Arts & Crafts Magazine

Overwhelming Gratitude

By Laharris1

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.


overwhelming gratitude

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?  

overwhelming gratitude
                        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.

overwhelming gratitude


overwhelming gratitude


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. 
overwhelming gratitude

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. 


overwhelming gratitude

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.


overwhelming gratitude
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.

overwhelming gratitude
                    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. 


overwhelming gratitude

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


overwhelming gratitude
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.
overwhelming gratitude

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.


overwhelming gratitude
       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.
overwhelming gratitude

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.


overwhelming gratitude
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. 

overwhelming gratitude

overwhelming gratitude
                                                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,

Leslie

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