Sunday, June 17, 2012

Continuation of Jarret's story

Continuation of Tammy Slater’s story from last Sunday…

“Some days are harder than others. Some days I feel I have a grip on this new journey while other days I wonder if I’ll ever come to terms with it. I continue to take each day as it comes. It’s been almost six years and still, at some point during the day, I find myself crying. Whatever triggers the tears, I’ve learned it’s okay to cry anywhere, anytime. I do try to take myself to that ‘happy place’ of memories.”

“I try to find ways and do things that help me get through each day. I went crazy with his photos. I scanned hundreds and framed them all. I even framed some of his handwritten school papers and his workout routines. I write to Jarret and I write poems to and about Jarret. I talk to him all the time.”

In 2011, Tammy helped coordinate the National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims held in Muskogee with over 100 people attending. Families came together and released balloons in their child’s memory. The parents also hung a Christmas ornament at “The Trees of Honor and Remembrance for Victims of Violent Crime” in their town. Trees have been planted in his honor. A picnic bench with his name recessed in the table top, and flowers planted at a park in honor of murder victims were some other things done. She says it makes her feel like a part of Jarret does live on and it also plays a huge part in her healing process.

“We attend Compassionate Friends meetings. I find comfort in their newsletters reading poems and stories that others share. It reminds me that I’m not alone on this journey. TCF plays a huge part in my healing process. I also have a support group where I work, where several moms know what it’s like to bury a child. We’re there for each other and I can truly relate.”

“We also decorate Jarret’s grave for lots of occasions: July 4, Valentines, his birthday, Thanksgiving and Christmas. I make floral arrangements to represent his Bronco team during football season and his basketball team during March Madness.”

“I was told how hard the ‘first’ everything would be and they were right: the first Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, his birthday and other holidays. Fortunately, I have 18 years of great memories to help me get through the difficult times.”

“I prefer to be out of town during holidays, so if we go anywhere we always take key chains with his DOB and Death date along with his website on them. We leave them in places like hanging from tree branches and park benches. Some things are buried in the sand in Maui and since he wanted to go to Las Vegas for his 21st birthday, we did it without him. If in town we take some of his friends out for lunch to celebrate his birthday. Or if it’s Mother’s Day, we go to his favorite place to eat.”

The thought of growing older without Jarret and no grandkids around saddens her. She always thought she would get to watch him marry and have his own family, take family vacations together and always be there for his parents as they grew older.

“The dreaded question, “Do you have children?” seems to come up as we meet new people. I can’t and won’t say, “No, I don’t have any.” It’s not fair to Jarret. I try to keep in mind they don’t know what happened to my son and look at it as an opportunity to tell them about Jarret and what a great son he was.”

“I believe in my heart that Jarret is in a happy place, knowing no pain, no sorrow and no worries. And I believe he’s watching over me. Thinking of how Jarret lived his life makes me want to try and continue to enjoy life to the fullest.”

“I need to talk about Jarret and visit the cemetery. I need to be surrounded by photos of Jarret and see his things. I even wear a ring his gave me when he was in 5th grade that cam out of a quarter machine. It means the world to me.”

“Everyone has to find what works for them to get through the day. But we all share the same bond; we all miss our children. It doesn’t matter how they died or how long it’s been. We share the same pain and the same sadness. But, I do believe we also share that same assurance of knowing we’ll see them again.”

Two grand juries failed to indict anyone, but Jarret’s parents are keeping his story alive with all that they do. They will never let it become a cold case.

Editor’s note: if you have a story about your child you’d like to share, send them to my email address.

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