Our family was deeply effected by a recently tragedy in our community. A family of 5 was found dead in the desert of Arizona. Apparently a murder-suicide.

Two of the 3 children were in marching band and the other various band programs with Jess. Joey had recently begun rehearsing and attending parties with the marching band percussion section, of which the son who died was a member.

The community and the school has done a tremendous job of providing support to the students and families who are suffering this loss. The band program and band families in particular have gone out of their way to ensure the kids have a healthy environment in which to mourn their loss and simply feel normal.

One such event transpired on a warm Thursday night. It started as an idea the percussion students had and grew into an invitation for all current and past band members. A number of parents purchased 100 white helium balloons. The students and families gathered on the football field with the balloons and Sharpies. Those who had something to say to their friend wrote a message on a balloon. The band directors said a few heart-felt words then everyone released their balloons silently together into the night sky.

After the balloons ascended out of sight, the drum line played the favorite cadence of their missing member. We all followed them off the field in respectful silence.

These past few weeks have been a heavy burden and blessing. As a parent, we want to protect our children from pain. But, we know, we MUST teach our children how to keep moving forward in the midst of pain and suffering. And, if we are really on the ball, we’ll teach our kids how to reach out to others to receive comfort and to give it.

The blessing for me has been the opportunity to talk to my kids about hard things: unexplainable things, what are normal feelings in the face of unexpected loss, how to help others…it’s also been an opportunity for each of us to realize that material things don’t bring happiness. (This was an upper-middle class family.) Peace and joy stem from relationships with people and the way we choose to look at things. It is a gift from God…as are my children.

Events like this are a startling reminder that I need to cherish every moment I have with my children. I don’t know how many moments I will have. I do know it never feels like enough.