Page 13 - 2017 Spring-Summer Issue
P. 13

© lilechka75 /

                                “I Love You More Than Chocolate Cake”

                                by John Mitchell

                                Twenty-three years ago, on the day we buried our sons          two hours because you also had to explain why you loved
                                Kevin John and Kareem Anthony, my wife and I attended          each person and how much; thank you, Kevin, who started
                                our first TCF meeting. I can still remember walking into       that. After a very long work day, my wife said, “Ok. I love
                                that room that was divided into two groups; one group had      you guys more than chocolate cake,” and for the first time
                                people like me; sad, angry, hurt, crying, and distraught….the  everyone was happy and agreed that she loved them very
                                other group had the people that I wanted to be, people that    much. After that, it became a tradition in our home, and it
                                were smiling, hugging, talking, and not crying.                has become my trademark to end our TCF meetings and all
                                                                                               TCF events with – “I love you more than chocolate cake.”
                                I knew I had found my people; I just didn’t know how long
                                it would take for me to graduate from group “A” to group       John Mitchell and his wife Jacquie, along with their three sons, were on a
                                “B”. No matter how sad the meeting made me feel and how
                                much I cried, I felt safe and looked forward to being there    much anticipated family vacation when the unthinkable happened. What
                                every 2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month.
                                                                                               should have been a lifetime of joyful memories turned into tragedy when
                                And then one day I turned around and realized that not
                                only was I now in group “B”, I was the Chapter Leader and      Kareem (Reemie) 15 and Kevin 12 suffered what turned out to be a fatal
                                the Regional Coordinator. I was standing in the front of the
                                room sharing my story, encouraging all our new parents to      accident at the hotel swimming pool.
                                attend at least three meetings before deciding that TCF was
                                not for them. I also learned on this journey that sometimes    In shock, after such a catastrophic, life-altering event, John and Jacquie, not
                                it’s OK to remember the past; we don’t always have to only
                                focus on our new reality.                                      knowing where to turn for help or advice were led to The Compassionate

                                I used to wish each of my children good night individually,    Friends (TCF). They began going to meetings at the Manhattan Chapter
                                kind of like the Walton’s with their “Good night, Ma” and
                                “Good night, Pa.” In my house, the good nights could take      where they found comfort and support, and came to believe that TCF saved

                                                                                               their life. John also lost a brother to a tragic train accident several years

                                                                                               ago and has facilitated groups of bereaved parents and siblings, and is now

                                                                                               co-leader for the Manhattan Chapter. He reaches out to other bereaved

                                                                                               parents and gives them hope that they can also restore their lives and honor

                                                                                               the memory of their lost children. John is also co-Regional Coordinator

                                                                                               for the State of New York. He has one surviving son, Kristopher, who has

                                                                                               a degree in Criminal Justice, and has presented workshops to bereaved

                                                                                               siblings at national conferences.

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