Happy Birthday Colton - I hope the fish are biting in heaven.
“If there ever comes a day when we can’t be together, keep me in your heart, I’ll stay there forever.” Winnie the Pooh
Loss has an effect on every family. No one is safe from the heartache of losing someone they care for. Whether it’s a family member, someone close to your inner circle, a friend of a good friend, a pet - grief touches everyone’s life at some point in time.
As a family, we are no exception and have experienced tremendous heartache in 2016. On March 25, 2016 we lost an immediate member of our family. His name is Colton. Colton was coming home from college for the night to attend an event with his parents that Friday evening. Upon coming around a corner on the highway, the tire of his car hit a small patch of hail and he lost control of his vehicle. Colton died of injuries that he sustained in the accident. He was 23 years old. He was our nephew, our grandson, an ‘older’ brother to some of our children, a good friend. A son and only child to his parents.
We work in an industry that deals with death and grief on a daily basis and, as a company, our compassion for our customers and willingness to help them is genuine and sincere. Yet we were completely unprepared as a company and as a family on HOW to make sense of our loss. There were simply no words, no handbook on what to do or say or feel. And, to this day, there are instances where it is impossible to wrap our heads and our hearts around the loss.
We pulled together as a family as best we could. We relied heavily on the help of friends. We gratefully accepted meals and offers to run errands. As gently as possible, we helped Colton’s parents with an obituary, pictures, a eulogy, making arrangements. There were so many decisions to be made and they were decisions that no parent ever wants to make and often is never prepared to make. Looking back on the week following the loss of Colton, it is a wonder we were able to put one foot in front of the other. But somehow, we did.
There was special care taken in things that you wouldn’t think were of such importance but they were. Writing the obituary and trying to truly embrace what made Colton special. Creating a story with the eulogy that was a celebration of his life rather than mourning his death. Along the way, we cried a lot of tears. We laughed as we reminisced about some of those magic moments and we learned things about Colton that we hadn’t previously known. We chose pictures that brought him to life and captured who he was on a day to day basis. And we asked the question why and had to endure the silence.
Heather, Colton’s mom, was unsure of what to do with all the beautiful flower arrangements that were given to them. She couldn’t just let them die - it didn’t feel right to her. Heather dried flower petals from several of the arrangements and created a heart that she framed in a shadow box and has hanging in her home. Tim, Colton’s dad, placed a cross on the hillside near the accident and tulip bulbs will be planted there in the upcoming weeks. Heather and Tim and Colton were a triangle, three equal sides forming a whole and Colton’s ashes sit in a beautiful custom triangle shaped urn. The urn was crafted to look rustic and weathered as Colton had a love for the outdoors. We have pictures in our home of Colton with our children, the photo calendar that we receive as a gift every Christmas has Colton’s picture for the month of October. There are reminders and memories of him in our homes, our hearts. Yet it is no substitute.
Today, October 28, 2016, Colton would have turned 24. There is not a day that goes by where he isn’t missed, thought of, loved dearly and today, this day, is certain to be heartbreaking for Heather and Tim. We have sent flowers, sent messages, called and reached out. But, understandably, it does not take away the heartache.
What we are trying to do is find unique ways to commemorate Colton. We have talked about releasing paper lanterns, perhaps naming a star after him in the star registry, created scholarships, donated money to finish the rec room that he was in charge of at school, invested time in the Special Olympics, a cause near and dear to Colton’s heart. Individually and as a family, we continue to work to find ways to not ‘move forward’ but to start again. It’s different. It’s harder some days than others. But we continue to try.
And, yes, as a company it has changed us. It has opened up our eyes to how hard it is simply to get online and look at the products available - choose the unimaginable to hold a reminder of a son, a spouse, someone you cared for. The courage it takes to add that selection to your shopping cart. The finality of the purchase.
Today is yet another first for our family and we know there are countless other families that they too are encountering a year of ‘firsts’. We will continue to look for ways to celebrate all that Colton brought to our life and celebrate what he brought to the lives of others. Stories will be recounted to his cousins, good memories shared and we will continue to honor his memory and his life to the best of our ability.
Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday, dear Colton, Happy birthday to you. We miss you and love you so very much.
“Grief is like the ocean;
it comes in waves.
ebbing and flowing.
Sometimes the water is
calm, and sometimes it
is overwhelming. All we
can do is learn to swim.”
Additional comments from the owner/Everlasting Memories.
I rarely comment or write blog posts. We have a professional writer on staff that does that for us. However, in this particular case, this hits very close to home, and it hits very hard. I wanted to share a few thoughts.
Colton's death has been the most difficult thing I have ever experienced in my life. Colton is my nephew. He left a lasting impact on myself, my children, and so many others. Thinking of Colton is like riding an emotional rollercoaster. The memories of him bring smiles - and often I find myself laughing out loud thinking of them. Then comes the realization that he is no longer here. The smiles turn to tears and I long for the day that we get to spend time together again.
I do believe that we will see each other again. Someone as special as Colton is not meant to be in your life temporarily, he is meant to be there eternally.
Please take time to recognize, cherish, and deeply love those that are important to you. Give someone a hug, make them laugh, or just be there to listen when they need you.
There is no better time than now.