Category Archives: Inspirational

A Peaceful Visit, Ganden Sumtseling Monastery


 

A peaceful experience warms the heart and fills the soul. Who would have thought that I would ever be where I am in my life’s journey? After many years of just getting thru the day, after the death of my son, I finally have peace in my heart. I have seen and experienced so many things in the last couple of years, but one of the most peaceful experiences came when I visited the Sumtseling Monastery in China.

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Songzanlin Monastery in Shangri-la China

At an altitude of nearly 11,000 feet, and housing close to 700 monks and lamas, the Monastery is a buddhist temple in Shangri-la China. It was chosen by the 5th Dalai Lama through divination in 1679. This Monastery was also given the nickname “Little Potala Palace” due to its unique cultural  layout, and because it resembles the Palace in Lhasa.During our visit, we were able to discover some of the Tibetan Buddhism traditions.

Upon arrival, I realized just how incredibly majestic this Monastery really is. As is everywhere in China, you come to expect a sea of stairs to climb to get to where you want to go…the top! And with the high altitude and steep set of stairs, it was a slow, breath taking (literally) ascent for some.

The top, where we wanted to go, is where the main scripture hall is located, which is in the center of the compound. The hall can hold up to 1600 lamas. While we were there, llamas gathered in the hall chanting a long, deep chant that went on for hours. It was so peaceful listening to the chants while the smell of incense lingered in the air, while gazing out over the Monastery at the mountaintops across the lake.

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Monk donned in his red robe climbing the stairs

 

We stopped along the way to peak in doorways and crevices, seeing the monks living quarters on either side of the stairs. Monks were scurrying about, cleaning, offering blessings, studying and chanting, all donned in their red robes.

I received some beads with a blessing of “peace and happiness” to me and to all who hold the beads. I would like to share this

blessing of Peace in Happiness

blessing of Peace in Happiness

blessing with you. I have disassembled the beads

Chinese character wine charms; second from the left is a TIbetan bead blessed by the Monk

Chinese character wine charms; second from the left is a Tibetan bead blessed by the Monk

and made them into wine glass charms. If you are interested in a special Tibetan Monk blessing, message me and I will give you the details.

Wishing you all peace in your hearts and a blessed, happy life.

 


Take your Journey, Dad


It’s been a while since my last blog writing. I really just haven’t had the motivation or inspiration to write. It is not that I haven’t been doing anything, because I have done a lot of traveling and have had many interesting China experiences that are worthy of sharing.

But as any bereaved parent knows, sometimes it’s just hard to get by, especially during the Holidays. There is always one who is missing at the Thanksgiving dinner table, and one less to buy presents for at Christmas. Yes, I am in China and my Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas wasn’t with my family anyway, which was quite difficult, but it doesn’t take away the memories and the broken heartedness of the season. Soon, there will be one more less at Thanksgiving dinner.

I would have loved to have had time at Christmas in Oklahoma with my kids, friends, and ailing parents. However, the written IRS laws have prevented me from being able to go home at my leisure., or be subject to thousands of dollars in taxes.  I had to think about saving my IRS “allowed days” in America for attending my dad’s upcoming funeral. He is terminally ill and is being admitted to a hospice hospital within the week to live out his final days. Just today, he told my mom he “Can’t do this anymore, and is tired of being sick and in pain.” Sadly, my mom and kids have to see this once strong, brave fireman struggling to just stay alive as cancer continues to spread throughout his body.

Pookie

I am saddened by his illness, especially considering all the pain my dad is in and the hallucinations he is experiencing. Hospice workers say the hallucinations are normal for terminal patients with cancer.  Dad is apparently trying to “pack his bag with imaginary items such as shoes and so on, so he won’t be late for the train.”  My mom told him to wait until tomorrow to catch the train, as he wanted to get up and go. I guess he waited.

Again, hospice workers stated that this is common for people who have worked their whole lives to want to go on a journey when they know their time is near.

Well, dad is about to go on one remarkable journey and will be with his grandson again.  I know Clifton, my son is in a much better place than we are, and I know that soon he will be with his grandpa and will be able to show him what’s on the other side of those Pearly Gates that we all look forward to seeing when it comes our time.

It’s ok, Dad go on your journey where there is no pain and suffering, and where Clifton waits to give you a hug and show you around.


Thank You for the flowers


I am a bereaved parent, and Yes, I miss my son EVERY single day.  Not a day has gone by since that dreadful day, August 19, 1991 that I don’t think about him, especially most recently when I have wondered what he would be doing now.  Would he have graduated from The University of Oklahoma as Eric did? (his twin brother) or would he have attended Oklahoma State

Clifton Sparks, missed, loved and remembered everyday

University like his sister? Would he have applied to medical school as Eric did?  Would Eric have applied to medical school had Clifton not died?  Would he have moved to China with me? Would I have moved to China had he not died? Probably not, but these questions can never be answered.

Grief has a funny way of playing with your emotions. It is so much like riding on a roller coaster, up and down and up and down.  Though I think my grief analogy was more like drowning. It would seem as though I would kick and paddle to get to the top so I could breathe, then before I had time to take in enough air, I would sink right back to the bottom again.  Other times it seemed as though the walls in the bedroom were just collapsing in around me and I felt I needed to get out quick or I would be smothered beneath them.  Grief comes in many stages including shock, denial, and disbelief, all of which cushion the heart, body and soul for the remaining, most devastating stages inclusive of  anger, loneliness, despair, and sadness and can be most overwhelming.

Today my  grief is not as crippling as it was immediately after my son died and the many years that followed, and I pray that this statement gives some newly bereaved parent the hope that someday…..someday….your heart will mend a bit too, not heal, but slowly, piece by piece, be put back together, although there will always be a big hole right in the middle.

Children are not supposed to die.  I was not supposed to find a tiny little casket for my son, purchase a burial plot, and pretend to be normal so that I could get on with my day.  My kids are supposed to do that for me, right?  Parents are supposed to die. Not kids.

I have moments still today where grief just sneaks right up and smacks me right in the face again, and I cry.  But I find it

friends and family remember Clifton in my absence…..so thoughtful

easier to get on with my day now as opposed to several years ago, especially when I wake up on the morning of the anniversary of my son’s death (seems odd to call it an anniversary, because I always thought anniversaries were for celebrating) and see

how many wonderful friends and family have visited my son’s grave and placed flowers on his tiny little headstone during my absence.  I must say that was one of my biggest concerns about moving to China: Who would place flowers on my son’s grave?  Now, I know.

And I thank you.


Thank You for the flowers


I am a bereaved parent, and Yes, I miss my son EVERY single day.  Not a day has gone by since that dreadful day, August 19, 1991 that I don’t think about him, especially most recently when I have wondered what he would be doing now.  Would he have graduated from The University of Oklahoma as Eric did? (his twin brother) or would he have attended Oklahoma State

Clifton Sparks, missed, loved and remembered everyday

University like his sister? Would he have applied to medical school as Eric did?  Would Eric have applied to medical school had Clifton not died?  Would he have moved to China with me? Would I have moved to China had he not died? Probably not, but these questions can never be answered.

Grief has a funny way of playing with your emotions. It is so much like riding on a roller coaster, up and down and up and down.  Though I think my grief analogy was more like drowning. It would seem as though I would kick and paddle to get to the top so I could breathe, then before I had time to take in enough air, I would sink right back to the bottom again.  Other times it seemed as though the walls in the bedroom were just collapsing in around me and I felt I needed to get out quick or I would be smothered beneath them.  Grief comes in many stages including shock, denial, and disbelief, all of which cushion the heart, body and soul for the remaining, most devastating stages inclusive of  anger, loneliness, despair, and sadness and can be most overwhelming.

Today my  grief is not as crippling as it was immediately after my son died and the many years that followed, and I pray that this statement gives some newly bereaved parent the hope that someday…..someday….your heart will mend a bit too, not heal, but slowly, piece by piece, be put back together, although there will always be a big hole right in the middle.

Children are not supposed to die.  I was not supposed to find a tiny little casket for my son, purchase a burial plot, and pretend to be normal so that I could get on with my day.  My kids are supposed to do that for me, right?  Parents are supposed to die. Not kids.

I have moments still today where grief just sneaks right up and smacks me right in the face again, and I cry.  But I find it

friends and family remember Clifton in my absence…..so thoughtful

easier to get on with my day now as opposed to several years ago, especially when I wake up on the morning of the anniversary of my son’s death (seems odd to call it an anniversary, because I always thought anniversaries were for celebrating) and see

how many wonderful friends and family have visited my son’s grave and placed flowers on his tiny little headstone during my absence.  I must say that was one of my biggest concerns about moving to China: Who would place flowers on my son’s grave?  Now, I know.

And I thank you.


An Amazing Bike Tour!


Where does rubber come from? How do you know which coconut is a good one?  And most importantly, always remember to park your TREK mountain bike far enough away from the water so it does not fall into the sea! These were just a few questions that were answers and things we learned when we cycled through and around jungles, rubber tree farms, rice paddies, and fishing villages of Koh Yao Noi Island with Amazing Bike Tours.

With our eight bicycles attached to the top of the boat, we piled into a long wooden boat with some of the locals and headed to the island.  After about an hour we made our way off the boat, paid 5 baht to go to the bathroom (toilet paper not included) and we were off on our adventure.

We rode through a rubber tree farm and learned where rubber comes from.  It appears to be a lot of hard work for rubber tree farmers.  Our tour guide, Manup, explained that it is harvested at night when it is cooler so that the rubber flows easier. Each night, the farmers cut the bark again on all their trees which takes a few hours. Then they collect all the liquid rubber from the cups that are attached to the trees. After riding through the rubber tree farms, we headed to the rice paddies.  It is interesting to see how rice is planted and the hard work that goes into seeing that it is planted properly, and then harvested. Riding through the rice fields landed us on a little farm where we took a break and had some coconut water. The farmer picked just the right ones with plenty of coconut water inside for each of us.  Normally, a monkey can easily choose the right coconut, but since there were none available, we had to rely on the farmer’s expertise. I tried cutting the coconut, but it was not as easy as the farmer’s son made it look!

After our break, we rode to the pier noticing all the floating homes along the way. This is where we learned a valuable lesson!  DO NOT park your bike close to the water’s edge because when the wind blows your bike WILL fall in, consequently, the location of your pre-determined dive trip scheduled for the next day will be relocated, and you will be searching for a bike at the bottom of the sea instead of inspecting beautiful coral and fish!

Luckily, someone was close enough to grab the TREK mountain bike before it plunged to the depths of the Andaman sea. So the dive trip was saved!! After the bicycle rescue, we were treated to some tasty little sticky rice with fruit wrapped in bamboo leaves.  Well, this is my best description of what we were given.  Anyway, they were very good!

The bike ride continued along the coast where the scenery was breathtaking. We stopped for lunch at an outdoor hut where we lounged in hammocks and went for a swim after dining on some fabulous Thai food.

When the ride came to an end we met the boat, our bikes were loaded onto the top and we headed off to pick up some more of the locals before heading back to the main island.  Along the way, we stopped and picked up bags and bags of coconuts and live lobster, which needed transport to the main island. The coconut and lobster farmers paid the boat guy to take their goods to the island, and we were off once again.

With just a short ride back, we made it to the van just before it started raining. The ride was pretty easy so it is recommended for anybody who is up for an exciting, fun filled ride with good people. Our guide was very professional and James, the managing director of Amazing Bike Tours is extremely nice and works well with the public.

Though, I do wonder what would have happened had the bike gone into the sea!!!

Give Amazing Bike Tours a try, not only do they assist with booking  bike tours, they can arrange dive trips and elephant safaris as well. We did them all and loved each one.


Jiankou to Mutianyu…The Great Wall Experience


Amazing view from 1/2 way up the mountain

Climbing the Jiankou portion of the Great Wall is an exhausting but amazing day hike adventure.  This section of the wall dates back to the 14thcentury of the Ming Dynasty. To reach this section we started in a little village at the bottom of a mountain, and climbed our way up the steep cliffs to where we finally reached the deteriorated, but still amazing Jiankou section of The Great Wall.

We are headed up there from a small village at the base of the mountain. It looked like a long way, and it felt like it in 90 degree heat.

We had a great tour guide named Jack, who led us up the mountain by climbing over rocks, traversing along narrow, overgrown pathways, dodging bumblebees, looking for snakes yet surrounded by amazing views of blooming magnolias, blue skies, puffy clouds, and incredible views of the Great Wall.

After about a mile straight up the mountainous, and sometimes treacherous terrain, we reached the deteriorating section of Jiankou. We first noticed the large white stones at the top of the mountain that

Had this detached ladder fallen backwards, it would have been all she wrote!

were built under the wall itself.

We had to climb a little ladder to get onto the actual wall from the side of the mountain but once we did, we saw that the wall was nothing like I had seen on my previous visits.

Due to the need of major renovation, this area of the wall is considered one of the most dangerous sections. As we walked along the wall, we found ourselves again traversing along narrow pathways, ducking beneath overgrown trees and weeds, and stepping over fallen areas of the wall. This was certainly not reflective of the majestic portions of the area that most tourists visit.  Its glory and purpose had faded over the centuries, but it was still incredible just the same.

There are so many stories and legends surrounding the construction of The Great Wall.  Our guide told us that the mortar used to cement some areas of the rocks on the wall was made from rice flour. It is also said that many people lost their lives during the construction of the wall and are buried right inside. Oh if these walls could talk.

climbing up and over the deteriorated section of the Great Wall

After a couple of miles of climbing, jumping, ducking, dodging and taking many pictures, the old met the new. The Jiankou section finally connected to the refurbished area called Mutianyu. This section is a most amazing sight when you first see it. I really didn’t think seeing a wall could possibly be as fascinating, but it really was an incredible sight.

A few more miles and a couple of rain showers later, we started our descent down the mountain. There were a couple of options to get to the bottom, however two of them, the tobaggon and cable car were closed due to the rain. We finally decided to take the “ski lift” to the bottom. Our scenic and amazing 7 hour adventure was over.


A Man of His Word….


Oh no! What happened this time? Is somebody hurt? It is 11:10 p.m. at home in the US.  I should send a text just to make sure the kids weren’t in an accident, and that my mom and dad are ok. I picked up my phone and wondered who I should text first since I don’t know how to group text, I had to choose Amy or Eric. Amy seems to go to bed earlier these days so she is probably asleep and Eric lives with a bunch of Frat guys and probably not asleep.  I was about to make my decision when Mindy walked into my classroom.

But let me back up just a bit so you can understand just why I thought I should text  my kids in the first place. Since I became a mom I have always been able to “know” when something wasn’t quite right with my kids, simply by a feeling I get in my heart or gut, a mother’s intuition, I guess you could call it.  It could be they were ill, something wonderful had happened, or worse, they were in trouble. I felt something so strong on Friday, March 16 at 12:10 p.m. that I had to stop what I was doing just to catch a breath. The feeling truly took my breath away. WHEW! I will never forget that feeling or the news I learned just minutes later.

Thoughts are racing through my head and my heart is pounding! Why does Mindy look so sad and concerned?  Did someone from home call the school and send her to tell me bad news? But wait, I don’t think the kids have the school’s phone number in Shanghai. Do they? No.

It is amazing how many thoughts a person can have in less than 5 seconds, which is about how long it took for Mindy to walk in, sit down in front of me, ask me what I was doing and had I read my emails?

Ok, who has the school email address? My friend Matt does, but would he have sent an email to school to send someone in to tell me news from home? What news would he know? No, that doesn’t make sense. Does it? He is considerate enough to think like that, but would Amy or Eric have called (well, texted since nobody calls anybody anymore) Matt to tell him important news? Doubtful, but Amy might have texted him to see if he had a phone number.  My mind is racing with thoughts! That feeling I had minutes earlier is now turning to heartache. This feeling IS about one of my kids. I just know it!

Mindy had hoped to catch me before I read my emails that many people had just received. She told me that Cory had passed away. Cory and his wife Linda are former colleagues at our school in Shanghai and great friends. In January, Cory was diagnosed with cancer while in China. They were able to fly home to the great state of Washington on Valentine’s Day and by mid March, Cory left us to be in the most Glorious Place of All, Heaven.  He is no longer in pain and is now walking with Jesus and playing with MY son! Cory loves kids, especially all of his precious grandchildren that he spoke so frequently about. All of the kids at school wrote or made a card for Cory and he read each and every one of them and hung them on the wall in his hospital room while he was in China. He took them to America with him when he went home. They left so many things behind as they had to keep their weight under 50 lbs. per suitcase, but those cards were going home.

Linda and Cory Neville

Linda and Cory Neville

Let me tell you how I know he met my son, Clifton. When Cory learned he had cancer and that it was spreading throughout his body, he made me a promise from his hospital bed in Shanghai. He said when he got to Heaven he would find Clifton for me and tell him that his mom loves and misses him everyday.  With Cory being a great friend and a man of his word,

I had no doubt he would do this for me. At 12:10 p.m. on March 16, 2012 I had a feeling about one of my kids. This time it was Clifton. I know now that my little boy knows I haven’t forgotten him and I love and miss him everyday. Cory kept his promise.

The feeling in my heart went from heartache to joy in a bittersweet sort of way.

Bitter-I had lost a truly great friend.

Sweet-knowing my kids were ALL ok now,

I wonder now if moving to China was God’s plan for me? Was I supposed to meet these two incredible people who continually think of other people, when in reality they had so much to think about on their own and about themselves? It is amazing how God puts people together.

Cory and Linda are so rooted in their Mormon faith and they know this was God’s chosen path for Cory, still it doesn’t take away the pain and sadness of losing your best friend and husband. Linda, please know physically I am thousands of miles away, but in spirit I am there with you. May it bring a smile to your face to know that Cory is still a great friend and a man of his word.  Thank you for letting me be a part of your lives.


American Mom Receives Comfort from Chinese Mom, or vice versa?


Wow!  How about that?  I was actually comforting someone over the death of my son. Who da’ thunk it? What unusual twists and turns life sometimes take. Who would have thought I would have been comforting a Chinese woman over the death of my son?  This China is a crazy place.

So the story for this blog began on a Friday night with a Mandarin lesson where a co-teacher and I studied numbers, coins and how to understand the cashier at the grocery store. I was thrilled I would be able to use some Chinese when discussing fares with the taxi driver, the clerk at the store, and bargaining while at the fake market.

After the lesson, several of my friends and I went to a bag party. This party was to have the best of the fake bags in China, including Louis Vuitton, Prada and many others, or so we were told. There were also silk scarves, and wallets to choose from at reasonable prices. The best of the fakes, right at our fingertips!

Upon finding a couple of fake designer bags and wallets that I liked, I decided to make my purchase. I asked how much they were. She, (Mary) the bag lady told me, “180,” in English.

So I replied, “Yi bai ba shi?”  (180)  Well, at least that’s what I think I said. I got the thumbs up. YES!  My Mandarin lessons were paying off!  I gave her 200 and of course I received “Er shi” in change. That was so much fun I decided I should probably buy another item, so I purchased a Louis Vuitton wallet. I gave her my money and received  “Si shi” in return.  (40rmb)

She could tell I was trying to learn Chinese, and she wanted to practice some English. She kept the conversation going and asked if I was Meiguoren? (American)  Then she asked why I was in Shanghai.  I told her, “Wo shi laoshi,” which means I am a teacher and I was working in Shanghai.

Next came the question about children. She has a ten year old daughter named Sarah and I told her about my three kids.  I told her I have a daughter who is  “Er shir liu” (26).  Her eyes got really big and I immediately liked her because she said I looked too young to have a child that old!  I told her my son was “Er shi er.” (22)

She asked if they lived here too, but no, they don’t. They live in America. After more chit chat, she asked about number two son, as she called him.  I told her that he died when he was little. She shook her head as if she didn’t understand. I repeated, “Died” then “Death,” then “No longer alive.”  She still didn’t seem to understand. She shook her head. I looked around to see if anybody could translate for me.  She seemed interested and I wanted her to know what I was trying to say about my son.

Another teacher was able to translate that my son had died.  They spoke to each other in mandarin for a wee bit, then Mary took my hand and started crying. Tears just fell from her eyes and she kept saying, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” shaking her head and bowing toward me. I asked my friend why she was crying.  Was it because she understood that my son died?  Or was it because she thought she offended me by asking about my son?

She said it was a little of both.

I gave her a hug. I told her it was ok to talk about my son and not to worry about it.  I told her I missed him greatly, and that it is the worst thing that can happen to a mom.  She said, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry.  I am mama, you are mama.  I know, I know.” She wiped her tears, gave me a hug and just kept crying. By now, we were both crying and hugging each other as if we were long lost friends.  We weren’t long lost friends, but friends to become.  Friends bonded by that of motherhood.

We are friends who broke through the communication barrier and shared a touching moment, Chinese mother to American mother, over my precious son.  I am blessed to have had my little boy for the nearly two years that I did and I have so many things for which to be thankful.

Life’s disappointments make you better, not bitter.  I read this on a church sign once.  Of course when a child dies, there is quite a bit of anger, bitterness and basically, LIFE SUCKS… if you let it. If you are reading this as a bereaved parent fresh in your grieving, may you know someone, whether it be in America, China or somewhere in between shares your pain and may you be comforted by the friendship they have to offer. Find the good.


Why am I Here?


I think back to how I ended up in China and it took many, many years to get here. Not that I was planning on coming here by any means, but becoming emotionally ready to get here was the challenge.   I can’t say that China was really ever a place I wanted to visit, much less live, but the way I ended up here is worth revisiting, especially for bereaved parents who are just beginning their life changing journey of living without their child.

My good friend, Mr. Rucker just recently lost his son, Patrick.  I know he is suffering greatly.  I have walked in his shoes and still am, it is just that my shoes fit a little better these days and the shoes are not leaving blistering marks on my heels like they used to.  Now, don’t get me wrong, there has not been a day go by in the 20 years since my son died that I have not thought about him, but at least the pain is not as heart wrenching as it was for the first 20 years. IT STILL SUCKS!

If you were one of my first readers, then you know how this blog came to be.  I started writing about the day my son died, the dreadful 4am phone call, the call no parent ever wants to receive.  Since then, it has taken years for me to be able to walk out of those blistering shoes, and become more than just an empty shell going through the motions day in and day out.  Parenting is not an easy job, especially that of a bereaved parent.  Our kids are not supposed to die before we do.  We are not supposed to buy a casket and plan a funeral for them.  Sadly, it happens.  Life sucks……if you let it.   Healing from that is not an easy task.

It took 20 years for me to function as more than an empty shell.  I knew I was not living life to its fullest, though I thought I was, but something was always missing.  I wondered where God was?   Why was my life spinning out of control?  Why did MY son die?  I wanted him, yet so many people beat and even kill their own children.  I never understood that and I guess I never will.

The anxiousness and many other emotions I experienced after my son died were excruciating at times. The anxiety I experienced over just getting on an airplane last summer just about did me in, and that was 20 years later.  Unless you have experienced the death of  a child you can really never know what we go through and how our life changes.  I never was an anxious kind of person, but after my son died, my whole life changed.  I was not the person I used to be.  I was somebody else.  The person I was before my son died would have had no problem getting on that plane and heading to South Africa.  But the person I became after my son died could barely breathe walking down the corridor to get on the plane to fly to Memphis.  The death of a child can really wreak havoc on your life, as well as those around you.  It is the worst thing ever!  It can cost you some pretty significant relationships but it can build friendships that are everlasting.

So why am I in China?  I really don’t know.  But I do know had I not taken time to stop and sit for ten days without distraction in South Africa, I would never have found God again and I would not be here right now.  I wondered why it took me going to another continent to find Him.  But the reality is I never could sit still long enough to let Him come back into my life.  I thought He had abandoned me.  He took my son then left me to fend for myself.

Coming to China was a big step out of my comfort zone, and believe me, China is not a comfortable place to live, but I know He has my back and I am not alone like I thought I was for the past 20 years.  So does this answer the question, “Why am I here?”  I don’t know, I think it says I am here because God wants me to live again.  I think He has been chasing me down for the past twenty years saying,  “Hey, slow down and let Me in.”  I just never could because the truth was much too painful.  My son was dead.

Amy and Eric placing flowers on Clifton's grave in August since I was in China and could not do it myself.

So to my friend, Mr. Rucker, I share your pain and I have walked in your shoes (well, maybe not really your shoes because they are so big) but you get the idea.  I know your heart is shattered into a million little pieces right now, and for you, I hope you find your China too, someday.

Hugs from China.


But who will put flowers on his grave??


Signed up, ticket purchased and ready to go to China…..but one thing I forgot, it made me start to question my trip to China.  Who is going to put flowers on Clifton’s grave??

Who will attend the Compassionate Friends Christmas Memorial and light a candle in his memory?  Who will attend the Memorial Day Mass at the cemetery every Memorial Day?  Eric and I have never missed a mass on Memorial Day at the cemetery.  What have I done?   Life sucks…….if you let it.

I verbalized this thought recently, once to my class at school and once just today when I was talking to a friend who happened to drive by when I was leaving another friend’s house.

I can say I am associated with the nicest, most caring and compassionate friends in the world!  As I spoke of my dilemma at school, one little girl (Rachel) raised her hand and said, “Ms. Essley, I will put flowers on Clifton’s grave, you just need to show me where it is.”  Now how is that for caring, when a little 3rd grader commits to placing flower’s on my son’s grave occasionally.  I love Rachel.

But just today, I became teary eyed again when I was speaking to my friend, Bill.  He had stopped when he saw my car and began to talk to me about my China trip.  He too has lost a son.  I told him how I was wondering who was going to put flowers on my son’s grave while I was gone.  That is two whole years with no trip to the cemetery on his birthday, Christmas, Easter, Mother’s Day, and other holidays, or if I just happened to be in the neighborhood days.

This was an arrangement of flowers that was sent to Clifton's funeral. I have had it for 20 years. As I packed to put my things in storage, I decided to take this arrangement to his grave. As hard as it was, I guess it was a sign of .....letting go? moving forward?

He told me that placing flower’s on a grave is an outwardly expression to let others know you haven’t forgotten.  He told me I would never forget, and he would always be in my heart.  Was it just random that Bill drove by today?

So with that in mind, and knowing that Rachel will get her parents to drive to my son’s grave on occasion, I will remember all the times I have been able to place flowers on his grave and keep those times close to my heart.  I will just watch for signs that my son knows I think about him, miss him, and love him everyday.  EVERYDAY!

Thank you Eric, Rachel and Bill.

Update: August 19, 2011, now I guess I know who will put flowers on Clifton’s grave!  THANK YOU TO  EVERYONE WHO DID.  Your kindness means more than you can EVER imagine.  Unless you have lost a child, you can’t even begin to know the devastation and heart break it causes in your life, and the outwardly expression of placing flowers on your son’s grave is comforting, in a way.


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