Joscelyn's Journey

A Beautiful Child's Journey Through Hemimegalencephaly

The Highest Tribute

on November 26, 2012

“The highest tribute to the dead is not grief, but gratitude.” ~ Thorton Wilder

Tomorrow is November 27th, the first anniversary of my son Nicholas’ death. I will spend this milestone the same way in which I spent what would have been his 15th birthday, waiting on the results of an MRI being performed on his baby sister in the same hospital in which I gave birth to him.

For fourteen wonderful years, my second son lived, loved and laughed.

He used to call trains “coo-coo cranes”. He once used the claw part of a hammer to give his little brother an “atomic wedgie”. He kissed me goodbye (in front of his friends!) every morning before getting on the school bus to go to middle school. His nickname was “Weasel” because he had a habit of raiding the pantry and fridge when no one was looking. He loved video games. He dreamed of joining the military and jumping out of perfectly good airplanes. He suffered disappointment, experienced failure and overcame obstacles.

He lived.

It saddens me to think that so many people are familiar with his name only because he died.

His death was instantaneous. One horrific, unexpected, violent and utterly devastating moment in time.

But it was only a moment. One moment out of millions of moments that made up his entire life.

It made the news, yes.

But who wants to be remembered for the fact that they died? Everyone dies. That, in itself, is nothing.

Nick wanted to do BIG things with his life! He wouldn’t want his death to be the first thing that came to people’s minds when they thought of him.  Instead, I believe that he would want to be remembered for how well he lived; for the difference he made in the lives of those who knew him, for the times he chose courage over fear, for the depths from which he loved.

Many people watch the classic holiday film “It’s a Wonderful Life” this time of year. It’s a movie that I think speaks to this need to know that we’ve made a difference, that when as Cindy Morgan sings, “the silver cord breaks and our breath returns to God”, we know that our life somehow mattered.

Linda Ellis wrote a poem several years ago which also speaks to this need. It’s called “The Dash” and you can read it in its entirety here:

The message of “The Dash” is that it isn’t the first date or the last date on a tombstone that really matters. It’s the dash in between. It’s how we spend the time we have on this earth.

Nick’s birth, July 6, 1997, right here at Florida Hospital in Orlando was one of the happiest days of my life. His untimely death fourteen years later on November 27, 2011 was the worst.

Yes, tomorrow is the anniversary of his death.

But I don’t plan to spend the entire day reliving the horrible day he died.

Instead, I plan to remember his life, to pay tribute to him by being grateful that he was mine for fourteen beautiful, fun-filled, laughter-and-love-rich years.

I plan to focus on the dash.

HIS dash…

And mine.


37 responses to “The Highest Tribute

  1. mariaslaby says:

    Peace and strength to you dearie…Nick’s dash continues to surround you. ❤

  2. mariaslaby says:

    Peace and strength to you, dearie…Nick’s dash surrounds you. ❤

  3. Lisa Melton says:

    Your writing is impeccable Jennifer, full of love. You are right. None of us know when we are going to die, but we all should know how to live…like your Nick, and my Jared. They probably didn’t think they were that special, which is why they were!
    I am sad I never got to meet your son. But I knew him, through you, and he lives on in his brothers. I see Jared every day in his brothers, and that gives me comfort.
    I like what you say about his dash…..and yours…wonderful inspiration, as always I thank you from the bottom of my heart!

  4. Beverly Lawler says:

    Nice pictures of your son. Bless you and your family.

  5. Marlene Buchel says:

    Jennifer, That’s a beautiful tribute to a beautiful life!

  6. Dana Boyle says:

    I didn’t know you when this happened, and I didn’t know Nick, but it seems to me, Jennifer, that Nick met his death doing exactly what you say he loved doing – LIVING, and living well. Maybe that’s why it made the news. Sending you lots of love now and all day tomorrow – and always. I, for one, am glad I got to know Nick through you and how you celebrate his memory and his life every day. xoxo

  7. Tomorrow is also my fathers birthday and he is very sick in the hospital I know that this will be the last birthday that we spend with him and that makes me sad but after reading this tonight I can think of so many wonderful memories that make my dad’s DASH so great… He is a loving husband, father, poppie, and friend he has also touched so many people… I pray that tomorrow is a day of celebration not only for us but also for you and the wonderful memories that you have of Nick! May Nick’s dash live on forever!

  8. Wes Locke says:

    I hope someday you will realize just how impact-full your posts about your family and their “dashes” have been to others! My wife is battling a serious brain tumor and is struggling to move her focus off of whatever number will be on the right of her tombstone. I am struggling getting her and my children to focus on her dash, and their dashes. I have been blessed by your son’s life, Jocelyn’s life, and your life through your writings. Know that I want to always pray for your little girl, your family, and all those who are caring for you all. I don’t always remember, but after this post, I will try harder!! May God continue to bless you, Jocelyn, and the rest of your family. Thank you so very much for the encouragement!

  9. Christa says:

    Dear Jennifer,

    Nick and I share a birth day – though mine was in 1961. What an honor it will be to remember him each year.

    And I’ve been in your shoes, waiting for pictures of my girl’s brain. Bless you. And enjoy the day, in any way that feels good to you.

    Sending huge love to all,


    Christa Gallopoulos

    Carry It Forward, LLC

    WomenHeal: an Online Alliance

  10. Bernie says:

    I am a blog friend of Debbie’s and knew of your son’s passing. What a wonderful mother you are! You show love, strength, respect and courage for your son, your family and yourself. I wish you a loved filled day of warm and wonderful memories, big hugs, xo

  11. talbottr says:

    You are so precious. I know one day we’ll meet and it will be as if we’re sisters! Bless you, Pringleman and your lovely children as you come up on the one of the hardest things–the “firsts.” Sending warm heart hugs to you all. Kiss my WP!

  12. Andrea M. says:

    Dear Jennifer, what a beautiful tribute to a precious young man! I will be thinking and praying for you and your family especially today, as you celebrate Nick’s life and remember all that he meant to you and so many others. I know he’s smiling down from heaven on your today! {{Hugs}} and love to each of you. Many blessings ~ Andrea

  13. Darlene says:

    We don’t know each other personally, but I feel like I do know you through your post… You are an amazing person, strong, loving, compassionate and a wonderful Mommy. Our children are a mirror image of us, like it or not…. Sometimes we are disappointed in something they may say or do but deep down we see the things we installed or taught them that is important. To live, your life to the fullest, to love one another and to respect not only themselves but others and to laugh often, laughter soothes the soul. To love God and to follow his plan. It may not always make sense to us, but his plan is perfect and one day we will understand. On this day, I share with you in the celebration of Nicks life, the life that radiates through his eyes in each picture you post… The love, joy and compassion and purpose. He touched lives in his 14 years and that will always matter. He knew he mattered. Sending hugs and love to you and yours and many blessings, Darlene

  14. Mariellen Barr in PA says:

    Having never experienced such a great loss, I don’t know what to say. Nick looks so gentle and loving in the pictures. Thank you for you post. I love the poem-it is a challenge to me to live my moments in a lasting way.

  15. Nancy Buddenhagen says:

    Nick drew maps to my house when he lived in Virginia. I wish that I had told him that he had already found the way to my heart. Little baby Nick fast asleep; wakens to Pastor pounding on the pulpit…………looks up into my eyes and falls asleep again. The bond if love was built long before you left. It remains and rejoices in knowing that I will see you again in Heaven.

  16. giazzpet says:

    I just think you are incredibly strong and I think Nick would love the fact that you can honor him. I give you hugs and love from MA (even if it is virtually) 😀

  17. Melodie says:

    This is beautiful, Jennifer. It’s obvious Nick is still touching lives. I will be thinking of all of you, especially through the holidays.

  18. Sue M says:

    I just happened across this today. May you feel his presence with you always.

  19. Linda Juaire says:

    I am commenting this time. I am not so speechless now. Nick is a sweet boy who loves his mother and knows her devotion to her children. He watches over you and gives you comfort and support, but you know that. Be grateful, he is still with you. I love you darling!

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