Remembering Alina

This morning I am remembering and honoring Jason’s best friend Alina on her 32nd birthday. She and Jason spent part of their last day together here on earth. He was taking her home after watching a movie at our house when they were broadsided by a drunk driver who was going more than twice the speed limit. They both died instantly.

Alina was a sweetheart. She always had a smile and a hug for everyone. She always made our house warmer and more fun just by being in it. I know that she felt right at home in our house and that she knew we loved her. I miss her and will never forget her. Happy birthday, Alina.

 

My Very Best Friend
For Alina

By Jason Carney

How to describe my very best friend?
She’s one of a kind
No other even comes close to her
A shining jewel in my otherwise blackened existence.
She cares greatly for others,
And puts their needs in front of her own.

No matter what I do
She still cares for me,
And never turns her back to me.

Through thick and thin
She’s always been a friend.
I could always count on her
She always instilled confidence in me.

Ever since the start of our friendship
She’s accepted me for who I am.
I don’t have to act a certain way for her,
She liked me just the way I was.

Around her I have a feeling of security,
That I have with no other.
I can really be myself with her,
And not worry about rejection.

How well she knows me
Is a scary yet comforting feeling.
She can tell when I’m down,
Or I need to laugh, or just need a hug.

She always has a hug to offer me
On these gloomy days,
And brings a smile to my face when I’m down.

She’s always willing to listen,
When I need to talk,
And gives me advice
When I need council.

I never had such a great friend
And I thank God for our friendship.
Ah, she is a great best friend,
My very best friend indeed.

(Written by Jason for Alina)

 

© 2013 Rebecca R. Carney

 

 

Softer Days

Please take a few minutes to read this beautiful poem by one of my favorite fellow bloggers. It talks about the incredible value of someone else remembering and talking about a loved one who has died. Incredibly beautiful and insightful poem. One of the stanzas that particularly touched my heart says:

But when you speak to me

about my loved one – now gone

I feel a spark, a warming from within

Not found among the dust or

stored possessions.

Softer Days.

It’s such a great comfort when someone remembers our child. It’s like a warm blanket that wraps around us. Possessions – things that we kept that belonged to our child – in and of themselves don’t have any life. It’s the memories and the remembering that contains the life.

Rebecca Carney - One Woman's Perspective:

I’d like to share a post written by Tonya, a good friend of both Jason and Alina, written on the eighth (and re-posted on the ninth) anniversary of their deaths.

Originally posted on Bakerlady:

I originally posted this last year on today’s sad anniversary. I still struggle with these same things another year later as I remember my friends. I’m comforted by these verses from 1 Corinthians.

1 Corinthians 15:51-57 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—  in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.  For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.  When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.

“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin…

View original 752 more words

The Gifts of Listening and Remembering

The Gift of Listening

One of the most precious gifts I received while I was in Washington was given to me by a long-time friend when we had dinner together. She gave me the gift of her time and her attention. She asked me if I was “ready to talk about it.” (It’s not that I have avoided talking about “it,” Jason, or that time…I just didn’t feel like anyone was ready or wanted to listen. It has seemed no one really has wanted to talk about Jason or that time – unless it’s briefly on his birthday or anniversary of his death – and so I just sort of gave up trying. Why make people uncomfortable and avoid you even more?)

I asked what she wanted to know; I would answer any questions. I talked. And she truly listened. She truly listened. She listened to my ideas on how I wanted to help bereaved parents. She cared. She asked questions. “What could I have done differently?” She apologized for not knowing what to do and for disappearing. Not once did she make me feel like I needed – at any time during the last ten years – to be fixed or that I should not have felt as I did.

As I began to talk, starting at the night of the accident, I started shivering. I thought I was cold – after all, going from 80 degrees in Florida to 28 degrees in Seattle was quite a change. I ordered coffee to warm me up, but it didn’t help.

Have you ever had a muscle that was knotted up tight for so long that it begins to shake? That’s what it was like, except through my whole body. It was like I had tried to hold together all alone and be strong for so long that my physical body reacted to “letting the story out,” to loosening my grip on some inner tension I didn’t even realize I had. Someone apologized. Someone cared. Someone actually listened to my story and looked me square in the eyes as I was telling it.

I realized the next day that something inside of me had changed. I felt freer than I had felt in a very long time. I have read about bereaved parents reaching a corner, a specific turning point, when something changes. I just didn’t understand it because it had not happened to me.

It’s been a rough ten years. Jason’s death; everything we dealt with concerning Jason’s death and the far-reaching after-effects (believe me, the ripple effects following the death of a child go deep, far, and wide); deep, prolonged grief that went far into my very soul; depression; too many relationship losses to count; watching my precious family struggle with losses and other difficult situations; job losses; my Mom died; loss of family relationships; moving, moving, moving; changes, changes, changes; pressure, pressure, pressure. I have felt like I’ve been hunkered down in a survival mode for a long time, that I’ve dealt with many, many things alone. It’s tiring. It’s draining. It ties you in knots, whether you know it or not.

I am so thankful for this precious friend taking time to ask questions and for listening. I know it wasn’t easy for her. I have worked very hard on my own at forgiving, even though there no apologies extended by people who knew they had hurt me/us badly and who knew they had deserted us. It was amazing to have someone say that our relationship was too important to lose. It was so freeing to hear someone say, “I’m sorry,” and to be able to respond, “I forgive you.” It was amazing to have someone truly listen with her heart and her full attention! What an incredible gift!

The Gift of Remembering

One of Jason’s good friends hosted a small breakfast get-together on the morning of March 3rd as a way to honor Jason and Alina. One precious young lady who attended took time to tell me how she would never forget Jason, how he was still the standard by which she measured guys, how Jason had once explained to her why he enjoyed classical music along with other types of music, and how she still listened to and appreciated classical music to this day because of what Jason had told her. It meant so much to me for her to take the time to tell me those things.

It meant so much, too, to me to listen to others who also spoke of Jason, who told me a story or memory and let me know he would never be forgotten. Every single person who shared with me memories of Jason gave me an incredible gift!

One of a mother’s nightmares following the death of a child is that her child will be forgotten. It’s almost like an unspoken job for a bereaved mother to make sure that never happens.

Following Jason’s death, a gal in our homeschool group offered to put together a scrapbook in Jason’s honor. I chose a scrapbook that would include photos (by those other than ourselves) and personal stories of Jason by those who knew him. At least I could remember him alive and hold his memory close through photos of things he had done and places he had been, by being talked about and remembered. Another gal was to contact people and spread the word so those who wanted could contribute to the scrapbook.

There were not a lot of contributions; the gal putting the scrapbook together was embarrassed and anxious I would be hurt. At first I was confused and hurt. I craved hearing about Jason’s life, about his experiences, about how he was remembered. I didn’t want my son to be dead. I felt like he was being forgotten. I didn’t want him forgotten. I needed to know that he was remembered – and would continue to be remembered – by those who knew him.

But then I realized that a couple of big issues were getting in the way. 1) The court hearings were just ahead and many people were composing impact statements to submit to the judge concerning how Jason’s and Alina’s deaths affected them (statements to help the court decide sentencing). That in itself had to be so emotionally draining. 2) In addition, a lot of these “kids” (and others) were still dealing with both Jason’s and Alina’s deaths (Jason and Alina had many friends in common); they were not able to vocalize their feelings just yet. It was too much to ask of them at that time. My need was greater than the ability of most people we knew.

With so few people talking or writing about Jason over the years, it was easy to wonder if he was being forgotten. I guess that’s one of the reasons it meant so much to me while I was in Seattle this time to have people specifically tell me their memories of Jason and that he would never be forgotten. They let me know that his memory had not disappeared with time, that Jason’s life mattered, not only to his family, but to others. He has continued to be valued, loved, remembered.

It was a good trip. Breakfast, coffee and conversation every morning with my precious friend Mary, who I have missed so much since we moved. Typical early spring Seattle weather – rain, snow, frost, sun. (Seattle weather has never bothered me.) And best of all, some people who listened, showed me they cared, and told me Jason was dearly remembered and would never be forgotten. They gave me the precious gifts of listening and remembering. It’s never too late to listen or remember.

© 2012 Rebecca R. Carney

Road Trip 2001

From my journal dated January 2, 2003:

California Road Trip 2011 - Disneyland

This was the first day in a while I’ve been home alone. Joe, Jenna and Eric all had to work today. It’s not as hard as it used to be, but it’s not easy, either.

I cleaned up the kitchen and then started cleaning the bonus room. As I was putting movies away, I ran across the video of Jason and his friends on their road trip to California in September 2001. I decided to sit down and watch it.

Jason - California 2001

It’s a very shaky home video filmed by teenagers, but it was so good to see Jason again like he he was – alive and having so much fun.

It didn’t upset me at first as I was watching it. Jason was having so much fun; it made me smile. But, the more I watched it, I started to feel worse and worse physically. I don’t know if it was the shaky video or some physical grief reaction, but I ended up throwing up. I rarely get sick or throw up. I felt so weak, sweaty, headache-y, nauseated. I don’t know what happened! I felt awful. Ended up going to bed and slept for a while.

Oh, I miss my boy so much! I want him to be alive and having fun. He enjoyed life so much! He made everything fun!

© 2011 Rebecca R. Carney

Some days are better than others

From my journal dated October 1, 2002:

Cleaned house today – kitchen, bathrooms, vacuumed. Trying so hard to get back in the swing of things…so many things I need to do. It makes me sad to clean the house, because it’s what I had asked Jason and Jenna to do the Saturday before the accident. It seemed so important at the time. So, here I am today washing the bathroom floor, crying so hard I can hardly see what I am doing.

After I vacuumed the floors, I vacuumed Jason’s top hat, wrapped it in a plastic bag to protect it, and put it  in his room. The box of photos, chess sets, memorabilia, and Jason’s top hat and gloves have been sitting in the bonus room since the memorial service. This is the first day I’ve felt like I could deal with putting them away.

I fell apart when I walked into Jason’s room. I haven’t been in there for a long time. Seven months later…and I’m still wanting and waiting for Jason to come home. I miss him so much.

Yesterday we went to see Sweet Home Alabama with the McFarlane’s. Cute movie. It was so weird, though, after the movie. We were getting ready to head over to Applebee’s for dessert, and I had an overwhelming feeling that Jason was on his way to meet us there…like he’d been somewhere else doing something with a friend, but was meeting us to celebrate my birthday. It was just a momentary feeling, but it seemed so real! I wish it had been real!

My sister called to wish me a happy birthday. I feel sometimes like I just go through the motions of conversation, but it doesn’t quite reach my heart. I’m like a robot talking, doing things. Maybe I just don’t want to feel anything.

I was so antsy and frustrated today…had a hard time sitting still and concentrating in school and while working on homework. I can’t seem to get a focus on my story for my journalism class. My brain seems like it’s moving through molasses!

The Herald [newspaper] called about doing another story on Jason and Alina. I just don’t really see a point in it. I feel like they’re using Jason and Alina to sell stories – some story on victims not getting fair justice. It just doesn’t feel right. Why now?

The reporter talked about no arrests being made yet, and how other victims felt that justice was not being done for them. I just don’t see where it brings honor to Jason and Alina to have their names associated with a gripe fest. I told her we weren’t interested in doing an article right now. She wasn’t very happy with me.

They’re probably used to people wanting their 15 minutes of fame…but this is not fame I want. It brings pain to too many people with little purpose. Jenna says it’s fame she doesn’t want either. She doesn’t want to be in the spotlight. I told her that I think we probably can’t help but be in the spotlight during the trial, but there’s no good reason now.

I took some bulbs and a small shovel with me today when I left for school. I stopped by the crash site on my way home. I cleaned up the trash, and then I dug a few holes and planted the bulbs – a big variety of bright daffodils for Jason, my Mr. Sunshine, and white and purple crocuses for Alina. Some will come up in early spring and some will come up in late spring, very near the one year mark of the accident. I want them to symbolize life out of death with a bright array of color along the side of the road for everyone to see as they drive by.

Today was a tough day for me.

“His smile danced”

From my journal dated September 22, 2002:

I stopped by the cemetery this today on my way home. Someone had left yellow starburst mums and a note that said, “His smile danced.”

It’s so easy to feel like everyone has forgotten Jason. Whoever left it…it was nice to see that someone still misses him and thinks of him.