Originally Posted August 22, 2016 A CHICAGO THING. See how far we’ve come! NEXT UP OUR 4th ANNUAL VARIETY SHOW FUNDRAISER Sep 7 at the Chop Shop – TICKETS ON SALE NOW!

We are known for our parties. Always at home in our gorgeous yard. Always bake the cake ourselves and make the food and decorations ourselves. We plan the themes for months. We even make the piñata from scratch each year.

It is how I have always done things with my kids. At home…teaching them and having tons of fun. Our house and yard have always been the house to hang out at…play basketball in the driveway, run all around the yard playing games and often til dark on the week-ends so the kids can play Ghost in the Graveyard.

The family party was always for both kids. Patrick was born September 11th and Zoe August 23rd….four years apart. So, we always had a family party to celebrate both birthdays on the same day,  then a party for Patrick and his friends on another day and then one for Zoe and her friends. Followed by a huge Halloween party in October.

August was always the beginning of our “party season”. A joyful, silly time with family and friends.

Last week we had the family party. For various reasons, it was not as big as usual. Sick aunts and uncles and other responsibilities for some others. Very understandable, but hard for Zoe to really grasp. She is still young and takes things personally.

This was her second birthday without Patrick. I explained that things never stay the same….Aunts and Uncles have their own lives and sometimes schedules get mixed up. That everyone still loves her and always will. That is does not have anything to do with Packy being gone.

We had her kid birthday two days ago. As usual, it was a blast. This year I did something I never do….I actually paid money for a special treat. I surprised Zoe with a 22 foot tall inflatable water slide. Of course the kids had a blast. They played all day and then slept in a tent in the garage (cause of late night rain) which was a blast.

Today Zoe asked my why I  rented something so extravagant? All I could say was, “Things change.” It just felt right to make a different kind of deal of her party. We all need something big to help us get through this time of year.

I made it through the week-end and am exhausted now. I sit quietly and cry by myself for my son, who is no longer with us. His birthday will be soon. And no big friend party for him.

The basketball hoop is not used much anymore. We don’t have 10 boys here all the time eating us out of house and home.

His room is empty and my husband and I still can not bear to clean it all out.

He was murdered 18 months ago. He was only 14. He was one of the light of our lives.

Every day I sob. I  go on for Zoe and because I know I have to…..I am a glass half full person, so I can see a zillion things every day that make life worth living. But, life has made a 180 degree turn….it is upside down and all different. It is not what I thought it would be. I never in a million years imagined that I would lose my son and that it would be in a violent, horrible, dark way.

The underlying excitement of everything  is gone. Underneath my willingness to celebrate with my daughter and the intense love I feel for her is a sadness. ….a hopeless feeling. A cloud colors all. I really try to not let her see it. And that alone takes so much energy.

She is a sweet tween who lost her brother and grandmother and grandfather ( my parents) all in six months.

That is now her story. Part of her life story. When her kids ask her about her childhood she will have to tell them how she once had a big brother and than some idiot gang member with a gun shot him. That her brother was an innocent boy who did not get to live past 14 years old. I can not tell her that I fear for her. I am terrified something will happen to her too.

It is my story. I am now the mother of a murdered child. I am now in a club that I do not want to be in. It is an awful club and one that I wish had no members.

We go on with our lives….waiting for the murder trial to happen…it keeps getting pushed back for various reasons. Waiting for the deep well of sorrow to slowly fill back up with joy. Realizing that the rose colored glasses will never go on again.

Realizing that all those fantastic joyful parties and countless hours spent in our yard are things of the past, never to return. They were amazing. They were peaceful. They were complete.

I have started a Non Profit called PATRICK LIVES ON….To Save Lives to help eradicate gun violence. I am doing it to honor my son and because I can not bear to think of another mother feeling this pain for no reason…for a senseless death. Every loss of a child would feel senseless.

But, to know that someone chose to kill….that they purposely got a gun and came out shooting…only to hit and instantly kill the most innocent person around. It is too tragic to digest. At least now I can call it what it is. Murder. In the beginning I could say or even think that word. It is still and I think always will be nearly impossible to believe. But, my son still hasn’t come home so it must be true.

If my organization  only saves one life it will be worth all the effort because every single life is worth its weight in gold. We need to help people realize that again. Help them realize that the basics are what is important…family and kindness and loving.

We want to help  kids be active with after school programs and summer camps so that they will not be lured into gangs. We want to establish counseling programs to help the parents be present for their kids.

Please visit my website.

You will see photos of my son and learn about our mission. Our Launch and Initial Fundraiser will be on Sept. 10th. My co-workers will be the entertainment. They all happen to be big TV Stars! They are cast members from CHICAGO PD, CHICAGO MED and CHICAGO FIRE. I work with them every day. They are my “other family” and they want to help me and all the kids of Chicago. When you visit the website, you can buy tickets.

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