I have details about this project (which is a surprise for the Jewells) in the last paragraph. If you share this link, please make sure that you hide it from Becky and Nancy on Facebook. But I also wanted to give you a little information about why this surprise is so dear to my heart. So, if you would like, please read on!
Many of you know my story and yet, some of you may not. Some of you were there to support me through the worst part of my life and others I have met during the years following this journey. This March, 10 years ago, at the age of 22, I lost a wonderful spirit on this Earth, Christopher Jewell (lovingly called Tophers). He was my best friend, my world, and my fiancÃ© at that time. Despite all of our attempts, he was in a coma for 15 days before we decided to let his spirit go home. Looking back, I consider him to be an Old Soul. He was a peaceful person, who knew things that others our age did not. He was a rock, a solid presence, and absolutely one of the kindest people I have ever met. He loved playing the guitar, collecting dice and guitar picks, had an infectious laugh, spoke in meaningful ways, loved his cats, enjoyed living in Austin, and had dreams of becoming a chef. He had without a doubt, the most amazing spirit and the most loving nature. He was a big guy, with an even bigger heart of gold. I loved him then and I continue to love and cherish the 5 long years of friendship we had.
Since his death, I have remained in regular contact with his family- his mother, father, sister, aunt and cousins. It had been my hope that his family would be mine someday when we got married, and I suppose that part of that hope has become true in a way. We have always said that family comes in all forms and that our love for each other didn't die with Christopher "“and that continues to be true today.
Since that time, I have married a wonderful man, Corey Ernst, who has always been understanding and supportive of my love for Christopher's family and my mementos of his time in my life, which sometimes feels like a lifetime ago. Over the years, Corey has sat with me as I have cried through boxes and listened to my aching heart when I share how unfair it seems that such good, young people leave this Earth too soon. Corey's family has graciously accepted my extended family and they have even come to genuinely care for each other. In fact, I was truly blessed to have three mothers present to celebrate my wedding and graduation days!
In the 10 years that have passed, I have learned a lot about the heartache of this life, struggled through recovering from trauma, and experienced both the devastation and beauty of the grieving process. I try to use my heartache about the loss of Christopher to help others with their trauma and grief, as so many people did for me during my darkest hour. In these moments, I feel Christopher's presence surrounding me and my hope is that my actions serve to honor his memory in a way he deserves.
So here it is, 10 years. His loss seems so recent and yet so long ago. Sometimes I feel like I aged overnight during those 15 days he was sick and the horrendous nights afterwards. And yet I also feel so blessed by the people around me who stood by me and took care of me in those awful months that followed. I could never begin to acknowledge them- these people who came to wipe away my tears, pack up the boxes, and spend the night when they were toughest. And you ladies know who you are!
And now we are faced with honoring his memory the best we
know how, 10 years later. So, that brings me to what this page is all about! I have decided that I would like to give a special memento to his mother and aunt- a memory bench in Christopher's honor. These can be rather expensive so this is where I elicit help from you all. Also, I would like to keep this a secret from his family so please, if you know them, help me keep it secret! Corey and I plan to bring the benches up to Ohio when we take our annual visit later this year. We would appreciate every dollar that's raised because we aren't sure that we can afford it all on our own. Corey and I talk about how blessed we are to have so many loving people in our lives. No matter what you can donate, please know what a blessing you all are to us!
Here's the details:
We need to raise $2,500 for both benches. If we can only raise half of that, we will make it work with one. This includes all the costs and the engraving. We need to place the order by April 2nd but will be taking donations until May 10th (his birthday) to cover whatever costs we put up front. I have donated through this site before and it is legitimate but many of you have our address and if you would rather mail a check, that would be ok too. Also, I would like to make a card that lists everyone's names who could donate- no matter the amount. The picture I have is an example. I will post a picture of the final product once they are made.
Thank you all for blessing us with being in our lives!
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