Saturday Morning Message: Sharing Heartfelt Gifts

Author: Carol Lane

Good Morning,

What is a gift? Our loved ones were our first gift. Then, over time, we acquired physical gifts from them. The opening picture is a deer garden ornament my son, Bryon, gave me that I treasure.

In this week’s message, survivors have shared both kinds of presents. I was so excited about all the responses that came to answer this question, so this week’s message will be a bit longer than usual. I know you will enjoy the stories.

Carol Lane
Mother of Bryon

deer garden ornament

Responses from Survivors to last week's question

Is there a special gift or present your loved one gave you?


sculpted frog

From Marcia, mother of Patrick: My Airman son, Patrick, was a gifted artist in several mediums. One day he walked in and plunked this down for me. It was a dark winter afternoon, so I couldn't see what it was at first. Then I turned on the overhead light and I was speechless. He had sculpted a frog out of a sculpted rock. He was 16 and I was gob smacked by the intensity of his talent in line, color and song. 


shoe string bracelet

From Robin, mother of Steven: I made this bracelet from the shoe string that was around Steven’s neck when he returned from Afghanistan in 2011. It held his dog tags. He cut it off and put his tags back on the chain. As he dangled the shoe string over the trash I said “Don’t throw that away!” I didn’t know at the time how much it would mean to me until we lost him 6 years later. 


From Kelsey, mother of Michael: My son gave me a jigsaw for my birthday. Actually he told me to pick one and then he paid for it. He had no clue about power tools. I still have it and use it occasionally. My dad and I have a woodshop together we call it “Brinkley and Daughter Woodworking”. Just seeing it makes my heart glow from the memory of buying it.



From Belinda, mother of Benjamin: Benjamin wanted to get me something special for my 60th birthday. His girlfriend told me he did a lot of research. He called me on the phone and told me I was getting a package, but couldn’t open it until he called me on my day. I thank God I was talking to him on the phone when it was delivered to me. He was able to be involved in that part.

Next day on my birthday I waited and waited, but he didn’t call and I was dying to open my package. Benjamin always liked to surprise me. I finally called him and he said I could open it. He apologized for not calling, listened while I opened and screamed with excitement when I saw my mother/child necklace. I have 2 children so he got it with 3 diamonds for us. I never take it off unless absolutely necessary and think of him every time I look in the mirror and see it or feel it. 


framed birthday card

From Caryn, mother of Nathan: There were lots of special gifts from my son, but the one that means the most is this birthday card I found while going through his belongings and I found it right before my birthday. Now it sits in a frame where I can see it any time. 


From Elizabeth, spouse of Joseph: I'm not sentimental about most things, but I treasure the rocking chair Joe gave me when we got the results of the test proving I was pregnant with our first child.  Carolyn turned 48 last week and the chair is in my living room today. 



From Lydia, mother of Carl: For Mother's Day in 2018, my son, LCpl Carl Burgdorf, had a plant sent. It was a blooming azalea. I had a terrible time trying to keep it going. There were several times I almost gave up and chucked it. But I just couldn't give up.

I trimmed it back drastically and it started to revive. It bloomed in November just after the first birthday I celebrated without him. I'm hoping that it will bloom again soon, maybe for his birthday this year. 


Devin's drawing

From Charlene, mother of Devin: On Mother’s Day 2008, my talented son gave me this picture that he drew for me. This gift was extra special, because he wrote a note on the back of it that I didn’t see until after he passed. This picture was hung on my wall for 8 years with a beautiful message I knew nothing about. It suddenly fell off the wall and the frame broke. That’s when I read “Happy Mother’s Day, Ma. Anybody can be a mother, thanks for just being my mom.” I burst into tears when I first saw it.  


From Samira, mother of Andres: Andres, was my gift. Becoming a mother of Andres was my greatest gift.  Andres gave me only beautiful memories. This is the reason I can survive.  Andres's behavior was excellent. He studied, never skipped school, did his homework. He didn’t smoke or drink. He had a big heart and was smart. 

If you would like to send a message thanking one or all of those who participated in this week’s Saturday Morning Message, send it to and your thoughts will be passed along to them. You never know how your words may touch the heart of another.

Question for Next Week’s Saturday Morning Message 

Kim, spouse of John, shared our next question which is: “Listen.Learn.Love.” is the TAPS theme for September's Suicide Prevention Month, but it is three actions that we bring to life at TAPS each and everyday for all survivors. As survivors, how have you put these concepts into action, either in your own grief journey or in support of another survivor to bring about hope and healing? We would be so honored for you to share your story with us.  

The Saturday Morning Message was created so survivors can share questions and read how others respond. Questions for future messages are always welcome. You can reply to this message or email In order to have your reply included the following week, it is best to send your response by Tuesday morning. Thank you to everyone responding this week and those who read this message.

♫ Song for the Week

This week’s song is "I Won’t Back Down" sung by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. It comes from Rachel, sister of Kenneth who wrote, “This has always symbolized the military to me since they don't back down, no matter what. Since my brother's death, it has become my song. It reminds me that even when there is no easy way out, just like my brother never would have - I can't back down.”

You can send me favorite songs for this song of the week section at and include a note about why the song is meaningful to you.

Related Stories


How I Honor the Memories of My Dad During the Holidays

While the memories can and do bring pain, they’re matched by the purest sense of joy as I think about our happiest moments together.

hugging headstone

4 Gifts My Boyfriend Left Me After His Death

Gifts don’t always come in the form of a pretty box wrapped with shiny paper and a bow; they sometimes come in ways that are invisible to the eyes.


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Visit the TAPS Online Community Calendar for this week's schedule of text and video chats and other offerings. We have a virtual gathering most days of the week. Whether you want to share your story or just read how other survivors are sharing and coping, this online grief support community is a way for you to develop and strengthen your connections with TAPS.

Other Items and Events of Interest

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The TAPS National Military Suicide Survivor Seminar is going virtual. Held October 16-18, you will hear from others who have walked the road you are traveling. Sessions will offer vital information on anxiety, loss and family dynamics, talking to children and more. The grief that follows suicide loss can be uniquely complicated. You are not alone, and we invite you to join us for a time of hope and healing. 

Celebrating 20 Years of Team TAPS 

For 20 years, Team TAPS has honored our heroes and raised awareness and funds to support the TAPS mission. This year, in celebration of our 20th anniversary, we are coming together to create a virtual movement. We will walk, run, bike, swim, and row - find ways to move in honor of our loved ones. We will gain strength, go the distance, and encourage each other. Join us for this adventure

You can discover all the opportunities to connect with your TAPS family on our website at the TAPS Event Calendar.

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We're all in this together

Have you lost your job or have reduced household income? How has the pandemic made an impact on your life? If you are grieving the death of a loved one, and their life included military service, we'd like to hear from you.

Your feedback will be used to improve TAPS programs and to communicate survivor needs to donors and stakeholders. Please share how COVID-19 has impacted you by taking our survey.


Did you lose your loved on due to an illness loss

If your military loved one suffered with a wound, illness, or injury, please consider taking our new Illness Loss Survivor Survey, so TAPS can honor your loved one through our advocacy efforts.

If you took the survey last year, we ask that you retake it as we've made important updates. Your response could help shape policy and legislation, and direct future TAPS programs and services. To learn more, email

Those who take either survey will receive a discount to the TAPS store for providing this important and valuable feedback.

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AmazonSmile is a simple way for you to support TAPS every time you shop, at no cost to you. Visit, log in, and select TAPS as your charity of choice. Amazon will give 0.5% of your eligible purchases to TAPS.

About the Saturday Morning Message

The Saturday Morning Message (SMM) is a weekly communication; written and contributed to by survivors. The primary focus of the Saturday Morning Message is to foster peer-based connection for support and encouragement.  It is the goal of this communication to foster a safe, supportive atmosphere where we can openly share in a non-judgmental and caring manner. Read and contribute as you are comfortable, and explore any opinions/ideas shared that are most beneficial to you on your individual journey. Content submitted for inclusion in the Saturday Morning Message is edited for spacing considerations, grammatical corrections and may be used in other TAPS publications.  

To subscribe or contribute to the Saturday Morning Message email

If you ever need to speak to someone regarding an urgent matter or just need a listening ear, the loving family at TAPS is available to you 24 hours a day. Please feel free to contact TAPS at 800-959-8277.