Tonight, I am writing with an astonished, grateful, and humble spirit. Since my last post, C and I have been actively working on our acts of kindness, and I’ve also attending one of the most motivational and inspiring events since J’s death. In an effort to consolidate, but still update you as much as possible, I plan to write about both in this post. So, let me walk you through my life since my last post.
To start, I was surprised, to say the very least, at the amount of views, reads, clicks, shares, and overall support and encouragement I received about my last post. I simply thought I was sharing with you our lives; however, you all taught me otherwise. When I had the dream about creating a service organization or group, I really thought it could never happen. That I would never receive the support I needed, or that the support would eventually fizzle out. Believe me, I stand before you all humbly corrected. You all are AZAMAZING! I sincerely thank you for believing in my cause, in J’s memory, in your community, but most of all, thank you for believing in and supporting the sacrifice law enforcement families make daily.
After C and I visited the hospital and were truly touched by the level of support and prayers we still receive from the selfless nurses and caretakers, I began to brainstorm about other acts of kindness C and I could do. It’s all my English teacher nerdy brain could think about! It’s addicting, in a positive way! I know each of you want to be a part of this journey, so here we go!
We donated books to C’s school. In an effort to keep our personal lives as personal as possible, I will tell you that his teacher, Mrs. N is more than deserving of this honor. I have watched as my math and science brained child began to foster a love for reading. He began to believe in his own ability, and he now constantly tries to sound out words. Today, he received a sticker for “taking his time on his sight words.” Might I add, this is our first sticker for this! As a teacher, I know how important it is to offer parental support to our teachers. To remind them of their importance, and to continue to encourage them. She teaches my baby like he is her own, and for that and so much more, we are truly grateful. It seemed fitting that I continue to try to evoke a love of reading in all of C’s classmates!
Raising a generous young man was a goal of our parenting team even before C’s birth. And, anytime we can encourage any of C’s friends to have that same spirit, we jump on that chance. C and one of his friends were schooled in “How to Become a Gentleman 101.” These young boys opened doors for people at Crackerbarrel and Tamolly’s. We watched as our young boys learned about manners, welcomed diversity, and exhibited overall generosity. The boys told people to “have a good night,” and to “enjoy their dinner.” While it only lasted about 20 minutes, remember we are working with 5 year old attention spans here, I can assure you that this mother’s heart was simply a melted mess at the end of that 20 minutes. I’m always amazed at C’s sincerity and kindness. And while some of that is fostered by parenting, a great deal of that is inherited. It is a blessing to watch your son impact people’s lives on what seems like such a small level; however, I know this act and others like it, are just the start of a lifetime of service and therefore fulfillment in C’s life.
Given the events of our lives in the past 5 months, sometimes C and I just need to get away. Last Saturday was one of those days. It had officially been 5 months since J’s death, and while that seems surreal to me that is has been 5 months, it also seems surreal that it has ONLY been 5 months. Here we go with the paradoxes again! However, C wanted to visit the Air Force base in Shreveport. J loved anything flight related, especially when it involved the military, and C is just like his daddy. After we spent a few hours reading every sign imaginable about airplanes, we went shopping. C wanted to “Build a bear.” While there, I noticed a sign for Toys for Tots. C was more than excited and willing to get to build two animals. He “breathed life” into both of them. And then he wanted to pray for the child who would receive the bunny he built. He prayed that it would bring the kid happiness. Again, this resulted in a mother’s melted heart.
While I would love to involve C in every one of the acts, it’s nearly impossible considering his school schedule; therefore, sometimes I have to act alone. Afterwards, he and I always talk about how I felt while fulfilling the act. Two of my dearest and possibly oldest (of course meaning years of friendship, not biological age) friends are due to receive some very important and exciting news in the coming weeks. They have worked extremely hard at earning the honor of a National Board Certified teacher. For those of you who aren’t in the education world, let’s just say, they might as well be earning two Master’s degrees for the amount of hours, work, and reflection they have put into earning this recognition. J knew both of these women, and thought highly of each of them. These ladies have been with me since our nerdy days as English majors at Henderson, and while I would LOVE to be there in person when they receive what I’m sure will be positive news, the reality is I simply can’t. So, today, J and I were there in spirit when the florist delivered them good luck flowers. I’ve tried really hard to touch as many lives as possible in our community by our acts, but sometimes, our dearest friends need to be reminded just how special they are! Thank you for investing in our future generations by furthering your own education, comfort zones, and abilities as teachers! Love you beautiful ladies!
C’s school has been discussing the meaning of Thanksgiving and being thankful. And, while this holiday season will most definitely be difficult, it is still not an excuse for us to forget to give thanks. Today, we donated food to a local food bank. C and I discussed how we have a responsibility and expectation from God to take care of those who need it, just as our community overwhelmingly supported us in our time of need. We talked about returning the blessing. After I donated the food, C and I talked about how nice it will be for other families to get to have a wonderful Thanksgiving meal just like we are going to. C was excited because I bought sweet peas. He said, “that’s one of daddy’s favorites. I bet he eats that in heaven for Thanksgiving.” Again…my heart melts.
We created a thank you package for our local mail carrier. C was more than excited to try to fit the package into the mailbox. Let’s just remember that I’m an English teacher, not an Engineering major. I picked the items because they were cute, not because they would fit into a mailbox. Luckily, God granted me an engineering minded son. He made it work, and the cute bag was only slightly crinkled. He reminded me, that the cute bag wasn’t the important part. And, here I stand corrected. He, my 5 year old, is right. The bag isn’t the important part.
Today, one of my dreams came true. Today, because of Texarkana Funeral Home, I got the chance to begin investing in the education of our future generations, and therefore investing in our community as well. As a teacher, I have invested in the education of our future generations for years. However, today, I was privileged to be able to take my outreach one step further. This morning when I walked into Texarkana College, I was overwhelmed at the level of community, department, school, and overall support our cause received. As the President of Texarkana College spoke about J’s legacy, and our vision for the scholarship, it was difficult to control my emotions. This morning felt like a dream to me. I’ve wanted this for so long, and it is finally coming true. Again, I’m surprised by all of the support we have received. Texarkana Funeral Home donated 6,000 dollars to start the fund, and before 3:30 today, we had another 3,500 dollars donated. This additional amount includes donations made by the local Police Association, the Texarkana College President himself, and the President of the Texarkana College Board of Directors. I am writing this post tonight truly humbled that all of these people would believe and back my dream. That they would understand the need to support young people who are embarking on a criminal justice related field. I am excited that The Pink Behind The Thin Blue Line is able to spread the word about the amount of courage it takes for each of these young men and women to announce their intent to be employed in the criminal justice field. Often times this decision results in alienation of many of their friends and family members, and as a teacher and officer’s wife, I am more than happy to continue to encourage them to pursue this field. I am impressed at their courage and dedication. They are being taught by a man who truly believes in the ability of his students and in the life of service they are intending to lead. The education field needs more people like Stephen Gass – teachers who truly believe in the ability of their students to change the world, and who willingly give of themselves to ensure that their students have the tools they need in order to help our community.
Throughout the presentation and reception numerous people thanked me for choosing the criminal justice program at Texarkana College; however, given J’s dedication to his community and his own life of service, I couldn’t think of a better place to invest! Today, as so many people gathered to officially begin this scholarship, I know that J is beyond proud of the work WE are doing. I’m not alone in all of this. You all, the community, my dearest friends, my family, and my colleagues, you are my cheering section. You are who believe in me, and you are who encouraged me to fulfill this dream.
For those of you who frequently read my posts, you know I have discussed J’s wish for me not to ever lose my life if he were to ever lose his. Today, in the lobby of Texarkana College, and later on in a conversation with two amazing ladies who serve daily as TTPD officers, I once again received validation that I have indeed not lost my life. That I am healing myself by investing in our community and its future generations. And most importantly, that I am teaching our son to do the same.
Sometimes a life of service can leave a person feeling lonely, as if no one notices his or her contribution. But a person who is truly dedicated to service pushes through those dark days and continues his/her whether or not he/she has validation to do so because they are CHOOSING to serve. C and I would continue to CHOOSE to serve even without your validation and support because it is how we walk our own thin blue line; however, I must tell you Texarkana, you sure know how to make a girl believe in her dreams. And you are such a vital part of keeping J’s memory alive!
A special thanks to Texarkana College for allowing me to continue my dream of investing in our community and for allowing me to keep J’s memory alive. As well as a special thanks to Texarkana Funeral Home for not only donating the money to start the scholarship fund, but also for selflessly donating J’s funeral and services. I know that neither the college nor the funeral home expects to be formally thanked for their contributions in honor J’s sacrifice, but they are most deserving! People ask me all the time why I have chosen to stay here, tonight my support group, you have read many of the reasons! We are home!
If you would like to donate to the Officer Jason Sprague Memorial Scholarship, please contact the Texarkana College Foundation at 903-823-3125. Please feel free to view the following stories written about today. Just remember I write well, but interview horribly on camera!
Also, many of you are anxiously awaiting information on how to help our efforts with The Pink Behind The Thin Blue Line. I am currently reading tax laws, and looking for a meeting place. Until then, I encourage you and your family to find your own acts of kindness to fulfill!