Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A Much Too Familiar Road

I've sat down at the computer for the last two days trying to put my thoughts together for this post, but the truth is I can't (and every time I start to type the tears begin to flow).  I'm having a hard time putting my thoughts into words - so please forgive me if this post is all over the place or a bunch of rambling.  Two years ago we made the decision to stop treatments and to come home to hospice.  Two years later (to the date) Jon's parents made the same decision.  Jon's Dad has been battling lung cancer for a little over a year now.  Two weeks ago he was admitted to the hospital for various reasons - and Monday they brought him home to start hospice care.  He wasn't home long when the decision was made to bring him to the Serenity House (almost two years to the exact day TJ was brought there).  I'm not going to lie - this hasn't been easy.  It just doesn't seem fair.  This road is all too familiar and I can't believe we are going through it again two years later.  I ask that you please keep Glenda and the rest of the family in your prayers. 
  I'm going to stop there - my thoughts just aren't coming out right - and the tears won't stop

TJ with Grandpa Don

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Seeing TJ Thru 20/20

The parents of some of TJ's closest friends have been brainstorming ideas about a memorial for TJ.  I was contacted by one of these parents who had asked me to check my calendar to see when we could all get together to go over what they had come up with.  Unfortunately it was about three weeks away before we would hear of their plan.  The other parents, along with Jon and I went out to supper and they revealed their plan to us.  I tell you what - this night was so special, bittersweet and so much fun.  So let me fill you in on what they came up with for a memorial (per our approval).  Their whole concept is to bring TJ along with them (his class) to Jr and Sr. High.  They are now sixth graders and will be leaving the elementary later this year - so they wanted something that would follow them to the other building - something that the kids (classmates) would see everyday as a reminder of their friend.  They plan..... to make a time capsule - gathering their fondest thoughts of TJ, making a video production of how the 6th grade class loved their Elementary Years and memories of TJ.  But what I think is one of the coolest things about the time capsule - they are going to house all of these things in an old trumpet case!  How perfect!  However, they wanted a way to protect and preserve this time capsule so they are making a "brick wall."  Each of the classmates will get to design their own brick and they will form these bricks around the trumpet case - to protect and secure it (since it will be housed inside the school not buried in the ground)!  Now, to an another exciting thing - on graduation day (the year 2020) they will break down the brick wall - every classmate will get to take their brick home with them once they graduate and the time capsule will be opened.  They will view that DVD together as a class.  They will close it up and that old trumpet case will sit in an empty chair on stage during graduation!  After graduation, Jon and I will get that trumpet case and all the contents in it.  Jon and I found the whole thing to be perfect - it fits so well.  There will be a plaque that will remain on the wall hanging in the school of TJ (just like those who have gone before him).  They plan to do all of this before the end of this school year.  There will be a plaque hanging and Securing of the Time Capsule presentation and moving forward to the North Mahaska High School with all of TJ's classmates, their parents, Jon, the boys and me.  I am really excited about all of this.  

They are also planning a few other things.  First off - this year (later this month) they will be having a fundraiser - to raise the money to pay for this memorial.  Their thoughts are to unify the class - to bring them closer together - and have it be a class effort to bring TJ with them thru 20/20.  They will be having a fish fry and baked potato supper on March 28.  Once I get more details I'll forward them on  - so maybe you could join us!

I know they also talk about doing an annual fundraiser/event as a class.  For example, the Jace Race is an annual event in memory of Jace Carrico - another nine year boy from New Sharon who lost his battle with brain cancer.  Some of the money from this 5K goes to bring some kind of educational event to the school.  I know in the past it helped bring in some African Dancers.  I also know that some of this money goes to a senior in a scholarship form.  These are ideas we are still brainstorming for the future years to come.  I do know that these parents have talked about it being a class effort and only lasting until they graduate.  I also know that they have told us that we can help in deciding what that event might be or look like - and we can have a say in what the money would go to.  I'll be honest - I was extremely excited and worried about this idea.  I was afraid that the classmates might begin to wonder year after year "why are we still doing this?"  After a chat with one of these parents - I was reassured this wasn't ever going to be an issue!  I was also a little sad to think it would all stop after graduation, but then I got to thinking.  If TJ were still here - once he graduated he too would be done with high school.  I mean honestly, how many of us have something permanently hanging up on the walls of our schools?  I know I don't (except my name being on a plaque for the FFA).  Nobody would know walking through the halls of North Mahaska - that Tami Ferguson used to go here!  So it just makes sense this would stop.  I guess if Jon and I feel like it should continue - that can be something Jon and I do.  We still have yet to figure out what that event might be or look like - or what the money would go to.  We do have a couple of ideas.  However, we still have some time to think about it and make sure it is just the right thing!  

I can't say enough how much these classmates AND their parents mean to us.  I remember telling Jon when we were at some Kindergarten meeting (for TJ) how I was so thankful we decided to hold TJ back and how much I loved these parents.  They are some pretty special people and have raised some pretty incredible kids.  I'm so thankful that they are bringing TJ (and us) along with them to the year 2020!!  I know TJ's memory will never be forgotten and Jon and I will be a part of this class for a lifetime.