22 Days to go: We’re in the Club. Now what? Make New Memories.
One of the things you often hear in groups of bereaved parents is “We joined the club that no one wanted to belong to.” That is the UNDERSTATEMENT of a lifetime. If it were pledge week, this group would be the one that absolutely no one would attend the social. But now that I am lifelong card-carrying member, I have discovered that many other “members” share my wishes and desires.
Recently one of those wishes has been to hear Reed’s voice. I feel like I am forgetting what he sounded like. So one night I dug out his old MP3 player and listened to all the crazy antics that he and his siblings recorded. Through my tears, I got to hear his unmistakable voice. Another of those desires is to make new memories with that child.
In recent weeks, one of my grief journey friends shared her discovery. It was an artwork collection that a teacher found and hand-delivered to their home. She was practically giddy when she shared with me. My eyes welled with tears because my friend received the greatest gift – a new memory.
Sometimes the “voice” is revealed at what I believe is the exact time God knows that our hearts are ready to receive it. One of those moments for me came at Reed’s Celebration of Life service. At some point, Pastor Don shared a poem written by Reed that he was given just moments before. I sat there on the gym floor stunned because I had never heard those words. That new memory of sweet words quickly became a soothing balm for my soul.
This summer I was able to be God’s instrument in finding hidden words of a sweet young man and family friend, AJ Maag. Following AJ’s death, there were so many questions. Were we all going to be okay? Days later, a few of us had the honor of packing up AJ’s apartment. As I was standing in AJ’s room, there on his bedroom wall right where he would first look when he woke up was a life list. I stood in that bedroom and bawled. His “creed” was the answer to my question. AJ’s words, penned on cardboard, were like God’s way of telling me we were all going to be okay. I had the joy of sharing his precious words – a new memory for his parents – at his memorial service. They were words to make us all proud and words to remember.
Until spoken about at his services, very few knew that this quiet, personable young man was the one who built the four benches around the Lakeview pond. One bench was made in memory of Jesse, Hunter, Emilee, and Reed. That’s just how AJ was, generous and unassuming. The one thing I never understood was he didn’t want any recognition for the benches, because in his words, “It’s not about me”.
But for two moms, making new memories is just one of those things we really want to do. We want to remember AJ’s gift and memorialize those he remembered as well as himself. We have copies of AJ’s creed which will be available for a free will donation at Reed’s Run. The proceeds of which will go to make bronze markers for each of those four benches that will have each child’s name right alongside the name of the builder.
This time it is a new shared memory. Somehow it just seems fitting.