Thank you for all the prayers and love as we celebrated Jack's 13th birthday this weekend. If he had been alive, we would have had about 5 boys over for a sleepover, and then taken a family trip to Chevy's Mexican Restaurant.
Instead, we had a weekend-long love-fest remembering and honoring our sweet boy. Relatives came to town to support us, Facebook lit up with blue ribbons as people changed their profile pics for Jack's birthday, and sweet cards and gifts came in the mail. My sister compiled a memory book for us with letters and emails from friends and family. Flowers appeared on our doorstop, and at the cross by the side of the road.
Margaret baked a birthday cake shaped like giant Peep. She's pretty stoked about putting that on the blog in case any of you want to attempt it for Easter. Pics to follow.
Saturday was the Rock and Roll Marathon in DC, with an amazing team of Jack's Lanterns running their hearts out for Jack. Almost $20,000 has been raised for Samaritan's Purse so far! Jack's special cousin, Isaac, ran 1/2 of the 1/2 marathon as a relay with his mom, Jack's Auntie. Tim ran his first half marathon ever, with his son's photo on the back of his race jersey. One of our dear friends ended up in the ER after passing out from dehydration at mile 12, but so determined was he to finish the race, he ran the last 1.1 miles around our neighborhood on Sunday, Jack's birthday. Other friends ran different races in Jack's honor this weekend.
Saturday night, we had dinner at Chevy's, where we hadn't been since Jack's 12th birthday. Here are a few pics from one year ago:
As we returned from dinner, we looked up our hill and saw the most beautiful sight or our lives. Luminaria lined our entire driveway and the flickering candles beat back the darkness.
At church on Sunday the choir wore blue ribbons, parishioners wore ribbons or lego crosses from Jack's memorial service, and beautiful flowers adorned the church.
That afternoon, Jack's 6th grade classmates and their parents came over to reminisce and to plant a butterfly bush in our yard. We loved listening to more "Jack Stories" from these kids. Hearing how entertaining and outgoing our pensive, shy boy was made us smile and shake our heads. I have to wonder if one of the reasons Jack was so funny in school-- driving his dear teachers to distraction-- was so this group of kids would always remember him with a smile. One classmate made "picklesicles" out of pickle juice, a nod to Jack's love of dill pickles and to an experiment he and I tried a few years ago.
After this class celebration, we headed to the cul de sac. The same culdesac where Jack learned to ride a two wheeler, and where Margaret would walk down with him to try to drum up a neighborhood game of soccer, Extreme Tag, or Manhunt. The place the kids were heading the last time I saw Jack alive right before one of the neighbors said, "Hey, let's go look at the creek!"
The culdesac was filled with people who have been loving on us constantly, asking nothing in return. One friend made beautiful tags with Jack's Bible verse and a blue bird on them for people to write messages and attach to the balloons. Another set up a table with cookies and lemonade. I didn't get a chance to visit with everyone, but I saw the faces and felt the support.
We sang Happy Birthday to Jack and released the balloons. A day that had started out overcast and dreary, was sunny with a brilliant blue sky. The balloons sailed up up up over the treeline, over the stupid creek, heavenward. Other balloon launches took place in Richmond, across town, at the beach, in Indiana, and even in a Giant Food parking lot.
Tim and I have been amazed and humbled by all of the love and support we have received since Jack's accident. Time and again people have extended themselves, pushed themselves, and inconvenienced themselves, all in the hope of proving us comfort. And they have. You have. And we appreciate it so. We are learning a lot about love from you.
Speaking of love, how about watching one last Jack balloon launch? It's amazing: