Wednesday, February 24, 2010
The Playground: Chapter 1 - Some Background Information
The idea of building a playground to memorialize Kate and Peter first made it's way into my brain the night of the accident. I was laying in bed - not sure why I was even trying to sleep - thinking, crying, freaking out, and thinking some more.
After talking with the police and confirming the fact that my kids were dead, I talked with my dad on the phone. I remember saying, in addition to many other things, "What do I do now?! I'm a stay at home mom and my kids are gone! I have no purpose anymore!"
My dad, very adamantly said, "You have to go on!! You have to do something to memorialize those kids and let everyone know how wonderful they were."
I've not had much experience with death or memorials so in my head, my idea of memorializing someone was erecting some sort of stone structure with names carved in it. In my distraught state of mind I thought to myself, "That's effin fabulous...I'll build some big wall and put their names on it. That will serve absolutely no purpose."
Late that night while laying in bed my mind was going through all the things I'd done wrong as a mom - cause that's what we moms do. One of the most prominent things that came to mind was the fact that they'd really wanted a tree house and I had, more or less, squashed that idea.
My kids loved playing outside and imagining they were superheroes or characters from movies or books, or just people they made up. Their most favorite people to "be" were Carmen and Juni Cortez from the "Spy Kids" movies. They also loved to "be" Jack and Annie from the Magic Tree House book series.
We sometimes read the Magic Tree House books together before bed and one day, sometime in the summer of 2008, they asked if I would build them a tree house. Now those of you who have kids know that what they ask for and want can change on a daily or hourly basis, but this idea of a tree house was something they asked for persistently.
Whenever they asked about it I thought to myself, "I'm a girl. I know nothing about building stuff and, really, that's a guy's job." Now don't get me wrong, I realize there are many women out there who could surely build a kick ass tree house, but I am not one of them. So I decided that someday, when I meet someone, get married again and move into the house we will live in forever, I would have that someone build them a tree house - or at least hire someone to do it. I told Kate and Peter as much, though not in so many words.
So back to the night of the accident: I'm laying there feeling bad about not having the chance to build them a tree house and also wondering how the hell I'm going to build a memorial that will do them justice. And it hit me. What if I could build a tree house as their memorial? What if the tree house could be a playground that lots of kids could use? And what if all those kids and their parents, by playing at this tree house, could get a small glimpse of how awesome Kate and Peter are?
So that is what I'm trying to do. And it's gonna happen, I have no doubt. And it's gonna be the most amazing tree house playground anyone has ever seen. Seriously.
I've had A LOT of help with this project so far. There are so many people who have helped it's overwhelming, in a wonderful kind of way. Our biggest effort up to this point has been trying to raise the funds necessary to build something like this. Hundreds of people have sent checks, participated in fund raisers, bought bumper stickers, sold bracelets...the list goes on. We have raised a good amount of money so far, but we still have a long way to go.
As of now the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy has taken on this tree house playground as one of their projects. This is good because the Parks Conservancy is a wonderful organization who manages the park land in Pittsburgh and knows how to build stuff, unlike my girly self. We are working together now to come up with a design and a budget. Once this happens I will know how much money we actually need.
We are also working to make it possible to donate to Kate and Peter's Tree House online. As soon as this happens I will let you know. For now I want to sincerely thank everyone who has helped so far!!! I have no words to describe how much everyone's kindness means to me or how overwhelmed I have been by hundreds of people who have sent donations.
I am unbelievably excited about this and looking forward to sharing more details the instant I have them!
Oh, and we may have to design something conducive to spinning because, apparently, kids like to do that: