“Dad, you need to move on.” – Braden
“Son, we missed you this Fourth. We won’t ever move on, but we will move forth.” – Braden’s Dad
I didn’t hate school but I most certainly didn’t like it.
What I did love about school were those amazing brief warm months of summer. My twin brother, Mike, and I could never understand how three months in school felt like a year, yet 90 summer days came and went at the speed of light.
Of all required school subjects, Algebra was among the most daunting. Not bragging, but I passed with a JGB grade: (“Just Got By”). Can’t honestly say I’ve ever used Algebra in real life but learned that equations are tested formulas and held to be consistent. Here’s an equation I find to meet that definition… Particularly this year:
Summer = Lazy + Sun + Family + Friends + Fun + Laughter = Memories
July Fourth = Memories
Last week was personal. I hesitate to write about it because it is really too much so. Close to home. But, then again I signed on for this.
Prosper, Texas is a small but rapidly growing suburb north of Dallas. It’s yet one more farm town being consumed by the expansive DFW population explosion. I’m confident Greater Dallas will cross the Red River into Oklahoma within my lifetime.
Our little town is currently growing by about 2,500 new residents per year. If you commute on Hwy 380 every day, it feels more like twice that. Prosper residents are a diverse mix. Many of us are native Texans, but more and a growing number are “Texan Imports”.
A popular bumper sticker comes to mind. “I wasn’t born in Texas but I got here as fast as I could”. Funny. The Texan “Imports” frequently become some of the most staunchly minded wanna-be natives. I’ve always loved our contagious pride, not only for our state, but more importantly for the country where we are so overly blessed to live. That pride is sadly fading these days, but that’s a topic for another blog.
Prosper hosts an annual Independence Day celebration to commemorate America’s birth. The town hosts a festival and fireworks display at Frontier Park, a multi-use field for baseball and community events. This year’s firework display was larger than I’ve ever experienced, short of Disney. I mean, just how many rockets can be launched in 10-15 minutes? The national anthem and Lee Greenwood’s song, Proud to be an American with fireworks always move me emotionally.
This Fourth was particularly emotional. You see, Frontier Park is also where the community held a starlit candlelight memorial for Braden in early November 2018. In contrast with the amazing fireworks and festival last week, the November vigil was a somber and sobering event I did not want to attend. To be very honest, I almost didn’t go because of my anger and pride. Not the good kind. However we were blessed and glad that we decided to attend.
We were devastated. Just trying to take one single step at a time. “Don’t fall apart. Don’t say anything you will regret. Don’t fall on your face”.
As the crowd made our way to a grass field next to a peaceful pond, I ran into a complete stranger. He was also a father. He’d just returned from a business trip and made his way to join the vigil. He and I are now friends with common ground. I moved my family six times. He’s relocating his family to Florida this summer. He made a tough decision for the long term benefit of his family.
That evening I also met with students who were deeply saddened by the loss of yet another peer. That evening it became clear. There needs to be more transparency in the conversation about teen depression and suicide which is now the second leading cause of death for teens. During that starlit candle light vigil, we were inspired to do something positive rather than simply shrink into the darkness of blame and shame.
Last week, along with two other moms, Cathy met with U.S. Congressman, Van Taylor and gained his insight on a strategy to move forward with a grassroots effort towards bringing legislation at the state and hopefully the national level for funding public school suicide prevention training programs.
To those who attended that November starlit candle light memorial in Frontier Park. To those who joined our family at First Baptist Church of Prosper and those wanting to be there that day. To our church families who welcomed in strangers and loved on our family and friends with your hearts, prayers, and encouragement. To the Prosper Fire First Response and Police Departments. To every neighbor and every pray-er over our family in this season. To each parent who is in our unfortunate but growing “club”:
Thank you from the depths of our hearts. We love you and want to confirm that your prayers are heard and felt. You have changed us and we pray each and every day for you as well.
YOU have helped us move forth.
Prayer for readers
Heavenly Father, thank you for blessings and miracles beyond measure as we experience loss beyond what we could ever be imagined or described. You have taught us that by simply surrendering to your will, through tragedy can come triumph. We are in awe. Please hear the plea of each and every child and adult who is in a desperate place as they read this. Bring peace beyond understanding and please, please Lord. Let them move forth.
It is in your precious Son’s name, Jesus, that we pray. Amen