Dear Marv, Mareon, Murrell and Mya,
I have something to tell you. Something I want to talk about.
It’s something I’ve mostly kept to myself up to now, and you might not fully understand it right at this moment, but I need for you to hear it.
It’s tough to talk about even all these months later, but after your little brother Marlo passed away in December….
Daddy was ready to call it quits.
Not just football, either. I’m talking just get away from … everything.
Leave the country. Move to Spain. Hunker down. Just us and Mommy. That sort of thing. Never talk to anyone ever again, never have to face anyone or discuss anything, just shield us all from the entire outside world. You know what I mean?
We were all just struggling so much.
Mom and me was one thing, but hearing Mya ask, “When is Marlo coming back down from heaven?” Seeing that teddy bear that you guys called by his name? It was beyond heartbreaking.
We always told you guys it was O.K. to cry and to let your feelings out.
But sometimes that’s not so easy. Even for Dad.
Me and Mommy tried our best to stay strong in front of you guys, and to make sure you understood that we were going to get through this no matter what. We knew you’d be watching us — looking to us for how we were handling such an unimaginable tragedy. So we did our best. But the reality is.…
I was really hurting.
Early on I’d try to act “normal” all day and not show any hurt, and then I’d just lie down in bed at night and it’d all come out at once. So, yeah, those first few days, it all just felt like too much.
But that’s not what I wanted to tell you.
I mention all that stuff because I need you to understand the backdrop for what I do want to talk about. And that is….
What happened next.
A few days after our little angel left us, as sad as we all were … something truly amazing happened. Something inspiring.
And that’s actually what I want to tell you about.
All of sudden, folks just kept showing up at our front door. And, at first, I gotta be honest … I didn’t want to answer. But the doorbell just kept ringing.
Matthew and Kelly Stafford.
Coach Patricia. Coach Prince. Other members of the organization.
All showing us love. Giving us support. Letting us know that they were there for us.
I mean, you guys … it was so moving what they did for our family.
I’m getting choked up right now just sitting here writing about it. But back then? In that moment? I’m not lying when I say that their visits, that support….
It changed something inside of me.
I went from wanting to be closed off and isolated from pretty much everyone to realizing beyond a shadow of a doubt that our family needed all the love and support we could get.
So after those first few visits, our door was wide open. You guys remember it. Everyone in the family flew up to Michigan. Your grandparents, aunts and uncles on both sides. Auntie Leslie even flew in from China.
Everyone rallied around us.
And as tough as those first few days were, I always want you guys to remember how our family and friends came together to lift us up and help us all get through the most difficult experience of our lives.
Local businesses and restaurants sent over food and care packages. Police and firefighters stopped by to lend their support. Friends, sports fans, and just regular folks from all around the world sent us their well-wishes and shared their stories of loss with us to make sure we knew we weren’t alone.
It was powerful. And it goes to show something I want you guys to always remember….
It really does take a community sometimes. Sometimes you can’t do things on your own.
People need people.