Harrison’s Orbit Opens at the 2024 Glendale Branch Library

Posted on March 27, 2024

By Cy Wood

Our son Harrison, who we called Wubs, went with his Mommy to storytime at the old Glendale library branch almost every week. He felt comfortable there, surrounded by books like he was at home and being read stories like we did for him. It was his happy place. He loved to press the button on the elevator, run down the hallway, play with the lego wall and the other toys after storytime and bring home a week’s worth of books to read before bed.

If we intended to pass on anything to Harrison, it was a love of stories and of libraries. We read to him frequently. Children’s books were on all of our lower shelves so he could access them. He brought them to us throughout the day, so we would sit with him and flip through the pages. He made sound effects for some of the illustrations, and pointed at each circle he saw because they looked like balls—his other favorite thing.

Harrison most enjoyed the Sesame Street books and knew exactly where to find them at the Glendale Branch. He could carry all seven books—a new one for every bedtime—in his special book bag. He was so proud.

Harrison and I went for runs in our neighborhood. We watched the new Glendale branch building be built. I explained to him that pretty soon he and Mommy would walk up here for storytime. He was excited. We all were.

When Harrison died, flowers started to roll in—as they do. And while we weren’t ungrateful for them, we didn’t want them. Instead we wanted to find a way to give our son the kind of memorial he deserved. Katy and I have said from the start that it’s our job to share his story now, that all we want is for people to Remember Harrison. Harrison burned bright when he was here. He deserved to have a special place that helped tell his story.

Everyone asked how they could help. We told them that, if they wanted to help, they could give a gift in Harrison’s name to the Library Foundation and direct the money to the Glendale Branch.

We knew there would be a lot of gifts. But even we didn’t expect the incredible outpouring of generosity that came afterwards. Katy and I didn’t have a target—we only wanted to raise enough to leave a lasting memorial for Harrison. But the number of gifts kept climbing. More people gave—people we hadn’t heard from in years. Then more, and more, and in the end there were 293 gifts in Harrison’s name. We were—and still are—astounded.

While Harrison’s Orbit is the kind of physical space we hoped to give him, Harrison’s real legacy lives on in the other opportunities created by the Library Foundation and these gifts. They’re funding programming at the Glendale branch, like the storytime he loved so much. They’re funding Bunny Book Bags in both English and Spanish (we read to Harrison in English, Spanish, and French). These gifts in Harrison’s name help ensure that kids across the city have access to books, have access to ideas, and have access to a safe place to explore them.

In a strange way that I’m sure you can understand, I wish Harrison’s Orbit didn’t exist—or rather, that it didn’t need to exist. It’s here because of his absence. We would trade anything to have him back with us. But we can’t. And so Harrison’s Orbit is perfect. It’s the exact type of place that Wubs would love, and where we’re excited to take his little brother August. And knowing that other children will get to play there, read there, feel safe and comfortable there, and learn about the world there? There’s no better memorial I can imagine.

If you would like to make a donation to the Indianapolis Public Library Foundation, you may do so on this secure webpage.