Luke Sigmon always made a grand entrance.
"Even when he was born, 20 plus family members were outside the door waiting to snap pictures," his mom Lyndsi, said. "I guess we should've known at that moment we were in for the ride of a lifetime."
Lyndsi wrote an incredibly heartfelt email about her son from their home in Catawba County. She said Luke was a typical newborn for eleven days. When he turned a mere 12 days old, he was diagnosed with a Congenital Heart Defect, called Aortic Arch.
"Shock doesn't even begin to describe," she said. "My husband Wesley and I learned to live minute-by-minute, hour-to-hour, day-by-day. 'Keep the faith' became our motto."
Luke had three major surgeries before he turned one.
"We celebrated many 'firsts' in a hospital," Lyndsi wrote. "His first Christmas, New Years, Valentines, birthday... we watched the seasons change. Luke's first stroller ride included tubes and wires. Baths were often in a bucket. We tried to keep it normal; we always made it fun"
After the first year of surgeries, Luke was released to Duke Children's Hospital?. It became his world.
"He had so many doctors," Lyndsi said. "A Cardiologist, Endocrinologist, Immunologist, ENT, Digeorge Specialist, and Neurologist, along with his OT, PT and Speech Therapist in Catawba County Schools. Just typing all that makes me exhausted, but to Luke it was all he'd ever known. He was always smiling and giving hugs. Always making friends. Every time he left lab draw -- which he hated -- he'd give the phlebotomist a high five."
Fast forward three rocky years and in 2013, Luke started preschool at St. Marks in Claremont.
It was hard for his parents to let him go.
"But it turned out to be great!" Lyndsi said. "His development took off. He didn't have many words, but he used his signs, and anyone who ever met Luke quickly learned his language. He had everyone wrapped around his fingers."
Lyndsi says she and Wesley lived life to the fullest with Luke. Sleepovers with grandparents, visits to Carowinds and Tweetsie... they say they never let a feeding pump slow them down.
"We were proud to be Luke's parents."
This is the part in Lyndsi's email...after that one sentence saying "We were proud to be Luke's parents"... I realized this email about a "rollercoaster of a lifetime" might not end the way I hoped.
Lyndsi said when their new baby girl, Addi, was only two weeks old, Luke suddenly got sick. A different kind of sick than they knew. He wouldn't eat and couldn't tell them what was wrong. Lyndsi and Wesley took him to Duke.
For the first time they heard the word "rejection".
"It was the ONE word we feared MOST," Lyndsi wrote. "With transplants, there's always a chance of rejection happening. But his biopsies since 2009 had always been clean."
Luke was given his angel wings on March 31st, 2015. Seven months ago from this past weekend.
"It was fast," Lyndsi said. "He didn't suffer. He was surrounded by his biggest fans until his last breath."
She ended her email with a quote from Dr. Suess.
"Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened"
Since Luke's death, Wesley and his father started The Hearts and Hope Foundation, Inc., based in Terrell, NC. It's their way to say thank you to the community for support. The Sigmon's say they were truly blessed over Luke's six years.
This Friday, November 6th, the Foundation is hosting a blood drive at Bandys High School?. 8am-1pm in the school gym. Go to www.redcrossblood.org and enter sponsor code "BandysHS" to schedule an appointment.
Lyndsi said they also recently started a #JustSmile campaign. The idea came to her the other night when she was thinking of her son's smile. She's trying to get as many people as possible to post pictures smiling (group or individual) on FB with the hashtag #JustSmileHeartsAndHope.
It's obvious, Lyndsi, your son is living on in many ways, including the way you so beautifully tell his story. Keep telling it. You're an amazing writer. Thank you so much for taking time to share him with all of us. Quite a way to start a Monday.
**Editor's note: This is about one of #MollysKids, children WBTV Anchor Molly Grantham follows closely on her Facebook page. It was first published there – which is why it's written in a personal way. For years Molly has followed hundreds of kids with uphill medical battles. Find this story and updates on all #MollysKids at wbtv.com/mollyskids.**