I hope that you can see the picture that was sent to me from Cynthia. You will read why this connects to her reply this week later in the message. This picture also makes me think as I look outside my window as I write this message today. The leaves are changing and falling, rain is in the air, and the temperature is getting cooler. Change is a part of life and when a close loved one dies, there are many changes that come to the survivor. As I look at the changes that the season brings when we go from summer to fall, it made me think of this question which is the question for next week: How have your priorities changed since your loved one has passed? This should be a good discussion question and I am looking forward to reading the answers that come.
For Amanda’s question from last week which was: As you travel this journey, what has been the most helpful to you?, there were many answers and I want to thank all of those who replied and also those who just want to read. Enjoy the responses and know that TAPS is here for you whenever you need us.
I celebrate Eric’s life in every sunset that dances in the heavens, I look up and watch the clouds dance for me and I know it's my son playing in the heavens wisping the clouds around. The first year is upon us this week and we have planned a huge family reunion and a picnic, & barB-Q, we will all gather and celebrate the life we still have with Eric in our hearts and our memories will be shared and we will take more pictures and watch a beautiful sunset together as Eric dances in the heavens.
I spent weeks and months surviving and gathering all of my 4 children’s childhood items and I created a time capsule, to give to them , I think we will have to all share Eric’s time capsule this weekend also.
(The answer is) TAPS. This has been the most helpful part of my journey so far. I was hesitant at first. Now, I look forward to the e-mails and the questions. I have a long way to go. Thanks for all the answers from my fellow survivors. I am glad to have this support.
As I always said, I find that by reaching out to others and helping others has helped me, but remember to take very good care of yourself also.
The last time I saw Timothy was on St. Patrick’s Day 2009. We celebrated the day as a family and have many fond memories of Pat's Days Past. This year, 2012, the third anniversary of our last celebration together, I made the traditional dinner and invited two friends. There were three at the table and the setting was off: Timothy was not there. So, I rummaged through the closet, found his military jacket and draped it over his chair. I set a place for him and toasted his presence. I will keep our tradition alive and toast his spiritual presence and with God's help expand the celebration in his honor.
I let everyone I love know that I am unplugging for the day. Only one anniversary of my son Andy's death so far. He was killed on August 6, 2011. I went to the cemetery and cried. Then I went home and cried. The haunting of the moment I found out, from my other son Sean, was almost unbearable. I prayed for all of our sons and daughters that have been killed in that faraway land, and the ones that came home broken. They are the bravest, kindest, best people in our country. I read Help for Healing Hearts and Broken Hearts Still Beat. I feel better knowing I’m connected to mothers like me through TAPS. I am thankful to Carol for being positive.
On the first anniversary of his leaving us, I started a journal to tell him how much I missed him and all that was going on with me. So I write to him every night just letting him know what I did that day and how much I miss him and love him. I know we will meet again.
My husband and I have struggled so much after losing our 23 year old, our youngest of 3 sons. We have tried so many things, taking trips, counseling, being with friends, viewing his website we created, and praying for strength. I am sure that all of this has helped to keep us going just one more day. However, I always wanted to write a book after I retired from teaching. I finally got the nerve to write and recall my son's last year and a half of his life. It was a very painful task to relive his days of suffering with PTSD and an injured back. I cried through much of the writing process, but after 2 and 1/2 years, I completed it. I had mentioned to my son that I wanted to write a book about his experiences. I never imagined he would pass away. Writing is very therapeutic. Completing the book gave me a sense of accomplishment. I also see it as my son's voice speaking out to help others. I named the book, YOU'LL BE FINE, DARLING and it went on sale last month. I feel that I did something for my son, for myself, and also to help others.
We have never selected any special day to celebrate Jim's life... Each day we stop and remember something he did, said or laughed at. At first it was hard but now as I wander through life, I think of Jim each and every day and it is as though he is still here at times. Sometimes I find myself laughing, other times crying and still other times wondering how in the world he got by with some of things that he did... Jim's friends reach out and touch us. We received a large bouquet of roses on the day that he died this year. Several cards came.... my favorite card was one from a friend saying... "Just remembering..." It said everything without saying anything.
Jim believed in helping children so we do exactly that. If we are to live in a loving world, we have to teach the children to love.
My journey is still new to me, as it has only been four months. We have had many, many poignant moments and treasures given to us. But the most meaningful thing was the memorial that his battalion had when they came back from Afghanistan. These young boys are really great MEN. His company took us to dinner and each one came and sat with us and told a story. Some stories were funny, some just fun, some were heroic, all are treasured. They were given leave the morning after the memorial, they hadn’t seen their families since pre-deployment and yet many of them postponed their plans and stayed the whole weekend with us. They took us to the beach and taught me to body surf right in the spot that my son learned. They took us to places that they frequented and really gave me a sense of his life there at Camp Lejeune. I could feel his spirit there so strongly. I now truly know how much these boys love him. And I know he was surrounded by their love as he took his last breath. That is so very important to me. I love them all and keep in touch with them.