Over the last few days I've been talking about "The Gabe Lindsay Spirit Of Kindness", and yet I realized that I have not talked "about" "The Gabe Lindsay Spirit Of Kindness". In some ways I always feel a little badly when I speak about Gabriel. I feel like one of those "look at me" people. You know you have those friends on facebook who are always bemoaning some injury or some illness everyday. Those people who seem to need your sympathy, desperately need your attention (I don't mean this in a mean way, even though the tone seems mean. I really feel like those people are crying out for attention, and that's really sad). I am not looking for sympathy. I have 5 kids. I talk about the other 4 all the time. I feel like it's only right to talk about Gabe, it's just I need to talk about him in a different context. The other reason that I feel free to talk about Gabe is because I am not the only person who has lost a child, unfortunately. If just one other person out there reading this has gone through that kind of a loss and can receive any kind of comfort or inspiration, then I have done my job.
When Gabe died we were lost. Not only were we lost, we were panic stricken. Our son was dead, but we could not bear the thought that he could be forgotten. I will freely admit it was a panic I felt. At that time I would lay awake in bed thinking, always thinking, racking my brain trying to find ways to immortalize him. Being forgotten is so much worse than being dead. We could not allow Gabe to ever be forgotten. It was very early on when we decided upon "The Gabe Lindsay Spirit Of Kindness Award".
The first award was given out exactly 41 days after we lost him. The award is given on his birthday, on that birthday he should have been turning 10. For that assembly the school showed the slide show that we had made for his funeral. It was a slide show set to music, featuring pictures of him from birth. It felt really important to allow the students to have that time to grieve. None of them had been given an opportunity. They had returned back from Christmas holidays to find all of their desks re-arranged, and basically Gabe sanitized from their classroom. It was as if he had never been there. There were no grief counsellors to help them, they were on their own. The death of a friend / classmate is a pretty big thing for a child to have to work through. Most children are not touched by death. The closest thing to loss most children must endure is the death of a pet. I think that the award, and the assembly helped them. That very first award was given to one of Gabes friends, who also happens to be my best friend's daughter. It seemed fitting.
We decided on the "spirit of kindness" because it was so Gabe. Gabe was not an artist, although, he loved to draw and paint. Gabe was not an athlete, although he loved to play soccer and hockey. He was very bright, but that wasn't who he was. Kindness is something that we have always encouraged in Gabe, and in all of our children. Gabe had kindness in spades, and that is why it seemed the most fitting way to honour him. As part of the criteria for the award, we wanted it stipulated that the winner should be someone who tries to make a difference, someone who is consistently kind, not just when someone is watching. Most importantly we did not want it to be a child who was consistently recognized for everything (you remember those kids). Poor Gabe never won a terrific kid award, that was a real sore spot for him. He was a great kid, but he was quiet, and was always passed over. He would come home after every Terrific Kid's Assembly, his face all screwed up "Well guess who didn't get a Terrific Kid Award .... AGAIN!" I would pat his head "I think you're a terrific kid." I would say, and he would say "You have to say that, you're my Mom!" I would say it every time, it got to be our little joke. For our award we wanted to award a child who is often looked over... we wanted to award a kid like Gabe.
This year's award will be given this Thursday. The award has grown to include a week of kindness before the assembly that sees a child awarded. We feel like so often sports are awarded, and academics are awarded, but kindness is not awarded. If you encourage kindness, if you try to make it grow the world can only be a better place.