This Foundation has provided . . .
The approaching holiday season is bittersweet for us. Not only are we missing our special child; but so much more of what could, and should, have been happening this year. We are missing watching our children as they unwrap gifts on Christmas morning, we are missing hearing random singing throughout the house, and we’re even missing simple meals sitting around talking and laughing. But we hold our memories of “what was” in our hearts and we can smile when we think of them. And we know that for our daughter who is still here with us, we have to go on and make new memories.
Last year, my husband, Rich, and I were thrust into our first holiday after the loss of our son. The day before Thanksgiving 2019, our world was forever changed as we suddenly lost our 18-year-old son, Evan. Thanksgiving and Christmas passed in a total blur for us. We were walking around in a fog. Our wonderful daughter took up the slack and, even while dealing with her own grief, managed to go Christmas shopping for us. We struggled, but we made it through. And now, this will be our 2nd Christmas without Evan. In some ways, it’s hard to believe it’s been more than a year since we’ve had him here with us. But it has been. And as sad as that is, we have had time to reflect on some of the positives of these past 383 days since Evan left us. Some may think that sounds crazy. Positives, how can that be after losing a child? Yet, it’s true. New blessings have come into our lives.
The first positive was finding BTF. Or should I say, they found us? Through a divine network of mutual friends, BTF found us and enveloped us in their protective arms. Parents are not prepared financially, emotionally, or physically when they lose a child. This is where BTF came in and helped first with covering some immediate expenses. Rich and I are proud people and used to helping others. We found it hard to ask for help, but help is what we needed in those first days and weeks. BTF was there for us. Deep down though, we knew that someday we’d find a way to give back as we entered this “new future”. We started by reaching out to friends and family asking that in lieu of flowers that they donate to BTF. The outpouring of love and the generous support helped us raise enough money to give back to BTF enough to cover expenses for two other families. We plan to help continue the mission of BTF for others like us. This year, as a creative fundraiser, we utilized our business, Chesapeake Traders Food Warehouse, and offered 20% of all sales from the evening of December 10th. We had many people show their support and not only did they help the organization, they also help our business.
Another positive blessing that we have received this year is that through BTF, Rich and I have found wonderful new friends and a supportive community that understands exactly how we feel. They were there to help us navigate through the waves of emotions and stages of grief to let us know we can continue on. It seems so hard to have part of your heart ripped out and be told “you can do this”. Not everyone understands the level of loss inside of us. A good friend told me that these feelings are raw and heavy, but that we need to continue on and live our lives. Rich and I sincerely appreciate all who have reached out to us with kind words, support, lighting a candle in Evan’s name, or even having a much-needed lunch or dinner together. Each of these small tokens, helps fill our hearts with love. We are blessed to have this support come from the Brandon Tolson Foundation and we pledge to continue to support BTF as much as we can in the future.