Whomever said ” Next year will be easier”, lied.
The grief, the sadness, the pain, the loneliness, the loss, I believe is worse this year. Last year my first set of major holidays were hard, very hard, this year the holidays are still very hard. I have had a year to think, a year of “what if’s”, a year to remember, and a year without. When someone has been apart of your life for six thousand five hundred and thirty seven days it’s takes more than four hundred and fifty two days to get used to the fact they are no longer there. Day in and day out I am getting somewhat better, but the holidays are, and forever will be, difficult for me. Emotions are triggered so much quicker now than in years past. I watch the retirement of a race car driver and tears flow down my face. Not because he will never race full time again but because of the man he is and the daughter he will have the blessing of raising. Because of the lives he has touched and the dreams he has fulfilled for others. I see military personal reunited with family members and I see a story of hope, a story of survival and I cant hold back the tears. I see Jarrett up on a stage singing a song dedicated to his sister and I can’t hide the pride or the tears. I can only attribute this to the lost of a daughter and her hopes and dreams.
This Thursday when you are sitting around a bountiful table of Thanksgiving with family and friends, stop for one moment and think how truly blessed you really are. Look at each person, your children, your spouse, your partner, your mother, father, grandparents, whom ever may be sitting around that table, look at them one at a time, take it all in. Remember the smiles on their faces, remember the sound of each individual voice and the uniqueness of their laughter and remember their love. The love that has spanned generations to create this one small moment in time. The paths that were crossed yesterday and many years ago to bring this group of individuals together for one meal of Thanksgiving, one small moment in time that will last forever in your mind. Your memory of this day will be fresh in mind for years to come, but it will one day begin to fade and you will struggle to remember the sights and sounds that were so dear to your heart. The faces at the table will be the last to go, but it will be the voices and the laughter that will fade the quickest and your yearning to hold on to them is what will break your heart. Now put yourself at this same Thanksgiving table, filled with the same love and laughter of family and friends and imagine there is one less chair, one less voice, one less unique laugh that would fill a room. Imagine if that one person was your child, a child you only had for 17 years, a child you loved dearly and a child that had so many dreams left unfulfilled. After you have this image in your mind answer this one question. “Would you still be thankful?” Believe me it is a very hard question to answer knowing their will be one less chair at the table, but my answer is “Yes”, and the following is why.
For 17 years, 10 months and 28 days I was the father of two of the most wonderful people I know, my children. Thursday will be my second Thanksgiving of many to come without Lindsay but I am so thankful for the 17 Thanksgivings we did have together, and I am thankful for many Thanksgivings yet to come with Jarrett. I am thankful for all the memories, pictures and stories the past years have provided. As this day approaches, I know it is not going to be easy, but with the love and support of family and friends I will make it through.
My wife, Kelli, what can I say. She is the most supportive, loving, caring, giving person I know. She is my other half, my partner, my best friend, my everything and I love her with everything in me. Without her there is no me. She has been the one constant in this year of firsts, this year of new ventures, past memories and trying to turn tragedy into triumph.
Jarrett, it makes me happy inside just to see his face. He is my dose of joy every time I see him. He is who he is and I love him for it. I love his confidence, his willingness to try anything once and his intelligence to make wise choices. I am thankful for the man he is growing into. I love you son.
My grandparents who gave me my parents, without them my brother and I would not be here. I am thankful my parents raised us to be strong, caring and most importantly honest men. My brother, what a great friend, husband and father he has been to his family. My in laws, Kathy and Charlie, without them I would not be the happy man I am today, they gave me Kelli. Ron and Linda, without them I would have never had Jarrett and Lindsay. Jarrett and Lindsay’s mom, Kellie, for bringing them into this world and the job we did raising them.
Lindsay’s cousins, friends, and teachers, I am so thankful for all of you. You were there for Lindsay and continue to be there for me and the rest of my family throughout this most difficult time. I am thankful for your love, support and caring.
The countless personal at NHRMC, Carolina Donor Services, and Wilmington Christian Academy. Their support of myself and Lindsay’s entire family goes beyond words. They all have allowed me to speak and tell Lindsay’s story. Her story of how tomorrow is never promised, how her finial wishes were fulfilled and how she saved lives through organ donation.
I could go on forever for the many blessing I have had and continue to have in my life, but the fact remains my Lindsay Lou will not be here. She blessed my life in so many ways, she made me laugh, cry and be a better father. She knew what buttons to push and when she had met her match. She was my girl and I miss her dearly. I am thankful I was lucky enough to be her dad for over seventeen years.
The one thing I am most thankful for is that one day I know I will see those steely eyes again, watch that long flowing hair move with the breeze again, hear that room shattering laugh again, and hold the hand of my daughter once again. I am A VERY THANKFUL FATHER, HUSBAND, STEP FATHER, SON, BROTHER, UNCLE AND FRIEND.
Happy Thanksgiving to each of you and if there is an empty chair at your table this year, I hope you can still find the blessings in your life. I hope those blessing follow you throughout the year. Take in the love and laughter of the day, but most importantly give thanks for ALL the chairs, empty and filled.