TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) – A Wabash Valley mother is opening up about loss and how her life has changed in the year since her son was killed.
17-year-old Garrett Sands died March 28, 2018. He was shot at a house party.
Sands’ mother, Jayna Sullivan, started the Garrett Sands Kindness Project in her son’s honor. The group does random acts of kindness and has generated a following of people from across the country thanks to “kindness cards” distributed with each good deed. Others are encouraged to pass on the kindness.
Sullivan, family and friends gathered in Deming Park Thursday evening to mark Sands’ “angelversary.” Sullivan says her son’s death was tragic but his life is worth celebrating.
Sullivan says, "Obviously his death is not a celebration but his life in Heaven is, and that's the way I feel about it."
The group stood in front of a small tree planted in Sands’ honor. Some of his favorite songs played as those who knew him sang along, some through tears. Sullivan displayed her son’s old work boots and dirty jeans. She says she will probably never wash them. Other belongings and flowers laced with kindness cards were placed at the base of the tree.
Sullivan says her work with the Kindness Project has helped her heal. She says she is doing what Garrett would have done.
"He always figured out a way, even if he was sad about something, he figured out a way to carry on and thinking about that and thinking about him being that way has helped me with this."
Sullivan says she sees Garrett in her dreams. She says three dreams stand out because they seemed so real, unlike other dreams. In these dreams, she says Garrett comes to her.
"My very last dream of him that I had he gently said 'I gotta go' and I said "okay, okay' and I'm thankful for that."
She says she doesn’t think she’ll ever dream like that again.
"It was my honor to be his mother. He taught me more than I ever taught him about life. He really did."