14 Days of LOVE

Time heals all wounds.  This is a lie.

Some wounds are raw and exposed and you just can’t cover them with a Band-aid or pretend they don’t exist.  When we least expect it, when our guard is down, a speck penetrates the wound, and once again, just like the initial cut, we are left in agony, crying or yelling or asking God why.

My childhood friend Misty Lei Tomblin has been gone for nearly a year and half.  It doesn’t seem possible.  Somedays, I feel like she was just taken from us.  Misty Lei, driving a Chevy Tahoe, was on her way home from work in the afternoon, headed to pick up her daughters from daycare when she was hit head on by an intoxicated driver.  She never stood a chance.  In one second, she was taken from us –her mom, her daughters, her friends, her brother, her niece and nephew -in a completely senseless accident.

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Misty Lei Tombin Feb 19, 1980 to Aug 6, 2014

Somedays, I feel like she’s been gone for years.  I don’t remember her voice or her scent anymore.  I watch her daughters, now ages 5 and 11, growing up separately, raised by different fathers in different counties, and my heart breaks a little more.  We flinch when these salt moments happen, but we try to continue to smile and stay strong for her children.

In that spirit, for about six months now, we’ve been doing Random Acts of Kindness on the 6th of every month, the day Misty Lei was taken from us.  Misty Lei was a whirlwind of a woman, a single-mom devoted to her children all while rising in her career.  In fact, she’d just gotten another promotion two days before her death.  In the midst of all that, she would often go out of her way to brighten her friends’ days, from sending unexpected flowers to getting everyone together for dinner to sending uplifting text messages every morning.  It’s hard enough to be a good mom and have a stellar career; yet, Misty Lei managed to also be a great friend to so many.

We will never understand why she was taken from us so early.  I frequently hear the saying “everything happens for a reason,” but, darn it, I cannot fathom a reason good enough to justify two little girls growing up without their mommy.  I don’t believe we are meant to understand the why.  But it is essential to me and to her friends and family that Misty Lei’s life not be forgotten and her death not be in vane.

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So I am excited to announce our latest tribute to her.  February 6th will mark exactly 1 1/2 years since Misty Lei’s death.  Fourteen days later, on February 19th, would have marked her 36th birthday. We want you to join us for 14 Days of LOVE in honor of Misty Lei Tomblin or a loved you have lost and would like the world to remember.

Here’s how it works.  First, you and your children (or grandchildren or students) will make the 14 Days of LOVE banner.  I’ve done most of the work for you.  Just click on the two PDF files below and print.  My girls had a blast making this fun, little craft.

Pennant 1 (Just click.)

pennant 2 (corrected) (Just click.)

Next, you’ll need the following supplies.

Materials:

  • Construction paper or card stock
  • Pennant PDFs
  • Elmer’s stick glue
  • Ribbon
  • Washi tape
  • Heart-shaped stickers

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Instructions:

  1. Cut out the pennants.
  2. There are two blank pennants in case you’d like to do something different.
  3. Cut out a background pennant in a color of your choice for each.
  4. Measure even spacing between pennants.  I used 6″ between pennants with 12″ on each end.
  5. Glue the card stock under the ribbon, then glue the back of the pennant to the card stock.  (This sounds complicated.  You’ll understand in the next photo.)
  6. We added Washi tape, which comes in all sorts of fun colors and styles.  We used a glittery one because Misty Lei was all about the bling!
  7. Hang up your banner for your family, classroom, everyone to see.

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Now, a few notes.  We’ve tried to select acts of kindness which would not be cost prohibitive.  Many of the items are probably things you already have around your house.  To do every act, here’s what you’ll need.

  • construction paper
  • Valentine’s Day craft of your choice
  • three $1 bills
  • 2 packs of microwave popcorn
  • candles
  • $3-5 in quarters
  • bake a treat of your choice & cookies of your choice
  • a little snack for one
  • a package of diaper wipes
  • fleece blankets ($2.88 at Walmart)
  • stationary and pen

See, most of this you already possess, right?

Okay, another critical note, it is imperative to get your children on board with this.  Explain why we have created this initiative and that it is so important to those who do not want their loved ones forgotten.  Your kiddos will probably have lots of fun putting the banner together.  Then, as each task is completed, use a foam sticker to cover that pennant as a check-off.

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Children, just like us adults, love the feeling of accomplishment when they are able to check-off items on their to-do list.

Anytime we do a random of act of kindness, from buying the meal for the car behind us in the drive-thru to donating hot chocolate at the Friday night football game, we leave an LEI card.  It very briefly explains why we do what we do and shares a bit of who our dear friend Misty Lei was.  You are welcome to share this card as well.  Simply click on the link below, print, and cut each card out.

lei – pdf (Click here)

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With each LEI card, this month the girls and I will also be leaving one of these melted crayon hearts because broken crayons still color.  And it’s almost Valentine’s Day! If you’d like to do the same, simply click for directions.

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It is true that each person handles grief differently.  I’ve seen it firsthand.  Some cannot bear to hear even the name of their loved one; while others need to share stories and hear the name over and over again.  Those of us who adored Misty Lei have grieved differently, yet similarly.  Her loss makes us cling tighter to the living, especially our own babies, and we insist that her tragic death not be the way she is remembered.

I realize there are lots of readers with a differing opinion on this (and that’s okay), but, for me, I do not EVER want the spot where I took my last breath to become a shrine.  Remember my life.  Remember how I lived, not how I died.  I think Misty Lei would be in complete agreement with me on this philosophy.

So I ask you join me in this important endeavor.  From Feb 6th to Feb 19th, spread love and kindness wherever you are in memory of my dear friend Misty Lei Tomblin.  Or, if you have lost a loved one, do this for him or her.  Notice there is an extra pennant with blanks on it.  Fill in your loved one’s name, birthdate, and death date, and commit to honoring him or her for fourteen days.  Perhaps Feb. 1-14 would work better for you.  Whatever spreads our overflowing love!

Please share your stories here in the comment section of this blog or over on our LEI Facebook page or A Broken Crayon Facebook page.  Or upload your photos to Instagram at #14DaysofLoveLEI.  It means so much to us to see how far this initiative reaches.

It has been said that it takes a village to raise a child, but it occurs to me that it also takes a village to grieve the loss of a child, whether that daughter be 34-years-old or that son be 12-years-old.  It is hard, painful work, the expense of living and loving one another with our broken hearts.  14 Days of Love is an opportunity to grieve, share, and love together to honor those we miss so very much.

Will you join us?

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17 thoughts on “14 Days of LOVE

Add yours

  1. Jena this is a great tribute to Misty Lei. I know I’m the one who tells stories and says her name a lot, but somehow that makes me feel closer to her. Going to visit her grave does not help me in any way, because I know she’s not there. So telling stories about things she did or would have done helps me cope. And I agree “time does not heal” it only gives us an opportunity to learn to cope “sometimes”!! I’ll get everything ready and the girls and I will work on this over the weekend. Love you!

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  2. Jena so proud of you for coming up with this idea. Misty is smiling down on us I am sure. She was never a give a little kind of girl. She always went over the top. This is perfect!

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  3. I really should know better than to read these type of posts while in public. Beautifully written Jena. You seen to capture what many of us feel. Thank you.

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  4. This is so beautiful. Three years ago on January 31st one of my friends was killed instantly in a car accident leaving three little boys behind. I am going to do this in memory of her. I didn’t know Misty but you have written so eloquently of her.

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  5. Will happily take part in this! Lost my best friend Kristie 2 years ago and I will do this in her and Misty Lei’s memory and honor! 🙂

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  6. What a beautiful way to teach our children about grief, loss, love, and kindness all at once. Although I didn’t know Misty personally, she was an acquaintance and dear friend to a mutual friend. My children and I will be doing this in her memory and in honor of #RAEGANSWISH. Raegan is the child of a friend from my hometown who suffers with SJIA. Part of Raegan’s “Make-A-Wish” is asking others to do a random act of kindness and then make a public post on Facebook or Instagram with the hashtags #RAEGANSWISH #RAKE, so she can read about it. She has already reached someone in every state and several countries with her wish. I’m sure being a part of this will make her smile. Thank you for this wonderful idea! ❤️

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    1. I love what your hometown is doing for Raegan. (I also adore that name…English teacher, King Lear fan…) Thank you for sharing and for participating. I’ll be sure to share the hashtag for Raegan soon!

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