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Sending Thank You Notes to Heaven for Tracey Kleinpell [VIDEO]

A Waterford boy, Jaden Peck, keeps in touch with his late aunt via helium balloon.

A few weeks after Tracey Kleinpell died, a present arrived from her to her nephew, Waterford's Jaden Peck. Kleinpell had pre-ordered the gift, but Jaden’s mother, Tina Peck, told him it came from heaven.

That caused a dilemma. Jaden, 6, was learning about thank-you notes, and wondered how he was going to send a thank-you note to his aunt in heaven. His mother suggested sending a note via helium balloon – more as a joke than anything – but Jaden ran with the idea. Since then, he has sent more than a dozen notes to his late aunt.

 “It is always his idea,” Tina Peck said. “Because I could go without sending the helium balloon up there. I always worry a bird is going to get hurt and it probably isn’t the best thing for the environment to send it out there. But I look at his face, and he says, ‘I drew this picture for Tracy, can I send it to her?’ And how do you say no to that?”

Tina Peck always watches, usually bursting into tears. Her sister was her best friend, and it makes her happy that she is still part of her son’s life.

“That’s his way of keeping her memory alive,” Tina Peck said. “And for me it is nice to know that he doesn’t not stop thinking about her.”

The Story

On May 7, 2011, Kleinpell, 46, was riding her bike on the Sanibel Causeway in Florida when she was struck by a car. The crash sent Kleinpell over the edge of a bridge and into the water. She died at the scene.

The female driver was on a variety of prescription drugs, but the prosecution could not prove that the drugs affected her above a therapeutic level, according to ABC news. She pleaded no contest to failing to maintain her lane and received the maximum sentence for the crime – just the loss of her license for six months, 120 hours of community service and a $1,000 fine, according to ABC.

“All I wanted from the woman was an apology, that’s all I wanted,” Peck said. “Not even an apology (we got from her). That would have meant the world to me.”

The death, trial and verdict was devastating to Peck. Kleinpell literally saved Peck’s life once, and the two talked every day, about everything from arguments they had with their spouses to something emotional they saw on Oprah.

“I never in my life thought I’d be living a life without her,” Peck said. “She was my best friend and I love her, more than anything in the world.”

The Grieving Process

It took six months for Peck to just get out of shock from her sister’s death, and she is still in the grieving process. She has pictures of Kleinpell in every one of her Waterford home’s bedrooms, and talks to a picture of her sister every day.

But she has had support going through the death, including from her oldest son, Jaden. She tries not to cry in front of her of two sons, but when she does, her 6-year-old knows what to do.

“When I cry, (Jaden) knows exactly why I’m crying,” Tina Peck said. “And he’ll hold my hand or hug my leg until I stop.”

Tina Peck says she has no regrets with her relationship with her sister, and has found comfort in the last moments they had together. The last text she sent her sister was “I love you” (followed by an “I love you more”), and the last time they had together, they were both sick from some bad food, but spent the whole night laughing together anyway.

“We threw up and giggled all night long,” Tina Peck said. “That was my last night with her. And I wouldn’t change it for anything.”  

She wishes she could “just touch (Kleinpell) for five minutes,” and held back tears throughout her interview with Patch. But she has no doubt her son’s balloons reach Kleinpell, and Kleinpell appreciates them.

“I absolutely have no problem believing she received her notes,” Tina Peck said. “She loved her Jaden so much, if they don’t make it all the way up, she’d come down and get them. She loved her little Jaden.”

Paul Singley October 12, 2012 at 01:57 PM
Great story, Paul. What a sweet kid. It's funny I just read this because my mother recently reminded me of a story about when my grandmother died. I was 7. I wrote a note and put it in her casket at the wake. I have no doubt believing that she read it. It's funny how when we're young, we don't think or care about how people will react. I would never do something like that now because people would think it's nuts. But at 7, it seemed completely appropriate. Sometimes, I wish I still thought the same way I did when I was 7.
nascarblue October 12, 2012 at 02:25 PM
i dont see anything wrong with what he is doing, God Bless him, this is his way of letting her know how much he misses and loves her, when I lost my mom, my little neice was 5 and they live in florida when they were getting ready to fly home, my neice asked me, auntie pat how can i let great gramma know i miss and love her, out of no where i said, at night look into the sky and look for the brightess star, that will be her, say a Pray to her and let her know how you feel, two days later she called me and told me she had her mama and dada and grandma & papa in the back yard they were in a circle and held hands and she said, auntie pat i said the pray for everyone to great gramma, i told her i was so proud of her and when ever she feels like talking to great gramma just look to the sky or when you are getting ready for bed, great gramma will always hear you, after that we gave kisses and hugs and said good night, i love you...
MaryLou Gannotti October 12, 2012 at 02:29 PM
That is one of the most beautiful, heartbreaking, and heartwarming stories I have ever read. My deepest sympathy to the family on the passing of Tracey. I remember reading her obituary and noting the profound loss. It is obvious Jaden is a special boy and will carry his aunt's memory, keeping her alive in his heart. We can learn so much from the faith and innocence of children. Sisters have an amazing bond and my deepest sympathy to Tina. It appears she is keeping the memory of Tracey alive and her spirit is with her.
Tina Andrews October 12, 2012 at 07:12 PM
So proud of my little man. Xxoo Tina
Anita Eisner October 14, 2012 at 02:01 PM
Tracey is remembered everyday - that smile touched everyone. She always saw the good in everything and everyone. We miss her too here in Ft Myers. I know the pain that Tina is feeling. My sister (and best friend) was killed in a horrific car crash in 2008 - I too wanted that apology from the driver that hit her - but have moved on knowing that I probably may not get that. My time and energy couldn't be wasted on that driver anymore. My memory needed to be for my beautiful sister. The loving gestures from Tracey's nephew are happening because he misses her. It is just something that he needs to do. Thoughts are with you and your family.
Jones (Suddy) October 14, 2012 at 04:38 PM
Tina that is so sweet of your son. I had the balloon thing happen on accident as one of the balloons i had bought for his gravesite got away from me and floated up in the sky. At first I was upset but then thought "hey its headed in the right direction". Im sure she is smiling down on Jaden as well and gets everyone of his notes. <3
Kelly Dahl November 02, 2012 at 01:31 AM
This touched me when I read this story. I new Jaden and he is such a great little boy. God bless him and your family.

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