One of the most powerful and healing results of doing 31 days of kindness in memory of my brother Adam has been seeing that so many people still remember him. His buds and former classmates share stories about him that I had never previously heard. But more than that, the participation in #AdamsActs has given my family the gift of knowing that while Adam’s life was cut short, his legacy of kindness has only grown and thrived beyond our wildest imaginings. For my parents and sisters, there is little that could bring more comfort than knowing that Adam was not forgotten.
I will be very honest though. Before starting #AdamsActs, we went a lot of years not feeling this way. I remember after Adam’s death people making off-handed comments like “my parents will shoot me in the head if I don’t get home on time.” I remember being so stung by comments like that, even though I knew they weren’t meant seriously or intended hurtfully. I simply felt like what happened to my family was forgotten. It made me feel like Adam died in vain. As an adult I now realize that people just say things flippantly without really thinking about being sensitive to people’s baggage. Still, I remember those years when I felt like Adam was forgotten. And it was really painful. For Day 15, we wanted to give the gift of remembering to another family who lost their son.
Michael Lynch was a fourteen year old boy who attended the local high school in our town of Irondequoit, NY. He was struck by a car while walking to school last spring, and died two weeks later. There was a wonderful outpouring of support from the community and many people expressed this by tying oversized green ribbons to the trees near the school. Twice a day we drive down the street where Michael was accidentally struck on the way to my kids' school, and I cannot help but think of his grieving family. Michael’s mother passed away only months later after a heartbreaking battle with cancer, leaving only his father and one younger brother behind.
I know that upheaval. I know turmoil of tragedy on top of tragedy. I know that sensation of getting knocked down by a wave of grief, finding my footing again, only to have another wave roll in and take my feet out from under me. And I know what it is like for those waves to calm down just long enough to look around and realize that you are standing there alone. So when I drive to school and I see less and less green bows along the way as time passes, I know how that might feel to Michael’s family.
For Day 14 we freshened up some of those green ribbons. We knocked on doors to ask permission to add a green ribbon (really a plastic tablecloth cut into strips) to the big trees and telephone poles near the school.
With all seven of us (plus one pup) we were able to cover all the big trees and most of the poles out in front of the school in less than an hour. My hope is that the reminder of those ribbons lasts much longer than it took to put them up. If those ribbons remind kids to walk safely, and for drivers to slow down and remain free of distractions, then it was a success. If those ribbons also remind Michael’s family that his precious life was not forgotten, then that would be pretty great too.
In memory of Michael and Bernadette Lynch