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September 2019

If You Didn’t Know Luke Inwood, I Feel Bad For You…

There were many beautiful and complex sides to Luke Inwood and I am one of the lucky ones that got to know them. My friendship with Luke started freshman year of high school. I had heard of him throughout Middle School through his friendship with Paige Pellerin and Laura Fahey, and most importantly through his relationship with Fran- and now I was finally able to put a face to all the stories. He was goofy, outrageous, and absolutely absurd- more than the stories ever did him justice. 

When I think of him, the same few memories replay in my head. I think of the time him and Eric showed up to my work unexpectedly and pushed each other around in a shopping cart until my boss made me kick them out. I think of the time he came up to me and my high school boyfriend in the hall and asked me where my real boyfriend was (referring to one of my good friends). I think of the time he changed my foreign exchange student’s settings on COD so that he would win against him because it was too hard to play. I think of the time we tried throwing a football back and forth to each other while driving side by side and him laughing so loud while doing it. I think of playing guitar hero in his basement and him pointing out the chalice he bought on Black Friday. At the same time, I think about him making me go pick out the prettiest flowers with him so that he could attempt to win Fran back. I think about him worrying about if he wrote the right words in a letter to her . I also think about him always hugging me back when I passed him in the hall, even when he seemed too embarrassed to. 

I think these are the memories I remember most because they are what made Luke so extraordinary. He was the biggest jackass I have ever met, but he was also the biggest sweetheart. He brought so many people together and always made everyone laugh. When I think of my favorite memories in high school, I always circle back to ping-pong nights at his house or parties at Thad’s. Everyone was there and everyone was happy. 

As I sit here and type this while making sure the font is Times New Roman and size 12, I laugh thinking about how Luke got through a school year without a backpack. He did not stress the little things or take much seriously. That is something I have always admired about him. If you did not get to know the sides to Luke Inwood, I feel bad for you. And if you did, my heart breaks for you. Luke was one of a kind and his loss is one that no amount of days or years could ever heal. My heart is and will always be with his closest friends in the Rutland crew and Luke’s family. Love you always KING.


My thanks to Miss Toni for sharing her Luke with all of us. We love you, Princess XXX

The Rise and Fall

And The Oscar Goes To…

It was the Thursday before we were to leave for Canada for the White Wedding. The sun was already beginning its descent down over the trees making long shadows across the pond. I was at the cemetery. The conversation went a little like this.

“Lukester, buddy, I love you, but I am headed up to Canada tomorrow and I am going to do my best to not think about you for the next few days. You see, a wedding is a happy occasion and I have to support the family and do that whole MC thing and no one wants me bringing things down if I get sentimental. Sigh. So. Yeah. Wish me luck with that.”

I blew him a kiss and headed out. And for the next 72 hours I tucked Luke away in my heart and hit delete any time my thoughts turned to him. He snuck out once as I gave my speech to the newleyweds because Jacob is so good about texting me on hard days, but other than that I was busy enough and surrounded by tons of happy to make it through. And let’s be honest, I was trying here.

Because that’s the truth of it, friends. Getting up everyday and putting our grief aside so that we can function like the rest of the world requires a marathon of effort. And damn fine acting skills. This fact hit me square in the head this past weekend. As I cheerleadered (I know, Chuck, this is not a word and yet this is what I did lol) myself through the weekend – You can do this, Patty. Happy thoughts only, Patty. Meryl Streep has nothing on you, Patty, lol – I realized something: There are people all around us putting on a brave face and going through the day when all they want to do is sit in a corner and cry. But we forget what loss people are carrying, don’t we, as time goes on, and they fool us by appearing so together. I observed my co-workers this week with fresh eyes and I was in awe at the strength each of them displays as they come to school appearing to be positive and in the best of spirits despite the missing. Because it doesn’t matter how long it has been – when you lose someone you love, you think about them every day. So to Bill, and Beth-Anne, and Jessica, and Bev, and Tara, and Lorraine, and all the others at my work place who make their way through the day without a loved one… you are my heroes and my inspiration. All of you out there! If you are getting up and getting on, bravo!

So here’s what I need you to know: There’s an old expression that says, “Be Kind for everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” As the young people like to say- this is Facts. This weekend in Canada was my reminder that we need to be gentle and accepting of one another.

So here is how my story ends: After the long eight hour drive home, I pulled JLO (that’s what I call my 4Runner) in to the cemetery and circled round to the back. I walked over to where my boy rests easy, knelt down on the ground, and I wailed. I let out all the emotion and love and missing that I had been holding onto out into the world. I thought about how much I missed him at the wedding. I thought about how he would never be married. I thought about all the dreams for him that were never going to come true. And then the next morning I got up, put a smile on my face and went to school. Because isn’t that just what we grievers do? I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille.

I need you to know

Mr. & Mrs. White

Some days your heart is just so full of love you want to BURST! This is me after a whirlwind trip to Canada for my nephew, Jacob and his gorgeous gal, Jaime. It was a perfect weekend surrounded by just the best family and friends. My sister and her husband, the incomparable Janet and Bill, were spectacular hosts and the wedding went off without a hitch. I may or may not have been the Master of Ceremonies, lol, an honor that I will always appreciate.

I think the biggest moment of the wedding for me came during the last speech at the reception. Jaime and Jacob were addressing the crowd and thanking all the people that had come together to make their day so special. The two were passing a phone between them, hello 2019! lol, and as Jacob went to take his turn, he told me later he saw Jaime’s name on the notes and was immediately overcome with the emotion of the day. Now Jacob is always very level and composed and to see this sincere expression of pure love, well, I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house.

So here’s what I need you to know: Sometimes, in the darkness of the hard times in our lives, we lose sight of the love. The love of our partner, the love of our children, the love of our parents and siblings, the love of all our friends. As I sat looking around the reception room at all the faces just so happy for the newlyweds it struck me – We are each held dear in SO many hearts! I am, you are, we all are! We are all supported by our own personal community of caring. And how fortunate for that!! The key is to remind ourselves of this truth when we have a hard day. When the struggle is real, remember YOU ARE LOVED.

I know we all wish Jaime and Jacob much happiness as they start their journey together. And don’t forget the secret to a good marriage. 😉 Congratulations, my lovelies! Xxx

Things that help

Dear Patty….

Dear Patty….. John says it sounds awfully close to Dear Abby and that I should start my own advice column. lol. It is true that I am the recipient of a multitude of questions about raising hard kids, suicide and all that one word encompasses, surviving the death of a child, and grief, in general. That my life experiences have put me in this position is in no way a blessing, but I do my best to share what I know in the hopes that it will make someone else’s journey just a little easier. But who am I to talk, you might ask? After all, my story doesn’t have a happy ending.

The other day a friend was sharing with me the struggles she was having with her teenage daughter. This girl’s school and social life are spiralling downward at the moment and this momma is pulling her hair out over what to do. I have known this young lovely since she was nine and knew her path might not be a smooth one, but it was when her momma talked about how she felt her daughter’s teachers had written her off as “difficult” and she compared her to my own Luke Inwood that my heart broke. I can see it, you know. The fear and worry in a person’s eyes that their child might end up like mine.

I don’t consider myself an expert at anything, especially not raising kids. But after 22 years spent engaged in the act of child-rearing, or, if you prefer, 8,030 days which is also 192,720 hours, I’d like to think I’ve experienced a thing or two. Think about what an incredible soccer player I would be if I had spent that much time at the sport! Doesn’t that transfer over to parenting as well? Surely 192,720 hours have made me better today than I was that first day. lol I think this argument also follows for life. After 52 years on the planet I like to pretend I’m a little more wise than my young lovelies, at least. Respect your elders! lol A little time at something such as raising children or grief might not make you an expert, but it should garner you some insight.

Truth be told, I really don’t care for the term *advice*. Advice – guidance or recommendations offered with regard to future actions – thank you Internet dictionary! – I believe has this connotation of not being asked for. How many times have you heard, “Can I give you some advice?” You almost always want to say NOPE. So I like this idea that we *share* experiences with one another. You come to me sharing what you are going through at the moment and I share back my own story that relates to your challenge. It is the connection, the feeling of being heard, the understanding that someone else gets what you are going through, that is more valuable than another person’s sage words to be put into action. When life is hard, and life is HARD, friends, pick someone you love or admire or respect and talk to them about what’s up in your world. Every trouble is more easily carried by two sets of shoulders. Truth.

So here’s what I need you to know: Who am I to talk? I’ll tell you. It’s as simple as I am human. A living, breathing, feeling human being who is simply trying her best every. single. day. Just like you. We ALL have something to share. Your words are just as valuable as mine. I don’t have the top ten tricks to raising a remarkable adult. I don’t have a magic pill to make the heartache around losing a child, or any loved one, go away. I especially don’t have Super Glasses that you can put on that allow you to see everything your child is keeping to themselves – especially their hurt and their fears – that might stop their future suicide. Oh, if I could only have those. I am just Miss Patty. But I have ears to listen, a shoulder to cry on, arms to hug, a heart to love. And one heck of a story. Here if you need me. Xxx

I need you to know

Antonia

Writing about the kiddos that loved Luke can be a tearful experience for me for so many reasons: My gratitude, as a momma, for their relationship with Luke and the joy that it gave to him knows no bounds. The way these young adults both individually and collectively have helped John and I heal after the loss of our son can’t even be adequately expressed. And the love we now carry for ALL of them has expanded my heart after losing Luke left such a gaping hole. I often remark that these kiddos won’t fully understand the role they have played for John and I until they have children of their own and can grasp the magnitude of our loss. Maybe then they will understand that their friendship and love helps our Luke to live on.

I really shouldn’t cry when I write about Antonia because her spirit is so Bright and Joyful. Toni walks into a room and the energy shifts and lifts. Despite being an incredibly driven and accomplished young woman, she doesn’t take life, or herself, too seriously. A beautiful girl who is also FUNNY? No wonder Luke Inwood thought she was the best. 🙂

Following Luke’s death a few of his friends came by regularly and it was then that my relationship with Toni began. I have the best memories of that first summer and late nights in the screened-in porch, curled up on the daybed and giggling as we got to learn more about each other. I loved the way she made fun of herself and the kiddos that would inevitably be around her. Her wit is just so dang quick! She gave that Billy and Eric a run for their money lol and there is definitely a reason she was voted Funniest Kid by her peers Senior year.

Classic Toni 🙂

When you meet Toni you instantly see her beauty and the twinkle in her eye, but what you don’t see is how smart she is. This young lady SOARED through high school and went on to major in MATH. My kind of girl! Toni has made all the right choices and earned herself a degree in accounting that landed her a job even before she finished college. Pretty, funny, AND smart? How does this get any better you are wondering? Well, it does. One of Toni’s best qualities is her love and dedication to her family. The entire time I have known her she has been working and supporting her momma’s brand new restaurant. Every weekend. While going to school. While working an internship. I get tired just THINKING about the discipline this requires lol, but she has NEVER once complained. Not a word. She really is the whole damn package.

I can’t speak much to Toni’s relationship with Luke but I do know it was based on giggles. lol. Toni has commented often about how much Luke lived to make every one around him smile. Tell me that piece of information doesn’t make a momma’s heart happy. Sigh. I can speak to my relationship with Miss Antonia. In true Toni fashion, this girl looked into my eyes and my heart when we met and knew I needed her. And here she has stayed. She texts me and teases me and sends me hysterical pictures and videos. I think that first year after Luke died she may have contacted me every day. She lets me talk about my boy as much as I need. She is my biggest champion and is always telling me how amazing and strong she thinks I am. She asks about my students and Hope Lives Here and has a pretend crush on Logan that makes him cringe and me laugh. John Inwood thinks she is one of the most special human beings he has ever met and that, my friends, is saying something.

So here’s what I need you to know, My Queen: In those moments when I wonder who Luke was when I couldn’t see him, I think to myself, if he was besties and loved by someone as incredible as Toni Cowan, he must have been a good man. Knowing how difficult his days at school were, it gives me comfort to know you helped to make him happy. And you have made me happy. And John. When you show up on our doorstep and share the goings on in your life, we feel a little bit more normal and like our old selves. We are so proud of the young woman you have become and we are thrilled that the Universe is giving you all that you deserve: success at home and at work; the love of friends and one very handsome young sir. You will be happy to know I am SOBBING here. lol I love you, Toni. Xxx

*Our song* Toni and I share of love of music and in the fall of 2015 we went to see James Bay together. She can lip sync the hell out of this tune, lol.

The Rise and Fall