Monday, March 19, 2012

Happy Birthday, Jack! We Love You.


























Thank you for all the prayers and love as we celebrated Jack's 13th birthday this weekend. If he had been alive, we would have had about 5 boys over for a sleepover, and then taken a family trip to Chevy's Mexican Restaurant.

Instead, we had a weekend-long love-fest remembering and honoring our sweet boy. Relatives came to town to support us, Facebook lit up with blue ribbons as people changed their profile pics for Jack's birthday, and sweet cards and gifts came in the mail. My sister compiled a memory book for us with letters and emails from friends and family. Flowers appeared on our doorstop, and at the cross by the side of the road.

Margaret baked a birthday cake shaped like giant Peep. She's pretty stoked about putting that on the blog in case any of you want to attempt it for Easter. Pics to follow.

Saturday was the Rock and Roll Marathon in DC, with an amazing team of Jack's Lanterns running their hearts out for Jack. Almost $20,000 has been raised for Samaritan's Purse so far! Jack's special cousin, Isaac, ran 1/2 of the 1/2 marathon as a relay with his mom, Jack's Auntie. Tim ran his first half marathon ever, with his son's photo on the back of his race jersey. One of our dear friends ended up in the ER after passing out from dehydration at mile 12, but so determined was he to finish the race, he ran the last 1.1 miles around our neighborhood on Sunday, Jack's birthday. Other friends ran different races in Jack's honor this weekend.

Saturday night, we had dinner at Chevy's, where we hadn't been since Jack's 12th birthday. Here are a few pics from one year ago:









As we returned from dinner, we looked up our hill and saw the most beautiful sight or our lives. Luminaria lined our entire driveway and the flickering candles beat back the darkness.

At church on Sunday the choir wore blue ribbons, parishioners wore ribbons or lego crosses from Jack's memorial service, and beautiful flowers adorned the church.

That afternoon, Jack's 6th grade classmates and their parents came over to reminisce and to plant a butterfly bush in our yard. We loved listening to more "Jack Stories" from these kids. Hearing how entertaining and outgoing our pensive, shy boy was made us smile and shake our heads. I have to wonder if one of the reasons Jack was so funny in school-- driving his dear teachers to distraction-- was so this group of kids would always remember him with a smile. One classmate made "picklesicles" out of pickle juice, a nod to Jack's love of dill pickles and to an experiment he and I tried a few years ago.

After this class celebration, we headed to the cul de sac. The same culdesac where Jack learned to ride a two wheeler, and where Margaret would walk down with him to try to drum up a neighborhood game of soccer, Extreme Tag, or Manhunt. The place the kids were heading the last time I saw Jack alive right before one of the neighbors said, "Hey, let's go look at the creek!"

The culdesac was filled with people who have been loving on us constantly, asking nothing in return. One friend made beautiful tags with Jack's Bible verse and a blue bird on them for people to write messages and attach to the balloons. Another set up a table with cookies and lemonade. I didn't get a chance to visit with everyone, but I saw the faces and felt the support.

We sang Happy Birthday to Jack and released the balloons. A day that had started out overcast and dreary, was sunny with a brilliant blue sky. The balloons sailed up up up over the treeline, over the stupid creek, heavenward. Other balloon launches took place in Richmond, across town, at the beach, in Indiana, and even in a Giant Food parking lot.


Tim and I have been amazed and humbled by all of the love and support we have received since Jack's accident. Time and again people have extended themselves, pushed themselves, and inconvenienced themselves, all in the hope of proving us comfort. And they have. You have. And we appreciate it so. We are learning a lot about love from you.

Speaking of love, how about watching one last Jack balloon launch? It's amazing:







video

103 comments:

Cassie @ Primitive & Proper said...

happy birthday, jack. may all the balloons that were lifted in your honor rise up to meet and greet you ans show you all the love being sent your way.
anna, i don't know how you did it. i am sobbing right now just reading. i am thinking of you and sending my own balloon to you.

Anonymous said...

This is one of the most beautiful tales of community, love and support that I have ever, ever read.

Happy birthday to Jack and much love to all of you.

love,
jbhat

Anonymous said...

All the very best to all of you.

xx

IrishRN07 said...

Love truly is stronger than death. It's not even close.
Hugs to you and your family as you celebrate the life of your sweet boy. Jack's legacy reaches so far! I am thrilled to watch (and feel) his lessons take hold and produce so much good in the world. Thank you so much for sharing all of this.

-Maureen

Lesley T. said...

Happy birthday, Jack.

Deb said...

Oh Anna...I've watched and read and continue to read. I found your blog the day of the school pictures. Needless to say, shock and disbelief followed when I returned to read about the loss of Jack. How you've helped us all learn about grief with your raw and transparent writing. And to see how a community can and should respond, priceless. As we reel from the loss of a beautiful young man in my daughters senior class, I have thought of you many times and will hope to take from your blog what I've learned on how to support and love that family.
Happy birthday in heaven to your precious son and please know that your courage continues to inspire.

NanaDiana said...

And all the way from India..to Indiana...to God....Blessings and balm to heal your heart- xo Diana

Katie said...

Always thinking of you guys. What a beautiful weekend of loving your son. So many around the world are embracing all of you in a huge hug. And just a side note - looking at the pictures of the balloon release, the last two - I swear they look like wings....

Praying for peace and strength for you and your family.

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday from India?! Love IS the answer.
Wishing your family a Spring of hope and love.

Anonymous said...

This is most of the most moving and beautiful sights I have ever seen.

City Sweet said...

You don't know me, but my family and I are sending you and your family peace, hope and love from Chicago.

Laura said...

Beautiful.

xoxo

Mrs. E said...

I am crying my eyes out. People are good. God is Great. Love is the only thing that matters--ever.

Sarah Jones said...

I am in awe of how well your family dealt with Jack's birthday and how the community you live in, as well as the one you have built here, have shown their love to you. I found you through momastery after the accident, and having two young sons, your post about "I am living your worst nightmare" could not have been more true for me. I have to say that I almost stopped following your blog last week, as all of my internet time is at work, and it's nearly impossible to think of your Jack without crying, but I am so, SO thankful that I didn't, because today's tears are happy ones. God Bless You and Yours!

Mrs Changstein said...

Thank you SO MUCH for showing us how God answered our prayers for you this weekend!! You indeed were, and continue to be, wrapped up in love and many many prayers.

xo Cindy

Lisa said...

Love does truly conquer all....and my heart bursts every time I read about the outpouring of love upon your family. Seeing the pictures, hearing about the tributes, it really reinstates my faith in humanity. I thought of Jack, of you, Tim and Margaret, yesterday...several times...but most especially when a cardinal perched right outside my kitchen window and sang a little tune.

Mary S said...

Your beautiful family continues to teach us so much about love and faith. Your son's message has become a gift to us. Thank you for sharing.

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

More love to you, all year through.

meghann said...

That brought tears to my eyes. Happy birthday, Jack. And much love to you all. xo

wild trumpet vine said...

Happy Birthday to dear Jack! I hold to CS Lewis's view of heaven, and I believe Jack is there, his unique personality intact and yet continuing to grow. And I know he could see all those beautiful balloons and feel the love!

Karol said...

Birthdays are hard. Praying for you all today.

L said...

loveyouloveyouloveyouloveyou. And Jack! So thankful for the balloon love and thankful to have seen so much love in action this weekend. Love is definitely a verb and there are many, many people LOVE-ing you all. So grateful.

Julia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stimey said...

Your son is going to be remembered by these people and these kids forever. I thought of you all many times yesterday. You know that, as always, you have my love.

Sharon said...

Dear Anna, Tim and Margaret,
What a beautiful celebration of Jack's life. I just learned of your story this past Friday and it has profoundly affected me. Even though I don't know you, and didn't know Jack, I feel as if I do through your blog and I have been mourning along with you. Even though I know this completely pales in comparison to the tremendous loss of a beloved son and brother that you are having to endure. You all have been heavy on my heart and in my thoughts and prayers. Jack will not be forgotten.

Kristina P. said...

What an amazing celebration of a tremendous young man. Happy birthday to sweet Jack.

Anonymous said...

tears....joy and sadness.

So glad you've been surrounded by love and comfort.

Blessings,
Lisa G.

lindsay said...

Pictures 8 & 9 resemble the bird cloud, flying in the other direction. Perhaps I was looking for it, but I don't have much of an imagination, so can't be all alone here.

Child of God said...

Happy Birthday Jack!

What a wonderful support group you have. God is really looking out for you and caring for you.

Praying and praying for you and your family.
<><

The Empress said...

Jack, happy birthday, Jack.

I know you felt our celebration of your life on earth.

Never, ever will we let the length of someone's life be the measure of their worth.

You filled up the lives of those you knew so completely. You packed in so much into your days, and you understood things that some adults---who live to be 90 years old--never understand.

Happy Birthday, and I have become different to my children because of your life, Jack.

Thank you.

Much love to your wonderful mother and father, and sister, cousins, aunts, and all those that knew you personally.

molly said...

Happy birthday, Jack! Amazing love, indeed.

Rach said...

Happy birthday, Jack.

Anna, what a beautiful, amazing day that was held in honor of your beautiful boy. This post has touched me more than many others and I find myself in tears.

My prayers are with you and your family.

Many hugs,
Rach

Mellow said...

Happy Birthday, Jack. Aren't birthdays tough. What we wouldn't give to hold them close for a hug. Sending you love, and prayer.

Anonymous said...

What a breathtaking post. Sooooo glad there were so many people to fill your lives with love and shine a light into the darkness for you - literally!

EatPlayLove said...

I love how in the last photos of the balloons they appeared in heart shape. Thinking of you Anna and your family, you are continually in my thoughts. I'm continually amazed by Jack's impact on so many people.

Patricia said...

Happy Birthday Dear Jack, and God Bless you all.....God is good, and has brought everyone together to cherish the memories.

Anonymous said...

Not sure what to say. Sending you so much love and prayers.

Anne said...

Happy Birthday Jack.The balloons are filled in heaven for you.The birds are singing and I am thinking of you.As I shed this tear for you.Someone who has never met you.I know that you are with your heavenly Father in Heaven.And you are watching over your sweet family.
Anna we continue to pray for you all.Sending you lots of love,hugs and prayers for you always.From my heart,
Anne

Anonymous said...

That photo of you and Tim is so touching. You look almost childlike, watching the balloons float towards the sky. What a beautiful tribute to your sweet, fun-loving birthday boy.

Love and smiles to you, Tim, Margaret and Shadow.

Leah C said...

Simply in awe. Happy Birthday to your angel Jack. Hugs & prayers, always...

Jenn said...

Every time I see these pictures, I get goosebumps. Especially the video from India from our dear neighbors! We so enjoyed being a part of Jack's birthday festivities this weekend, especially completing the DC Rock and Roll 1/2 Marathon in his honor. We love you all and we will NEVER forget. Love.

Lindsay said...

absolutely amazing. so lovely and such a wonderful tribute to sweet Jack. love wins! xo

Formerly known as Frau said...

Happy Birthday Jack!! Your weekend of celebration and remembrance is amazing....brought tears to my eyes and goosebumps! Stay strong!

Anonymous said...

heartbreakingly lovely. I am glad from the bottom of my heart that you are experiencing so much love. Love to you from england. mandy

Lexilooo said...

I'm about to cry over here, this is so lovely. Happy birthday to Jack, and much love to you and your family.

DawnGes said...

What a beautiful way to celebrate Jack!

The love, prayers, and support will keep going UP and around you each day--it was wonderful to see all of the lego crosses and blue ribbons at church yesterday.

So much LOVE...xo

Anonymous said...

Wings...heart shapes...you can also see the word JACK spelled out in the balloons if you look hard.

Jeanie said...

This post had me in tears. Happy birthday, Jack. I never knew you, but be assured that I love you, too.

Karen said...

I think about your family often and hug my kids a little closer. Happy Birthday Jack! You have an amazing family!

darsden said...

Beautiful, Beautiful,Beautiful!! Happy Birthday Jack from Gulfport Mississippi... So awesome and the tribute from India Priceless!!! But Anna I see something in all those balloons...sure looks like the cloud formation to me...just with balloons.. I see Jack everywhere I truely know he is with you all... always. Love & Prayers

Erin said...

What a beautiful celebration of Jack's life! xo, Erin

Jamie said...

A beautiful celebration for a beautiful boy and his hurting family. Praying

Japolina said...

Amazing!

Jennifer said...

I agree! I noticed immediately that the formation resembled a bird.

Aimee said...

Happy 13th birthday Jack! ;) what a wonderful birthday celebration ! You're so loved and everyone misses you so dearly! I can just see you with your beautiful smile looking down at your ever lovin friends and family ;)

Jess said...

so happy it was such a beautiful day for you all. happy birthday, jack!

Anonymous said...

Happy birthday Jack!
The video of the balloons on your Facebook page took my breath away last night. I am so happy that you were surround by so much love this weekend. Jack must have been celebrating his special day in heaven watching all that you were doing.
I admire you so much Anna! You are a strong and courageous woman.
I pray many blessings on you and your family!
xoxo
Kelly R

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday Jack from Canada!
Much love and prayers.
xo
Joyce

Suburban Correspondent said...

This is all so awesome! I'm so glad everyone remembered to make this day special. What a great network of family and friends you must have!

tinab158 said...

Happy Birthday, Jack.

May I add another "rare bird" sighting? Yesterday (3-18-2012) I was chatting over the fence with my neighbor about her new 9 week old lab puppy. While I was oooing and ahhhhing...suddenly she shouted, "Look, it's a bald eagle!"

I looked straight up and there it was, soaring gracefully above our heads...head held high and wings spread wide.

Suddenly, I remembered it was Jack's birthday and I smiled. The Florida Bald Eagle was only removed from the endangered species list a few years ago...certainly, the Bald Eagle is still quite rare.

So, there I was...standing in my back yard 1000 miles from your home...thinking about a boy and a family I had never met and about the love and joy that boy had for every living thing, great or small.

Thank you for sharing your son and his love with us...blessing to you. Tina

Princess Kate said...

I hate that you have to go through this but I'm so touched by all the kindness this world is showing you. Thank you Jack for letting me reaffirm how beautiful this world can be. Happy Birthday sweet angel.

Vodka Mom said...

Oh, Anna.

Jill said...

Happiest of birthday baby boy! Love to you and your family! xxx

Kayla said...

Happy Happy Birthday, Jack. Hugs and love to you, Tim and Margaret. May you find peace and comfort in the love of those who love you.

doseofreality said...

There is something about the picture of Tim halfway through the post that just broke me. Maybe because he looks so broken. And maybe he wasn't. Maybe it was the angle or the moment. But probably not. Oh Jesus, Anna, I am just so sorry.
Happy Birthday Jack. I have to believe that the soapapillas in heaven are especially big and that the sombreros even bigger. Something tells me your mom made sure to make the day extra special for him.
Thinking of your family on this day and always.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone else see that the balloons are in the shape of a bird in the 8th and 9th pictures down?

Anonymous, but thinking of you and your family often

Amy Cunningham said...

I can't help but read your blog and think about my own Jack. It's selfish, I know. I'm so sorry for your loss. There are no words. I have been praying for your family since I started following you in December. Your Jack is an absolute inspiration ALL over the world. Much love to your precious family.

Jeanine said...

Was thinking of you and your family this weekend, praying for Jack and for peace for you all! Thank you for posting these pictures, what a beautiful celebration of a wonderful, too short life!

Anonymous said...

you're going to probably hate me after reading this comment, but did you know that those balloons will just pop in the stratosphere, land in the ocean and then kill marine wildlife? like sea turtles?

i know what it's like to lose a close loved one, i'm sure people will just hate on this comment and you'll ignore it, but i'm also a marine biology student and i cannot help but say something.

Anna See said...

anonymous-- thank you for your comment. it's definitely something i have thought about and will consider in the future. when i brought it up with a friend, she found an eco-friendly option that may work for celebrating j in the future, so we'll see.

Heidi said...

Tears are streaming down my face. Thank you for sharing this with us. I wish I could have been there.

Yesterday I talked to my kids about your Jack, and to Benjamin I explained how they shared a love of Lego. Later Ben brought up the spaceship (the one I put on FB) he built and said it was for Jack.
At bedtime I checked on the kids one last time before heading downstairs. I poked my head into Ben's room, surprised to see him still up. He said, "I just sang Happy Birthday to Jack and I think he liked it."
Happy birthday to your beloved son.

Jen G. said...

Sweet Anna,
What a beautiful outpouring of love from near and far. Thank you for sharing this beautiful day with us, your readers. Happy Birthday to your sweet boy, Jack, and much love to all of you.
Jen G.

Lilia said...

Happy Birthday Jack! Please say hello to my son Sergio when you see him. Give the Lord a hug and kiss for your Mom, Dad and Margaret.

Lady Jennie said...

Wow. Just wow.

Happy birthday Jack - you are loved by so so many people.

kate said...

Happy Birthday Jack....I think of you often, and pray for your sweet family. Xoxo

Anonymous said...

You have changed my life. You have changed the small menial moments I have with my kids. You have changed bedtime,bus stop conversations, eye contact,playtime and goodbyes. I was having a hard time with my ten yr old boy, now I choose for those times to be cherished because of you. We are all running this race called life and Jack has shown us how to run well and win. - your honest open sharing has changed us for the better. Thank you!

spedhead said...

Your community certainly came through to make an impossibly difficult day so full of hope and love! As a previous post mentioned, I am not only learning how a family can endure and survive such a loss, but how to help and support someone else's loss. Your friends and neighbors are as inspiring as you are Anna. Love does conquer! Though I know you’d trade it all…..

Anonymous said...

Dear Anna,
I wanted to take a quick minute to let you know that I have not taken the time to change my facebook pic to a blue ribbon. I have not sent you any gifts in the mail for Jack's birthday. But I think about you and your family A LOT. My actions are not where they should be....but my heart goes out to you all the time. Sending you light and love.
Sincerely,
Monkee S

mia said...

amazing... from INDIA, how your sweet Jack has touched people all over the world. The pictures of the balloon release are just beautiful. Never ending prayers for your sweet family.xoxo

Susan said...

Just beautiful.
I can't imagine how hard this day must have been for you. My own daughter turned 13 just last October. Happy Birthday to your sweet boy. I am sure he is celebrating and watching how incredible the strength of community can be.

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday, Sweet Jack. You have a beautiful soul that is cherished and loved by thousands.

darcie said...

wow! What a celebration!

SEL said...

I'm a fairly new reader and wanted to say Happy Birthday to Jack. I too ran the RnR half here in DC on Saturday and had I known it was around Jacks birthday, I would've run it in memory of him. I love our area and community. We always pull together, as you've shown here.

Oaktownmom said...

Happy birthday to your beautiful son.

Much love,

A mommy in Oakland

Lissa said...

Happy Birthday to Jack! I'm smiling to see all the love everyone has shown for Jack and for your family, and of course teary too. What a wonderful boy Jack is.

Jana said...

YES to all of the above!!! Thanks for sharing, Anna. You are LOVED. And happy birthday to your boy.

Meg said...

Happy Birthday to Jack. My heart breaks for you, but the love surrounding you is so incredible and special. While no substitute for your boy, I hope it comforts you all.

Salvimom said...

Feliz Cumpleanos Jack!!! I know he is smiling down on his beautiful family. Dear Donaldson family, as I sit here and weep for your loss and wish upon wish that you didn't have to go through this I'm sooo thankful that He is providing so much of an outpouring of love for you. May God continue to rain his blessings and love on you. In prayer with you always.

Ury
Seattle, WA

Delenn said...

Such a wonderful outpouring of community and spirit.

Happy Birthday, Jack.

Anonymous said...

Anna, Aslan is on the move, with Jack by His side, marveling at His awesome power and grace and love.

Kim @ A Brush of Whimsy said...

Happy Birthday, Sweet Jack!

Laura at Ms. Smartie Pants said...

I'm not even going to attempt a sentence just words, awe, inspiring, love, abundance, blessed, breathtaking!

Jessica said...

I am crying my eyes out because that sharing and remembering and LOVING is so important to a grieving mom. To have all of those people surrounding you, lifting you up and remembering Jack with you must have been an amazingly bittersweet feeling.
Ever since the first time I visited here and heard about what an amazing boy Jack was I have thought about him sharing a space with my daughter, who should be four now. I hope that they are up there sharing a space that is carefree and happy and he's teaching her about pickle popsicles.
Sending you so much love this week.

Anonymous said...

We have friends who are grieving in relative isolation -- though we are trying hard to undo this. But when I see what connection, community and God bring to grieving family, I tell you, I am amazed and I really grieve for my friends that they don't have this or anything even close. Nothing hurts quite as much as grief in isolation. Would you mind praying for them? Jon & Liz & their little girl? Thank you!!!!

That gentleman's lady said...

Happy birthday Jack.

Hugs to you.

Reenie said...

How beautiful.....Happy Birthday Jack!! xo

Sharon @ Elizabeth & Co. said...

Happy Birthday Sweet Jack! You will never know how many hearts you have touched!

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

What a gift to have so much support from so many people. It shows again how special Jack was and is to so many.

Kate Coveny Hood said...

The balloons were beautiful. I keep looking at my pictures. And I'm pleased to see that my red and white logo balloons aren't visible! I certainly know how to bring the class...

That video from India! I can't believe it!

Julie said...

What a beautiful way to cherish the memory of your son. I don't know about you, but the last group of balloon pictures looked like a big heart in the sky. I like to think that's exactly what it was.

Much love.....Julie

Debby@Just Breathe said...

I bet Jack loved the chips at Chevy's, they are the best. I am bawling my eyes out reading this post. Sounds like a beautiful celebration of Jack's life and the money raised just shows you how loved Jack is. I do love balloon releases, sending love to Jack in Heaven. When you mentioned the luminaria the ugly cry started. That was an extraordinary gift to you. ((HUGS))

Vodka Mom said...

I just felt the need to tell you I love you tonight.



Just felt the need.



xx

Meredith Self said...

Chevy's. You are really so very brave. May your courage carry you. And when it feels empty, may the courage of others be right there carrying you.