The T-Shirt (by Karen Lindberg)
A few days ago, we ordered some shirts to support an incredible woman that is heading into battle. It was an absolute honor to order those shirts, but over the past few days, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about that shirt. I am sure to most it’s “just a shirt” – we have bought hundreds of shirts, right? For me, it will never be “just a shirt” again. As I thought about that shirt, the emotions came roaring back…
It was August 11, 2020, just 4 days after Nash’s accident and I got a phone call from my dear friend Jayme saying that her girls and Mac were designing #NASHSTRONG shirts in support of Nash. Those young ladies all love Nash like a brother and they were all very excited about it, but she wanted to make sure that we were ok with it. I swallowed a huge lump in my throat and mustered up my best excited voice and said, “I think that’s great – we would love that!” I knew that back home those young ladies were doing everything they could to support Nash, especially given that they were unable to come see him. It warmed my heart and soul to see the bond and love those kids shared and how they worked to support him – but the reality that our family was about to be on a shirt hit me like a ton of bricks. I have so many shirts that we have purchased to support other people and they are all special but somehow the reality that something catastrophic enough had happened that people were making shirts for our son brought me to my knees! I was thankful for the support and incredibly thankful that those special young ladies loved and cared for Nash so deeply to pour their heart and soul into doing everything they could to support him, but it made my heart hurt in the strangest way.
Shortly after the shirts were in production, we also had a dear friend reach out with bracelets that he had made and then another group of amazing people created an additional shirt to support our warrior. Before we knew it, support for Nash could be seen all over. It’s incredible when a community lifts you up. I was thankful and appreciative, but it still felt strange in my soul. Our son’s name was showing up all around us. It was surreal, to say the least.
One day when it was my week at home, I went to the store while Mac was at school. While walking through the store, I passed a lady that I didn’t know wearing a #NASHSTRONG shirt. This lady smiled at me in passing, having no idea that I was the mom of the boy on that shirt. As I looked at her shirt, my heart sank, and my emotions got the best of me – to the point that I had to leave my cart in Wal-Mart and go out to my car. When I got to my car, I absolutely lost it and cried out to God, through my sobs, “HOW IN THE HELL IS MY SON ON A SHIRT????” Those shirts are shirts you buy for a friend of a friend – or for your neighbor’s friend – for the people that you see on Facebook and you pray for but it’s not for someone in your own home. Until now – now it was my precious son on that shirt! My world was spinning as I pleaded and tried to make sense of how we got here and why we got here and where we would go from here. I never wanted something so awful to happen to someone I loved so much that it warranted a shirt or a bracelet – yet here we were. I broke that day, and I broke hard. All over a simple t-shirt.
I think about that day often, especially as I pull out a t-shirt from my closet that is supporting one of the many brave warriors that I know. I have a shirt for my dear friend who recently beat breast cancer, a shirt for another young man in our community that is a spinal cord warrior alongside Nash, a shirt for my cousin who bravely kicked cancer’s butt a few years back…soon I will add another shirt to the collection. It took me a long time to realize that every single time I pull one of those shirts out, I stop and pray for that person. That shirt is an incredible way to honor someone that is tougher than I most likely will ever even dream of being and a reminder to everyone that sees that shirt to pray for the person on it. How amazing is that??
I never planned to see my son’s name on a shirt but I am now so thankful that it was – I can’t imagine how many times his name has been lifted up because someone saw that shirt or bracelet and was reminded of his battle. And to the lady in Wal-Mart – although I have no idea who you were – THANK YOU! Thank you for lifting up and supporting my son, a young man that you had never met – I am humbled by your kindness!
I pray you will never have a shirt with your name on it, but if you do and you see me wearing it, please know what an honor it is to lift up your name! At the end of the day, it truly is “just a shirt” but for us it became a massive reminder of the army behind us supporting us, people we knew and people we didn’t know. If you ever find yourself at the bottom of the mountain, support is everything. It’s humbling, it’s heartwarming and some days it’s all you have as you battle ahead. That shirt that I dreaded so much has become one of my most valued possessions, it’s a reminder of how loved we are. Here’s to the warriors and those who support them!