Day of Remembrance

Derek, Brett, Kayla and I drove down to Memphis last weekend for day(s) of remembrance. St Jude every year invites patient families that have lost a loved one to come back to the hospital. I am so thankful for a hospital and staff that continues to embrace and love our family.

It was an emotional couple days, filled with many events. All families were invited to make a memory board in honor of our child. Carson was a patient for almost 10 years at St Jude, and it was very difficult for me to put all those memories on a 5×4 board. I put a lot of blood(paper cut), sweat and tears into Carson’s board. I may have over done it a little, maybe a lot. lol I did request for a whole room next year instead of just a board, not sure they will be able to accommodate my request. haha It was really hard going through pictures from Carsons life. I did a lot of crying and laughing remembering each picture I looked at. Time was scheduled for staff to come look at the boards and see the families. It was wonderful to see so many people that loved and took great care of Carson. There is so many staff that are still at St Jude from the beginning of Carsons journey to the end. What I most loved about talking to the staff is that they don’t try to have just the right words, they just try to be there for us. I could talk about Carson without worrying about someone being uncomfortable. Some of my favorite stories and comments from staff were:

“I remember Carson talking about his angels”

“Carson always had a huge smile”

“We imitate Carson’s sayings all the time”

“We talk about Carson often”

“Carson impacted my life”

“The smartest student I ever taught was Carson”

“I loved Carsons perfectly timed one liners”

It was nice connecting with other families that are also bereaved. It is such a special bond unlike any other. Some families I only knew by waving and seeing in the halls and waiting areas, and others on a deeper level. One new thing I learned was that Carson always smiled at the other patients and families. I didn’t know this as I was often pushing him in his wheelchair or walking beside him.  Learning this put a big smile on my face!

We had so many beautiful moments and ways to honor Carsons memory. Including a balloon release that was very moving. To see over 100 balloons flying up to the sky in so many children’s memory broke my heart. To think about so many people together that have all lost a child was difficult to see. Many tears were shed this weekend, and it was difficult but healing.

I am so thankful for the parent panel that opened up and spoke honestly for hours about their tough journey. It was nice to see that however we go through grief, it is normal. Most of Day of Remembrance is planned and executed by parent volunteers who have also had children that passed, and they did a fabulous job.

It was a nice surprise, that when we had lunch in one of the new board rooms at the Marlo Thomas Center, there was a picture of Carson on the wall. As we walked around the hospital there are many permanent reminders that Carson was a patient there. He has two bricks in the hospital and one on the pathway outside. He has the poster he made on the ABC wall in the main hallway. He has a picture in BMC, the MRI floor, Bone marrow transplant floor( painting he did when he was three), and the fifth floor.

Derek was grumpy most the time. I’m not sure if it is because he is becoming a teenager, or just the way he was handling the grief. He did make some new friends that he really enjoyed hanging out with. The friends are also siblings of a patient that had passed, so it was nice for him to have kids that understood. Derek did enjoy seeing staff and the fun parts of the remembrance. I hope that John and the other boys will be able to go next year.

I didn’t want to qualify to be on the list for day of remembrance, but since I qualify by losing a child at St Jude, I’m glad I was able to go and be a part of an amazing couple of days. Forever thankful to St Jude Hospital, the staff, and parents that put on an a wonderful couple of days.