Today marks 29 months since my dear son, Andy, died. Every day of those 29 months, I have remembered him and missed him. Every day going forward until my last day on earth, I will remember him and miss him. As time moves on, other people forget about Andy and those who mourn him. It is natural. Certainly, I do not think about other peoples’ living children each day, let alone children who are gone. They do not live with that hole in their heart, nor do I want them to live that way.
That it is why it is even more special now almost 2 1/2 years later when people do remember Andy and go out of their way to do something special for him and us. Last October, our church was given a challenge to raise $50,000 to give toward a building project to start building new cabins for Stony Lake Camp, the camp that our church and others use for overnight week-long camps. The cost of one cabin is $400,000 so we were going to try to get a good start on the campaign.
Shortly after that announcement was first made, I started thinking that our family should contribute to that cause. Eric and I had decided to dedicate a sum of money each year to causes that Andy loved, and he certainly loved going to camp with his church friends. I thought that a $10,000 gift would give the campaign a great starting point.
After a bit more thought, however, I began to dream a little bigger. I wondered if we were able to raise a larger sum of money, if the camp might be willing to dedicate part of that first cabin to Andy. Since our accident, I have now talked to probably at least 200 bereaved parents. One thing that we all have in common is that we want our children remembered. We fear that after we die, no one will even remember that our children even existed. As long as we, their parents live, we can keep their memories alive, but after we are gone, they will truly be gone as well.
I talked to my pastors about my idea and they approached the camp. A new challenge was born. Eric and I dedicated $20,000 to the project with the hope that our church family and friends would reach a goal of $100,000. In return, the Stony Lake staff agreed to dedicate the great room of that first cabin to Andy so that down the road, long after Eric and I are gone, campers would still hear about my Andy, and how he loved to run, sing, play and learn about Jesus at camp.
I am proud to say that the donations (primarily from church members, but also through Facebook and my Always Andy’s Mom website) blew that $100,000 goal out of the water. We were able to raise $125,767.76 for Andy’s great room! This weekend, Eric and I will present the check to the camp ourselves at our online church service. It will be on the Trinity Lutheran Church, Grand Rapids YouTube Channel at 9:15am on Sunday for anyone who might like to watch.
Today, I want to issue one more challenge to all who read this. I want you to remember someone who is mourning the loss of a loved one. It might be a child, but also could be a spouse, sibling or parent. Take a moment to remember that lost person and tell their loved ones that you remember their special person who has died. You remember and they mattered to you and to the whole world. Reach out in a phone call, text or email. Know that tears may come, but you are not ‘making them sad.’ They are already sad – nothing you do will make that sadness worse. You are just letting them know that they are loved and their loss is forever remembered.