My Sunflower Story

The weather today makes me feel like writing something positive.  After Benny passed there were so many incredible signs from him, signs that he’s ok, that he’s moved on and that he’s being taken care of.  I want to share just one of the many stories, but probably the strongest sign that that little guy wants us to know that he’s still with us.

The accident happened on a Friday.  Suffice it to say that the first 24 hours were pure hell.  I probably could have endured physical torture better than the realization that Bennett was gone.  In the chaos that ensued at our house following the news of Benny’s passing, Pastor Aaron came over  on Saturday to talk to us and offer his services.  He asked me how I was dealing with what I saw.  If I had a lifetime, I don’t think that I could describe it, but the flashbacks were intense and brutal.  My mind was trying to wrap itself around what had happened.  Pastor Aaron gave me a visualization technique to try to make it easier on me in the days ahead.  He had me visualize myself sitting in the theater and watching the accident happen on the big screen in the front row.  Then he had me move back a row and watch myself watching it, and then back a row, all the way to the back of the theater.  Once there, he told me to change the picture to something comforting like a field, or a beach.  I chose daisies, they were my mom’s favorite flowers and made the most sense.  I did this technique several times throughout the day on Saturday, but something was always weird about the daisies, they kept taking on the look of sunflowers.  I kept seeing the brown furry sunflower centers with the sunny yellow petals.  I had no connection to sunflowers, but this whole technique seemed to be working, so I went with it.  It was amazing how I was able to begin controlling what was torturing me.  I told Parker that I kept seeing sunflowers late in the day on Saturday, and thought nothing else of it.

Beginning on Friday night, the community of Worcester began to leave stuffed animals across the street at the church and created a makeshift memorial.  It was a lot for me to take in, but we watched as people walked down Chester Street with their children in the cold to leave notes, pictures and stuffed animals.  Parker went to check it out Saturday night and came home with a funny look on his face.  He said that someone had left a bunch of sunflowers.  This was my first sign from Benny.  Why sunflowers?  That took a little longer to figure out, but I was sure it was my little dude connecting the dots somehow.  The night of the memorial the Tuesday after the accident Parker and I were sitting in bed.  I suddenly saw a field of sunflowers in my head, Benny was walking holding my moms hand and our dog Mason was trotting alongside.  This was not a dream, I was awake.  I described what I saw to Parker in detail, how my mother looked (like in one of her school pictures).  A week later my aunt (my mom’s sister) called to tell me that she had a dream about Benny and my mom walking through a field holding hands.  In that dream my aunt said that my mom looked just like her school picture, the same one that I had said to Parker.

In the first 48 hours we were trying desperately to connect with the folks that had been present during the accident.  There were so many people that gave Benny CPR or were in the street with me.  I remember screaming to them to save him, it seemed as if forever passed before the EMT’s arrived.  I remember the first girl to give Benny CPR, how she cried, how I thanked her and we hugged.  She seemed so young, I felt so awful that she had to be involved in our tragedy.  At the hospital, we were given a bag with Bennett’s clothing, inside there were ear buds.  This confused us at first and we weren’t really thinking too clearly.  After the fact we realized that ‘the girl’ must have been jogging by when everything happened.  We had been talking to the police and were trying to get in touch with ‘the jogger,’ but no one had her contact information.  It was so important to me to see her, to know that she was ok.  I don’t remember much from that day, but I remembered her.

Exactly 2 weeks after the accident my next door neighbor came over and told us that she knew who ‘the jogger’ was.  She lived less than a mile away and was an aquaintence of her daughter’s.  We were ecstatic.  My neighbor told me that ‘the jogger’ had lost her teenage brother in a car accident a few miles away about 8 years ago.

Before I had the chance to, the joggers mother reached out to me.  Sue sent me a beautiful card, memory light and grieving resources.  She explained about losing her son and what she has done to get through it.  I e-mailed her instantly.  We connected and soon discovered that our boys were sending us some strong signs.

I told her about the sunflowers and she was a bit shocked, her daughter was the one who put them at the memorial after the accident.  When her son passed they had sunflowers at the service, and she and her daughter had always connected with sunflowers.  Sue said that her daughter definitely felt her brother’s presence in the road during the accident.  She had been home from school on a Friday because she skipped class, which she never did.  She had just started jogging her normal route down Chester Street when the accident happened.  People were screaming, cars were stopped and someone was yelling if anyone knew CPR, that was when she came jogging over and said ‘I do!’  All I could think was that this was Benny’s way of connecting with me, connecting with this other family that had also lost so much.

Sue became an amazing resource for me.  She stayed in touch, did yoga with Parker, Sandy and I try to alleviate some of the anxiety and stress that had become so present in our everyday lives.  As Sue’s daughter tried to save our son, Sue started to save us.  She was over one day and pointed out to me and Parker that there is a huge sunflower poster in our living room.  I never gave it much thought, it had been there for 10 years or so.  What Sue pointed out was that Benny would have seen that poster every day, would have looked it while nursing, playing, etc.  It brought home to me why he chose a sunflower to communicate with us, it was something that he saw every day of his life, something so obvious.

About 3 months after the accident I received a gift basket from the church across the street, it was decorated with daisies and sunflowers, my mom and my son, how appropriate.  In it was a book titled ‘Heaven is for real,’ the cover was a picture of a field of sunflowers and a little boy.  On Mother’s Day we went to the cemetery to visit with Bennett.  There was a mason jar filled with daisies and sunflowers there.  We weren’t sure if they were for Benny or his neighbor, but it was clearly a sign for us, Mason, Benny and mom all represented.

A month after the accident my sister Deb talked to her friend Deanne about doing a painting of my vision.  Deanne had been painting for years, mostly portraits, and most took 6 months to a year to complete.  This would be her first ever landscape.  She received photos from my sister and aunt to complete the project and turned it around in under 3 months.  I never knew that this was even happening, but when I got it, I was floored, it was exactly what I saw, down the position of Benny, my mom and Mason, the height of the sunflowers (they were small in my vision).  I cannot explain how peaceful it made me feel.  I knew that Benny was ok, that he wasn’t scared and that my mom would take care of him.

This has made it so much easier, knowing that my boy is ok, knowing that he is being loved very much by some very special people.  It’s been easier knowing that Benny put people in our lives who have gone through the same thing and were there to help us.  It’s been easier knowing that Benny is still there for us and that he always will be.Image

Author: sheriroaf

Sheri Roaf is the mother of four wonderful children who turned to blogging after her 17 month old son Bennett passed away unexpectedly. Through her writing she has found a way to help herself and her family move forward in the face of tragedy.

8 thoughts on “My Sunflower Story”

  1. That painting is AMAZING – it’s funny the first thing that jumped out at me were the clouds! The cloud just above the tree – almost heart shaped seems to be smiling and winking at me! He has sent me so many signs in the sky. Just last night getting out of the hot tub I noticed the bright star that I’ve tracked across the night sky since Nov 9th is headed for horizon – made me smile and also made me sad to see it moving almost beyond vision.


  2. This is very comforting! The pieces are all coming together. Bennett has been a blessing to all of us and is now connected to his Grandmother and other family members in heaven.
    Aunt Dorothy


  3. . I emailed you my sunflower story. What a beautiful symbol to show you that he’s with you always, I have no doubt this is your bennybear.


  4. All these signs really are amazing. The painting is beautiful and what a great gift for you to always have! Benny is running and playing in the field with your mom and Mason for sure.


  5. The best part of it is that Darcy now says that ‘Benny is chasing Mason in heaven.’ This painting has given her a visual of exactly what she would expect him to be doing and has helped her so much.


  6. Sheri,
    Thank you for sharing these signs and your entire blog with us. As someone sort of removed from the situation, but still thinking many many times a day about Bennett and even more about you, Parker, and Darcy, reading some of your blog has shed some light on what you’re going through, and your writing is beautiful ( this comes from a high school English teacher!). I wish you weren’t in this situation, but I am so happy to know you have found some comfort in writing and that Benny has most definitely been helping you to cope!


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