The Pepper FamilyThe last thing I told my husband, Tony, was, “I love you and I’ll see you soon!” I never imagined he would not come home that night.
We were living in Missouri with our two boys, Mitchel and Jacob, who were eight and six years old at the time. We had gone into town to get a rental car for me and decided to have dinner too. It was a cold night in February and it was getting late. I chose to take our boys home in the rental car while Tony visited with a friend at the bar. I figured I would see him in a little bit. I woke up at 4 a.m. on February 11th, 2010, to the sound of banging on my bedroom window and when I came to, I could see flashlights pointing in the window, swirling around like they were looking for someone to be home. I answered the front door, knowing it was the police, and when I didn’t see Tony, my heart dropped. I expected them to tell me he had been in an accident and was in the hospital… or that he’d been in a fight at the bar and was in jail. Nothing could have prepared me for “I’m sorry, he’s dead. He suffered a head injury when he was ejected from his vehicle just up the road.” Nothing about our lives has been the same since that moment… he was our everything. I don’t know which was worse; hearing that he was dead or having to tell my children that they would never see their father again. It was the worst day of our lives….
A few months after moving back here we started going to The Landing. When it came recommended by more people than just the school counselor, I decided to look into it. Initially, I didn’t like the idea of talking about our problems to strangers. So I thought I would sit and read a book while I waited for the boys to get done in their group. I was so wrong! The Landing has been so inspirational in all of our healing, it’s unfathomable how much it has helped. We have met so many people we can relate to in dealing with grief. It has been two years since that terrible day and a lot has changed. We moved back to Washington, which is where I grew up and where most of my family still lives. It is also where Tony and I met, fell in love, and started a family. We live in the same neighborhood where Tony and I used to live. The boys really like that because it feels like home! I have also met a man who accepts all three of us and embraces our situation. He was my high school sweetheart of three years and we are all very happy together.
The Landing helped me finally get off of my “auto pilot” mode, it helped my children know that they were not alone, and it gave them a safe place to unleash whatever they were feeling. We still go every other Tuesday. Some days are better than others and the good days definitely outweigh the bad now. We all still deal with our grief. It seems to come and go in waves, but with the support we provide one another and that we receive from The Landing, our grief is getting more manageable each day!
On a personal note, to whoever reads this all the way to the end, please don’t drink and drive and please, always wear your seatbelt. If Tony had, I wouldn’t be writing this today…
The Pepper Family
Emily, Mitchel and Jacob
The Covert FamilyMy name is Erica Covert and I have two children, Wyatt and Trinity.
On June 20, 2008, our world as we knew it came to a halt. My husband Caine Covert was killed at work that Friday morning. I went to the hospital where they were working on him; his body just went through too much and he couldn't hold on.
I went to pick up my kids from my friend’s house and drove them to my parents. There I sat down with them and had to tell them their dad was dead. My son was five at the time and my daughter was 2. "How do I tell my kids their dad is dead?" is what I kept saying to myself. That was the hardest thing I ever had to do.
A couple of weeks later I got a phone call that would change our lives for the better. Sandi Sims called to tell me about The Landing. At first I was apprehensive, but I decided to try it out "for the kids’ sake." We started going; the first few times were rough, but then we got into a routine. After the first month of going to The Landing the kids would ask me, "Is it The Landing tonight?" It is a wonderful place full of love and understanding. A place where kids can come and be open with other children that are going through similar life-altering situations. All the kids that go to The Landing know that what happens and what is said at The Landing stays at The Landing. Wyatt and Trinity have made some very close friendships with the volunteers and the other children that attend their Tuesday night group. When we get to The Landing the kids give me a quick kiss and head straight upstairs to "opening circle," then downstairs to the other activities they have for them – art room, dress-up room, volcano room, puppet room, and the activity room (I hear about air-hockey all the time).
As a parent I get to be involved in so many ways that I didn't realize at first. We as adults meet in the living room while the children have their group. It is so nice to be able to support each other. There is one lovely lady that I met at The Landing and we have become best friends. We have both lost our husbands and we both have young children we have to raise alone. If it weren't for The Landing we would have never met. Two years ago I decided to become a facilitator and that has been really rewarding. It has given me a whole new perspective on The Landing. What a wonderful place to be a part of.
Wyatt, Trinity and I still attend The Landing today and I feel we won't be leaving anytime soon. The kids still ask me on Tuesdays, "Is it The Landing tonight?" I feel very blessed to have this opportunity to share with you my thoughts on this amazing place – A Healing Place For Kids.