Your Birthday 9.18 Your Legacy
Be still. Close your eyes. Breathe. Listen for my footfall in your heart. I am not gone but merely walk within you.
Author: Nicholas Evans - Full Poem
Jesse's Mom read this poem the day of the first official Jesse Tyler Parker Race.
It struck me when I heard it. The people we meet in this life, the people we experience, how we can still "find" them.
Close your eyes.
You can feel them. Their personality, their smile, the way they flip their hair from their eyes. No one is ever really gone. They live on in us.
Jesse was going into his Senior Year the Summer he passed on. July 4th 2009. Days you never forget where you were, what you were doing, who you were with.
He was going to be 18 this day in 2009. He was going to walk across the stage with us on graduation day. He was going to be off to college to become an engineer. He was going to build wells for people in Africa. His Legacy was planned.
Jesse was a cross country teammate, a lunch table friend, a percussion band goofball, a human with heart and passion and lots of charm and good looks he wouldn't let you miss either. The Heartbeat you felt when you remembered Jesse was all the goofy things he did, all the pranks that got played back and forth, running was big in his world and that is one of the reasons I got to be apart of his. The first race was a memorial run in T-shirts made with the classic thumbs up Jesse would give each time he ran. His rules to running on the back of the shirts. A huge group of people went to that race. I can still remember the smiles and the tears. Celebration of Life.
His life has become more colorful and I have probably become more part of it than I might have if he was still here. Sometimes, I imagine that he went to a college out of state, traveled, we might have lost touch, I would know what he was up to through my close friends who were close with him. I imagine he would be in a different country now, or traveling back and forth. He would be sticking up for what is good and right, fighting for resources for people who didn't have the access to water we take for granted here.
His Heartbeat. His Footfalls. They still thrum through this world, his legacy living in the people who took his dream on. His passion radiating out in events, contribution, and life changing works.
Turning Tears into Water. Wine to Water Fundraiser. Empowering Youth. Contributing Locally and Worldwide with over $400,000 in Charitable Support.
The Remembering Jesse Parker Race, The community and pieces of the world came together to run. Event day T-shirts. The race day packets had come with messages of love and hope, pictures hand drawn by kiddos were delivered.
As the race begins, the same color rolled like a wave from the starting line, wrapping around the High School Track where he used to run,
along the lake at Winnebago Park, down the path to the Firestone building. Each person was there for a reason. A memory of him would float through your mind. Maybe in the exact place you were running. Maybe of someone in his family. Maybe of him as a little kiddo. Maybe as a friend of a friend of Jesse's. A sign along the running route would inspire a moment of joy and gratitude.
September 18th. Jesse and his best friend had plans. To get a cigar and smoke it. Finally old enough. A "romantic" coming of age in my imagination.
Savoring a cigar with a buddy. Can you see it? Sitting outside in the grass on a hill, deep seated life. Taking in the moment. Talking about nothing and everything with your best friend. When you think of moments like that, what else could you ask for? What is more precious than the moment?
Merely Walk Within You
We had a bonfire that night, wrote letters to Jesse on balloons and released them into the sky as the sun was setting. A group of us enjoyed some Cigarellos(yes, grape) in his honor.
I Am Not Gone
Something tragic molded into something beautiful. Is that it is still happening. Ghana has been blessed by his life. His family and people in the community carry his legacy. Tears truly turned into live giving contribution. What an absolute gift. This day each year, should the opportunity present itself, is the one day a year, I choose into a cigarello moment, savoring the memory, savoring the richness of life. Feeling the chill of the grass under my feet. Feeling the final rays of the warmth on my face as the sun sets and Remembering Jesse Tyler Parker. Happy Birthday Friend <3 Thank you for the gift of your life and the legacy you brought to this world <3