Dear Zander...From "Papa T"


October 31, 2017

Dear Zander,


Hey little guy, I am your grandfather Steve, your mommy’s father, and by the time you can read this letter  you will most likely call me Papa.  Your mommy’s and aunt Jade’s friends when they were growing up all used to call me Papa T, and I liked that.  I wanted to write you a letter because the beginning of your life was really quite amazing and sometimes we forget to write down and document memorable events in our lives.  As time passes many of the details can fade.  So my grandson, let me tell you how you came into this world, starting from the scariest text message I have ever received on Wednesday, Oct 11, 2017, at 11:41PM.

Screen Shot 2017-11-09 at 10.38.55 PM.png


So that was the start of a very scary evening.  Your grandma Susan and I had fallen asleep on the couch watching TV when my phone went off.  I was stunned and afraid, and my thoughts immediately went to your mom and how afraid she must be.  I immediately went to New Britain Hospital where you were were born not too long after.  Because you were born 14 weeks early, they transferred both you and your mom to Uconn.  There is where you really scared us.

You’ve probably heard the story by now, but on Sunday night, Oct 15th, the doctor called your mom and dad into a separate room, and told them to call the family, and tell them to come to the hospital because there was a high chance that you would not make it through a lung procedure they needed to perform.  When I arrived, your dad met me in the hallway, and just hugged me so hard and started to cry really hard.  Your parents were a mess, faced with the prospect that they may not be able to bring you home and may not have you in their lives!  It was hard to see such despair and helplessness.  The entire extended family was there.  Me and grandma Susan, grandma Sandy, Nana and grandpa Tom, great grandparents Mama and Papa, aunts Jen//Randy and Dawn, Jade/Robert.  At one point, they made the family stay out in the hall and we all gathered and prayed.  There was nothing else we could do.  We were helpless.  It was out of our control, so we held hands and just asked God to perform a miracle for you.  I asked that you would be known as a little walking miracle. It is hard to actually describe it.  There was fear, mixed with hopelessness and dependence on the doctor's.  This is how your mom put it days later when she posted it on Facebook:

via Alexandra Marie's Facebook Post

via Alexandra Marie's Facebook Post

Your mom really made me proud when you were born.  I guess I always had seen her as my little girl, someone I had spent so many years providing for and protecting.  To see her dealing with such “real life” pain was hard.  This wasn’t getting a bad grade on a test, or even not getting into a grad school she applied to.  This was life or death for her first born, you! Until you are a parent yourself it is impossible to imagine.  But she has been so so strong, and really has trusted that God was in control.  I saw her that night prepare herself to let you go.  

I just wanted to write you a letter so years from now when you are older you can read this and realize what an amazing beginning to your life you had, and how many people you impacted and touched without even knowing it.  Simply by being you, being yourself, and fighting with all your might to just stay alive, you have taught us all so much!   You have taught us:

  • To let go of things we can’t control

  • To not look too far ahead, but minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day

  • To never give up!  And sometimes to “flip” off the world or anyone who doesn’t think you can do something!  (ask your mom this story, and see picture below from uncle Chase).

  • To have faith, to ask for faith when we don’t have it, and to trust God.

  • That family support is powerful

  • That prayer is powerful. So many people were literally touch by your story and struggle.  People all over the country through social media were praying for you. Your mom also planned a prayer circle at the hospital the Tuesday after you almost didn’t make it.  50 plus people came, and united together we prayed.  Myself, your uncle Chase, and your dad’s boss Mike Dyer lead everyone in a prayer to thank God for getting you through that Sunday night, for your strength and spirit, and to ask for continued healing.


I know that all of this must seem strange that something you did as a tiny baby, something you did without even knowing it, by your instincts from your inner being, could have an impact on so many.  But that is why I am writing you this letter.  Someday you may need to read this, and be reminded that your name means Warrior, Defender of Men.  And from day 1, you have been a fighter.  When everything was stacked against you, your weight, your lungs, your infection, everything, and the Doctors thought you wouldn't make it, your mom told me she just wanted you to tell everyone to “F off”, and that is exactly what you did.  

You pulled through.  

You are a survivor and a fighter.

You fought, and did not take the easy way out, so whatever you might be going through as you read this or in future years, just be yourself, and fight (and flip off the world if you need to!).

So Zander Robert Lee, my grandson, you are greatly loved by me, and most importantly by your Heavenly Father!  God loves  you so much, and I know he has an amazing plan for your life.  You had an amazing start to your life, I pray God’s continued protection and blessing over you and your mom and dad, and any other siblings you may have now!!!


Papa T


Here I am with Grandma Susan checking you out in the isolete.

To follow and support Zander's life click the link below!
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