How do you thank a city?

Published 5:26 pm Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Dear editor,

How do you say thank you to a city? I’m not sure these words will do justice, but I will try. The movie, “Holden On,” was shown at the beautiful Sweetland Amphitheatre on Wednesday, Oct. 18. It was a movie about our youngest son, Holden, and his struggle with schizophrenia, which led to his suicide at the age of 19. This occurred 22 years ago. We lived in LaGrange at the time and the people of LaGrange surrounded us like a cocoon during our darkest days. They loved and supported us until we could get back on our feet and walk on our own again. It was not easy, but without the constant love and care we received, I know we would not be where we are today. If we had lived anywhere else, I’m convinced it would not be the same. LaGrange is truly special.

Becca Eiland, director of Sweetland, estimated the audience between 1,700 and 2,000. Each one of you who came honored our family and Holden’s memory by your presence. We felt the same loved and support we felt 22 years ago and it was truly a magical evening. It will be remembered in the same special way as our marriage day and the birth of our three children. We saw longtime friends from LaGrange we had not seen in years. It was so good to hug their necks and catch up on their lives. To make it even more memorable, we had family members right by our side. Cousins drove from North Carolina, Valsdota and Columbus to be with us. High school and college friends came.

The many volunteers, including the Troup High School Ambassadors, the financial sponsors, the food vendors, the music, the beautiful and meaningful art work, the counselors, the flowers, food and decorations and those who worked behind the scenes made it all add up to a night full of memories we will carry with us for the rest of our lives.

Tamlin Hall, who grew up in LaGrange and was a friend of Holden, wrote our family a letter over ten years ago. It told of his love, passion and determination to make a movie about Holden’s story. He said he didn’t know how long it would take, but the movie would be made. Without Tamlin, none of us would have gathered on the lawn at Sweetland on the 18th.

Because of him, Holden’s life will now live on past any of our lives and our prayer is that it will start and continue a conversation about mental illness.  How do you say thank you to a city? I’m not sure I succeeded, but please know that the entire Layfield family loves LaGrange and the people of LaGrange.

— Bob, Brenda, Heath and Heather Layfield