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Leave No Trace Behind

Sunday, March 6, 2011
My husband was an Eagle Scout and Scouting was one of his many passions.  He started Troop 23 at our church, Redeemer Presbyterian Church, in Jackson as an outreach opportunity to the boys within the surrounding community of Redeemer.  Many boys in that community come from broken families and some do not have any father figure or male influence in their lives of any kind.  He looked at Scouting as a way to help these boys grow in their confidence, leadership, values, and life discipline. Our son, Michael Anthony, Jr., was also in this troop, which allowed them to spend much time together camping,hiking, planning, setting goals, being men together, and dreaming together. Because Michael believed Scouting was such a necessary part of a boy becoming a man, we have set up a Michael Barranco Memorial Boy Scout fund where donations are being received in his memory.  Many of the boys in this troop do not have the financial means to pay for any of what is needed to participate in the Scouting program. In addition, raising the money on their own can sometimes be impossible without support from a parent.  There will additionally be an incentive for a college scholarship program for those young men that reach their Eagle status.

I tell you all of this as a preamble to explain where my thoughts have been.  The well known Scout saying that they learn while camping or hiking is "Leave No Trace Behind".  It is out of respect for others and respect for creation as a whole. We were continually trying to help our son use this discipline in his home life!  After watching a movie in the den.... Leave No Trace Behind. Changing your clothes.... Leave No Trace Behind. Creating something.....  Leave No Trace Behind.  Eating a snack... Leave No Trace Behind. He still has much to learn.

People have said many times since the accident, "You are going to see Michael everywhere you turn because he left so much of himself."  He left a big trace of his goodness, his generosity,  his beauty, his thoughtfulness, his heart for God, his hard work, and his preparedness.  I see him in the garden where we worked and dreamed together.... he left a big trace trace there.  I see him in my kitchen that we designed together to meet my every need and where he moaned in delight when he was moved by a flavor or an aroma.   I see him in every piece of artwork that he picked out and gave me as gifts.  I see him in every piece of clothing in my wardrobe because I knew exactly how each piece made him feel when I wore it.  I see him in my dining room sconces for which he searched  many months and finally found them in South Africa. I will see him every summer when my fig trees, which he brought in from Atlanta, are producing the luscious fruit that he thought was heavenly. I will see him as I lay in bed staring up at our ceiling fan that he was determined to wire and install himself... no matter how long it took. I will see him when I look at our garden fountain, which he gave me one Christmas, and threw his back out trying to place it in the garden, in the dark, on Christmas Eve. I will see him when I look at my sweet chicken coop from my kitchen window that he so creatively designed and built himself by adding on to our swing set fort... just because I had always wanted chickens.  Yes, he left quite a trace, but I am also noticing where there is now, no trace left behind.

There is no trace of his daily rhythms.  The half finished cup of black coffee, Italian roast, that he always left in the same place on the kitchen counter as he left for work is no longer there.  The blanket and Bible that stayed on or next to his favorite leather chair ,where he spent the early morning hours, is no longer there.  His dry cleaning clothes that he draped over a rod in our closet is no longer there.  The smell of his cologne in the morning air is no longer there.  His frequent love note texts are no longer there. His dirty exercise clothes, that always made it just next to the laundry basket, are no longer there. (Even in that, he did so with thoughtfulness because he said he did not want the dampness from the sweaty clothes to ruin the other clothes.) His empty wine glass that I daily washed by hand is no longer there. His brand new Land Rover is no longer there. His voice saying, "Babe, I'm gone.  I love you... I'll call you later!" as he walked out the door each morning is no longer there. When I am making the bed, his rumpled side is no longer there.  These were all traces of life....which is no longer there.

I will miss some of the traces that once may have bothered me and now I long for just a little trace. I am more thankful for the traces that he did leave behind.  He left a large canvas with broad strokes of beautiful colors that engage your senses, your mind, your thoughts, and your heart. Thank you, Michael, for breaking the rules and leaving a trace behind.  I love you Scout.


Anonymous Says:
March 6, 2011 at 9:39 PM

Thinking of you often...if not constantly ! Your words are so beautiful, it brings your love alive. God Bless you Jene !

Sending my love...

Anonymous Says:
March 7, 2011 at 4:35 AM

This is absolutely amazing! Praying for you all!

LW Says:
March 7, 2011 at 9:01 AM

I certainly have no understanding as to why Michael was taken, but it is obvious how powerful your testimony will reverberate throughout the hearts and minds of all who know you and who read your words. May our void continue to be filled with the knowledge and character of the One who created us - the One who has received Michael into that eternal state.

Summer Says:
March 11, 2011 at 8:09 AM

I have been following your blogs and what an amazing writer you are. You have inspired me to start writing and to open up about my feelings. I am not always good at saying how I feel or what's on my mind, but that is changing. Last night my husband was gone with our oldest son for the evening and I knew it was going to be later before he got home. So sitting at home with our 2 younger sons, I started writing. I wrote about all the things that I am thankful for, what an amazing man he is, how the things that used to drive me nuts that he did I am now appreciating more and more, I wrote about my love for him and how over the past several months we have struggled with some things and my love for him is like nothing I have ever known. Eleven years later he is taking my breath away even more now. I think about him every minute of the day and pray that GOD will use him and all his talents for his glory! Thank you Jene' for helping me to open my eyes and to see all the little things that I am now so thankful for to share with him everyday:) You are a beautiful women of GOD and you are inspiring so many women!! I continue to pray for you and your family and for strength and encouragement that can only come from GOD alone!

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