Andrew

Andrew
Photo Courtesy of Scott Kirk Photography

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

What Would He Be Like Today?

     I spent today with a sweet, kind 24 year old young man. Like my Andrew, he was also born in February of 1994 at St. Mary's Medical Center. His parents and Bill and I were in the same childbirth class. Traveling to our workshop, we talked about school and kids and basketball. He is currently coaching our middle school boys and we reminisced about his high school career. As a senior he played the DHS Bulldogs for their senior night and he remembered one of the players wearing his cousin's jersey number in his memory. He marveled at how well this young man played--"His cousin was sure with him that night."
    His memory of that night brought my own memories of that night rushing back to me. Memories of sadness at missing Andrew. Memories of pride as his teammates would meet their goal of playing in the state basketball tournament. Memories of young boys growing into young men. As I spent the day with these memories as my companion, I kept asking myself, "What would he be like today?"
     I have asked myself that question many times during the past seven years. However, having this young man with me invited that question to nag me all day. How much taller would he have grown? What would he be doing to make a living? Would he have joined the military? Would he be living in this area or far away? How would he have his hair cut? Would he have long hair or be like his brothers with their shaved heads? I have so many questions. What? How? Where? And of course, the constant...why?
    For my sisters in grief, they understand that the upcoming holidays are never easy. There is always one member of our family missing. Today that overwhelming missing of my son came a couple weeks early. I am really glad we have a long weekend so I can spend some quiet time thinking and gathering the strength I need to survive the next few months. As I begin to celebrate happy times with family and friends, my questions will be put back into their place. However, whenever I see young men of a certain age, I remember a smiling sixteen year old and wonder-- what would he be like today?


~Andrew's Mom

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Lost Children

     The last 48 hours have been full of ups and downs. We got to see a new baby--definitely an UP! We lost a pot of flowers at Andrew's grave--a down. We found a heartwarming note and beautiful flowers that had been given in the spirit of love at Andrew's grave--another up. Reliving these emotions started me thinking of children--lost and found.
     We lost our child. Why he did what he did will never be revealed to us in this life. Taking care of Andrew's final resting place gives Bill and me peace. We both have regrets that we have to live with, but visiting and tending to his grave, everyday, helps us deal with our feelings. This is why we felt violated when we discovered Andrew's hanging pot was no longer there. We literally stared at the spot for a bit until we realized it was gone. Who would want a flower pot with no flowers? The deer and the heat had taken a toll on it, so we were lovingly trying to bring it back to its original beauty. Who would do this? In my mind I thought--a lost child.
     For some of you reading this, you are my sisters and brothers in loss. You know what it is like to bury a child. You know what it is like for people to look at you and say (or at least give you the look), "Get over it." You never get over it--you just learn to live through it. However, what about the parent who has lost a child, but he/she still lives?
     Some parents lose children in a variety of ways. Sometimes the loss is to drugs or alcohol. Sometimes the loss is to a mental illness. Sometimes the loss is to crime. Sometimes you don't know why, but you just have a child who no longer chooses to be in your life. In the Pullman-Moscow area this week three families lost sons. Those three families will deal with loss, albeit for different reasons. Lost children.
     In Luke, chapter 15, one can read about the return of the prodigal son. Prodigal was a Wordly Wise word in one of my classes this year. In my mind, prodigal meant one who returns home after an absence. But prodigal really means "spending money or resources freely; wasteful extravagant."  I realized I forgot the first part of this story--Dad gives son his share of the inheritance and son goes and wastes it, then he returns home after everything is gone. The important part of the story is how the father treats the son when he returns home. The father welcomes him back. It's the old, "I may not like what you do or have done, but you are my son and I love you." That kind of unconditional love may be difficult for some, but at least you have the opportunity to embrace your lost child and welcome him or her home. Your lost child has been found.
     I hope you never lose a child--figuratively or literally. So as I begin to plan for the next school year I ask myself what can I do to help children feel a part--a part of something important? What can I do to make a child feel worth in this complicated world? What can I do to make a child see his/her genius? What I can I do to make a child feel valued?
     These are my goals. I want to change the mindset in my class--for my students and for me. I want to change my attitude towards the things I see as needing a change in my life. I want to change the downs to ups. I want to help my students find success and find a path for themselves. Let's all help kids find a way, even when they feel lost.
     

Friday, January 30, 2015

Grandpa and Andrew

     Thursday, January 29, 2015 started very early.  We had a lot of laughs--when Dad was nervous he was a "one liner" machine.  We also laughed at our navigational challenges of being in a big hospital. And oh the stories we can tell you about elevator rides. How could a day start with such hope, end in utter broken heartedness?
     Our father was 80 years old.  He worked hard all of his life and his body was worn out, especially his heart.  We had no idea it was as weak as it was.  How could the heart of our father be weak?  The doctor had great faith that this surgery, if successful, would give him a few more years to be with us.  After the surgery, we learned Dad had done wonderfully, but the doctor also shared that it was a miracle he did that well because his body was so fragile.  Dr. Vish gave us frank words when we asked a prognosis.  "Minute by minute; day by day" was what he gave as his answer. We decided to go back to our hotel, since he wouldn't be awake for a while.  Sara, Greg, Bill, and I would visit one more time, but he wasn't awake.  He didn't know we were there.
     Our dear nephew, Jason, and his beautiful family spent time with Mother as we went to dinner.  We all were starting to relax and we were hopeful.  But then we got the phone call.  It was Dad.  It was bad.  Sara and Greg arrived at the hospital first, then we arrived with Mother.  However, it was too late. Our father's heart no longer beat. He never regained consciousness. I took Mom in for one more moment with him, but we realized he was gone.  All that was left was the vessel that held my father's soul.  We returned to Dayton.
     When we picked up Mother and Dad Wednesday for the trip to Spokane, Dad wanted to tell us something important.  He told us how he knew he had quit breathing during the night, but he felt someone place his CPAP mask back on his face so he could breathe again.  He believed it was heavenly intervention.  I believe an angel named Andrew was watching over his beloved grandfather.
     Andrew and Grandpa (and Grandma) had secrets they kept from me.  Many mornings my parents would receive an 8:05 AM phone call asking for a ride, because he was running late or he forgot something.  I never knew about these phone calls until after Andrew's death.  Those two boys...
     Dr. Vish told us that Dad had rallied a few times as they were trying to stabilize him, but finally, he just gave up.  I believe his angel was with him and told him it was okay to stop fighting.  It was okay to let go.
     We are heartbroken today, but we rejoice that our father is no longer in pain.  He can breath again.  He can walk without using a cane.  Maybe even his toenails are beautiful.  One thing I know for certain...my father was greeted last night by my beloved son and they now are living in the light of our beloved Savior.
     Andrew...take good care of Grandpa.  I'll see you both again someday.


Today, I am proud to be~
John's Daughter and Andrew's Mom

   

Saturday, February 9, 2013

19TH BIRTHDAY

Happy Birthday, Bubby.  Today you would have turned 19.  Oh how we've missed you these past two and a half years.  As I've thought of birthdays past this week, I've also wondered what you would be doing today.  Would you be going to school?  Would you be serving our country and be stationed somewhere in the USA or overseas?  Would your hair be really short or would you grow it out?  How much taller did you grow--did you reach your goal--be taller than Clint? Are you still wearing basketball shorts all the time?

Today we are going to say good-bye to Mr. Hodgson.  Remember your PowerPoint on deer that you made for his class?  Remember how you even got some of Dad's sheds so you could record a "rattle" for the presentation?  You really enjoyed working on that project.  Deer seemed to be the topic of many research projects you did for school.

Today will be a really sad day...saying good-bye to a really great man and remembering the fact that we should be celebrating your birthday.  But we will celebrate too.  This morning in the gym we will celebrate Mr. Hodgson and all the good he did in this world.  We will return to the gym tonight to celebrate the girls basketball team and their success this season.  You would be proud of the girls and Mr. Strong.  They have worked hard this season--we will celebrate them--win or lose.

Above all we will celebrate the young man you were and celebrate the fact we had you for sixteen years.



As always...I am proud to say that I am...

~Andrew's Mom

Sunday, June 10, 2012

THE CLASS OF 2012

     Bill and I have recently completed one very difficult week.  First we celebrated with the Dayton High School Class of 2012 as they graduated on Saturday, June 2.  Then we attended the baccalaureate service for the Waitsburg Class of 2012 on Thursday, June 7--the second anniversary of Andrew's death.  Then Friday, June 8th we said good-bye to the WHS Class of 2012.  We did all of that without our Andrew.
     Andrew began his education in Waitsburg with Zach, Chris, Jeff, Ronnie, Justin, Jessica, and Kayla.  He stayed with these kids until the end of second grade.
     Then I took a year off and Andrew began third grade at Dayton Elementary School.  It was a tough year--so many groups are already formed by this grade--but Andrew continued on with these kids until the day he died.
     So this past seven days we celebrated the lives of young men and women who were an important part of our son's lives.  They will go on to study important things, marry their best friends, become parents of wonderful little people.  And our son will be forever sixteen years old.
     The important milestones that have a specific date have all been survived--First day of Senior Year...Senior Night....Graduation.  Now is really the hardest part.  We will never see our son graduate from college or separate from the military.  We will never dance at his wedding or hold the son or daughter of our son.  (Big sigh).
     However, we will continue to celebrate the lives of those who were an important part of his.  We will see college gradutions.  We will attend weddings.  We will give gifts to the sons and daughters of Andrew's friends.
     We will never get over Andrew's death.  However, we do get through the little events in life that make up our lives.  So congratulations to the Class of 2012.  To those who passed through his life--Cheyenne, Tanner, Lindsay, Jacob--and to those who were a part of his life at the end---Colleen, Jacob, Garett, Colton, Hayden, Carter, Joey, Kroft, Alex, Abby, Molly, Anita, April, Caitlyn, Chase, Paisley, Brandon, Justin, Adam, Blake, Nicole, Keisha, Gabe, Leighla, Ashley, Derek, Austin, Timmy, Danica, Shelby, Samura, and Darci.
     It's been a joy watching you grow into young men and young women.  We are excited to see all the places you go.

~Andrew's Mom and Dad

Thursday, February 9, 2012

THERE ARE NO WORDS

      I realized the other day that I hadn't posted anything since August.  Pondering why, I realized the answer is pretty simple--the words haven't come to me.  Why?  During this second year without Andrew, my sorrow--I realize--cannot be put into words.  How can one describe the feeling of loss I experience on a daily basis?  There are no words...

There are no words...
  • to explain the constant sadness that greets me every morning when I see "Andrew's Room...Do Not Enter"  on his door;
  • to describe the guilt (I know I'm not suppose to, but I still do) I feel about my role in all of this;
  • to communicate the bittersweet feelings of pride I feel when I see his friends having success during their last year of high school;
  • to share after I visited his grave.
There are no words...

There are no words...
  • to say thank you to friends and family who have been so supportive;
  • to express our gratitude for everyone's love and prayers;
  • to explain how much the giving in Andrew's name means to our family;
  • to give when one tells me how much they miss Andrew too.
However, there are words...
  • Thank you for loving our son as much as we love him;
  • Blessings to all who lift us up in supportive thoughts and prayers;
  • Thank you...
~Andrew's Mom

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

IN SERVICE OF ANDREW

       There are many signs that the experts say one can see in a child who is suicidal.  Giving things away.  No plans.  Final preparations.  Notes.  Threats.  I can say I truly saw none of this in Andrew.  He was sad, but he had a lot of plans for the summer and for his junior year.  He was excited about football--he would get to play a new position.  He was looking forward to summer basketball camps.  We had even talked about his Senior Project.  He wanted to spruce up the football bleachers.  We had even talked with the superintendent about working on the bleachers.  It would be a big project, so we felt we needed a year to get everything and everyone ready for this big project.
       Spring ahead a year.  Our family is still dealing with the shock that our youngest took his life.  We try not to focus on the "what ifs."  That would drive us all crazy, because we all think about what we could have done to prevent this.  But this is our new reality and so we deal with our grief daily.  One way Bill and I have dealt with the loneliness we feel in our lives is to do projects.  We have done a lot of projects around our home this past year...it is better to be busy than to deal with the quiet in our home.  The main thing that Bill and I wanted to complete this summer was to fulfill Andrew's Senior Project.  It was very logical for us to do something at the football field, because we knew how much he loved being on any football field.  For us, Bulldog Stadium was the place where the community shared with us in our grief in those early days.  However, the original plan didn't work out, so we went to Plan B--give the boys' locker room a face lift and paint the back of the bleachers at the field. 
      So on the weekend of Bud and Marilyn's 50th anniversary Amanda, Clint, Ashley, Aunt Vicki, Bill, and I worked on making the locker room full of Bulldog pride.  It was a great way for our family to do something in honor of Andrew for his friends.  We taught Andrew, just as we had been taught by our parents, that service to others is important.  So in service of Andrew we gave two places where he was happiest--the gym and the football field--a new look.  In service of Andrew we gave back to our community as a thanks for the love and support they have given us during this past year.


 






When the boys go to get their gear for the first practice of the year they will see a "new" look in the locker room.  There's something for the girls too.  When they go to practice at the field, they will see a little more crimson and gold.  It is a time they will remember their friend Groomer and one way for him to be with them during this last year of high school. 
       One night, when we were painting the back of the bleachers, a friend was at the field watching the soccer camp.  He made a comment that sums up why we wanted to do this project... our kids deserve this.  That is why Andrew wanted to make the bleachers look better.  He was proud to be a Bulldog and he wanted to have the place he loved so much mirror his pride.  So in service of Andrew...we begin the journey of a senior year without him.