Dear Jeremy Hubbard,
Last night you featured my nine-year-old son Tyler on your 9:00 news segment. And I have just a few things I need to say.
When my two sons lost their dad before they were in kindergarten, I set about on an unwanted mission. “They must know their story,” I promised myself. “I have to know that they can tell this story like their own, because it is theirs. This is their one childhood, he was their dad, and they need the skills to carry this story.”
My children were so very heartbreakingly young to face a giant called Death, and in the grips of my own grief, I knew implicitly that I must help them understand what happened and who they are in the shadow of this valley.
Six years later, Tyler attended Camp Erin a few weeks ago, a grief camp for children dealing with the loss of someone they love, and your team from Denver’s Fox31 attended the weekend as well to share the story of a camp that’s helping mend their broken hearts. When I picked up Tyler at the end of the weekend, the camp director told me you had zeroed in on Tyler and his best buddy Sean, that they may be the featured focus of the story. And so we waited to see what that might look like.
Jeremy, were the power vested in me, I would grant you a Peabody for the exquisite work of this feature.
We huddled together on the couch to watch your story unfold last night. Tyler and I held hands under the blanket, squeezing back and forth each time we saw him on TV or heard his name. At first, it was a magical novelty, almost his name in lights. But then something else began to happen, a different magical something that’s the dream of parenting. You let me see who my son is when nobody’s watching, when he forgot there was a microphone was tucked inside his hoodie.
When he whispered to Sean, “Think of a memory you have of your dad. Every dad has to be strong and smart. Your dad was strong and smart. You are strong and smart. He is always with you.” Then to watch Sean take the stage and share a memory—and conquer a fear—and to hear Tyler whisper, “Sean! C’mere! You did it!”
To understate it, I was simply undone.
“Every dad has to be strong and smart.
Your dad was strong and smart.
You are strong and smart.
He is always with you.”
Who was this child, the encourager and confidante? This expert grief counselor at age nine, leading like he had a voice and loving like nobody was watching? Who was this child who knew his story, who had learned to comfort others with the comfort he had received? You said it yourself: “Tyler, the redhead, is a very special kid. We knew it from the moment we met him.”
What a daunting task before you, to do justice to the camp, the grief, the losses, and most of all, to the children. But you did it. You featured their stories with so much dignity and grace.
Yes, you showed the arc of a story, but somehow and far greater, you showed the arc of courage between two boys who know more than children should have to carry.
Holy goodness… How did you do that?
I’m telling you, I want to fashion a Peabody with my own two hands just so I can make sure you get one. I don’t think that counts in the world you travel in, but I’m not above such lengths.
And to both you and your co-anchor, Aristea Brady, thank you for letting your raw emotion show in response to such stories. (Clearly, you had no choice.) Jeremy, you spoke my son’s name around a lump in your throat, and Aristea, you cried on the air for your husband’s loss, for the losses of these children, and for the beauty of this piece for the world to see. I cried with you both. We all did.
I am humbled and thankful. You have done well.
With all the thanks for a story told,
* * *
To support Shimmering Wings, and help send more children to Camp Erin, visit their website.