Friday, May 20, 2011

Give me your number

Lauren loved when the digital clock would read 2:22, 3:33 and so on. She said it was good luck. She would always tell me that. I really did not pay full attention. I just thought it was a kid’s thing. She’d say, “Oh, Mom! It’s good luck! Try to make a wish when it happens.”
After she died, it seemed to happen all the time. I would look at the clock and it would be 5:55. I would look at my computer clock at work and it would be 1:11. It was weird. I never told anyone about that. It just happened. My nephew (and godson) Christopher was born July of the same year Lauren died. He was in his mother’s womb when we lost Lauren. His mother is my husband’s only sister, so we are very close.
We went to visit them when Chris was an infant, and stricken with grief, we found joy in the little guy. Liz and I were talking when I began to share about the clock and how I would see the three matching numbers all the time. Liz’s eyes filled with tears. She had been experiencing the same thing. She said everytime she would feed Chris, she would glance at the clock, and it seemed to always be on matching numbers. After a good cry, I chalked it up to the same reason that I had seen so many butterflies that summer. It was the Holy Spirit and He was comforting us. It still happens to me, but not as often. Usually now I look at the clock and it always seems to be 11:29. That is her birthday. When those things happen, I stare at the clock until the time changes, always thinking of Lauren and remembering something about her. Maybe my body clock is programmed to glance at the clock at those opportune times, but I really do attribute it to God and his infinite power to comfort us in our times of need.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The good, the bad and the ugly

This past week and a half has been a roller coaster. Both emotional and physical. We left home to fly to Calif. for our niece's college graduation and visit with family. It was great to be there visiting, shopping and celebrating. Our niece is a beautiful young woman both inside and out. She has grown and matured in a way that makes us so proud. It is bittersweet for us- she really makes us wonder what Lauren would have been like on the cusp of her college graduation. I know that she would have become an accomplished young adult.

Mother's Day was particularly tough for me this year. Although the actual 7th anniversary of her death was not until Monday, May 9, that year it fell on Mother's Day. As someone I was talking to once reminded me, "Oh! If it doesn't fall on Mother's Day, you get to remember it twice." I stopped short of telling this insensitive person that I remember it EVERY day. Anyhow, I think it was being away from home, and our church that made it hard. The good part was I had my son with me. That made it all better. The three of us went to mass at a lovely church where they bought me a rose. The donation for the rose went to pro-life agencies in the area. That seemed appropriate in so many ways. A couple of my good friends told me that they had placed flowers on her grave for me. That touched my heart.

We came home on Monday and I spent a miserable day traveling as I had already gotten sick the night before. We got back into our routine and received some good news during the week. Our Northwest scholarship recipient has been named and she has a tie to our family. Her sister was in our son Aaron's class and her brother was in Lauren's class. I remember her being a little girl running around at the high school ball games as we worked the band's concession stand with her parents. It does me good to know her siblings will tell her about Lauren. The band directors at the high school also let me know that they are now giving a band award in her honor to a student who exemplifies her qualities. We were so honored to hear that! Also, the local Rotary Club gave the scholarship they named in her honor! Lots of people have been remembering our Lauren this week!

We were coming home to Mississippi for the weekend when a song came on the radio. It was "If I Ain't Got You" by Alicia Keys. It was one of the last songs she played for me as we were riding along in her car. It was as if someone had punched me right in the gut. I had to turn it down. As always, I was amazed that something that simple could throw me for a loop. It doesn't seem possible that after this much time has passed , a song or a photo or a trip to her room could just about do me in. I think it is to remind me to cling to my Saviour and to the ones I love the most. To take pleasure in the memories I hold of her in my heart. It jolts me into remembering that even though I am wounded, I am still faithful.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

I will remember you

I have said before that one of the grieving parent’s worst fears is that their child will be forgotten. I never knew that fear first hand until after Lauren died. That first week was overwhelming and surreal, yet somehow I knew I needed to do something to memorialize her. It was almost instinctive. We sat around my dining room table planning the funeral mass.  
As our beloved priest, Fr. Dermot, my friend John, who was minister of music at our church, and my husband and I began talking, I suddenly said, “I want to set up a band scholarship at Northwest Mississippi Community College for Lauren. I want it to be for a band student from her high school.”
The folks around that table understood my request. We are band people. Both of my children had been in band since 5th  grade. My son had gone to school at Northwest on a Fine Arts Scholarship for band. My husband and I were active band parents at their high school. We were both in our high school bands. I was in my junior college band. Band nerds, the lot of us.
 Our friend John, who is the band director at Northwest, immediately began to cry. His son is our godson. It seemed natural and right to me that this would be how we memorialized our daughter.
The response from the community, our friends and our family was tremendous. In a short amount of time, we had almost raised the $5,000 required for the endowment. Just before we reached the mark, a work colleague/friend of my husband’s sent a check for $5,000 from his office and the scholarship was endowed! Since that time, four students have attended Northwest using the interest earned on the endowment. It is a great feeling to know that we are helping students get their education, and they are remembering our Lauren every year! Meeting these young people and watching them perform with the Northwest band has been a blessing to us in so many ways.
So my advice to those parents who are grieving is to do something to memorialize your child. It won’t bring them back, but it will guarantee that they won’t be forgotten, and it might just make you feel better.