Alina’s Birthday

From my journal dated December 12, 2002:

Alina's surprise 18th birthday party

Alina would have been 21 today. I’m sure this is a tough day for her family.

This morning I was thinking about the surprise birthday party Jason and Hannah planned for Alina when she turned 18. That was so much fun – to so successfully surprise Alina, to have all those kids in our house, to be a just a small part of something that obviously gave Alina such happiness.

In my mind, I can still picture Alina, Jason, Hannah and all the other kids in our home that day – having so much fun together. They were all such good friends. I think I still have the birthday candles from the cake somewhere – chunky, yellow and green number 18.

Happy birthday, Alina. Miss you.

© 2011 Rebecca R. Carney

That person visiting the cemetery is me

From my journal dated July 30, 2002:

Yesterday was Jason’s birthday. It was a tough day for me. Oh, my precious boy. I miss you so much! It’s hard to be here, knowing you’re gone.

I had to go to school in the morning. As I went by the crash site, I about lost it. Someone had tied a balloon onto the cross. After class, I stopped by a flower shop and got some flowers to take to the cemetery.

Floral Hills Cemetery

I look at cemeteries differently now. I used to be distanced from them. A cemetery was a place I looked at and felt sorry for the poor people who were burying a loved one or visiting a gravesite. Now I feel compassion, empathy, and a kinship to the people who are there…which is entirely different than “feeling sorry for.” Now that person at the cemetery isn’t some disconnected entity…it’s me, visiting the graves of my son and his friend who were killed in the prime of their lives.

Jason’s birthday

From my journal dated July 29, 2002:

Jason's birthday - July 29, 1982

Jason’s birthday.

Jason would have been 20 years old today. It would have been a great day to celebrate. 9 lbs. 10 1/2 oz., 7:15 a.m., 7/29/82, auburn hair (that quickly turned blond), beautiful baby boy. Such a fun little guy. I am so glad he was born in our family. I’m so sad he’s gone.

Jenna’s birthday

From my journal dated July 16, 2002:

I think Jenna had a good birthday, all things considered. She looked beautiful. Dinner was wonderful; she was surprised and happy to see those we had invited. The Cascades, Mt. Rainier and downtown Seattle looked so beautiful! I’m so glad she had a good day. She deserves it!

Approaching birthdays

From my journal dated July 14, 2002:

Jenna and Jason - joint birthday party July 1999

Tomorrow is Jenna’s birthday. She’ll be 18. She really hasn’t wanted to plan anything. With her and Jason’s birthdays two weeks apart, I think it’s hard for her to think of celebrating without him. There has always been such an air of festivity in July.

We finally decided to go out to dinner to Daniel’s Broiler [nice, expensive restaurant with beautiful view] in Bellevue. Joe and I just wanted to make it as special as we can for her. It’s been one of our favorite places to go for special occasions since we discovered it. We’re surprising her by inviting a couple of people she knows. I hope she has a wonderful day.

God, please give her a good day. She really needs it.

Happy Birthday, Jason

Today is Jason’s birthday. He would have been 29 years old. I miss you, my precious Mr. Jay. I love you with my whole heart.

Very early on the morning of Jason’s 19th birthday, I woke up and wrote the following letter. I put it in his room so he could find it when he woke up.

July 29, 2001

My dear sweet Jason – Here you are turning 19 – I can hardly believe it!

I just wanted to take a few minutes and tell you some things that are on my heart on this birthday – I know it’s not a “momentous” one, per se – like the” big” numbers 16, 18 or 21 – but with each passing year, I know you are headed more and more out the door – making a life for yourself – which is as it should be……….

But I just wanted to tell you how precious you are to me – and how glad I am that you are in our family. My boy – so totally awesome!!! You have been such a ray of sunshine in my life – you’ll never know how much!!

When I think back – there are so many precious memories that play in my mind. Your precious hugs. Your joyous laughs when I’d tickle you when you were a baby – you were the most fun baby I’ve ever seen. You and Justin – bottle buddies. Your empathy – do you remember that book Aunt Faye sent to us about how things work – and there was a picture of this kid crying over sand on his hands – I think the question was how tear ducts work – but you’d sit there looking at the picture and almost cry over it because you just knew how that kid felt – he didn’t want that sand on his hands. We finally had to get rid of that book – it would automatically fall open to that page – and it would make you so sad. How hard you worked on memorizing all those Awana scriptures – and they had to put a limit on how many each kid could say in a week because of you – at the largest church in the entire Northwest! Your heart to do the right thing – over and over and over again in so many situations. How you’ve been such a good brother to Jenna. How you take time for your friends – you are such a good friend to so many people. When you drove for the first time – and almost hit a fence – and then told me it was nothing like a video game. How you take time for Michael – doing something fun for him – just because. So many fun memories – they just go on and on.

You just totally amaze me!! Whoever you marry is one lucky girl – I hope she appreciates you always. Your employer is one lucky company. Your friends

Jason turns 19 - July 29, 2001

are lucky people. Wherever you go, you will be a blessing. I continue to pray for you in your decisions – work, school, friends, spouse. I have prayed for you your whole life – and I’m not stopping now. Follow God with your whole heart, sweet boy. He has special plans for you.

I love you,