BusinessCardHandNancy D. writes:

“I had just returned from a Christian Conference in Georgia and I was on my way home from the airport when I saw a garage sale just closing up.  I happened to see an item I needed as a prop for our Children’s Ministry Theater.  When I asked the price the man named Ben told me, but the price was a little high for our church budget.  Just then Ben said, “wait just a minute” and he went into his house.  He handed me the card and he said I can have the item for my church for free if I would pay it forward.  I promised I would!”

And that is the power of paying it forward.  Now multiple people will benefit from the chain reaction of kindness started with one simple gesture.  🙂  Thank you for sharing, Nancy!

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Since the day Rees died I have been carrying a great weight on my shoulders that I hoped to one day jettison for good.  Today was the day I thought would mark that moment where I could discard this weight and move on to doing the things I want to do without having to overcome the inertia of the added mass to my life (sorry – I am a science teacher, can’t help but make a science reference!).  To say that my family and I are disappointed is an understatement – but do not mistake disappointment for despair.  While I had hoped to have this weight lifted off of my shoulders, I knew there remained a possibility that this weight would remain forever – a much less desirable outcome for sure.  Today I found out that I must carry this weight for two more months.  So be it.  I have carried it this far, I can go further.

It wasn’t until I sat down to write tonight’s blog entry that I realized that there was another weight I have been carrying on my shoulders since that same day.  This weight has gone mostly unnoticed and I have only felt it in brief moments, here and there.  The weight I am referring to is the angel that I carry around on my shoulders every moment of every day.  You see, since Rees has his wings, he does not weigh me down… rather he lifts me up.  It is Rees’ spirit that has gotten me this far, allowing me to overcome this other weight in my life.  I felt him last night, he was with me when I mentally went through the motions of what I would have to do today.  I felt his wings lifting me up, and I “heard” him tell me that he was going to carry me through all of this – just like I used to carry him up to our ceiling to play “spider-baby”.  I now know that I can take the weight of the world on my shoulders, not because of my strength to buttress it but because of his power to lift me up…

 

 

 

Image courtesy of Chasing rainbows

Image courtesy of Chasing rainbows

Today ReesSpecht life had the opportunity to pay it forward to a kindred spirit.  I have been following the blog of Kate Leong  (www.kateleong.com) and her incredible story for a couple of weeks now.  Sadly, her Son Gavin passed away from an as yet unidentified affliction that he bravely fought through for 5 and 1/2 years.  Kate’s story is a sad one, yet it is also one of strength and hope.  Kate represents the best that we have to offer – and she gave it her all in trying to find a way to make Gavin’s life here special.  She recently started a trust called “Gavin’s Trust” and they have raised over $13,000.00 in the past 24 hours.  The trust is intended to provide needed materials  to help children serviced by the Chester County Intermediate Unit in their Pre-School Multiple Disabilities programs.  Kate herself acknowledged that she does not have the strength to start a foundation and “keep up a “foundation”… it’s all too much.”, as she wrote on her blog.  Well, that is where we come in.  When Sam and I decided to start ReesSpecht Life it was always about paying it forward.  Doing for others who have done so much for others already.  I had envisioned ReesSpecht life as a charity to help other charities.  Well here we are.  This cause represents the first real donation that our foundation has made to help others who are truly respecting life.  I would like to do more, but that of course depends on our supporters.   I do have the strength, Kate.  We are all here for you.  Stay strong and know that two super angels are out there, somewhere.   I have a feeling that Gavin and Rees are already great friends looking down on all of us and smiling.  Kate’s blog is called “Chasing Rainbows”, and while I don’t know if there is a pot of gold at the end of that Rainbow, Kate –  I do know there are Rees’ pieces 🙂

 

perspective

Life is a fickle friend that in one moment elicits  joy, and in another utter dismay.  One day you are living your ideal life, three kids, a home in the suburbs and a great job – and in the next instant it all changes.  In place of your only son is a void, the embodiment of loss itself.  Ironically,  it is almost as if that void, the loss itself,  becomes a real, tangible entity:  the  uninvited guest in your life that never gets a hint and refuses to leave.    The end result is a changed perspective, framed by a world that has only changed for you and those that knew Rees, yet persisting, unchanged,  for everyone else.

The realization that perspective is relative remains forefront in my mind, especially considering  recent events in my family’s life.  The asterisk in my life* following the loss of Rees fundamentally shifted my worldview.  I no longer see things from my pre-life* perspective:  From my point of the view the world is not what it once was.  The hardest part about this realization is recognizing that while my life will never be the same again, others lives continue unaffected.  When something so fundamentally changes you, it is only natural to expect that this change applies to everyone.  That is the irony of perspective… one’s world can change completely while the world itself doesn’t really change.

Typically,  a change in one person’s perspective usually has no bearing on another’s.  Take our story for example;  many people read about what happened to Rees and countless people offered their condolences, but at the end of the day Rees’ passing merely represented a sad story, perhaps a cautionary tale, and most likely not much more.  By itself, Rees’ death had no tangible effect on other people because he was never a part of their lives in the first place.  Since Rees was not their child there was no personal loss for them to feel.  From the outsider’s perspective our Son’s death is a realization of the primal fear every parent has about losing a child and a brief reminder of life’s fragility – but it’s not personal.  The outsider is merely a spectator, an audience member watching the real life performance of a tragedy.

Unfortunately, my wife and I are not the spectators of this tragedy.  Rather, we are it’s lead roles.  Our perspective has us looking out on an audience who see us briefly, but inevitably return to their lives. The audience, hopefully, will never know what it is like to see the world from our perspective.  For us, the curtain never closes, the story never ends.  For Sam and I the loss is an indelible  fixture in our lives; permanent, unyielding and horrifyingly real.  Others can only imagine our loss, but since it did not happen to them, their perspective remains fixed.  In our new perspective, the play that is our lives runs perpetually, long after the audience has left.

Therein lies my greatest fear… the audience leaving while our curtain is still up.  While our play, our perspective, will never end, the audience may vacate their seats eventually to move on to the next production that garners their attention.  What do we do then?  The obvious answer might seem to be to close down the production, accepting that our message is not without limits and has an expiration date.  In this scenario we go quietly into that good night, accepting that we cannot change someone’s perspective of the world…

Or, we can do something else entirely:  Change the world itself.  We can shift the frame of reference so that people’s perspectives are forced to move with it.  Our world may outwardly appear to be too complex, too corrupt and too rooted in its ways to change, but that is all really just a matter of perspective.  When we only look at things from our own, singular perspective we are but a single piece incapable of affecting much change.  If we shift our frame of reference to the power of the collective, what was seen as singularly insignificant becomes pieces of an indomitable whole.  I am not looking to change people’s perspective – that is impossible.  I am looking to change the WORLD – and that we CAN do.  Together we can make the world a better place…one piece at a time – all it takes is a little perspective.

 

 

 

Every day in the record of my life since October 27th, 2012 has an asterisk next to it.  There is not a evening  that passes where I do not think about what that day would have been like if Rees were a part of it.  I constantly find myself qualifying each day as “this is as good as it can be, considering my little boy is no longer here”.   This asterisk follows me constantly.  I can no more outrun, or hide from it anymore than one can hide from their shadow on a sunny day.  I see the asterisk in my wife’s eyes when she smiles.  I see the asterisk is my Daughters’  eyes when they act out in frustration.  The asterisk punctuates every major milestone we celebrate and accentuates the most trying of times.  I loved my life before it became my life*.

I wish removing the asterisk to my life was a simple as it is typing it here and then simply hitting delete.  If only I could hit the delete button and remove that asterisk on my life*.  Unfortunately, I cannot.  In life (or life*) there is no editor, no whiteout to correct the mistakes in the narrative.  Life perpetually moves forward, with the past firmly cemented in place, impossible to revise.  The past cannot be changed, but the future is a different story all together…

The future represents everything the past is not:  Uncertain, ever in flux and completely open to any narrative we wish to apply, yet always beholden to its genesis .  The very nature of the relationship between the past and future gives it an interesting dichotomy:  while always yielding to the past, it never ends and promises something new – in perpetuity, so long as we allow it to.  The future is ours for the taking, and we have the power to shape it.  The events of the past have made my life* what it is now, but the future is mine to create.  I realize that asterisk will always be there, but I prefer to see that asterisk for what it is… the past.  I cannot erase it and I cannot change it, but I can learn from it to ensure a better future.  I choose to use that asterisk to shape my future in a way that I choose, learning from it, growing from it and becoming a better person from it.   In my past life I lost my little boy.  In the present, and the future, I gained ReesSpecht for life… asterisks and all.

rees' pieces(small)

It is a unique experience to devote your life to something that has the greatest meaning to you and, in many cases, merely catches the eye of other people. I believe that any parent can relate to this feeling as it is much like having a child… to you that child means the world – and to others, especially those not related to you, that child’s importance in those individual’s lives is not even remotely commensurate with your feeling toward them.

This is precisely the feeling I have with ReesSpecht Life: it is our baby that means the world to us, but represents an intriguing distraction to others, but does not have remotely the same importance to them. My fear is that once another distraction comes along those who do not share our attachment to the cause will simply forget us (and my boy by association). The fear of loss is eerily similar to the protective fear every parent has for their children. This fear is of course compounded by the fact I have already felt the immeasurable loss of my little boy. I don’t want to lose this, but the grim reality that we can, and do, lose the things we love the most is always there in my mind.

I am painfully aware that all the care and preparation one can take can never guarantee the safety of the things we hold most dear. At this point I could allow my fears to overtake me and give up… or I can do what I have done since we lost Rees: take the obstacles that life has thrown at me and grow from them. I choose the latter.  I realize that the likes on our facebook page have slowed to a trickle, but the optimist in me also notes that the weather outside is getting nicer and people are less likely to be on their computers right now.  I fully expect us to continue our growth and I will continue to spread this message: even if I represent the last Rees’ piece.  My Boy left me with a mission.  I am not stopping, I am not giving up.  He would expect nothing less, and now, neither will I.  ReesSpecht Life.