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Day 90/90 – Atticus’ Memorial

Day 90 of the 90 Days of Awesome is in the bank! What made today awesome? We celebrated the life of Atticus VanSlyke as a community.

Photo by Amy Donohue

Photo by Amy Donohue

Literally hundreds of people followed this family’s journey as their little son Atticus battled cancer. He battled it while spreading joy and love everywhere he went. I loved seeing the photos of Atticus walking the halls late at night and looking up at the light displays in the lobby with wide eyes and his jaw dropped with wonder. Our collective hearts broke when we learned the news that Atticus passed away.

We came together as a community to support this family and remember Atticus. The church was packed with all walks of life from people in suits to people wearing jeans and “Team Atticus” t-shirts. I wore a yellow cardigan and my dress with the pleated skirt that makes me want to twirl. (I may have twirled a few times when I put it on that day.) It seemed appropriate.

The service was beautiful. It was filled with images of Atticus from his too-short life and some of the most gorgeous music I’ve ever heard – especially the performance of Amazing Grace (My Chains are Gone). Krys and Melissa planned to sing this song when Atticus was cancer-free, but they played it here because their son was free from the chains of cancer in a different way. I’d never heard this variation of Amazing Grace before, and even though I’m not a religious person, I bought the song on iTunes when I got home. Listening to it still makes me cry.

Atticus' Balloon Release

Atticus’ Balloon Release

Krys and Melissa both spoke at Atticus’ memorial. I don’t know how they did that, but they each spoke from the heart and with such openness and love for Atticus and their family, sharing stories that few people know. I was in awe of their grace and how openly they shared what was in their hearts while the rest of us soaked tissues and handkerchiefs with tears.

The service ended with a balloon release. (Yes, I know we engaged in communal littering and it’s bad for the environment, but shut up – it’s what this family wanted.) I hope it helped give them a sense of peace and the feeling that they are still connected with their son and brother.

I hope the VanSlykes know that they are surrounded by love. Even though the rest of us will get on with our lives while they are deep in their grieving process, we will be there in a moment’s notice if they need us. And as time passes on and they re-experience their grief as they celebrate holidays and milestones knowing that Atticus is missing, I hope they know that we’ll be thinking loving thoughts for them.

In case you missed it: Day 89 of the 90 Days of Awesome – I registered the trademark for this blog!

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One Comment

  1. Kathy says:

    Thank you for sharing this and your beautiful words for Atticus and his awesome family.