Paula Lavigne knew her baby, Wyatt, was dying in 2010, and she kept a journal to remember his short, happy life.
A burglar broke into her Dundee home Sunday night and got away with cheap jewelry and trinkets, items of little value.
But the dresser drawer that the burglar pulled out and stole also contained the two notebooks that make up the Wyatt journal, an item of enormous value to Lavigne and her husband, Chris Arnold.
“That was the chronicle of Wyatt's life,” Lavigne said. She and Arnold want those notebooks back and have offered a $1,000 reward for their return.
Wyatt Arnold had spinal muscular atrophy, the leading genetic killer of children younger than 2. The diagnosis meant almost certain death, and Lavigne wrote about their outings, adventures and miseries. Wyatt died in December 2010 at 5 months of age.
Lavigne said she kept the journal to record the fun and hard times they had. She also wanted to vent her feelings to “cope with the insurmountable tragedy” of losing Wyatt.
Since Wyatt's death, Arnold and Lavigne have had twins, Penny and Paxton, who are healthy and will be 2 in the spring.
Lavigne, an investigative reporter for ESPN, and Arnold, a grain merchandiser, said the journal also would explain to the twins, when they are old enough to understand, their thought process in treatment decisions for Wyatt.
For instance, they chose not to place Wyatt in a hospital at the end. They figured he would be happier at home than in a hospital with strangers coming in and out and bright lights beaming upon him.
Sunday night, they went to a Super Bowl party and came home to a booted-in front door.
While a few drawers in their bedroom had been opened, only one was taken. They speculate that the burglar wasn't in the house long and was chased off by an alarm that first beeps for about 45 seconds and then emits a sirenlike sound.
Some items fell out of the drawer, such as a bottle of holy water and a bird figurine. The burglar got away with some jewelry boxes containing items of little value, some trinkets and, besides the Wyatt notebooks, a couple of other notebooks.
Lavigne and Arnold informed the police, canvassed the neighborhood and have asked the Postal Service and trash remover Deffenbaugh Industries to keep an eye out for the Wyatt journal.
One Wyatt notebook is a caramel brown and the other is blue.
They encouraged anyone to return it to their front door or leave it with a library or post office.
“I just want someone to have a conscience and return it,” Lavigne said. “I don't care how they get it back to me.”