Photo Courtesy of Scott Kirk Photography

Friday, December 31, 2010


       A lot of people I know died in 2010.  From my childhood: Art Linklater ("Kids Say the Darnest Things"), Barbara Billingsley (The Beaver's mom), Fess Parker (Davy Crockett & Daniel Boone) and Tom Bosley (Mr. C) all left us.  From the world of sports: Sparky Anderson, Don Meredith, and Merlin Olson are gone.  And of course--"My, Oh My"--Dave Niehaus's voice has been silenced.    Even Rocky & Bullwinkle and Archie's creators died this year.  For me, each of these people had a place in my life; however, it is the passing of Andrew David Groom that saddens me the most this New Year's Eve.
       At this time last year, if someone would have told me how my life would be changed by one event from June 7, 2010, I would never have believed it.  Not my child.  Not Andrew.  If I've learned one thing from his death, I've learned that one can never tell your loved ones how much you love them enough.  Hug your kid.  Tell him or her that you love them, no matter how old he or she may be.  Don't have doubts as to whether he knew that you loved him. 
       There is a song that one may hear on the local country radio station.  The chorus goes something like this...

"Be a best friend, tell the truth, and overuse 'I Love You'
Go to work, do your best, don't outsmart your common sense,
Never let your praying knees get lazy
And love like crazy."

       I think that will be my list of New Year's Resolutions. 
  • Be a best friend--to new ones and old ones;
  • Tell the truth--even when it hurts, but tell it with kindness;
  • Overuse I love you;
  • Go to work-even though it reminds of you of what has been lost;
  • Do your best--even when all you want to do is nothing;
  • Don't outsmart my common sense--it's God's voice speaking;
  • Never let my praying knees get lazy--God is always with me and He is listening;
  • Love like crazy--mainly because you know you are loved, even when you feel all alone.
Bill and I spent some time with Andrew today.  We swept the snow from his stone and rearranged all the things the storm had moved from the memorial we have created for our son.  So as 2010 ended, we spent one more moment with Andrew.  We feel his presence and miss him so much as we begin a new year without him.
       So I'll end this last entry of 2010 with a thought that I wrote in many thank you letters.  Even though I feel profound sorrow at the passing of Andrew, I also feel profound joy at being called to be his mother.  What a gift he was to us.

Here's to a Blessed 2011--Cheers
~Andrew's Mom

Friday, December 24, 2010


       It's Christmas Eve and my house is quiet.  It looks like Christmas, but it just doesn't feel right.  There are a few presents under the tree.  There are Christmas cookies on the counter.  There are Christmas cards hanging in the arch.  What is missing is my sixteen year old son sleeping in his bed.  I'm sitting here--still wondering after six months--how can he really be gone?  How could he not have known how much we loved him?  How could this have happened?
       Our friends have been so wonderful this Christmas season.  We have witnessed God's love in acts of kindness as they help us deal with our first Christmas without Andrew.  Some have given us words of comfort; some have given us things to honor and remember him.

Christmas in Heaven

'Tis Christmas in Heaven,
What a beautiful sight,
and I want you to know that everything is all right.
I've met all our dear ones who preceded us here.
The reunion was lovely,
An event full of cheer.
I think of my family that I left behind,
and I pray that your Christmas is as blessed as mine.
Please shed no more tears for my soul is at rest.
Just love one another and live life to its best.
Yes, it's Christmas in Heaven so I've heard them say...
Yet, Christmas in Heaven happens every day.

Merry Christmas from Heaven

I still hear the songs, I still see the lights,
I still feel your love on cold wintery nights.

I still share your hopes and all of your cares,
I'll even remind you to please say your prayers.

I just want to tell you, you still make me proud,
You stand head and shoulders above all the crowd.

Keep trying each moment, to stay in His Grace.
I came here before you to help set your place.

You don't have to be perfect all the time,
He forgives you the slip, if you continue the climb.

To my family and friends,
Please be thankful today,
I'm still close beside you,
In a new special way.

I love you all dearly,
Now don't shed a tear,
Cause I'm spending my Christmas with Jesus this year.

My faith and my brain tell me this is all true.  But for my heart, I wonder how many more pieces it can break into. 

Dear Jesus--please give my boy a hug for me today.  Kiss him gently on the forehead and tell him how much I love him, today and always. Then give him a whack on the back of the head and remind him I have many things to say to him when we meet again.

~Andrew's Mom

Sunday, December 19, 2010


      During this week I will mail the last of this year's family Christmas card.  It is the first card since 1994 that Andrew hasn't been a part of it.  I almost didn't do a card, but I went back to the statement that has ruled my life this fall--what is your new "normal"?  My new normal, as I have been reminded as our family moves on, is a life and now, a Christmas card photo without Andrew. 
      Honestly, most of the time I still can't believe he is gone.  As we put the bathroom back together after its recent facelift, I finally cleaned out his side of the medicine cabinet.  I finally tossed his body wash from the shower.  But still I feel his presence so much I think I can reach out and hug him.
       So even though I am having a really tough time going through December without my son, December is going on anyway.  Therefore, we did do a 2010 Christmas card.  It is a beautiful card, thanks to dear Tracy who took precious pictures of the kids as they spent a fun snowy, rainy day at Gigi and Papa's.  And even though I know that I am still a part of this family, the part that I added to the equation isn't in the picture this year.  He resides in our hearts and in Heaven, but I really wish he was in our 2010 Christmas card.

Merry Christmas
~Andrew's Mom

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


       Six months ago my life changed forever.  The day was June 7th and it was a typical last week of school Monday.  My seniors had graduated the previous Friday , so my week looked pretty easy.  My mind was on my things so I didn't notice my son.  On that last day, when I left for school, he was in the shower.  I yelled at him, "I'll pick you up at 3:30 p.m."  All he said was, "O.K." He didn't say good-bye.
       Let's go back to the Friday before his death.  It was graduation Friday for me, so I was very preoccupied with finishing all the little touches that go into making a graduation a success.  We went out to dinner before we left for Waitsburg and I tried to talk Andrew into coming with us.  But he didn't want to, so he told us he would just walk home.  As he walked away I watched him.  I said to myself, "He looks so sad."  I play that picture over in my head--sadness personified.
       I've read all types of books during the past six months on suicide and death.  They have given me an insight into death, but these books haven't taken away the pain that I feel so acutely today.  I miss him so much.  I've spent the day in the house, the house where he spent his last minutes.  I've tried to do a few things today, but I can't.  I wonder if this was the type of sadness he was feeling.  People who have suffered with depression tell me about the deepness of the pit of dispair.  My pit is pretty deep today.  The difference between Andrew's pit and my pit is that I see away out of it.  He didn't.
       Today, Andrew is not feeling that darkness.  His life is in the presence of ultimate light--God and his precious Son.  Therefore, I am remembering the light that was in my life for sixteen years.  I see the smile on his face. I see joy in his heart.  I see the love he had for his friends and family. 
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart,
All you who hope in the Lord.
~Psalm 31:24

I do have hope in the Lord; however, I really wish he would have said, "Good-bye."

~Andrew's Mom

Friday, December 3, 2010


       Tonight the Bulldogs played their first basketball game of this 2010-2011 season. The team wore new uniforms tonight, thanks to the kindness of people who gave donations in Andrew's name.  Both the JV and the varisty boys won.  All of this happened without Andrew; however, there were pieces of him in the gym. 
       A #40 jersey hangs over the locker room door, a reminder of a teammate who is no longer with the team physically, but whose spirit takes the floor every time those boys leave that locker room.  On the side of the boys' basketball shoes is a sticker that also serves as a reminder of a missing piece of the team--ADG 40.  These are reminders the team chose to do to remember Andrew.
       Bill and I also wanted to give each varsity basketball player something to remember Andrew.  In Andrew's closet hang beautiful dress shirts with matching ties that, still tied, hang on his gun rack.  However, some of those shirts were worn only once or twice.  Andrew liked his black shirt with his pink tie the best.  I would iron all of his shirts, have them hanging in his closet, ready to be worn on home game days.  However, Andrew would continue to go back to his favorite black shirt and pink tie.  And on the home game days when he didn't wear the pink tie, he would allow some of his teammates to borrow his favorite tie.  After Andrew's death, I thought that I might give his shirts and ties away; but, they still hang in his room to this day.  Jacob asked to borrow his pink tie for Homecoming and for a moment I almost told him just to keep it.  I was happy when he returned it, so I decided I wanted each of his teammates to have their own pink ties.
       On the day Roy selected the varsity team, we asked him to give each varsity player a box.  As he passed out the boxes, we asked him to read the following:

Dear Varsity Bulldog Basketball Team~
Once you had a teammate who loved being a Bulldog.  One of his proudest moments came last year when he came home to tell us that he had made the varsity team.  Tonight you have the same joy—knowing that you will represent Dayton High School as our varsity team.  Many nights we would grumble after a game because we felt he hadn’t played enough.  His answer to us was always the same—“My job is to help the team, whether it is on the floor for many quarters or whether it is supporting the team from the bench.  Roy, Mr. Strong, and Mingsy know what is best and how best I can help this team.” He just wanted to play basketball and he was proud to be your teammate.
Once you had a teammate who had a pink tie.  It was the first tie he bought when he became a Bulldog basketball player.  He loved wearing that pink tie with his black shirt.  He also shared that tie with some of you, so you could experience wearing that pink tie.
Tonight we give each of you your own pink tie.  Wear it or place it in a drawer.  Please do with it as you wish.  However, remember that once you had a teammate named Andrew who loved playing basketball with you. 
Bulldog Born.  Bulldog Bred.
Tonight, when we walked into the gym, we saw handsome young men, wearing black shirts and pink ties.  These same handsome young men played a tough, physical game, winning the first of what, we hope, will be many games this season.  After the game, each varsity player came to shake Bill's hand, give me a wonderful sweaty hug, and tell us thanks for coming to the game.  In return, we want to tell them thanks. Thanks for honoring our son in so many ways, but especially, for wearing pink ties.
~Andrew's Mom

Sunday, November 28, 2010


I've been dreading this day.  This is the day I usually get the tree out of the box and begin my annual decorating of the house for Christmas.  Once my Thanksgiving guests are gone, I know it is time to prepare my house for "The most wonderful time of the year."  However, as you can imagine, the spirit of Christmas seems to have flown from my house.  I feel rather like Ebenezer Scrooge this year.  So, borrowing from Dickens, "Bah! Humbug!"
       I really can't get into the mood for Christmas.  My sadness cloud returned Friday and it has settled in, just as the fog did this morning.  Other houses in town are lit from foundation to peak, but I'm thinking that our house may remain dark this year.  The kids asked if I was going to put a tree up and I said yes.  However, today, I'm rethinking this. 
       Our tree looks the same every year.  It is a memory tree.  We have ornaments representing different times of our lives, beginning with our first Christmas together eighteen years ago.  One ornament is made from the napkins from our wedding reception.  Others remind us of wonderful family trips.  Then there is Andrew's baby ornament--his first Christmas.  There are football ornaments--at least one for each of the boys.  Then there is Amanda as a Bulldog cheerleader.  There are also tractor ornaments--a green one for Billy and a red one for Andrew.  One of our newest additions is a grandparents ornament.  Oh, so many memories. 
       On Friday, our family did decorate a tree.  Bill and I found a little tree to put in the container we've kept flowers in this summer and fall at Andrew's grave.  Clint, Ashley, and Amanda placed the solar powered Christmas lights around this little tree and we took it to the cemetery.  We discovered that the city plows the roads in and around the cemetery, so it was easier to traverse the snow to visit my son than originally thought.  When we arrived, we realized someone had already been there.  Whoever it was had gently swept away the snow on Andrew's stone. Together, we decorated our youngest's grave for the Christmas season.  That little tree covered in snow and in Christmas lights really is beautiful, but I'm sure if someone is walking around the cemetery around dusk, he or she may be a bit startled to see flashing lights coming from the direction of Andrew's grave.
        So, on the Friday after Thanksgiving, we did all the decorating that I really wanted to do.  And with the help of those little solar Christmas lights, all who are around Andrew will be able to enjoy the glow of his little Christmas tree. 

O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
How richly God has decked thee!
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
How richly God has decked thee!
Thou bidst us true and faithful be,
And trust in God unchangingly.
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
How richly God has decked thee! !"

~Andrew's Mom

Thursday, November 25, 2010


My mother always told me she had a great mother-in-law.  She was wonderful, according to all who knew her, but I, her granddaughter, never had the privilege of meeting her.  I, too, have a wonderful mother-in-law and, unlike me, my son was lucky to know her, love her, and be loved by her. 
       Do you know my mother-in-law?  She is the way all grandmothers should be.  Marilyn has a smile that can light up a room.  She is always available for a quick visit or a wonderful meal.  My mother-in-law maybe short in stature, but tall in her ability to love.   She has been grieving the loss of our sweet Andrew right along with us.  In her grief, she created an Andrew legacy for our family.  She created this with her talent and her tears.
       Andrew never could keep his room clean.  After his death, I realized why.  The boy had too many articles of clothing for the small amount of storage space that I gave him.  He had so many t-shirts that I filled up three garbage sacks of them.  I had them in the back of my car, ready to take them to St. Vincent's, when my mother-in-law asked me for them.  She wanted to take all of his t-shirts and make a quilt for each of the kids.  If there were enough leftover, she would make one for Bill and me too.  If there were enough?
       So, during this summer and into the fall, Grandma lovingly created quilt squares out of his t-shirts.  She organized them by mascots--Bulldogs, Cardinals, Cougars, Griz, Mariners, Seahawks, Packers.  She organized them by activities--football, football camp, basketball, basketball camp, t-ball, theater activities, pep band.  She wanted each quilt to be special to each sibling.  We also found a crimson fabric on which I had a lot of memories embroidered onto it--Andrew David Groom--February 9, 1994-June 7, 2010--Bulldog Football, Bulldog Basketball, Bulldog Golf--Bulldog Born, Bulldog Bred.  All of this was accomplished among so many activities, including a two and a half week "vacation" in the hospital as she recovered from knee replacement surgery.  A dear friend machine quilted each, in a very speedy manner, so Grandma could finish the quilts by Thanksgiving.  It was her plan to give them to Andrew's brothers and sister on this first major holiday without him.
       So today, after our meal, Grandma and Grandpa Groom gave Billy & Jessie, Amanda, Clint & Ashley, plus Bill & me our Andrew t-shirt quilt.  They are each beautiful and unique, just like our Andrew.  What a wonderful way for a loving grandmother to honor a much loved grandson!


Billy, Jessie, and Hendrix

Clint & Ashley

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


The snow had begun in the gloaming,
And busily all the night
Had been heaping field and highway
With a silence deep and white.

Every pine and fir and hemlock
Wore ermine too dear for an earl,
And the poorest twig on the elm-tree
Was ridged inch deep with pearl.

From sheds new-roofed with Carrara
Came Chanticleer's muffled crow,
The stiff rails were softened to swan's-down,
And still fluttered down the snow.

I stood and watched by the window
The noiseless work of the sky,
And the sudden flurries of snow-birds,
Like brown leaves whirling by.

I thought of a mound in sweet Auburn
Where a little headstone stood;
How the flakes were folding it gently,
As did robins the babes in the wood.

Up spoke our own little Mabel,
Saying, 'Father, who makes it snow?'
And I told of the good All-father
Who cares for us here below.

Again I looked at the snowfall,
And thought of the leaden sky
That arched o'er our first great sorrow,
When that mound was heaped so high.

I remembered the gradual patience
That fell from that cloud like snow,
Flake by flake, healing and hiding
The scar of our deep-plunged woe.

And again to the child I whispered,
'The snow that husheth all,
Darling, the merciful Father
Alone can make it fall! '

Then, with eyes that saw not, I kissed her;
And she, kissing back, could not know
That my kiss was given to her sister,
Folded close under deepening snow.

This poem is entitled "The First Snowfall" by James Russell Lowell.  I've taught it over twenty times in the past twenty-seven years, but when I taught it this year, it had a certain bitter sweetness attached to it.
I thought of a mound in sweet Auburn
Where a little headstone stood;
How the flakes were folding it gently,
As did robins the babes in the wood.

The words in this stanza have echoed in my heart since the snow began falling Sunday afternoon.  I've been visiting Andrew a couple times a week this fall.  Every time I've gone, I would gently sweep the leaves and needles from his headstone.  I like to keep it clean.  Now, it is under twelve inches of snow.  The hill isn't easily accessible in this weather.  How can I leave him up there all alone? 
       As we prepare to join together as a family this weekend, I have this empty feeling in my heart.  My son, the one child who I carried for nine months, the one child who I cared for during his sixteen years, will be on a hill covered in a blanket of snow.  My mind knows it really isn't him, but my heart still feels pain because he is there, alone.

Again I looked at the snowfall,
And thought of the leaden sky
That arched o'er our first great sorrow,
When that mound was heaped so high.

I remembered the gradual patience
That fell from that cloud like snow,
Flake by flake, healing and hiding
The scar of our deep-plunged woe.

I thought I was healing pretty well, but these past few weeks have re-opened the sorrow in my heart..."flake by flake, healing and hiding the scar of our deep-plunged woe."  Lowell knew the pain of burying a child...there really is nothing to compare it to.

And again to the child I whispered,
'The snow that husheth all,
Darling, the merciful Father
Alone can make it fall! '

Then, with eyes that saw not, I kissed her;
And she, kissing back, could not know
That my kiss was given to her sister,
Folded close under deepening snow.

My son is now residing with our Heavenly Father, but on this first major holiday since his death, I really wish he was here with us rather than being "folded close under deepening snow."

~Andrew's Mom

Sunday, November 21, 2010


I started to get ready to go to church this morning and had a bit of a panic attack.  Thinking about all the songs and words of praise I would hear this morning, celebrating all for which we are thankful, became more than I could handle.  Tears were on the edge, so I decided I couldn't do it.  How can I, when I am so sad because my son is no longer with me, be thankful for anything?  But I am thankful.  Therefore, instead of singing and praising with others, I will list all for which I am thankful.
  • I am thankful for a loving God and the fact that he loved me so much he sent his son to die for my sins.
  • I am thankful for God's grace, for without it my life would be full of despair.
  • I am thankful I live in a country where I am free.
  • I am thankful for all who keep my country free.
  • I am thank for a husband who loves me unconditionally.
  • I am thankful for three step-children and their families who have allowed me to a part of their lives.
  • I am thankful for five beautiful, healthy grandchildren.
  • I am thankful for parents and in-laws who instilled a Godly life in our lives.
  • I am thankful for my entire extended family, and especially for siblings and siblings-in-law who love me just as I am.
  • I am thankful for a wonderful career, where I work with committed professionals who have hearts for children and who are my friends.
  • I am thankful for students--past and present-- whom I love, not just as my students but as the people they become.
  • I am thankful for my friends.
  • I am thankful for a warm home, while it is snowy and cold outside.
  • I am thankful for a full freezer.
  • I am thankful I live in a beautiful place, where God graces us with four beautiful seasons.
Seems like I have a lot to be thankful for.  And I do and  I am.  That still doesn't take away the sadness I feel today.  However, there are many other things for which I am thankful.
  • I am thankful for coaches who love my son almost as much as I do.
  • I am thankful for those same coaches who help us remember my Bulldog, whether it is a 55 decal on a helmet or an ADG #40 on basketball shoes.
  • I am thankful for teammates and friends of my son who always say hello or wave to me, letting me still be a part of their lives.
  • I am thankful for a community who have given in Andrew's name, allowing football players to be warm on cold Friday nights, basketball players to shine in new uniforms, or a young person to experience God's love at Young Life Camp.
I do have a lot to be thankful for.  However, above all, when I visit that beautiful spot on a hill overlooking the valley, I am thankful for my son whom I had for sixteen precious years, and who knew Jesus with whom he now resides with in heaven. 

Thursday, November 11, 2010


 When I was about eight or nine years old I had a crush on Donny Osmond.  I even wrote him a letter telling him how great it would be if he visited Dayton.  That was back in the days of "Puppy Love" and "Go Away Little Girl."  Then when he teamed up with his younger sister, Marie, I loved the Donny and Marie Show. It would be great to have Marie as my sister-in-law. I was heartbroken (not too badly though) when Donny married his wife and I knew Marie would never be my sister-in-law.  However, this afternoon I realized that Marie and I are sisters, sisters as moms who have lost their sons to suicide.
       As I sat down to watch Oprah this afternoon, I knew it would be emotional, but I wasn't expecting the emotions I feel right now.  Right now I feel a little relieved.  The words that Marie spoke, are the words I needed to hear.  She is feeling the same way I am right now.  Her son took his life eight months ago and mine took his five months ago.  However, her words could have been coming from me. "Your life changes."  "If you stay with the 'what ifs' you will have no life."  "It never gets easier.  God gives you respites, but it never gets easier."  Amen sister. 
       She also said that she will never know just why her son took his life; her words rang so true.  I'll never know why Andrew made the choice he did, but I've come to peace with the fact that I don't want to know.  Will it bring him back?  Will it make my life any easier?  Will it make me love him any less?  No, no, and no.
       Dear Abby also had something to share with me tonight.  "More than 30,000 people take their lives annually.  According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, more than 80 percent of us will lose someone to suicide during our lives.  This is why the organization sponsors National Survivors of Suicide Day every year on the Saturday before Thanksgiving.  It's a day when surviving parents, children, siblings, spouses, and friends gather and take comfort in being with others who know what it means to lose a loved one to suicide."
       I won't be able to gather with Marie on November 20, but my prayers will be with her.  I don't need a national day to be comforted by others who know what it means to lose a love one to suicide.  All of you who knew and loved Andrew are survivors too.  And your love, support and prayers for me and my family comforts us daily.  My life will never be the same without Andrew, but my life was made better by the fact that he was in my life for sixteen precious years. 

~Andrew's Mom

Sunday, November 7, 2010


       I've been thinking about Andrew a lot today.  It has been five months since he left us and I still miss him as much today as I did that day.  His friends and classmates have had a great week and I'm sorry he isn't here to share these successes with them.  The Bulldog football team played with so much heart Tuesday night as they defeated T-O-R and Tri-Cities Prep to take the number four spot in the league.  The Bulldog volleyball team won the district title, earning themselves a ticket to the state tournament.  His best friend Seth received a fourth place medal at the State Cross Country meet.  I know Andrew was watching over them all, but I so wish he could have been here to witness it.  However, I am hearing this little voice in my head saying, "But Mom, I'm busy with my new job...the job I have here in Heaven."
       There was nothing Andrew liked better than helping people.  He wasn't thrilled when I volunteered him for different jobs, but he always did them with a glad heart.  One year, he rode the Columbia County Transportation Bus to and from school.  Dear Donna Laughery was his driver and I knew he was always taken care of when he was with her.  Andrew never told me, but I learned that on some days, when he didn't have anything to do after school, he would ride around with Donna.  On more than one occasion he would help some of the Senior Saints of our community by carrying in their groceries, as he and Donna dropped them off at their homes. 
       Some of his best memories of times with his grandparents involved helping of some sort.  He enjoyed going with Grandpa David to deliver Senior Center meals.  That also included a lunch with Grandma and Grandpa after the deliveries had been completed.  And then there were those days when he spent time with Grandma and Grandpa Bud.  He enjoyed doing whatever they were doing.  Some of the flowers that graced his memorial service were peonies that he had helped Grandpa plant.
        Because of this part of his nature, I know God put him on the greeting committee in Heaven.  His speciality is greeting people from our Valley.  Since he left us, he's greeted some neighbors such as Eldon, Ray, and Jeannie.  Just this week, he was there as Meri and Steve arrived.  These two people he knew from our time at the theater, the year he was in third grade.  Andrew was so much help that year and he really loved working at the theater.
       I wish he wouldn't have been so busy these past five months, but that is a part of the circle of life.  However, it is his other committee work that I like to think of even more.  It brings a smile to my face everytime I think of him escorting the babies of people we love to earth.  I got to spend some cuddle time with his first escortee--Lily--not very long ago.  To hold her--knowing that Andrew was the angel who brought her to this earth--brought such joy to my heart.  And now he's just waiting for the call to tell him that Katy is ready to join Jamie, Curtis, and the kids. 
       So what do you think your job in Heaven will be?  I want to teach, but in Heaven I'll never have to grade another essay or write another test.  I'll just get to teach the things I love.  I know God is allowing Andrew to use his gifts as he does his job, whatever that might be.  But as his TSE instructor said, "I hope God let's him drive."  Me too--whatever job he has I hope he is driving around in Heaven.

~Andrew's Mom

Saturday, October 30, 2010


       On Thurday, November 4, Dayton's Young Life leaders are showing a movie at the Liberty Theater.  Its title is To Save a Life.  I googled the title and found the following...When his friend's life ends in tragedy, Jake Taylor decides to make sure that it never happens again. Crossing social barriers, he befriends Johnny Garcia, a loner with life issues. Will Jake have what it takes to stop him from the same tragic fate?
        I don't know exactly why Andrew took his life, but even though I have some theories, I am not worried about Andrew's life as it is today.  He gave his life to Jesus when he was very young and he made it official September 2007.  So as of today, he is living not with his earthly parents, but with his Heavenly Father.  However, if his death can lead to a dialogue between kids and adults (hopefully their parents and other important adults in their lives) then that is a positive outcome of our tragedy. 
       I hope there will be a movement among our young people and the adults in their lives after Thursday.  Kids--What can you do to make some one's life better?  Can you be kinder and gentler with your words?  Can you make positive decisions that will take the pressure off of others to make the same choice?  Adults--Will you take the time to really listen to the young person who is speaking to you?  Will you give of yourself?  Will you give them your time?  Will you support a positive choice, even though that choice may not be the one you think is right for them, but they think it is?  Those are all things I wish I could re-do or do for Andrew.  Please, don't have the regrets I have in my life.
        Andrew took his life, but some of the things kids do also take their lives, but in a slower way.  I worry about the amount of alcohol kids consume.  I worry about their attitudes about illegal drugs.  I worry about their unhealthy relationships.  I worry how they think none of this will affect their futures.  I have lived for fifty years, with the past twenty-seven years involved with kids, ages twelve to eighteen.  It is sad to see how the choices made by the young people in 1984 have led, for a few, to a life of despair in 2010.  Unfortunately, I fear that in 2030 I will have the same sadness about some kids and their choices of 2010.
       We lost Andrew's earthly life on June 7, 2010.  However, Andrew's eternal life was saved the day he accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.  Can this movie save at least one of our children's earthly and heavenly life?  Pray that it will.

~Andrew's Mom


       A princess is staying with me this weekend. Her highness always keeps me company and entertains me with her wit and wisdom, whenever she is with me.  This weekend she has been intuitive to me and my feelings.  It has been a 1,001 questions/statements about Andrew weekend. 
      Dayton General Hospital and all of it departments had "trick-or-treatin' " after school Friday, so we went.  On our way home we went to check on Andrew.  As we were pulling away, she asked, "Does anyone come trick-or-treatin' up here?"  And what do I say to that?  "I don't think so" came out of my mouth, but my head was thinking, "Good question!" 
       Then we went to the football game and she witnessed "Senior Night" festivities.  "If we still had Andrew, we would get to do this too."  With a lump in my throat, I whispered to her, "You are right, honey.  We would get to do this."
       All day today, she has been doing "Andrew" things.  She spent time in his room watching a movie.  She has been playing his Game Boy.  She has been looking through his albums--baby pictures to funeral pictures.  She also has been looking through one of his Bibles.  It is the one that I am using for my current Bible study.  It's hard to explain, but I feel so close to him when I am using it.  It isn't his picture Bible, but it's the first real Bible we gave him.  Hendrix is fascinated by it.  This morning she was writing numbers out of it--just all the numbers of the chapters and a few verses.  Does she feel the same comfort from it that I do?
       Hendrix's Halloween costume this year is Rapunzel.  Remember--"Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your long hair."  Rapunzel's hair was a life line for Mother Goethel to visit her, and according to the new Disney version, it's Mother Goethel's way to keep her young.  The Rapunzel staying at my home this weekend continues to be a life line for me.  And her words bring sadness sometimes to my heart, but most of the time, her words bring joy to my life--a life that has lost a major source of it's joy. 

~Andrew's Mom


Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you. ~Psalm 5:11

       Andrew has been gone five months on November 7th and the missing him hasn't subsided.  I still expect to have the phone call be him or especially, in the morning, I expect him to bound down the stairs to get ready for school.  Ocassionally, when I am in the kitchen, I think I see a glimpse of him sitting on the sofa in the back room, playing video games.  However, I am mistaken.  Andrew no longer lives in my home.  Sadness has taken his place, but we continue to live our lives.  Time keeps marching on.
       I know this is true, because football season is almost over.  Last night was Senior Night--Dain, Josh, Patrick, Michael, Big D, and Albert will never play a high school football game in Bulldog Stadium again.  Andrew's presence in the stadium has been visable all season via the #55 jersey that hangs below the announcer's booth, but for Bill and me his presence is in another place on the sidelines.  His presence exists in the crimson parkas that keep his teammates warm and dry.
       One of the first decisions we made shortly after Andrew's death was what type of memorial we wanted to set up in his name.  We didn't even really think about it; we wanted something created that would benefit Andrew's friends and teammates.  I contacted our superintendent and he told me the school could set up a fund to receive donations in Andrew's name.  Knowing all the stipulations put on schools concerning money, we were please that he told us we would be able to decide how the money would be used.
       One thing that both Bill and I wanted the memorial to be used for was the purchasing of rain parkas for the football team.  On many occasions as  a freshman and a sophomore, Andrew could have used a parka as he stood on the sidelines.  We watched other younger players or an injured upperclassman stand freezing on the sidelines.  Therefore, a portion of the money was used to buy these necessary jackets.  In addition to the ones purchased through the memorial fund, the family purchased four more, insuring that any player who needed one would have some type of protection on a cold football game night.  I wonder if the boys thought of Andrew as they pulled those coats out the first night they were needed?  Did they think of him last night as the evening air grew cold and damp?  I know that I thought of him everytime I looked at those crimson clad football players. 
       People were very generous with their gifts in Andrew's name.  Not only was there enough to buy the parkas, there is enough money left to help purchase a new set of varsity basketball uniforms.  So people in our valley have allowed Andrew to help his teammates one more time.  How appropriate is that for a boy who was remembered by one of his coaches as the ultimate teammate?  I think Andrew is please that he is able to spread his protection over them.

~Andrew's Mom

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


I never met my Grandmother Delp.  She died March 14, 1959 and I was born on April 5, 1960.  However, I think I know her.  I know her through stories from her children.  I know her through stories of her grandchildren.  I know her through her writing and she loved to write.  We can see that in the poems she wrote in her high school yearbook or in the many journals she kept throughout her life.  So we share a gift of the use of words.  We also share a common grief.  She knew what it was like to lose a child.  Actually, my grandmother lost four children during her life.  She gave birth to ten children, with seven of them making it past infancy.  My Aunt Sally died when she was 12 and I think it is the pain of the loss of that child that my grandmother and I share.
       From the stories I have heard about my grandmother, she was an exceptional woman.  She did not have an easy life, yet I have yet to hear a story about her bitterness or anger.  Now there are stories about her frustration with her children and a pair of scissors, but that is a story for another time.  On the contrary, people tell me about her kindness and her love.  I once wrote a paper about the culture of the neighborhood in which my father lived as a child.  It described the community of families who would gather on summer nights in their yards.  The men would be watering their lawns with hoses.  The women would be sitting in somone's front yard, visiting or doing chores, such as snapping green beans.  The children were playing somewhere close by.  This is the image I have of my grandmother.       
      But one year, her youngest daughter became sick.  At first they thought Sally was anemic, but if one would read Grandma's journals, one can see--with our knowledge of cancer today--she had some type of cancer.  In 1945, my aunt died of leukemia.  During the final year of her life, my grandmother kept track of who gave blood, sent cards, or did other acts of kindness for the family.  All of this has been recorded for my generation to read in Grandma's journals.  I have a book like that.  It is the book we used for people to sign at Andrew's dinner.  It has a list of all the people who spent June 10, 2010 with us, grieving the loss of a special son.  But to my book, I have added pictures.  Grandma kept the record of the end of Sally's life with words.  I have a record of the celebration of Andrew's life with pictures.  It is a book I will one day give to Hendrix--she will be my caretaker of that time in my life.  I want her to have it so she will remember how much Andrew was loved--not just by his family, but by the community who helped him grow into the sweet boy that he was. 
       I think I look like my Aunt Sally, especially when we were the same age.  So I wonder, when Andrew met Grandma and Grandpa Delp, along with Sally and the babies, whether he thought, "She kind of looks like my mom."  Andrew helped us place flowers on the graves of my grandparents and on the graves of "the babies" every Memorial Day, so he knew of these family members who had gone on before him.  This next Memorial Day, Hendrix will learn about her great-great grandparents and the babies who are in heaven with Andrew, as we place flowers yet another year.
       Another thing my grandmother and I have in common is our relationship with God.  It was through my grandmother that my mother was introduced to a relationship with God and it was through my mother that I was introduced to a relationship with God and I introduced Andrew to a relationship with God.  And it is through Hendrix's grandmother that she has been introduced to a relationship with God.  So, my grandmother's words...It is through them I have learned to love a woman who I never met, but with whom I have so much in common. And now, it is this woman who watches over my son. Andrew is being surrounded by my grandmother's words and by her love.
~Andrew's Mom

Sunday, October 10, 2010


         Okay, so they say confession is good for the soul.  Let me attest to that.  I feel so much better than I did a couple of hours of ago.  God gives me people who love me and will pray for me in my time of need.  Thank you.
       God also puts people in my life who have had like experiences in dealing with the pain of loss.  So in the beginning, one goal I had for this blog was to share with others things people have shared with me.  I was going to do my second book report on a book entitled My Son...My Son...A Guide to Healing After Death, Loss, or Suicide.  I decided after my confessional blog perhaps I should share something a little lighter.  My Son...My Son... is an awesome book, but I think humor is needed at the moment.
       Click to enlarge
One day this summer I had lunch with my dear friend, Leah.  With her, she brought this --Stick a Geranium in your Hat and Be Happy.  She told me one day I would be able to read it, even though on that day I didn't think that day would be soon.  Like the other books that have been given to me, I placed it on my book pile next to my chair.  It, like the others, was my constant companion.  Leah was right--it did take a while for me to pick it up.  And when I did, I found I only needed to read a little of it at a time for it to have an effect on me.  I haven't completed it yet.  I am savoring it.  But I still have some things to share. 
       Many who have attended a Woman of Faith conference are familiar with Barbara Johnson.  She is a woman who has lost two sons to death and one son to an alternative lifestyle that took him away from her for eleven years.  She knows pain and misery.  However, she made a conscious decision to deal with the pain and make the misery an option.  The goal for her books are to give people the gift of laughter when they feel like they would never laugh again.  Barbara is a woman who has been on the brink of dispair.  If you are there, it is a lifeline to be able to read about a woman who has made a conscious effort to be positive, even though her heart was breaking.
       As I said, one can read this book just a little at a time and get a lot out of it.  Barbara has a lot of little sayings, that after a while seem almost too good to be true.  At the end of her first chapter, she has "Resolutions For Avoiding Misery."  I have read this list before, but I think it deserves being shared one more time.


  • Choose to love--rather than hate.
  • Choose to smile--rather than frown.
  • Choose to build--rather than destroy.
  • Choose to perservere--rather than quit.
  • Choose to praise--rather than gossip.
  • Choose to heal--rather than wound.
  • Choose to give--rather than grasp.
  • Choose to act--rather than delay.
  • Choose to forgive--rather than curse.
  • Choose to pray--rather than despair.
       A few hours ago I forgot that I have a choice.  I chose to let the rain and the week that had passed to cause despair in my life.  My prayers of forgiveness, plus those prayers of those who love me, helped bring me out of the darkness.  I was reminded again that I have a choice--misery is optional.  Andrew made a choice all of us would like to talk him out of.  However, we can't, so we all have to make a conscious decision to choose to heal, build, and perservere.
       I watched a group of boys play football Friday night.  I love the boys who played on both sides of the field.  The WP team has known nothing but success on the "gridiron" for many years, but for the Bulldogs, success has become a memory.  However, the Bulldogs I watched Friday have made the choice to heal, to build, and to perservere. 
       There is a football jersey that hangs in their stadium.  It represents a friend and teammate who isn't with them.  Rather than letting this uniform represent sadness, the coaches and the boys have made a conscious decision to have it mean more.  They have chosen to heal from their loss, to build on the 110% effort exhibited by their lost teammate, and to perservere, even when the odds are against them.  Friday night they did not give up.  Even when the beginning looked like another "Oh no" night, it wasn't.  Yes the Bulldogs lost, but they also won.  They played hard and gave 110%.  That is a small victory for them.  This is the beginning to the fulfillment of their choices.  They have made the decision to "stick a geranium in their helmets and be happy."
        That is my decision too.  I will probably have bad weeks or weekends again.  However, I do have a choice.  I choose to love my son, but also to love my life until I see him again.

~Andrew's Mom


       I have something to confess.  I wrote about the deer today, because I have something I can't believe I did yesterday and I need to confess, but am afraid to.  I have asked God and Andrew for forgiveness, but I still feel like I need to confess to everyone.  Notice all the "I"s in this entry so far. That is what happens when God is not in control of my life.
       Yesterday was a very sad morning for me.  Poor Hendrix--she didn't know what to do during my meltdown.  Here I was dusting and suddenly I was wailing.  Usually when she is with me, I try to keep control of my emotions and go into the bathroom or bedroom when the tears come.  But yesterday, it just wasn't going to happen. So I cried and I cried loudly.  I was feeling so sad and now I realize I couldn't control it, because I didn't turn my missing Andrew over to God.  And even after I saw how this meltdown affected Hendrix, I still didn't turn it over to God.
       That isn't what I want to confess about, although, I probably should (and I guess I have) because I'm afraid I've scarred Hendrix for life--it was bad and it made her as sad as I was.  What I want to confess happened later in the afternoon.  We went to a neighbor's housewarming party.  There were many people there, most of whom we knew.  However, I introduced myself to a couple that I didn't know.  Come to find out they live on the other end of our pasture, a house or two over to the south.  We had a nice conversation and soon I learned that the gentleman was born outside Amity, Oregon.  Amity is where Clint and Ashley live, so suddenly we were fast friends. The woman asked how many children we had and I said, "Three."  Once the words came out of my mouth, I lost consciouness of what was being said in our conversation.  How did I just deny the existence of my son?  In my mind I was justifying this horrific action by saying to myself, "I've had a really terrible day and if I say anything about Andrew, I know I will cry...and I just can't do that with all of these people around."  What a load of crap! 
       Please God, please Andrew, forgive me for my weakness.  God, forgive me for not turning my sadness over to you.  Andrew, forgive me, for once again saying words that I know hurt you.  Will I ever learn?
       I now believe I know a little bit of what Peter was feeling on the day that he denied knowing Christ.  It is a feeling of total disbelief.  Did I really just do that?  Did I just deny the existence of my son, because I don't want to tell strangers that he is no longer with me and that talking about his death will make me even sadder than I am?
       In Elizabeth Kubler-Ross's work on death and grief, she talks about the different stages people go through: shock, denial, bargaining, guilt, anger, resignation, and acceptance.  I know the denial that I took part in yesterday wasn't the denial she wrote about.  But now, that denial is definitely part of the guilt I feel today.  I need to remember the following:

“Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.” (Psalm 55:22)

“Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28)

“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)

"Dear God,
       Please forgive for not turning my sadness and missing Andrew over to you.  Thank you for loving me and for loving my entire family, especially our sweet Andrew.  Thank you for your grace.  Thank you for your mercy.  Please forgive me."

"Dear Andrew,
       Please forgive me for not being strong enough to talk about you yesterday.  Please know that I love you and will always be proud to be called your mom.  Please forgive me."

And to all of my friends, please pray for me and forgive me for my weaknesses.  As you know, I am very proud to be known as...

~Andrew's Mom


For those of you who live in small town eastern Washington, you may have made the statement, "Those darn deer" at least once in your life.  They eat our flowers, our vegetables, and any other type of vegetation they can get to.  Even though they take from our yards, they also are kind and leave something in return--deer pellets.  They roam the streets and highways of our counties, causing damage to our cars and to our psyches as we drive home in the evening.  Oh, those darn deer!
     Since July 5th I have been saying, "Oh, those darn deer" because they keep feasting on the flowers I have on Andrew's grave.  At first, they left the petunias alone.  However, once they became full and beautiful, the deer discovered them.  At first, I really didn't notice a difference, but suddenly one day, I noticed.  They had mowed the petunias to the dirt in the planter.  So, I planted new items into the pots.  They were lovely.  The contrasting chartreuse and dark green of the sweet potato vine.  The red and gold of verbina.  The lovely white of sweet alyssum.  Those plantings made the pots look summery and alive.  The deer thought so too.  The first day I noticed something was amiss, it was just a little trimming.  The next day, I saw that there had been a stripping of the vines.  They had even taken the alyssum out and thrown them to the grown.  Oh, those darn deer!
     Bill was determined that those deer would not get the best of us, so we invested in some dry "deer off" and some spray "deer off."  As long as we kept tending to the flowers with our spray and powder, the flowers were thriving.  But just one time of being lax with the spray and once again one could hear me say, "Oh, those darn deer!"
     Yesterday, when we went up to water the flowers, everything looked great.  The dry powder must either be a type of fertilizer or it is so effective that they deer don't even graze on the grass where it has been sprinkled.  So the grass and the flowers around Andrew's grave are thriving. 
     One time, when I was ranting about the deer, my mother told me I shouldn't try to keep the deer away from Andrew's grave.  She reminded me just how much he loved them.  The deer must sense that, because even with all the deterients that we have been using, the deer still haven't left Andrew's grave--they are just staying outside the perimeter.  Not only do we see evidence via deer pellets, Bill showed me where they have been bedding down at night--just to the east of Andrew.  They are sleeping under the trees, watching over my boy.
     Soon Mother Nature will take care of my flowers with her first frost of the season, so I won't have to worry about the deer eating Andrew's flowers.  However, I have a certain sense of peace knowing that they feel the sweetness of Andrew's character and have chosen his grave as a place of rest for them.  Oh, those darn, sweet deer.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


Its The Great Pumpkin  Charlie BrownIt's that time of year--cool nights, warm days, pumpkins riping in the patch.  Yup, it is the month of October, time for things that go bump in the night.  I want to talk about my things that go bump in the day and whispers from heaven.
     Our Aunt Sherry recently sent us a copy of the May 2010 Guideposts.  In it one will find an article written by Ptolemy Tompkins entitled "Divine Dreams."  Even though it is about the question do our pets go to heaven, it has some really interesting information that has solidified some incidents that happened to me this summer.
     Mr. Tompkins explains what happens during the time right before we go to sleep and that time right before we wake.  It is called the "hypnagogic state." This occurs when we are in that strange place between waking and sleep, "where we are neither fully conscious nor unconscious."  The term hypnagogia comes from combining the Greek words "hypnos" which means sleep and "agogeus" which means conductor.  The third century philosopher Iamblichus called this "the visions that occur that are 'god-sent'."  Aristotle also wrote about this.  He said, "... in a moment of awakening, a man may 'surprise the images which present themselves to him in sleep'."
     In the Bible, there are many mentions of visions.  In Genesis we learn about Jacob's vision of the ladder of angels.  In the New Testament, one can read, "Your young men shall see visions, you're old men shall dream dreams."  These two examples plus many others assure us that dreams can be a "genuine conduit for God's word."
     So, you may be asking why I am writing about this.  Even though some may question my sanity, I, too, have had visions--visions of Andrew.  The first wasn't a vision, but I heard him speak to me.  The basement had been a place of sadness for me since June 7th.  It took me ten days after Andrew's death to even go down there.  For ten days Bill had to do laundry, get meat from the freezer, or grab a can of something from the cupboard.  Finally, one day I was forced to go down there (one of God's little jokes on me...more at a later date).  I timidly took each step carefully.  I forced myself to take that final step.  I grabbed the meat from the freezer and ran back up the stairs.  Whew--I survived!  However, I knew I would have to be braver the next time I went down there.  The next morning, I loaded up a laundry basket and forced myself to go down those steps one more time.  This time it was a little easier, but I knew I had to be down there longer than five seconds.  So I walked over to the washer and dryer, put my laundry basket on the floor, and turned to face the part of the basement that I dreaded.  I shouted, "Satan--get out of my basement!  You took my will not take my home!"  I kept repeating, "Satan--get out of my basement!"  Whether you believe me or not, I felt the sadness leave.  I took a deep breath and turned to complete the task that I had come to do.  While I pulled the clothes from the dryer, I felt a presence.  I turned and looked.  Nothing.  I returned to pulling clothes from the dryer, when I heard a whisper, "Mom, I'm sorry."  It was Andrew's voice.  He had just given me a little reassurance.  From that moment on, I don't mind going to the basement.  I still take a deep breath before I go down, but I no longer hesitate.
     My second message from heaven came during a very mundane task--mopping the floor.  It had been a sad day.  Crying during breakfast.  Crying during vacuuming.  Crying during lunch.  I turned my favorite CD on really loud and starting mopping the kitchen floor.  Suddenly a very clear picture of Andrew jumped into my head.  He was carrying a baby and was looking very peaceful.  Within the hour, I learned that Lillian Jane had been delivered to her parents.  But I already knew; I saw Andrew deliverying her to earth.
     I already told you about my vision/dream of Andrew that I had while we were on our trip to Yellowstone.  I feel his presence with me everyday, especially this week as I see his friends and classmates celebrating Homecoming.  Do you think they feel his presence as well?
     So as we come into the season when people love to get scared at the haunted corn maze and watch really scary movies, I realize I want to see and hear more from the spirit of my son.  Maybe I had my "visions" of Andrew this summer as a reassurance that he is okay.  Looking back, those are precious moments to me.  "The dreams that come from angels give us a wonderous and reassuring glimpse."  I can tell you, for me, they were very reassuring glimpses of my son. 

~Andrew's Mom

Sunday, October 3, 2010


View Image A few weeks ago, Hendrix created a bookmark for me.  It was a picture of me (loved the stick-figure figure--I'm glad she sees me that way) and I was blue.  Yes, blue hair, blue clothes, blue stick body.  I thought this was because she knows blue is my favorite color, but then I wondered, "Do I look blue to her?"
        On Tuesday I had a dark, dark blue day.  I made it to school, but I was so sad that I couldn't stop crying.  My sadness was so large that I couldn't get on top of it.  I hadn't had a day like that for six weeks or so.  So I came home and had a day of crying like I hadn't had in a while.  Wednesday was better and when I talked to my first hour seniors about my sad day, this time I had someone to share tears with.  And then I felt better.  I really haven't talk to my students about how it feels to grieve the loss of my son.  They have been so kind and protective of me, that I felt it really hadn't been appropriate.  However, Wednesday I needed to tell them about my sad days.  Second hour was a little better, but still I had tears. During the next two periods I talked a little more about my life outside of school and how exhausting grief is.  They were understanding about my life and how it was different.
     So this weekend I decided I was going to work on my color.  What color do I want to be?  I haven't worn many colors since June 7th--black, white, gray, brown.  Then I bought a turquoise blue sweater.  A little color did make me feel better.  Thursday, as I was getting ready for school, I pulled out my red boots.  I hadn't worn them for a year, mainly because they looked scruffy and I didn't have red polish.  So, Thursday morning I polished my red boots and went to school.  I can't tell you how good I felt wearing those red boots.  Maybe I'm moving out of my blue-ness.
     As I examine my colors, I think about the colors of the Bible.  There is purple for royalty.  White symbolizes purity.  Red represents the blood spilled on the cross.  Streets of heaven are paved in gold.  But today, on this gloomy Sunday, I think of the rainbow--God's promise.  I know the rainbow symbolizes that God will never bring on a catastrophic flood that will cover the world, but for me, the rainbow symbolizes hope.  Hope for fewer really sad days.  Hope for a future in heaven.  Hope for the day I see my son again.
     I'm thinking I'm still blue, but I'm working on it.  I bought a fuchsia pink shirt this weekend--it is a bit blinding, but it is a happy color.  As I remember the day Hendrix asked me what I thought Andrew was wearing in heaven, I told her I saw him in a t-shirt and basketball shorts.  The t-shirt is white and the shorts are white.  However, he is also wearing black socks and a pair of athletic shoes that are some other color--definitely not white, or at least, not all white.  My twentieth century fashion sense thinks that black socks worn with shorts is just so wrong.  But I know he is happy, so that makes me happy.  I just wish that happy boy was with me. 
~Andrew's Mom