I grew up in the middle of nowhere.
You know the Cheers song, “Where Everybody Knows Your Name”? That’s my town. Everybody knows you, your parents, and your grandparents. They know your high school sports records, if you graduated with honors or not, any kind of trouble you got into and the list goes on.
My town consists of about 3,700 people. So it’s quite small. We have one grocery store that it isn’t open on Sundays. We have 6 stoplights and during planting and harvest season, it is inevitable that you’ll get stopped in ‘traffic’ behind a red or green tractor. And for the times we want to catch a movie or make a run to Target, it’s about a 40 minute drive…
But it’s the kind of place where everyone waves and smiles at each other as they pass you on the street and they ask you how your grandma has been doing since her surgery.
I grew up in this place and I am blessed to live here. I have moved around and lived in various places in the United States, but I never felt as ‘at home’ like I do here. My husband and I moved to Georgia after we were married and never felt that sense of community like we did back home. Two years ago my father asked Drew to come back and join him at our family business. Although we would miss the winters in Georgia, we came back to the community where we knew we always belonged.
In my small town, my family owns a funeral home and others in surrounding areas. It’s a generational business. My grandfather owed it and it has passed to my dad and it will eventually change over to my husband and my brother. My family works incredibly hard to serve the families of our community and honor their loved ones during the hardest times of their lives.
When Jonah died, Drew and I talked that we wanted a service for him. Mostly, to help us grieve and honor Jonah. But we also wanted our community to know about the horribly, sad thing that happened to Jonah and us. We had a funeral service for Jonah with a visitation a few hours before hand. So many people from our community came through the line to pay respect and offer their sympathy to our loss. It was amazing to see and feel the outpouring love during the darkest of all days. During that time a family friend said to us, “Your family has helped so many people and it is the communitys turn to help us.”
In the days, weeks and months since Jonah’s death, the more and more I have seen my community take those words into action and help Drew and me. I have received hundreds of cards, handwritten letters from other mothers about their angel babies, gifts, plates of cookies, neighbors mowing our lawn, flowers, phone calls, friends checking in and stopping over, text messages and the list goes on.
This is why I love living here and I am so glad that I do. My community has truly out done themselves. They have embraced and acknowledged my loss and that means the world to Drew and me.
I was so excited to see my son grow up in the town I grew up in. To see him go to school where I did, to play in the parks I did, and ride his bike on the same streets that I did.
Even though Jonah won’t get to do those things, I know that he is still loved by his community.
So I must end by saying, thank you. Thank you to my community who banded together and carried Drew and I during this storm. Thank you for endlessly giving us hope for the future when we feel so alone.
Thank you most of all for acknowledging my angel and honoring his life.
I love you all.
❤ Jonah’s Mommy