Moving on Without Forgetting

Written By: Kim - Sep• 08•12

I ran in to my son’s junior school counselor last week. My daughter is now a student at this school and had forgotten something in her locker. The counselor asked how my son’s first week of high school was going and I said that he was more enthusiastic about school than ever before. She then said that his class was ready to leave and move on to high school; that it was time for them to go.

At the time, I simply reflected on the fact that upper grade students are often ready to move on. Students become itchy during a transition year. But the class of 2016’s readiness in our small community may have a different motivation for leaving junior high school: two classmates died that year. One by suicide and one after an illness. And, both within a few months of each other.

Moving on to high school meant no longer entering school doors daily that reminded the class of 2016 that their friends were gone. Dealing with death is never easy. Ever. But dealing with it at such a tender age, especially when it is a peer, is almost unthinkable.

While I can only speak for our experience with my son’s friend, the seventh of every month brings Facebook comments about missing Connor Albright. It is only through her son’s death that I now know his Mom and I lend the support the only way I know how: letting her know that we have not forgotten him and that we continue to pray that God eases the burden of loss.

On Connor Albright’s birthday last month, his Mom went to his gravesite early. She posted that she just couldn’t handle visiting him on the actual day. When I read her post, I was home. I cried like a baby. Not only did it break my heart that her child was gone, but that her burden was still heavy. The loved ones he left behind were still grieving. The world is a little less brighter because he is gone and their lives changed forever. I met Connor once and he left such a wonderful impression on me. I know that he entered the hearts of everyone who knew him, my son included. To love him daily during his life was a privilege, one that I know his family felt.

My son Connor is now a freshman in high school. My husband and I are looking at each other wondering if there was some sort of fast forward on our lives. Wasn’t he just starting kindergarten? Unlike some other school years, he seems to have embraced entering high school. Like many boys, he doesn’t really seem to enjoy school other than when he socializes. I sometimes wonder if he is so willing to go on to high school because of his loss.

Along with two friends, my Connor visited Connor Albright’s grave on his birthday. They shouldered the burden of grief together, the three of them, so that someone else’s grief may be lessened slightly that day. As always, we never know the reactions our actions will have. We simply hope that what we say and do impacts someone else in a positive way.

We miss you Connor Albright. But, we’re doing our best to move on without forgetting either.


Mom Knows Best – Really

Written By: Kim - Jul• 29•12

The reason we decide to have children can vary. You know they will be cute. You know how much they will cost you. You know that the love you feel for them will be unconditional and that any heartbreak you will endure for them will be almost unbearable. What you may not realize is how much time you will spend motivating them and the many ways you will do it.

Mike and I have two children who are polar opposites in terms of motivation. Our daughter is motivated by winning. It’s simple: She wants to be first and/or the best.

Connor’s efforts paid off.

My son could care less. His attitude reminds me of the surfer dude in those 1960 movies: “It’s all good dude. Just chill. I’ve got my board and the ocean, what else do I need?” Gah! As the son of type A parents, I feel sorry for him. You need an education! You need a good career choice that will help you live the lifestyle you choose. If you aren’t the lead dog, the scenery never changes.

While Mike and I are far from stage parents,  we do want our children to try things and do their best. Sometimes, that means signing them up for things they won’t do themselves. I braced myself for the impact when I signed my 14 year-old son up for swim team.

We live in a community that has a vibrant, successful swim team. Because Mike and I both work outside the home, I was always hesitant to sign the kids up. And the kids showed little interest. Swim practice starts right after Memorial Day at night until school ends. Once school ends, practice is either in the morning, the evening, or both if you choose. Yes, I certainly could have relied on my stay-at-home Mom friends to shuttle my younger children back and forth, but they have enough to do with their own children. I don’t want to add to their busy schedules. Have you seen a stay-at-home Mom or Dad lately? They are more plugged in and busier than any CEO I know.

Swim meets are on Saturdays for two month and the kids have to be on deck checking in with their coaches by 5:45 am. That’s right people: I said 5:45 am on a Saturday….in the summer. The reason we start so early is because the meets are held at outside community pools. Our goal is to be finished by Noon so the communities can have their pool back for the rest of the day. And, it’s hot as hell. We lug canopies, coolers, chairs, towels and the really smart parents have water misters and fans. I so need to find those for next summer.

Last summer, my daughter expressed an interest in swim team, but because we were going on vacation the last two weeks of July, we felt it was not right to only participate for part of the season. This year, she asked again after a close friend of hers and her Mom talked to her about it. I signed her up with only 8 spots left on the team. I signed my son up a week later with only 2 spots left. If the three of us were going to get up at o’dark thirty and sweat until Noon on Saturdays, he was going with us.

Oh the backlash. The worst words you can say to a teenage boy are “you have to get up before Noon.” He complained. He whined. He said he wouldn’t go. He tried everything he could to get out of 8 am weekday practice promising to go at night. Sometimes night practices get cancelled because of thunderstorms. The kicker was that he promised to go to Tae Kwon Do instead of swim. All of his negotiation tactics fell on deaf ears. Oh, and the complaints about the biker pants styled Speedos….remember, most teenage boys wear board shorts to the pool. If their knees are seen by the public, their shorts are the wrong size.

The first meet was really not a meet. It was time trials, but it gets the kids used to the routine. My son was so nervous even the timing judges noticed. And, it was cold. We had a nice, mild early June which sucks for anyone getting in to an outdoor pool. Did I mention my son has not an ounce of fat on him? Yeah, he was cold and miserable. But then he took his mark and dove in.

And, he’s been successfully improving his time in all of his swim strokes since that first weekend in June. His sister has too. We are so proud of them. I knew we made the right decision for our son when he asked me: “Can I do swim team next year?”

Congratulations on a job well done!