Play a Little Longer in Honor of Jamie and Jeffrey
My kids and I have visited precisely 42 local playgrounds over the last 14 months and today I saw something that stayed with me long after we dusted the mulch off everyone’s pants.
We have visited playgrounds that have been dedicated to community members, amazing playgrounds built entirely in someone’s honor such as Noah’s Place Playground and the K-9 Sgt. Sean M. Gannon Memorial Playground. But today we visited a playground at a local elementary school that looked just like any other playground we've seen.
But as we ran from one end to the other and paused to catch our breath, I noticed a small, peculiar swing set with only two old-school, bucket-style baby swings hanging from it. The construction of this swingset did not match the rest of the newer, modern playground and was oriented to face the giant field across the way, and not the rest of the playground. But it was obviously an intentional design.
A giant bronze plaque attached to its side read:
“Jamie and Jeffrey”
Two small boys,
Two young men,
Side by side,
The best of friends.
But never again,
Two small boys,
Two young men.
In loving memory of: Jamie G. Helger (May 6, 1969 - Jan. 9, 1990) and Jeffrey S. Giguire (Sept. 8 - 1969 - May 25, 1993)
“The Best of Friends”
There are two swings for two friends to play together for as long as this Little Compton playground is standing, all in honor of two best friends who died at 20 and 23 years old, respectively. You can't help be re-read it once you understand what happened. And you can't help but get a little emotional when you realize that "separated once, but never again" is most likely about the three years after Jamie's death when Jeffrey was without his best friend.
After reading it out loud, my six-year-old remarked, "That is so sweet" even though she didn't understand that the Two Best Friends had died.
I tried looking up more information about the plaque, the two best friends, and anything else I could surrounding this very bittersweet tribute but gave up after a few minutes. I think I’m happy just knowing that 20-ish years ago, the families of these Two Best Friends chose to honor their loved ones with one of the most cherished childhood memories out there: playground swings.
So in honor of Jamie and Jeffrey, on this very cold and windy day, I let my own Two Best Friends play a little longer than we planned because that's what Jamie and Jeffrey's family would have wanted.