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.


What I Learned from Whitney Houston

Written By: Kim - Feb• 12•12

News of Whitney Houston’s death hit last night. Details have yet to be determined in how she died, but police now report no foul play. Anyone who has followed her career knows she has has some great moments where she was on top of the mountain and some low moments when it seemed as though she’d never get out of the ditch. Like most of us, I was shocked and disappointed. I am honest enough to admit my first two thoughts about how she died were: heart failure from years of drug use or an overdose. Based on Whitney Houston’s family background, I shouldn’t even be typing those words in relation to speculating on how she died.

Like most people my age, I grew up listening to her sweet, soulful voice. This was before Mariah, Adele or Beyonce; before one-name singers were the “it girls.” She had a God-given voice that was instantly recognizable. She grew up in an extended family of singers. She had a megawatt smile and a stage presence that commanded your attention. Whitney Houston was beautiful and your parents approved of her music. As a teenager, it was all you really could ask. She was also a diva before the term was coined, but it wasn’t until much later in her life that she gave that title a bad name by having badly.

While she certainly could have started her drug use before she ever met Bobby Brown, she deteriorated severely while they were married. Like many people, I wanted their marriage to last and for them to be happy together. I also wanted them to clean up their act so they could live healthy and revive their careers. By the end of her life, you could tell that Whitney’s voice was not the same. Years of drug use or smoking will do that to you. Instead of that clear voice hitting all the notes, her voice was gravelly, soft and missed some notes.

Despite our occasional desire to be famous, it is not a status I would wish on anyone. I don’t want people commenting on my appearance, relationships or business decisions. And, now, star coverage is even more invasive than it was when Whitney was hot. She was raised in a practicing Christian family where faith clearly was part of her framework. But, instead of turning to her family or God to deal with the pressure of being in the spot light, she decided that drugs were the best way. Or perhaps being married to Bobby Brown, she thought, “If I can’t beat him, I will join him.” I know this is common in relationships where one person is either an alcoholic or drug user.

Famous people dying is not new. It’s been a tough first six weeks of 2012 for those of us who grew up and came of age in the 1980s. When people our age die, it’s a not-so-subtle reminder that none of us live forever despite the action heroes we grew up with. But, as a gawky, overweight teenager, listening to Whitney Houston’s “The Greatest Love of All”  she reminded me how important it was to love yourself. It’s an excellent reminder for us all — that learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all.

I just wish Whitney Houston would have taken this to heart. If she had, she would not have endured a career collapse, rehab and she would still be with us.