I joined a team that was fundraising for the Ronald McDonald House of Central Georgia and created a sub-team in memory of my son, Charlie.
Team Charlie’s Angels, obviously!
Even ten years later, his small life is still having an impact.
Over the last few months, I’ve connected with people who didn’t know our story. They are part of my “AC” – After Charlie – network of friends.
Just because time has passed and your heart has learned to live alongside your loss, that doesn’t mean you can’t talk openly about your child like he was just here. Our losses come in many different shapes and sizes, but at the end of the day, we’re all the same – the bearers of stories that serve to inspire and cause people to step back and cherish small moments.
From February 1 to February 24, the 24 days leading up to my half marathon, I shared #24DaysOfCharlie on Facebook, twitter, and my blog. It was hard coming up with 24 facts about such a short life, especially since most of the time we were either in a hospital or just hanging out at home.
But I learned so much from sharing the journey from his birth to death.
I learned that while people are curious, they don’t want to ask about your child. So sometimes you have to just tell them. Tell them how you feel, tell them about your ups and downs, tell them what you need.
I learned that people are, at their core, uncomfortable where grief and loss is concerned, especially when it involves a child. I speak very candidly and open about the fact that I have a child who died and once I do, people become more comfortable.
I learned that thinking about small details, most of which were very hard to remember, was very therapeutic. Putting my all into this adventure in memory of Charlie was good for my soul. It allowed me to talk about him for a “reason.”
I learned that people are generous. Our team of three people raised over $10,000 for the Ronald McDonald House in memory of Charlie. Why? Because people care. They’re inspired by survival and perseverance. They want to help others and often, when children and sickness or loss are involved, they’re at a loss for ways to help other than monetarily.
I learned that people remember. Even those who barely had time to know that Charlie had been born, remember details about his little life that I wouldn’t think they would ten years later.
I learned that little lives have giant impact. Short lives often leave the largest footprint on society. Communities rally and hold up families who grieve their children. Even years later, they haven’t forgotten.
Your story is powerful. Though it surely doesn’t feel like it, one day it will change someone’s life for the better. You will touch others in ways you could never have imagined.
Keep remembering. Keep sharing. And keep inspiring.