Last week, I shared Part I of what pointed me to make KUOW the first beneficiary of my lawn sign proceeds. Looking back on that day and the ones that followed, I am reminded of how important it is for me to to slow down, lift my head to look and listen to what is happening right in front of me and engage when my heart moves me. Too often, my days are spent moving quickly through my work, my errands, the responsibilities that come with being an adult and the day ends with exhaustion and questioning if I did enough. Since that morning in the cemetery and the one that followed, I have realized my life is much better when I stop to see the world around me and connect with smiles, words, actions and intention. This is what has fueled my passion with the Spread Love campaign. With each day, each new experience, each conversation, each connection my fuel tank expands and leaves me with feelings that I may combust if I cannot find ways to express the importance of this campaign and how it is much more than words on a sign.
My hope is the campaign or people you have met because of spreading love has impacted you in ways that pull at your heart to do more. If they have let me know...we have so much work we can do and we will be stronger together!
Seeing words I shared last year remind me that little ideas, like little snowflakes can add up to an avalanche that can wipe out hate if we just persist! Join me.
And now I share part II of a my "KUOW journey" that impacted me and moved me to start the Spread Love campaign 2 days later.
"Following yesterday's journey to the cemetery in search of Phoenix's resting place, I had to return today to make another attempt. I also felt I had to lay a Seattle Rock on Thomas Stang's headstone as I had seen that today was the first anniversary of his passing. Out the door I went with the dog. Promising myself I would not linger as long today. I had a noon appt that ensured I could not wander more than a half hour
The "Love" rock I had placed in the tree was was still there. I decided to grab it in case I was able to find Phoenix's grave. I was sure the first thing I would spot would be the Love headstone as it was such a beacon & 1st thing I saw yesterday. But, just as I was telling myself to move with pace and maybe I was ridiculous in my quest, a large headstone engraved w/ my son's name appeared in my path. I laughed because he would be the first one to say those exact words to me, "w/ pace Mom, seriously do you really need to find it??"
The cemetery is very large. I felt like I had covered and re-covered the slope on the backside from Bruce Lee's grave that it must be a slope off to the right. My plan was to start in that direction and work my way around to the backside again. If I was unsuccessful again at least I knew I would cross Thomas's grave and I could leave my little gift to him.
I wandered aimlessly a bit, slightly baffled how I could not have found it yesterday. In Linda's story, she said most children's graves were obvious because of the size of the headstones. I hadn't seen many in my search yesterday. All of the sudden a headstone jumped into my view. How could I have missed this one?? In large, bold letters across the top it said "BABY". And just another minute later I see two more that read "Baby..." I felt like they were taunting me a bit. How was I missing Phoenix's headstone? And then I wondered if these headstones had been washed by Linda over the years. She had mentioned washing headstones of other children in the cemetery. Had these received her love?
I felt like I was covering all the areas.
But, as I wandered in my search, I realized I hadn't seen many of the rows in the area, Lake View is huge. I discovered another grave with painted rocks. I pulled one out of my pocket to add to Amy's treasures. I am very curious what the inscription says just above the rocks. Is it Hebrew?
Within a few yards, I was in front of Thomas Stang's headstone. I took a few moments to think about this stranger and his family who I am sure were thinking of him today. As I left him a little rock to add to his collection, I saw he and his mother shared the same birthday. At the age of 26, Hedvig Stang received a great gift. So cool!
Finding myself back in an area I had walked through many times yesterday. I decided to walk down to the bottom of the slope, look more closely at the sites on the edge of the cemetery before heading home. No luck.
I looked up the hill, scanning but at a loss because I knew I had covered the slope many times. It was about time to call my search off for the day. As I walked up the hillside, I saw a big snowflake hanging on the back of a headstone.
I had not seen it before. Could this be a decoration on Phoenix's grave, I thought. Probably not as the headstone was so big, but I decided to go see. As I walked up the hill I told myself, "I know this isn't Phoenix's headstone but maybe is a sign from the Universe. Silly to admit but I was trying to think positively that I still could find him today. Regardless, the snowflake deserved to be photographed. As I got closer I saw the kanji symbol surrounded by the snowflake. It was pretty. I really wanted to know what the symbol meant, but it was also a clue that this was for sure not Phoenix's headstone. I rounded to the front and thought to myself, "Nope not his, the Chinn's are far from his relatives.
But come on all of you people around me. I know you can help me find him." I was bummed I was coming up short. I walked a few feet further and saw the Tuck's headstone.
It stopped me because it was simultaneously stark and beautiful with the hard granite, bold face type surrounded by pines and the mountain. "Wow, Seattle pioneers....there are so many old Seattle families here. The family plots are large...Phoenix could not be near here because this is closer to the top of the hill that must have all been reserved by these families long ago."
I found myself taking a deep breath, looking up to the top of the hill and enjoying the sunny spot I was in while telling myself it was okay I hadn't found him today. It was time to go (I had an appt to get to in 30 mins, I could not stay any longer), but I would be back. The sun was streaming in...it was stunning and for some reason my gazed dropped to my right just behind my shoulder and I the words Phoenix jumped off the headstone...WHAT??!!! NO WAY!!! Seriously, it was the most jarring, awe-inspiring moment. I was standing right next Phoenix's headstone. The sunlight was lighting it up so bright. I must have walked past this spot a handful of times...but there was the little hand on top that I had been in search of. I took out my Love rock and laid it next to Phoenix's hand. The rock had found its home.
It was such a beautiful headstone! And how did I not see it sooner given it was surrounded by sparkly red snowflakes?!
I walked around to the other side and discovered more beauty.
I thought about Linda sitting in this space with her son over the last 11 years. My heart was heavy for her. My Oscar was born 10 days before Linda lost her first born son. Phoenix would be a 6th grader. While I have enjoyed watched by Oscar grow and change, Linda has come here to be with Phoenix. Standing there I was reminded how fortunate I have been.
I could not linger long as I was sure to be late for my appt. I snapped a few more pics to document how close the Chinn's were to Phoenix and ran up the hill heading for the cemetery exit.
As I was running down the hill, I looked back over my shoulder trying to spot the Love headstone I saw yesterday. A few quick scans came up empty.
As I left the cemetery, I thought about how the Love headstone was a beacon at the start of my Finding Phoenix journey and how the Chinn's snowflake headstone was my beacon at the end of my journey. Both propelled me to making my way to Phoenix's resting place. It was meant to be that I did not see the love headstone on my way out. The memory of my journey will always be bookend by the light of LOVE and lightness of a snowflake with the brightest point being the light that shone on Phoenix.
Here were my closing thoughts. I was overwhelmed and decided to turn on my video camera:
Here is a link to Linda's audio story.