I’m not a person who intentionally seeks out things that are sad or tragic. I’ve never watched Beaches or Terms of Endearment. I loathed the Bridge to Terabithia when we read it in 4th grade. And though people like me might be able to avoid fictional tragedy by simply choosing not to read a book or watch a movie, in reality, we have very little choice in whether or not tragedy chooses us.
Last May I sat at this computer, toying with the idea of creating a memorial website for John. We decided to do something different. But as I looked for ideas, I noticed a listing of new sites on the side bar. And sweet little Ava Rosemeyer pulled me in. Into a story and a life and a spirit that moves me to this day.
For days, even weeks, I felt overwhelmed with Ava’s story. For a while I wished that I had not clicked on her website. I was already struggling under the weight of grief, my own and that of those around me. I thought that the empathy I felt for Crayton, Sheye and family would break me. That it was just more than I could bear on top of my own pain.
But Ava Rosemeyer has changed my life. She has nestled herself into my heart and into my days. At times, when I think of her, I still feel overwhelmed with sadness. But I also feel overwhelmed with something much more pink and sparkly than sadness.
One sweet child has changed hundreds, thousands of lives. Has saved lives. Has made lives richer, and lives in the hearts, minds and spirits of so many people. Her love, and spirit and joy have stretched across the globe. Her legacy grows and changes and touches, even as time moves forward without her physically here.
I believe that souls are forever. And that Ava lives on in so very many ways. Offering a few words of comfort and support mean so much. And if you’d like to light a candle for Ava, please do so here.
I know from personal experience how much support means. It is like thousands of hands at your back, helping you stand up in the force of a storm. It doesn’t make the storm stop, but it somehow provides some comfort and light in the middle of the dark. I’m not sure I’m finding the right words to describe it, but when you and others offer words of encouragement to me, it feels like a weight off my heart.
Ava’s story has, ultimately, been a good thing in my life. I wish that she was here and that her spirit and beauty had found my life in some other way. I wish her family were not missing her one year after her accident, but that she was wrapped safe in their arms in the present, in the future. But she is always in their hearts. She has found so many new hearts, too.
We cannot choose to lock ourselves away from the world, hoping to avoid pain. It finds us. It can be unavoidable. And we cannot hope to be comforted if we offer none ourselves. Today I’m wearing pink sparkly nail polish on the first anniversary of Ava’s death.
That first anniversary is so hard. The birthdays and holidays are hard. But there are happy memories to go along with the missing. Some days, days that don’t seem significant, are just unbearable. But on that first anniversary of John’s death, the numbness, the disbelief were long gone. The missing was so very real. The first birthday had passed, the first holidays. We KNEW what we had lost. But we had had some happy memories to share. “Remember last Christmas when John…… On his 13th birthday he……” But there was nothing happy about THAT day. And it was hard. Much harder than I imagined it would be.
Today my thoughts and prayers are with Ava’s family. I hope that they can feel the thousands of hands reaching out to them, holding them in spirit…. And I hope it makes this day survivable. Thank you for the care you have shown me when I have needed it. I hope the same care is shown to Sheye and family and that it means as much to them as it means to me.
11 months ago