Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Joey's 4th Anniversary


We all gathered at the farmhouse for dinner.
 It's been four years since Joey went to Heaven, but this annual ritual is as important and necessary as it's ever been.
My big, tall, handsome grandson,  Chase,  twirls the soccer ball as he awaits the arrival of family and friends.

We had a downpour while waiting, and everything looked wet and fresh and beautiful outdoors. 

The pond is full of turtles and fish, and often times the kids are in it too, but not this day.

Rachel, our daughter-in-love,  arrived and took a peek outdoors as it rained. 

Rachel has been with us faithfully on every anniversary and we love her as our own. 

Our dear friends and Maui pastors, Craig and Kathy, made the long journey to be with us. Such a precious gift to have them here. We were with these dear friends on the night we learned that Joey had died. 

Jaime and Aidan (with board shorts and a towel on his arm) are discussing the advisability of him jumping in the pond at this moment. 

Everyone is glad to be together. On the right is my blue cabinet that holds many of Joey's precious things. 

JoAnne and Rachel look on as Joe thanks our friend Christian for bringing catered dinner to our house. Christian was out in the deluge picking everything up for us. He also brought lots of beautiful flowers. Though I love to cook, this is not a day when I choose to be preoccupied in the kitchen. 

Drew and Sean chatting...unfortunately I caught Sean in motion. But please notice the Joey tattoo on his bicep. Birds are one of our symbols for Joey. We all have a tattoo in Joey's memory.


Delicious Italian catered dinner all set up on the kitchen counter, next to a pitcher of fruity sangria.


I set the table, Thanksgiving style, with river rocks and candles down the center. Joey was a nature boy, so it seemed fitting. 



We all sat down together to eat. Aidan is being a little silly with his spaghetti noodles.

Everyone but Kathy, the photographer, made it into this shot. 

 
With such a large group, it's hard to get us all in at once. This one misses Clare and Kathy.

After dinner, we watched the video from Joey's memorial service. It's never easy to get through, but we want to keep his memory alive, especially for our grandchildren who were so young when he went to Heaven. 
Lots of tears. Missing our beloved son, brother, uncle and friend. 



As our evening ended, we tried to hang on to this moment with a snapshot. Bad lighting in back, so we try again.


Here I am peeking from behind Jaime; Kathy took this shot, so she is missing. 

 

Sean steps out and takes this one so both Kathy and I can be in the same shot. So in three photos, we were able to get everyone. Notice Joey's sailing picture in the background on the wall to the left. So nice to have him with us in these shots. We didn't notice till we looked afterwards, so it made us smile.
The veil between heaven and earth is a thin one.
We love you, Joey, and can't wait to see you again.
~xox~

An added gift to my week was being able to meet my dear friend Chris. Her daughter Sarah went to Heaven a few months before Joey, and they were the same age. Chris and I both experienced the sudden death of our children. She is from Ohio, and a fellow blogger. Before this moment,  I had only ever known her through my computer. She and her husband were in Virginia for a cool motorcycle vacation, and I jumped at the chance to meet her.  She has been an integral part of my bereaved mother's fellowship, and a huge comfort to my heart these past three years. She has a steady faith in God and her beautiful poetry and pictures always speak to my heart. Her blog can be found here at  True North.  

The next few days were spent playing together. Joe and Craig took the canoe out to a Back Bay lake. Kathy hilariously captioned this one, "What could go wrong?"

We also took the pontoon boat out several times, just to be on the water and take in the natural beauty. Nature is a great salve on a broken heart.



But finally, our gathering came to an end. Here is another in our large file of pictures of Rachel being dropped off at the airport. Rachel's love and presence have been a huge comfort to us, over and over again. What an amazing girl our son loved.

 With Rachel gone, we set off for a few days on a road trip to NYC with Craig and Kathy.
Maui people love road trips. They don't get to do that there. In this sunset shot of Joe and Craig, we are on the Lewes-Cape May Ferry that runs between DE and NJ.

Two hours later at the Lobster House in Cape May, NJ


 Maine lobster is a particular East Coast thrill. Lobster is Craig's favorite food group. He's even got the bib to prove it.



 In the beautiful Victorian seaside town of Cape May, we stayed at the Congress House hotel. It's a gorgeous historic hotel, a reminder of a bygone era.


On our first day in NYC, we visited the new 9/11 memorial site. It is a poignant and moving place. This tree is the pear tree that was the lone survivor of the explosion and fire. And even though it was shrivelled to a root ball, it came back.  It is a resurrection tree. I bought a necklace cast from a petal on this tree. It has a peridot at its center--my son's birthstone.


 Here Kathy points to Todd Beamer's name on the memorial plates. The names are not raised lettering, but actually cut out of the bronze. They are a symbol of absence. 

Inside St. Paul's church, there was a memorial to the police officers who were first responders. These are patches from police departments all over the country. The entire church is now a memorial to the first responders and workers who dug out the site after the tragedy. They continue to have Sunday services in this room. 

Craig and Kathy stand outside the church doors. The church served as a base of operations for rescue and cleanup in the two years after 9/11. The congregation provided food and shelter to all the World Trade Center workers. What a blessing this congregation was to the people of NYC. 

We took a bike ride through Central Park. We are standing in front of the Angel of Bethesda fountain. The angel is so beautiful. The Bible story of the pool of Bethesda says the angel would come to those in the pool with healing in her wings. 

The Angel of Bethesda Fountain, NYC

 
Sitting together at the lake. We've been best friends with these dear people since we were all newlyweds, 37 years ago. We had our children together; our daughters are best friends; they helped lay our son to rest. 
Truly precious friends. 

More Central Park beauty--another set of twin towers.


When we got tired we took a nap in the park. This was our view looking up. We need to look up more.

 Central Park vagabonds.

 After the park, we made a run through the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This is one of my favorite pieces there. It depicts the angel of death stopping a young artist as he paints. It so reminds me of my artistic son, cut short in the midst of his most fruitful years.

We had an enormous gourmet breakfast at Norma's, the iconic luxury breakfast restaurant in Midtown Manhattan . That is my breakfast of eggs benedict with asparagus and fingerling potatoes. We were holding hands, about to give thanks as I snapped this shot. We all cleaned our plates. 

 After breakfast, we ran over to Times Square Church founded by Dave Wilkerson, famous for his work with the street gangs of NYC. He lead many of them to Christ. This multi-cultural church is grandly housed in a lovely old Broadway theatre.  The choir totally rocks it and it's a treat to watch and listen.  I cried listening to this worship music.


We ended our fabulous trip with a Central Park carriage ride. The park has another kind of beauty after dark, and we loved having one more roll through the verdant spaces. 



The amazing Times Square. There's nothing like it in the world.


Finally time to go, we are packed up and leaving our hotel. We were sad to drop Craig and Kathy at the airport, and bring our poignant visit to an end. We are so very thankful for friends and family.  They walk our dark valley with us and bring great comfort to our hearts.
We are blessed. 


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7 comments:

Beckypdj said...

A wonderful thing to have family and friends surround you, remembering your precious son.

Anonymous said...

I am so happy to see the pictures and your story. I so love being in touch this way. What a wonderful time and so blessed to have been able to share with friends and family. I know you love them all. Love Sharon

karen gerstenberger said...

There is so much to say about this post. First, I'm thankful that you were able to take this wonderful trip. Second, I am blessed to see and read about the way you mark the anniversary of Joey's passing. (I wish that we could do something like that, but I know that it would be too hard for Gregg to consider.) I so admire the way you are willing to gather, share table fellowship, remember and cry together. What a gift it is to all of your family, particularly to the young ones, who will have a healthy example of what it is to really grieve a loss, rather than to "stuff" it down. Third, what a treasure your Rachel is. God truly guided those two young people in their love.
Lastly, I grieve with you. I wish I had had the privilege of meeting your beloved son. I do hope to have the privilege of meeting you & your family one day in person, and am so happy that you and Chris finally got to meet.
Sending much love to you, dear Karen.

Jeri said...

Beautiful Karen, thanks for sharing. Much love!

Jeri said...

Beautiful Karen, thanks for sharing. Much love!

Rich and Carolyn Dewey said...

Now I understand fully why God brought you to my mind yesterday! Thank you for this lovely post. How precious it is that your family gathers to celebrate the life well lived and well loved!

Thanks for sharing your NYC journey. We know and value the love of dear friends also. What would we ever do without them?! I don't want to find out! Blessings to you!

Robin said...

Karen, I've read this posts many times. You are deeply, deeply blessed with family and friends who understand and accompany you. Like Karen West, I know that the kind of communal gatherings and celebrations that you share are far beyond my husband's capacity, and my own inability the first couple of years to handle groups of more than, say, one other person at a time, has had a profoundly sad effect on my circle of friendship. I envy the graceful way in which you are all able to share your memories and loss, and I am so sorry that our children were not companions through other than our broken hearts.