BEREA — She always knew her son was destined to do great things, Tina Rae Collins said Wednesday.
Tina always told him: “One of these days Aaron, you’re going to do something special and everybody’s going to say: ‘Aaron Collins did that?’”
When the family realized Aaron was not waking from his coma, plans for the first tip started as well-wishers reached out to ask how they could help.
“He probably couldn’t hear me, but I bent over him and said, ‘Remember what I always used to tell you Aaron. This is it. We’re going to make it happen for you baby,’” Tina recalled.
This inspired the title of her 13th book, which was published just six months after Aaron’s death.
The book includes a chapter of memories shared by Aaron’s family and friends along with an introduction by his best friend, Rachel Tarvin.
One chapter is the transcript of a sermon about Aaron given by a Jewish rabbi, while others include Tina’s recollections of Aaron’s childhood and personality.
Family pictures also are scattered throughout the book.
Seth challenged her to complete the book, she said, although it seemed impossible at first.
“Aaron’s life was going through my head anyway. This was a way of putting it down and remembering it,” said Tina, who hopes her grandchildren get to know their uncle through reading the book.
In the book, however, she doesn’t talk about the circumstances surrounding Aaron’s death.
His death certificate says “self-inflicted,” she said, but the family has suspicions, with not enough evidence to support them.
“I can focus on hatred and anger, or I can focus on Aaron’s love for other people. I don’t want to be the kind of person who lets grief consume them. I want to honor him,” Tina said.
There are times she still can’t accept Aaron is gone and expects him to come walking through the door, as if this had all been a practical joke, she said.
Losing a child “is worse than you can ever imagine. You think that if your child died, your own heart would stop beating,” Tina said. “But it’s worse than that; your heart keeps beating and you have to live with it.”
Also in Aaron’s will, he wrote that he wanted a party “and that it could last as long as we wanted,” Tina said.
So, the family is choosing to continue the celebration of Aaron’s life through granting his last wish as many times as possible.
If the money ever runs out, she said, they will continue to come up with the $500 at least once a year to give away on Aaron’s birthday, June 15.
“Our celebration continues,” Tina said.