what’s in a legacy, part 2

A book from the children's book drive, complete with a beautiful nameplate made by two lovely supporters.

A post from Jodi:

Timaree and I have been running ourselves ragged in our efforts to establish a lasting legacy for Caemon. These are labors of love and offer opportunities to see friends and family and share in our memories of him. It has been neat to see which parts of this project individuals are attracted to. Of course our English major/teacher friends have loved picking out books for the kids, as did we. This weekend will be spent in part sticking name plates into each of the books and sorting them. We have selected four Northern California children’s hospitals to receive book donations for children being treated for cancer (UCSF Benioff, Lucile Packard, UC Davis, and Oakland Children’s Hospital).

Jodi and Timaree with Steven Lee, Leukemia Survivor, at Caemon's Birthday Blood Drive
Jodi and Timaree with Steven Lee, Leukemia Survivor, at Caemon’s Birthday Blood Drive

The number of people and organizations who want to help us establish Caemon’s legacy stuns me. We have been asked to speak multiple times, and despite how difficult it is, we are honored to do so. I have to believe that these people will remember Caemon because we tell his story. These events weave us ever tighter into the web of the cancer community. We meet other parents and sometimes other patients and survivors; we mourn too many children.

Soon the Big Show (LLS Light the Night Walk) will be here. We will gather in downtown Santa Rosa to honor and remember all of the patients—survivors and angels—who have battled blood cancers. In fact, Caemon is the “Remembered Hero” for this event. We’ve spent months recruiting participants and raising money to fund leukemia research and support for patients and families like ours. We’re hoping for a big turnout. We anticipate seeing folks we haven’t seen in a while, some since Caemon’s memorial service. It’s going to be emotional, no doubt about it, but I’m eager to feel the love and support of the community that continues to hold us up and honor our fallen son. It will assure me that he is not forgotten and I haven’t failed him.

A dear friend gives life-saving blood on Caemon's birthday.
A dear friend gives life-saving blood on Caemon’s birthday.

His legacy is evolving, organic, and mutable. Independent efforts delight us, like the beautiful gesture a few have made to plant trees in his honor. Caemon adored trees, and it was a perfect homage. And, have I mentioned the musical piece a talented friend composed for Caemon? Well, words cannot do it justice, so I’ll have to ask the composer for a recording so you can hear it. These efforts don’t even have to be anything grand; every time a parent takes time to talk to a child about Caemon, his legacy grows.

But all this outward demonstration of our love, grief, and pain belies a basic truth. We, my wife and I, are shattered. The pieces of our lives as we once knew them are scattered at our feet, and the only way we know how to even begin to pick up those pieces is to metaphorically resurrect our son through our efforts. I feel closer to him when I’m picking out children’s books to donate; when I talk about him, I get to revel in the memory of who he was. This is selfish; I see that. I should donate books because kids in the hospital can enjoy them—period—not because it fills some emotional need to mother-by-proxy. Or am I really running myself ragged as one big procrastination technique?

His legacy, I am learning, reaches deeper than plaques and slogans. His legacy transforms people. It’s transforming me. Every cell in my body has changed because of Caemon’s life and death. Nothing is as it was, nor will it ever be. His legacy as it pertains to me is, as always, unfolding.

6 thoughts on “what’s in a legacy, part 2

  1. I am a simple person, I don’t have much but I say with all my heart that Caemon has touched me more than words can describe. Both his life and his passing have evoked so many different emotions from joy to heartbreak. I know I can’t do much but whatever I can do to help honor your boys memory and strengthen that legacy I will do with great love and great pride.

  2. Beautiful post Jodi. I feel so honored to be privy to your process. Thank you so much for sharing. You and Timaree are amazing mothers, amazing women. Much love, Jeanne

  3. I just learned of Caemon tonight. I just want to say you write as well as your wife, your words though not as picturesque are every bit as heartfelt. You describe him and the loss of him so that even those of us who never knew of him before, now know him, and love him, and we grieve with you. His legacy will continue on, have no doubt, that because the two of you have chosen to go forward and reach out; instead of bottle up your grief and pain, Caemon lives forever. Long after you have written out your grief, posts like this will be read, and reread, and tears will be shed. Bit by bit he will forever touch the lives of us mortals, and make us feel our inner most emotions, remember those we have loved and lost, and he will help us heal and make us stronger. Thank you for this gift. ❤

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