ST. ANTHONY — If Nick Hulshizer had lived, he would be in his mother’s kindergarten class his year.

Nick drowned in an ornamental garden pond at his grandparent’s Clinton home in August 2001. His death at age 2 gave life to four people, and his mother, Erin Hulshizer, has written a book that she hopes will help others with the healing process following the death of a loved one.

Hulshizer grew up in Clinton and is a 1988 graduate of Clinton High School. Her parents are Jon and Dianne DeBruin of Clinton.

Following the accident, Nick was taken to University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City where he died five days later. Erin and her husband, Doug, made the decision to donate their son’s organs when doctors told them Nick was approaching brain death. A social worker at the hospital told them it was an option.

“It was an immediate decision,” Erin said. There were four recipients, two children and two adults.

Three-month-old Brianna received Nick’s heart. Jasmine, who was 2 at the time, received his liver and intestines and a 50-year-old woman and a man in his 60s each received a kidney.

The Hulshizers have kept close contact with Brianna and her family and traveled to Goodlettsville, Tenn., to help Brianna celebrate her second birthday.

“It was really a strange feeling because you have this love for someone we didn’t know,” Erin explained. “It was a wonderful thing. Before we left, I got to hold her and remembered that I tried to feel her heartbeat, knowing that it was Nick’s heart.”

Erin said it is a very lengthy process to keep in contact with the recipients.

“Everything is extremely confidential,” she explained.

“I wrote my letter and put it in a plain envelope with a sticky note with Nick’s name and his date of death.”

That envelope goes into another envelope and sent to the Organ Donor Network. The letter is read to make sure confidentially hasn’t been compromised and then sent to the family of the recipient.

“It’s a huge process,” Erin said. “If they choose to write back then it’s the same process in reverse.”

There is even a longer period of time before names and addresses are exchanged.

Brianna’s parents did not respond to Erin’s correspondence the first year but the Hulshizers had established a good relationship with Jasmine’s family.

“Her mother wrote us pretty much right away,” Erin recalled. “She had miraculous things to tell us.”

In the year following Jasmine’s receiving the liver and intestines, she was able to be off all machines and could eat solid food and stay at home, things she could not do before.

“We had only established a writing relationship and did not know where she lived or her last name,” Erin reported. And then Jasmine died; Erin found out by accident after contacting the Organ Donor Network.

“It was very frustrating thing to find out she had died and we didn’t know,” Erin said.

When Erin started writing her book “Nick: A Young Hero Remembered,” it was strictly meant for her family.

“I didn’t want my children to forget Nick. There are all the fun little stories of how they played with him and the things he said.”

But as Erin continued to write, she got into his accident, his death and funeral and how she coped with it.

“It was very much my story and grew into this healing for me,” she said.

Joan Boyd, a retired CHS language arts teacher, edited the book and both Boyd and Erin’s mother encouraged her to publish it.

Erin said the decision to donate Nick’s organs came straight from God.

“Before Nick’s accident I would have never considered organ donation for my children,” she said.

But Erin believes God changed her thinking.

“He knew that this was the way I could deal and something positive could come out of it.”

All Erin can tell other parents is that it worked for her.

“I was able to separate Nick from his body and the part that I loved was safe with God and the part left behind was not what was important about him.”

Erin is a teacher in the Colo-NESCO School District. She and Doug have three daughters, Allison, 11; Kate, 8; and Megan, 21/2.