Thursday, July 12, 2012

“Tim’s House – Final Chapter”

c. 2012 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

I worked with Tim Weed for eight years, in Chardon.

He seemed energetic and outgoing, with many who cherished his company. A soul made to brighten the path for others, by nature. His broad smile and gentle manner touched everyone.

Then, in September of 2006, he was gone.

Tim’s choice to exit the mortal world struck friends and family like a bolt of lightning. In the aftermath came waves of confusion, disbelief, mourning, introspection and finally, a plan.

Carole, his mother, founded ‘Tim’s House’ on Court Street. It was intended to be a sanctuary for those affected by such a tragedy. In 2007, she spoke powerfully about this new beginning:

"After Tim's death my world forever changed. My goal and dream was to buy my son a house so he would always have a safe place to go when I was gone. Now, my hope is that dream will become a reality in his name to help others. Tim's House, Inc. was formed to assist and support those suffering from the loss of a loved one to suicide.”

The ‘house’ became a meeting place that attracted a diverse group of local residents. In attendance were notable figures like storyteller Robin Echols Cooper, amateur historian Rick Briggs, and former public servant Mary Bramstedt.

Weekly support meetings offered shelter for many who had lost brothers, sisters, parents and children to suicide. A library provided resources for those struggling to understand. And improvised music sessions produced a theme song to demonstrate the healing spirit that had been created:

Tim's House
Out of the dark
Tim's House
Into the light
Tim's House
Only the day
Tim's House
No longer night.
Tim's House
Your heart is broken
Tim's House
But the door is open
Tim's House
Come for the healing
Tim's House
We are singing.
Tim's House
Across the nation
Tim's House
From station to station
A beautiful spirit
Tim's House
We won't forget.

Reflecting on her journey, Carole spoke with maternal strength:

"As a parent our job is to teach our children many things, to be kind, patient, respectful, honest and loving, forgiving and helpful, productive people. However, my son also taught me many things. He taught me how to love unconditionally and to be patient and forgiving. He taught me that I had to provide, and to be strong in the world even when I felt weak. And even in his death, my son taught me that I must be forgiving, helpful and productive. He was such a gentle, loving soul and the greatest gift. Lastly, Tim taught me great sorrow only comes from great love. You cannot have one without the other. He was my rock, my touchstone and the love of my life…He was everything to me, my life’s work. His kindness spilled out as hundreds of people came to his funeral service, and the stories told were always of him helping people and trying to make them happy."

Tim’s House became an ever-present part of the community. There were pledge walks, candlelight vigils, benefit auctions, all organized by the volunteer staff. Many businesses in the area shared Carole’s desire to offer help, and gave invaluable support.

My own work at the ‘house’ included writing website news posts, along with public relations material. I was on duty every Thursday.

While pondering the loss of Tim himself, I also lingered on thoughts of Mark Lebowitz, a Cornell University graduate and friend from yonder days in New York.
Mark had ended his own life in July of 1980.

For decades I yearned to comprehend what moved this gifted, poetic fellow to bid us farewell. Being at Tim’s House finally brought a personal measure of peace that had never been attainable, before. In each group meeting, I was surrounded by others who had similar stories to tell.

Often, visitors to the ‘house’ remarked that they literally felt Tim’s presence was near. And undeniably, he had brought us together. In our music, poetry and art, his spirit soared.

Carole’s own lyrics also kept Tim alive:

With the cool crisp bite in the air,
I was standing on the sideline, with the dads,
Watching the football game go by,
A single mom, yes momma and poppa to my boy

(Chorus) My precious boy a gift from God,
Tim’s story must be told,
Tin Man spirit will live on,
Will live on

From a small little lion,
To the roar of a Redskin lineman,
A shining star, he did what he could,
To hold back that line, hold back that line

(Chorus) My precious boy a gift from God,
Tim’s story must be told,
Tin Man spirit will live on,
Will live on

The best games were held at night,
Under the bright, bright light,
As cheerleaders shouted to the crowd,
The fans cheered real loud

(Chorus) My precious boy a gift from God,
Tim’s story must be told,
Tin Man spirit will live on,
Will live on

While other moms sipped cocoa in the stands,
They did not know what they were missing,
While shouting on the fifty-yard line,
I tried to capture every second in time
I was the lucky one, oh I was the lucky one

(Chorus) My precious boy a gift from God,
Tim’s story must be told,
Tin Man spirit will live on,
Will live on

We performed her song every week, along with the Tim’s House theme. Robin Echols Cooper called our sessions ‘healing through music.’ It was a perfect description.
In 2009, new employment and personal concerns overtook my own ability to participate at Tim’s House. I missed the familial togetherness we had experienced, and tried to stay in touch with other volunteers.

Eventually, the original ‘house’ closed due to funding issues. Support meetings continued at St. Mary’s church.

Then, in June, came the news that Carole herself was gone:

“Carole A. (Brazis) Dunn (nee Bartholomew), 52, of Chardon, passed away June 19, 2012, in Cleveland. Born Dec. 14, 1959, in Cleveland, she had lived in Montville before moving to Chardon 10 years ago. Carole was a member of the Chardon Christian Fellowship Church and founder of Tim's House.”

Tears filled my eyes after reading her obituary. As with Tim, she left too quickly. Yet I took solace in knowing that she could at last join her beloved son in eternity.

The legacy of their kindness, both mother and son, will last with us forever.

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