Losing a loved one is always painful, but the grief after the loss of a child has unique depths. Mahtomedi couple Becky and Craig Markovitz know this grief and want to channel it to bring joy to children and families in the community through building a playground.
Becky and Craig met while they were earning their doctorates in biomedical engineering. After obtaining his Ph.D., Craig got an appealing job offer to work in Leipzig, Germany. The couple moved there and returned to the U.S. when Becky was six months pregnant. Soon after their return, Becky experienced pre-eclampsia, and in August 2018, their son was born 11 weeks early with a birth weight of two pounds, three ounces. “We chose a strong name for him—Aaron Zachary Markovitz,” says Becky.
“Aaron was born generally healthy, but as with many premature babies, his lungs weren’t developed and he needed help to breathe. He was in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) for ventilator support. The ventilator kept Aaron alive, but ventilators also can cause lung damage. Scar tissue formed in his lungs, which made it more and more difficult to get oxygen,” says Becky. Seven weeks after he was born, Aaron passed away in his parents’ arms.
“Aaron was such a loving boy. He was alert and curious. I would hold him and sing to him, and he’d open his eyes when he heard my voice. He captured our hearts, and also the hearts of his family members and the doctors and nurses in the NICU. He had such a warm personality, and we want to share that with the community.
“It’s been so hard to live without Aaron, but we want him to be remembered for his life, for the love we have for him. We thought a playground would be a way to do that,” says Becky.
Craig and Becky are raising funds for what will be known as Aaron’s Playground, to be located in Southwest Park in Mahtomedi. They are in the process of looking at equipment. Their goal is $100,000. “We want a playground for children of all ages where they can be joyful,” says Becky.
“The playground is a manifestation of our devout love for our son. We want to bring families the kind of happiness Aaron brought to our lives,” says Becky.