Grief Journal: The Lives He Touched

They say the ones we loved and lost live on in our hearts, and in the lives they touched. Charlie certainly touched many lives during his short 10 years with us. It is truly humbling to know that so many people vividly remember him and have felt compelled to share their love and grief by memorializing him in some way.

A very kind anonymous donor made a contribution to our local library with the request that the funds support some kind of art program, in remembrance of how much Charlie loved to draw. Our awesome children’s librarian reached out to the local high school honors art program to engage its talented artists.

The art students (some of whom knew Charlie very well, or our family) designed a mural for the teen section of the library. They planned each panel to tell a story of adventure and magic, based in our town, featuring Charlie and his friends. Once the outline was done, students from Charlie’s school were invited to help paint and make the mural come alive, under the direction of the high school artists. The result is a beautiful tribute not just to Charlie, but to the power of imagination and story.

Here is a panoramic view of this amazing piece. Residents of our town will recognize many of the places and events that make this such a wonderful place to live. Charlie grew up here and loved this town fiercely. He often told me he was never moving away. I think anyone who doesn’t know Charlie will still enjoy this piece, because of the way the artists showed the boy and his friends having fun; it captures the magic of childhood. They are obviously using their imaginations as they move through a fantastical yet very real landscape. It is a piece full of life and joy, yet tinged with sadness not just because of the connection to Charlie, but because it represents a fleeting moment of childhood innocence.
Anyone who knew Charlie knew of his love for trees. He even named the trees in our yard. He also had a fondness for capes and using sticks as toys.
Here Charlie and a friend race across the trollway bridge. Apparently, a lot of Charlie’s friends remember him wearing hats. He could definitely rock a hat with panache; he had a unique and confident sense of style. I’m quite sure polar bears, cowboy frogs and horses figured in some of the games the neighborhood and school kids played.
This section of the mural showcases two of Charlie’s favorite town activities–our annual Frolic, complete with parade and carnival, and the fireworks. It also represents one of my favorite pictures of Charlie (below), one that perfectly captures his spirit and zest for life. His physical presence may be gone, but his light still burns.

Thank you SO much to the anonymous donor who made this possible, the talented high school students and their mentors, Charlie’s classmates, and the wonderful staff at our library.

And thank you to everyone who still remembers and loves our boy. It means more than we can ever say.