Monday, July 19, 2010

Walk to Remember

It was Sunday morning, July 4, 2010. I woke up bright and early at 5:45am. Got picked up shortly after and headed down to Arlington, Va.

I was about to participate in my first Compassionate Friends Walk to Remember.

The 33rd TCF National Conference took place in our old neck of the woods this year, just a stone throw from D.C. While making a trip to Md to visit with friends and family I was able to participate in this very special part of the conference.

The 11th annual walk to remember was participated by an estimated 1400+ people this year. It was humbling to be among them.

Far as you could see down the 2 miles stretch there were a stream of white shirts... hundreds of people gathered together to participate.

One of my most special lifelong friends came along to be by my side as we walked in memory of those lost too soon. Sarah and I have been through many tough moments together. We've shared many laughs, and many tears. Through thick and thin she is one of the few I know I can call and count on for anything. Though miles now seperate us, and time lapses between visits, Sarah is one of those friends that you just pick right back up where you left off. I can't imagine having anyone else with me for this event and I am so thankful she was there.

The walk is a 2 mile walk for bereaved parents, grandparents, friends and relatives to remember those children who were taken from us far too soon. It is a place where we all share such an amazing common bond and feel like a unique type of family. Not many words need to be spoken and no questions are asked when things may seem odd. Tears are welcomed and expected yet there is joy and laughter in the midst of the sadness.

Many carried signs from their local Compassionate Friends chapter with photos of all their children, lost too soon. Volunteers also carried names of children for those who could not physically attend the walk. An estimated 10,000 names were carried in memory.

A lovely "cheese" self portrait as we stopped by a beautiful fountain for a short break.

As I walked, I carried my cuddly blue "Brayden Bear" with me, which brought me such comfort as it always does. Though it hurt to see his name written on paper, I wore it on my back proudly. Its a special feeling to validate his life. There's nothing more important to a bereaved parent then knowing their child is being remembered, and their life being celebrated.

One of the highlights from the weekend was a very special meeting. After months of contact via email and online chat, I was able to meet a good friend Janet. It was great to finally give her a hug and be able to speak face to face. She is the amazingly creative woman who began Joe's Memory Bears and created my incredible, well loved Brayden Bears!
Janet, who also lost her son to a drowning accident, has been a big encouragement to me over the months and years since loosing Brayden. I am so thankful for the special part she plays in my life! Thank you Janet for everything!

Me, My favorite Brayden Bear, Janet, and her husband Dave

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