2012 LOPA picnic

****I wrote this post back in March and never got around to posting it. It is an important one and I really want it to be part of my little piece of the internet. So, sorry for the untimely post! Things have been busy these days!****

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Same dresses, one year later!

Again, the annual LOPA picnic was at Global Wildlife Center. It is such a beautiful place with so many activities, and I am so thankful to be able to attend this function with our family. I’ll get right into the activities LOPA has each year for kids and adults!

Up first – the Rockwall. Marielle really wanted to do it, and I was so surprised. To be honest, Marielle is kind of a scaredy-cat. She doesn’t like loud noises, dogs, bugs, thunder, etc, all of it. But she put this harness on and climbed up the wall! We were so proud of her!

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Jaci and Cassidy, Marielle and Aliza’s cousins, also rocked that rock wall. Cassidy did it a bunch of times and got almost all the way to the top.

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Mrs. Dalta had some extra tickets so my sister, Billy and Griffin got to come. It was really fun for them to see the LOPA community and a plus to see all those beautiful animals.

After eating and rockwall climbing and face painting and snowballs and bounce houses, we all hopped on the train to go around the park and see all those animals up close. The train ride is probably the best part of the Global Wildlife experience.

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OMG – the cuteness!!!

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Marielle and Jaci feeding the animals. 2 peas in a pod. Too cute.

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Griffin even had a hand-me-down shirt from a friend of mine to match Marielle and Aliza’s. I really wanted to get a picture of them together in the “I heart Organ Donors” outfits, but I was dealing with toddlers, and you know how that goes. This is the best I could do…

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This year was a bit different for me than last year. Last year I was sad and still kind of mad. I am still both of those things, but this year I had different emotions going into the picnic. This event always falls very close to the anniversary of Jeremi’s death. The picnic is emotional in itself, seeing people who have been given organs, donated organs and families of both. But doubled with the anniversary, it seems to make it extra emotional.

This year, a few weeks before the anniversary, my grandmother was in ICU. She was only in there a few days and is out now, but Jon and I had to walk down all the same paths, past all the waiting rooms, and into the area that has so many difficult memories. I feel like I started mourning Jeremi and the anniversary very early this year. And this time it wasn’t so much of mourning Jeremi, it was reliving the all the scenes from those horrible 2 days in the hospital.

Walking down those hallways was very difficult. More than I anticipated and it stayed with me a while. I dreamed of the scenes witnessed 5 years ago. They are so vivid. I see Bobbi Jo on the ground crying for her daughter and son-in-law. I see Jon tell me the news. I see Jared walking down the hall, hearing the dreaded information of his brothers passing. I see Jessie and Jon’s parents near Jeremi’s bedside, not knowing how to act or what to think. I hear Paige telling me, “but he looks the same. He looks the same!” because she could not believe the truth. I remember calling Jeremi’s best friend and having to tell him the news. It’s all so overwhelming and painful.

To celebrate the life of Jeremi this year, Mr. Jesse and Mrs. Dalta, with the help of Jared and Paige, had a mass, a ceremony at the gravesite and a crawfish boil. It was a great day spent with several of Jeremi’s friends and all of the Gary family. There were stories told and memories recounted. Although this day, this anniversary of Jeremi’s death is always sad, it is nice to visit with those who knew him best and shared so much with him.

I am, as I am sure the whole Gary family is, so thankful for such a wonderful group of family and friends we have during this emotional and exhausting time of year. It shows just what a great person Jeremi was, to surround himself with such wonderful people. Rest in Peace.

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