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The Gift of Remembering

There is nothing I can say that will bring them back, all their bright futures spread before us, but I will stand here all the same with you, my heart broken open with yours and remember what we have lost. Brian Andreas, StoryPeople

Jimmy would have turned 25 years old today.  As his friends establish themselves in the “real” world with jobs, girlfriends and graduate school, I’ve been thinking a lot about all that Jimmy wasn’t able to experience. He loved being at Stanford but was also eager to be out in the world making a difference. He was also looking forward to getting married and having children.

I’ve also been thinking about all that I don’t know about because Jimmy isn’t here to tell me — the latest Snapple facts, the most recent indie movies, the newest musical artists, how the Portland Trailblazers did in the NBA draft this year, whether the San Francisco Giants can solve their pitching problems.

As Molly starts fall quarter today, I’ve been reminded of how much I miss the way Jimmy would call me on the way home from one of his religious studies classes to share something fascinating that he’d just learned.

Had Jimmy lived, I know that he would be building a rich, full life for himself, surrounded by the family and friends he loved so much.  Instead, I am left with my beautiful memories and the overwhelming loss.  Grief and joy.  Gratitude and longing. Love and heartache.  A hole in my life that can never be filled. And a fear that my beautiful young man may be forgotten over time.

But when I woke up this morning, the texts and posts on Facebook and Instagram had already begun. Friends and family sharing memories of Jimmy. Telling Dan, Molly and me the way our sweet boy inspires them still. Reminding me of funny things that Jimmy said. Recounting incidents or special happenings that remind them of Jimmy and make them feel as if he’s here with us still.

There is no greater gift to a grieving parent than to remember her beloved, deceased child. The notes and stories bring him back to life. They remind me to pay attention during a workout when AC/DC comes on Pandora and hear Jimmy’s best friend’s mom say, “Jimmy is in the house!”. They help me stay focused on the most precious memories of Jimmy, playing, laughing, being silly. But most of all, they show me that so many people are standing with me, their hearts broken open, remembering all that we have lost.

Floral arrangement with mostly red flowers, roses and carnations, in a gold vase with a card in front.

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