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At the time I said okay, it seemed like a good idea; the date was far enough into the future to allow me plenty of preparation time. Except as the appointed day marched ever closer, I began to question my judgment, wondering if once again I had bitten off more than I could chew…
It started with her email. Another bereaved mother happened across the story ‘Bracelets for Brian’ in the Charlotte Weekly newspaper; she decided to send me a message, offering her condolences and sharing her own painful experience. Following the death of her two sons nearly nineteen years ago, Jerry Mudge started the Footprints Ministry with the intention of reaching out to other grieving parents. Years later, she and her husband Skip created a program for area high schools called “Choices”; their goal was to show teenagers how one decision involving alcohol or drugs could ruin and/or possibly end a life, using real stories (including their own) to drive the point home. When Jerry read that our greatest hope was to persuade others to make a better “choice” than Brian did that awful June day, she decided to write. She asked if I would consider sharing Brian’s story as part of their next presentation, which was scheduled at Butler in September. I said yes.
This morning I sat in my car for a few minutes, trying to calm my queasy stomach. I took extra deep breaths, thought about the prayer request I sent out via email last night, sent up an instant prayer request of my own, stepped across the threshold of the office and signed in as a visitor… I pushed through the crowded corridors toward the correct classroom, lugging a bucket of bracelets, my ragtag outline of points (in case I froze), a few 8’ X 10’ pictures, and my heart on my sleeve… I soon discovered this particular teacher worked summers as a lifeguard supervisor/pool manager; she had been Sunny’s boss last summer when it happened and knew my son personally. It was then I knew I was meant to be there.
I went first, somehow managing to tell the tale without completely breaking down, forgetting an important part or making a total mess of things. The pictures weren’t large enough for everyone to see clearly, but I had nothing else to show them, other than his lone sock and shoe wrapped in the white plastic bag… I exited the first class right after I finished, and returned at the beginning of the next. Jerry and I both agreed it would be best if I did not stay for the rest of the program yet, since talking about losing Brian would be hard enough.
I certainly wasn’t eloquent or smooth; I lost my train of thought more than once with each group. Could they see the anguish permanently tattooed on my soul? Without a doubt. Did I convince every student to put their cell phone away when they drive? Probably not. But I’m okay with that. I know I can’t save everybody…I’m just hoping to save one…
Always wishing you hope…tg
Tammy will update her blog on Mondays and Thursdays. -- Jen, site administrator