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Thank You Letter to Neslihan and Çekirdek Family

We want to publicly thank you for hosting the “Traditional Banner Davut Watson Children’s Festival” last weekend. We can’t think of a better way to celebrate the 23 April Children’s Holiday than by commemorating the life of our child. Thank you for inviting everyone from the Çekirdek community into the celebration.

How meaningful it was in 2019, on the anniversary of his passing, when you decided to name the festival after Banner Davut Watson. Why name a festival after a child that is no longer physically among us? Banner represents the worth of each child and the sacredness of the time we get to spend together.

Banner with teacher Gizem in Spring 2015

Banner was an outgoing child eager to get out of the house and go to school. We were initially uncertain about sending our firstborn child out of the house and into an unknown environment. But we quickly realized this was a place where the seed of his life would be nurtured and sprout (the preschool name Çekirdek means “seed”). It was at Çekirdek that Banner learned to speak Turkish. He made some of his first Turkish friends. He developed his confidence. We thank his teachers like Gizem and Selin who loved him in those formative years. And thank you to Gökçe and everyone else who always welcomed Banner with a smile from the time he walked in the door and showed he was special.

We all have some sense as parents of how precious and fleeting our time is with our kids. But when one of the children that we know is suddenly taken from us, it prompts us to squeeze our loved ones more tightly. Two of Banner’s short years on earth were spent at Çekirdek. How grateful we are for the good memories! The little art creations Banner made in his days at preschool are masterpieces in our collection. The shirt Banner painted for me at school is one of my favorite clothing items and one of the possessions that carries special meaning.

Aslan reunited with teacher Özlem

We thank you and all the teachers that surrounded our family during our time of grief. We particularly thank Özlem who took a special interest in Aslan, then a 3-year-old student at Çekirdek, in the fragile time when his big brother passed away.

Now four years later, how special it was that Aslan wanted to take the microphone and greet the crowd at the festival! He carries on his brother’s legacy, another outgoing child who learned his Turkish at Çekirdek and developed in his confidence.

Neslihan, Karalyn, Gökçe, Nilsen at the first festival in 2019

Neslihan, we are sorry that you could not be here in person for the event that you envisioned and planned. How sad yet appropriate that you were at the funeral for your beloved family member. We know all too well how death can take our best. And death never comes at a good time. We esteem you in how you have empowered others that can function without you, a mark of a true leader. (We offer a big thank you to Gökçe for her leadership at the event!) You have created a school system where scores of kids are loved each day. We testify that that took place at the festival today. Thank you on behalf of the entire Cekirdek community for creating a safe and nurturing environment where our kids thrive. Even when you cannot be present, there is a ripple of community and love that goes out from your life.

This reminds us of our beloved Banner, too. Though not present, the ripple of his life continues spread. We hope with each memory that was created at the festival and each book that is borrowed and read from Banner’s Bookshelf, that here on this side of eternity we are more aware of and grateful for what we have.

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