Sunday, July 1, 2012

Disjuncted

This weekend I traveled with my two kids, my dad, and my grandma to Bellingham, Washington. 16 weeks ago my cousin's 16 year old son took his life. With no suicide note, no signs of depression, and nothing but big plans for the future, our entire family has been left in shock.

Last night, we celebrated his life. There was an amazing program held in his honor at the Mount Baker Theater. Friends and family shared their memories of Asher. There was a video montage of his life. A few musical performances, and a fun compilation of some of his favorite YouTube clips. This program began at 6:19pm - the time at which (on March 10th of this year), Asher was pronounced no longer alive.

Following the program, we walked as a group to a nearby park. At 9:11 (sunset) three planes sailed through the sky, performing a missing man flyover. My cousin shouted "I love you Asher", and we released at least 99 red balloons into the sky. (It was actually over 1,000.)
Asher loved the German language and all things German. He was the German club president at his school. He loved to fly and wanted to be a pilot since he was 9, if not earlier. He started taking flying lessons shortly after his 16th birthday. He was a writer - working on stories, books, and movie scripts. He was loving and fun, youthful and old.


Today, we planted an ash tree in his memory. His ashes were spread at the roots and we each took a handful of dirt to fill the hole. The remainder of his ashes will be spread in Germany next year.
My cousin Sandi, Asher's mom, is an amazing woman. This has crushed her, but she has borne the weight of this trial with far greater strength and grace than I could imagine myself doing in her place. I could not find a single word to tell her how sorry I am, or how in awe I am, or how helpless I feel.

It's not just a sense of feeling helpless to do anything for her. It's also feeling terrified that if she could not save her son from this, how will I save mine?

And when I hugged Sandi goodbye, I felt like I should pull all the sorrow I could from her, to store in my own heart so she would have that much less to carry. She said "Take care of your babies." and  I felt like I was made responsible for my children all over again.

I'm driving away with a heavy heart but an even greater love & appreciation for my life and my own children.