Gary Conkling Life Notes

Mostly whimsical reflections on life

An Empty Birthday

2013-05-31 (1) 0002September 10, 1986 was the birthday of my son, Christopher, who died earlier this year in a car accident. It is hard to know how to celebrate his empty birthday so soon after his death.

Luckily, Elaine Bueffel, former owner of Young Learners, provided an answer via a Facebook post to Christopher’s mother:

“Please forgive me for contacting you through Facebook. I taught Christopher at Young Learners when he was little. It broke my heart that you and the rest of his family lost him.

“I had a wonderful story that I often shared with people about Christopher and his perceptive innocence.

“I don’t know if you remember there was a child with Down Syndrome in the class. Kyle could be a handful and the other kids would comment on his antics.

“One day Christopher came to me and said, ‘Teacher Elaine, I know why Kyle is different.’

“I held my breath waiting for what was coming next. Then Christopher said, ‘He wears glasses.’

“It made me smile Christopher saw past the behavior and the disability. I was always looking forward to what Christopher would come up with.

“I have thought of you and Christopher often over the years. I sold Young Learners and retired four years ago, but carry wonderful memories of many children and parents. Some just touched my heart. Christopher was one of those students.”

That sentiment can fill an empty birthday.

Happy birthday, Son.


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This entry was posted on September 9, 2013 by in Gary Conkling, Personal Reflection.
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