Sunday, February 5, 2012

Word!


My sister signed me up for Words with Friends a few days ago. You would think I’d be decent at it—after all, I love words and I love friends. Nope. I kind of stink.

Last night I was thinking about what my problem is, and it’s the same one I had when trying to play Scrabble as a kid. I get caught up in the words I “almost” have. “Hatchet” – if I just had the final “t.” “Media” but nowhere to place it on the board, “Surfeit,” just without the pesky “u”. I get so enamored with these “almost” words, it makes it hard for me to see what I really can use to make a smart play.

So I end up playing a measly word like “EAT.” Sometimes the game shuffles the letters around for me to jolt my brain with a different perspective and hopefully help me recognize a great word. But that doesn’t seem to help. I hang onto the letters I have, hoping the final letter will appear, because it’s such a great “almost” word, but when it’s my turn to play again, the board has changed, due to my opponent’s move, and I’ve still got nothing.

I think I relate to grief in a similar way. Right now I am caught up in what “almost” was the future for our family. So very, very close, but now with one key element missing. I cling to the way I wanted things to be—stable and good and meaningful, with maybe a bit of pizazz or a triple word score thrown in every now and then, but nothing too dramatic, and certainly not tragic.

The problem is, just as I can’t play a word that is not completely there, will never be completely there, I know I need to function within the family as it IS, not as it could have been. So by functioning, although hurting and half-hearted, I manage to go to work, get dinner on the table and give the impression of giving ½ a shit about what’s going on around me. To me, that’s the equivalent of playing “RAT” or “SET.”And that’s all I’ve got in me right now.

But the hours of daylight are getting longer, and many days I am filled with peace, the peace that passes all understanding, that I know comes from your prayers on our behalf. And when I remember Jack, which is all day, every day, it is with a smile, because that kid brought great joy to us. He was creative, smart, loving, and deep. He made us proud. He made us laugh with his silly quirkiness. With his strong moral code, he made us strive to be better, more faithful people. And now, somehow, he is still doing those things, but on a grander scale, far beyond just our family and our little cul de sac.

And while deep in my heart I wanted to play the words “COMFORTABLE,” “LINEAR”, and “STABLE”, I love this family and I’m guessing someday in the future I’ll be able to play “RESIGNED” , “THRIVING”, and maybe even "BEAUTY" "FROM" "ASHES".

99 comments:

Meesh said...

This is a beautiful post!! I love how you related your grief and reality and a simple game. It is an amazing way to say how you are feeling!! I hope that one day you will be able to say those words especially beauty and thriving!! God bless!!
-Meesh :)

Anonymous said...

EXQUISITE post, Anna.

Your HONESTY is ADMIRABLE.

The LORD bless and keep you.

He is ABLE.

Anonymous said...

You inspire me, amaze me, astound me.

NanaDiana said...

Well, Anna, you have published some really great, heartfelt words HERE today...and maybe, in the grand scale of things, that is what the word play is all about. xo Diana

LauraBeth said...

Love, hugs, and prayers, Anna....

Anonymous said...

You're beautiful, Anna...

You are in my thoughts and prayers daily, and I thank you again for sharing your life with us.

Love,
Lisa G.

Anonymous said...

You are doing it. "RAT" and "SET" are just fine. Praying for more and more of that peace. You are so very loved.

Julia said...

Great post.

I play Words With Friends with my husband....we pass my phone back and forth. I can only think of 3 letter words.

Here's a great tip...if you ever have an "X"...try to play it by an "I"....XI. I have no idea what it means other than maybe a Greek Alpha letter...but it takes it.


Hang in there Anna...continued prayers for peace.

Vickie Ingle said...

I play Words with Friends too. It somehow relieves me of some of this horrible grief and stress that you and I share. For just a few minutes of the day, I am trying to think of words instead of remembering how much I am hurting and missing my son. I love it when you said you get stuck on one word and can't move on because I do that all the time. It made the burst out in laughter, because I do what you do and enter a simple three letter word. My husband often ask me, why do play that game. I simply reply, because I can. I think of you often and pray for you always.

Vickie Ingle

Aimee said...

Beautiful.... Very touching, a quite wordy! ;) I'm feeling your pain and sadness with each & every post, and wishing I could remove it all.

I'm quite the WWF addict myself, something I can play very well as opposed to my writing skills. Tip: Q words: Qi, Qat

My thoughts & prayers always....

Kara said...

Your words make my heart swell! Its so strange to cry tears of joy and sorrow at the same time, but that's always where your words send me. Sorrow at what you've lost, joy at word the Lord is doing through you. Praying continued and deepened peace on you and your sweet family.

DawnGes said...

WORDS about Anna now: AUTHENTIC, REAL, FRIEND, BEAUTIFUL, HOPEFUL, FAITHFUL...

mariann said...

Your words are beautiful. You are amazing, and to me you embody Jack's life verse(which our Priest used at Mass today). Always praying for you, Tim and Margaret. Mariann

Shannon said...

Don't be too hard on yourself. It will feel like going through the motions for a long time. I say this with hope--because there is hope, and it will get "better" in some ways. The fact you are getting up and doing, even if it feels very BLAH, says a lot. The Lord is our strength when we think we cannot continue.

I love how you have related WWF to grief. God bless.

Kent said...

Anna - You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers each day. I'm glad that those prayers are bringing you some degree of comfort. Know that we will pray without ceasing for you all. xoxo Kent

Christy said...

You are AMAZING.

mgh said...

I love this, Anna.
I've played Words with Friends a lot. At first I played like you... out for the best and brightest words. But it turns out that that those little unsatisfying words are important to winning the game. Every once in a while a terrific, beautiful, meaningful word gets some points. But mostly it is about how you play what you've got... and never, ever skipping a turn or trying to trade in the tiles you've been dealt.
Keep at it... those words "comfortable", "stable", and "linear" are going to come back into you life.
If you want another friend, you can send me a request at mgheadley.
Love you.

Anonymous said...

This needs to be published!!!! You need a literary agent stat!!! This is so poignant, it must be shared beyond this blog.
I am in awe of how self aware you are. I do hope you allow yourself to truly feel all of your emotions though, even the feelings that you might not be proud of, but you are so entitled to feel. Remember to love yourself first and give yourself some slack when you need it. Sending love, hugs and admiration to an incredible mother and person.

Patricia said...

As everyone has said, Anna, you really are amazing...Your pen (or keyboard) - is it being guided from above ? Your words, and the insight that they show, are almost divine....
they bring tears to my eyes, and I'm sure, everyone's who reads them. But there is so much truth in them, that I feel there is some divine intervention happening here.

The Mommy Therapy said...

Love, love, love this. Such amazing way with helping us all relate to how you are feeling....making it an honor to pray and support you all.

Keep looking for the big words in the letters you have. I think Jack would be amazingly proud of you!

Kim said...

This is my favorite post I've ever read from you. Bless you.

RachelSD said...

Beautiful post Anna.

You'll get that triple word before you know it.

Stephanie Sheveland said...

Beautifully written. Bless you and your family. Love and Aloha from my family to yours.

Erin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MK Gregory said...

I love this. You write so beautifully. Keep on keeping on, making the most of the cards you're dealt - it's the best you can do. I pray for you all of the time. More than I pray for anything else, really, because honestly, I'm not very good at praying. Love to you.
:)MK

Shell Flower said...

Well said. My boyfriend plays Scrabble with what if's of almost perfection, too. I am seeing him in a whole new light. I know you will make it to the peaceful words at the end of this lovely post...someday. It's nice to see the hope glimmering here. Gives me some hope, too.

Susan said...

Still praying for God's comfort in your grief and for you to feel God's loving arms around you as He shares in your grief.

Anonymous said...

oh, i just love this post. you are a remarkable woman.

Kate Coveny Hood said...

I played Words with Friends for a while - but only with Chris. I called it "Words with Husband."

You have a way with words, Anna. Mine for you is "extraordinary."

New Mom said...

What a perfect illustration! Those of us who haven't lost a child can't know what you're feeling, but this is such a helpful parallel. Such a beautiful post - you show us beauty every time you write. I've always pictured "beauty from ashes" as an immediate transformation. I know this is possible with Jesus, but I see now it is more often one ash at a time. Little by little we see beauty come out of this, until one day at God's throne we'll see the full picture. Day by day you're accumulating letters, until you have what it takes to spell the Victory words.

Lady Jennie said...

As always, I'm crying as I read this. There is already beauty from ashes in what you write and how you see things.

Givinya De Elba said...

Anna this was a beautiful post. I have been coming here since I found you through Glennon once she went viral (what great wordsmiths you both are!) and I have ached for your family since I read of your devastating loss of dear Jack.

One of the things I love about you is that like me, you are a Christian woman who curses. Sorry, but I love it. Sometimes a well-placed word expresses your feelings SO MUCH BETTER than trying to twist thoughts into pretty little acceptably-Christian words. I love the way that you give God your honesty.

Anonymous said...

I think beauty is already rising from the ashes, I see it in the words you write and I pray that one day you will also see it.

prayers for you in your sadness and sorrow.
Love, Mandy

Lynn from For Love or Funny said...

When I think of you, the one word that comes to mind is: HOPE. I share that hope whenever I think of the ones I long to see again...

Anonymous said...

Anna,

Almost exactly 5 years ago, my best friend was killed in a car accident. He was 17 years old. A young man who had planned for his future in a quite exceptional way - he had even begun a pension fund. Going to see his parents after his death was heartbreaking. This year, when I write to them on the anniversary of his death, I will know which words to write, because I have seen through your words into the heart of a parent who has lost a child. It is unimaginable. You and your family (your whole family) are all incredible.

xxxxxxxx

Anonymous said...

I know this is hardly the point, but this is a masterpiece. God bless you for willingly using your gifts in every season of your life. These postings are going to have a profound impact in helping others cope.

luv2run said...

Love this post! Just loved it!

It has done a lot for me, more than I can express into words here for you to understand, thank you for helping out a stranger!

luv2run

Lindsay said...

What a lovely post! You have such a way with words, sweet Anna! Thank you for continuing to share...more prayers for peace on a daily basis. Much love to you and yours. xo

Orangies Attic said...

You are an inspired writer... TRULY.

Now... XU, XI, HM, QI, QAT, AA, AE, JO, KA, WO, ZA, FE. Those 2 letters words played on a double or triple letter/word box will get you a winner every time.

Sarah Jones said...

that was a beautiful, and hopeful, post. there are sooo many people hoping and praying for you to move swiftly to that stage.

SouthLakesMom said...

Another teary one, Anna. Continuing to pray for you all.

Headless Mom said...

You are amazing, my friend. XO

Anonymous said...

Eloquent, genuine, pertinent, poignant, Anna
Blessings
Sandie Brown

Chrisy said...

XO and love...infinity.

IrishRN07 said...

Anna,
My good friends have a saying: "Praying you through". I like that because it's clear that those who are praying are on the sidelines, the object of the prayers is the one going through all the muck and the crud. But sideline prayers do mean something. We rejoice when you. We cry with you. We are all wrapped in His Grace. Your little family has changed my life in such a big way. I am so humbled to share in your peace and your pain, and to be one of thousands who are praying you through.
-Maureen

BTynch said...

Exquisite is the right word to describe this post, Anna. Thank God you are feeling the prayers. It's ok to play a three letter word, the point is you are STILL playing.

Anonymous said...

WOW. I love this post so much. I think of you and Jack EVERY day as I go through my day. I continue to send up little prayers for you and pray for light in your life. Sarah from Alexandria

Leah C said...

I think you've got a lot of great words in you:) This post is tender & beautiful...Jack was somethin' special...just like his mama. Hugs, prayers & love to you, dear Anna...

zcan said...

It is difficult for me to type this through my tears. This post is beautiful and you are, too (inside and out). Love you so much and will always be here pulling for you.

wildtrumpetvine said...

So beautiful, and so true! I would feel exactly as you do, hung up on what could have been, on the lovely words that can no longer be spelled. But even as you think you're missing what is, and what is meant to be, God is revealing it all around you. You will see it, and you will see beauty blooming from your tragedy, because you are open to it. You are buoyed by many prayers, including mine.

Rach said...

Beautiful words, beautiful analogy, beautifully written.

You will come to a point of COMFORT and of BEAUTY FROM ASHES, but it will take some time. Continue to be gentle with yourself.

Many prayers and hugs,
Rach

julia said...

AWE. GRACE. HAIL. LAUD. EXTOL (triple score on the "x"). All simple words. All words to describe you and your family. You get triple word scores every day in my book dear. I love you.

Ginny said...

What a beautiful, admirable and honest post. I've yet to leave you a message here, but you've been in my prayers for a long time. I'm sure time feels intensely longer for you. Bless you, Anna. Keep playing "GET" and "LIVE" and I am certain you will be playing "JOYFULNESS" and "PEACEFULNESS" on triple word spaces one day.
With love,
Ginny

Jenny said...

Anna,
I only hope that all of the love and support and prayers do really help. Your honesty and willingness to share so much of yourself is inspiring. Sending much hugs...xoxo

Anonymous said...

I literally stumbled upon your post today and wanted to thank you. I'm sure you mainly wrote it for you, but I want you to know you touched me to the core. It was definitely something I needed to hear today. I have let my grief take over on some days. I found out a few months ago that my husband had an affair with one of my "best friends"... I have decided to stay with him and work through it. But the grief of what happened can be too much to bear at times. Your post has given me strength for another day. Thank you so much!!!!

OSMA said...

I understand the sorrow is far from over but I had to share this with you in case you haven't seen it yet.

"Instead of weeping when a tragedy occurs in a songbird's life, it sings away its grief. I believe we could well follow the pattern of our feathered friends." - William Shakespeare

Praying your songbird has been keeping you great company.
xoxoxo
Erin in Falls Church

Lisa said...

"Amazing". That would be my word for you...I love this post. I thank you for sharing.

Pam P. said...

ADMIRATION and THANKFULNESS. A deep, deep admiration of the woman that you are, Anna and how you inspire each of us. A huge THANKFULNESS to the Lord for his hand in your life -- it is so evident and so beautiful. Thank you for ministering to me at a time when I wish I could do that for you.

Terra said...

Words with friends is cathartic, I think. Last summer, we watched my husbands life long friend die at 32 from cancer that took over his body. We would sit in his house for hours, surrounding him with family....and play this game. All of us...10-15 people, with ipads, ipods, cell phones, or laptop...it helped, somehow. Praying for more distractions to help youget through the day until you find your new normal.

mia said...

Beautiful... you are such a gift.I too am "praying you through". So proud of you.
Mia xoxo

Jasmine said...

Anna, A newcomer to your blog via Momastery - I am so touched by your words and so incredibly sorry for your grief. I cannot possibly imagine what you are going through or what I could possibly say to ease your pain, but I will offer my prayers for your comfort and strength. May the Lord and Jack be with you always. Thank you for sharing this with us. Hugs.

kimber said...

I believe the word you are looking for is ELOQUENT. I am constantly blessed by your ability to share. I am hopeful that this blog is an oasis for your heart. I continue to pray for you… blessings to you, and much, much love.

Paula said...

You have the gift of writing and the gift of courage to be able to share what you are feeling right now. Thanks for helping all of us understand just a little. "Set" and "rat" keep you in the game, and that's just what has to be done. Praying for you.

Mrs. E said...

Beautiful. An analogy I will remember. I've never met you, been to Virginia only once--and yet your family is still in my daily prayers.

Jessica said...

Oh wow, this is so perfectly written. I lost my daughter four years ago and while I can say there are days that I still toss in a "sit" or "be" there are many other days where I have learned to find fancy, long, beautiful words again. I hope you will too.

Lizbeth said...

I have been watching, thinking and keeping you in my heart from a distance. See, I lost my son 3 years ago. I didn't get as much time with him as I would have liked and have not wanted to say anything here. Not a day goes by that I do not think of him and how things changed for us. But the thing is, it will get there. You will get there. Not yet, but it will happen. Right now play those small words. If you can do that then it's a good day. You are in my thoughts.

Heidi said...

Beautiful. Just beautiful.

Anonymous said...

mgh -Feb.5 @6:04 said it the best way..How you play what you got...and my friend you have done a great job in the game... Hang in there, your family needs you to keep pulln tiles and makn words even if there are 2 letter words. you are beautiful. Jack was lucky to have you as his mother.

Princess Kate said...

you inspire me with your words Anna. Big or small -- they are all special in meaning. Praying for peace and understanding.

Salvimom said...

Your indomitable spirit is AMAZING, woman! You are so blessed in your strength. Thank you once again for sharing your Jack with us, and your feelings as well. Again, love, prayers, hugs, prayers, positive thoughts, and prayers from a little family on the west coast.

Ury,
Seattle, WA

Kim @ A Brush of Whimsy said...

Hugs and love
Kim

Anonymous said...

When I finished reading this post, with tears in my eyes, I said the word "beautiful" out loud. Then I log onto the comments page and see that word over and over again in several other comments. You are amazing and inspirational. Prayers and hugs from a total stranger....

Laura said...

You have an incredible way of stringing the big words, the little words, and all the in between words into something so beautiful.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful! You feel what you feel and you express it so well.
Lives are being touch by your writing.
xo

Anonymous said...

This is possibly your most beautiful, evocative, insightful post that I have read. Painfully beautiful.
Claire

Marguerite said...

Anna, day after day, I come here and think there will be a post telling us "I'm sorry, I just can't continue writing, it is just too hard", but no, instead I am more and more in awe of your writing, your depth, and the way you make each and every one of US feel better. You are truly an inspiration to us all.

Prayers to your beautiful family.

Meredith Self said...

Seeing what you need to notice in whatever you are doing. That is really being guided. Even a game, and you'll see what you need. So insightful. So helpful to others. So graceful.

Playing the hand you have.

You've got this, Anna. You can do this. With you through all the shitty words and beautiful words. Love you.

Anonymous said...

YOU are a perfect triple word score Anna :) Here's to more gentle changing tides around you. Thinking of you with love and hope as always.
Pip x

Debby@Just Breathe said...

I play scrabble that way too. My heart is always holding you tight.
((HUGS))

Meredith Self said...

Jack for 60. Awesome.

Anonymous said...

Anna,

I love reading your posts as they are so Life giving. My Grandma Sam played Scrabble with us. My sister and I would spend ten minutes at a time looking for the best word. Grandma just played the simple words, and she always won! She lived that way. Grandma lost her nine-year old daughter, and Grandma's beautiful eyes were still welling with tears at the age of 100. She simply lived, and the rest of us thrived because she kept on going. Anna, we're thriving because you keep on going.

Uverse coupon said...

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the mama bird diaries said...

What a beautiful post. Day by day sweet girl. One step in front of the other. We love you.

jmartens said...

This is my first time visiting your blog. I have no idea if we have anything in common beyond motherhood and a "Words with Friends" disability, but I do know that my heart broke for you as I read your words. I offer up my prayers for Jack, for you, your family and your friends.

Nomads By Nature said...

Anna, you truly have a way with words. Simple or snazzy, they are showing God's grace and light to so many. I daresay, Jack is the missionary he thought he could be. Thank you for sharing a glimpse into what you are feeling, experiencing, working through. I hope it is bringing you another step closer to full peace. Praying for you and your family; holding your hand from faraway.

Anonymous said...

Anna, you have such a way with words. And with life.
thank you. your cousin, Emily H.

Rob Cryer said...

your poem/perspective = "incredible"; ... my response as a dad, who can't begin to imagine = "sigh"; ... it may seem trite, but all I have to offer are 2 verses that have "stood the test", through family advesity of our own ... (but this is not about me, ... it's about you, your family, and a sovereign God)

"We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed." (2 Cor 4:8-9)

"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand" (Is 41:10)

Leslie said...

Oh Anna, I have cried so hard reading this post that I could barely find the words to comment.

I was an English major and creative writing minor, and I can play that game either. I realize now it's for the same reason. I ALWAYS see what I could have and not what I do have.

I love that a friend got 60 points on Jack. Wow.

I'll never stop praying for peace, for some sort of understanding and for a million other things. I pray so much for each of you that I've noticed my five year old names his toys Jack, wants a sibling named Jack, and sometimes calls himself Jack.

Your family is so loved and will always be.

Julia @ Hooked on Houses said...

What a beautiful post, Anna. It brought tears to my eyes this morning. It's so hard not to get stuck on what we were expecting the future to be, or wishing it would look like. Sometimes we do just have to play with the letters we're given and do the best we can with them.

Anonymous said...

speechless at the beautiful articulation of your post....my prayers are/have/will continue to be with and for you.

Anonymous said...

I can totally relate to becoming fixated on an ALMOST word in those games. But until you wrote this, I wasn't aware that that's why I have never really enjoyed Scrabble. Hmmm. Maybe I should break out the board and see if having identified my stumbling block improves my game.

I know that your "game" will improve with time. In the meantime, I wish for you a succession of tiles that reveal combinations of comforting and peaceful words.

love,
jbhat

Marci said...

What an amazing post. I play Words with Friends a lot and will share a secret:

http://scrabblecheat.com/Default.aspx

Also, this: http://www.trussel.com/scrabble/2words.htm

Sometimes we need more words than we can muster up ourselves. Some people think it's cheating but it's the only way I can come close to my husband's score (he uses the above website all the time). We are playing on the computer, after all.

Your writing is truly a gift; being able to tie grief in with playing a word game is astounding. I think of you and your family every day.

Anonymous said...

Amazing. The word I think of when I think of you.

Anonymous said...

Do you know Bridget from "Tales of me and the husband"? Her (step)children Lindsey and Nathaniel look so much like Jack and Margaret when they were little!

http://itsahuntlife.blogspot.com/2012/02/memory-lane.html

Anonymous said...

You've put into words how my dear friend has felt since the loss of her sweet girl 2 years ago. And how she continues to live her life in a family of 3. You have a beautiful way of sharing your thoughts and grief. Thank you for your bravery and willingness to share.

marissa said...

I play like you do, and you just gave me amazing perspective today.
I am tarheel113 if you want to play against another beginner.

But also think of yourself as being able to see the big picture...beyond what is on this board, what you are capable of doing or being with just a little help. From friends.

AmyO said...

This is one of the most beautiful essays I have ever read, and yet I wish with all my heart that you never had to write it. For some reason it makes me think of that old hymn, "See, from His head, His hands, His feet
Sorrow and love flow mingled down, Did e'er such love and sorrow meet, Or thorns compose so rich a crown?" Suffering and love, so impossibly woven together.

Thank you for sharing your heart, dear Anna.

Murray Family said...

This is my second time reading this post, it is beautiful. A while ago, I purchased an app for my phone so I could keep a written log of prayers. I have often told people that I am praying for them, but then I forget and I hate that about myself. So, I bought this app to help me remember who I want to pray for and then I never used it.

But, after reading your post, I opened the app and added you as my first prayer reminder. And, I am moving the app to the front page of my phone so I can see it each time I turn on my phone.

So, Anna, I AM praying for you.

And, I am sending lots of love your way!

PeachPrenni said...

Anna, I have said it before and I will say it again. You are a BRILLIANT writer!!! Your insight is amazing; poetic really! Your ability to tie together your feelings on playing Scrabble with your feelings on the 1/2 life you're currently living is just amazing to me. This gift you have with the pen--it will help you. It will help you find your way out of the darkness and into the light. Maybe it already is? With so much love and admiration. -Annie P.