TatumStrong.org

My daughter Tatum- how does one even begin to capture how amazing she was, what a gift she was to our entire family, most especially to her father and I.  I am going to try to do her justice because I loved her more than anything.

 Tatum Nicole Jackson was born on July 11th, 2007. It was quite possibly the happiest day of my entire life. Darren and I had been trying to have a child for eight years and when we found out we were finally expecting, and a healthy baby girl, we called her our little miracle. She was born pink, perfect and loud.  Our family was complete.


Darren and I talked often about how you could not have created a more perfect child for us- she was smart, beautiful, kind, creative and so funny. Tatum was a combination of the best, and a bit of the worst, of both of us. From me, she got her love of school, her sociability, kindness to all, her embracing of routine and 




 


organization, and also her stubbornness. From her Dad, her creativity and artistic abilities, her competitiveness, her silliness, and a temper. Together, we instilled in Tatum a loyalty to family, to treat all equally and a love of books and reading bordering on the fanatic. She has been described as exceptional by many. Also strong, and very brave  in dealing with her ongoing health issues, and in her battle to remain with us at the end.

I have already told of the tragedy of losing her so unexpectedly, and so young elsewhere on this site, so the rest of Tatum’s story here will be what friends and family had to say in honoring her. My hope is that in reading these memories, you will get a sense of the spirit of this incredible little girl who was a gift to us all.

Even if we had known the final outcome going into our parenthood journey, Darren and I would not have traded a single moment of our life with Tatum. She brought us so much joy and love. We are forever grateful to have been her Mom and Dad.


From her father:
Beautiful- “Tatum’s beauty extended beyond her physical beauty, to her writing, her artwork, her love of friends and family and her two cats, BK and Nola. She seemed to love everything in nature. Rainbows, ladybugs, and her personal campaign to save pill bugs from danger. “

Smart- “ Tatum had decided she wanted to be a Marine Biologist. She could rattle off facts and figures on all manner of sea creatures. She loved anything having to do with the sea.  One day we were in our backyard, and I spotted a ladybug. Tatum loved ladybugs so I called her over. She said “ Daddy, this one is six years old”. She told me you can tell by counting the spots. I am certain I learned more from her then she did from me in her seven years.”

Funny- “ Shortly before I left for CA, Tatum was being a little disrespectful towards mom over something trivial. I said “ How’s the being disrespectful towards your mom class coming along? She said: Great, I’m teaching it.”

From Tatum’s Aunt Lisa:
“ The world no longer gets to benefit from her laughter or her beauty. Her smile, her incredible imagination, her intelligence, her sass, her stubbornness, her joy, her kindness. It is a great loss.

A dear friend sent me a note on the afternoon we lost Tatum. The note read: I looked up to the North, in the blue sky, and saw a rainbow where there shouldn’t be one and I knew it was Tatum.


It took my breath away at first read. But then it was clear to me. Of course it was Tatum. This is her way of smiling at us and sharing her beauty with the world. She is now a rainbow. There is comfort in knowing that Tatum is in Heaven skipping through the clouds, playing her little deer games and probably instructing her new friends on how best to play them. She is laughing and she is healthy, free of discomfort.

Now when Tatum is ready for bed, she curls up on her fluffy cloud mattress, pulls her favorite blanky up, snuggles in with bla bla kitty and grabs several books. Before she closes her eyes, she says in that little gravelly voice, "Good  night Mommy, Good night Daddy. I love you, I’m ok. I’ve got a pile of books here waiting to read for when we are together again.”

From her Grandma Pam:

“ Seven years ago, your mom and dad presented our family with the wonderful gift of you. I will never forget what it felt like to hold you, my first grandchild, in my arms. It was an indescribable feeling of perfect love. I thank you with all my heart for that, and the many memories you have given me.

We had hours of imaginary play- we hid out from monsters, survived hurricanes and had all manner of glorious adventures. The Benton County Fair was always one of our most fun outings- how you loved the carnival rides and the livestock exhibits. You really loved all animals, especially your own kitties, Nola and BK. One year we went to the beach in OR. I still hear your squeals of joy as we jumped the waves and ran back up the shore. Like your grandma, you loved the ocean and were fascinated by sea life,

Thank you for rustling through fall leaves, trips to the park when you called me a ragamuffin as the wind blew through my hair, chalk drawings on your patio, birthday parties for Bla Bla and Bear, dress up clothes and funny hats, playing school, building Legos with Grandpa, spying on your Daddy, making peanut butter cookies, dancing in your room and jumping on your bed. We had so many laughs, batting balloons, bouncing balls and shopping with  Aunt  Sandy. We ate a lot of cheese pizza and watched a lot of Disney movies. And all the books. Like your mommy, you read easily at an early age and enjoyed it so much that your books could be found in every room of the house.

I will never forget your beautiful voice, like a crystal bell. I will look for you in every rainbow and every blooming rose, especially the pink and white ones. Thank you darling, beautiful, funny, ever so smart girl of ours for blessing our lives for seven wonderful years.”

From Tatum’s second grade teacher:


“ From the first day that I met Tatum, I could tell that she was the light of her parents’ life.  Tatum never complained about her health issues. She would come into class with her spunky little attitude and get right to work. Tatum was very strong and would work hard to do her best every day. It was apparent that Tatum loved her classmates, and her classmates loved her.

Tatum was excited about learning. She was smart and learning came easy to her, but she was also up for a challenge. When she could not pass the 6 minute addition and subtraction timed test, she was inspired to work hard to memorize those facts. What ended up being her very last day of school, she passed the timed test!

Tatum was not only smart, she was very friendly and kind. She was quick to lend a hand to anyone sitting at her table. She was not only an avid reader, but she was creative and artsy. Her test papers were often decorated with hearts and stars, and rainbows.

When we were gathering Tatum’s things, I saved for myself a sticky note. It was from a day that her mom was planning on picking Tatum up for an appointment. It simply said 2:30, so we would both remember. When I went to pick it up from her desk after school, it was completely decorated. This is my precious memory of Tatum : a little life full of happy dreams and hopes, stars, hearts and rainbows..”

All of this and so much more is the essence of my sweet child, my Tatum.

It was my honor and privilege to be her mom. Every day of her seven years, not a day went by without me marveling at the amazing person that Tatum was becoming. She made me proud, she made me crazy, she made me laugh and most importantly, she made me so very happy.

She was my whole world. I cannot imagine a future without her, and yet I am living it every day.

We will love you forever Tatum.