First things first. I want to thank Kelli for stepping in for me last week. This blog is very important to me and I truly appreciate her sharing her thoughts.  Thank you for all your thoughts and prayers. I am back up and running, not very fast, but running.


“The colors that we use to paint the pathways of life, tell a vivid story of what was and what is yet to be. The infinite array of hue that covers our past manifests itself to an eclectic pallet of chroma to create our future. Try and let everyday be a prism of happiness.”      –Brad Benton

Sometimes I run across something I wrote a long time ago that means something totally  different than the day I wrote it. I guess the meaning could change daily based upon the trials and tribulations faced, or the happiness and joy we find in a moment. In it’s most basic form the passage I wrote above was for me to learn from my past, apply it to today and create a brighter future. I could write a blog about the things I have learned from my past, the joy, the pain, the decisions, good and bad, the life lessons my parents taught me that did not register until later in life.  The list could go on forever, but the one thing I have learned in the most recent past is there are still good people here on this earth, and most importantly, in our lives. I would never attempt to list all the good people that have come into my life since Lindsay passed away. One thing I have realized is most of the people were already there. They are your friends, your family, the ones that randomly send you a picture, or a message when they stop by to visit Lindsay. To sit with her and share a smile, a laugh and a tear. They are the ones that remember her birthday, remember how hard it is for me to hear the words graduation, prom, and wedding and not think of her. There are good people in this world and I am thankful to call them my friends.
If, in your mind, you have painted your future with your family in place, college degree and or a great job, married, children, your grandchildren, then you have painted the picture that every parent dreams of. The pride you would have displaying this beautiful original painting in your home. Your child or children and their many accomplishments, their battles won and their dreams full filled. Now take whatever medium you need for the paint you have used to create this wonderful painting of your future and erase it because nothing ever stays the same. Every year or two you will need to recreate this dream painting that hangs so carefully in the gallery of your mind. Everyone will get older, everyone will grow, whether tall or wide, hair colors will change, wrinkles will need to be added, spouses need to be added. Everyone and everything changes. Now imagine you are repainting and there is someone that hasn’t changed, someone who hasn’t gotten any older, grown any taller or their hair color is still the same. Someone who will never get wrinkles or ever have a spouse. That someone is a child lost. It makes no difference which one, because honestly you have no choice when it comes to losing a child so early in their life. There is no picking, one day they are there and the next they are not. It is not planned, it is not on the list of things to do, it is not a thought in your head when you are in the middle of mindfully creating this parental work of art. One does not replace the other because they are two totally different people. You love them all equally, you raise them all in the same environment, you teach them all you know. Not once did you ever think you would be leaving a blank spot on your canvas. Although the spot may not be blank it will never change, it will never grow, it will never age. This spot will forever be in the past. There is no paint, no color that will ever change this part of your painting. The only thing that can change this image, is you. You can take this horrific loss and turn it into good. Tell people the story of your lost child. Speak their name, honor their memory and always carry their heart in yours.   
Soak your brush into that vast array of color from your past, and be the artist that paints your future, one that goes far beyond the tragedy, trials and tribulations of today. You and only you can move, mix and manipulate the colors of the past to ensure a masterpiece for tomorrow, a masterpiece for you, your family and for your lost child. 
Hold that memory in your hand…

Hold that memory in your hand…

August 2, 1948 my grandfather, Rockfellow Benton, passed away. He was a commercial fisherman by trade and also built boats with his brother Woodbury. That day in August, many years ago, he was returning from a fishing trip and found himself in the midst of a storm. He was heading to the safety of the inland waterway when he noticed another boat trailing behind. He made the decision to turn and try and assist his fellow fisherman. That decision was the last one my grandfather ever made. While making the turn the wind and the waves cap sized his boat and my grandfather was never found. He was lost to the sea forever. This August 2, 2018 will be the seventieth anniversary of his death. On that faithful day, close to the mouth of the Shallotte River, my grandfather left behind a wife, three small children and one on the way. My father was one of those left behind. He was the oldest of the soon to be four children, he was eight. I cant imagine being eight years old and losing my father. I cant imagine how different my life would be today. Those are the same questions my father says passes through his mind still to this day. He often wonders how his life would be different if his father had stayed the course and headed to safer waters. My father grew up with little to no memory of his father. The majority of his fathers memories consist of stories he has been told about my grandfathers life. My father has a few of my grandfathers belonging’s, some tools and his old tool box. In this tool box are some of the very tools he used to build the boats with his brother. My father has a copy of his dad’s draft card with his signature on it, and he has a few pictures of his mom and dad together. The one thing he did not have was a picture of himself and his father together, until recently. My father will be 78 years old in June, almost seventy years without seeing a photograph of himself and his father together. Seventy years without holding that memory in your hand, seventy years without being able to remember a moment that was been lost in time. I have only seen tears in my fathers eyes a few times in my life. When he had a kidney stone, when his brother, his mother and Lindsay passed away, but when he showed me this picture and said “Look, I have my arm on his shoulder,” a tear once again fell from my fathers eye.

Dad and Rock (2)

I am sure the reason my dad did not have a picture of himself and his father is taking a picture 70 years ago was no where near as common as it is today. I am sure everyone did not have a camera readily available and I’m not even sure how or where the pictures were processed. Today, we can pull out a device that will not only take a picture but we can send it all over the world in an instant. We don’t give taking a picture a second thought until our phone crashes, gets lost or is destroyed by some means, and all those memories are possibly lost forever. We carry our memories around in our hand, constantly. We touch a button and voila there are hundreds, sometimes thousands, of pictures that can take you back to a time that holds a special memory in your life. I thank God every day that Lindsay loved to take pictures of her friends and herself. Between her mother, myself, Kelli, Brett, and Jarrett we have thousands of pictures of Lindsay, and Jarrett both, on our phones and computers. I love looking at them to bring that moment to the forefront of my mind. When you lose a child, pictures and memories are all you have and the hard truth is, there will never be any more. Below are my two favorite pictures with Jarrett and Lindsay.

These pictures are framed and sit on a table in my bedroom so I can see them everyday, and everyday they make me smile. They remind me of the innocence of childhood and when I ran a close second to an American Girl doll and Rescue Hero’s. They remind me of hearing “Daddy’s home!” and the feeling of four arms wrapping around my legs with the tightest hugs ever. They remind me of the dreams of a father for the future and happiness for his children. I don’t have to search through hundreds of pictures on my phone to see these, they are there for me to hold, look at and remember.

Before your phone crashes, before it is lost, before it is destroyed, or before the “cloud” is full and pours all of your pixels out like raindrops, print those special memories for you and future generations to cherish, but most importantly print them so you can hold those memories in your hand.