Cookin', Critters and Chillun

Hugs help the hurting

Editor’s note: This column was first published March 2, 2006.

He was our firstborn, who taught us everything from how to diaper a baby boy quickly, to the finer points of soccer.

We watched him develop from a child to a teenager and then into the responsible and caring young man we had raised him to be. And along the way, we learned the hardest lesson of all, to love him and let him go.

Last week we remembered the life of our first-born, Rex, who died Feb. 17 in Virginia Beach where he lived and worked. We wanted his memorial service to be a celebration of his life, and it was. There must have been 250 people in St. John’s Episcopal in Lynchburg where Rex was baptized and was an acolyte.

They were Salem, and Amherst County and Lynchburg people, some we hadn’t seen in 20 years. Rex’s Sunday school teachers were there and 30 or so young people who worked with him at restaurants from Lynchburg to California to Virginia Beach.

They came by to tell his daddy and me that Rex gave them their start in the restaurant business, or trained them to work at Outback, or loaned them money or gave them rides.

We got together with some of them afterward at the Big Lick Tropical Grill, where Rex used to go after getting off work and where he and his girlfriend Leah met. One set of Rex’s godparents came from the Atlanta area and spent part of the weekend, too. They and our family and Ali, a friend of Meredith who lives in Lexington, scattered some of Rex’s ashes in one of his favorite places in Lynchburg. Others will go back to Virginia Beach.

Rex will go to Puerto Rico with our daughter Meredith and husband Frederick this weekend. We’ll take some of his ashes to South Africa in December. Other friends are taking him to Hawaii. Who knows where his sister Haley will take him. Rex always wanted to travel more. Now he will.

In our loss, we added to our family. We gained another daughter, Leah, and Rex’s good friend Robin and her baby, Lennon.

So many people have said to us, “I don’t know the words to say.” Who does? You don’t have to say anything profound. Just let grieving people know you are thinking of them. Hugs help, too. For all those who have hugged us, fed us, sent flowers and cards, made calls, swept the floor, washed the dishes, cried with us and especially, laughed with us, thank you. You comforted us.

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