Last weekend Petaluma's Jonny Gomes, a player for the Boston Red Sox, ordered four customized bats. Each was engraved with the names of the four victims of last week's violence in Boston.
"Boston Strong" was written above them. Gomes eventually will auction off the bats.
Gomes' tribute was well-received. Appropriate, respectful and thoughtful, the idea to honor and remember those who have died unexpectedly and violently is one all too frequently on display these days. Whether at the hands of terrorists, drunk drivers or simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time, physical memorials are erected quickly. Crosses, plaques, baseball bats, signs, flowers, cards, wreaths, teddy bears are just some of the ways we remember and hold the tragic passing of life closely.
But the inevitable demand of daily life pushes us, maybe even propels us, forward. What happens when time flies by and takes us with it? What happens to those memorials and the thoughts behind them? Do they diminish in importance?
Trevor Smith Field "helps us get up every day," said Pam Smith. She is referring to her husband and their two sons. Smith is the Petaluma mother who lost her third son, 13-year-old Trevor, in a vehicular accident 10 months ago. In March, an upgraded Little League field in Petaluma was named after Trevor with a mounted bronze plaque bearing his likeness standing just outside the fence behind home plate.
"With each day," said the hairdresser, the field "becomes a little more impactful" on her family.
Each day, like those photographs she has of Trevor, that Little League field provides a palpable connection for her. It's where he played. It's where he is honored by his city. It's where his mother is reminded of all things great and small in Trevor's life.
"Everyone has lives that move forward and move sometimes very fast," Smith said. "And that's the way it should be. But for our family, it's like someone hit the pause button on the DVD player. Or lifted the needle of that (vinyl) record."
They spin and go somewhere, yet nowhere. They spin, finding today with so much of yesterday in it.
They go and they stay. For Smith, that's why that Little League field grows in importance. It feels good to be there, to be reminded of what Petaluma felt about her son.
"It's as if that person isn't erased," said Yolande Adams, coordinator for grief counseling service of Hospice of Petaluma, about the value of memorials. "They are still there. They are just not alive."
The field discourages, if not eliminates altogether, the temptation to grieve alone. Isolating oneself in sorrow can be emotional quicksand.
"It gives us something to do in a very palatable way," Adams said of going to the field.
Being able to say, "&‘Let's go and do that,' is significant. It's something for us to do."
It's an activity, and it's not just going to bingo to place your mind somewhere else. Smith became acutely aware of the importance of that activity last weekend when she went to a retreat for mothers who have lost a child. In her carpool was Tricia Wells, mother of 20-year-old Nicko, who died last summer in an accident at Blue Lake. Their bond is indeed forever. Their sons are buried next to each other at Calvary Catholic Cemetery in Petaluma.
Resources To Help
North Bay Suicide Prevention 24-hour hotline: 855-587-6373
NAMI Sonoma County warmline: 707-527-6655
Sonoma County Psychiatric Emergency Services: 707-576-8181
For information on Sonoma County support groups, call 707-527-6655 or go to namisonomacounty.org