Tuesday, September 24, 2019

overwhelming gratitude

These days, so much of my life seems to be about living out the question, “How am I going to survive without Patrick?”

 “How am I going to go on living without my son?”

And the answers keep coming in the form of Love.

If you're here from my Instagram account you already know this, but the one year anniversary of Patrick's tragic accident--referred to in the aching grief world as an "angel-versary," has come and gone. And it's taken me these last several days to let all the intense emotions seep in and be fully felt by me.

To our surprise and delight, sixteen of Patrick's close friends decided to rent a beach house nearby--coming from as faraway as Texas-- (thank you James) to be together again and to spend this powerful date with us. It was in retrospect, a chance to love and support each other through a mind-boggling experience we're all still navigating.
And because everyone is living in different cities and have real jobs now, it took some work to make this healing experience happen.

Matt G. had called us in the weeks before to tell us their plans and to coordinate a few details. He was so achingly sensitive to our feelings. 

  • What would we like to do?
  • What would we like for food?  

                        So much overflowing "Patrick energy" on this weekend.

Later during that Saturday evening when everyone was back from a raucous volleyball game and alcohol was flowing, he would come up to me in the loud kitchen and ask,

"Are you Ok? Are you having a good time? Because Leslie this-is-for-you-guys. I'm serious." 

Patrick loved Matt so much and I know why.

Of course Jim and I were beyond touched. Over the summer, I had been quietly dreading the idea of re-living that agonizing Friday night and Saturday morning. Afraid of being pounded by the traumatic images that I still have trouble controlling when they pop into my mind.

So this idea--that so many of Patrick's friends were coming into town to join us felt like an astonishing gift from the Universe.
Even now it's hard to express the range of emotions, but gratitude is the one that floods me when I think of what I imagined that day would be like and what actually happened.

I don't usually write posts like this, but it feels important to record the love that has been helping us get through a tough summer that included my birthday, Patrick's birthday, Jim's birthday and finally the September 15th date, when our world changed forever.

Thank you...
to everyone – friends and family from my life and my friends from my blog world--who sent me such incredibly, thoughtful text messages on September 15th. 

Thank you for sending me emails and cards of encouragement. And please know that every card I opened felt like an energetic light that kept me moving one step at a time on those heavy days.

Thank you to all those who have been receiving Patrick's tribute card and have been sharing their Random Acts of Kindness with me. I'm over the moon whenever I hear about these. 

Thank you especially to Patrick’s friends. My god, they’ve been so amazing, I get weepy when I think of how kind they've been to us. Reaching out to Jim and I with phone calls and visits. Like Nate, who recently called with news from New York that made me cry happy tears. 

Or when Maddy and Chris stopped by on my-first-birthday-without Patrick, when my heart was hurting so much. And they surprised me with flowers and chocolates and a beautiful card. And even stayed for a visit.

Patrick was always with these four. This is Matt M., Chanel, Matt G. and Chloe after Patrick's services. Both Matts gave amazing eulogies.

We're so thankful to Matt G., Matt M., Chanel, and Chloe, --who continue to show us -with their loving actions- the special love and connection they felt with Patrick. I couldn't have gotten Patrick's tribute cards out without Chanel and Chloe's help with the addresses.

Thank you for the long, deep conversations (love you Emily, Matt G., Matt M. and Chanel)  over drinks at the beach house --where I learned that there are friends who still talk to Patrick, just like me. Friends who have his photo plastered on computer screens at their job or stuck in their car visor so they can see him when they need to.

Thank you to the friends who have showed me their unique tattoos--(Mike G, Devin and Maddy)--in Patrick’s honor. Thank you to those who got teary and vulnerable with me when they acknowledged the gaping hole Patrick left behind, and reminded me of how young Patrick's friends are to be dealing with such an impactful loss. 

Thank you Alyssa for your beautiful, hand-written letter and the pink roses that you left on my doorstep, a repeat from a year ago on this god-awful date. Thank you Alex D. for your text telling me that you could “feel” Patrick’s positive vibes and energy in the days leading up to the one year mark. Thank you Cameron and Shohana for reaching out about our future dinner date.

Thank you Sophia for your photos and prayers from that special spot in Greece and for being so encouraging with my intuition work.
                    Devin sent me this olive tree on Patrick's birthday. So amazing.

Thank you Devin- for sending me the baby olive tree to plant in memory of Patrick, for the tiny, glass guardian angel on my bookshelf and most of all, for sending me the college videos of Patrick laughing and being his loud, funny self that I play whenever his absence gets unbearable.

And of course. A special thank you to Heidi and Rob for showing up to be with us through yet another unexplored “first." Your family's love of Patrick has connected us forever. 

Before heading out of town Patrick's former roommates along with Tommy and Maddy stopped by to visit. 

On Patrick's August 6th birthday some of them got together to remember him and they had a picture taken. And Maddy gave it to me when they came. So sweet.

While they were at our house they reminisced in front of some photo boards and later we took them to the accident site, because Matt, Spence and Tommy had never been there yet.

       Matt (standing next to Jim) was so cute. He asked me the name of the flowers I had planted.

When we were there Lauren, (one of the three women that stayed next to Patrick in the moments after the accident), happened to be getting home. She came up and met everyone and chatted for a few minutes. 

Afterwards I thought about the odds of that happening.
Some day I'll tell you about the amazing synchronicities that have happened at that accident site.

As I read over this post, I do feel a bit self conscious mentioning all these blessings. I'm aware that someone might be seeing these photos and mistakenly believe I'm using them to say something about myself. 

Look how loved I am. That kinda thing. And it couldn't be farther from the truth.

What I want you to know is that really and truly all this love is because of Patrick. 

Jim and I used to joke about the "Patrick effect" whenever he would walk into a room. As parents we couldn't help but notice it. I would watch people literally light up, because you could feel it in the room, his buoyant energy that made you instantly look up and nudge closer to hear him. He had a naturally loud voice and he always had a story to tell in his animated way using his arms and hands.  Lord knows he had the loudest laugh, (inherited from his Dad) especially when he was debating you. But even these things can't explain why people were drawn to him.

Emily and Patrick during college

Personally I think it was his heart.

Emily told me that when she shares pictures and talks about Patrick it's hard for people to believe that someone who looks like him could be so deep. And so kind

I think his friends would say it was a blend of these qualities that in the end made you want to be on the receiving end of his green eyes and his warm smile. To be talking with him and to notice him nodding his head while you spoke, as if you were the most important person in the room. 

                                                My neighborhood sky

Thank You for your visit today. I typically don't share many personal photos here, but so many of you have been there from the beginning. Reaching out to me from across the miles to let me know you're there. And I've been so touched. I wanted you to know how the one year anniversary went for us. 

Sending you love and light,


mollie's mom said...

Oh Leslie. I still cannot imagine but I know that you are touching more lives than you will ever know and from what you share about the fabulous, kind hearted Patrick he would be pleased. And look at the young people he left behind to care for you and each other. He’s the common denominator still!

michele said...

What a wondrous young man shining light and love -- this is all such a lovely reminder to me to see my time as a gift. And what a beautiful bunch of friends propping each other up and holding your heart. Thinking of you and your lovely spirit - hoping you can feel my love and healing vibes. xox

Melanie said...

This is the most beautiful, touching tribute in honor of your beautiful son. It is so amazing to me that all those young people rented a beach house to stay by you and your husband and spend all that time with you. You are right - you are surrounded by love! That was pure love for Patrick right there. I had been thinking of you and your family and saying prayers and keeping you close in my heart.

The 10th anniversary of Phil's passing is tomorrow. I am so apprehensive and anxious about it. I just want to push a fast-forward button. And my poor hubby has to work a 12-hour shift tomorrow; he couldn't even get off work. I feel so bad for him having to work on this date; he's going to have a hard time. I'll at least go visit him at work for lunch.

Much love to you.

Brenda said...

No words just prayers

Unknown said...

This is a beautiful tribute. My tears are flowing and for probably the 1000 time I long to give you a huge hug and just sit with you! Please know you, Jim and the boys are in my thoughts daily. I’m recovering from surgery but this weekend I had this overwhelming sense of grief and thought of you and wished I could be with you. I must have sensed all the love being shared this past weekend. Thank you for sharing your heart with us through your blog. You provide a deep sense of comfort and love with your words. Patrick was loved because you helped mold him into the beautiful spirit he was and that resulted in that warm light that he brought with him wherever he was. So much love to you! Liz

Calypso In The Country said...

What a gift to have these wonderful people in your lives. I can feel the love and "Patrick energy" coming through in your post. I am sure it was a healing experience for everyone and a comfort for you to be surrounded by such love. All those coincidences really confirm that there is a lot more going on in the universe that we just can't understand. Sending you hugs and healing thoughts.

Linda @ Itsy Bits And Pieces said...

So much LOVE. You have have been in my prayers, sweet friend. Patrick gave such an incredible amount of goodness and love to the world...and the ripples are spreading out ever larger. The amount of love he generates is immense. Patrick's friends and all of you are full of that love. How beautiful. Thank you for sharing your journey, Leslie...sending my love to you!

Robin in Umbria said...

Such a wonderful celebration of this incredible person, Patrick. Such LOVE, such support and comfort, for you, and for each other.
Sending you lots of love from Italia, Robin

Susan~aredheadonthego said...

Dearest Leslie, thank you so much for sharing these beautiful photos as well as the soul touching events that went along with them. Your readers were thinking of you on that day. How kind of you to share how it went.
I have never had the privilege of meeting Patrick and yet with your one sentence about him nodding as one spoke, as if they were the only person in the world, I fully understood the magic of your son. That is such a rare and beautiful quality. It has a ripple effect...and the ripple continues not only through visits from friends and random acts of kindness but from the light within his soul. It continues to shine.
You can always be proud of being his Mom; he was extraordinary.

La Contessa said...

I have my PATRICK CARD just have-not given it away yet!THAT WILL BE HARD TO DO even if I do RANDOM ACTS of KINDNESS DAILY!I'm still thinking about HOW I WILL SPEND THAT TICKET I WANT IT TO BE A GOOD STORY FOR YOU!
The intersection is nothing how I imagined it to be!SO, what plants did YOU PLANT WE WANT TO KNOW!
I have a son story to share!My youngest turns 30 on Oct,First and he called wanting BULBS for his Birthday!MIXED COLORS......
He wants to put them down his driveway!I hung up the phone thinking I did SOMETHING RIGHT!!!IT made me SO HAPPY!
I'm sorry I missed your birthday........and THE DATE!
Just know I am HERE FOR YOU.

Karen said...

I'm truly touched by the love Patrick's friends clearly had for him and the kindness and love they show your family in his absence. Your story and subsequent posts have brought me to tears with each reading. Yet, they make me happy to know there are such loving and thoughtful people in this world. There is a lot of negative news and it's reassuring to read about the love and genuine concern that exists in so many.

Kim said...

This was such a beautiful post. It made me cry. I really do think that Patrick is somehow sending his friends and others to comfort you. You are surrounded by love. Thank you so much for sharing this.

Patty said...

What a precious gift these friends of Patrick are and what an encouragement to see young people reaching out so lovingly. I'm continuing to pray for you, Leslie and that God will grant grace and healing to you. "He will cover you with his feathers and under his wings you will find refuge, His truth is your shield and armor." Psalm 91:4

Carla from The River said...

Thank you for the post. We have been praying for you and your family. Thank you for sharing Patrick with us. Thank you for sharing the love of his friends. In this crazy world of ours, sharing how LOVE does conquer all helps us all keep going.
Thank you Leslie!
Love, Carla

Kristin @ My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia said...

Beautiful post Leslie! How wonderful that so many people came from so far away to celebrate Patrick, I can feel how much love surrounds you! Thinking of you!

Loree said...

Reading this was both heartbreaking and uplifting. Patrick must have been an amazing person if he left such a wonderful legacy. Hugs.

Donna@anangloinquébec said...

Leslie, what amazing energy to have around you at this time and to know that these young people feel such a deep connection to Patrick and your whole family. Such a lovely and authentic gesture for them to organize this time with you. Life twists and turns in such crazy and inexplicable directions and at times it feels like there is so much intention and purpose. This seems like one of those times Leslie. xo

Unknown said...

Hi Leslie, I received my beautiful Patrick card. Thank you so much. It is wonderful & such a tribute to your son. Sending you much love. Louise

Unknown said...

Hi Leslie, I received my beautiful Patrick card. Thank you so much. It is wonderful & such a tribute to your son. Sending you much love. Louise

Sheepskinsandfairylights said...

What beautiful soul's and energy you are surrounded by. Wonderful young people must make you feel proud he was one of them. Love, Vikki XX

Van@Luxuria said...

Heartbreaking to read Leslie but so wonderful to know your son had such amazing and authentic friends (a testament to him no doubt!)
Was thinking of you from "across the pond" Les. So pleased you had support on that day although I bet there were times you just wanted to be with your thoughts. I think it was a good thing you were surrounded by the love you deserve and needed. Van xxx

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