When I hear stories about children who have died, my heart aches. On my List of Things to Ask God, finding out the answer to that one is pretty high up.
In the last couple of months, there have been many stories about children in the St. Louis area who have died. One in particular was a young girl died while on vacation in Costa Rica when her ATV went off a cliff.
I found her memorial website, and read about their plans to hold an annual benefit on her birthday. I was so touched by their story that I left a comment explaining who I was and that I also hold a benefit for Jessica and Kelli. Her mother, Jennifer, responded to me. She asked what kind of benefit we hosted, and I gave her the details. She also asked for whatever guidance I could give her to deal with Brooke's death.
I told her, "I find that writing about them, while painful, is cathartic as well. By writing about them, I introduce them to a larger audience, even outside the US, and make people aware of not only how they died, but how they lived. I realize the impact that they had on their friends, family and even strangers. I pass on the good that they embodied and that I am trying to keep alive by my community efforts."
The community, both local and global, has been so supportive. I am still receiving emails and donations a month after the fundraiser. I know that Jessica and Kelli would want to repay that kindness by helping others, whether by scholarships, food drives, dress donations, planting trees or giving blood.
Jessica and Kelli were smiling, happy, kind-hearted girls who loved helping others. I do things that I know they would support, and would have loved being a part of, like the prom dress donation.
So I give back. I can't give up and just let this sadness drag me down. Believe me, there are days that I physically feel the weight of my grief. And those are the days that I drag myself to the mirror, and hear their voices saying, "Geez mom, brush your hair, and put on some lipstick!" So I do. I see their pictures smiling at me and I can't help but smile back.
That's what gets me through. Creating a positive result from a senseless tragedy. It's not easy, it's not the magic cure, but it's all I've got.