Wishes…

I look at the pictures of Jason on my Nixplay digital photo as they rotate in the frame that sits right by my desk at work. Oh, how I wish I could go back in time to hug that precious little boy, tickle that cute little guy under his chin and hear his infectious laugh, play a card or board game with my lover of all games, bake chocolate chip cookies with my beautiful boy, sit and watch a movie, just BE together doing anything.

I love looking at the pictures, but some days the pain of his absence is almost too much to bear. Photographs and memories will never take the place of actually spending time with my precious boy.

I love you, my precious boy. I miss you with all my heart.

~Becky

© 2020 Rebecca R. Carney

Integrity

1f4362aafec4392ef99f84318a38010aOfficial definition: Firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values.

Synonyms: character, decency, goodness, honesty, morality, probity, recited, righteousness, rightness, uprightness, virtue, virtuousness. Honesty, honor, integrity and probity mean uprightness of character or action. Honesty implies a refusal to lie, steal, or deceive in any way. Honor suggests an active or anxious regard for the standards of one’s profession, calling, or position. Integrity implies trustworthiness and incorruptibility to a degree that one is incapable of being false to a trust, responsibility, or pledge. Probity implies tried and proven honesty or integrity.

(https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/integrity)

Unofficial definition: Doing the right thing even when no one is watching.

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Jason had great integrity, a heart to do what was right. He was honest. He was trustworthy. He was the guy that parents knew they could trust their daughters to go out with. He was the type of guy that showed up to work on time and did the best job he could, no matter what else was going on around him or whether anyone was watching. He was the guy that was kind to anyone.

In one of his college classes, a fellow small group project member had plagiarized a portion of Jason’s paper, one that Jason had generously consented to allowing the guy to read in order to help encourage this person’s effort in writing his own paper. The professor recognized enough similarities and called both of them in for cheating. Jason was horrified that his integrity was being called into question when he had simply been trying to help the other guy succeed in the class. Thankfully, the professor recognized what was going on and who was the real cheater. Jason’s integrity showed through.

My husband also has a great integrity. It’s one of the things that drew me to him. Joe worked in telecommunications, with his clients being some of the major hotels and universities in the greater Seattle area. He worked with the White House communications department, the office of the President of South Korea, actors, sports stars, major business companies. When working with government departments, he had to be cleared by the FBI just to step foot on any floor of the hotel the government entity had taken over. The thing about Joe is that he treated everyone with respect, whether his dealings involved the White House or the maid cleaning the toilet.

Jason was the same. He approached life with an openness, honesty and integrity that was just amazing. He was a true friend to his friends. He loved his family and friends unconditionally, forgave unconditionally. He was not embarrassed to show that he cared. He hugged those he loved, no matter who was watching. He was true to himself and his values. Whatever he did, he did with his whole heart and with integrity.

Integrity is treating people with respect, whether they are rich or poor, whether or not you personally benefit from the way you treat that person, whether or not anyone is watching or will every know what you did. Integrity is your actions matching up with what you profess to believe on Sunday. Integrity is not trying to make someone look bad just so you will look better. Integrity is owning up to your mistakes, genuinely saying you’re sorry, and trying to do better the next time.

Jason’s integrity is one of the things I miss about him. It is what inspires me to try harder and to do the best I can, no matter the circumstances.

I miss you, my precious boy.

~Becky

© 2020 Rebecca R. Carney

Longings

Jason David Carney

July 29, 1982 – March 3, 2002

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I wrote this last year and wanted too share it again. 18 years. I can’t believe it’s been 18 years. I miss Jason as much – if not more – than I did on that fateful day he was taken from us, March 3, 2002. My heart breaks with his absence every single day. My arms long to hug him tight. My eyes long to look into his beautiful blue eyes. I long to see his beautiful smile, to hear his musical laughter. Oh, how I miss you, my precious boy.

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March 3, 2019

I’m going to be honest. This is a really rough time of year for me. Tomorrow is the anniversary of Jason’s and Alina’s deaths at the hand of a drunk driver.

“Anniversary” is such an out-of-place word to use when talking about the death of a child. “Anniversary” is usually used in conjunction with a happy occasion. If a person says, “It’s my anniversary,” there is an automatic assumption that that person is celebrating the number of years he or she has been married. It’s a happy occasion commemorated with dinner and gifts and congratulations.

I know people use the word “anniversary” when talking about other things, too, though. 9/11. War events. Floods. Mud slides. Not every anniversary is celebratory.

For the first couple of years, I hated the 3rd of every month, beginning with that first March 3, 2002. It marked a horrifically agonizing, lonely, and excruciatingly painful time – Jason had been gone one month, two months, three months. At the two year mark, I sort of switched to years. Two years, two and a half years, three years. It sort of reminded me of the way I marked the ages of our kids when they were little – giving their ages as so many months and then switching to so many years. Instead of marking the celebration of life, it marked the number of agonizing days we had walked the earth without Jason.

Jason has now been gone 17 years. I can’t believe it’s been that long. It seems like forever ago…and yet yesterday. I still tend to rebel against even the thought of it. I remember that day as clear as a bell, every single thing. My heart is still so broken. I miss him so much. Grief lasts as long as love does – forever – and we will forever have a Jason-sized hole in our lives. He had so much of life to live, so much to give. As one friend said, “The world is a darker place without him in it.”

I hope you will take time to remember Jason and Alina tomorrow, the lives they lived and the people they were. We, their families, are the “keepers of the memories.” I’m sure each and every bereaved mother or father would say that one of their greatest concerns is that their child will be forgotten as the world moves on without them.

If you would like to honor Jason tomorrow, you could play a game of chess (Jason’s favorite game), bake and share some chocolate chip cookies (Jason loved to bake chocolate chip cookies), give someone some flowers (Jason generously gave flowers to those he loved), share an act of kindness (Jason was the most kind and loving person I have ever known), be nice to a stranger (Jason knew no strangers), hug your family and friends tight (Jason gave awesome hugs), listen to Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata or Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s “A Mad Russian’s Christmas” or many other songs he loved.

If you are so inclined, you could take time to write down a favorite memory or two to send to Jason’s and Alina’s families. No matter how long or how many years it’s been, we would love to hear them. Our address is 2154 Emma’s Grove Road, Fairview, NC 28730.

Julie Lindsey, a homeschool mom, generously gave and prepared a scrapbook for Marie and me. She asked us what we would like in them. I had asked that the scrapbook contain photos I didn’t have and written memories about Jason from those who knew him. It just happened to be around the time when people were writing victim advocate statements to present to the court for the sentencing of the young man who killed Jason and Alina, so most of the efforts went to writing letters to the court. I am very thankful for those who wrote to the court and have copies of all of those letters. It was a lot to ask for at that time.

Whatever memories and photographs we have of Jason and Alina are the only ones we will ever have. There are no graduation, wedding, birth of children, family or holiday celebrations or any other memories or photographs we will ever have of Jason past the date of March 3, 2002. The opportunity for additional memories and photographs died right along with Jason, along with his future. In our minds, Jason will forever be 19 years old.

Thank you for taking the time to remember Jason and Alina. We appreciate it.

~Becky

© 2020 Rebecca R. Carney

My Dream

I don’t dream much – or, at the very least, I don’t remember my dreams.

I haven’t dreamed of Jason in a very, very long time, but I dreamed about Jason last night.

I dreamed that Jason came home to visit us from college. I was so ecstatic to see him – beyond ecstatic. I couldn’t stop staring at his face. It was so wonderful to see his face again. He seemed concerned or worried about something, so he wasn’t his usual cheerful, smiley self. In my dream, I was waiting for him to smile his beautiful, sun-shiney smile. I took his face in my hands and just smiled at him for a long time until he didn’t look worried any more. He couldn’t stay long and had to get back to school.

In my dream, I sat down on the floor against the wall after he left and cried and cried. I was so sad that Jason had to leave. I was so sad that our daughter and other son lived so far away from us (which is true in real life). I felt so alone (which is also true in real life).

I woke up crying. I miss my boy so much. I miss his smiling face. I miss everything about him.

~Becky

© 2020 Rebecca R. Carney

We Remember Them

At the rising of the sun and its going down,

We remember them.

At the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter,

We remember them.

At the opening of the buds and in the rebirth of spring,

We remember them.

At the rustling of the leaves and in the beauty of autumn,

We remember them.

At the beginning of the year and when it ends,

We remember them.

As long as we live, they too will live.

They are a part of us,

We remember them.

~from Gates of Prayer, Judiasm Prayerbook

Jason David Carney

July 29, 1982 – March 3, 2002

My precious boy, I will never forget you. I love you.

~Mom

© 2019 Rebecca R. Carney

God’s plans

My sister is retiring at the end of this month after 35 years with the same company. It was not necessarily a planned retirement on her part. The company needed to tighten its budget and offered a retirement incentive package to a bunch of employees who were over the age of 55. If not enough people took the company up on its offer, there would then be mandatory layoffs with a less-beneficial financial farewell. So, she took them up on their offer.

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As she was cleaning some things out of her office this week, she ran across the gift bag she had stored at work. She took it as a sign from God and posted this on Facebook: “I was cleaning out my credenza drawer this week and came across this gift bag. I nearly fell over! This verse has come up in so many unusual ways this past couple months. I do believe that God is saying something powerful and personal to me.”

The whole verse in full reads:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

I see this verse come up once in a while on Facebook and different places, usually posted or quoted when someone is facing a change or uncertainty. It gives them hope in uncertain times. My reaction now is always a bit different than that.

You see, I “gifted” this verse to Jason when he was in high school. I bought a nice picture frame. I typed and printed this verse – typed with a fancy font and printed on fancy paper – and put it in the special frame I had purchased. I gave this gift to Jason as a reminder that his future was in God’s hands and that we believed – as we had from the minute he was born – that God had a special plan for his life. Jason put it on the table right beside his bed, and it was still sitting there the night he died.

So, whenever I see this verse, my quandary since the night Jason died has been: Why didn’t God hear my prayers for Jason’s future, for his protection? My hope, my expectations for Jason and his future are gone. I believed this verse from the bottom of my heart – that God had big plans for Jason, that He would prosper Jason, that God would keep him from harm, that God had future plans for Jason, big plans. We were excited to see what Jason’s future held.

Jason’s future is no more. It ended on March 3rd, 2002 when he was 19 years old. Why didn’t God protect him? Why did Jason’s “plans” end on that night?

I don’t have an answer to these question, even after all this time. I still struggle with my faith. I wish I didn’t, but I do. So many questions. More questions than answers. I wish I believed as strongly and firmly and blindly as I used to. I wish I still strongly believed that God had plans for us, plans to prosper us and not to harm us, plans to give us a hope and future. I’m glad people find hope for the future in verses like this. I wish I still did. But my faith was sorely tested by Jason’s death, and sometimes I just don’t know what to do about that, how to “fix” it. I’m trying, but I’m not there yet.

I miss you, Jason, and love you with my whole heart.

~Becky

© 2019 Rebecca R. Carney

Struggling

One would think I would be used to some of this grieving stuff by now, but there are times when something raises its head and I have to deal with it all over again. Just when I think I’ve got at least a partial handle on the reality of the way things are now, something comes up and pierces my heart.

This time it’s grandkids.

Two of my boss’s grown children have recently surprised him and his wife with announcements of additional grandchildren arriving in the near future. He is so excited to show this kind of thing to me. He’s so proud of the way his children announced the news to them. Fun, cute announcements. So excited for more grandchildren arriving soon. Can’t wait to play with them, be grandpa.

I’m happy for them, but I’m also really struggling with it right now.

While it’s true we have three grandchildren, it’s also true that it has not been the Norman Rockwell-esque scenario we were looking forward to – not by a long, long shot. From the beginning of their relationship, our (now) daughter-in-law has done everything in her power – I’m not sure whether consciously or subconsciously, although maybe some of each – to cause division and problems between our son and us, and to make sure Joe and I know of how little value and importance she feels we are to their family. She has also done a more-than-adequate job of communicating this sentiment over and over again in many different ways to our son and grandkids. I will refrain from saying any more, although there is much more I could say. It has been a difficult pill to swallow. Since we live all the way across the country, it’s also a very difficult sentiment to counteract.

It breaks my heart. We have done everything we can, absent moving back to Seattle, to show them how much we love them and how much they mean to us. I don’t know how much good it’s done or if it’s even registered. It’s hard to tell. Even if we moved back now, it would be too little, too late. At ages 20, 13 and 9, the patterns have already been set, opportunities missed never to return.

Joe is and has always been a great dad. I could not have asked for a better man to be the father of our kids. When the kids were little, he would come home from work and play with them, read to them, play board games, take them swimming – all after a long day’s work. He’d make up games or change up the rules to games to make them more fun or different. He’d read books backwards, just to make the kids laugh. When the kids’ friends would come over, they would beg Joe to play “swamp monster” with them, to which he would happily oblige. As they got older, he always had time for them. He even helped our daughter and her friend dye their hair. He really was looking forward to doing the same with grandkids. He told me once that he could just imagine grandkids running around our house and it made him so happy.

I had my own vision of grandkid fun – baking, crafts, exploring, drawing, painting. Before we moved from Seattle, I tried to take our grandson places and plan fun activities as much as I was “allowed” to do so. Once we moved, those opportunities were gone.

Our daughter doesn’t want kids at all. She has said that exact same thing since she first took a babysitting class at the age of 12. We have come to the realization that she meant exactly what she said. It’s certainly her choice and we respect her wishes.

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Jason and our grandson Michael – Summer 2001

Jason was my hope – my hope for a daughter-in-law that would be glad to be a part of our family, for grandkids that we could love and spoil, who would be happy to see us and love us in return. The whole Norman Rockwell thing. I was looking forward to being that kind of grandparent, as was Joe – REALLY looking forward to it. Some days the realization of what we have missed because of Jason’s death hits us square in the face, right in the heart. And it hurts.

I’m happy for friends I know whose children have gotten married, had grandchildren, bought houses, etc. I see their photos and announcements on Facebook or wherever, and I’m truly happy for them. But my heart hurts that this part of our future died with Jason. He would have been a great husband, a great father. He was so fun, loving and kind. He loved kids. He loved us. I know he was looking to all of those adventures. We were, too.

And it makes me sad. Just being honest – I’m really struggling with this today.

~Becky

© 2019 Rebecca R. Carney