This post has been sitting around for a while. I started it and something came up so I couldn’t finish it. Better late than never.

Gavin spoke in Sacrament Meeting on Sunday, August 14. His topic was faith and he wrote the talk all on his own. He did a really good job. I was quite impressed by his insights on the topic. The only help he asked for was for us to remind him of his own personal stories with faith. Most teenagers haven’t had enough life experience to have really tested out a lot of topics they are asked to teach about. That was how he was feeling.

The first story that came to mind was a situation when he was a toddler and I taught him the power of prayer. I told him that he used to wake up in the middle of the night with nightmares. He would cry and I would go in to comfort him. None of this woke up Baby Parker. Gavin would be fine after a few minutes and I would go back to bed. Then Parker would wake up crying because he was a baby and babies do that. It didn’t wake up Gavin but I would have to go in to take care of Parker.

This would happen more than once some nights and I was thoroughly exhausted trying to comfort two kids each night. The thought occurred to me to teach Gavin to pray for comfort. This would save me some time if one kid could be more self-reliant. It was a success. While I did it more out of desperation I do remember that situation. I remember teaching Gavin that Heavenly Father would listen to him and help him. I also remember how important it was to Gavin, which really strengthened my testimony.

Gavin condensed the story well for his talk. The story touched the sister speaking after him so much that she was nearly in tears over it. She turned to her husband and said something about hoping their kids could be that amazing in ten years.

She spoke about sight – both spiritual and physical. Her friend had recently posted on her blog about her 9 month old baby being diagnosed with blindness. The mom was so positive about the devastating news. She and her husband believed that while their daughter would experience the world differently, her lack of sight would enhance her spiritual senses. Christina (the lady speaking) did a great job of integrating spiritual sight with her friend’s story. It was a powerful lesson. While she spoke she often referred to the youth speakers and points they had made in their own talks.

Then her husband got up to speak. He addressed the congregation in a very personal and powerful way. It was quite amazing to listen to him. The Spirit was very strong. He first complimented the youth in our ward for their faithfulness. He said that it is extraordinary to realize that the teenagers in the church will study an ancient gospel and be able to teach it to a group of 100-150 people, most of them strangers. “That is definitely the case for Gavin since his family just moved here!” His words regarding the youth, accompanied by the Spirit, gave me goosebumps.

He went on to talk to the parents, particularly the moms. It was a pep talk to keep doing what they were doing. To keep getting their kids to church each Sunday even though it’s hard. His words were heartfelt and inspiring. I thought of all the times I spent more time in the hall with a fussy baby than I did in class. It’s a difficult position to be in. So many times I wondered why I even bothered dressing up for church to spend all my time in the hall.

At the end of the day I was able to talk to Christina. I told her how much I enjoyed the talks that she and her husband gave. She asked my name. I said my first and last name and added on, “I’m Gavin’s mom.” She was so happy to meet me. She said that his talk really touched her. Her four year old was having trouble with nightmares. She liked being able to see into the future with Gavin. As her husband had said in front of the entire congregation, she said she hoped her own children could be just as strong and faithful in ten years. That was a special compliment for me.

Later that evening I received an email from Coach Erika. It was a group email sent to all the Cross Country parents. She mostly was sending encouragement to the students leaving middle school and entering high school.

I meant to let her know all summer that we were moving. I over thought what I would say and ended up feeling like I waited too long. Her email seemed like a great opportunity to tell her that All Good wasn’t going to be on her team anymore. She responded to me right away. As I feared, I had broken her heart. Here is her response.

“Dear Tristan,

I am sadder than I can say. I can’t imagine the coming season without All Good. He will leave a deep hole with his absence, not just in the talent pool (we really needed him to take the title) but in his quiet, steady commitment. He doesn’t say a lot but his presence is always felt. 

Worst of all, I didn’t get to say goodbye. Please, please hug him for me. He has steadily improved, always looking forward, always striving to be better. If he likes he can email me or find me on Instagram or Twitter. I’m always handy for a letter of recommendation- and I write a good one. 🙂

Your son is an amazing person. I hope our paths meet again. I will never forget him. You meet a true soul- it stays with a person.

Completely bummed,

Coach Erika”

There are no words for how I feel. Gavin is my quiet giant. He is a good kid and when I’m not looking, he surprises everyone. The Cross Country program here is supposed to be really good. Coach Erika will always hold a place in our hearts. She was an amazing coach. She didn’t just teach kids how to run. She taught them self confidence and how to be a team.

I have talked to Gavin about starting over here. He has an opportunity to basically reinvent himself. No one knows who he is or what his past has been. I told him to prove to everyone how awesome he is.

Heath just got back from the youth activity with Gavin. Heath was just put in as the Young Men’s second counselor. It was a combined activity with the Young Women. They played water balloon volleyball. It was fun. I guess the best part was how a lot of the girls were crushing big time on Gavin! One girl went up to him, “Hey Gavin … what grade are you going into?” I love it!

He is a good kid. He hasn’t always fit into this world as quickly or as easily as other kids. It really is a Mom Payday to have other people see him the way I do.