The Window of Hope is dedicated to all parents and grandparents who have lost a child.† I created the Window of Hope in memory of my granddaughter, Jessica Bryn Lawson, who died January 28, 2002 at the age of three and a half months from SIDS.†
The loss of a child is the most difficult loss to endure.†† I believe the reason for this is that our children come from our hearts.† They are created out of the love we share with another person.† From the time of their creation, they are vested deeply in our heart and soul.† Even before we ever see them, hear them, or hold them, we love them with all our being.† Our love for them is truly unconditional and we are always ready to give our own lives for them if need be.† As they grow and mature, we nurture and protect them.† We dedicate our lives toward their future and well-being.† We look forward to sharing their lives until we die.
Then our child dies.† A part of us dies with that child.† We will never be the same person again because a part of our heart and soul was taken from us.† With the loss of a child, we lose a part of our innocence, trust and faith.† We now know the truth about life!† Bad things happen to good people regardless of how many good deeds we perform, how much we pray, give to the church or beg God.† How can we go forward with our lives without our child or grandchild?† How can we trust again?†
The fact is we go on with our lives because we have to.† Some of us have other children and grandchildren that need us and we need to be a part of their lives.† Most of us have commitments to family, friends, work, church, God, etc. that we feel must be met.†
So then, how do we go on with life?† We must have HOPE!† At first, we need hope that we can rise above the deep despair of our grief to be able to once again perform the simplest of tasks.† And later in our journey, we hope for a day with more smiles than tears.† We hope for a day that will have more joy than sorrow, a day when we can focus more on the living than on the dead.† We hope for a time when we will not be afraid every time the phone rings or of another death or tragedy striking our family.† And above all, we hope that when this life is over, we will once again embrace our loved ones for eternity.
My wish is that all of you can look upon the Window of Hope and feel hope for your future in this life, and for the life beyond the grave for your child, grandchild or loved one and yourself.†
My daughter and son-in-law, Lynette and Michael Lawson will now unveil the Window of Hope.††
I will introduce the children represented in the panels starting with the yellow rose and moving clockwise around the window.
1. John Arthur Foss, son of Eleanor and Artie Foss.† Eleanor and Artieís hands hold the yellow rose, which is Johnís symbol.††
2. Drew and Jeremiah Smith, sons of Rosemary and Luther Smith.† The butterflies and stargazer lily are symbols of Rosemary and Lutherís children.†
3. Kristina Jill Partin, daughter of Rita Partin.† Jill and Rita are depicted as angels embraced forever
4. Ryan Lamont Sargent, son of Betty Sargent.† The cross, Ryanís symbol was taken from a drawing he had made.
5. Doug Bartee, son of Pam Heitzman.† Pamís brightly lit candle surrounds Doug in its warm loving glow.
6. Jim Taylor II, son of Dinah and Jim Taylor.† The Pegasus, Jimís symbol, is lifted toward heaven with wings patterned from Dinah and Jimís hands.
7. Anne Calvin and Paxston Scott Haake, daughter and grandson of Jolene and Cecil Hutchinson.† Ann is depicted as an angel eternally holding her precious son Paxston.
8. Jessica Bryn Lawson, daughter of Lynette and Michael Lawson.† Jessica is shown as an angel with wings patterned from the hands of Lynette and Michael.
9. Lisa Canada Rains, daughter of Rita and Lester Canada.† Lisa is shown as an angel forever embracing her unborn daughter, Elizabeth Abigail.
10. Christopher Michael Jackson, son of Debbie and Guy Jackson.† A star, Michaelís symbol, is shimmering and beveled to represent the many facets of his star quality life.
11. Tina Allison Mayne, daughter of Rosemary and Garry Mayne.† Tina, crippled no more, is standing tall in her heavenly body.
12. Justin Ratliff, son of Debbie Garber.† The deer and rainbow are both Justinís symbols.† The deer was patterned from a drawing made by Justin.
In addition, there are three other children represented in the window:
1. Erica Shi Richie, daughter of Carol Scott.† Shiís name is written in the tails of the butterflies that are flying near the Angel of Hope.
2. Hannah Martell, daughter of Maria Housden.† Hannahís red Mary Janes lie at the feet of the Angel of Hope.
3. Mattie Stepanek, poet and son of Jeni Stepanek.† Mattieís Heartsong symbol is found within the dress of one of the angels.
Introduction of the Hope symbols
Before I began the design for the window I knew I wanted to include as many HOPE symbols in the window as I could.† So, I went about creating a list of Hope Symbols by asking many, many people to name symbols that represented Hope to them.† I then incorporated these into the window.††
† First in the smaller panels are the following Hope symbols:
1. A Rainbow†††
2. Spring Flowers†
3. A Candle†
4. A Cross
5. John 3-16
6. A Star
7. A Heartsong Symbol†
Then in the Angel of Hope Panel you see:
1. A Dove
3. Hannahís Shoes
If you are interested in a more detailed explanation of the symbology of the Window of Hope, I will be at the window during the afternoon session and after the concert.
In closing, I want to say that the messages of hope within the window are for all parents and loved ones.† I came to the conclusion early on in the planning stage of the window that the actual design of the window was out of my control.† I realized that I was but an instrument to create a gift for you from God and all your children.† Dinah once told me that she believed all our children pulled us together at these conferences because we needed one another. I have come to believe she is correct.† I believe we are all here today because we need to be here for one another and because there is a message of hope for each of you within the window.
I truly believe this window is your childrenís window.† It is their design; it is their gift to you.† Your children are expressing their hope that you will survive, you will have a productive life without them and you will make the effort in their memory to be happy in this life.† This is their Window of Hope for each of you.† Even though you do not have a child represented in the window, I believe there is a message of hope for you there also.
I close with the words of young Mattie Stepanek:
ďHope, she is my friendĒ.† As I close today, I pray that HOPE is your friend also.