Carrying Your Child’s Legacy

For some reason, this really made a lot of sense to me as I read it. We, as parents, see the hope for tomorrow in our children. They are our “legacy,” as the writer says. Our days are forward-looking as we imagine, hope and dream of wonderful things for our children.

After our child dies, bereaved parents, especially mothers, feel a huge responsibility to make sure their child is not forgotten. It seems inconceivable that our child is gone, that he/she will not experience the hopes and dreams we have held in our hearts for our children. It then becomes our responsibility to try to carry forth a legacy for our child in a form that has meaning for us individually. It’s not exactly a backwards-looking point of view – because no one can truly move forward while looking backwards – but one that calls out, “Remember, remember, please remember my precious child. Remember his life, remember that he lived and loved and added wonderful things to this life. Please don’t forget him.”

Some people start foundations or become grief counselors or write. Whatever we do, we want our child’s life – and death – to have meaning. We want to carry on the legacy of our child.

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Legacy. So many definitions of legacy float around mankind but ultimately it comes down to children. Our children are our legacy. It’s probably why when people aren’t able to have them that so much of their work centers around what they are able to leave behind them. It may come in the form of an endowment or library but the end result is they still finding a way to carry themselves ahead. Our children are what carries us forward in a million different way. They carry our hair,  eyes and quirky personality. They take with them the portions of who we are that are most important and the traits that had the biggest impact on forming who they become. They provide us with a sense of reassurance that when we leave the world, at whatever point that may be, that we as a person do not end.  It’s an element of permanence that helps to keep us settled. They pass those family characteristics, annoying habits and…

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There’s No Place Like Home

For some reason, it just felt important to me to go back home to Seattle for March 3, 2012, the tenth anniversary of Jason’s death. Seattle still feels like “home” to me; I just wanted to be home this year. I wanted to be close to Jason, to be close to people who meant so much to him, to be in a place he loved.

Some people are scratching their head at that one, I’m sure. “Hasn’t she moved on yet?” “Can’t she just let it go?” “It’s been ten years already.” “Doesn’t she know Jason isn’t actually there?” I know, I know.

I try to listen carefully, though, to that quiet, little voice inside me that prompts me to do certain things. I’m learning that there’s usually a reason, especially when that prompting doesn’t go away and it feels like it might be something important. If I don’t listen and obey, I may miss out on something special. As I said, it felt important to me to be there on March 3rd. The ten year mark felt like it was monumental in some way and couldn’t be skipped over by not being in Washington, so I booked a flight and off I went.

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I had some people I wanted to see while I was there. Through varying circumstances and busy schedules, only a few were available to meet for coffee or whatever. I ended up with free time on my hands.

Deciding that being alone wasn’t bad and didn’t make me feel lonely, I retraced some paths I’d walked and places I’d been while Jason was alive.

I drove around Lynnwood, Monroe, Bothell – all of our old stomping grounds.

I drove through Woodinville and Snohomish, remembering the incredible privilege of being asked by Jason to escort him and a special girl on their first date (since Jason didn’t yet have his driver’s license). I remembered Jason taking this special girl’s dad out to breakfast to ask if it would be okay to date his daughter. I remembered Jenna taking Jason’s high school graduation photos in downtown Snohomish and along the Snohomish River.

I remembered Jason driving for the first time – almost overshooting a curve – and informing me it was nothing like a video game.

I pulled into the driveway of our old house, noticing how the three little evergreen starts (one for each of our children, picked up at a home show) we had planted so very many years ago when we first purchased our home were still there and were now tall trees. I noticed the katsura tree, with its heart-shaped leaves and given to us after Jason died, growing tall and healthy. I noticed the children of the people who purchased house joyfully playing in the yard as our kids used to do. I remembered Jason sitting on the kitchen counter, with one black-moccasined foot propped up on the edge of the counter, telling me about his day. “The funniest thing happened today, Mom…” I remembered making jam, and Jason somehow managing to arrive in the kitchen just in time to “clean” the bottom of the pan with a piece of bread. I remembered Jason’s great, big hugs. I remembered watching Jason and his friends from the kitchen window as they jumped on the trampoline. I remembered all the parties, all the kids hanging out, all the love and hugs we shared. So many wonderful memories tied to that house. So many sad memories tied to that house.

I drove by the Alfy’s Pizza, where the Youth and Government kids met before heading out to carol at Christmas, and by the Skate Deck where they would gather for a fun evening. I remembered Jason serving as a representative in the Washington State Youth Legislature and being so privileged to be a part of that organization and that time of his life.

I drove by the cemetery, taking Jason flowers and telling him how much I love him, that I wished with all my heart he were still here, that I miss him.

On and on the memories flooded my head as I drove familiar places. It felt so good to be home and in a place I love. It felt good to sit in certain places, allowing myself the time to remember. It felt good to feel so close to Jason.

© 2012 Rebecca R. Carney