A Canby family and local nonprofit are hoping to bring the community together this Easter season with Micah’s Egg Hunt, a unique event in honor and remembrance of 8-month-old Micah Veglia Pedersen, who passed away tragically and unexpectedly on Easter Sunday 2022.
That holiday celebration was meant to be like any other for the Pedersen family.
“Every past Easter since we’ve owned our home, we always planned an Easter potluck with an egg hunt,” Micah’s mom, Nicola Pedersen, explained. “This gathering was for our friends and family that didn’t have anywhere else to be.”
As planned, Nicola and her husband, Joshua, woke up at 5 a.m. to get the ham in the over and start making preparations for the party and their Easter church service.
That’s when they found Micah in his bed, unresponsive and not breathing. Joshua laid him down and immediately began performing infant CPR.
“By this time, I was screaming,” Nicola recalled. “A mother’s scream of what no one could ever imagine. The screaming still rings in my ears.”
Nicola called 9-1-1 and emergency medical personnel from Canby Fire District responded to the scene to begin life-saving measures that, tragically, were not successful.
“We were escorted out of our home, and we weren’t allowed back inside for hours,” she recalled. “We were finally asked to come sit down in two of our kitchen chairs on our front porch and told our boy did not make it. This was the worst day of our lives.”
Sleepwalking numbly through a parent’s worst nightmare, Nicola began sending S.O.S. to family and close friends, who rallied to their home with an outpouring of love and support.
“My oldest daughter, Luna, came to me and said, ‘Can we still have our egg hunt?'” Nicola recalled. “So we rounded up all of the kids and began throwing out empty eggs all over our front yard.”
Family friends took over the egg hunt and prize exchange shop, while Nicola remembers thinking it was the last time she would ever do such a thing.
“I remember saying, ‘I never want to celebrate Easter again,'” she said. “I told everyone: ‘I will never do it again.'”
But things change. And as Nicola and her family have journeyed through their earth-shattering loss, she always knew she wanted to do something to honor their only son, Micah, whose nickname since birth had been “Moose.”
And, during one of her many sleepless nights last month, she realized she knew what the “something” was.
“This thought popped into my head telling me you’re going to have a free community egg hunt,” she recalled. “You’re going to honor your son, and you are going to celebrate his life, all while fundraising for your favorite foundation. A foundation that has supported you during this journey.”
That foundation was the Haven Rose Foundation, a Clackamas-based nonprofit that seeks to instill hope and cultivate community by providing genuine care and outlets for healing to families who have experienced the loss of a child.
The group was founded by Ratho and Jessica Reis, who experienced the tragic loss of their own daughter, Haven, days before she was due to be born. They created the foundation not only to honor and cherish their daughter but provide meaningful and intentional support to grieving families that have also experienced child loss.
Their outreach includes an annual butterfly release event and delivering baskets filled with all kinds of comforting goodies to bereaved families, while providing support and resources.
“This foundation came and supported us, and Jessica personally brought a basket to our house just about a couple months after Micah died,” Nicola said. “I find their foundation to be so beautiful and inspiring. It is very bittersweet that I know her at all. We would not have known her if we didn’t lose Micah.
“We have been so blessed, and Micah still offers us many beautiful things even without physically being here. But every second of every day, I would still choose him over all of this. Their own personal journey has shown me how to continue on.”
After that epiphany in January, Nicola reached out to Jessica, and she was immediately on board.
“I told her my idea, and she said, ‘Let’s do it,'” Nicola said. “The egg hunt will be the same concept as the one we had on the day my son died. However, the shop will now be named, ‘Micah’s Egg Shoppe.'”
(Central to the Pedersens’ traditional egg hunt is the “prize shop,” where kids exchange the empty eggs they have found for candy and prizes, similar to the prize exchange at an arcade.)
The event will also include a raffle, food trucks, crafts and other fun activities. Nicola said she and her family want to give back to the community that has supported them through their tragedy.
“Our loss really shook our community,” she said. “I think many parents were shaken about how it could’ve been them, or what if was them, what they would do if they were in our shoes, and we really saw our community become the hands and feet [of Jesus] to pull us through when we couldn’t carry ourselves. This event is to honor that.”
She also hopes to foster healing conversations and understanding around the difficult, but more-prevalent-than-you-may-think subject of child loss.
“Nobody ever expects to lose a child, and it’s such a different type of loss,” Nicola said. “It shakes us to our core. It’s not supposed to be this way. My ultimate hope is the community will enjoy this day with us as we come up on a year of missing our Moose.
“A day where I know Micah would just be so proud of me, continuing on even when I don’t want to, to see everyone having such a fun-filled day together. A day that will help bring healing, and open my heart to celebrate Easter again. That’s what Micah’s Egg Hunt is truly all about.”
Micah’s Egg Hunt will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 1, at Maple Street Park in Canby. For more information, visit the event’s Facebook page or register your party through Evite here.
The event is free and open to the public through sponsorships and donations. All proceeds benefit the Haven Rose Foundation in the name of Micah Pedersen.
Photo of Micah Pedersen by Celia Whittaker of Studio C. Used with permission.
Help us build a sustainable news organization to serve Canby for generations to come! Let us know if you can support our efforts to expand our operations and keep all of our content paywall-free. #SwimWithTheCurrent!