Dearest Irie's Tribe:
From the bottom of our hearts, thank you and Happy Thanksgiving. I wanted to share an update on where we are and how far we are to goal. We have raised roughly $7,000. We need about $3,000 to hit our goal. We will be working on a Giving Tuesday push, alongside the college and some special guest. It's taken a bit, but I wanted to share some memories of Irie as this was the last holiday we spent together. This year has not only been exceptionally tough because of Covid, but also because it's our first without her, Kimm and Danny.
Thanksgiving was the last holiday that Irie spent with our family. We had the same routine every year. Kimm would bring Irie to Indy and she and I would start our Christmas shopping as soon as we could get out the door. Her excitement for buying others gifts was infectious. Irie loved to see other smile, it brought her more joy than getting gifts of her own. Each year we'd chat in the car about her list and where we were headed first. My goal was always to ensure that we had her needs met first, that I got my chance to spoil her for that day... but she always had other plans. Irie never wanted to focus on her.
We'd spend our morning Starbucks in hand picking out gifts for everyone and grab her favorite for lunch: Chic-fil-a. We'd spend lunch talking about life, her plans for life and her future. Who she wanted to be and who she was determined to be. Irie was determined to break free of any past or stigma associated with her, and predetermined future anyone had decided for her. She was going to reach her goals and be who she wanted to be. Her grit and determination at 17 was stronger than most 90 year olds I have met. We would talk about her challenges and how to overcome them and I would remind her that there was nothing that she wasn't capable, good enough or worthy enough of doing. We would always wrap up the day before Thanksgiving picking up any last minute things we needed for the feast the next day.
Thanksgiving morning was always met with Irie and her Uncle Todd making breakfast. It was their time to chat, their time to bond. Irie was close with and fascinated by Todd. She knew he would do anything for her. Todd would enlist Irie to help prep the meal and teach her simple tasks in the kitchen while we waited for the rest of the family to arrive. Without fail, I would burn something or forget something and she would take the frustration away with her laugh and giggles. I would eventually surrender to my failures in the kitchen and Irie and I would spread the Thanksgiving day ads all over the floor and create lists for Lyla and Mason. We'd laugh and joke for hours until they arrived about gag gifts I planned to buy them. And then just like every other family, the rest of the crew would arrive and we would eat and she would leave with my mom to see her Grandpa Jay... and I would wait for December to do it all over again for Christmas.
As we all know, this Christmas was different. 6 days before, she woke up to a fire in her home and instead of leaving the house, she ran to her grandparents room to try and, what we think, save them. She died a hero, she died being who she was. She died my Irie bug. It took me weeks to make the cinnamon rolls that were in the fridge for her. Took me weeks to make her bed. Weeks to move her unwrapped presents from under the tree to the closet where they remain to this day. It's taken a year to build up the strength to smile about the memory of her laughing over the burnt pumpkin pie last year. A week to build the strength to bring the Christmas decorations from the basement that she would always help me sort and hang. But, as much as I hate that it has and does, life moves on. We keep going. Irie would not want us to sit alone on this first Thanksgiving sad without her. So today, instead of starting my shopping, I worked. I kept busy. The pandemic helps, it will be different for all of us, but in this change, please keep my girl in your heart and mind. We're working hard to reach this goal to keep her legacy alive and help her help others, something she was so passionate about. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.
- A & T