Friday, May 29, 2015

Today we celebrate!

Today we celebrate Alex Reynold's high school graduation at our home. We will have many guests coming to wish Alex best of luck in his next step at the University of Minnesota and to congratulate him on his successes at the Willmar Senior High School. Today is Alex's day! He wanted his celebration in our garage just as his brother Anthony and Stephen had theirs. He wanted a luau themed party because Hawaii has always been an important part of his life. For the past 5 years we have left our garage mostly untouched since Stephens graduation. Almost like a shrine his hockey posters and school work has hung for 5 years. The reason being when his mother started to take down the decorations Stephen joked, "just leave those up until Alex graduates"! Well we lived up to his wishes and we finally have taken them down and replaced them with everything Alex! As we have started to set the house up and prepare for this day we have been under the keen eye of a cardinal! The cardinal sits in the tree and chirps at us also he has been on our deck and patio table. He is never to far away from the action. So that does make us wonder, is this a sign from Stephen letting us know that he fine and wants to be a part of the celebration as well. We only hope that is the case and he is always welcome!
Congratulations Alex, best of luck in your future.

Monday, May 18, 2015

A visitor came calling

 First off, I cannot believe that is has been almost 2 years since I have posted in this blog. Life has been very busy since last posting. We are about ready to have our 4th annual Stephen Reynolds Memorial Disc Golf  Tournament on June 6th. This even is still very popular and helps raise money for The Stephen Reynolds Foundation. Stephens little brother Alex graduates on the 31st of May so life has been very hectic around the Reynolds household these past few weeks. While all of this is going on a visitor came calling this morning. About 5:00 this morning as I was just starting to wake up I had a very vivid dream that caught my attention. I was looking down a hallway and I saw a figure in a white tee shirt and I yelled at the figure to get their attention (In my dream) and then all of a sudden the face came in to focus and it was Stephen. I reached out to hug him saying his name and it was almost like I could feel him. His presence was with me. He had that unforgettable smile and I asked him how he was doing and to which he replied "fine"! I asked him why did he leave us to which he answered he was needed elsewhere, and it was out of his hands. So I then asked him what is it he does and he answered "saves people"! I then told him not to leave and wait until I get his mother and just like that he was gone. The interaction seemed so very real and it was over in a flash. Maybe he wanted to check in on us to see how we all our doing and check on his brother and watching over us.
Stephen is always on our mind and this is the most vivid interaction I have had with him. I have had dreams that take me back to a past time, like a birthday party or a hockey game. But this dream was here and now in present day. It was good for my soul to experience this especially at this time when we award scholarships in his name and have his disc golf event. I hope that I can visit with him more often in the future because I miss him so much. He looked just like the last time I saw him, healthy and smiling.
So one never knows, we are always surrounded by Saints! I know am.


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Final Chapter?????

I came across a post on the Viral Myocarditis Facebook page from a grieving mother who lost her adult son 3 months after his marriage. The comment she shared from was from her sons wedding dance when she was on the dance floor with him, and she said to him " DON'T LET OUR STORY END... I know everything about your life since before you were born and it is the most beautiful story.". Three and a half months later the story for this mother did end. As with many new people we have encountered since Stephens's passing we all have a story that ended way too soon.
This got me thinking about our own lives as well as our friends and loved ones. Our lives are really a story told over many chapters. Some books are long and some are not and really don't have a finish. When you lose a child it is like the book you are reading just ends. Imagine reading the latest John Grisham legal thriller and you get to the part where the story is laid out, you know the plot, you know all the characters, and just when you get the jury verdict and your turn to the next page in the book and it is blank! You keep tuning and all the following pages are blank as well. Darn, you don't know how the story ends.
I tried to apply this to Stephens life and yes Darla and I knew the first 20 chapters of his life and some would say the story ended indeed but I would disagree. The first 20 chapters were really quite good. There was plenty of drama, plenty of successes, plenty of failures, some tears, and plenty of laughs. I really don't want the story to end, so instead of Stephen writing the next chapters of his life the task is left to all of us to fill in the blank pages.
Stephen touched more lives than we will ever know, and his influence is still being felt as I write this. You don't know how much this means to our family that he is not forgotten and as time marches on and Stephen's memory fades a bit we will continue to write chapters in his book. At this point I have no idea how the story ends as we are still writing it. We thank all of you who continue to submit work to the book as well. Each of your thoughts, prayers, words of encouragement, support of Stephen Reynolds Foundation events, and all of the random acts of kindness help make work on Stephen's book possible.
It is a great story. and Stephen still touches people's lives to this day. Our past 4 scholarship winners are going off to school for another year of college. I know they will go on to do many great things in this world, and will live each day Renny's Way!
I will keep this top of mind as move forward realizing as a parent you are very present for the first few chapters of your children's lives but as you get deeper in the book it is all about them as they make their mark on this world and it does not seem to matter if they are present physically on this earth or spiritually the words continue to get put on the page and the story continues.

Living Renny's Way!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Are you living Renny's Way?

This is a question I have been pondering for some time now. I have been asking the man in the mirror this question. This is really a simple yes or no answer, there is not much room on either side of either answer. It reminds me when my parents asked me a question about where I might have been the night before, a question like were you at a party? The answer is yes or no, but it always fell into some form of ambiguity. So back to the question, are you living Renny's Way? I would like to answer this question with a hearty YES, Of Course I am! But I can honestly say, "most of the time"! I think the majority of people probably would answer the question in the same way, and I marvel at the ones that can honestly answer the question Yes! (You know who you are)
I have tried to live my life by serving others, which has not come naturally for me since I am an only child. I am told that I am spoiled and selfish and I always have to get my own way! I say well, duh! Seriously, I look at what I have left to my kids (excluding a sharp tongue and sarcasm) I am confident that they are more tolerant than me. Being raised in a typical home in the 60's at the end of the baby boom, by a veteran of World War II there was racism, and intolerance around me. It was nothing mean spirited but it was the way it was growing up during that time. Darla and I always stressed to our kids to judge others by who they are and not the color of their skin, what church they go to, and many other classes we compartmentalize others in. Look beyond the surface and look at their soul, and judge by that and nothing else. Offer a helping hand when you can. This was evident to our family at Stephens passing as we were overwhelmed by the love and support of not only this community but from almost every corner of the country.
I look at living Renny's way as getting yourself prepared for the end. Cleaning up any messes that you have made, mend any fences that need tending too. Life is to short to hold on to grudges, look at things from the other point of view. If the fence cannot be mended at least you can say that you tried.
I am going to continue to work on living Renny's Way each and every day by serving others and mending any fence that may need mending. The Stephen Reynolds Foundation has been our outlet to serve others and we will continue in our en devour to reward good kids and help others who need help but may not want to raise their hands. We have had the privilege to award $2000 to 4 great students and it has been amazing to connect with them and their families. We are confident they will go out in this world and live Renny's Way and hopefully that will rub off on others. If everyone lived Renny's Way just think how nice a place this world would be. But I can only control what I can do as the rest of you, but if you just make someones load just a little lighter you have truly accomplished something.
I will continue to work each and every day to become perfect, and although I may never achieve my goal at least I am trying. I will continue to serve others by my work on the School Board and the Stephen Reynolds Foundation. Our family would like to thank each and everyone of you for your support of not only our family but also of your support of the Stephen Reynolds Foundation. Your response to the events and merchandise is phenomenal and we cannot thank you enough. Check out our website and facebook page often for new and events.
Lastly, we will be doing some work with the Willmar Hockey Association to bring Willmar Cardinal Hockey Alumni back for at least one night a year. The 3rd Annual Stephen Reynolds Alumni Hockey Game will be on December 28, 2013 at the Willmar Civic Center. Our goal is 60 players this year and 2 separate games.
If we accomplish this goal and grow it into Hockey Day in Willmar I know Stephen Reynolds will be smiling down on the game each and every year.
Now go out and live your life Renny's Way!

God bless you all,

Mike and Darla   

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Days Go By

The 4th of July holiday has come and gone and we celebrated it in the usual way surrounded by family and friends at Norway Lake. As usual there was lots of laughter and lots of food (too much food) and we caught up on the latest news. There was something a bit different this year as our neighbors at the lake were missing their husband and father who suddenly passed away from heart failure the week prior. So we each have our losses and just like we did last year at our first 4th celebration without Stephen Reynolds they had their first 4th without Larry.
On Friday July 5th we went to see the Long Island Medium from the TLC show, Theresa Caputo. She put on a great experience for all those in attendance. Although we did not hear anything from Stephen that night we experience signs of his presence all the time. We just figured he was not going to talk to Theresa in front of all those people. :) We know he is with us and watches over us.
Every day we all put on a courage's face, and some days we do a better job of hiding our emotions than others but this is now a lifelong journey that we walk on. Our friends and family have been so supportive of us as well as 100's of others in our life. We are so thankful to everyone who walks beside us in our journey, they walk along with us with love and support in their hearts. They wear their Renny's Way bracelets they wear the Renny 7 t shirts. We cannot express our eternal gratitude in words alone, just know we are humbled and appreciative.  
I have lost a father but no loss is as great as the loss of a child, and we grieve with others who have experienced this loss with us. We all try to live a normal life as it was before our child passed, but we quickly realize won't ever be our life again. It is different now, and we are still trying to figure out what our new normal is or will be. We still enjoy the company of our friends and love when they get us out of the house, we are still the same people.
It is funny for those that have not experienced a deep loss on how they cannot grasp the fact that when you grieve or mourn you have good days and bad days. Time does not completely heal this void in our lives, what time does do, it takes our memories from directly in front of us to our periphery. It is still there but now is on the side, so we can live a close to normal life. Most everyone in our lives understands this and supports us with as I mentioned before so much love and kindness. However, sometimes you come across individuals that do not quite grasp the fact that grief is not a checklist and once you have checked the boxes, you are not  done. It does not matter if it is the loss of a son for Darla and I, a loss of a grandchild for our parents, a loss of someone that you treated as your son to our close friends, or a loss of a brother to Anthony and Alex. The hurt and pain is there for a lifetime. So when you tell someone who has lost a dear loved one to "Get Over It" realize what you are saying. You think it is a checklist, and I ask you what is the amount of time I get to grieve? A month, 6 months, a year, what is the time? I don't want people like that in my life or my families life. If that is they way you think and live your life I pity the people that you hold dear to you knowing that someday you will just get over it. I believe the day you find yourself in a situation of loss you will realize how damn shallow and vain you really are and you will choke on your words. Shame on you!
But one bad apple does not spoil a lot and in 18 months since Stephen as passed this is the only time a member of our family has had to deal with a situation like this.
God bless all of you and again thank you for all the love and support!


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Time marches on!

Wow, I have not checked on this for quite awhile and it has been a half a year since I last posted on this blog. I promise to do a better job!
It has been a crazy 6 months since my last post. We got through another holiday season without Stephen and it was ok. We know that all of our holiday's from that day forward are going to be missing something. Yes we celebrate the fact the we still have each other and our parents are still in relatively good health, so the good things don't go unnoticed. However, there still is an empty chair at the table and there always will be. So I don't apologize for not being excited when the Christmas season rolls around'. I know that time and maybe a couple of grand babies will help fill the void someday, but for now we just endure.
We hosted a successful Stephen Reynolds Alumni Hockey game. We had 45 skaters, and raised some money for the S7R Foundation. We are planning on doing this every year, to raise money for the Stephen Reynolds Foundation as well as promote Willmar Hockey and Alumni!
The week of Stephens Birthday as always is a tough time of the year, since it is so close to Mothers day Darla bears a heavier burden emotionally, this year was no exception. We went his grave on his birthday and we were joined by our friends Kim and Alison. We visited a little and as we did last year had a few toasts to honor #7. He would have been happy the St. Louis Blues made the Stanley Cup playoffs but would also be disappointed with their early exit.
It seems that signs of Stephen are all around us, some are more noticeable than others and they seem to be fluid. By that I mean we see more at times than others. This past week we seemed to be surrounded by signs of Stephen.
First Darla was cleaning the basement bathroom to make room for Alex to move into Anthony's bedroom and while cleaning she discovered all of Stephens old orthodontic molds She was overwhelmed with emotion.
Then the following Saturday night Kim sent a text message that she got home and there was an injured goose in her driveway. Now the story about the goose is that at Stephens graveside service hundreds of geese flew over when we were almost finished. Pastor Chad told us that goose is a Gaelic symbol for Christ. So from time to time when we are at the cemetery sitting on the bench and visiting with Stephen a lone goose every now an again flies over, we think that is his spirit just stopping by to let us know he is ok. So back to Kim's driveway, the goose was in front of her garage where Stephen enjoyed many pre football tail gate parties with many of our friends. Since he normally would not say 2 words the girls would tease him a little and he enjoyed every minute of it.
But there is more, Sunday I was in church doing my usher thing and Nancy who works at our church called me over and said she had something for me. She handed me a bag and said that she was cleaning out her office and she cam across a picture of Stephen and Graham Dahl when they were probably about 10 and a prayer shawl that he made for his first communion that never made it home. I do have to ask why that day and how in the world did one kids prayer shawl not get tossed in the garbage and end up back with us a dozen years later.
We are getting ready to award two more Scholarships on Friday. Each student gets $500 to put towards school. We really try to pick a student that works hard and really needs the money but most important they need to live life "Renny's Way".
We also have two events coming up in June, the 2nd annual disc golf event at Robbins Island and the Small Ball tournament that is hosted by Sam and Nate Esboldt. We are so grateful to all of our sponsors and supporters that have held us up this past year and a half we could not do this without their help.
Looking forward to Summer!
I will promise to post more often.


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Remembering Stephen ~ By Darla Reynolds

As we look back, over this past year
Stephen James Reynolds was always near
When I go out for a walk and I find a penny
I felt it was heaven sent, direct from Renny

It’s been called the year of “Firsts”
Times I hear it, I just want to burst
The “New Normal” it’s also been said
Those two words, I have grown to dread

Now, I am I called an “Angel Mom”
Wanting to hold his hand in my palm
As a little boy, my clothes he would tug
Oh, how I wish I could just have one more hug

“You don’t know if you don’t ask”, he’d always say
With his infectious smile, he’d usually get his way
When arguing, saying “whatevers”, he preferred
Every time I’d use it, his said it’s not a real word

We didn’t know that on Thanksgiving 2011
Our last Holiday, before he went to heaven
Gathering for turkey, potatoes, gravy and dressing
Realizing now, that time spent was such a blessing

As I get older, I hope my memory doesn’t turn hazy
I want to remember, all the things he did that drove me crazy
In our minds, we have a wonderful Stephen pictorial
Continuing work on the Stephen Reynolds Memorial

Am I selfish? Stephen’s life was just too brief
Never thought, I could feel such pain and grief
I am realistic, knowing that this was God plan
I pray and hope, that someday we will understand

As the world keeps turning and you go on living your lives
College, careers, children with your husbands and wives
One thing our family asks the Willmar Class of 2010
Remember Stephen Reynolds your classmate and friend