WEWOKA, OKLAHOMA — Friday, August 8th would have been the first day of 4th grade for Lane Azlin. His best friends were sitting in the back row of Alicia Bare’s class.
His name wasn’t on the roll but you couldn’t miss him.
One of the new class rules was his idea. Bare suggested Rule #5, “Be awesome. Lane would have like that one.”
Alicia also places a blue ribbon above the classroom door to mark the place where he would have lined up.
Out on the school playground sits a new basketball court dedicated July 31st on what would have been Lane’s 10th birthday.
“He played basketball,” says Lane’s mom Nikki Azlin. “He always played baseball. He played football.”
Lane’s tragic accidental death from a pistol shot at his home left a lot of empty spaces.
Six months hardly gave Nikki time to fully take stock. “You’ve truly not experience real tragedy until you’ve experienced the death of your own child,” she said.
But there she was on the first day of school in Wewoka.
It was also her first day as the high school counselor.
One of her first visitors was daughter Laci Azlin, who couldn’t help but recall last year’s first day of school.
“I would get up about two hours before we had to leave and he would get up about 30 minutes before we had to leave.”
So how does a family and a community fill an empty space with anything but sadness for a boy who seemed so full of life?
“I miss him like crazy,” says Tommy Azlin
Azlin, pastor at the local New Life Church, asked that question and got an answer within weeks of his son’s death.
Wewoka’s city manager called and asked the family for their help in building a new feature for the old city pool.
Tommy jumped at the chance to raise money for a new splash park called Lane’s World, a place he says Lane would have loved.
“He loved the water and so I thought, ‘what a perfect project,” says Tommy.
The Wewoka city pool was closed for repairs all summer.
One of its most frequent visitors, Lane Azlin, was gone too.
The empty spaces would seem almost too much to bear if they weren’t filled with the living water of hope.
The new splash pad is estimated to cost $230,000.
The Azlin family and Wewoka have raised about half that amount in the six months since Lane’s death.
If you’d like to learn more or help out call the City of Wewoka or go to http://www.cityofwewoka.com