Benny’s Bunch

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What started out last year as a ‘last minute 5k’ for the Greg Hill Foundation has grown into something else.  To quote my friend Erin, “Amazing how less than two years old and he has the power to gather the masses. An incredible day to honor and cherish Benny.”

This year we had over 50 people walking/running last Saturday, it was incredible!  We were easily the largest team to participate in the event.  Watching the sea of Benny shirts on the route was inspiring.  To know that this many people turned out to support our little guy and our family.  We had folks traveling from CT and NH just to walk with us.  There was so much love in that crowd.

Santa was there as well as cookies, candy and carolers to keep us moving.  This year it was a balmy 35 out, so we didn’t freeze!  Afterwards we went over to 29 Sudbury to carb up great food and free beer while we listened to the live entertainment and watched the kiddos run around.

People sent in donations for us to drop off as well and we were able to turn over an additional $120 to the foundation.  It was an incredible day and an incredible feeling to be surrounded by that much love.  Thank you once again Benny’s Bunchers!!  Thank you GHF for all that do to support local families and bring us some hope during our darkest hours!!

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1 Million Thanks

The Greg Hill Foundation has raised and donated over $1,000,000 to local families in need since 2010. 114 families, 6600 donors, a lot of amazing people. We are humbled to be a part of this family. A million thank yous to every person that has donated and to the crew over at GHF. 10469368_810662368985433_3017632495993691_n

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Day 29 – Reflect

My relationship with grief? Hmmm…I wish that I didn’t have one. I wish that it didn’t take over every facet of my life and my identity. I wish that November 8th, 2013 was like any other day. Except it’s not.

It’s as if someone threw a boulder into a lake that started a huge ripple effect. I hate what it’s done to me and my family, it’s made my life small, it’s made me small. I still feel such indescribable anger. I want to lash out at the Universe that did this to us. I’m mad, sarcastic and apathetic most of the time. It’s gross.

I’m sad, a lot. I still cry, a lot. I beg for this all to be a horrible dream. I miss Benny so much some days that it’s like a physical pain. I want him back so badly.

I’m hopeful. It might seem kind of odd to say that, but it’s who I am. I have this intense desire to always make the best of everything (even I cannot make a ‘best’ out of losing my son). I’m hopeful that I get to spend the rest of my life with Parker, watching Darcy grow up. I’m hopeful because we live in a world of ‘Greg Hills’ and ‘Pebbles & Polka Dots’ and all of the other amazing people that have made it their mission to show us love and support.

I don’t truly know where I’m at in my journey. We are marching toward the one year anniversary and I still can’t even fathom that Benny’s gone. In May of 2015, he will have lived as long as he was gone. How did time pass like this? I didn’t notice.

Day 8 – Resource

Today I’m to focus on resource, what has helped me along the way in my grief journey.  Goodness, where to even begin with this one…

People.  Many, many people have done amazing things for us.  I can write lists and lists of names, we would be here forever.

My friends, I do not know what I would do without your love and support (TARA!!!!).  Those of you that have stood by us and put us first, there are no words besides thank you.  After the accident it was like they swept in and took control of everything.  They took care of us.  You, that still read everything that I write, you’re the ones.  You amaze me with your patience with us and your love.

My family, there are some members that have just gone above and beyond.  You were there when I lost my mom and you have been there for me again.  I know this hasn’t been an easy journey, so thank you.

My co workers came in out in droves and spoiled the crap out of Darcy after the accident.  I really work with an incredible crew of people that truly care.  It’s a large, dysfunctional family.

Strangers, these people that are neighbors, or live across the state.  We didn’t know you before November 8th and now I cannot imagine my life without you.  You have stood by us, while others have walked away.  You have taken a stranger’s little boy into your heart.  Your love is so healing to us.

My fellow grieving moms, where would I be without them?  My Donna’s and my Sue’s that were strategically placed into our lives because of the accident.  How amazing is it that our sons brought us together when I needed it most.  Thank you Brian and Ryan.

Blogging has been a major resource for me.  What started as a very personal journal turned into something so much more.  I’m now part of a community of grieving mothers.  I’m connected with people that ‘get it,’ that speak the words that I often cannot.  There is so much kindness in this community, so much love, so much understanding and NO judgement.  I have met the strongest group of women.  I’m so thankful for their love and support.  I don’t know what else I would be doing at 1 AM without them.

The Greg Hill Foundation has had a major impact on our healing.  They may not be a grief resource necessarily, but being involved in an organization that gives so much back to the local community has helped us tremendously.

Our counselors, Kate and Annie.  Kate has worked with both Parker and I over the last 11 months.  She gets us, she’s our cheerleader.  She’s helped us to hold it together and work through our grief together (as much as we can).  She helps to be my voice of reason and is always quick to point out my accomplishments.  Annie has worked with Darcy since January and has been so instrumental at helping her to deal with her grief and be able to move forward.  She has worked closely with me and now Darcy is to a point where we see her only once a month!  This is a huge deal (not that Darcy is happy to lose her ‘Annie time.’).

We’ve been blessed in so many ways.  I do get very angry at the Universe, I feel that it’s taken a lot from my life.  When I’m able to take a step back though, it’s brought a lot of wonderful things into my life too.  This isn’t tit for tat, by any means, but it truly helps to be able to look at the positive every once in awhile and appreciate just a little all of the beautiful people that are a part of our lives.

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Consequently, I just noticed that my bib number for the Benny’s Bunch walk contained his birthday, out of order…5-17

Giving Thanks

Parker and I were asked to be interviewed for the Greg Hill Foundation’s upcoming thank you party on October 24th.  In it’s 4 years, the foundation has given back over $1 million to it’s beneficiaries.  It fills my heart that we are able to be a part of a group that is so involved in supporting the local community.

We went into Boston early this morning, not really knowing what to expect.  When we got there, it was somewhat of a reunion.  James, a fellow beneficiary, was there, who had donated money to us back in February and completely blown our minds.  We got to see Lindsay who helped give me the confidence to deliver my speech at the 1,350 days celebration.  Of course, we got to see Erin and Adam, who work so tirelessly for GHF.

This was the real deal.  We had hair and make-up (Parker LOVED that part), and then sat on camera with an interviewer answering questions about the foundation.  It’s nerve racking sitting in a silent studio with half a dozen other people, everyone staring at you.

We talked about the foundation, what it’s meant to us.  We thanked our donors and the foundation.  Of course, now I’ve come up with at least a million other things that I want to say, but I hope that our message came across – this foundation gave us hope when there was little in our lives.  These people reached into their wallets and their hearts and gave of themselves.  They have helped us to manage through the last awful year of our lives.  We lost our son, but we’ve gained a family.

Camera Ready!
Camera Ready!

Day 4 – Now

Continuing with my ‘Capture Your Grief’

Now, it’s hard to be honest with myself.  Who have I become?  Who is this person?  I’m still out of work.  I now have a 5 year old to juggle-Only a 5 year old.  I only drive short distances.  When I read, I usually cannot finish the book because I become distracted, or maybe I just don’t like endings.  I don’t sleep at night, even though I’m exhausted.  I’m terrified of meeting new people, scared of being asked how many children I have.  I binge watch Netflix sometimes just to have something to do.  People have disappeared, my social circle is small.

My life is small.  I am small.  I am broken.  My after is filled with small family pictures and and an overwhelming feeling that I have make things ‘ok’ for everyone else.

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My after is also filled with love and lot’s of it.  Love and support that I never imagined possible.  Complete strangers raised a lot of money for my family to make our lives easier.  Friends reached out to everyone they knew and the community of Worcester surrounded us in their love.  The Greg Hill Foundation raised money for us.  We have become involved in their events.  I have found so many grieving mothers that have opened their arms and hearts to me.  I have learned that people are genuinely good.  I saw the best side of humanity. I am able to make the best of any situation.

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Benny’s Bunch

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Last year we participated in the ‘Jingle All the Way 5K’ for the Greg Hill Foundation.  It was our way of giving back.  We’re at it again this year, gearing up to walk/run in the sub zero temperatures to raise money for the foundation.  If you want to join us, you can register at the link below.

http://www.thegreghillfoundation.org/events.htm

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Kindness

I haven’t written a lot.  I’ve been in a weird place.  Things have happened that I’m not ready to talk about yet.  Let’s just say that I’m done with the Universe…for the moment.  We’re no longer friends.

But I digress, because today is a good day.

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We have been blown away by the continued love and support of our friends and family.  They have grieved alongside us and helped us to heal.  They are missing Bennett as much as we are, yet they have continued to put us first.  These people show up, hold our hands and hearts as we continue to muddle through this year.  There has been so much love.

Today my heart is so filled with the love of people that were mere strangers before November 8th last year.  These people stepped forward and made it their mission to put a smile back on our faces.  They donated their time and resources to make our lives better in whatever way they could.  We’re overwhelmed by their love.

Today is a good one, in a sea of loss.  Today I am able to look at our lives and appreciate all that we have and smile.  Thank you for that, all of you that made today possible.

Greg Hill Foundation

Tomorrow Tara and I head down to Foxwoods to be a part of the Greg Hill Foundation’s Celebrity Golf Tournament.  I have no idea what to expect, but I’m so thankful to have Tara by my side for this adventure.  Parker is traveling and it has been a tough couple of nights by myself.

Let me backtrack a little here, because I realize that I have left out a lot of information concerning the Greg Hill Foundation. After the accident occurred, two of our close friends contacted the Greg Hill Foundation which was started by a local DJ to respond to families in need or crisis. Sure, I had heard the on air fundraisers that they held and I remember listening after the Marathon Bombings as they raised a staggering amount of money. I never dreamed that they would be holding a fundraiser for my family.

Exactly a week after the accident, WAAF and the Greg Hill Foundation reached out to their listeners and asked for monetary donations to help my family. They would match the amount raised, up to a certain dollar amount. It was amazing listening to our name, our story on the radio station. One of Parker’s closest friends called to thank Greg and the listeners on our behalf. It was again proof that there are amazing people out there, strangers that were willing to move mountains to make our lives easier. We never asked for any of this, so it was truly humbling to be a part of. A week later, they dropped off a check for us.

In December, the Greg Hill Foundation held their first ever ‘Jingle All the Way 5K.’ It was a perfect opportunity for us to give back to the foundation that had helped us so much. We signed up, and then reached out to our friends, neighbors and family and before we knew it we had pulled together a team of 30+ amazing individuals, ‘Benny’s Bunch.’ It was bitter cold, about 8 degrees, but we walked/run/shivered along in memory of our dude. Darcy walked every single mile and didn’t complain once, she amazed us all. It was an amazing experience and a great way to try to give back to an organization that had done so much for us. The perfect way to pay tribute to Bennett so soon after his death.

In February, we were asked to join fellow beneficiaries in supporting the foundation in their ‘1,350 Days Celebration.’ I never expected to be sharing the stage with Marathon Bombing survivors. Their strength, humility and humor blew me away. That night was probably one of the most amazing nights of my life. We were in a room surrounded by people that had been through the worst possible moments in their life, yet they smiled, and laughed. There was so much love in that room, it reminded me of the 3 Day walk-on steroids! The one word that comes to mind is hope. Hope for the future, watching these people take what life had thrown at them and just do the best that they could with it. There weren’t any victims in that room, only survivors. It was very empowering.

I read my speech and by the end most of the folks in the room were in tears. So many people came up to us and just wanted to hug us and tell us how sorry they were, complete strangers. One of the Marathon bombing survivors wrote us a check to help out. A friend of Greg’s offered his condo in NH for us to use this summer. Again, complete strangers reaching out to offer us a chance to heal. I’m so accustomed to be jaded by life so watching as this whole thing unfolded, I was never so happy to be so wrong. The world is full of beautiful people doing beautiful things. Unfortunately, the news doesn’t cover that aspect, but trust me, it’s so true.

A few members of the Greg Hill Foundation signed up for the marathon and ran this past year as an homage to the survivors. Our friend Erin ran each mile for a different person. She ran mile 2 for Benny. We were waiting on the sidelines in our Benny’s Bunch shirts cheering the GHF team on. The energy of that day was so great and I’m so glad that Darcy again was able to witness someone she doesn’t know doing something amazing for her family. I want for her to grow up and see people as good.

So, onto tomorrow. I’m excited. I’m nervous. I cannot wait to be amongst these people again. To feel that kind of positive energy as everyone works together towards one collective goal-to raise money for people in the future that will need it. The link to the foundation is below should you want additional information or to make a donation. DSC_0103

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