Right now I am at Spring Hill Corrections Facility, where it all happened, opening a Memorial Garden that the prison has built in honor of Jason. And giving a speech.
Ever since Jason died I have let everyone speak for me in public and I thought today was the right day for me to finally speak for myself.
Here is my speech for those of you who can't make it, and for those of you who did and I cried too much for you to hear it!
Today is the mark of a very long but also quick year.
I have only been here to Spring Hill 3 times, before today.
The first time was when I came to Jason’s Graduation. I was so darn proud of him and to be honest he was pretty darn proud of himself. It was awesome to see him achieving a major goal for himself. And see him in a career job he was actually happy to be in. I watched him walk up on that stage and he gave me one of those big cheesy grins of his.
The second time I came here was the last time I saw Jason alive. The kids and I had dropped him off at work. We all got kisses goodbye, I even got an extra one. We waved and watched him walk down the path to work. I wish that my last memory of him alive and whole wasn’t one of him walking away from us. But I can still see him waving and again giving us his big cheesy grin as he walked away.
The 3rd time I came was the moment where my life changed forever. We came in the staff parking area where Jason had told us to wait for him. There were a lot of guys hanging around, not unusual I guess, having a chat after work I thought. Someone asked me who I was here for. I said “Jason’ and he said ok and then I heard him say something about Gavin and the word urgent over his radio. I thought “darn I am going to get in trouble for parking in the staff car park” and in my head I starting going over the ways I would abuse Jase when he got to the car about getting me in trouble. It didn’t register in my head that this guy seemed to know who I was talking about when I only said Jason rather than Jason Palmer. It didn’t register in my head that anything could be wrong. When I saw Louise and Gavin striding up the path I thought, ‘ gee that lady has a bag exactly the same as Jase’s how weird is that’ not once did I register it could have been his bag. My heart jumped in my throat when Gavin asked me to step out of the car, and again I started cursing Jase in my head about getting me in trouble. I didn’t even begin to imagine the amount of trouble I was really in.
The last 12 months have been very hard. Sometimes excruciatingly hard. Jason was my whole life and to suddenly have him not around I feel a little like I’m drowning. I have had 365 days of pain and sorrow and heartache. Getting through day by day and sometimes even hour by hour. All the firsts the kids and I have had to go through, birthday’s anniversaries, Christmas. Every day reminds me how much he isn’t here because he was such a vibrant and active part of our every moment. I know that Riley, Abbey and Myself were the most important things in his life. He put us first in everything. For that I am blessed and incredibly grateful.
Jason didn’t always make the best first impression. He could be arrogant, rude, pig-headed, and hardly any of his jokes were funny. But when you got to know him he was loving, kind, generous, funny and incredibly loyal. He certainly wasn’t perfect but he was perfect for me. I never quite understood the passion he showed in some things but I believe that was more of a cultural difference than a personal trait. He was fiercely American to the day he died and that was something I both loved and admired about him. I have been blessed to have had the time I had with Jase. I am a better person for having him in my life. He was a unique individual who made an impression, whether good or bad, where ever he went. I thank him for choosing me and leaving everything he knew to come to a strange and unknown place to start a new life with me. I thank him for giving me the two most beautiful children and for giving me his heart.
They say that every cloud has a silver lining. I am at a stage now where I can see those silver linings shining through the dark clouds and I am grateful for them. All of those silver linings are people. In the first few months I joked about starting a Rock Collection, the few people who came into my life who I depended, on, lent against and let take over for me.
The first people I want to thank are my Mum & Dad. You guys don’t even begin to fathom how much your continuous support and unconditional understanding and patience with me means. I love you both to the Moon and Back.
Uncle Fred, you were my eyes and ears where I couldn’t face to go, you supported me through EVERYTHING, making sacrifices I never even knew about. I can’t even begin to thank you for all you have done for me, I am incredibly grateful for you and ALL you have done.
Aunty Val, you were my first port of call on the way to the hospital and you are a continuous rock in my world. You made your home Grand Headquarters and have made huge sacrifices for us too. You became Mum to Abbey and Riley when I couldn’t and I am forever grateful for that.
Raymond, the biggest rock in my collection. I miss hearing your voice on the end of the phone everyday but am thankful that the time has come where I don’t need to. You helped me make some tough decisions, and told me a lot of stuff I didn’t want to know, but you did it and made me feel ok about it all. I can’t even begin to let you know how much I appreciate what you did for us.
Gerry and John, you guys sorted out a lot of the hard, complicated and stressful stuff for me and I just nodded most of the time. I am so blessed to have had you guys in charge of that and have you either side of me as huge supports
Gavin, You have been a constant Rock over the last year. I feel like you are a part of my family and your support through all the things we have had to deal with is amazing. I feel like you have gone over and beyond what you needed to and I can’t say thank you enough.
To the Department of Corrections, Jason’s ITC class, his Unit and all those other Corrections Officers from around the country, and overseas. Your constant support has been amazing. I have been blown away with it all. I feel like I am a part of a huge family and know that where ever I go I will have a family member dressed in green.
To the rest of my family, brothers, sisters, Aunts, Uncles, Grandparents, cousins, nieces & nephews, you all know who you are and I love you ALL. I happen to have the BEST family in the world.
To all my friends, old and new. Every single one of you has helped me, or is continuing to help me get through every single day. Whether it be a phone call, email, chat, visit or meet up it is all helping me get by with the every day of living without Jason and you guys are to me like gold. I treasure you all for loving me.
I thank every one of you for been here today, to support me … again! Life without Jase is a journey - not a destination. Some roads are harder to travel, and some easier, but while I make the journey I am comforted that I am not alone.
Here's hoping that today goes well for me, and all involved and I can walk away with another milestone in my new life without my love.
alwaysforeverandeternity baby, that's how long I will love you xxxx