Saturday, January 17, 2009

Denise Amber Lee Tribute 1/17/2009

Gosh, I hesitate to even write about the tribute. It was that moving.

My best memory of the day? Was feeling a solidarity with Sue (Denise's mom). We've been through a lot together this past year in jockeying the boys back and forth in an effort to help Nathan. But today was the first tribute, memorial, service (whatever you want to call it) where we actually got to sit next to each other. I got to hold Sue's hand briefly during the tribute. This will sound silly to her, I'm sure, but it was such an honor. I mean, here we are, two very different people but still bonded in such a way because of the grandbabies.

And, today, the Sun-Herald quoted Rick (Denise's dad) and I felt a certain solidarity with him. Because, I too, think of Denise when I wake up. I think of Denise when I go to bed. And I think of Denise when I drive around during the day whether it's going to the store and leaving work. I think of Denise 24/7.

Some people think we need to move on. It was said a little today. But, as I've posted before, it's just not that easy. Believe me! I wish it were! I know Denise wouldn't want us to be unhappy! Denise is the last person in this world or the next who would want us to be unhappy!

Today did mark many happy things. I couldn't believe the support of so many people. All the new friends, all the old friends, and family came out that we weren't expecting.

Bobbie and Donna, I can't tell you how very VERY much your presence there meant to Mark, Mom and me. You know I don't have any family down here and Mark and Mom are it for them. So, your presence brought such comfort and meant more than mere words in a blog can say.

Nancy! Geez, thank you. So many people. So much love.

I got to meet the Teehee family today. That, too, was an honor. I very much look forward to getting to know them better. I was emotionally only ready to talk to Carol and Tab. I wasn't able to embrace the children. I don't know why. It was just too much to take in for me. Meeting Carol and Tab was special. The pain mirrored. You just hate to see others experiencing such pain. I think it was there oldest boy, I'm not sure, but as I walked away from their family the last time (it was difficult to part from them) I looked into the eyes of the one boy and saw some of the pain I see in Nathan's eyes.

I got to meet Jane Kowalski for a second time. Gosh, she's quite a lady. I really like her. I love her and honor her for what she did for Denise. But I really like her, just as a person. She's seems to be the type of person I could be good friends with. She has character and strength. She has a grace about her. Plus, I really like her new haircut. It was cute and I think it's a haircut I could get away with. It didn't look like it was too much work but it was attractive. Hey! Now that's a good sign of healing. I'm thinking about hairdos! I feel like that Virginia Slims commercial (without the cigarette) "you've come a long way, baby!"

My friends from POMC. Gosh, yes, I promise to be there Wednesday. {{HUGS}} to Cathy. You, too, Dan.

Also, there were the many angels in blue. Okay, here I'm tearring up. And they are angels of blue. Denise would've have fit in perfectly with these ladies. Most of them are young North Port and Port Charlotte moms with gentle souls. They remind me of when I was a young Hampstead mom in Maryland. Their kids are mostly the ages Brian and Nathan were before we moved. So, I understand their kinship to each other and how dependent they are on one another for support. What a fun time. I've finally gotten to the point where I can remember ALL their names and some of their husbands names (Yes, Meri, I remember it's Tom, for how long I'll remember I don't know) but I can't even begin to remember all the kids names. I wish I could because those kids are out there wearing Denise's blue shirts with pride! They are really into this. How wonderful it that?

Oh, I could go on. We've met so many interesting, wonderful people. Nate has so much support. Gosh, I'm just Denise's mother-in-law and look at the support they give me! I honestly don't know where we would be without them, especially the angels in blue.

Nate, I was very proud of you today. I know it was difficult. I could see your struggle and your pain. I guess, being your mom, I feel it instinctively.

But! I could also see your passion and your drive. Gosh! I hadn't seen you like that since you were the catcher for Lemon Bay. You are super serious about this. You're driven. And, yes, you really should go into some kind of public service. You care! And people see it. People feel it! Yes, I definitely public office in your future. You've got the compassion and the integrity needed to do good things. And what better place than North Port! What a fantastic community.

I know, Nate how much you want to be happy. I know how much you want those babies to be happy. Dad and I promise to try and get out of this funk we're in. We promise to make that effort. Maybe once we're out of this house. It's a heavy weight on your dad's shoulders. And mine.

I wish Brian could've been here today. I missed him so much. You two, really do need to get together more often. I know he misses you and wants to help in anyway he can.

I loved the way you expressed your love to the Goffs. I know how much they mean to you and I know how much Rick has been like a father to you. Didn't Amanda look beautiful today? It was so good to see Alecia. And, Tyler, he's getting too big for me to hug but he puts up with me anyway.

Aside to Amy: I haven't forgotten you. But, I simply can't find the words to express how much your friendship has meant to me.

It's absolutely surreal, that it took losing Denise, to find all these wonderful people. We've learned truly how wonderful North Port and Port Charlotte are. We ALWAYS made fun of North Port and Port Charlotte but your two communities have been simply awesome.

Okay! I'm sure I missed a whole bunch of people (like Kim and Jerry). I tell you the turn out was awesome. Even the police departments, fire departments, etc.... Oddly, no one from the CCSO came and I don't know why.

Anyhow, to get on with the service. It was BEAUTIFUL! It was in front of city hall and just gorgeous weather. Not too hot and not too cold. Scott Smith from the North Port Police Department opened the ceremony by playing "Amazing Grace" on the bagpipes! WOW! Pastor Dave from our church (Englewood United Methodist Church) said a prayer and introduced Nathan. Nathan spoke well. He always does. Dave Dignam, oh gosh, he spoke. He actually wrote a letter to Denise. It was beautiful. I know it sounds morbid but I find nothing wrong with writing letters to those who have passed before us. State Representatives Paige Kreegel and Ken Roberson spoke. I had met Paige before and he's been wonderful to Nate. But I hadn't met Ken Roberson. Was I impressed! He's definitely on our side and spoke very strongly about improving 9-1-1. He was very passionate. I meant to speak to him afterwards but wasn't able to. I wish I had. Thank you, Representatives Kreegel and Roberson.

A young man from South Biscayne Baptist Church sang "I Can Only Imagine". Oh my! I don't know what was more moving. That or the bagpipes. At the close, Kim Perkins, (I'm not sure where she's from but I believe she sang at the memorial a year ago, not sure, I was numb) sang the Lord's Prayer. All were extraordinarily moving. It's difficult to describe in words. I'm not a writer.

Sadly, Mr Witz, who I believe is an exceptional writer wasn't there. He was memorializing his grandmother who he lost over Christmas. He could write about this much better than I. I can only describe my thoughts.

Chief Terry Lewis spoke for a few minutes. You can feel his emotion when he speaks about Denise and our families. This has truly effected him. He's been phenomenally supportive of our family. He's always there to answer a question. He helped me seek a therapist. He's helped Nathan in countless ways. This man definitely takes his job to heart and has true compassion. It emanates from him.

I have to say Pastor Dave (Baldridge) was the same way. His compassion just emanated. You can see he loves the children.

I can't say enough about City Commissioner, David Garofalo. I will do him the honor of spelling his name right from now on. David, if you're reading this, please know how much I appreciate your confidence and devotion to the foundation. You are truly a person I would love my sons and grandsons to emulate. YOU have a wonderful heart.

Actually, having said that, I don't believe there's a person I haven't mentioned that I wouldn't be proud to have my children or grandchildren emulate. They are all truly good people.

Denise, look at the impact you've made on so many people. You were one very VERY special lady. I'll always love you and I'll always miss you.