Celebrating life stories...



Memorial created 07-1-2007 by
Karla Helbert
Thelonius "Theo" Luther Helbert Fueglein
May 26 2005 - February 20 2006

This online memorial was created in loving memory of our son Thelonius Fueglein. Theo was born on May 26, 2005 at 12:02 a.m. He died at 9 months old on February 20, 2006. He was at home with his mama and daddy, and died in our arms. Please sign Thelonius's guest book and let us know you came to visit. Also feel free to visit our blog at www.babythelonius.blogspot.com to read more about Theo and our family's story from the very beginnng. The music you are hearing is by Thelonious Monk, jazz pianist and composer for whom our sweet baby is named. When I first learned Baby was a boy, I was surprised. I had only thought of girl names. After I got used to the idea he was a boy, I wanted him to have a unique name. Theo's daddy showed me a painting of an album cover of Thelonious Monk's. As I was looked at the painting I thought--Thelonious...hmmmm... I said, "What about Thelonious? We can name him Thelonious Luther and call him Theo." Jamie immediately loved it. I liked Thelonius without the extra "o." And Luther is my father's name. Thelonius Luther was born at 12:02 a.m. One of Thelonious Monk's most famous and loved compositions is "'Round Midnight," so that became Theo's theme song. On these next two pages, you are listening to versions of "'Round Midnight." This first page is Miles Davis and John Coltrane's version. Page two is Thelonious solo. The Photo Album is backed by another Theolonious Monk tune, "Monk's Mood."

~~On August 20, 2005, our baby Theo was diagnosed with a choroid plexus carcinoma brain tumor, a very rare, aggressive brain tumor which occurs in about one in 30 million people. He was 3 months old. The tumor was about the size of a lemon in his little three month old brain. The surgeons removed all they could, but they can never get all of a brain tumor since crucial brain tissue surrounds the whole thing. We began chemo a week later and a week after that, another scan revealed that his entire cerebral cortex was damgaged--total neurological devastation. After that news, and having a very grim prognosis about the cancer itself (very rare, very aggressive) and that if he did survive the tumor, his brain would be totally destroyed. We brought him home to make him as comfortable as possible. We did not want to put him through any more surgery or chemotherapy. We had pediatric hospice care from September 16 through his death last February 20, 2006. I am so grateful for the wonderful medical and hospice care we received. We had so much love and support and even though every day was and still is difficult, we feel so very lucky that were able to know him, and to have had time with him. His death, though painful and devastating, was peaceful and sacred. He was a very special person who gave so much love, touched so many lives. More than we will ever know. We love and miss you so much sweet baby.


Waterbugs and Dragonflies Down below the surface of a quiet pond lived a little colony of water bugs. They were a happy colony, living far away from the sun. For many months they were very busy, scurrying over the soft mud on the bottom of the pond. They did notice that every once in a while one of their colony seemed to lose interest in going about with its friends. Clinging to the stem of a pond lily, it gradually moved out of sight and was seen no more. "Look!" said one of the water bugs to another. "One of our colony is climbing up the lily stalk. Where do you suppose she is going?" Up, up, up it went slowly. Even as they watched, the water bug disappeared from sight. Its friends waited and waited but it didn't return. "That's funny!" said one water bug to another. "Wasn't she happy here?" asked a second water bug. "Where do you suppose she went?" wondered a third. No one had an answer. They were greatly puzzled. Finally one of the water bugs, a leader in the colony, gathered its friends together. "I have an idea. The next one of us who climbs up the lily stalk must promise to come back and tell us where he or she went and why." "We promise," they said solemnly. One spring day, not long after, the very water bug who had suggested the plan found himself climbing up the lily stalk. Up, up, up he went. Before he knew what was happening, he had broken through the surface of the water, and fallen onto the broad, green lily pad above. When he awoke, he looked about with surprise. He couldn't believe what he saw. A startling change had come to his old body. His movement revealed four silver wings and a long tail. Even as he struggled, he felt an impulse to move his wings. The warmth of the sun soon dried the moisture from the new body. He moved his wings again and suddenly found himself up above the water. He had become a dragonfly. Swooping and dipping in great curves, he flew through the air. He felt exhilarated in the new atmosphere. By and by, the new dragonfly lighted happily on a lily pad to rest. Then it was that he chanced to look below to the bottom of the pond. Why, he was right above his old friends, the water bugs! There they were, scurrying about, just as he had been doing some time before. Then the dragonfly remembered the promise: "The next one of us who climbs up the lily stalk will come back and tell where he or she went and why." Without thinking, the dragonfly darted down. Suddenly he hit the surface of the water and bounced away. Now that he was a dragonfly, he could no longer go into the water. "I can't return!" he said in dismay. "At least I tried, but I can't keep my promise. Even if I could go back, not one of the water bugs would know me in my new body. I guess I'll just have to wait until they become dragonflies too. Then they'll understand what happened to me, and where I went.” And the dragonfly winged off happily into its wonderful new world of sun and air. Doris Stickney (1982)


I want to share our dragonfly story with you. Theo got sick on August 20, 2005. We were with him at the hospital all that day and evening, finally leaving around midnight to go home to sleep a little. We live only a few miles from the hospital and he was heavily sedated, sleeping peacefully. The wonderful PICU nurses assured us they would be right with him so we felt okay about going home for a few hours. We got up very early Sunday morning to return to his bedside. The sun was shining and everything was still, like it always is in the early morning. People were home, having breakfast, getting ready for church, sleeping late, doing Sunday morning things, and we had the streets to ourselves. We stopped at a red light on Leigh Street. A dragonfly flew over to the car and hovered at the windshield. “Look at that!” I said to Jamie as the dragonfly bounced up and down. He seemed to be looking in at us. The light changed and we drove on as he flew up and away. At the next light, he flew over to the windshield a second time. It may have been a different dragonfly, but it seemed as if he was following us. Later that day in Theo’s room on the 7th floor, I was gazing out the window, which I did a lot when I couldn’t stand anymore to look at my baby lying in the big hospital bed, hooked up to lines and machines, not knowing whether he was in pain, if he was suffering. Looking out the big windows gave me a break from that heartbreaking scene, if only for a moment. As I looked out at the city and the sky, a large dragonfly flew up to the window and hovered there. He began to bounce up and down. He bounced right off the big glass window, as if he were trying to fly in, before finally giving up and zipping off. I was astounded. That window was pretty high up. I thought then that the dragonflies must mean something. I started seeing dragonflies everywhere. They followed us every morning as we drove to the hospital, bouncing and flitting against the glass when we came to stops. After about a week of steady stop light appearances, they tapered off and only appeared a few more times on drives to the hospital. It seemed dragonflies were showing up all over the place; our nurse wore a scrub top with dragonflies on it, my mother showed up at the hospital wearing a dragonfly t-shirt, a friend came to visit Theo with rhinestone dragonflies on her sandals. There was a pretty, colorful dragonfly tabletop nightlight on sale at the hospital gift shop. I purchased it to light up Theo’s room at night. I put it on the wide ledge of his window and we were able to see the colored lights from the street and blow him kisses from the sidewalk. After I returned to work, following his first week in the hospital, I was out with my good friend Jessica on our lunch break when we decided to stop into a clothing store briefly before returning to work. As I pulled into a parking spot, a huge dragonfly, the biggest I’d ever seen, flew over to the windshield. Pointing, I said, “Look!” He hovered there for several seconds and I relayed to Jessica all the previous dragonfly sightings. We were in the store maybe half an hour. When we returned to the car, the dragonfly was still there flitting around the car. I stopped near the car door and he hovered in front of me, slightly above my head. He was only about two feet away. I felt that I could reach out my hand and he would land there. But I stood very still looking at him. I could see the light bouncing off his silvery wings as they fluttered. His body was huge and shimmered blue and green, colors of peacock feathers. His big round multi-sectioned eyes were orange and shiny and I thought I could see the many reflections of myself repeated there. He appeared to be looking right at me. He was looking right at me. He continued to hover and look. I finally said, “Hello” and he just continued to hover, as if he were waiting for something. I didn’t know what he was waiting for, but I didn't want to leave. I told him, “I’ll be going the hospital this afternoon. I leave work in a few hours” and at that, he flew upward, bounced in the air a few times and then bounced over to my friend and back toward me as if to say, "Who is this?" So, I said, "That’s Jessica. She’s my friend." Then he flew away. If Jessica had not been there, I don’t think anyone would believe what happened. I was amazed. I still didn’t know what they meant. A few days later I did some research on the Internet and found that dragonflies have rich symbolism in many different cultures. In some Native American mythologies, they represent the spirits of the dead and also stand for transformation and metamorphosis. Their presence can signify renewal and rebirth as well as instability and change. In Zuni myths, they are shamanistic creatures with supernatural powers that bring messages from the gods. They are spirits who are able to travel freely between the physical and spirit worlds. Japanese samurai frequently wore representations of dragonflies on their helmets to symbolize swiftness and strength. I still don’t know exactly what the appearances of so many dragonflies means for me, what the message was specifically, maybe there is no specific message. I do know that it felt magical to me and gave me a sense that we were being watched over, guarded, protected. I also felt a sense of wonder and peace when they appeared.

In some ways, to me, Theo is the dragonfly. I will never see another dragonfly, in nature or art, or anywhere else, without thinking of him. To me they represent his strength, his beauty, his delicacy and the great power of his spirit. Like the dragonfly, he is able to move between our physical world and the world of spirit. The dragonflies remind me of the changes we have all gone through along with the great wonder and beauty we have experienced throughout his life. They still follow me, they seem to show up just when I need a lift, when I need a happy surprise. I know they are messages from my baby, saying, "Look mama! I am beautiful and happy. I love you very much and want you to be happy too!" I can't help but smile when I see a dragonfly.

So, next time you see a dragonfly, imagine what message it may be bringing to you. And please think of Theo, send out love to him, to someone you love and to all of us.


Theo’s Obituary Thelonius Luther Helbert Fueglein, 9 months old, died peacefully at home in Richmond, VA on February 20, 2006 of a brain tumor. In his short time with us, Theo touched untold numbers of people. In knowing him, his family and friends experienced love and compassion that will resonate throughout our lives. Theo is survived by his parents Karla Helbert and Jamie Fueglein, his grandparents, Luther C. Helbert and Dyanne Helbert, his great-grandmothers Virginia Helbert and Betty Wood, his aunts and uncles Meg and Erich Faber and David and Julie Fueglein, many cousins and extended family. His paternal grandmother Marge Fueglein passed away the day before Theo’s birth. Theo’s parents are very grateful to friends and family who have supported us throughout. We also would like to extend warm thanks to Theo’s nurses, doctors and caregivers who provided excellent care and support.

Visitation hours will be held at Carty’s Funeral Home at 1621 Norton Rd. S.W. in Wise, VA on Friday, February 24 from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Services will be held in the funeral home chapel on Saturday, February 25 at 1:00 p.m. followed by a short graveside service at Colyer Cemetery. Flowers or stuffed animals are welcome. All stuffed animal gifts will be donated in Theo’s name to VCU Medical Center’s pediatric intensive care unit. The family also encourages memorial donations in Theo’s name to be made to Noah’s Children pediatric hospice program. Donations may be sent to Noah’s Children, Office of Gifts & Contributions, IVNA, 5008 Monument Avenue, Richmond, VA 23230.


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