies for his funeral, and April couldn't guarantee that. In faith she ordered them anyway. The day topped at 64 degrees, yet every single butterfly flew at the cemetery.
Extended community concern became apparent in the months to follow. When Black asked for the bill for the funeral service cards she had designed, the printer she didn't know personally said there was none. Brayden's fifth grade class held a remembrance ceremony at Jerome R. King Playground. They planted a dogwood tree, two lilac bushes and erected a pictorial plaque. Flowers arrived endlessly at the family home and donations were made to Five Forks. Black collected a box full of cards, many from people she did not know.
Clayton suggested a butterfly garden in the backyard in memory of Trevor, and the project took off with help from many friends and some people they never met.
The family planted fruit trees, watermelon, strawberries and grapevines, and flowers to attract butterflies. Friends aided by giving them gift certificates to a nursery. The garden thrived over the hot summer, though they did not water it much. The family believes Trevor took care of it.
Businesses and friends provided low cost materials or donated labor for a pergola, pavers, a sign, and transforming concrete to a ceramic look.
"It was a hard thing to do, but beautiful," said Black. "We'd much rather have Trevor but he'll always be with us. In his short nine months he changed people a lot. We'll never give that up to not have the pain. We've seen the good that came out of his life."