"I bought him a birthday card and cut out pictures of the things I would have bought for him," Alana Anderson said. "A lighted skateboard. A remote-control helicopter."
Now, six months later, Timmothy remains missing and investigators are stumped. Aurora police are expected to update the investigation and release new video of the boy Friday in hopes of drawing out new leads.
Anderson and Jim Pitzen, the boy's father, are trying to cope with heartbreaking anxiety while they prepare for a Thanksgiving far different than last year's, when Anderson, Jim and Amy Fry-Pitzen, and Timmothy gathered at the Pitzen house in Aurora. Fry-Pitzen prepared a delicious meal.
This year, Pitzen will be visiting his parents out of town. Anderson will be accompanying an aunt to Arizona.
The family holds fast to the belief that the child is alive.
"I just try to do one day at a time," Pitzen said Thursday. "I hope whoever has Tim understands that he's not theirs and he needs to come home to his family."
Anderson said she, too, is trying to take every day as it comes, "trying to put the pieces of my life together. They're just not that many of them left anymore."
Anderson, who lives alone, said she misses her daughter, who helped paint Anderson's house and clear her garden last spring, and her grandson, who would sleep at Anderson's home every other weekend.
"It's been rough," Anderson said. "I think the first couple of months you're in such shock, you're almost numb and it doesn't quite sink in. But now … I don't expect it to be a whole lot better anytime soon."
In the months since Timmothy disappeared, Pitzen lost his manufacturing job. He said he does "what I can do to keep occupied" and to keep his mind off his son's absence.
Pitzen said he is "upset" with his wife but said he will forgive her "at some point."
"I think about her all the time," he said. "I just wonder what she did with our son and why she wanted him to be with someone else."
Anderson is seeing a therapist and has received support from her pastor, friends, co-workers and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, which has assigned a volunteer who has dealt with the disappearance of a loved one to counsel Anderson.
And, she started a journal about a week after Timmothy went missing. Anderson said she writes "cute, little stories about him so he'll know what he was like, how I felt about him; how hard we looked for him; the places we went and things we did together."
Pitzen and Anderson base their contention that Timmothy is safe on two factors: Amy Fry-Pitzen deeply loved her son and routinely demonstrated her affection. In addition, she meticulously planned her own death, leading Anderson and Pitzen to believe she'd made detailed plans for her only child's safety.
Fry-Pitzen, 43, had a history of depression, but Anderson, a retired emergency room nurse, said her daughter "was not a crazy person. She absolutely never acted bizarrely."
After picking up Timmothy about 8:30 a.m. May 11 from his kindergarten class, Fry-Pitzen and the boy visited Brookfield Zoo, KeyLime Cove waterpark in Gurnee and Kalahari Resorts in the Wisconsin Dells, authorities said.