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.
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.