a bench

Two days in the books of school for my “not supposed to be the oldest”.. It still doesn’t seem real. Like a fog that he is in kindergarten. Because Jennifer is in kindergarten .. so he can’t possibly be. .. Because if he is.. well then where is she?

I know. I know the answer but apparently the mind and heart can do incredible things to protect themselves.. because some parts of me still seem to be content in denial. Like if I close my eyes and just breathe I can go back. I can pretend its not real.

Every morning I face it again. Every morning I re-remember. .. one is missing. 

She should be here next to him.. Arm around him.. His big sister.
She should be here next to him.. Arm around him.. His big sister.

I thought it was just then.. that fleeting first moment of opening my eyes. .. But I was wrong. It seems it is bigger and integrated into more areas of me than I even knew.

DSC_0111Jonathan seems to be doing fine with all of it. He is wearing Jennifer’s uniform shirts since they are the same for boys and girls and that gives him relief. And our friend that she asked to decorate her bag did his tote bag too.. His request was it be just like Jennifer’s.. exactly. We talked about how that wasn’t possible but she would do her best. He is very happy with it.

The rest for him seems to be normal first year jitters and struggles. But not related to Jennifer.

Nicholas though. He is not feeling the same. The first day he stayed close to me and very quickly asked to go home. We followed the kids to their classroom. Jonathan’s is right near sissy’s bench. So as he was complaining to just leave I asked if he wanted to go to her bench. He did. Very much he did. He looked over all of it. I watched him touching all of it.

I wis I could save him from this pain..
I wish so much I could save him from this pain..

I hadn’t cried at all. I was watching all these parents being normal. With tears saying goodbye. Noses pressed up to the window trying to get a peek inside. And I was overcome with a bitter jealousy. That should be me. That would have been me.

But it wasn’t.

He is going to school. He is not dead.

I was a total wreck for over a week when Jennifer started. I cried everyday.. a lot. I missed her. I worried about her and I was struggling to survive just being apart from her for so many hours. She made me a mommy, we weren’t often apart from that day forward. But now this forced daily separation was happening and I was pretty sure I couldn’t handle it. ..

Twisted perversion of her getting cancer. I got her back all day long.. the thing I had been trying to figure out how to make happen.. Only to lose her now for all my days..

Jonathan is gone for hours of the day. I can’t protect him from hurt feelings or being left out. I miss him. But he is not dead.

It seems that has changed the very core of me.

He is not dead. I get to pick him up and pack his lunch. I get to tuck him in and make his breakfast. He is not dead and pretty much anything short of that seems pretty damn nice.

I get to be his mom today. That makes me happy.
I get to be his mom today. That makes me happy.

I wish Nicholas could feel that way too. I think he blames the school for his sister dying. Today we stood at the back of the morning assembly and he was obsessively and nervously walking around to get to a place he could see his big brother. And when the kids started walking and he lost sight of him he ran to me concerned that he couldn’t see Jonathan.

They sang the school song today too.. He told me he hates that song.

His struggles right now are not what we would have ever expected from him. Deep hurt and angst..
His struggles right now are not what we would have ever expected from him. Deep hurt and angst..True sorrow.

I just hope once he sees how Jonathan does ok at school. That he is safe. Whole. Alive. That he finds comfort and peace in that. That he can release some of the hatred and blame he places on the school.

When I walked over to her bench to grab Nicholas I couldn’t help it. The tears immediately started to fall. Because she IS dead. She is gone. No more wake ups for her. No more fights over doing her hair or reading bedtime stories. No watching her run off at school towards friends and away from me..

Just a bench. That’s it. That’s her school presence now. A few pieces of wood pieced together with her name carved into it. There is a never was a second grader missing. From my life every moment of every day. And from this school.

Do any of these kids know? Do they remember her? Do they walk past her bench and remember her brown eyes and long hair? The great friend she was? …

Please don’t forget her. Please let her name be spoken. Not just to me and my kids but to others too.. Please remind your child.. have them remind the other kids. One second grader is missing. Remind other parents.

Maybe I feel more like Nicholas than I realized.

please. please. please. 

Let her be more than a bench on that campus. please. please. please. 

oh buggers. .

i don’t know how this happened

how we got here

without you.

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..until there is a cure.

17 Responses to “a bench”

  1. I totally hear your voice in every word you write. So heArtfelt and so candid. Thank you for ALWAYS sharing Jennifer. She touches so many more through your continued emotions, and for that we thank you. Committed to being aware and doing something…thank you Libby, thank you Jennifer.

  2. Jennifer would be happy to be with Jonathan and show him the ropes. They are all going to be so wonderful with each other. You are a good mama, providing what they need now. she would be proud!

  3. Hi Libby I’m a sixth grader from gilroy prep school and every time I look at Jennifer’s bench I always imagine her playing with her friends and sitting on that bench and. I want you to know that why will never forget her because she is part of our school and she will always be remembered

  4. Please know that your Jennifer’s name will forever be spoken in our home, and within my own personal world. She will absolutely never be forgotten. It just isn’t possible.
    ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

  5. I just dropped my 2 8yr olds and my 6 yr old…this is their 4th week of school. I’m sitting in my car in the Parking lot, reading this and crying! God bless you, I pray that the burden Of the cross you have to bare is lessened by the love you are showered with from us and by the love you have showered us with through Jennifer! Love wins! I’m sorry doesn’t even feel a word that carries enough weight to express by feelings. It’s been 18 months…but it has been longer since I’ve been following your story. My heart aches for you and with you! A mother’s heart …. There are just no words …😢😢😢😢😢

  6. I never know if I should say exactly what I am thinking/feeling… will it make you feel better or worse or nothing at all??

    I hope this helps and isn’t painful…
    But with each milestone my kids face, I start to get sad mourning the passing of a stage… but without any thought my mind turns to you and Jennifer. I realize that my time is better spent celebrating these milestones. It’s a privilege for them to move on in each stage. Don’t mourn it I tell myself. And surviving cancer myself, it’s an amazing privilege to be here watching them reach milestones.

    I think Jennifer for this perspective. I mourn for you for having to live through this Hell so I can learn to appreciate what I have in my life.

  7. I’m so sorry for all the firsts there will never be. And my heart breaks for you and your precious family. We will never forget Jennifer and will continue to speak her name. Jennifer, Jennifer, Jennifer. You’ve changed us in more ways than you’ll ever know.

  8. Jennifer will never be forgotten. I will remember, speak her name often, talk about her to my daughter Eva. Eva knows about her. She talks about her like ahe knew her. Like she’s her friend. She tells me she misses Jennifer all the time. And she knows when we buy balloons for her on the 12th of every month, who they are for. For Jennifer. She writes little pictures on the balloons for her. Thankyou for letting us all be apart of her life in one way or another and apart of your lives as well. We love you all. Jennifer, Jennifer Jennifer! ♡ We love you so much. ♡♡♡♡♡♡

  9. I saw you in your van, i think it was yesterday or the day before. Although I’ve never seen your van before i knew it was you. I saw all the stickers and the magnet for Jennifer. I pulled up right next to you. It was an honor to get to see you like that. Sounds funny but it was.

  10. Jennifer Jennifer Jennifer Jennifer Jennifer Jennifer Jennifer Jennifer Jennifer

    She will not be forgotten Libby!

  11. Reading this latest post of yours, Libby truly hurts. As a mom, friend, someone who knew JLK, it just plain hurts. She should be at school, not in heaven. I’ll never forget the day that you text to tell me JLK got the call that she got accepted into GPS. I was genuinely so happy for her, for you. I knew how badly you wanted her to go there, and how nervous your were about being away from her all day, 5 days a week.
    I got another text a few days later to let me know my daughter had reached out to comfort a nervous Jennifer. Moments like these, and all the other moments missed, gone forever, never had a chance…just plain unfair. She should be at school protecting and comforting her brother. She should be, but she’s not. Cancer stole that from her, from her family and friends, from all the teachers that would’ve loved to have had her in their class.
    I’m so so sorry. We won’t just be sorry though. We will say her name. We will spread the word about how shameful it is that pediatric cancer is so poorly under-funded. We will share her story. We will wear our Unravel shirts. We will do things for them, because of her.
    We love you guys and pray for you daily. She is never far from our thoughts. Xoxo

    Lindsey

  12. It is all so unfair, and it’s a huge wallop to the gut. I wish the story had been different. We’ll work with you to make sure families of the future DO have a different story. Jennifer, I’ll keep saying your name.

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