Sunday, 26 November 2017 20:07

SHARING LOVE THIS HOLIDAY SEASON

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The Holidays are upon us and it is difficult at best, to be joyful for so many of us in this family of parents who have a child on the Other Side. But we are not the only ones on the planet, this school called Earth, who are in pain.  There is pain and suffering everywhere, as the news is sure to point out. 

I abhor the word “choice”, like we have a choice to be melancholy or not to be melancholy. It goes beyond choosing.  Our pain and grief must be felt, processed and maybe even burned away in fits of rage, tears and exertion.  And this comes in its own time.  There is no right or wrong way to grieve and it isn’t a race to get through it.  We know, don’t we?  But at some point, I implore you to take a chance and re-engage with the world.  For our benefit, yes, but also because the world needs us and our perspective that life is eternal because our kids have shown this to be.

What brings this on, you might ask. The Holidays for sure but also because of how I feel when I engage, not that I engage all the time.  I carry my burden as do many of you, and I honor it by not faking engagement. Too often still, I closet myself away but when I step out and interact in a meaningful way - when moved or even called to do so, typically I get more in return.

Naturally, doing so involves people. When Quinton transitioned I flatly said, “Don’t leave me alone” to those who came to our aid.  Now I tell myself, burn brighter and engage more because sometimes (even for me) it is easier to withdraw.  Interacting with the world is why I work now as a Realtor why I coach, write and speak. 

What brings this on, you might ask. Well it is when I speak to the young men on the football team.  Rarely do I talk to them about the X’s and O’s of the game; it is when I speak to them about the adversity they face and work through, there is a silver lining; being the best they can be; standing up for and protecting their brother / sister on the field of life; to be not only leaders, but leaders in doing what is right and good; to know they are held to a higher standard.  To share all of this and more, then to hear, “I feel you coach” or “Thank you Coach, I love you.”  I come to them in a spirit of Love as they were my own son (Quinton).  I come gently but serious and they respond accordingly.

Another example of the benefits of being involved and engaged with life and others is naturally with our grandchildren. To be more present with them than with our own children is in a way the definition of being a grandparent. Just being with them, present with them is a gift of love (both giving and receiving) that is a perfect example of what is available to us all – just by being engaged with others by sharing.  To have them come to us and cuddle; to hold them; to hear them say “I want to be with Grandpa” touches me so very deeply – beyond words which is my point.

It is said that our emotions guide us and point the way to how our hearts and souls want us to live. Turning away from love and turning our emotions off (oh, I am quite good at this) does us immeasurable harm.  So, get out there this holiday season and take a chance.  Share some love, even if it is a genuine and heart felt “Hi” to a stranger.  Hold somebody’s hand who is hurting and be there to listen.  With what we collectively have been through, doing so means more to the one on the receiving end than you may realize.  And don’t be surprised when you feel your heart smiling.

Enjoy the Holiday season my dear friends and fellow travelers.

Christmas 2008

Sunday, 26 November 2017 19:17

This Ties Us Together

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Our Lyft ride was right on time.  The driver jumped out of his vehicle as we emerged from our home.  He was upbeat, positive and there was something more.  As we loaded our luggage and then loaded ourselves, we connected energetically.  There was something familiar about that energy as we went back and forth rapid fire, so much so that I asked him where he was from.  He was from New Jersey, Mike Nieves is his name.  I laughed out loud and let him know that was from New Jersey as well.

Our conversation became even more animated.  It made sense to both of us that two Jersey boys could connect so strongly, but we had another tie.  At some point in the conversation I introduced Mike to Quinton, Quinton’s visits and our journey since our son transitioned.  At this point Mike introduced us to his son, Miguel Angel Nieves III.  Miguel transitioned on March 31, 2005 and as Mike explained, “that was the day his Earth stood still.”

He went on to explain the pain he experienced; he said it was the hardest thing he had ever had to do, to claim his son’s body and to lay him to rest.  And we know this, all of us do.  But this isn’t the tie that I am referring to.  He went on to share that after two weeks he was going stir crazy and decided to go back to work, hoping the busyness would help him to process and move with his grief.  On the night before going back to work he had a visit.

That night, about 3:30 or 4:00 in the morning he found himself in his living room, talking to his son.  He continued by sharing as we spoke during the drive to the airport that he was not only talking to his son, he was smelling him and he was holding him; he was feeling him!  And then his son, Miguel spoke to him and said, “Dad, I am in a much better place right now.”  Mike continued by saying that moment, two weeks after his son transitioned, was the beginning of his healing.  This wasn’t an isolated incident either.

In those moments when his temper was about to get the best on him or something was bothering him, his son would whisper in his ear, “Dad, it’s going to be okay and just relax.”  Mike describes hearing his son on the Other Side whisper those words in his ear is the most soothing thing, giving him a mellowness and a sense of peace.  This is the tie that binds Mike and me.  Here we are, two strangers in a car, connecting on a deep spiritual basis because in part anyway, a shared experience with our son’s on the Other Side, making themselves known to us.  These visits demonstrate that there is no death, that we are eternal.

As we discussed our shared experiences, he had a message for you (yes, You).  While acknowledging our (all of us) shared pain, he implores us to live every day to the fullest and do so to honor our children.  He went on to say, “On day you will be together again, but until then, enjoy your life and do something good in your transitioned child’s name every day.”

Such sage and poignant advice from a fellow parent with a child on the Other Side.  He burns bright, sharing love – and now you know why.  He implores us to do the same; take the opportunity to share and be of service to others walking this path we know so well.

Blessings

Ernie and Kristine

PS - Mike and I stay in contact now, and he even sent an audio file to help me better remember the points of our conversation.

Ernie Miguel

Friday, 27 October 2017 10:11

Quinton's Legacy

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Another Mountain Bowl; Evergreen High School football vs. Conifer.  The first one I attended as a spectator in 2009, months after Quinton had transitioned.  The next year 2010 I joined the Evergreen High School football staff which is shared in our first book, Quinton’s Messages.  We had been 7 wins and 1 loss since against Conifer.  As we prepared for another battle this past Friday, October 20, 2017, it was Senior Night.  Each of the seniors was introduced one at a time by the announcer; each had written a prepared statement which was read by the announcer.  This gave me plenty of time to reflect on the fact that Quinton would also be a senior if he were here with us in the physical world.  This thought made me more than a little melancholy.

The ceremony ended and we started warming up again.  As I watched us getting ready, I ended up standing near Adam Cardillo who directed me to look at the back of one of our helmets.  I was quite taken back to see a “Q” and the word “Adversity”.  As I stared kind of dumbfounded, Adam  watched my reaction and then told me that everybody’s helmet was the same.  I walk behind a line of players looking, at each helmet and everyone was the same.

I really didn’t know what to think; I guess I was numb, shocked, surprised and humbled. I wouldn’t have even noticed if not for Adam.  Warm-ups ended and game time approached.  I told interim head coach David Leek that I was headed to the coach’s box next to the press box.  This is where I am in the games because I can see the field better and report my observations of the opponent’s defense.  Mr. Leek said, “Hold on Ernie, the boys have something for you.”  I didn’t know what was going on, but I had noticed another difference.  A few of the boys had come up to me during warm-ups and out of the blue said, “Coach, I love you.”  I found that odd, as I embraced each with a hug, but the moments were fleeting as we had a game to prepare for.

After the coin toss, the four senior captains came off the field and walked toward me.  This happened fast, but as it did, I noticed other players and coaches walking toward me.  The captains came to me together, Luc (Tank) Lajoy, Will (One-Hand) Jermano, Jack (Wags) Wagner, and Mason (Mace) Edwards.  This was happening so fast, none of it expected or known to me.  They handed me a helmet, a helmet that most of the team and coaches had signed.  A helmet with a “Q” on the back with the word “Adversity”.  Oh, how often to I teach & preach there can be and often is a silver lining to adversity.  More than that, it is through adversity that we learn, grow and evolve.

I often wonder if anybody hears me as I honor our son, Quinton Stone Jackson, by speaking the truth that he opened our eyes to.  In the context of being an assistant football coach at my alma mater, I usually share that I coach because of Quinton.  Additionally, whenever there are struggles and adversity faced by the team or by an individual on the team, I am there to do what I can to help them to see adversity through a different lens.

One by one, each captain hugged me, telling me they loved me and then other players and then the coaches.  Now I was shocked.  This was Senior night, and Quinton would be a Senior, and the team honors us in such an heartfelt way.  As this unfolded and after the game, I was told that this was the senior captain’s idea! This is what makes it even more special; these young men originated this tribute! Later I looked at the helmet closer, a number 15 was on one side; the number we associate with Quinton because he was born on December 15th. 

Kristine and I are humbled by this loving gesture by these young men the same age as Quinton.

 Q AdversityHelmet 2

 

Saturday, 30 September 2017 10:22

A Good Day

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Today was a good day.  Amidst the busyness and turmoil, I stayed calm.  I looked calm from the outside, but more importantly, I was calm on the inside.  And this is a gift.  No, this is more than a gift, this is a momentous, a huge step in the right direction. Every day is an opportunity to learn, grow and make progress toward our intended life lessons.  One of mine, believe it or not, is to find true peace, a deeper peace than I may have ever known.

Where does this perspective come from, you might ask?  Our son, Quinton Stone Jackson provided us with this gift – the gift of knowledge.  You see, Quinton showed us that he is an eternal being and it follows, so am I and so are we.  In realizing that I am eternal, I have no choice but to look at my life differently and look at my struggles differently.  I look at my reoccurring cycles differently.

My thinking goes something like this.  First I must acknowledged my reoccurring cycle, one being I have a physical reaction to feeling like a failure or not knowing or feeling comfortable with a task. You see, I want to know what I am doing to the point of perfection.  My dear old Dad knew this about me when I was in my early twenties; he knew I had a need to feel special.  Feeling like I don’t know what I am doing or worse, like a failure – I am a mess. My chest gets tight, my throat gets tight and my heart races.

After Quinton transitioned, I knew I was destined for something else, but I fought it.  At least three times I went back to what I knew and each time it was worse.  Each time I had to learn more and was thrust further out of my comfort zone; and I fought it every step of the way.  And the tightness in my chest and throat worsened, and my heart raced.  And then I said enough and it was time for another leap of faith.

I am eternal, so it is written and so has Quinton shown us this.  He loves us so much that he signed up to demonstrate this divine knowledge, again.  And I am still here in the physical world and so much that I do is out of my comfort zone or used to be out of my comfort zone.  With that said, I figured that I might as well change careers and if I must (sometimes kicking and screaming) continue to learn, I might as well go into business for myself.

And here the lesson takes hold. I am slowly learning to not only ask for help, but to feel okay doing so.  I am learning to listen to that quiet voice (either my intuition and or spirit) as opposed to charging blindly forward. I still wade in, thinking I can remedy any situation, but I will have to reconcile that it isn’t my responsibility to fix everything for everybody. It isn’t failure when others don’t want my version of success.  Oh boy, that is a big one.

I think I am learning to let it come to me while I am engaged with the world, whatever it is and be at peace with it.  And while there, don’t be hesitant to ask questions and seek help.  This too is big for me as I have so often thought I had to go it alone.

I am learning my lessons.  Yesterday was a good day! 

Blessings,

p.s. – Why share?  Who cares what I think and what I am going through and maybe learning.  Because, maybe some can apply this perspective to their own lives. 

Sunday, 24 September 2017 21:08

A Dream

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We were about to play a big game, but half my uniform was missing.  My shoulder pads, the shirt I wore beneath my shoulder pads, my jersey, helmet and mouth guard were all missing.  Somebody had come into the locker room and taken them.  Somebody was trying to get me off my game, off my zen, trying to get me to freak out. 

And a calmness came over me (sometimes not my normal reaction).  The calmness said, not to worry as I could borrow the shirt, pads, jersey, helmet and even mouth guard.  There was absolutely nothing to worry about and I became the calmness and fell into a deep sleep.  I slept later than I had slept in many months. 

Somehow I sensed Quinton was there.