Everyone reacts differently to losing a child.
The grieving process is as unique as each person going through it.
There is no specific time to 'get over it'. There is no right time to 'move on'.
Yet those with the best intentions will often encourage a grieving parent to do just that.
Stop doing that, by the way. It doesn't help.
There is one hope, however, that all grieving parents share. None want their child to ever be forgotten.
Yesterday the boys and I were honoured to participate in a journey to remember two kids, gone way too soon, when we took a road trip to Peggy's Cove to scatter CJ, and remember Rehtaeh.
Four years ago, CJ Twomey took his life.
His mother, and my friend, Hallie, still feels a sense of responsibility for CJ's death.
Despite the fact she KNOWS that her words or actions alone leading up to the moment of his death, were NOT what made him make that fateful choice, she's his mom.
She can't separate that logic from emotion. I most likely couldn't either.
CJ was cremated. And the longer he sat in an urn in Hallie's house, the more she felt she needed to DO something for him.
One thing that Hallie did to process her feelings of grief, and more importantly, to keep his memory alive, was to send him on amazing journeys, to some of the most beautiful places in the world, through family, friends and strangers who want desperately to help ease her pain.
She created the Facebook page, Scattering CJ, having no idea it would grow to explode into what it has become today.
From the Scattering CJ page, Hallie's own words ...
"SCATTERING CJ is my attempt to give my son SOMETHING. It’s a mission to show my son – my crazy, life of the party, lover of people, smile so wide it entered a room before he did son – some of the world that he never got to see. It’s an effort to allow my child to forever rest in locations hand picked by caring friends, family and strangers alike.
It’s simply a chance to put my faith in mankind (a faith that has completely disappeared since witnessing my son end his life) and ask that others help me complete CJ’s final journey."
Despite the fact I knew there were literally thousands of people asking for the privilege to take him to the most beautiful corners of the earth, or exciting events, (or ... ahem ... on space shuttles), I asked Hallie if the boys and I could be part of CJ's journey.
Since I personally think one of the most beautiful places in Nova Scotia is Peggy's Cove, we offered to take him there.
And she graciously agreed. And in February, CJ arrived at our house.
We didn't make the road trip to Peggy's Cove right away.
It wasn't the right time of year. Not for what we were going to be doing.
I was waiting for the 'right' day.
Not too hot. Not too cold. Not too windy. And not raining.
Yesterday (Saturday, Aug 09, 2014) was perfect. Yesterday was the day.
We took CJ to Peggy's Cove in something I consider very special. The box that Alec made me for my birthday.
Hallie still holds CJ very close to her mom heart, so I wanted him to be close to mine.
As special and important as this journey was to so many, CJ wasn't the only one who came to Peggy's Cove with us.
There was someone else I felt should be there, too.
Before leaving, I ran over to Camp Bow Wow in Dartmouth, and picked out a memory stone, to bring for Rehtaeh Parsons ( Angel Rehtaeh ).
Some of you may remember me telling you about Rehtaeh HERE.
If you don't remember, or have never heard of her, then you REALLY need to know that ... Her Name Is Rehtaeh Parsons!
She still hasn't received justice. And we still haven't forgotten.
And Rehtaeh Parsons is still her name.
Back to Camp Bow Wow. I looked at the 5 or 6 memory stones that were in the basket, that had been painted by Rehtaeh's family and thought I picked out the prettiest one.
And I love its message, 'End the Silence'.
NOW we were ready to go.
We left mid-afternoon and arrived to a gorgeous sight.
We decided to make our way towards the edge of the rocks first, find a perfect spot to scatter CJ, then we would place Rehtaeh's memory stone on the way back.
The hardest part was trying to decide WHICH rock we wanted to scatter CJ from.
After some debate, we chose this spot (after those people left).
We got as close to the water as we could, without going in.
We perched on the ledge (wouldn't have been able to do THAT in bad weather!) and I put CJ into each of our hands, then told him that his mother (and father and Connor) loves him, and misses him, and that she's so sorry.
And that I hoped he liked his new home.
As we opened our hands, and CJ went off into the wind and over the water, huge waves roared in and crashed at our feet.
That was kind of cool.
And if you look closely in the video below, for a split second you can see CJ glittering off our hands into the sunshine.
I was so happy the boys were there with me.
To be honest, I was also happy they weren't really creeped or freaked out in any way, (this had been confirmed in an earlier conversation) considering I was asking them to hold a dead boy in their hand, while standing on the edge of a cliff.
Not something every mother asks of her children.
As weird as it may be to some people, my kids knew what this meant to me.
My kids are pretty cool.
We didn't stay long after that.
We headed back to the spot Adam and I had picked out for Rehtaeh.
We had noticed it soon after walking the rocks.
We looked at a couple of options afterwards, well ok ... there were so many nooks and crannies in those rocks, we had a bazillion options!
Most importantly, I wanted it to be tucked away from the water, but noticeable.
We decided on a spot where people were stopping to take pictures of bigger rocks, or the water, or rest, or seemed to be using it as one of the 'main paths' to get closer to the water.
As soon as you stepped down into that clearing, your eyes were drawn to Rehtaeh's stone in the corner.
When we had stopped in the spot the first time, I heard a dog barking behind me, somewhere in the parking lot.
When we went back to place her stone, after doing so, I turned around and not far behind me there were two women sitting on a rock, with a dog (notice on the far right of the pic below).
Rehtaeh loved dogs. I think she would have liked that there was one there at the time.
The arrow is showing where we left Rehtaeh's memory stone, in the big scheme of things.
We were done.
We had scattered CJ and remembered Rehtaeh at Peggy's Cove.
I felt a sense of peace and accomplishment.
Our mission was complete.
On the way home, we stopped at a little road side shop and got ice cream.
It just seemed right.
Just like it seemed right that Rehtaeh joined us on our journey with CJ.
Two kids who didn't know each other.
Both gone too soon.
Both I think of often.
Now ... before you go, I ask that you do ONE thing.
Please take a few minutes to watch this video tribute that my boy Adam made for me.
It's pretty awesome!
He captured everything perfectly.
Yes, there's some 'extra' footage of our road trip in there, but we wanted Hallie and Rehteh's family to be able to see everything we did along the way (no, you don't have to watch a full 45 min drive to Peggy's Cove lol).
What you will see, is an Adam masterpiece ;-)
Thanks again my boys, for being there. Couldn't and wouldn't have wanted to do it without you.
And thanks again Hallie, for letting us be a part of this truly amazing journey.
CJ Twomey and Rehtaeh Parsons are their names.
They won't be forgotten.
P.S. I'll never get 'Birthday' ice cream again! It looked good, but did you know they put cake in there?
Do you know how soggy cake gets in ice cream?!?!?!?