In Memory

13 Aug

Yesterday we attended Xander’s memorial.  It was a nice service, with a hopeful message and a lot of sweet memories shared between friends and family.  When they asked people who knew Xander to come forward and share, I really wanted to.  But each time I tried to stand up, my stomach lurched in such a way that I was pretty sure my attempt at speech would end with me running toward the nearest exit.  See, I have this unfortunate fate of possessing a digestive tract that is ever so closely linked with my emotional state, and sometimes when things aren’t easy, my body starts rejecting anything I eat.  It’s really annoying (though my trainer commented on Saturday that I look like I’ve lost weight… I guess that could be considered a benefit).  Anyway, had I been able, I would have said something like this…

Xander was my son’s best friend.  In fact, in the full version of the picture [on display at the memorial], his arm is around my son.  His arm was always around Koren.

Koren’s not a huge kid, so we were amused when he immediately picked the biggest kid in class to be his best buddy  – we figured if they grew up together we’d never have to worry about anybody picking on him.

When Koren started going to preschool with Xander, we had just moved back from Alaska.  He didn’t know anybody and was used to being in the same class as his older sister – so drop-offs in this new environment were hard.  Even on days he didn’t cling to my leg as I dropped him off, he would still walk slowly and timidly into the noisy cafeteria.  Until he saw Xander.  If Xander was there in the mornings, he and I both knew it was going to be alright.  He’d climb into a seat next to his newfound friend and start chatting.  His teachers picked up on this pretty quickly.  Pretty soon, we’d open the door to hear, “Xander, Koren’s here!” or “Koren, Xander’s over here!”

They were quite a pair, and brought out the silliness in each other.  Sometimes they would get in trouble together.  Jens or I would walk in to pick Koren up in the afternoon, to be told immediately that Koren had been reprimanded.

“I had to separate him and Xander,” his teacher would say.  “They were hugging too much.”
“They were… what?”
“They were hugging too much when they were supposed to be paying attention.”
“Oh.   … Ok.”

I’ll be honest, it’s kind of hard to make your kid apologize for being a distraction when you really just want to laugh at the fact that his crime was being affectionate.

I was always in a hurry to pick up Koren and get out of there (you know, us and our busy lives), but I frequently got roadblocked by a certain four-year-old with outstretched arms:

“Kowen’s Mom, gimme a hug!”

How can you say no to that?  Sometimes he wouldn’t even ask, he’d just plow into me when I wasn’t looking 🙂

When Xander got moved to a different preschool class, we saw that it affected Koren.  Not anything super dramatic, but I noticed that he was a little more subdued when I picked him up.  He told me several times how much he missed being in class with Xander.  He soon found a new little friend to hang out with in class, but always referred to her as “my best friend in Ms. Teresa’s class.”  Best Friend (without qualifications) was a title still reserved for Xander.

Tonight Koren wanted to look at pictures of his birthday party.  For every picture he flipped through that had Xander in it, he would say, “That’s my friend Xander who’s in Heaven,” or “There’s Xander.  He’s a hero.”

I want Koren to remember the special bond he shared with this remarkable boy.  I wish they had been able to grow up together, but I think that somehow Xander will continue to be with Koren in the years to come.  And every time we look at his pictures, read his story, or release ladybugs in his honor, I hope he feels the warmth of that friendship and remembers the loving boy he was so privileged to know.


 
  1. Melissa B

    August 13, 2012 at 9:29 pm

    What a beautiful tribute. Even if you couldn’t say it out loud, I know everyone felt it. 🙂

     
  2. Jenna D

    August 13, 2012 at 9:39 pm

    LOVE all of the sweet pics of Xander and Koren. Very hard to read your post without getting teary eyed. Hugs.

     
  3. Whitney G

    August 13, 2012 at 9:48 pm

    Such a beautiful sentiment.

     
  4. Sue E

    August 13, 2012 at 10:26 pm

    We’re dealing with family losses, too.

     
  5. Sue E

    August 13, 2012 at 10:27 pm

    Xander looks like he was ‘family’.

     
  6. Amy

    August 13, 2012 at 10:31 pm

    Sue, I’m sorry to hear that. Loss, even if “temporary” is a hard thing. Best of wishes to your family.

     
  7. Sue E

    August 14, 2012 at 12:17 am

    Thank you, Amy. It is a very tough day for us.

     
  8. Jessica B

    August 14, 2012 at 8:11 am

    Such sweet friends, thank u for sharing