Tuesday, September 27, 2011

I'm Your Worst Nightmare




...or at least I know I’m living it right now. And I hate that. I want to inspire you, make you laugh, and make you feel better about this whole hard, wonderful mothering and life thing. But instead, the very thought of me breaks your heart. When I cross your mind during the day, or for some of you even in the middle of the night, it’s like a sucker punch to the gut, isn’t it?

I’d love to encourage you and charm you right now, but all I can say is, this grief thing? A million times worse than I ever could have expected or feared. I thought I’d done pretty well when my mom died when I was 18 and she was 46. You know-- kept putting one foot in front of the other, wrote a slew of thank you notes, and stayed true to the kind of upbringing she had given me.

But THIS? Dear God! This?





Where being home is untenable and being out is unbearable and the longing is unquenchable.

There are many glimmers of good things happening as a result of my little boy’s life, many, many good things such as families growing closer, people leaning on God, and a community loving on a broken family. I aim to share those things with you on this blog because, as my sister says, “I don’t believe God caused this to happen, but I believe He can redeem it.” Amen, Sister.

But do those good things make the aching abate; do they make us miss our wonderful little boy any less? Hell No. Would we rather have our boy back in place of all of the amazing transformation that is occurring as a result of his short but generous little life? Hell Yes.

By the way, does anyone else find it interesting that after almost 4 years of blogging in anonymity and using very proper language (except for an occasional reference to pantiliners) that now, when my “cover is blown” and people know who I am, I feel the need to curse more than ever before? And, now that my former English students know who I am, I can’t seem to stop beginning all of my sentences with “And and But?” Oh well. I really don’t give a crap.




The truth is, there has been so much going on here, by way of warnings and comfort and…otherworldliness…that it can only be from God. The foreboding both Tim and I got one week before the accident when we found out some important dynamics in our environs were shifting. The weird moment on our evacuation ride home from the beach when Margaret turned to Jack and told him she had a feeling he was going to die young (He just kept on reading Oliver Twist.) The unbelievably prescient Bible verse God gave Margaret six weeks before the accident. The list goes on and on. I do not know what to make of it, but it is surely something.

For those of you who were unable to be at Jack’s service or listen to it online , I want to make sure you know of something very special that happened the night he died. Our electricity was out because of the storms, and if I ever post the gut-wrenching account of what happened that horrific night, you’ll understand more about the role the lack of electricity played in Jack’s death. But it did serve as a measure of comfort as well.

I sat on the couch weeping, rocking, keening, and reading the Facebook posts that poured in all night. The electricity came on at about 2:30 in the morning and Tim came downstairs to plug in our cell phones. When he plugged mine in, instead of my password screen and regular app screen coming up, a Bible application, open to a particular verse, popped up. The only one who had ever used that app was Jack, for school last year, under a fair share of duress at Bible memory verse time. Here is the screen shot:


What comfort. What a gift. Thank you.

Then, this week, as the numbness started to wear off and the pain seeped into my bones, I plugged in my phone for charging and something else popped up. This image is from a different Bible memory app, also used only by Jack, almost a year ago. Here’s the screen shot:

Just a picture of Jesus, with the words, Follow Me.







Believe me. I’m trying. I’m trying. I won’t quit trying.

And on the past two Thursdays since his death-- in a month of rain and clouds and the kind of days that have elementary teachers turning toward the bottle at the thought of one more indoor recess-- at sunset, at the exact time that Jack was missing that horrible Thursday night, the rain stopped and we were met with the most amazing, vibrant, multi-colored sunsets we have ever seen. The sun set right over the paltry little creek bed, now almost dry, where Jack left this earth in a rush of raging water. Many friends in our town saw the sunsets and thought of Jack.

So there are feelings, nudges, and blessings, and we know God is part of all of this somehow. And I don’t want us to forget about that as we navigate this waking nightmare. So I’ll write what I can here.



And we don’t want you to forget about us, either. All four of us. Our sweet Jack and the three left here to mourn, and miss him, and figure things out.

195 comments:

The White Farmhouse said...

I think you are selling yourself short. You are inspiring more people than you know. The way you are handling this tragedy with such grace is inspiring. Your opening up and being honest is inspiring. I do think of you often. You pop into my head at different times of the day. Not always to feel sorrow for your loss, but to remind me that my little tragedies aren't that tragic. I don't think I could talk as openly as you have. You amaze me that your faith is so strong. I don't think I could stay as strong as you have. I think it is sweet that you are getting little signs that your little boy is ok. I truly think they are signs from heaven.

Cubanita said...

could not agree more with the white farmhouse comment.

i think of you often, during the night and day. mostly because i am praying for you constantly. i'll have these moments when i am watching my sons play and am suddenly gripped by the spirit to pray for you. And so I do.
It blesses me to read your accounts of the way God is holding you up. As your sister wisely said, the ways in which he is redeeming this horrific loss of Jack.
I am an English teacher and have collected many copies of books over the years for my boys (I have 3 of them) to read when they are older. I am pasting Jack's story inside our copy of Oliver Twist, along with your words about him and his aunt's tribute and challenge for us to live the way Jack did.
Know that 7 or 8 years from now, a troop of boys will be learning from Jack's life.

for a different kind of girl said...

You, Anna, should not worry that you are selling us short. YOU DO INSPIRE ME! You did so before, you will, without question, continue to do so in the future. You have prompted me to never fail to tell my children how proud I am of them, and I thank you for that. And (yes, let us start all our sentences with 'And' and 'But')(Dammit!), when I think of you and your family, all four of you, whether it's throughout my day or in the middle of the night, it reminds me to pause and pray, and I'm a believer who needs to strengthen that aspect of my life. I am humbled by the strong, powerful faith of your sweet 12 year old Jack and how he can teach us to give it up to God. What an amazing boy to be so faithful. Seriously, I'm humbled by his commitment, and I think he's with you, all of you, every day, with these little reminders and images that are appearing in your days. I can't say I know how it feels, but my hope is it feels like he's with you in that capacity, and he's telling you that he's OK, and when the day comes that it's your turn to follow, he'll be there to rejoice with you again.

So much love to you and your family. So, so very much.

Karen said...

Oh Anna!I just wish I could hug you right now. I know just how you feel! I was exactly the same way when my son died. All of the sudden my blog cover was completely blown. And I have never sworn in my life until these past three years. odd. Just concentrate on breathing right now. I know others will think you are so strong--but on the inside you are just shattered. God will use that brokenness. My cry is-He HAS to redeem this pain somehow.

Blessings on you and your sweet family. I will continue to lift you up. Thanks for writing.

Kim @ A Brush of Whimsy said...

Anna,
I know you miss Jack terribly. The reminders of him that come must be comforting and yet heart aching all at once. You are beautifully brave, Anna! You WILL hold him in your arms again, and it will be like time never passed. When I think of you for the rest of the day, I will smile and be grateful that one little precious boy was so lucky to be so dearly loved by his mom, and most importantly, Anna, he KNEW it. He knew it!
Hugs and love,
Kim

Julia said...

Oh, Anna...I will stop in here often. While you could always make me laugh, you just have a way with words...and it's your words I love to read. Even if those words are the story of your tragedy and grief...I am growing and learning from you. God is here in the middle of this. Jack will be sure he gets his message to you.

xoxo, Julia

Tracey - Just Another Mommy Blog said...

Your love and grief and belief in God have rendered me unable to breath, and gasping for your pain. I may not have the same beliefs that you possess, but know that faith is universal and powerful.

Take care, Anna. I am sending so much love for you three and for the rest of the world that loves and misses your sweet Jack...

S. Taylor said...

I wish I had some sort of magic wand to make all of this go away for you and your family.
I cannot pretend for one second to understand how brutally hard and horrible this is. A nightmare is an understatement.
Please, keep writing, swearing, venting, laughing, crying - whatever you need to do to get you through each day - your readers are here for you and we all love you!
Hugs from Michigan

Cindy said...

I love you, and I am so blessed to have you in my life. I will never, ever forget Jack, and I will never, ever leave your side. Much love to you, T & M.

Lisa G. said...

For the record, the thought of YOU being a sucker punch to the gut? No way. Your post had me laughing out loud one minute and tears down my face the next.

The thought of your LOSS a sucker punch to gut? Yes, ma'am. And yet you continue to inspire, encourage, make us laugh...but I hope you don't feel like you have to.

God bless..

Cassie @ Primitive & Proper said...

oh anna, that is the most riveting post i have ever read. in all this tragedy so many miracles and so many signs from jack and from god.
and as for you, my friend, you are not my worst nightmare. i do think of you often, but when i do all i think is that i wish i could do something to take away some, any, of the pain and bear it myself.
it is SO hard to maintain faith in a time like this- so hard to believe in a god who would take your son from you. yet you are an example, a shining light of hope, anna, to people who are reading your blog and maybe have lost their way. you are trying to find your way through this mess, and whether you know it or not, you are helping others find their faith again. you are extremely inspiring to me.

Lou Cinda @ Tattered Hydrangeas said...

Anna, I think you are incredibly brave and inspiring. I know that you are so broken, I can't even imagine....but Jack was a reflection of you, that wonderful love that he was always surrounded in...and these signs you keep getting? I truly believe with all my heart that he is sending those to you...to tell you he is fine....I will continue to pray for you and your family every day..

Lou Cinda

Anonymous said...

Oh Anna, you are inspiring so many with the grace you show while living through this horrific time. I continue to hold your family in my thoughts and prayers. I love the idea that Jack is sending you messages and I hope they bring you comfort.

Jenny said...

I know we've never met but if we did I would hold your hand and hug you and tell you that I care. I care about all of you and I think of you all often. Thank you for being able to share what you do with us and know you have so many people sending you prayers.

Leah C said...

Even in your grief, you inspire. And you will not be forgotten. Hugs & prayers always...

Mrs. E said...

You inspire. You remind me of what is important. (And it isn't that stack of essays I need to grade.) Your honesty is refreshing. And your blog and all the comments remind me that this world is full of really good people. It is easy to lose sight of that in this chaotic world. You and your family have been on the mind--and the heart of a lot of people. When you can't go on by yourselves, let our prayers carry you.

Marinka said...

I've started this comment so many times and I'm afraid that it'll still come out wrong.

I think about your family every day. I cry for what you are going through every day. Right now, as a matter of fact. I've been praying for you every day-- and I've been thinking how I couldn't remember the last time I'd prayed before I heard about what happened. And how now I can't seem to stop.

Yes, this is a worst nightmare, and I'm so sorry. So very *curseword* sorry.

And you inspire. You make me laugh (I HAD TO GET MY GLASSES TO READ THE TINY PRINT, OMG). But maybe it's because I have old lady eyes.

xo

Stimey said...

Anna, we will not forget about you. We will not forget about Jack. We will not forget about Tim and Margaret. We will not forget about all the love in your family, for each other and for your faith.

Melissa said...

i can't help it. I posted when Jack died, and said I'd leave you be, not intrude on your blog, not wanting to be a nosy passer-by. But I can't help it. I'm across the other side of the world and I have thought of you and your beautiful boy and your family every single day. You're right. It's a kick in the stomach. The unfairness of it all takes my breath away, quite literally.

And I can't help but return to check in on you. I hope that's ok. There aren't enough sorries in the world to take your pain away. I can't even fathom it. But sorry I am. Truly.

My love to you all, from Australia.

Melissa

Mimi said...

Anna, while I think of you and your family daily I think of how much life you have and how wonderful a woman you are. I know and pray in time somehow God will reveal why your life had to change so suddenly. While it has helped others to come closer and to show you the body of Christ, I pray that you feel God's love for you and hear him calling you to be still and know that he is God. Know that he isn't calling you to provide comfort right now, we as your brothers and sisters in Christ are here to be your comfort, not because we feel like you are living our biggest fears, but because we love you. You are an amazing woman, one who is close to God's ear. I know because when you prayed for me when I was so sick last winter, for the first time in weeks I instantly felt better. In all the banquets we have done together I feel peace around you always. Your love for God and his love for you has been what I have thought of since the days following Jack's passing. Looking forward to seeing you soon and giving you a big Godly hug. Always praying for you sweet Anna. Love, Mimi

Anonymous said...

Anna, we aren't forgetting you and your family, and your grace is moving.

I always wonder what to comment, because your family has truly touched my heart. But I'm afraid in articulating that, it comes across as "Hey, Jack's death has truly made ME reevaluate some things and make some meaningful changes in MY life! Thanks!" And that's OBVIOUSLY ... wrong.

But I want you to know that your words are so powerful, and I hope it's comforting to hear that your family is loved, prayed for, and cried over.

I'm just so sorry this has happened.

Cat Alford said...

Sending lots of love especially to Margaret today.
xoxo
Cat

Anonymous said...

Please don't worry about what you're saying to try to comfort "us." Just write what you find most helpful to you, Anna.

Those specific verses, the iPhone occurrences, and the timing of the sunset just can't be coincidences. God finds us in the most random ways, doesn't he?

Cheryl said...

Thank you for letting us in, when all you want to do is retreat to your own place. We love you.

Laura said...

Oh my goodness. I am very new to your blog and this post gave me goosebumps and an enormous sense of peace. What an amazing, amazing post.

molly said...

It's true. I have thought of you. I have been struggling with anxiety, especially when the sun goes down, the lights go off and everyone else closes their eyes. All except me. I am terrified. Just like every other mother. That something beyond my imagination will happen to my children. Something that takes them away from me. Just like it did to your precious Jack.

I lay there and I pray. For you. For Jack. For God to calm my fears and for God to end all this pain.

Write exactly how you're feeling. This is your space. And now it's Jack's as well. We're all listening. I know I am. I am wide awake. You have opened my eyes to the good and the bad. Both unable to exist without the other.

I wish you peace. But I can't even reconcile it within me.

Erika said...

Wow! Pretty amazing stuff from our loving Father to aid you in this nightmare you are living. I am so sorry that it hurts so badly. Still praying.

mosey (kim) said...

My sweet friend, you don't owe any of us ANYTHING. Not a single thing. Not inspiration, not comfort. The fact that you are sharing this heartbreaking journey you are on is more than any of us could ask for.

You are loved, so much.

Susan said...

Oh dear Anna,
I don't know you but have commented numerous times and often feel like I wish I could write down the right words. But realize there aren't any.
You are living every parent's worse nightmare. There are no words to make that go away.
I think of you every day. And read your post last every evening.
xo

Debby@Just Breathe said...

I do believe in signs and it sounds like Jack gave you one on your sell phone. I had signs from my mother when she passed away. It was a great comfort to me. You however have lost a child, the most difficult of all. You have inspired me. Just writing your posts is a step to healing. I recently wrote a post about needing to see the progress after the sad. Just knowing that you have gotten out of bed for the last two weeks is inspirational to me. Please know that I care and I am praying for all of you. ((HUGS))

DawnGes said...

Anna, you are loved. We do think of you and simply feel prompted to pray. I do not know you well, but I love you.

Steph said...

You dear sweet woman, I can't believe you're thinking about how to help your readers. Fear not, you are quite inspiring. Your strength, honesty, grace, and faithfulness are truly awesome. God bless you and your precious family.

Christen said...

Like many of your readers, I've read your blog for over two years, smiled over so many of your posts about family, made a mental note to have ice cream on the first snow if I ever have my own family someday, laughed hysterically along with you and your son over "Master Bates" from Oliver Twist, and have truly loved getting to "know" you all through your stories. I am so very sorry about what you and your family are going through. So. Sorry. Your faith and honesty inspire and amaze me daily. And please know that your family is in my thoughts and prayers constantly.

Brianne said...

*hugs* There are no words. All the best to you and your family.

Meredith said...

Sucker punch?! Sure. Bring it. :) I'd happily be a punching bag to help bear the pain.

I don't mean that in any nightmarish or martyr way--just simply because love bears all things. Love endures all things. All. Not just the sweet stuff. So I think of you often. AND happily love you.

bonus: you are a kick-ass writer, sister. happy to listen. sorry for your pain. xo

Ellen Stewart (aka Ellie/El/e/Mrs. Seaman) said...

You are not my worst nightmare, but I hate that you're living my worst nightmare.

I hate that for you. Hate it.

Ellen Stewart (aka Ellie/El/e/Mrs. Seaman) said...

And, btw, I missed the pantyliners post, but you did giggle at Dick's once, I believe.

the mama bird diaries said...

Your writing is so beautiful and so heartbreaking. I am hurting so much for you all. Every time I pull up your blog, I want to turn back the clock and make it all okay. I'm thinking of you and praying for you. xo

Julie said...

Thank you. There are just no more words.

Julie

Nichole@40daysof said...

wow

thinking of you and praying for your family

Kim said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kim said...

thank you for your willingness to share as you walk this unimaginably hard road. may you feel jack with you, all the time, in tangible ways, even though you cannot feel his little body in your arms. 'Now we see through as mirror dimly, then we shall see face to face.' He is alive, so very alive. I was so very grateful to be at Jack's service and since shared with many the verse that popped up on your phone. Now, to read your post and see the picture of Jesus walking into glorious light. Hold on to that hope. Don't let anything rob you of that hope. Romans 8:38 is more true than the air we breathe.

Anonymous said...

I think of & pray for you often...and you are receiving NOW what I didn't find out for years. I believe that Jesus is weeping with you, feeling your pain and sharing your sorrow. And He is holding you up underneath it all. Although this post made me cry, it was good. Good to have a reminder of how God held me during the most horrific time of my life. Finding out 12 years later that at that darkest hour, my future husband was going to the Lord in prayer for me - my safety, spiritual well-being, my very life. And all of that was exactly what was on the line. I think that God is reminding you that He is there in the middle of it all with you, and HE will get you through. He loves you so very dearly. As He loves Jack, who is so precious to Him.

Marlo said...

You amaze me. May God continue to wrap your family in his loving arms.

Praying for you.

livefromhanford said...

I wondered how you would write about your unexplainable grief. Keening, a grief worse than anything you've ever experienced before sums up in the written word what can be said. I beat on my chest and fell to my knees crying out to God. 15 years later when i think of that day i feel the need to hold my hand to my chest for comfort. Like you there were windows into what was about to happen prior. Like you i felt God's grace and peace. Like you i had to find a way to live again. You are in my prayers.

Kristina P. said...

I know we don't share the same religion, Anna, but we clearly share the same God and believe in His comfort. I can't ever imagine what you must be going through, but if I do imagine it, I don't think I would ever be able to get out of bed. You are a hero, as is your family.

Michele said...

While reading your post, all I could think about was: how does she do it. Your writing is so honest and raw that it takes me right in. I feel the pain and cry with you. Your deep faith is something that I personally do not have even though I know there is a greater power out there. I find it inspiring and know you will teach me through your posts what Faith means. Jack is with all of you each and every day watching over all of you. The signs you have received are surely a blessing from above.

Mediterrangirl said...

Dear Anna, you don't know me but I've written here before. I'm a Vienna resident and mom to a little boy. I was at Jack's service (we attend the same church) and I have not stopped thinking about Jack and all of you since that day. I thought of Jack on both Thursdays that followed when the rain stopped and the sky was so beautiful. I feel so close to your family and that horrible Thursday, 8 September, is ingrained in my brain forever. All I can say is that you will always be in our hearts and minds and perhaps one of these days I'll tell you in person. I am a better mother because of you and Tim and the love and dedication you have for your family. And little Margaret? May she always be blessed!

Anonymous said...

Anna
Today as I read your blog I knew I had to write again. On Sept. 10th when I heard of your heartbreaking loss I sent you a message. As I told you of the death of our own son, I also told you that I was praying that the reality of Rom 8:38-39 would be as comforting to you as it was to me as we dealt with our grief.Today as I saw that God "gave" you those verses on your phone app, I knew once again that although we probably won't ever meet, my heart will be united with yours. I have similar stories of God doing "something" before and after our Andrew died. In the midst of all the pain I will continue to lift you and your family up in prayer. Blessings to you. Deb djosherwood@comcast.net

Lindsay said...

Oh dear Anna--
What a powerful post. You ARE such an inspiration to us all in your absolute grace you display in handling this unimaginable tragedy. May you continue to see signs of love from Jack and God.
Thank you for writing and sharing with us...we will NOT stop praying for God's peace and strength to surround you, Tim, and Margaret as you face each new day.
Blessings upon blessings to you all!

~Kori~ said...

Hi Anna. I, unfortunately, learned of your blog because of your family's loss of Jack. (I wish I had known of it sooner, because you're a funny chick!) I was reading Miss Mustard Seed and she left a one line comment about you at the bottom of one of her posts. I've read every post of yours since and have jumped around your blog periodically. I have nothing to say to you and yours that is different from what you may have already been told: I'm so, so sorry for your loss.
You and your family DO enter my mind throughout the day. So many thoughts creep into my mind and I have to shake them out of my head. Sometimes it stops me from what I'm doing. It overwhelms me to even try and imagine losing my son. I know the feeling of loss though. We lost our baby girl before we got to know her. She was stillborn 16 years ago. Now, I completely understand that this is not the same as knowing a soul for 12 years and suddenly having it ripped away from you, but I still grieve her loss every day. Some days I grieve for a moment, others for hours. Time helps. I, for one, don't believe time 'heals'. But that's just me.
I don't really know what my message to you is specifically, except to say that I appreciate your pain and hope that your family can become 'whole' in time.
My heart goes out to you, your husband and your beautiful daughter.

Hugs,
~Kori

Indigo Tara said...

That verse from Romans is my favorite, and I keep it close to my heart. Each time I have thought of you and your family, I have prayed those words in earnest for you, praying for God's comfort and peace to envelope you, that you may know that you do not walk alone. How wonderful that Jack sent you those same words.
Two weeks ago during a meditation at church I shared that when the unspeakable happens, sometimes all we can do is drop to our knees or sob into our pillow and pray, pray, pray. We can be together, offering companionship and compassion, and that God's work is done in those moments.
Thank you for sharing, for continuing to write. It is a privilege for me to be "present" with you, though we have never met, reading your words, praying for you.
Nothing can separate you from the love of God.
Forgive me if my words sound trite, or are empty platitudes. Sending love and prayers from Seattle, WA.

Laura at Ms. Smartie Pants said...

Ten yrs ago my best friend's son was taken in a drunk driving accident. When I think of your loss I am reminded of hers and I KNOW what you are saying. I know we all hurt for you, we all think about you, and we all pray for you but I also know at the end of the day you simply miss your Jack and that that hurts like nothing else we could even imagine. I'm so terribly sorry!

Annie said...

Anna. I have read every one of your words here. You are a gifted writer and an amazing person. I can't say anything other than I am sorry. I do want you to know I am sending a donation to Jack's school. Which is a testament to you, your family and most of all Jack. Indeed it would be hard for anyone I know to imagine how a check from me, a cultural Jew and a devoted atheist, wound up at a Christian school. But I am compelled to send it as a message of love and a reminder of the draw we can feel to those who are not like us in some ways but so close to our hearts in others. The amount will be, in keeping with the custom of my religious heritage, a multiple of 18, which is the number assigned to the Hebrew word " Chai" which means life. And I wish for the best one possible for all of you now.

TwoWishes Tara said...

Oh. Oh dear. I have been away from the Internet and just learned your tragic news. Of course the words feel completely inadequate, but still let me say how very, very sorry I am. Sending prayers.

Jayme said...

You are not my worst nightmare. The horror of what happened and the pain you're in, that's my worst nightmare. YOU are inspiring, and when I think of you and your family, and my mind goes to the dark place where I start imagining the unimaginable, I draw strength from you and your words. Hopefully you're able to do the same from the many, many readers who are trying to be a light in your dark time.

Anonymous said...

I love the way you write. I love it that you just paint the picture that is not what everyone wants it to be.

Kristen

anymommy said...

Never, I could never forget about any of you, least of all Jack. I don't know how you are in inspiring and charming in the midst of all of our worst nightmares, but you are. Just know that you don't have to be, you can give us whatever you have to tell us. I want to be here to give whatever comfort I can and I know I'm not alone. I'm sending you love every single day.

Shana said...

You are right, it is like a sucker punch every time I think of it. But you're wrong too. You are such an inspiration. I cannot begin to fathom where you are drawing the strength from to get out of bed in the morning. You amaze me. xoxo

Anonymous said...

Anna, you don't have to be charming or do anything to inspire anybody...we are all here reading because we care and want to show our love for your family ..and to try and "virtually" hold you upright in this terrible time..I do think of your family often, while waiting at red lights and late at night when all is quiet.. you will never be forgotten.

Anneke {RustiChic} said...

Like many, I've wondered what I could possibly say, so I haven't said anything out of a fear of saying something that will come across wrong. :-( I do have to say though, that as a mother to a mother and a Christian to a Christian, I grieve with you daily and will always remember your son. I am continually praying for you, your husband, and daughter. ='(

Christy said...

Oh Anna, you don't owe us anything. I am just so glad that you have this forum from which hopefully you are receiving a small measure of comfort, knowing how many people are loving you and praying for you - all four of you.

I so wish I could see you right now - but I can't so instead I just send hugs and loves and prayers.

Lynne Griffin said...

Oh Anna! I cannot pretend to know how you feel, but I'm pretty sure you'd rather be blogging about a million different things right now other than Jack's death.

I can also be pretty sure that everyone is going to understand, whatever state you find yourself in daily, and that the person who is going to be toughest on you is you.

Please know that there are hundreds of people praying for you and your family daily. We miss you and our VPC family. If you ever need a 'retreat' for a little while, well...we have an extra room (or two).

Renee said...

Everyday I come to your blog to hopefully get a update from you on how you and your family are coping. I do not even know you, as I came accross your blog by way of another asking for prayers for you and your family. I think of you often and by reading your blog, I look to you for inspiration on how to handle the most difficult things in life with grace and dignity. You are doing your followers a great service, while I hope that we, can offer you love and support to help you and your family through the darkness. But from reading about all the signs that Jack is leaving for you, he will be the one who ultimatly gets you through it.

The Empress said...

I don't know what to say.

I will never know what to say.

My words sound so stupid, I don't know what I'm talking about.

But my tears are real.

And my love for you is real.

I will not forget your place here, or your little boy.

I won't.

Anonymous said...

I feel your pain. I lost my daughter 4 months ago to Leukemia and she was 10. It happended suddenly and was unexpected. I cry everyday and some days are harder than others. You sound so strong and I admire that. If you would like to chat please let me know how I can contact you.

mgh said...

Reading this makes me think of the bible verse...
"when I am weak, then I am strong".
The words are so simple to read, but to comprehend... nearly impossible. When I think about what you are going through I think that surely you must be at both your weakest and your strongest in the same moment.

My family was just discussing cuss words last night. My husband was saying that when he was growing up that his father always told him that people who cussed simply had a lack of vocabulary... they were stupid. When they met my father he was forced to re-think this. My father is a very smart man. Sometimes his colorful language is viewed a show of masculinity, a habit picked up in the Army or Vietnam, an alpha dog act. But I've often thought it was closer to what you describe here. In the aftermath of some experiences, proper vocabulary is trivial. Words just don't describe. Proper just does not have enough emphasis. And up from our gut a sound must be made... even when the tears have dried up. Cuss all you want. I understand.

Your post is beautiful. I agree with Liz.

Emily said...

Praying. Crying. Praying.

The Shades of Pink said...

Still praying.

A Speckled Trout said...

You a worst nightmare? No. You had the worst thing that could ever happen to a mother, and you can still write a sentence. In that, I see hope. Always hope.

Pamela said...

Dear Anna - As I first read the post, I identified with the middle of the night sucker punch. As I read more, pain and wonder came over me. On the third time reading it over I thought - how did tech-challenged Anna figure out how to post the screen shots of the iPad?

Lots of love,
Pamela

Erica said...

You're not our worst nightmare. You just a person in great pain, and you're honest about it. We all suffer greatly as some point in our lives. And culturally, we tend to hide it because our society likes to be blindingly optimistic and pretend that suffering is rare and preventable. But that's a false and faithless position. You're being faithful to the truth.

I thought, as an English teacher, you might like a passage from a letter written by Emily Dickinson to her sister-in-law on an occasion that matches yours almost exactly.

"His life was full of boon ...
No crescent was this creature -- he traveled from the full --
Such soar but never set --
I see him in the star, and meet his sweet velocity in everything that flies ...
Without a speculation, our little Ajax spans the whole ...
Pass to thy rendevous of light,
Pangless except for us,
who slowly fjord the mystery,
Which thou hast leaped across!"


[I wonder, A., what you meant by "The foreboding both Tim and I got one week before the accident." I apologize if this is an intrusive question and do not want a response if it is uncomfortable. I only ask because of similar (though far less traumatic) experience. Was it an experience that is familiar to others I wonder?]

Jill said...

I am heartbroken for you. With you. About you. I think of you often.

Next week I will wrap my arms around you and hug you - for myself and for everyone else who can't.

Love you friend. xx

Ann Imig said...

You are not my worst nightmare Anna. When I think of you it is not in fear, but in wanting to just completely surround and your family with love.

I'm so grateful to hear of these moments of comfort and light, despite the fact they are so brief.

Sending light and love and holding hope,

Ann

Autumn Van Weir said...

You are still such an inspiration. I think most readers would agree with me when I say that we want nothing more than for your grief to be lightened. You're still Anna and your family is still your family. You're amazing and your ability to talk about this all is really a light in the darkness! You have many prayers out there holding you up so when you feel weak, you have back-up!

Rachel said...

You are so right. There have been numerous nights I have woken up thinking of you and your family. Praying it was a nightmare and he was still with you all. It makes my heart ache... the thought of losing my child is the one true fear that leaves every cell of my body shaking. I will pray you continue to find comfort where you can. I believe God is watching over you and so is Jack now.

Janet said...

Anna, I'm a friend of your sister and have been praying since this long nightmare began. You're right about the gut punch -- every time I think of you -- but it reminds me to pray for all of you, and it reminds me that gut punches pale to insignificance in the face of your reality. I believe Liz is right about God redeeming the suffering -- oh, how I believe that -- but it is still suffering. Jack is okay, great, even. But we're not, and so we pray and pray and pray. You inspire me and terrify me, and I am moved to pray some more.

Theresa said...

The grace to speak and be heard. The grace to love and to mourn.
By grace we have been saved.
Love you friend.

Anonymous said...

Still praying for you and Tim and Margaret. 46 years ago our first son died two days after birth. I wish I had had the faith that you have - still think of him every November and we only had 2 days. Your loss is so much more but you are uplifting us so much with your faith in God. Thankfully we have gotten back on track since that time. But, you strengthen my faith more and more every day.
You and your family are amazing.

Becky said...

Oh my heart. This was beautiful and gave me Goosebumps.

I'm not entirely sure of what to say other than Jack will never be forgotten and neither will the 3 of you.

Sending you strength and love...

Terri said...

Anna, I have been reading your blog for over a year now. You have an amazing way with words. I have often thought that you are exactly the type of person I would like to have for a friend...funny, kind, faithful, real. Now you amaze me even more, that your words could be inspirational in the midst of your tragedy. Just know that I am still thinking of you, all four of you. Still crying with you. Still praying for you.

Lisa said...

First, I want to extend my deepest condolences to you and your family.There are no words except I will pray for you and your family.
I just finished reading the book, "Heaven is for Real" by Todd Burpo. It was a life changing glympse into heaven for me and I highly recommend it for everyone who would like that glymse for themselves.

What Now???? said...

Beautifully written. I hope you know how many people care about you (even if we don't know you IRL).

Shannan said...

I stumbled upon your blog on accident but I'm very glad I did. You are truely an amazing women & I am so very sorry for your loss. Jack seems like a wonderful young man and heaven definitely gained an angel the day he left this earth. Sending many prayers & love to you & your family.

Shannon Weeks said...

This post definitely spoke to me and I think it is God doing his work. I had not read your blog until yesterday when another blog that I occasionally read linked to you. I spent some time reading your blog and then checked in again today. After reading this post, I think it was part of God's plan to send a message to me as I imagine it has for others. I pray for strength for your entire family during this unimaginable loss.

Emily said...

I read your posts and I cry. Every single time. I can't imagine what you are going through. I am inspired by your stregth, courage and unwavering faith. I am praying for your family.

L said...

Love you so much.

Recovering Church Lady said...

You will not be forgotten....even if you stopped posting which would be understandable completely!
It is not your responsibility to help us, inspire us or be a perfect example of a godly woman to anyone of us. Ok?
You are you and the real you is grieving, hurt and wondering. That is allowed, ok?

We let you off the hook, no responsibilities here girl. Hope you are getting my message here.

I do not "know" you in real life, but I love you and will continue to pray for you and your family.
Susie

Donna said...

You don't know me, I am a friend of your sister Liz. I just wanted to let you know that neither you, your sweet Jack or any of your family will ever be forgotten by me, my family and our friends for as long as we live. I share your story with my friends and family and ask everyone I know to pray for you. I hope those prayers help sustain you. You inspire me and so many that you don't even know. I can see God working through you, you are amazing, as was your precious Jack. God bless.

Lady Jennie said...

As I was talking to my husband about you (again) and crying (again) ... now you're Anna, Tim, Margaret and Jack to me, and not some anonymous family who suffered a loss. Anyway (broken sentence there since you talk about punctuation), he said, "their situation reminds me of Isaiah 57:1-2. I wonder if they know that verse?" If not, here it is:

"The righteous perish, and no one ponders it in his heart; devout men are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil. Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death."

The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and I know that in this unthinkable time he is showing you signs of that, and I'm glad.

Emily said...

This gave me chills...You and your family - your entire family - continue to be in my thoughts.

LauraC said...

Oh Anna, you are loved. You and your family:Tim, Margaret and Jack, you are all loved. You described accurately the feeling I have when I think of you, the punch of pain, but I would not have it any other way. I cannot take your pain away, but I can share it with you. I can choose to feel the hurt, and cry and mourn, because we are sisters, sisters in Christ, and I refuse to stick my head in the sand and ignore your pain just because we have never met. I continue to hold you up in prayer. So much love, Laura

Lady Jennie said...

By the way, I wanted to add that if encouragement is all rubbish right now and you just want to swear, then swear. I'm here.

Love you.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your pain, even though I can't come close to imagining how difficult that must be. You've helped me understand better the enormous love God has for us, that he would give his only Son for our sake. I pray now that I will never forget. I'm so thankful that his care for you is evident right now and that you've been able to testify to his love here.

It seems strange to talk to you this way because I don't know you at all, but I'm almost in tears at my desk and I just wanted to say thank you, and let you know of one more person who is praying for you.

Red79 said...

Anna - You are an inspiration, even in this time of grief. From what we can see you have handled with grace. The signs from Jack and gave me chills throughout my whole body. I imagine they help and hurt all at the same time. You and your family continue to be in my thoughts and prayers. And, forget the grammer and the cursing, I can tell you most really don't care. And saying what you feel is what helps us heal. At least as much as we can.
XOXO

The Mommy Therapy said...

I have little doubt that God and Jack are there with you all to remind you, encourage you, walk with you through this horrific process of grief.

I am so happy for your messages from them both.

Do not for a moment believe that anyone is disappointed or looking elsewhere when you are posting about your very real, very difficult right now life.

Though I cry each time I read your blog lately, I leave with a profound gratitude for so much, I am grateful to you for that.

I think and pray often for each of you and for your current walk. I look at my son and I think of the things you have described about your Jack and I feel inspired to do more, be more, and encourage him more.

You are doing just what you should right now. You are writing exactly what we all want to hear from you, the truth, curse words and all.

Much, much love from your cyberspace family.

Joyce said...

Dear Anna,
I have been wanting to write but held back because I just felt at a lost for words.
Your strength and your love for your family has allowed me to reach above the pain and hurt in my own, to make everyday count, and to trust more deeply in our Lord.

Even through your pain you give others hope to carry on.

I hold you all very deeply in my heart.
Much love and blessings to you and your family from Joyce in Canada.

Lilia said...

Blessings to you and your family. Thank you for encouraging us too. Thank you for sharing your heart with us, it helps me very much. May the Lord cover your home and comfort your hearts. May your sleep be restful and your days bright. Though the grieving endures and the ache lessens, knowing who we are in Christ Jesus makes the burden very light.

Anonymous said...

Huge hugs....continued prayers for you all. The pain is palpable from here and while I won't try to ask it be 'taken from you' I will ask that it be 'lessened' so that you can breathe again.

Heather Watson said...

Anna,
We've never met and yet I can't get you off my mind. I pray for you and your husband and daughter day in and day out. I've cried for you and prayed that somehow, through all of this unfairness, you will find peace. I will continue to pray and lift up your family. One day at a time, one breath at a time.
In love and prayers!
Heather Watson

missy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
OSMA said...

Anna, you four never leave my heart. We are a family of four too and every single day I pray, hope, weep, and wish other wordly strength comes to you to carry you through this immeasurable pain. A neighborhood away, our world was altered the day we learned about you losing your son. Tragedies happen, yes, but your tragedy hurts us to our core and the way we feel when we look at Jack's beautiful face....it's the closest to faith I've ever been. I believe in the signs Jack is sending you. I believe you have to walk through fire to get there but there will come a time when your heart isn't severed in a billion pieces, it is mended with the knowledge that your son is still with you- more now than ever before as painful as it might seem from where you stand right now. I will always come back to check on you because I am pulling for your beautiful family of four.

missy said...

You are not in any way letting anyone down. Cussing? Well, yeah! I'd be cussing too. You are handling this in whatever way YOU need to handle this. It isn't about doing it right or wrong, it is about getting through it in one piece!

I think of you and your family OFTEN. This tragedy has shaken and then STRENGTHENED my faith. Your walk through this is something that we all choose to walk through WITH you, at least as much as we can through cyber-space. Please, keep walking and give us a chance to support you even when it gets ugly. The ugly is okay! The ugly is expected and necessary and, most of all, nothing to be ashamed of.

Julie said...

I just wanted to leave a quick comment to let you know (and I'm sure you do, but...I'll say it anyway) that those of us who came to you as strangers to offer support are still here.

Still here.

Love and prayers attend you.
Always.

Carrie said...

Last night while saying our bed time prayers, my 6 year old daughter said, "Don't forget to pray for Jack's momma and his daddy and sister." Thank you for sharing your family with all of us! So many beautiful, sad, hard, loving, conversations have come from my family knowing your nightmare. I want to be a Mother like you, Anna! I want to have faith as strong as yours! You are constantly in my prayers!

Leslie said...

I can't imagine how hard it is to write these posts, and how hard it is to read our comments. I'm thanking the Lord for sending you reassurances on your phone. I have so much to say! But just can't figure out how to say it all. You don't need words from a stranger anyway, so WE KEEP PRAYING!!!

lostandforgotten said...

My heart pours out to you every time I read your posts, look at his photos and think of how fragile life is. I agree with the other commentators. You are inspiring. When you crumble we will be here to help lift you back up. Just like you can depend on God, you can depend on us. The invisible people on the computer screen each of us silently lifting you keeping you up. You can do this. You will do this. You are so much braver than you know.

ster said...

it is SO not your role to make us laugh, or inspire us, or do anything FOR US right now. that's OUR job. it's our job to hold you up while you can't stand... to encourage you.. to believe in you, support you, care for you.

although you do have it wrong- because you think that your words... your heartbreakingly honest, raw words aren't encouraging or inspiring. when they are. just the fact that you can get up each morning, and share here with us when you do- IS encouraging. IS inspiring. the stories you share, they are uplifting... even in this tragic time.

you are amazing. i wish you could physically feel the love that the blog world has for you- we are here to lift you up and hold you in our arms when you feel like you cannot walk another step.

have faith in us.

My2Girls said...

Once again, Anna, your writing leaves me speechless. As so many others comment, I think about you all the time and say prayers for your entire family throughout each day. Please keep your blogs coming and continue to cry with us, share with us and just be YOU. You have a huge support group and as another commenter said, "you are a shining light of hope." I didn't even know Jack, but miss him terribly.

Kara said...

Your post is beautiful. Heartbreaking but beautiful. Faith is definitely not for the faint-hearted, and perseverance is not pretty, I'm sure. Your writing reminds me that's all real and that it's all worth it. My family is praying for yours.

Jolinda said...

Although I am a counselor, and trained to help other's through their pain...it took me 2 days and a thousand thoughts to have the courage to come back here to your blog...to try to understand the basics...that your son is gone and at least an idea of what happened. I am not a gore monger, and carefully avoid all news, but your experience has lived with me, waking me night and day, as though it was a personal experience for me.

I am glad that I did not turn away, even in the silly but very human fear that this immense pain is somehow contagious and that by reading this I might also be vulnerable to losing one of our children. Like because I read it, and imagined it, that I might now be asked to endure it. The loss of one of our children, or my husband for that matter, is unimaginable to me. I do not believe that I could survive that...and I sincerely don't know that I could...and yet, in your brutal honesty (please never give THIS up) I am witness - I can try on the bit of strength that may have gotten you through this interminably long day...and know more of what might possibly be found within me in the face of something so tragic.

Please don't 'clean yourself up' for me...the unfit for human consumption honesty is helping me to vicariously bring more of myself, albeit fearful and weak, into this world we all share. Your blog is helping us all to transcend beyond our limits...

Thank you for choosing to be real. I send you two deep breaths in the next 24 hours, breaths of peace and connection with all that is, and ever will be.
Your friend,
Jolinda

Anonymous said...

Life and love and death are so mysterious. The signs you spoke of (Margaret's bible verse choice, especially) are at once giving me chills, making me wonder and question, and providing me with strange comfort. Was the lack of electricity that night, if it helped prevent further horror, an unfathomable blessing? I hope so.

I have to say that I think it's wrong and unfair that you have been touched by the deaths of your immediate family members twice in your life. Why does this have to be? Why you? Does anyone understand? I don't understand. Do I lack understanding because I lack faith? I don't know. Regardless, the sheer wrongness of these deaths is profoundly troubling to me. That you are living through them with such grace and strength, however, is profoundly inspiring to me. To all of us.

I am thinking of you and your family in many ways, at many times as the days go by. Sometimes I am startled out of my daily routine with this thought: what if I were going about this routine, but had to add on to it grieving for the loss of my kiddo, like Anna is having to do? You are probably allowed only moments of blessed respite from your grief, while many of us are allowed to carry on as usual. That seems unfair too, doesn't it? I hope you do get those moments. We are thinking of you and shall not forget about your family. (How could we forget after being affected by your experience?) It is my hope that all the collective love, good thoughts and helpful prayers that are coming to you from all of us come in a sustained, continuous manner, even if we may individually momentarily lapse. Those lapses are shortlived, anyway.

I want you to know that I thought of you in particular as I put out my slow cooker last night and again this morning as I filled it with the ingredients for your warm and wonderful recipe of white bean and chicken chili. Our family has loved that meal ever since you shared it here. It's the only thing I know how to cook--(really!... well, practically)--and making it for my family makes me feel good inside. Thanks for that, Anna. We will say a special prayer for all of you tonight at dinner.

jbhat

Anonymous said...

You are truly an inspiration to us all. I honestly don't think I could handle this tragedy with such grace and poise. Yet you are, which is so very important because of your daughter.

I don't believe any of those signs were coincidences. Your son is telling you that he is fine and not to worry about him. He is still with you; just in a different way. Allow yourself to feel the hurt and experience the pain, it is the only way to the other side of a new "normal". And remember, Jack will be with you every step of the way. Prayers and gentle hugs.

Mary said...

dear anna,
you and your family continue to be in our family's thoughts and prayers daily. my heart aches for your loss and i am so sorry that you are going through this. may God grant you comfort and strength, sweetie.
xo
mary

Erin said...

I too lost my father at a young age (in an accident), and then my 17 year old son fell off of a cliff while trying to save a friend who had fallen off first. It is so brutal, and nothing in this world can prepare one for the relentless pain. You and I, and many others, travel this life with our child's face before us. But also, I will tell you that after a time (it has now been 5 years for us since our son died), the rawness of it lessons. The pain does not, but we become more adept at coping with it. And joy does return. People told me this, but I did not believe it would be possible for me--- I thought that I was simply not capable of feeling happy again. I thought, "There is a cold stone where my heart used to be, and nothing can change that". Yet I have found joy again. Indeed, I have so much more gratitude for happiness. I do not take it for granted for a moment when my family is happy. And I can see miracles with so much more ease now. I ache for you. Just keep showing up, is my advice. Sometimes that is enough.

MaryBeth said...

Anna,
Thank you for your honesty, and for sharing your pain with us.

I had another friend who lost her husband during war, and when this most recent war broke out she wanted to hide - she said she was our worst nightmare - receiving that "visit" that all military spouses dread - the news that your loved one isn't coming home. I remember holding onto her and telling her that her life, her living for Jesus as a young widow, her trusting him, her open gaping wound that wouldn't heal but that didn't kill her or make her renounce her faith gave me hope - that we can walk through nightmares and still survive. That our Father God is Who He says He is.
You are living our worst nightmare, but you and your husband and daughter are living and loving!
We don't expect perfection - I have cussed more in the two years since my son was diagnosed with cancer that I had the previous 52 years combined. It just seems to make things more real when they are said with a hell or damn - or I am sorry to say worse. I'm starting to watch my language, but of course my son is in remission. Don't appologize to us - we all love and adore you!
And we are praying for and with you!
xo

Johnsons of Haymarket said...

Goosebumps, Anna. I have no doubt that Jack is communicating with you, prompting you onward. What a gift. Thank you for sharing so much and for being so honest. I hope that you truly feel the prayers of those who love you buoying you up during this difficult time. We pray for you all.

4suns4me said...

Anna, I can only imagine the pain you are going through, but I am so glad you are still seeing Jack in so much that is happening. Yes, you are living the worst nightmare, and I am so very sorry you are. I am new to your story, sadly I heard of you through another blogger and you are located very close to where I grew up. I have not stopped thinking about the four of you and praying for peace.

HeatherY said...

I love you.

Anonymous said...

Anna-

Growing up my parents never took me to church. Through the years and especially now that I have two boys of my own that I have questions about life after death, god,heaven and the whole church going thing.....this is something I really struggle with in life. THank you for sharing this unbelievable chain of events. It has given me insight, it has answered some questions, it is SOMETHING!!!!!!

You are teaching me so much and I appreciate your words!

Jack will never be forgotten...he has changed my way of thinking and that is special!!

Luv2run

Michelle said...

I just listened to the service for your son. You are an amazing woman and mother. I am in awe of you, and I don't even know you. I also went to JMU and learned of your tragedy through Paula Polglase. Sending prayers to you from NYC.

Kate Coveny Hood said...

Just got on the computer and saw this. The full story of everything that happened stays with me in every minute of the day. And not because "you are my worst nightmare" - but because you are "me." I can see everything unfold for me the same way it did for you. Because that is how we all live our lives: we do the best we can and we trust in that. And THAT is what makes this feel like such a betrayal. You are a good mother - a WONDERFUL mother - and you don't deserve this - no one does, but especially not you.

But I agree with your sister - this didn't happen for a reason. It just...happened. And all we can do when faced with the worst nightmare imaginable is to try to find our way back to that trust. I think Jack is trying to help you with this. Maybe in sunsets...or just memories...

You have more faith than most of the people I know - and you inspire me in that. With faith and Jack - and Tim and Margaret - and eveyone who loves you and wants to help you get through this, you will.

I just wish you didn't have to. And you know how much I love you.

HeatherV said...

You ARE an inspiration, Anna, without even trying. You are the furthest thing from our nightmare - you are US. You are me, you are our sister , our friend. It could have been any of us Anna. God is holding you and Jack is shining brightly in those magnificent sunsets.

Anonymous said...

Whenever someone says "I don't know how you do it," the words are meant as a compliment. But... I remember a dear, Godly, kind friend who was suddenly widowed with two young children telling me: "Last time someone said 'I don't know how you do it!' I yelled back 'I wasn't given a FU@KING CHOICE."

So, while we are all admiring your grace and faith... I know you weren't willingly thrust into these situations, to show such admirable qualities.

Much love, sweet Anna.

Caitlin said...

I think you are doing the best you can and thank you for sharing with us. I had a medical issue last year and the only thing that eased some of the pain was blogging about it. So, please continue and I pray it will be cathartic for you.

I also totally agree that while it can be wonderful the way a community pulls together in a crisis, it would be even better to not have been through the tragedy. We witnessed similar things last year with me and I would still give up everything to have the life and body I did then.

Nothing like what you have been through...but please do what you need to do to feel better...and please know how many people think of you and your family every day.

lmcdevitt said...

Anna I met you though my girlfriend and your neighbor. I have been heartbroken as everyone else has been since this happened. I feel sick. I can't really work, sleep or anything else knowing what you are going through. My kids go to that creek all the time. It runs behind our neighborhood. It could've been my kids. I can't imagine the grief you feel. I'm so sorry honey. I wish I could take all this away from you!

K A B L O O E Y said...

You don't have to do anything to make us thing of you all. And you ARE inspiring us to do better, to be better parents and people. You did before and you're doing so even more so now. Write when you want... when you can. But please don't worry about us going anywhere... love to you and your family, including Jack.

Anonymous said...

The thing is, you're wrong. And right. YOU are not my worst nightmare. But you most certainly are living it. Since the day my first baby was born. And true empathy- trying to actually imagine myself in your shoes- is most definitely a sucker punch to the gut.

But you just being you- delivering even some semblance of humor in this blog- or even getting out of bed to write this blog or eat chinese or go to the window or whatever else it is that you are DOING is more inspiring than you can imagine. Please don't discount the impact that your loss has had on us moms out here. For us, it's not just a glimmer. I hug my girls a little extra and yell a little less in Jack's name, and to me it's huge. To them it's huge. And they know. I tell them about him, and the significance of Romans 8:38-39 (my girls' verse), about how precious love and life are with more passion than I ever would have imagined before your loss. And since you seem so determined to mother all of us- the most inspirational thing of all- let me assure you that I have grown because of you. I am a better mom because of you, and I am inspired because of YOU. And my grammar SUCKS.

Sara said...

We love you Anna, all of you.

We won't forget

Chris said...

We're all listening. Your writing is both beautiful and haunting for me to read. I confess that I can hardly bear to think deeply about what you've all endured and continue to walk through. All four of you are forever seared in my mind and heart. Not forgetting...still praying. Love to you all.

Suburban Correspondent said...

You're right - I think about you constantly during the day, about your son, about how my own kids were out in the same storm, playing as Jake was playing. I wonder how you manage to hold up, but I also am aware (as Corrie ten Boom so eloquently put it) that God gives us our "ticket" when we need it - he somehow hands us the strength to deal with the heretofore unbearable.

God bless you, Anna, and your family; it's a long road ahead and we are all praying for you.

cullensblessings said...

I am coming over from a friend's suggestion. While our losses are very, very different I just want you to know how much my hear aches for the loss of your son Jack. I had no idea how I would parent my living children after Cullen died last September, but a year later I find myself exploring life after and learning as I go along.
Sending you love and light...

Anonymous said...

I've been stopping by often. Thinking of you and your family.
With love,
Anna W.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anna,
don't feel guilty for us. No one wants to trade places with you. So just think about you and your family, You are all top priority in surviving right now. As a matter of fact, i feel guilty, when i get "inspiration" from you. When i get angry at my kids because they don't listen or something else not really important. And then i think of you and grab myself together and think to myself, is this really that important? No, it is not. Losing your child is so enjoy them even if they are "difficult" sometimes. And then we can live on with our healthy children and i feel guilty because the inspiration for not bugging for the little things came from you. But therefor you had to lose a piece of your heart. so i feel guilty. But you...please don't. You have all the right in the world to yell and scream. Keep strong. love Ada

Japolina said...

Sending thoughts from Miami. I am a Jew and in temple today I will pray for your family. Xoxo

Anonymous said...

Anna,
I've never met you but the Lord calls me, several times a day to pour out my prayers onto you and your family. HE has not forgotten you. There are no words to offer condolence, except to say that prayers, from all over are being lifted up to heal your family and restore your heart.

Anonymous said...

You are all in my thoughts and prayers. No words can say how sorry I am.

kitty said...

Thank you for sharing your life with us.I don't know you.But I think of you all through the days.I pray for you all that the pain will lesson.And your broken heart will heal.I can't imagine the pain you are feeling.But I am hoping that in praying for you all somehow it will help .I won't forget you I promise.We are all sisters and brothers in Christ.We may never meet here on earth but we will meet someday in his kingdom.About ten years ago something life altering happened to me.I am NOT comparing this to your loss.The loss of life child there is NO comparison.My husband and I went through something tragic many years ago.I won't go into my story or details.But we were going through the same grief that you are.And knowing that our lives were never going to be the same.Though it all we stayed strong in our faith.Without God we would have never gotten though it.So as I said I will continue to pray for you all.

Anonymous said...

Love. just Love. sending it to you all from my heart in the midwest to yours and your family's wherever they may be....

kimberwidmer said...

Wow, Anna… God is certainly at work and it's so amazing to see the pieces even before… the post about Margaret and the verse God brought her to… all I can say is WOW.
I do think of you all the time. I do. And I pray for you regularly…
Thank you for having the courage to blog about this awful journey you are on. Thank you for being wonderfully vulnerable and transparent in your aching.
Blessings and peace to all of the Donaldsons. I have Margaret on my heart so much.
{{{hugs}}}

PeachPrenni said...

Anna,
Don't worry about how any of us are feeling; it is not your job to comfort us too. Geez--you have enough on your plate. I think about you a lot. When I'm feeling overwhelmed by my children, a quick thought of you will usually knock my attitude back into place. That's a good thing..a gift from you really. Anna--I just know you are gonna write your way "through" this and I'll be along for the ride. It doesn't matter how many times your Blog makes me cry; I'm here for the long-haul. Blessings and Love!! -Annie

Pamela said...

I'm a stranger but I have you on my mind constantly. I'm praying for you from a place in my heart that I didn't know existed. I'll keep praying and I will never forget your family. I look at Jack's pictures and see so much love and kindness in his smile. His love for God is inspiring. Thank you for sharing him with us. If you want to do nothing but curse for 16 paragraphs in a row that would be cool with me. ~Love and Prayers from Pittsburgh

Junie said...

"...the very thought of me breaks your heart. When I cross your mind during the day, or for some of you even in the middle of the night, it’s like a sucker punch to the gut, isn’t it?"

Yes and yes. When I think of you all, I can scarcely breathe. And I do think of you, not only when I'm online but in the car, in the grocery store, just going about my daily life.

My worst nightmare is your living hell.

No one ever explains that grief has a beginning but no end. Waking, sleeping, solitude, companionship--it's the same agony no matter what you do, where you turn. How can one frail human being contain so much pain? You'd think the burden of it, the enormity of it, would crush you. But day follows day and you're still here. And still in agony.

Now you must do the impossible and find a way to live again, carrying this terrible knowledge with you.


Oh, Anna. You are not forgotten. I am praying for you, for all of you.

Anonymous said...

YOU are NOT my worst nightmare. YOUR LOSS IS. I'm not even a parent but I needn't be.

I am one of the people who did not know your blog before your terrible loss. I've now read through most of it. I'm richer for having discovered it. Your stories, your writing - YOU - have made me more gracious and more human.

I wish I had never found your blog, if it had meant you could have had your son with you today. I'm so sorry, it's awful.

Please know this too. People like you. I don't even know why I'm saying this; it's hardly important right now. However, people do really like you.

Alas, we can only give you the most fleeting moments of comfort.

I send you love and hope your friends, family and your belief in God give you strength and peace.

Child of God said...

Hi Anna,
I promise I won't forget the four of you. I am praying often for you and for this pain to lessen; I can not imagine, my mind won't go there no matter how hard I try to feel what you are feeling. This is a mother's nightmare.

These Bible verses and pictures, I believe they are from God to you for comfort.

I am praying and praying that the Holy Spirit will wrap His arms around your heart and this pain and the warmth and love from Him will ease this heart wrenching nightmare.

Please know I cry for you and I am praying for you, all of you.

Servant of Jesus,
<><

Elz said...

You're right, you know. Your loss is my worst nightmare, but you are living through it in such a way that will make unbelievers BELIEVE. I find your posts so truthful. I worry about people who write through grief as if it is some wonderful new world. It's not -it sucks. Hard. It is awful and painful and sometimes cursing is the only fitting thing to say.

luv2run said...

WOW!!! I just listened to the service online and am blown away with how poised you were! What an amazing example of strength you are to your daughter!!!!

thinking of you and hoping today you are finding joy!

luv2run

Anonymous said...

It is farther than you can see, but not as far as you can go.

Janine said...

Love you always - I pray daily for you, Tim and M.

emily said...

It's a true testament to the person you are when you are concerned about inspiring your readers during this time. You are more inspiring than you will ever know.

Anna Lefler said...

OH, my goodness - how could we ever forget about the four of you?

I think of you all every day and I say many prayers for you.

So good to see you on my blog, Anna. That meant the world to me.

Much love to all four of you.

XOXO

Anna

LegalMist said...

You don't have to try to be inspiring. You are allowed to just feel what you feel, do what you can, and be with your family. That said, however, you have written an inspiring and beautiful post.

Yes, it is gut-wrenching even for those of us who don't know you personally, but you don't have an obligation to make it less so, or to try to be something or do something, to make us feel better.

All of us with children can imagine, yet at the same time cannot possibly imagine, how awful you must feel, how hard it must be to keep going, yet how impossible it would be to not keep going, keep trying, keep living, for the child who is still with you.

Thank you for sharing your story, and your grief. It does put the rest of life's small problems into a more accurate perspective...

My thoughts and prayers are with you all.

Anonymous said...

Anna, I am so very sorry for your loss. Words can not express what you and your family are going through at this difficult time.
I read your blog for the first time yesterday and I have been thinking of you and your family since.
Please know that you ARE Inspiring.
Your blog has made me realize how incredibly blessed I am each and everyday.
Please stay strong and keep in mind that you have tons of people praying and helping you and your family through this time in your life. Prayers and Love from the Midwest to You and Yours.
XOXO

samonehopkins said...

Anna, I promised my South Carolina grandmother many (15) years ago that I would find a church I liked in Vienna. I had been planning for a while to attend VPC because it is in my neighborhood, I heard great things about it, and I just kind of liked the look of it, especially the old church because it reminds me of my grandmother's church. I finally began attending VPC on 9/11. At that service, the pastor told the congregation about your son and pointed to the balcony area where he was sitting the previous Sunday. Last Sunday at church, I just glanced up there and I think I saw you sitting there. I teared up but you seemed to be doing well. I wish you and your family peace. Sincerely, Samone Hopkins

Heidi said...

I agree with Kate Hood...every word of what she said.
I've never really subscribed to 'everything happens for a reason' nor do I subscribe to 'God causing this'. No way. I do believe in redemption and I believe in love. I believe in that for you and your family.
I ache for you...for all 4 of you and think of you often. You're a remarkable woman, Anna. We're lucky and blessed to know you, even if it's just a little.

Lisa G. said...

Continuing to think about and pray for you and M and T. Thinking of Jack....and no, I don't even know you but none of you will be forgotten. Not at all. I commit to praying for you in the year and years to come also - I'm sure its a long, hard road. May God be with you through it, and may you continue to get those signs from God...

bernthis said...

Far, far from anyone's worst nightmare Anna. Your story gives us all the strength we need to go out there and face our own lives head on knowing we are not alone, knowing that there is strength in numbers.

From one who curses like a truck driver on a daily basis, I'm thrilled to see you "cutting loose". :) If I were your student, I'd think u were officially the coolest teacher in the world.

You and your family are in my thoughts and I will be back here again and again and again b/c you and your family are a true inspiration

Doojies said...

I got a message from my dad right after he passed in the form of an amazing sunset. I do believe they do this to be with us and give us comfort. It is a mere glimpse into the glory that they are living-unimaginable joy. It is those left behind who suffer. You do have so many signs, not by accident, I believe. I cannot imagine your pain; I don't want to, but please know that many, many people are praying for you and your family. You don't need to make anyone laugh or entertain us. We want you as you-good and bad. I did not hear about you until the accident occurred. Julia (Miz Juney) asked me if I had heard this story since I live nearby. I had not. I went back and "got to know you" so I had a full frame of reference. Thank you for being brave enough to continue to do this and letting strangers into your home and, hopefully, your heart. Please, Jesus, lay your hands on this family and give them comfort and strength. Amen.

Vodka Mom said...

Anna, I think of you when I sit with my coffee in the morning. I think of you, your husband and Margaret. I think of how you will put one foot in front of the other, and make it through the day. I DO believe that the positive energy sent your way will lift you up when you most need it, and will wrap you in love on those quiet lonely nights. I think of you. I think of you. I think of you.

and i send you love.

The Expat Wife said...

Hello, I stumbled across your blog by stumbling across another blog on google. I wanted to post and say how very sad I am for your loss. I have looked through your blog and have seen the photos of your beautiful boy and my heart breaks for you.
You and your family are in my thoughts
I am terribly sorry
love and kindness
Another blogging Mother
x

Scary Mommy said...

You are so much more inspiring than you know.

Amber said...

To echo what others have said: you are inspiring. I am crying as I think about the pain you and your family are going through. I am so so sorry for you loss.

Wendy said...

I am soooooo sorry. I never heard of your blog before Jack died. Now I come back often and continue to pray for you.

You are inspiring and touching so many lives.

Continue to write. Continue to love Jack. Continue...until you are reunited.

MamaCole said...

Dear one, I do not know you or your family but I am praying for you and wish I could hug you. Inspiration is in continuing to breath in and out, continuing to put one foot in front of the other, continuing to pray. You will be a blessing to others. I cannot imagine the pain that you feel but, like you, I know that God can redeem this tragedy. I also know that going home is not a punishment to those who go, it is only painful to those left behind. Hang in, sweet sweet mama, Grace and Peace be with you.

Noodlejuice said...

I've not long started reading your blog, and I don't know you at all, but I wanted to tell you that you are hugely inspiring.

All these signs...telling you in subtle ways that God has your beautiful son safe in His arms. Nothing can take away from the pain that you feel that he isn't there with you, but you can trust that he is at peace in heaven.

Your strength, your honesty and your outpouring of love; these are things you are giving to others, and people are finding their own strength from your words. Even at this time you are giving to others.

I will keep you and your family in my prayers. Please stay strong.

Noodlejuice said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Law Momma said...

I still think of you daily, holding you up in prayer and visualizing strong arms loving you. Never stop writing and we will never stop remembering. Love from Georgia.

stacy @bklynstacy said...

First, please know that I think of you and your family often, wrapping you in faith and love and light, hoping to ease your pain. I am so sorry for your loss.
You are so brave to share your words and thoughts and pain; and you are reminding us all that there is grace in all we live, even the darkest hours, something I believe and have written so much about—but your clarity (even in the confusion) is awe-inspiring. Thank you for sharing that gift.

Anonymous said...

Anna, Jack is looking down upon you with so much love and gratitude for those wonderful years with such devoted and loving parents. May you feel his loving embrace from above. If I may I would like to recommend "A Grief Observed" by C.S. Lewis.

Michelle DeRusha@Graceful said...

Anna, I haven't been by here in a bit, and so as I've stopped in tonight to read this about the incredibly painful loss of your dear Jack, I simply want to say I am so very sorry. I will pray for you and your family every day and hold you close in my heart.

Vicky92569 said...

Yes, your heartbreak is my biggest nightmare, as it is for almost any parent – and, I am so, so sorry for your loss of gorgeous, beautiful Jack. No words can even begin to express. Your faith… that you have clearly passed to both of your children, is certainly admirable and has surely buoyed you through this horrific and trying time. Please know there are people all over the planet, including me, praying for your family. May love and light shine through to you soon….

Brooke said...

Ok, if you're allowed to swear now am I allowed to not punctuate properly? I appreciated the fine print (not nearly as touching as the rest) because I am plagued EVERY SINGLE TIME I write my blog, or even a Facebook post, about run-on sentences. I can see your red pen marks in my mind. One year of sophomore English, one year as teaching assistant, and multiple years of yearbook did little to change the fact that I never really cared enough about punctuation to use it correctly (or absorb how to in class apparently). I still wish I had. I hadn't really thought of the longterm consequences of staying in touch with one's high school English teacher. Just tell me one thing, do you roll your eyes while reading my blog? DO you have a mental red pen? I feel like you might. At least be comforted to know that two additional years of high school English teachers and a whole slew of college professors fared just about as well as you did---at least you made an impact and remained in my life!

Anyway, I think about you all the time and I am so grateful when I see that you are feeling of God's love. Strange though it may seem to have God and rememberances of Jack appear on a cell phone, I know that God knows each of us individually and that He loves us. He doesn't want us to be in pain or to experience the anguish that you currently are, He wants to comfort you and every single day I am sure that tiny moments present themselves---whether it be through good friends, family, a sunset, or a cell phone---to remind you that Jack is not gone forever but for now. Thank heaven for eternal families and for a knowledge that we will live again, together. Greatest words ever---together forever. Love you!

smilinjo said...

‎'For I know the plans I have for you' declares
The Lord. 'Plans to prosper you, not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.' Jeremiah 29:11

Praying for you and your family.

Anonymous said...

You are my treasure...you make me kiss & hug my kids more every moment. I wish you didn't have too feel all this pain for all this good. You are in our prayers

Sarah said...

On September 7, 2007 my younger brother died in a car accident. I am not a longtime reader of your blog, but I felt moved to write to you. I don't know what you are going through, but I do have an inkling of what your daughter is feeling. Although, both my brother and I were young adults, so losing him in childhood is a somewhat different experience for Molly. Sibling death is not something we talk about or have tools in place to deal with very well. I didn't realize that my brother was actually my best friend until he was gone. This person is who you thought would be there for you for the rest of your life. You thought you would bury your parents together. Suddenly being an only child, to have to be the only one for your parents, is a huge responsibility. As a parent you can try to mitigate this (I know my parents don't want me to feel this way), but the responsibility is just there.
Please keep laughing. Grieving is hard work. Yes, it does get easier with time, but the time also carries you further away from when he was alive. It is a bitter comfort.
Thank you for sharing your story, especially the little signs that you have gotten. We got some of those too. Your family is in my prayers and thoughts.

Melanie said...

Beautiful, Anna. Keep writing, we're here with you and for you. And your dear husband and daughter.

Don't stop sharing, especially about your darling Jack.

Though I didn't know him, I'm missing him along with you and celebrating his life through you.

Paula said...

My neighbor told me you had a new blog post up, but I needed to wait to read it until I had a quiet moment. Anna, thank God you are a writer. For how painful it must be to put this all into words I am thankful for you trusting all your readers to gently but firmly catch you as you fall and try to help you back up. I, like so many on here, continue to pray for you and your family ~ at all times of day and night. I pray that you have moments of peace and togetherness today, just today - will pray for tomorrow, tomorrow as Momastey says. I also pray for you to have moments when you feel yourselves being lifted in prayer. Keep writing. Keep sharing your all your lives with us. Sending love.

Charlotte said...

I agree with White Farmhouse. I applaud the way you have handled yourself through this entire process... There is no right or wrong way to grieve, but you do what you can with what your given... Hold on to these signs and know that they come from a higher being we may never understand... but they are meant to comfort you when you need them the most.

And when that doesn't work, turn to us, your blogging friends, who just want to hug and lend support in any way that we possibly can.

XOXO

Adventures In Babywearing said...

Oh, my love with you.

Steph

amy said...

Anna,you truly are inspiring and powerful. It is true that your story is every mother's worst nightmare, but your strength is powerful and amazing. Though we come from different religious backgrounds, your steadfast faith is truly inspiring, and I know that others will learn wonderful things from you, as well as from Jack, who I know is a wonderful soul. Thank you for being so open, even during your most painful moments. Your family is beautiful and strong and I wish the best for you. May Jack's memory always be a blessing for you.

Reenie said...

WOW!! What a beautiful post.

{{hugs}}

Lady Courtney said...

I've started to leave a comment a few times, but I didn't think there was anything I can say that could possibly make you feel better. But after reading this post, you need to know that your son is with the Lord, and "they" are talking to you. I truly believe this! And have experienced this. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers. Jack was very lucky to have you as a mother!!!

myimaginaryblog said...

I only learned about you after Jack's death, from blog friends-of-friends. And I have had your blog bookmarked to be read ever since you first posted what you read for the memorial service. I started to read it once, but my 11-year-old daughter walked into the room and started to read over my shoulder, and I didn't have it in me to explain what I was reading, so I closed it and waited until a day that I felt like I could face the pain of grieving a tiny fraction of what you're experiencing. I know you don't have that luxury, of choosing when to grieve, and I'm so sorry. But I do want you to know that a stranger across the country in Utah was weeping this morning thinking about your having to be separated from your wonderful son. I'm sure, as you say, that he is in a wonderful place (and knows why God made mosquitoes) but I am so sorry for your whole family that you have to go on without him for a time.

-Zina W.

Debbie said...

God is so cool. He know what YOU need. He knows your thoughts and how your mind works and He is meeting you there with little signs all the time.

I don't know how it all works...the whys, the endless questions, BUT, I do know that His peace passes all understanding. And somehow, somehow, He works all things (even unimaginable things) together for good.

He's good like that. You just keep on believing and watching for Him.

Love from Georgia-
Debbie

spolly said...

You are doing amazing work by speaking out about your loss. You are inspiring as you go along and giving others hope. The signs that Jack is safe and ok is a true blessing. I'm at a loss for words but I'm always thinking of you and your family. Hope these signs bring some peace.

kellyeldridge said...

Anna and family, praying for you all many times throughout each day that God will comfort you, strengthen you, never let you go, and bring you some measure of the peace that surpasses understanding. There are no other words to express how sorry I am. All I know is that God is greater than our grief and you glorify and reveal Him through your word and your faith.

Manicured Slayer said...

Your faith in God, and your love for your son and family, inspires me. It brings me to tears. It keeps you all in my thoughts and prayers.

Does it frighten me, yes because my son has anaphylactic food allergies. The past six years since his diagnosis has meant a healthy dose of anxiety meds for me every day.

But I pray that God and Jack continue to send you signs of love, gifts of peace, and tons of strength as you take each step, every day.

And we are here for you, and with you, even if only in spirit.

*Tender hugs*

Karen Flanders said...

Anna, like the true and historical characters in the Bible, you are real. And like the Bible, our souls connect and resonate with your written words. I'm so glad God allowed truth to reign in all the Biblical stories so we don't feel isolated when we encounter less than godly character in ourselves. I still laugh at your quips, but I also grieve with you and don't pretend to understand all your pain. I do know that our gracious God went before this with your family, and he's going before you now...preparing you to be used for His glory!

Susan said...

I found you through Serial Swooper's blog. I can hardly type through the tears. I am so, so sorry.

melanie said...

thank you for sharing your grief. you are not my worst nightmare--you are someone voicing the fears and deepest vibrations of my mother's heart. thank you for showing us the pain that is felt, the comfort that God does provide, even if it doesn't feel like enough and the way forward...

Lynn said...

Still thinking of all three of you.
Every Day.
You are doing something good by writing. You don't know how many people you'll reach.
Wishing you love and peace, and eventually comfort.
I'll be checking in each day.


Lynn Guinn

ChiMomWriter said...

I am just now having the courage to read through these posts, although (yet another stranger from the blogosphere) I have thought of your family often.

This post, all on its own, is beautiful and inspiring. There's never any need to dress up your grief - God meets us where we are, and your community around you will as well. But wow, WOW, the strength and grace of you and your family - so evident here.

Katherine Whitlock said...

Dear Anna,
I have been wanting to write to you for some time now, but had trouble doing so. My family and I moved to Burke, VA from Illinois right before the accident happened. My own 7th grade son turned 13 on that day. I remember it well. I was driving in Fairfax trying to get him a last minute present when it was too flooded to get through. I turned around and headed to our new home just hoping to make it safely, after a car in front of mine stalled in the rising water. Another car pushed it out of the water. When I read in the Patch online the next day that a 7th grader lost his life, my heart ached for his family left behind, thinking "what if it had happened to us" and not even being able to comprehend just a little bit what that pain must be like. I do remember thinking the very same words you used for this day's title, which is what compelled me to leave my message on this post. I pray for your family and think of you often. I didn't know you had a blog until just recently and feel so honored to have gotten to know your son, your family, and you through your writing. It is so raw and honest and beautiful. Your light shines brightly and reaches out so far and wide to so many.

I am praying for you and your family and sending love from nearby. Knowing you are living my worst nightmare has really changed my life and put me in a closer relationship with our Lord. Just needed to let you know how sorry I am for the loss of Jack and how awed I am in your strength.....

Shandy, PA said...

This blog is amazing. You have gone through a mother's worst nightmare and you are helping, inspiring and feeling real feelings. My son's name is Jack..he is 2 1/2 and I have a daughter now too. I lay awake sometimes worrying of all the things that could happen to them in this world, but we will never be able to stop everything. I am so sorry for your family and hope that, while you will always ache for your son, you have found some healing and peace over the past almost two years. This blog is helping me help a friend who has had a death in the family. Thank you.

Shandy, PA said...

This blog is amazing. You have gone through a mother's worst nightmare and you are helping, inspiring and feeling real feelings. My son's name is Jack..he is 2 1/2 and I have a daughter now too. I lay awake sometimes worrying of all the things that could happen to them in this world, but we will never be able to stop everything. I am so sorry for your family and hope that, while you will always ache for your son, you have found some healing and peace over the past almost two years. This blog is helping me help a friend who has had a death in the family. Thank you.