Rosemary's Blog


Sweet Auburn
May 18, 2008, 5:00 pm
Filed under: Documentary

For the past fifteen years, Mother’s Day has been a hard day for me.  All that changed this past Sunday when our documentary, “Space Between Breaths” won the award for Best Documentary at the Sweet Auburn International Film Festival in Atlanta, Georgia.

Sweet Auburn selected our film as one of eight documentaries to be screened at their film festival from May 7th to May 11th during SpringFest in the historic Auburn Avenue area of Atlanta.  Initially our film was scheduled for screening on Saturday, May 10th.  Cindy Bullens, along with Dinah and Jim Taylor, made plans to join us in Atlanta for the festival.  Cindy’s contribution to our film was twofold; she wrote the score and shared the story of her red-headed spitfire Jessie.  Dinah and Jim Taylor have been our mentors in grief since our sons became angels.  Their son Young Jim had to be bragging in heaven after he saw their insightful interview for the film.

Less than two weeks before the festival, we were notified that there had been a schedule change for our screening.  Len Gibson, the director of the festival said the committee had decided our film should be shown on Mother’s Day “due to the subject matter.”  Our only regret with the change was that Cindy would not be able to be with us.  Prior committments with her new band The Refugees made it necessary for her to fly back to Maine early on Sunday.  Dinah and Jim were able to rearrange their schedule so they met Luther, Fong and me in Atlanta on Saturday afternoon.

During Saturday night, tornadoes pounded the Atlanta area.  I slept right through the storms.  We had been up late the night before sharing stories of Drew, Jeremiah and Young Jim with our friends.  What a joy to be with friends who understand your need to talk about your children who have passed.  Don’t you love being in a safe place with friends who do not act like there is an elephant in the room?  My dear friend Becky Greer shared the poem, “The Elephant in the Room” with me many years ago.  Believe me, I knew the concept.  I had just never heard it verbalized in that way.

Sunday dawned with the promise of an awakening of spirit.  Would our documentary screening be an affirming experience for the audience?  Would the mothers identify with the other mothers in the film, mothers like Tessie Hunter and Donna Bellman?  Would my dear friend Dinah Taylor have a good Mother’s Day.  For those of you who have seen our film, the clip where Dinah haltingly tells of the Mother’s Day when a man at her church withdrew a flower from her is imprinted on my consciousness.  She deserves better.  Young Jim wants better for her.

My family has always supported me whether I was tourning for my book, “Children of the Dome” or now screening our documentary.  Sweet Auburn in Atlanta was no exception.  Dr. Jim Cox is my father’s only brother.  He and my Aunt Inez have always been like second parents to me and my younger brothers Gary and Bill.  My first thought when Drew and Jeremiah were killed was that I had to call Uncle Jim.  He would know how we all were going to face this terrible tragedy.  Well, Uncle Jim and Aunt Inez have not left my side over the past fifteen years even though they too have been through a life-threatening health situation.

The Cox family came to Atlanta in full force for the screening of “Space Between Breaths.”  Only my cousin’s wife, Judy Cox had not seen the film at least on one other occasion.  Uncle Jim and Aunt Inez drove down from Greensboro, Georgia.  My cousin Randy and his family came from Canton, Georgia.  Bill, my youngest brother holds the Cox family record for screenings, quite a surprise really.  Bill had been the one who avoided most family gatherings when he was young.  Now he seemed to enjoy being around all of us.  My brother Gary and his wife Karen live in Columbus, Indiana, much too far to make the screening.

Diane Cooper is my twin…not physically but in a spiritual sense.  Bereaved mothers are automatically sisters.  We know each other’s hearts.  Their children become our children.  Diane Cooper’s twins are David and Reid.  Reid is a junior in high school at The McCallie School (another connection) and David is an angel.  David knows Drew and Jeremiah, I am sure of it.  Diane and I think alike.  We do not sit back and wait.  We are the ”doers.”  Diane drove down from Chattanooga to be with us for the screening.  Diane breaths life into any situation.  I watched her as she spoke to every person who attended the screening.  Like Dinah, she cares about each and every person she meets.  They both are my role models.

Glen and Judy Cummins are bereaved parents I met while speaking at a Compassionate Friends meeting in Memphis after my book was published in 2000.  Their son Scott was a U.S. Army pilot who died in a helicopter accident.  The Cummins and their son are a vital part of our documentary.  As the credits are rolling at the end of the film, photo after photo fade in and out of parents holding photos of their children.  Scott Cummins and his loving parents are one of the families featured in this section of the film.  This was the first time they had seen the film since they had a prior committment at the premiere of the film on May 31, 2007 in Lexington, KY.  It was such a blessing to us that Glen and Judy came to be with us at Sweet Auburn.

Tim, Irene, Rachel and Erin Harkness rounded out the group of special friends and family that supported us by their presence at the Sweet Auburn Film Festival.  We had never met this family although we had spoken on the phone.  Tim and Irene’s precious niece, Kristin Harkness had passed on February 22, 2008.  Tim had called me shortly after Kristin’s death and asked me to contact his brother Tom and his wife Linda.  I sent packets to Kristin’s parents, her brother Eric, her sister Jessica as well as Tim and his family.  About a week after sending the packets, I made my first call to Linda Harkness.  She and I connected immediately.  We began talking on the phone almost on a daily basis.  We shared our grief…we cried together…we eventually were able to laugh together.  When I mentioned to Linda that our film had been selected for the Sweet Auburn Film Festival in Atlanta, she said she would see if Tim and his family could attend.  What a surprise when we found out that Tim, Irene and the girls would be coming to the screening.  Meeting them on Sunday was such a blessing to me.  I pray our film was a blessing for them.

The screening of our documentary was emotional for me.  Although I have worked on this film for over six years, there is never a time I watch any portion of it that I am not moved by the courage of those who were interviewed.  They bared their souls for me and for anyone else who watches the film.  I share the award we won that night for Best Documentary with each and every one of them.

This was a memorable Mother’s Day for me.  Dinah Taylor sent me a note after the weekend and she said, “I can truly say that this is the best Mother’s Day I have had since Jim’s death.”  That one statement made everything I have done for this film worthwhile.

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Forever
May 12, 2008, 4:58 pm
Filed under: Family and Friends

Forever

It doesn’t bring her back.

Nothing.

I miss you more than you would have ever imagined.

I miss the laughter.

I miss the jokes.

No one else understood the jokes.

You did. That’s all that mattered.

Now then, why can’t I understand?

Come back.

Come back.

I need you.

How can the person who brought the most laughter and joy to my life not be here?

You were here just two months ago, and before you left I talked to you.

Only six days prior.

What is it?

Why don’t I understand?

The times you visit in my dreams are now what I look forward to the most.

Those nights are the happiest.

Now.

Not before.

Before, I knew you were here

And I loved you.

I loved knowing I could call.

Whenever I wanted.

Knew you were not far away.

And knew you were coming to see me in just a few days.

What happened?

Where are those days now?

Forever unfulfilled.

Forever in my memory.

Forever I will love you.

Forever I will miss you.

Forever.

Forever seems so far.

Forever I will pray to see you again.

Forever.

Forever will you think of me?

Can you?

I hope so.

I hope for forever to be quite fast.

I don’t think it will be.

I hope anyway.

Will you watch me?

Will you stay with me?

Will you visit me, or see me forever?

Then why can’t I see you?

Life is not fair.

That’s what they always say.

Then maybe…

Maybe that’s why yours is over.

Over so now you have fair times.

You know fair and happiness now.

I hope.

You do.

Don’t you?

Or why else did you go?

Are you laughing now?

I hope you are.

I heard laughter makes you live longer.

But not for you.

You laughed everyday.

So where have you gone?

Why?

But you laughed!

What.

What will make it ok?

I’ve been waiting to know.

I never will.

I miss you.

I need you.

I love you.

I will continue to hope.

I will.

Forever.

Lovingly written on April 24, 2008 by Erin Harkness in memory of her cousin Kristin Harkness who passed on February 22, 2008.