Written by Chris Schiffbauer
Thursday, February 20, 2014
The Heart and Sole of Anderson
If this story doesn't have you lacing up your shoes....
The Heart & Sole of Anderson Schiffbauer
Meet Chris Schiffbauer....
On January 23rd, 2012, my wife (Blair) and I met the biggest tragedy we have ever experienced in life. At full term birth, my son, Anderson was born 8 pounds, 11 ounces and 23 inches long. He was such a big boy! Unfortunately he only lived on this earth for 3 hours and 25 minutes. As I sat in the bereavement room with Anderson, Blair was in a post-op recovery room with her life shattered as well. She was unable to leave that recovery room but I made sure of it that I took Anderson for her to hold him before the inevitable occurred, before he passed away in other words.
As I sat in this bereavement room alone with my first and only son, Anderson who had passed at this point, a feeling came over me that I had never felt before. My heart was broken. I cried helplessly but this feeling broke my heart even more. As this intense feeling did its number on me, it became even more intense. I felt that it completely broke my heart, took everything bad I have ever had in it, pulled it dry essentially. But as I felt this, I started to feel extremely different. As if everything that was taken from my heart was replenished by love, joy, safety and happiness. I feel to this day that I was touched by the Holy Spirit. Sounds like craziness right? Keep reading.
We had a beautiful Funeral for Anderson. So many people from the community reached out to us but I didn’t feel that we needed anything. So with this new found strength that I had received, I decided that we would have a flower drive for my son on the day that we put him to rest. I made it publicly known.
To my surprise, we received over 150 flower arrangements from all over the United States. All in support of Anderson. I had already had plans for these flowers the day after we put our son to rest. We delivered them personally to each nursing home in Augusta with a simple note attached that read, "From our angel Anderson". We saw so many bright smiles that day. He had touched their lives.
After Blair was released from the hospital, she began to get terribly sick. Not mentally. I took the car seat from her car before she was discharged, I put the strollers and everything else that was set up and ready to go for our baby in his nursery and simply closed the door so she wouldn’t have to see it when she was home. Life was hard enough for her. She was physically sick.
We took her back to the hospital and she was admitted with a very strong intrauterine infection as a post-op complication from her emergency cesarean section with Anderson. The word hysterectomy kept coming up in our discussions in the hospital. That is a crushing word to a parent who just lost their first and only son. But my hope and renewed faith would not let me down.
Blair was in the hospital for a month on that stent. Our infectious disease specialist felt that it was ok to take her home from the hospital after such a long stay. We were both sincerely excited but it was a provisional discharge in which Blair would have PICC-Line antibiotics administered several times a day to rid her body of the infection that she had. My optimism spilled over onto her but as any human being could imagine, we were both crumbling from within but we never lost faith. It seemed that our tragedy would never end.
On March 2nd, 2012, our dear friend and neighbor Aimee Gay pulled up to my home. I had just brought Blair home from the hospital. Her PICC-Line was in place. Aimee told me that she really thought I should run in the heart & Sole 5k. I asked her of what the race date was in 2012. Aimee responded, "I know it is short notice but I feel that something wants me to drag you down there in the morning." Mind you, I had been focused on finishing graduate school at MCG, working full-time in an area ER and taking care of my hospitalized wife as well as finishing all of the end of life paperwork for Anderson. There was no way that I could do this race. I was out of shape! But Aimee, being the creative friend that she is knew how to get to my heart. She pulled out a race number for me and a t-shirt. The race number was 123 as in Anderson’s birthday of 1/23.
After speaking 5 minutes with Aimee I was hooked. I was going to run that race in Anderson’s name and boy was I excited. Blair was even more excited than I was but she could not run. Even though she couldn’t run, she wasn’t going to miss this 5k. She came the next morning to cheer me on with her PICC-Line in place. I was so excited that I was running for my son, Anderson that I had Blair write "Team Anderson" on my arm in magic marker. Being as out of shape as I was, I ran my heart out. And again, I felt the presence of something much stronger than that of this life. I was now sure that I could make Anderson’s name live on. After all, in his less than 4 hour life, he had already touched more people spiritually that I had been able to do in my entire 29 years on earth. From the second I started that race, I knew Heart & Sole was going to become something very, very dear to my heart.
When I struggled across that finish line, I chatted with those around me. I learned what Heart & Sole was about. I learned that I was not the only one who had faced such devastation. Blair met many more people than I did. She left ecstatic. The feeling of finding a place for the legacy of your son’s life is far beyond extraordinary and Heart & Sole did just that for us. Everyone associated with Heart & Sole have the same compassion that Blair and I have. But our journey with them was not over. It was only beginning.
In 2013, we decided to do a t-shirt drive. We had 500 t-shirts made for runners and walkers to wear to the 5k Heart & Sole race. Our t-shirt had Anderson’s actual footprint on it and stated, "Anderson, an angel that touched my life". We sold or gave away every single one of those shirts to benefit the race. Now we had gone into the thousand range of how many lives Anderson had touched. That was more honorable that I can dare to explain. Every now and then, I still see friends and neighbors wearing their Anderson tee-shirts. And it means the world to me.
For the 2013 Heart & Sole run, we had a surprise that not many had known of. Against all odds, Blair was pregnant. It was miraculous. We were told that the possibilities of this were extremely slim to none but somehow it happened. And I ran Heart & Sole in 2013 with the thought in mind that Anderson had a younger sibling on the way, against the odds of humanity, but with the odds of faith, love and joy. Blair took on a much bigger role than I did with Heart & Sole in 2013 by designing the Anderson shirts, volunteering for the race and walking the race with her mom and other friends.
As 2013 pressed on, we became very confident in our faith that God was replenishing our marriage with something my wife had wanted all of her life, a baby to raise. We didn’t care if there were complications. We didn’t care if it was a girl or boy. We didn’t care what the outcome would be. We just cared that we had a second child on the way and that care specifically was more beautiful than I can put into words.
For the 2014 Heart & Sole, I ask that you please look for me. I am running with my new companion. I will be pushing a running stroller with him in it. His name is Christian Elijah Schiffbauer and he goes by Eli. At the time of the race, he will be 4 months old and he is my 2nd son. The two of us won’t be running for each other but running for his older brother. This is something that he will grow up learning about. He will learn what his brother has done and continues to do on this earth. He will grow up looking up to his brother just the way that I do. Running the 5k this year with Eli is going to be unimaginable for me. The fact that this organization has changed my life the way it has doesn’t speak highly enough for what they do. They have changed my life in the most positive and effective way possible. If you see me at the race, please come say hello to me and Anderson’s younger brother Eli. We will be so happy to talk to you about the compassion that we have for such a wonderful cause.
With my most sincere and loving regards to you all,
Christopher Thomas Schiffbauer