28 August 2008

What Grace and grace can look like...

Grace can look like 26 backpacks all lined up on a set of steps, and grace can look like 26 people responding, answering, asking to help, to purchase backpacks, to send them on to schools where students might not bring them, to put them on the backs of five-year-olds heading off into the classroom, into the unknown.

Grace looks like this, and as I drove to Longfellow elementary school today to drop off 13 backpacks, I thought about the transformation of grief and the transformation of love and how love can take on so many forms and how love is so much deeper than the affection for a person who is standing right in front of you. Today I felt so much love toward Grace and so much love toward my family, toward Terry and Carver and Sophia and Sawyer who have managed to stand with me through this, who have managed despite losing a daughter and losing a sister to continue to love one another and to continue to embrace each other.

And then I drove to Holmes elementary school to drop off 13 more backpacks. I thought about the confusion I sometimes feel in loving Sawyer, in finding absolute joy in his 2 1/2 year old self, in knowing that if Grace were here, Sawyer wouldn't be here. Yet also knowing that Sawyer is here with and without his older sister.

Grace can look like all of this, all at once, transformational and loving. And on Tuesday as 26 kindergarteners appear in classrooms with backpacks waiting for them, I hope that they find a little bit of grace in knowledge that even though they couldn't go to the store and pick one out for whatever reason, that someone took the time to buy one for them so they could know the joy at opening it for the first time and finding new crayons and pens and markers and glue sticks and all of the things they need to begin creating their mark in the world, their yes. So that each day when they wake up, they can understand that yes, they are walking and riding away from their homes into a classroom of opportunity, into a classroom of possibility.

And that yes, Grace exists and grace is real and grace is really the only thing that can propel us forward into the future--that ability to love unconditionally and that ability to understand that love transcends all things. Grace is love and to that end I can honestly say that I am grateful to her and for her, and I am grateful, despite the hole and despite the darkness and despite the grief, I am grateful for the things she continues to teach me and for the possibilities that keep presenting themselves because of her.

That feels like the best kind of love of all.

19 August 2008

Backpacks for Grace!

Is this the backpack you'd choose? Or would purple be your favorite color? Would you be a tomboy and pick blue? Maybe, just maybe you'd be less like your sister and more like your own self. In that case, maybe you'd want a slingback bag or a tote bag or maybe even a brief case!

We don't know do we for sure, what kind of bag you might choose for your first year of school, for your first day of kindergarten...

What I do know is this? I have to take action. I have to do something because in three weeks, all the kids go back to school and all the 5 year olds are shopping like it's Christmas, buying school clothes, getting school bags, buying pencils, practicing writing their names.

So here's the deal, Grace! I can't buy you a backpack. I can't dress you up for school. I can't let you scream at me that you don't want me to brush your hair and you don't care if it's all tangly and you just want me to let you dress yourself in stripes and colors and patterns that don't match. And I can't walk or drive or follow you to school on the first day and sit in your classroom as you look around taking cues from your older brother and sister on how to act.

But, sweet child, here is what I can do:

I can go to the store and pick out a backpack and fill it with school supplies and take it to a school and drop it off for a child who maybe hasn't had the same chances as we have, who maybe won't get a new backpack even though she is here. What I can do is ask others to do the same. I can ask them to go to the store and get the following supplies:

1 girl's or boy's backpack
A supply box to hold pencils and crayons
1 box 8-large size washable markers
1 pair blunt-end scissors
1 box of tissue
1 box 24 Crayons
2 - #2 pencils
glue stick

You can buy those things and send me an email and I will come to you to pick it up and donate the backpack in Grace's name to a kindergarten class in the Spokane District 81 school system.

Or if you don't have time or live far away, you can send me a check for $25 and I will go shopping to purchase a backpack and school supplies in Grace's name for someone who might need a little extra something to get them started.

And who knows, maybe I can get 5 or 6 bags or a dozen or more and children around Spokane can carry backpacks on their shoulders and I can find Grace in them.

Ask and ye shall receive!

14 bags and counting. The world rocks!

17 August 2008

More backpacks for grace...

Wow, and just like that, I have 10 backpacks either made or promised to me! So now, I'm going for a dozen at least! Thank you, all of you, for your support!

And incredibly, I just got a note from someone in New Zealand who is participating, and I've never met her! How amazingly cool is that! Thank you, Sarah! (really, her name is Sarah too!)