Rosemary's Blog

Lisa Rousseau’s Blog
April 29, 2008, 4:06 pm
Filed under: Family and Friends


Today, while working on the landscape, I discovered something. I was on the phone taking a break, talking to my Mom. I was fussing about how the landscape takes so many steps, most of them making the landscape look worse, before you ever get to the best, beautiful complete end of the job. I went on to say that there really never is an “end” because the stuff is always growing, needing weeded, and watered. I told her I wish I could just skip all this working through the junk part, the part that doesn’t look good, and just automatically have it all done and pretty.

Well, as I spoke about it, I realized that it is the same way with going through all these emotions I am having about Jessie’s death. I really don’t want to feel it all- it hurts, it is ugly at times, I have to really work at this to get in there to what I feel. If I don’t, it will grow ugly weeds inside me – some that will probably change who I am forever. Part of this event has already changed me, it is inevitable, but I don’t have to be bitter forever, or lose hope forever.

Right now, there is such a broad spectrum of emotions going on. It seems the feelings are more real than ever before. I want it to just pass on by and be over, but I know it doesn’t work that way. It is my choice. I can deal with it, try to grow the best I can through it all and be healthy for myself and my family that is still here – or I can wither – which will effect me and them too.

I somedays feel I don’t have the strength to go through it, but seems I get a nudge and I do it. That nudge could be strength from God, Jessie’s spirit wanting me to be the fun, happy Mom she always knew, or the look on Melanie’s face when she looks at me and tells me how much she loves me. It can nudge me on when Tom tells me he is proud of the way I am handling all this. It can be the counselor telling me she is proud of me too- and to do what I need to – whether it be cry, scream, beat on a pillow or punching bag, or write in my journal – as long as I feel it helps. That nudge can be a friend dropping me a line of encouragement, or people talking to me about Jessie instead of turning away.

If I continue on this path, as hard as it is, I believe I will make it. Somedays I don’t even want to get up, but I do. Somedays I don’t want to take care of myself, but I do.

Written April 29, 2008 by Lisa Rousseau, mother of Jessie Anna Starnes who died on March 19, 2008 at age nine from an aneurysm

Lisa agreed to let me post her blog on this site because she thought it might help someone else – Rosemary Smith

Drew’s Birthday
April 27, 2008, 4:25 pm
Filed under: Family and Friends

Today is April 27, 2008, my son Drew’s thirty-fourth birthday.  How is that possible?  Drew will always be eighteen and Jeremiah fifteen.   They have not gone on to college. They have never married and had children.  They remain teenagers who left for a concert one beautiful day in July of 1992 and never returned.

As the years have gone by Drew and Jeremiah have gotten closer and closer to me.  I know where they are.  They obviously know where we are at all times.  Luther and I continue to be amazed at how they let us know they are always with us.

On April 17th, we flew to Denver, Colorado, to go to the Shaka Franklin Foundation annual luncheon held by our friends Les and Marianne Franklin.  Those of you who have seen our documentary, “Space Between Breaths” will be familiar with Les and Marianne.  Their work with suicide prevention and the youth of Denver has been remarkable.  Several other couples from our Fellow Travelers group flew to Colorado for the luncheon.  Artie and Eleanor Foss came from New Jersey.  Gam and Becky Greer joined us from Kentucky.  Joe and Ann Kechter from Evergreen, Colorado, rounded out our table of eight for the luncheon.

After the luncheon, Joe and Ann Kechter asked us if we would like to go to Columbine High School in nearby Littleton.  Their son Matthew was one of the students killed at Columbine on April 20, 1999.  I was the only one of the group who had been to Columbine.  Our film crew had been allowed to film at Columbine two years ago for our documentary.  As we walked the halls of Columbine nearly nine years to the day Matthew and eleven other students and one teacher were killed, we all felt the presence of angels.  I had cold chills all over my body as we walked between the rows of books in the new Hope Columbine Library.  School was out for the day so no students were around, just those of us paying our respects to those thirteen who had tragically died that fateful day in 1999.

The Kechters then walked with us to the new Columbine Memorial dedicated on September 21, 2007 in Clement Park.  The Memorial has an inner Ring of Remembrance that has a circle of stories.  Thirteen individual narrative remembrances are etched into individual stones for each of the victims of the Columbine school shooting.  Our group stood with Matthew Kechter’s parents that beautiful Colorado morning and through tears read the words his mother Ann had so lovingly written in his memory.  We slowly moved from one stone tablet to another taking time to reflect on each of the victims.

The outer Ring of Healing has a variety of general text gathered from interviews with students, teachers and the injured and their families.  I will never forget watching a young boy move from tablet to tablet that day.  Like everyone else, he was silent and respectful.  We all were in a sacred place.

The Kechters took us to a wonderful restaurant that night near their home in the mountains surrounding Denver.  While there, we had the first communication from our sons.  The restaurant was in a large log structure situated beside a beautiful mountain stream.  We had ordered our food and were deep in conversation when I heard the strains from the song, “Every Breath You Take” in the background.  None of us had been aware of any music at all in the restaurant to that point.  Here we were in Colorado with six of our dearest friends and our song was being played in the restaurant!   Everyone knew that our eight precious angels were letting us know they were with us.

Our group drove from Denver the following day up to Breckenridge, Colorado,where we had rented a house in the mountains for a few days.  After settling into the house, we all went back into town for lunch and a walk around the streets.  Luther and I had not been back to Breckenridge for over twenty years.  We used to ski there every winter with all of our sons.  Drew, Jeremiah, Jordan and Fong had all learned to ski at Beaver Run in Breckenridge.  Luther and I longed to find our favorite restaurant.  After all the years that had gone by, we could not remember the name of the restaurant.  We only had a general idea of where it was located.  Well, we had no luck that afternoon finding it.  No one we asked could remember any restaurant named Silver something.  Well, we went back to the house and decided to make dinner reservations for that night.  The family that owned the house we were renting left a  note suggesting some of their favorite restaurants.  We took their suggestion and made reservations at the first restaurant on the list.

Since we had arrived at the restaurant early, we all decided to split up and browse through some of the quaint shops in Breckenridge.  Luther saw a hat he liked in the window of one store on Main Street so he and I went in.  Just as we entered, I heard our song come on the intercom system of the store.  We had now heard ,”Every Breath You Take” on two consecutive nights less than a week before Drew’s birthday and in a place so memorable to our family.  I burst into tears.  So many emotions came flooding into my body.  How many times had the five of us walked these same streets?  Had we ever come into this same hat shop?  At one point, I knew Drew and Jeremiah had the same hat Luther had seen in the window.  I think that was what drew him to that specific shop.  Well, Luther and I stood absolutely still as other customers moved around us.  Can you imagine what the young female clerk thought when I went up to pay for Luther’s hat with tears glistening in my eyes?

We met up with our friends and made our way to the restaurant.  We told everyone that our song had come on again just minutes before.  Naturally I was in front as we entered the restaurant.  That will not surprise anyone reading this who knows me well.  To my shock, this restaurant was our favorite restaurant from years ago.  We were seated at a round table that was exactly the same one we had sat around on our last trip to Breckenridge.  Our Tilley’s (nothing Silver in the name at all) had been sold years ago and the owners had changed the name.  Still there was the lovely old bar and stained glass insert in the tin ceiling from long ago.   As the noisy crowd drowned out most of the conversation at our table, I was lost in the past.  How cherished are the memories of our years we had with Drew and Jeremiah.  How blessed we are to still have Jordan and Fong in our lives.  The six other bereaved parents sitting at that table were like family to us now.  Sitting there I was with them but in fact years away.  Drew and Jeremiah had been with us on every step of this trip.  It was wonderful but bittersweet.  I am glad we made the trip.  I am glad Drew and Jeremiah let me know they were with us.  Happy Birthday my precious Drew!!