In the past couple of years doing #AdamsActs, I have had the opportunity to share our story at my kids' schools. It's always an incredible opportunity to stand in front of a gymnasium filled with kids who are still blank slates in a lot of ways and get them all fired up about out-loving and out-serving one another. It's my favorite.
The best moment during one of these school visits was in my daughter Marlie's classroom. She was in fifth grade at the time and after explaining (in an age-appropriate way) the story behind #AdamsActs, I asked the kids to write down their own sad thing that they carry around with them every day. Some kids wrote down their parents divorce, the death of a pet or grandparent, one child wrote about having an incarcerated parent. It was some heavy stuff. I challenged them to keep their sad thing in their pocket during the month of October and every time they felt really sad, they could do an act of kindness for someone else. We talked about how it was okay to feel sad, and no matter how kind you are, the sad thing won't ever go away but that kindness can turn the sad thing into a powerful thing for good too.
Then one brave little boy, Sean, raised his hand and said that he knows how I feel because his brother died too. He shared that his twin brother passed away and that he is still very sad about it every day. This sweet boy and I both cried right there on the spot over having such a terrible thing in common.
Now Sean is in junior high and he runs cross country with my two oldest daughters, Annalee and Marlie. I wasn't sure if he would remember that moment, but I haven't forgotten. For Day #3, I wanted to let Sean know that I remembered our moment and I remembered his grief. I gave him a Gatorade and some candy for after his race, and I wrote a card telling him how brave he was for sharing his story, and that I was thinking of both of our brothers today.
I remember being in 7th grade just a year after Adam was killed. I remember people asking me if I was really still sad about it. I remember when I would talk about Adam, some people would whisper that I was just "trying to get attention." And for a long time I stopped talking about him. But, Sean and I know better. Kids like Sean and I are still sad. Sean and I don't want that kind of attention. What Sean and I want is one more day with our brothers, our buddies. And if we don't get that, then Sean and I will keep remembering them. We will keep mustering the courage to raise our hand in front of all our friends to tell the story about our sad thing.