“Kindness is kinda nice.”
“Be kind always.”
“In a world where you can be anything, be kind.”
I think we all have our favorite kindness quotes. Mine adorn a quote wall in my classroom as well as a board on my Pinterest site. Many people use them as mantras for every day life. They are wonderful, inspiring, and can truly make a difference in how we treat others around us.
In addition, we all have stories of acts of kindness displayed toward us. I want to share some of those acts that were displayed to us in our most difficult time…when our son Beau passed away in a car crash.
Go Fund Me. The first one that comes to mind is the “Go Fund Me” account set up for us. At that time it was called Give Forward, but whatever the case, someone out there was so kind that she set up an account on our behalf to pay for travel expenses for our loved ones who traveled from other states to be with us. The account raised over $15,000. I can’t recall the number of kind folks who gave to the fund but to each one we owe a great debt of gratitude. If you are one of them reading this now, Thank You! We were able to give it to our loved ones for hotel stays, rental cars, and airline tickets. We desperately needed the strength of every single person who came out to be with us. There is no dollar amount that could bring our Beau back to us in the flesh, but each dollar in that account was a sort of medicine to our shattered souls.
Cards. I have read blogs and books from other bereaved souls who resented cards, but I am not one of them. Letters and cards came from all over the country. Each card we received became a balm of sorts which lovingly spoke healing and comfort to our hearts. Many of those cards came from people we did not even know including fellow bereaved parents I had not ever met. Many came from people we did know to include high school classmates, former roommates, former employers, and distant relatives. Some came from people that we haven’t seen in years but the fact that they sent a condolence helped immeasurably! Many cards expressed prayers of comfort and as I look back on that difficult time, I know it was indeed those very prayers that carried us through. Don’s high school classmates, somehow coordinated with each other to sign cards to mail to us periodically. They all signed it and we were amazed each time at the coordinated effort involved as some live as far away as Australia!
Food. Food is not a priority for the bereaved. But thanks to the lucent in our inner circle, meals kept coming. Not just for a week or even a month … but up until November! For almost three months, the soups and casseroles and sandwiches and salads kept us sustained…in body for sure, but moreover…in spirit! We know there were unsung heroes who took care of much of this…you know who you are. Those heroes coordinated meals amongst the wrestling community, two different school districts and departments within them. Dear friend, it was not unnoticed…and four and a half years later, as we look back on it all, and it is still a balm to our souls! Thank you!
Right Hand Men/Women. A dear friend coordinated travel with a local travel agency on behalf of our friends and family. He was able to fix a discounted rate at a local hotel for them all. If a friend expressed that they wanted to come out, we told Bruce and he took care of it. The weight was lifted from our shoulders and we could rest in knowing that our loved ones were going to make it here to be with us. The local news agencies were relentless, often driving up to the house, walking up the drive-way, and expecting an interview without being announced. Friend, Pattie, and brother-in-law, Michael were there to make sure, they turned right around from whence they came. And when we had to visit the funeral home to make arrangements for the cremation, etc…we had good friends, Pattie and Kristi, with us as well as and sisters, Mardy, Mary Rose, and Susan to hold our hand …. literally.
Video and Photography. My school, Rampart High School, came up very BIG for us. The school broadcast teacher, Patrick, and my math teacher friends helped to submit pictures, quotes, videos to include in the video for the funeral (God, I STILL hate that word). One in particular that was found was submitted by good friend, Tammy. It was a video sent on Facebook by my niece, Desi… of Beau and me dancing at her wedding. PRICELESS!!! It is only a few seconds long but will eternally be etched in my memory. The Photography teacher, Don, enlarged the beautiful photos of Beau … his senior pictures taken by Cali Riesling. He also had them beautifully framed to display at the service. To all of you unsung heroes involved in this, THANK YOU!
The Wrestling Family! Our wrestling family was a Godsend! They unselfishly volunteered in the family room and elsewhere on the day of the service with the food, snacks, and drinks. They helped with the ushering of guests in the church. They brought hundreds of cookies. A couple of them came to the church with us a few days prior to help in the planning of the service. Friend, Julie B, was the key to having our service where we did as we had no church home. Her home church, New Life Church, was more than gracious, welcoming, and kind to us as we went to plan what would be … a funeral for our son! New Life Church expected NOTHING from us in return. They asked for no money to rent the church. They kindly and freely gave. Julie called me the day before the service and asked, “Gina, I am going to the store. What do you need?” She brought me the requested items that I needed for the funeral … a gesture that I will never forget. Lani and Bruce were the cookie house. Hundreds (if not thousands) of cookies were delivered to them by kind people in our community and they made sure that each one made it to the service. To all of you cookie bakers out there … THANK YOU! The wrestlers had a singlet framed and signed by the team which we have hanging in our home today. I know I am not mentioning everyone by name. So many, many unsung heroes…thank you all!!
More Kindness. In the ensuing weeks and months, the kindness did not cease. I received a check in the mail from a group called “Coffee for a Cause.” This group met monthly, chose a charity, and gave. That particular week, they chose us. I was touched and it was another moment that gave me a boost of strength to make it through another day. Likewise, our vision clinic, Monument Vision Center, sent a card indicating that they donated to a third world charity helping poverty stricken children get vision care…they donated in Beau’s name. Beau’s Elementary school principal nominated me for a day at the spa at Veda Salon at which time I received a hair cut, massage, pedicure, and manicure. I may have shed some tears during those sessions, but they were grateful, healing tears. I also want to mention my friend, Carrie, who continually reached out to me during my most difficult time…we shared breakfast, lunch, coffee, beers and comedy show laughs, THANK you!!!
Gift Cards. Our Dentist office which Beau had been visiting since he was five years old, gave us gift cards and a heartfelt greeting card…ensuring us we were loved…even by our dentist family! The gift cards were plentiful. Beau’s 4th/5th grade teacher, Mrs. Cole gave us a gift card to Coldstone with a note telling us to “raise a spoon” to our “brown eyed boy” who sat in her classroom. Every single school within the District 20 school system sent us gift cards to local eateries. We did not have to not worry about meals for months. We spent treasured times clinging together as a family…thanks to the kindness of people we did not even know.
My Girls. At the time, both of my girls worked at BJ’s Brewhouse in Colorado Springs. They were gifted with “Give a Slice.” It was an amount of money donated by their co-workers to help offset the days of work missed as a result of losing their brother.
Unexpected Helpers. There were people we least likely expected who stepped up so big. There are too many to name, but these folks, came over and helped clean, sweep, do laundry, vacuum, or make phone calls. Our neighbors came over on the day of the service while we were not home, to prepare our home for our family and friends. They had a fire in the chiminea, chairs set out, food warming in the oven, and desserts ready to serve. Other former neighbors, the Fogels, reached out to us to let us know that we were loved and not forgotten. In the ensuing days, they shared meals with us and memories of Beau. They texted and still continue to send sweet messages to let us know that our Beau will NOT be forgotten! A former middle school teacher of Beau’s, Mrs. Luther, sent us cards for months to give us reassurance that we were thought of and Beau not forgotten!!
More Generosity. Beau’s gym, where he went to “get swole”, sent us a refund check, as he had only been a member for maybe less than two months. We did not expect this but it was medicine for our souls. The Coffee Cup, a former employer where Beau bussed tables and washed dishes, gave us coupons to eat there to last a year. In July of 2016, Rosie’s Diner’s annual car show donated their car show proceeds to our Foundation which gives out college scholarships to graduates of Beau’s high school.
The kindnesses … overwhelming. The prayers … powerful. The love … immeasurable.
Many told us at that time that they had “No words” to express their sorrow at our loss. Likewise, we have no words to express our gratitude at the amazing acts of kindness displayed to us at a time in our lives where we thought there was no tomorrow. It was the kindness of friends, family, and strangers alike that helped light our way.
THANK YOU ALL!!!