Now we are 4, and we are devastated. I process through the written word and have shared my grief, my struggles, my anger and my pain on Teagan's memorial page, but mine isn't the only story. In my house, there are 3 more people walking in grief, battling the pain and struggling every day to get up and keep going. My kids. I don't share their stories, their struggles, because they aren't my stories to tell, they are theirs to share. Or not.
I have been given permission to share some of Trevor's story because we are asking for your help and your prayers. Trevor was a typical sophomore at SPU the morning of Teagan's accident. After Teagan's death Trevor tried to keep going, to attend school, to stay on schedule. The last quarter of his sophomore year, Trevor withdrew. Grief does crazy, awful things to people, and Trevor was not able to function, to focus, to even care about school.
As a mom, we want to help our kids, to guide them, to protect them and to make things better. I can't fix this. This will never truly be better.
What I do know is that we have to somehow keep pushing forward, keep living. It was immediately clear that it wouldn't be good for Trevor just to stay home, that he needed to keep working towards his future in some way. We looked into mission trips, Outward Bound and several other great programs, and then I saw the Leap Year and something about it spoke to me specifically for Trevor. It spoke to Trevor too.
The process of getting selected for this program is involved, and one of the aspects are several essay questions. Difficult ones, especially for Trevor, because they asked about hardships, challenges and life changing moments. It was grueling and forced him to think about things that were painful and hard. The Leap Year program asks students not to bring electronics, phones, even books( that don't pertain to school) etc). They ask this in order for the students to absorb the world around them without any distractions. Often, when we are uncomfortable, lonely or sad, angry or overwhelmed, we turn to our phones, to movies, the internet and even books, to escape from those feelings. At Leap Year they want students to feel those emotions and learn to understand them, to deal with them and even learn to communicate them with each other. They learn in an environment that challenges them to face their insecurities, their loneliness, their fear and their pain, head on and grow from feeling those emotions without the crutch that those distractions provide.
Leap Year is very intentional in developing and helping their students transition into adulthood. Why do I think this is exactly what Trevor needs right now? The honest truth is that Trevor has never truly dealt with the pain and grief of the death of his dad from cancer when he was 14, and then to lose his brother, Teagan, suddenly, in a horrific car crash this past November...it's too much. It's too much for all of us. But we can't stay in bed and disappear( as we want to), we have to keep pushing on. Being in a regular school environment at this time is impossible for him, but he knows he has to do something. Leap Year is the something he has chosen to do.
Trevor was chosen for this amazing opportunity to travel to India with Leap Year. This isn't a typical study abroad program. Yes, they get to travel, meet new people, learn about another culture and experience life in a world far different than ours. They will travel through North India then to South India, learning the language and the culture while living and working alongside the people of India. They will serve several of the communities they travel in as they begin their journey in Delhi, traveling to Mussoorie, Varanasi, Neyyar Dam, Kerala to name a few. A big part of this program is learning the importance of community and of serving others. The last part of the program is a 3 month internship that they will choose out of over 6,000 possibilities all over the world.
On his journey, he will be wearing the ring that Tim gave him on his death bed. It is the ring Tim received from Sysco 2 months before he died when he won the Pacesetter award. Tim was so proud of that ring, of that award. It says so much about his work ethic, his joy of life and how much he loved what he did, and did what he loved. He battled cancer bravely and lived fully right up until he no longer lived. Tim had a strong faith, loved his family, loved his job and loved soccer with a passion that all could see. He loved to laugh and drew people to him like a magnet. If you were a friend, you were a friend for life. He had honor and integrity and though not nearly close to perfect, he was truly an amazing man. I pray that as Trevor wears Tim's ring, that he remembers and honors those qualities as he travels on this journey.
He will wear Teagan's boots. They are scuffed and stained, the leather soft and worn from use. Teag wore them on his journeys of discovery. He wore them when he went on a weeklong backpacking trip for grieving teens in Colorado called Heroic Journey. He wore them the following summer as he adventured to Maine for a 28 day backpacking/canoeing/rock climbing in the Appalachians. Both times he was excited and eager for the adventure and both times he went, knowing that part of that adventure meant exploring our beautiful world, meeting new people and experiencing amazing things- but the larger, more difficult adventure was learning to face his feelings and emotions over the loss of his dad. There are many ways I would describe Teagan, and one of his amazing traits was that he was brave. He bravely chose to do difficult things in order to grow, and he bravely walked through his pain, anger and grief over Tim's death. It was not easy and did not happen overnight, but he took those first, baby steps in these boots. Teagan had a servants heart and truly loved to help people, he shared that trait with his dad. He was a young man of faith and joy, laughter and love...and love was the very best way to describe Teagan. It is a gift to know how to love well, and I don't know anyone who knew how to love as well as Teagan. I pray that as Trevor journeys in Teagan's boots, that he remembers and honors those qualities.
Trevor is going, knowing that while traveling is exciting and new, he will be confronted with his pain and his grief over both his brother and his dad's deaths with no distractions. I pray that he too, will walk through the pain and though he won't ever " get over" it- he will learn to carry the lessons both Tim and Teagan taught so well in their too-short lives: that life was meant for living, that joy is contagious, that kindness and generosity and laughter and faith can be a legacy that transcends any worldly possessions or accomplishments. I am proud of Trevor for taking this step. I think this is incredibly brave. I think it's appropriate and amazing that he will take those next, brave steps, wearing Tim's ring and walking in Teagan's boots. Tim and Teagan would love that so much. Especially because a large part of Leap Year's program is service to the communities they travel in, improving living conditions and helping those less fortunate would appeal to their servant's hearts.
The cost of the program is about $36,000. We have applied for financial aid, but because FAFSA was the last thing on our minds in January, it is limited. There will be loans and Trevor has worked all summer and will work the 5 weeks he is back at Christmas. I am committed to him going, and, like Teagan when he attended FUMA, will do what I have to to make that happen and will be looking for a 2nd job immediately. Trevor is also applying for a scholarship through Leap Year.
Here is the page if you are interested in helping Trevor raise the funds for this journey( Please do not feel obligated). We ask for your prayers as Trevor begins this next, brave new step.
Thank you for your continued love, prayers and support, I want you to know I read and reread your kind words so often. We are blessed by amazing communities with incredible people. God did not send us to this battle alone. Thank you.
They weren't allowed to call us or have contact of any kind during the 9 day retreat before he left for India, so I was excited to get a call from him the night before he left. He shared about the trip, how tight-knit all the students had become and how much fun he was having- but the thing that truly struck me after we said our goodbyes was not what was said- but what I heard; something I hadn't realized had been missing. There was a tone in his voice, a lightness that had been missing since he was 14. Since Tim had died. Trevor sounded content, at peace and excited. He sounded happy. I lay in bed that night and I remember thinking " There. There he is."
This feeling is a gift and I am cherishing it. I can't tell you how incredible that feels as a mom. I remember this feeling exactly because I felt the same, overwhelming emotion when Teagan came home from the college road trip he took with Pastor Derek Nelson and told me that he needed to go to Fork Union Military Academy to become the man God wanted him to be.
My kids have been through so much. Both Avery and Teagan are big personalities and live their lives out loud. When Tim died, Avery was almost 16, and her reaction to her grief was anger and explosiveness. Teagan was almost 11 and there was several years of buildup before his anger and grief erupted. Trevor is quieter. He seemed to be adjusting and handling things ok. I think he even fooled himself. What I have come to understand is that while I was busy putting out fires with the other two, Trevor was there all along, silently drowning beside me.
He was on a precipice, and, losing Teagan- his brother and his best friend, sent him over. But Trevor is a fighter, a warrior- and he is choosing not to stay down. He is choosing to climb back up and find his purpose. He is honoring the memory of his father who bravely battled cancer with humor, grace, faith and courage. He is honoring the memory of his brother, who bravely battled his own grief and anger to allow his joy, his compassion, his faith, his humor and his ability to love others to shine through. He is so brave.
I am so incredibly proud of Trevor for taking this leap of faith, for recognizing that he needed something else, something more, to help him become the man God intends him to be- and then doing it. Yes, this feeling is a gift and I am cherishing it.
I'm still struggling in my own darkness, but I am thankful for this ray of light.
Thank you, all of you, for your generosity in helping with this financial burden- you are amazing and we are truly awed and humbled by friends and strangers alike. Thank you for your compassion and your words of encouragement, your prayers and your love.
You have all made it so very clear that we are not alone. We are so blessed by our incredible community far and wide. Thank you.
Yes, I do fear for his safety- how could I not with all that has happened with our family. It is a battle to fight the fear of something happening to my kids every day. Every. Single. Day. I want to keep my kids home and protected, but the truth is, horrible things happen at home, and very close to home as we know from both the loss of Tim to cancer and the loss of Teagan in a fatal car accident.
I know very well that I can't protect my kids or ensure their safety, but I can pray for them and I can encourage them to live life fully, to challenge themselves and to remember that although we don't know how long we have on this earth, we can make the most of our journey and remember that, in the end, it's the people along our journey that truly matter.
We are so thankful for our "people", all of you, who have spoken into our lives, cried with us, or for us, both near and far, prayed for us and shown incredible compassion and generosity to our family. We will keep you posted on Trevor's journey and ask for your continued prayers. I know that this is the best thing for Trevor, it just doesn't make it easier letting him go.
Trevor's financial aid packet, because we were late in applying, was $11,230 of the (about)$36,000 he will need for this school year. As I have said, we will be stepping out in faith as we did for Teagan when he chose to attend FUMA, and believing that we will be able to make this work financially. I will be searching for a 2nd job and Trevor will be coming home for Christmas and working to pay the remainder.
If you would like to help with Trevor's journey ( Please do not feel obligated!) or just read about it, please click on the link. We are very thankful for your amazing generosity in helping him with his journey. Thank you for your continued prayers and all the kindness you have shown us.