Some of you may be wondering how our family and I are fairing. I will try to give you the abridged version. Jennifer has been busy with nursing school all summer. She may have gotten a few weeks break, but other than that, Jenn is busy focusing on being a mom and trying to achieve her goal of becoming some type of pediatric nurse in honor of our dearly departed son.
Emily had a busy summer with softball and she ended a successful season in Maryland for nationals where her Blazers team finished in the top 8 of 55+ teams. Emily has started her sophomore year and she stays busy with cheer, clubs and academics. She seems to excel when she stays busy.
Bry had a fun summer, finishing it by staying in Norther Virginia with her beloved cousins, aunts and uncles for a couple weeks. She has started middle school and she is having a good time.
Me, I have had better days than bad. Thank God! I remember this time last year and the utter depression, despair and pain that consumed my life. I still cry everyday, but the severity and duration is not nearly as painful or long. I realized the things that get me by everyday and are great for my soul are: my immediate and extended family, my close guy friends, my wonderful cohort family at Trinity, my softball family, my colleagues my job at Ogden School and others who make me smile and laugh. They all accept me for who I am.
I titled this blog Surviving and Letting Go. The surviving is self explanatory, but the "letting go" is what I would like to expound on. I have explained I am doing much better, but my grief has ramped up a bit the past month or so. Remember, grief is non-discriminate of when it will come back and to what severity. What triggered this escalation of grief? Around this time last month, most of Andrew's friends and classmates made their vigils, with their parents, to go to their colleges and universities. Andrew was suppose to be one of those young adults. It was suppose to be Jennifer, Andrew and I going to Bed, Bath and Beyond, Target or other stores to get "dorm stuff" and all the accoutrements associated with life at college. It was suppose to me loading up the car, in frustration, trying to stuff every last piece of stuff in for the road trip to school. It was suppose to me and Jenn "letting go" and saying bye to our oldest as we left him and as he started his next chapter in life.
I am reminded constantly of Andrew and what was suppose to be, everyday. I see Andrew's friends parents and my friends and family who have kids going to college on Facebook, as they post how they are sad or joyful that they dropped off their kids at school. But the reality is my son is dead and I won't have those "first" with my Andrew and not "let go" in the way I thought I would have. Sure, I am grateful Andrew is not suffering anymore and he is in heaven, fully restored and in the presence of Jesus, but I human and I grieve. I have been blessed to get messages from some of Andrew's friends before they went off to school. It was nice to hear from them as I often times wonder if Andrew is being forgotten. Life all around me is going on and many have moved on from Andrew's death, but I still am mired in the reality Andrew is gone.
I know my "letting go" was vastly different. I let Andrew go, to see him rest in his permanent home...Heaven. He believed in what Jesus Christ did on the cross with his "mustard seed" of faith and went home. I am not sure if you remember, but the last time Andrew communicated with me was when the ventilator was turned off and Andrew was ready to pass and I told him to go to Jesus and he nodded yes and then passed away. I know I will be reunited with him some day, but I have a purpose here on earth that God wants me to carry out and that's what is keeping me sane and keeping me going, as I long for Andrew. So, I work at a wonderful school named Ogden School, surrounded by elementary school children and an outstanding staff. I work with my utmost in honor of Andrew, and let those kids feed my weary soul as I serve them. I survive because I have a purpose and a passion. A purpose to use my gifts to glorify God and touch the lives of others in memory of my son and those lives happen to be children. I press on.
I am about to share with you something very special to me. This past summer I went into Hinsdale Central to get Andrew's honorary diploma, I ran into Bill Walsh, vice principal, who gave me a letter, which was kept by Andrew's counselor since he was a freshman. The letter was written by all freshman, where they answered questions about how freshman year had been going and their future hopes and dreams and was to be open upon graduation. Holding that letter made me so emotional, I couldn't breathe. What was inside it? Andrew wrote of his freshman year to that point, his future plans and dreams, but the last sentence really tore me up: "I wonder what I will be like in the future?"
I will answer the question for my son. He became a "light" to so many people. He was and will forever be a blessing to so many.
As I have grieved a bit more the past month, I have often times thought about Andrew's last sentence of that letter. I wish he could have been here to enjoy school, meeting new friends and experiencing new things, but it won't happen here on earth. His future is in eternity and that's where he is.
Fyi, I was looking for anything hand written by Andrew to make into a tattoo
and I finally got this in his letter to make it happen!
Many of you know that our family and friends have participated in the Leukemia Lymphoma Society's (LLS) Light the Night Walk campaign to raise fund for cancer research the past 3 years. Andrew walked two of the walks and last year we sadly walked without him. Along the way, we have raised over $20,000 for the LLS in hopes to find a cure and make lives more comfortable who fight this terrible disease. We will walk again this year in Grant Park on October 19th. I have set a lofty goal of $20,000 this year and I simply ask you consider donating whatever you can. I know many of you get inundated with requests to give, but I ask in light of your relationship and association with Andrew and our family you consider giving to this worthwhile organization. We not only ask you to donate, but to walk with us as well. The Chicago LLS has honored Andrew this year by naming the v.i.p. tent in his honor! We have been privileged the past three years as Andrews Army to be vip's by being top fundraisers. I know many of you have wondered how you could honor Andrew. This event is a very practical way to do that.
Please help in honoring with a donation:-)
To view my page for Light the Night, please goto:
http://pages.lightthenight.org/il/ChicagoL13/JPark or press here
|Our last walk with Andrew (2011)|
I ask you continue to pray for me and my family as we navigate the grief and the surprises of life. But I have a very special prayer request. Jennifer's brother-in-law, Jae, who is Jennifer's sister's husband, has been recently diagnosed with a rare form of lymphoma and is undergoing care at John Hopkins in Maryland. I ask you pray for a complete recovery, strength as he endures the harsh treatment and for his family. Leukemia/lymphoma has and is a big part of my life and I dream of day where this insidious disease will be cured forever!
If you would like to send an email, please contact me at:
Andrew's Father and Forever I Will Be,