Monday, January 10, 2011
Candles led to letters
I never understood why people did candle light vigils after someone died until DJ passed away. After his death there were over 100 people in my front yard with plastic cups with holes in the center for the candle to keep it from dripping on people's hands. The words "We love DJ" "We miss you DJ" were written on the cups in black marker print letters.
I remember it like it was yesterday, it was the evening and was dark. The people's faces glowed with the light of the candles. There were many people I didn't recognize, many I did. Stories were told, people laughed and most wiped tears off their eyes. I went outside to listen to the people's words, it was cool outside, I had to wear a warm coat. I don't know where they parked, as I look back I have no idea where all their cars were.
Stories were told and the one I specifically liked was this---DJ had wanted me to buy him skinny jeans for months before he passed away. I didn't want to, I didn't like the look of them personally and really didn't see why in the world he would want to wear them-this was just before EVERY boy on the planet was wearing them. One day while taking DJ to school I remembered looking over at him and commenting on how good his jeans looked that he was wearing. He had his backpack on his lap and I couldn't see the jeans fully but thought they were the newest jeans I had bought for him. Well, during the vigil it was divulged that those jeans were actually my jeans he chose to wear that day because they looked skinny on him. He only weighed 105 pounds at 5 feet 4 inches so nothing was really skinny on him, everything was baggy.
I have always told my children that eventually I will find out everything, it might not be right away but eventually I will know it. I have told them that God is a great tattle tale!
After the vigil it made me realize that those faces I didn't know had stories about DJ that I didn't. That they knew things I would never know and I needed that information. It spurred me to get into touch with DJ's Junior High English teacher. I asked her if it would be possible for her to ask the kids that were in DJ's class to write stories about him. He had only been in the junior high for 2 months and I didn't know many of his newest friends and really wanted to know their stories of DJ.
A few weeks after my request a large envelope came in the mail and it was full of stories of DJ. The English classes had written letters to me telling me how great DJ was. That he was always nice to them and always encouraging them at school. He would help people open their lockers -he had struggled with this so much at the beginning of the year that I bought him a lock to practice on so he completely understood their frustrations. He would help kids pick up their books when they all fell in a heap in the hall. He was telling the kids they could do it, no matter what it was--a test, an assignment, a science experiment--he was a great encourager. One of the best stories was that DJ always had a joke for the kids at school, he always came with a joke he memorized to make everyone laugh---later I found a notebook he had written in that said "DJ's jokes", he had written some down, memorized them and shared them with his class. He was a happy, funny always smiling, always encouraging kid and boy I loved him and still do.
All this said, you never know what is going to result from a candle light vigil. Mine resulted in letters from his classmates with stories that made me proud of my boy.
You never know what will happen when you reach out to a family that has lost a child. Something that you see as small may become a prized possession to these families.
Don't think that anything you do for these families is too little, or too much. Just do something for them--if no one had organized the candle light vigil I might not have thought about getting stories from DJ's class. The stories I received may have never escaped those children's memories and come to me. The small things are important.