Bennett loved rocks—all shapes, sizes, colors, and textures. He loved polished beautiful stones from the rock store. He loved fossils. He loved sparkly gems. But he also loved the ordinary rock, found in a mud puddle. He spent many a recess asking kids and adults to pick up rocks he spied on the ground. He stopped us on the way to school. They filled every pocket of his backpack. So much so that sometimes I had to sneak pocketfuls back onto the blacktop and into the parking lot when he wasn’t looking.
Mother’s Day has turned into a pretty complicated day for this mama. Bennett was born 8 minutes before Mother’s Day in 2012. Bennett’s sister made me a mom, but Bennett and the lessons his diagnosis taught me, made me a better one. When I am most missing my boy, I look for the rocks. I have one in just about every jacket and bag I own…when I slip my hand in and feel the very real physical comfort of it, I feel my boy’s love and delight and wonder of the world. Some of the rocks are ones he gave me himself. Others are ones that I have picked up since his passing. Friends and family gather rocks from their adventures all over the world and send them to me to add to Bennett’s collection. When I want someone to know that I am thinking of them, if I want to leave a little piece of myself or of Bennett with them, I give them a rock. When I wanted to stay connected to Bennett’s classmates, I read them a book about rocks and then we made pet rocks together. Rocks are a way to connect us to Bennett and to each other.
Bennett’s birthday is on Tuesday. He should be turning eight. I am missing my boy pretty hard. I find myself looking for the rocks. This Mother’s Day, I invite you to join me in decorating a rock or two (or eight) in celebration of Bennett’s birthday. Go on an adventure outside to find one that speaks to you. Then write on it a message of hope or love, or paint it sparkly and bright, just like his smile. Keep it for yourself to remember Bennett. Or place it on the doorstep of a neighbor who is quarantining alone, or a friend who could use some cheering up. Give one to an essential worker who is keeping us safe and fed to let them know how much we appreciate them. Or leave them somewhere in a public space to brighten the days of those who pass by.
One of Bennett’s greatest gift was that he brought people together—to care for him, to laugh with him, to learn with him, to love. In this time of uncertainty and separation, join me in spreading that love and connecting to each other through the power and the beauty and the wonder of that comes from sharing a rock.
–Kara (Bennett’s mom)