Sometimes we lose things we didn’t even know we had or forgot about, only to realize later the true value of these buried treasures. That’s been happening in my life a lot lately and I know it’s not by chance, it’s all God’s perfect timing. He knows I have that crushingly painful feeling of grief that never goes away; that unwelcome guest that can somehow exist right alongside joy. I have learned through my bereavement journey so far that grief and joy are inseparable. This morning, I was looking through all of my folders on the laptop for a Word document and stumbled across one of those buried treasures. There was a video folder that seemed to be out of place and I had no idea what it was so I clicked on it and was totally speechless, my heart overflowing with joy and grief. It was a video from Connor’s Make-a-Wish trip to San Diego that we never saw. We had no idea it existed. Somehow, this precious gift that had been there since February of 2018 (more than two years ago) made it’s way into my life today.
Recently, our neighbor’s grandkids were here visiting from out of state. The younger boy reminded me so much of Connor. He was 4 years old; a sweet, outgoing, fearless little trouble-maker, just like Connor. 🙂 He looked a lot like him too and he wanted to ride a bike but he didn’t bring one. They were going to buy one for him in the next few days but we could all sense a meltdown of epic proportions coming. He wanted a bike now and he wanted it NOW! I told the neighbors I would look in the garage and see if we had a scooter or something he could use until they got him a bike. I couldn’t find Connor’s Spiderman scooter to save my life, but while I was looking for it, I found Jake’s old Tonka bike which became Connor’s bike. Tom quickly went to work on airing up the tires and cleaning it up. It was the perfect size for the little boy and made us so happy to see it being used and enjoyed!
A few weeks ago, Jake was looking for something in the garage and found two photo booth pictures of Connor and I that I had totally forgotten about. They were from a friend’s birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese and brought back so many fun memories! I could go on and on and on; the single giant sunflower growing in the corner of Connor’s garden that we didn’t plant, the toy that fell out of a tear on the bottom of the old couch when it got moved recently (Connor dropped countless toys in that tear in the couch over the years), the little red ball that Connor lovingly hid in my sock drawer years ago that I have never moved to this day because I love being reminded of him at that age, or the toy camera I found when going through boxes that he used to follow me around with and say “Cheeeeeese!” while making his best cheesy face!
Happy Birthday my sweet Connor! It’s a beautiful sunny day that is going to be filled with celebrating you! Your favorite movies and music, a walk by the river, and a BBQ with all of your favorite foods (hotdogs, pickles, fruit, and root beer). I wrote this little poem for you for your birthday Superman. Mom loves you forever!
I bet you’re wondering if you read that title correctly knowing who’s writing it; a bereaved mother who lost her youngest son just a little less than a year ago. I have to admit, when I texted the simple words, “Life is Good”, to one of my best friends the other day, it stopped me in my tracks…I re-read it several times and thought to myself, did I really just say that? More importantly, how could I possibly mean that after everything our family has been through? And what I realized in that moment is that what I said couldn’t be more true. Honestly, I never thought I would think that way about life again. How could I after such unbearable loss? Life will never be the same without our sweet Connor but life goes on. We have to choose wisely what to do with the limited time we all have on this Earth.
My personal grief journey, our family grief journey is constantly evolving. There is no blueprint for how to go about grief but I would like to share some of the most important things I have learned on my journey. You have to face grief, you can never escape it because it is now part of who you are. As a dear friend told me, “you have to just sit with it sometimes” (it’s so scary and uncomfortable at first believe me) and let it be what it is. Before, my biggest fears in life were losing my children, being trapped in a coma, clowns (they are freakin’ terrifying) and I don’t care what anyone else says about that, spiders, and ice cream trucks. Yeah, that about sums it up for me. You know what my biggest fear after losing Connor was? SILENCE…It was the worst thing I could possibly imagine at that time other than losing him. All of the sudden, when Connor went to heaven, it was quiet; no oxygen machine, no monitors beeping, and worst of all, no sound of him breathing. I never truly realized how comforting the sound of his peaceful breathing was to me. It was like the sweetest lullaby.
At first, I did what I think a lot of people do after losing a loved one, I tried to keep myself busy, at least in my mind. It helped a little for a while but was so temporary; kind of like when you swear you “need” chocolate and it’s so good when you are eating it and then you get the sugar crash later. I tried a lot of different things; went to grief counseling, went to church, prayed, got on meds, opened up to close family and friends, ate junk food, stayed in bed, worked out, tried a few diets, got out of the house as much as possible, etc. I started to wonder if this unbearable pain and suffering I was experiencing was just the new normal. I had to do something different but I didn’t know what that was.
I started planning quiet times where I would just sit and listen to music, read, color, and eventually just be in the silence (my biggest fear) and do nothing else at all. I prayed daily that God would fill my heart with his love, light my path and show me the way. I was lost and so broken. This year, I decided I wanted to focus deeply on my spirituality. An opportunity came up to go to 6 weeks of beginner meditation classes nearby, every Sunday for 1 hr. I have two classes left and to put it simply, what I have learned has changed my life in the most beautiful ways and this is only the beginning. What I love about it is that it doesn’t matter at all what your religious beliefs or lack-thereof are. Everyone is welcome. I am a Christian and have no plans of converting to Buddhism but I think everyone can benefit from some of the core Buddhist principles, through meditation and by changing the fundamental the way we think. Perception and perspective change are powerful.
I realized that while my heart was overflowing with faith and love for God, it was lacking in deep spirituality. They are not the same. As my spirituality grows each week through practice, I feel as though my heart and soul are more in line; becoming a beautifully broken, well-balanced garden filled with the most colorful flowers you can imagine. It is thriving in a way I never thought possible after such loss. I find myself striving for my life to be much more simple, less cluttered. My daily prayer has changed to gratitude first (being thankful for all the blessings I have and have had), then asking God to place only the things in my path that are “right for me”, removing from my path all things that are distracting. We can’t feasibly say “yes” to everything and do well at everything at the same time. I have shifted to living an “intentional” life, only saying yes to what my heart says is right for me. You have to find what works for you. For me right now, it’s spending time with family and friends, faith, meditation, spending time outdoors, music, photography, writing, reading, working, and adventuring. Slowing down…learning to enjoy and embrace the quiet times.
In the short time I have been practicing this new way of living and thinking, my faith is stronger than ever, my spiritual self is more fulfilled, my personal relationships are much stronger, and I have been blessed beyond measure. Our family has some fun little trips planned for this year that we are looking forward to, I am working part time and absolutely loving it, going to some amazing concerts this year (Toby Mac in 24 days, yes I’m counting :), having a great time hanging out with friends, taking time to read great books, volunteering for the Tim Tebow Night to Shine in Boise next week, going to church tomorrow, and a meditation retreat later this month. LIFE IS GOOD! The truth is that grief never goes away. We learn to live with it in our own way. If you are grieving, hurting, lost, I see you. You are loved. You are enough. Most importantly, God sees you and will never leave you. Let God be the lighthouse in your storm. No one we love is ever truly lost. I know we will see Connor again and he would want us to keep adventuring until that time comes. Connor’s love and light always remain…
Sincerely and with Love,
Here are a few of my favorite songs. The first one has helped me all throughout my grief journey and the second one expresses how I feel now. I do not own the rights to this music.
The Perran Family is wishing you and your families a beautiful and blessed Thanksgiving! It’s so hard to believe that these photos of Jake and Connor were taken the day after Thanksgiving 2017. So many cherished memories to be thankful for!
Love this new song called “Memories” by Maroon 5 and wanted to share it with you today.
Last week, Trina and I had fun doing all of the shopping for Friendsgiving. We filled two shopping carts with groceries and were under budget thanks to Trina’s awesome planning :). So, we decided to get a movie theater gift card for each family as well in hopes that they can enjoy some special time out together over the holidays. We put together 2 large boxes of groceries per family, Trina made up recipe booklets, I printed a photo of each of our families, and we included a card along with a few Hannah’s Helping Hands and Connor’s Courage bracelets. Spending time together to get it all packed was so good for our grieving hearts. And of course, we were thinking of Connor and Hannah the entire time. On Sunday, Bob helped us load everything up in the truck and we delivered the boxes to the families. We are grateful for the generous donations from family and friends, which allowed us to give the gift of Friendsgiving to five Treasure Valley families this year! Connor’s and Hannah’s light continues to shine bright in so much of what we do and it makes us feel good to be able to help other families.
The Rodgers Family and the Perran Family are providing Thanksgiving meals to families in need in honor and memory of our beautiful children who we lost to Batten Disease this year. Princess Hannah and Connor are loved, dearly missed, and they continue to inspire us to help other families. We will provide as many Thanksgiving meals as possible based on total donations received. Please note: All food will be delivered between Nov. 22nd through Nov. 24th. Please click on the link to nominate a Treasure Valley family. If you would like to donate, we are accepting checks, cash, and PayPal donations via a PayPal account we set up for this purpose only. If you are interested in donating via PayPal, please message me for more info. Thank you for your help!
It has been a little over 6 months since you traded your
cape for wings and words can’t come close to expressing how much we miss you.
Life will never be the same without you here with us, but we are doing our best
to make the most of it until we see you again. We promised you we would keep adventuring
and we are. You would be proud of us. You were always the best friend anyone
could ask for, spreading kindness wherever you went, being silly and having
fun, stopping to smell the roses, and shakin’ your booty to the music. We
strive to be more like you every day.
The other day, Dad and I were talking about how everything
was an exciting adventure to you; going to the grocery store, walking to the
mailbox, helping me clean the house, etc. You saw the positive and the good in
everything…except Chewy. Oh, how you loved to harass that poor little dog! He
hasn’t changed a bit. He’s still the grumpy old dog you remember. Dobby was so
sad and lost when you left. Every day, for months, he would go lay in the spot
next to our bed where your hospital bed used to be with his head down on the
floor and whine. When a door would open in the house, he would get excited and
his ears would perk up, thinking you were coming home.
Jake started high school this year and he is loving it. It
wouldn’t surprise you that his favorite thing about school is “the ladies”.
Jake and his friends wear not only one, but several of your Connor’s Courage bracelets
and it always brings a smile to my face to see them wearing them. Jake started
driving too. I can only imagine all of the things you would have yelled at him
from the back seat! Ha ha! The other day, Jake and I were sitting at the dinner
table together and he said, “I really wish I could see Connor grow up”. Yes, I
just about lost it. And when we see all the younger kids in the neighborhood
riding their bikes, he comments on how much he wanted to teach you how to ride
your bike. He misses you.
I want you to know that Dad and I are doing okay and when
you see us cry from up above, just know that it’s only because we love you so
much. The things we miss the most are being able to wrap our arms around you
and hearing you breathe. We spend countless hours out in your beautiful garden.
It’s one of the places we feel your presence the most. But, don’t worry. We
feel you with us wherever we go. We dream of you often. We love you forever.
On March 23, 2019, we celebrated the life of our sweet Connor. It was such a bittersweet mix of heartbreak and joy. It was also absolutely beautiful in a way only God could have made possible. We were given a very special horse drawn carriage ride by one of Connor’s earth angels; a kind man who heard about Connor’s story and wanted to help a grieving family he had never even met. When we arrived at the church, everyone was outside waiting to greet us. Several people in the crowd let heart-shaped balloons go for Connor. Then we carried Connor’s Superman urn into the church. There was a simple cross as we walked up the stairs with a purple sash for lent. There was a beautiful light up cherry blossom prayer tree where guests could take a ribbon, say a prayer and tie the ribbon on the tree in remembrance of Connor. We chose the cherry blossom tree after learning that it represents the beauty and fragility of life. There was a table with pictures of Connor in his Superman costume with a quote on the back, Superman pins and buttons, and Forget-Me-Not seed packets with a poem attached that guests could take. The service was a deeply touching tribute to Connor. Afterwards, we had a reception dinner which was basically a big, fun party where we were surrounded by family and friends. We know Connor was looking down from heaven, smiling and shakin’ his booty to the music! 🙂
We wanted to share some videos and photos for those who were there with us in spirit but not able to attend.
Thank you to everyone who came to celebrate Connor’s life with us! Special thanks to:
My Mom for helping with the planning and coordinating things in Colorado for us.
Dad and Kelly for paying for the hall, catering, and other funeral expenses.
Tanner Baisden for creating Connor’s beautiful memorial video and Corwyn’s Cause for making it possible. We will cherish it forever!
Father Steve at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Parish for the most beautiful service for Connor.
Jim and Jill for the amazing horse-drawn carriage ride!
All of our awesome family and friends who helped set up and clean up after the party!
Celebration of Life Service at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Parish on Saturday March 23rd at 6:00pm – 1730 W. 12th St., Loveland, Colorado 80537 – Connor, Tom, Jake, and I will be arriving at the front of the church via horse drawn carriage at 6:00pm so if you would like to see that part, we suggest gathering on the sidewalk in front of the church.
Reception dinner/party following at First Baptist Church (a short drive away) – 1003 W 6th St, Loveland, CO 80537 – There is parking in the church parking lot and along the street. For the kiddos, there is a play area inside and a little playground outside. And of course there will be a great variety of awesome music thanks to Papa and Jake!