Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Mariano Rivera

I thought you might like to hear from Tim again, and judging by how much Mariano Rivera of the Yankees has been in the news the past week or so, I'd like to share a letter Tim wrote to him last fall.

But first, a little background. A woman named Heather, the mom of one of Margaret's friends, attended Jack's funeral along with more than 1600 other people. In the front of the church, on the communion table, sat a photo of Jack. Next to the photo was Jack's Yankees hat. Heather didn't know Jack, but she did know a Yankee, and she wondered if he could bring a little comfort to our hurting family. On her next business trip to see one of her business associates, the Yankee, she asked if he could sign a ball for us.

What Heather didn't know was that her client, Mariano Rivera, was Jack's favorite baseball player! She didn't know the Yankees jersey Jack wore had Rivera's name and number on it, or that Tim and Jack had been following Rivera's amazing progress in setting a new record in baseball at the time of Jack's accident. She didn't know that Tim had been contemplating writing Mariano-- a talented, humble, man of faith-- a letter of appreciation for being such a good role model for our son.

Here's Tim's letter as well as pictures taken from a Yankees/Orioles game one week before our lives changed forever:




Dear Mariano,

Thank you for sending an autographed baseball to my daughter, Margaret, following the death of her brother, Jack. I was so surprised when Heather brought the ball to Margaret because Jack loved the Yankees and was a big fan of yours, as am I.

As a life-long Yankees fan, I was excited, but not surprised, that my son shared my passion for baseball and the Yankees. My favorite part of the day was having a catch with him in the yard, such a peaceful time to share together, just the two of us. Sometimes we talked and other times we just enjoyed the sound of the ball popping in our gloves and the rhythm of the catch, back and forth, back and forth.

I remember at the beginning of the 2011 season, Jack asked me if I thought you would break the save record in 2011. I told him that I thought it would probably take two years, perhaps early in the 2012 season. But you had another remarkable year and by the end of August it was becoming clear that you would break the record this year. On August 29, Jack and I went to Baltimore to watch the Yankees play the Orioles. The Yankees won 3-2, and you got the save. Jack wore his Mariano Rivera shirt that night, and we basked in the Yankees victory and the opportunity to witness history as you closed in on the record. After the game, Jack and I talked about what a remarkable player you are—not just in terms of talent and what you have accomplished on the field—but also in terms of how you play the game. We talked about your interviews, and how you always acknowledge God and your teammates. You are a picture of humility in a profession that often promotes just the opposite. I thank you for that.

As you neared the record, Jack and I would check the sports page every morning to see if you recorded another save. We were both looking forward with great anticipation to the day you would break the record.

On September 8, Jack went out in the neighborhood to play in the rain with some friends and his sister. He got too close to a swollen creek, fell in, and drowned. The loss has been devastating. We miss our Jack so much—every day. But we are comforted by our faith. Jack trusted Jesus Christ as his Lord and savior and so do we. He had even told us before the accident that he was not afraid to die because heaven is such an awesome place.

I remember the day you broke Trevor Hoffman's record, I came home early from work to watch the end of the game on TV. It was an afternoon game, and if Jack were alive he would have been home from school watching with me. Watching you record the final three outs was bittersweet. I watched with tears in my eyes as you struck out the last batter—happy for your accomplishment but filled with sadness that Jack was not there to share the moment with me.

After Jack passed away, many friends and acquaintances from school, scouts, little league, and church came to visit and share with me special memories and stories about Jack. I enjoyed hearing every one. But it struck me that it should not have taken a tragedy for people to share these stories and remembrances of Jack. I would have preferred to hear them while he was still alive. I could have shared them with Jack to encourage him and let him know the impact he was making on others.

And so I thought of people that I would like to share memories and stories with, to encourage them, to thank them, and to let them know that they are making a difference in my life or my family's life. This list of people was exclusively family and friends, except for you. I thought about writing a letter to let you know that you are impacting the lives of Yankee fans, old and young alike. You are an exemplary role model—choosing to carrying yourself with class and dignity both on the field and off and, above all, choosing to put God first in all circumstances. That is how I want to live my life and raise my children.

I thought about writing you a letter for several weeks but never did anything about it, resigning myself to the fact that even if I wrote you a letter and tried to submit it as fan mail, you would never get to read it. And then Heather visited us with the baseball you signed for Margaret. Unbelievable! It was totally unexpected and delivered with perfect timing. Given the emotions your milestone save had evoked in me, receiving your autographed ball was like receiving a sign from God and a wink from Jack in heaven. I asked Heather if she could deliver a letter to you. She graciously said she would. I could not believe I had the opportunity to have my letter hand delivered to you. But then I remembered Jack's favorite bible verse: For nothing is impossible with God. Luke 1:37. Thanks Jack. And thank you Mariano for all you do, both on the field and off.

God Bless,



Tim Donaldson




87 comments:

Anonymous said...

Your husband writes as eloquently as you do.

Megan said...

You are an amazing family. All four of you. Much love and hugs to you, as always.

Anonymous said...

Wow. You truly are an amazing family. And, it's amazing how Jack (and God!) speaks to you, loud and clear. God Bless.

Amanda said...

That was beautiful; every part of that story.

Suzanne said...

Beautiful. Simply beautiful!

Cassie @ Primitive & Proper said...

this letter is so powerful. i do try to let people know what they mean to me and how they impact me, but i will make even more of an effort. this is a great reminder. and i am going to send this to my brother who is a huge yankees fan. i was in LA visiting him when i heard the news of jack's accident. i was out with him and his girlfriend and i received an email from a fellow blogger letting me know. i cried as i read the email to my brother and his girlfriend, both huge yankees fans. i think they would like to read this, too.

lizzied said...

GOOSEBUMPS! Again! I have gotten them so many times while reading about Jack and how he continues to "wink" at you, Tim and Margaret from heaven.

mia said...

What an amazing letter and another gift from Jack. You and your family continue to impress and inspire me.
Praying and loving you all from a distance:) xoxo

Laura said...

Absolutely beautiful.
I have tears dripping all over my keyboard. Sometimes I wonder how I can love a family I've never met so very much. But really, how can one not?

Lisa said...

What a beautiful letter. Jack and his life verse in action, again.
Simply amazing.

Leeann said...

This was really lovely and incredibly thought provoking. Thank you so much. I linked to your blog in my blog post today- I hope that is okay. I felt like it was very much a lesson that needed to be heard.

Here's a link:
http://niccofive.blogspot.com/2012/05/words-to-live-by.html

Anonymous said...

Gosh, you are a family of talented writers. Tears are in my eyes. I know sometimes it's hard for men to express their emotions, but I am so glad that Tim has found some outlets for his feelings. Mariano sounds like an amazing man, and I am so glad that Tim was able to have this interaction with him. Thank you for sharing!

Beth

noexcuses said...

What a beautiful letter, and wonderful post! I, too, have tears dripping onto my keyboard! You are so blessed to have a husband who expresses himself so eloquently. I'm sure that Mariano felt deep emotion when he read the letter. Thank you so much for sharing your family so openly. God Bless you!

Kim said...

Brutiful.

booksandcandy said...

Tears are filling my eyes what an amazing post.
I am a Red Sox fan(Ya I know it's hard to admit lately) but my husband is a Yankee fan. We have been watching Mariano in the news lately. I was so struck by his faith. He really does seem like a great man.
Thinking of you always wish I could do more for your family.

Anonymous said...

I want to write a letter to the both of you sharing how much you've impacted MY life. I am not near as eloquent - but truly comtinue to keep all four of you (as well as your extended family and friends)in my prayers.
Lisa G, in CT

L said...

Thank you, Anna and Tim. Love.

Christy said...

Thank you both for sharing your journey of grief with us. As someone who is grieving, you seem to put into words what I cannot. Thank you.

darsden said...

When I lost my Mom 2 years ago..my favorite team won the Super Bowl she was not here to share with me... missed it by just a couple of weeks... The pigs few that day I mean Angels... New Orleans Saints.... God Bless you and your family Anna.

Anonymous said...

Not just tears...I'm sobbing. God works in amazing ways and I am seeing that and understaniding that each time I read your blog. Thank you so much for sharing.
Never paying much attention to baseball, I had no idea that there was a player out there who gave glory to God after each game. We need more famous people like that in our world for children to look up to.
~Praying for you each day

lu2run said...

Chills ran down my spine...........WOW!

luv2run

HUGS HUGS HUGS!!!!!

DawnGes said...

Thank you, Anna and Tim, for the reminder to let people know what they mean in my life and how they're having an impact.

You are both having an impact in our families' lives.

I'm so sorry, Tim, that you had to come home and watch that record-breaking moment without Jack.

Anonymous said...

What a class act Mr. Rivera is! A very moving and loving letter. Thanks so much for sharing. I agree we shouldn't hold back on that positive feedback, but give it generously, right now, to the loved ones in our lives. My heart goes out to you and the family. "I'm so sorry" doesn't even begin to describe it.

Anonymous said...

Oh for Petes sake, how much beautiful material can your lovely family kick out.

I can't read "the death of her brother, Jack" without wanting to claw my eyeballs out with a fork.

And Mo is wall to wall class.

Meredith Self said...

Passing it on!

In honor of Jack, and following in Tim's wisdom, I'm also going to write letters of appreciation now to people who've impacted my life and may not know...

Yet another way Jack and your family has impacted my life.

What a beautiful post. Thank you.

Andrea said...

tears...amazing!

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

Gee whiz, you keep writing about the Yankees, and this White Sox fan might have to have a change of heart. The only time I root for them is when they get to the series.

I think of them now, and I think of Jack.

I'm sure Mr.Rivera will cherish that letter like Margaret will cherish that ball.

Patricia said...

Jack is smiling.....

NanaDiana said...

What a touching testament to the goodness of man..and the grace of God..to have made what happened possible. A wonderful letter! xo Diana

juli said...

Wow. Beautiful. Still thinking of your family and sending healing thoughts your way every day.

Pam@OurAdventuresInHomeImprovement said...

How incredibly touching. Thank you so much for sharing.

Claire Plante said...

Thank you for sharing Tim's beautiful letter. He is so right - we need to share these things with each other now - right now.

And yay Heather - what a great idea and look where it went. Awesome.

As always, hurting for you and sending lots of love and prayers your way.

Love,
Claire

Sharon @ Elizabeth & Co. said...

Your family keeps touching my heart Anna, over and over again!

the mama bird diaries said...

What a beautiful letter.

Anonymous said...

your family lives with grave and has faced death with grace. an inspiration. truly LIVING, BEING in the face of devastating loss. such an example for many people. sincere thanks for sharing yourselves so openly.

Kirsten said...

Simply beautiful.

New Mom said...

Thank you for sharing such a special letter. I'm speechless. Blessings and love to you, sweet family!

Brittany..Following my Bliss said...

Awesome letter! I have been a Mariano Rivera fan for years, I even have a litte NY Yankee Christmas tree that is mostly full of Mo memorabilia. It was obvious the morals and values that were instilled in Jack by the person he chose as his role model. Jack is a one of a kind kid just as Mo is a one of a kind closer! I dont think these are just conincidences that you were able to get a letter to Mo. :)

Nicole said...

I feel just the same way!

Princess Kate said...

So beautiful. I have absolutely NO doubt in my mind that Jack was there with Tim that afternoon watching Mo get that save. Your family is making a difference. I love you guys dearly.

Theresa O said...

I am amazed each month how many signs you recieve from Jack that he is still with you. Beautiful, well written letter, which caused tears to stream down my face. May God continue to bless you all with strength.

Donna said...

Wow. Your blog brings me to tears all of the time. But this - this was over the top. What a beautiful letter he wrote. Prayers to you all, as always, from here in Jordan. The last time I visited the site of Jesus' baptism, down the road from where we live, I said a prayer especially for Jack and for all of you.

Cindy said...

Beautiful letter, Tim. Just as with Anna's writing, I can really hear your voice come through in your writing. I love hearing how your friend Heather was able to do Jack's work here on Earth. Tim, I pray for you, Anna, and Margaret every day, throughout the day, and I always will. Always.

Stimey said...

"a wink from Jack." I love that.

It is not surprising that Jack was such a wonderful and amazing kid. He has two parents who have set an incredible example for him.

Anonymous said...

I thought your readers (even those that aren't baseball fans) might enjoy reading some of Mariano's posts. I wouldn't just read the first one.
http://beyondtheultimate.org/athletes/Mariano-Rivera.aspx

Thank Tim for sharing and giving us all food for thought!

Love You! Karen

Jen G. said...

Tears, as always, for the beauty you, Tim and Margaret are seeing out of ashes. Thanks you for sharing. I carry you all in my heart!
love,
Jen

Anonymous said...

Tim, this made me burst into tears. BURST. Thank you Heather. Thank you "Mo." Thank you Jack, and thank you Anna, for sharing this with us. I'm pretty much a blubbering mess right now.

love,
jbhat

Mel said...

What I love to is that Mariano lived up to the expectation of being a classy guy. He could have just scribbled his name on the ball and passed it on to your friend without second thought. But instead, thought to put something truly meaningful with his name "In Memory of Jack". As a huge baseball fan, I love this story.

Beth said...

oh my gosh....giant alligator tears. what a gift from our God!

continuing to pray for, carry, & love your your family. Nothing about this is right or fair or normal, and I'm sorry it is your reality. You have an amazing son who is continuing to bring others to Christ! I am humbled to be a very small part of this journey.

Blessings to you from Michigan!

Suzy said...

Please thank Tim for reminding us to be encouragers and to share those words of encouragement NOW. What a beautiful letter to share. Thank you.

Michelle said...

Beautiful, and I love the idea that we should share more of the important things with each other.

Lady Jennie said...

My heart is in my throat again. If I were feeling upbeat right now, I would focus on the miracle part of it, that you got a signed baseball from the very guy you and Jack followed.

But in my (not-so-upbeat) mood I'm sad that the picture of Jack is only a week before and that the pictures never grow - they stop at a certain age. That makes me want to wail and it's not even my own son.

I guess even your followers have ups and downs in processing things. I'm glad you get the miracles and the winks though.

Deidre said...

Wow! That is a beautiful letter! Jack definitely had an amazing role model in his dad. Thank you for sharing. I continue to hold your family in my thoughts and prayers.

Anonymous said...

The Donaldsons are leaving an indelible mark on this earth and in our hearts. Thank you Anna, Tim, Jack and Margaret.

Love and sincerity,
a new Yankees fan

Jennifer said...

It's awesome and beautiful how God continues to reach out to you and assure you of his presence and love in this difficult journey you are on. Thanks for sharing Tim's letter - such a touching expression of a father's heart and he is so right that we ought to let people know more often how they have influenced our lives for good.

jlr said...

Yet again, I find myself with tears in my eyes as I read your words. YOUR FAMILY touches so many people. Thank you for sharing your stories & memories with us. That still, small voice is not so quiet as I read your words & realize there are moments every day that God gives us signs of His love.

Anonymous said...

dwhat a beautiful, amazingly well-written letter. you and tim, at some point in your lives, must write a book together, in honor of jack. share with others how to deal with grief and how to use faith to help you through. have you ever read the book - Mistaken Identity: Two Families, One Survivor, Unwavering Hope? Oh Anna, you must read it.

busana muslim pesta said...

Thank you for taking the time to write on this topic.

Laura said...

That was amazing, and surely a sign, as all the others have been, that Jack is looking down on you from Heaven. Praying for your family tonight.

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful post. I lost my father several years ago and while it was not tragic it was still so sad.

My father lost a son before I was born. With no living sons my dad shared his passion for baseball with me.

Since his passing I have been to a world series and witnessed an unassisted triple play. While I love seeing these feats there is always a pang of I wish dad could be here.

I sure hope dad is having a catch with my brother in heaven but how I miss those moments with him here on earth. I so hope that Margaret will also connect with the game as I feel so lucky that it was something that dad and I shared.

I remember going to games as a little girl in dresses, which drove my father mad. But in our seats we talked about baseball, school, boys, work, family and life. Our conversations changed throughout the years, and I am sure there were days where he wished he was there with his son and not a silly girl, worried about her hair, but in the end baseball was always there and the one thing we could always agree on, even in my teenage years.

I pray for your family often. I know Jack and my dad are in a better place but it sure would be nice to have them here with us.

Cynthia said...

WOW

Anonymous said...

Dee from Tennessee


Tears from Tennessee.

Thanking God for your friend who "brought this all about it".....and to God be the glory.

Thinking about Jack - your Jack.

Trusting , trusting even though it is beyond HARD.

OSMA said...

I don't know baseball but Tim, Mariano, and Jack make me want to learn.

Tim, thank you for allowing us to see your beautifully honest letter that I'm guessing Mr. Rivera keeps in his back pocket.

And I'm so sorry you must know the kind of giref that cracks me in half while reading your words.

Now, I must go write a few letters myself.

Mandy said...

Beautiful. And so true that we do not share the blessing that others are to us often enough. I know if I were to receive such a letter I would feel humbled and joyful to be part of such a family.

Anonymous said...

You strength is inspiring. Your thoughtfulness amazing. You have reminded us all of what is important. Thank you. I am glad Marino Rivera touched your lives in such a positive way. I can only imagine how much your letter meant to him.

I don't know how else to say it, other than your words just reach right in and touch my heart.

Julie

InMyOwnStyle said...

Hi Anna -
I just replied to a comment you left on my post, but I wanted to come over and say hi and wish you a Happy Mother's Day. I am sure Jack will be "winking" down at you from heaven embracing you with all the love you have given him while he was here on earth. I hope Margaret and you have a very special day. Thinking about you - God Bless XO

My best - Diane

Gina said...

You and your family will be in my prayers this Mother's Day.


I’ll Lend For You


“I’ll lend you, for a little while, a child of mine,”He said


“For you to love while he lives and mourn when he is dead.


It may be six or seven years, or twenty-two or three, but will you


till I call him back, take care of him for me?


He’ll bring his charms to gladden you and shall his stay be brief,


you’ll have his lovely memories as solace for your grief.


I cannot promise he will stay, as all from earth return


but there are lessons taught down there that I want this child to learn.


I’ve looked the wide world over in my search for teachers true,


and from the throngs that crown life’s lanes, I have selected YOU.


Now will you give him all your love not think the labor vain


nor hate me when I come to call to take him back again.”


I fancied that I heard them say “Dear Lord, Thy will be done.


For all the joys thy child will bring The risk of grief we’ll run.


We will shelter him with tenderness, We’ll love him while we may—


And for the happiness we’ve known Forever grateful stay.


But should the angels call for him Much sooner than we’ve planned,


We’ll brave the bitter grief that comes And try to understand.”


Written By: Edgar A. Guest

Anonymous said...

Awesome!

Chimmy said...

what a testament of god's reach and everlasting, loving embrace.

thank you so much for pouring your hearts out to all of us. i am humbled and touched and nearly speechless but to say thank you thank you thank you.

may god continue to hold your family near and dear. and may jack always warm your hearts.

Anna Lefler said...

Oh, I love this.

I'm wishing all of you a peaceful Mother's Day. You are in my heart and my prayers.

XOXO

Anna

Anonymous said...

I was just wondering about how your husband was doing through all of this and praying for him and for you and for your marriage and for your continued strength and courage and faith. Praying for you always...especially on Mother's Day. God be with you.

Jen said...

Wow. What an amazing story, and what an amazing family.

Nomads By Nature said...

The power of words, of your words, are so strong and eloquent - not only will you touch a Yankee's heart, but hundreds, if not thousands, of others. I know you've touched mine in sharing this story. God is amazing. Through such a tragic accident, so much beauty can bloom. So many burdens are lightened. I will be praying for you all especially tomorrow on Mother's Day, hoping that I can somehow help carry your burden of grief so the weight doesn't crush. God's blessings and peace to you all.

Jenn said...

Tears...Tim is a beautiful writer also....smile. Love you all! I miss Jack. XOXO

Princess Kate said...

I'm thinking about you this Mother's Day and praying for a peacefulness that comforts your family. You ARE a wonderful mom teaching all of us in a VERY profound way. Hugs, love and always prayers.

Hoping for a Blue Jay said...

I will be praying for you tomorrow, Anna.
I will pray for a wonderful celebration of Mother's Day with Margaret.
I will also pray that God sends some kind of message to you from Jack, because I'm sure he wants to send you one. :)
#hereshopingforabluejay

Anonymous said...

Sending you prayers of comfort and healing this weekend, Anna. I have been thinking of you so much leading up to Mother's Day. Thank you for sharing your journey with all of us. Your bravery and faith amaze me and inspire me.

~Kori~ said...

That is truly awesome...and not surprising. My husband and son are also life-long Yankee fans (I am too, I suppose :) ) and we've had the amazing opportunity to meet Mariano Rivera and several other Yankees. They were all really polite and accommodating even though security didn't want them to be. Mariano is the favorite of my guys, too. I read Tim's letter knowing what it would say because my husband told him the same things yours did. It's nice to know that there are still people to look up to in this world and it doesn't surprise me one bit that your lovely Jack chose Mariano. :)

helenasc said...

Thinking of you all as Mother's Day is upon us. May God comfort you all.

Patricia said...

Praying for you tonight and tomorrow dear Mother.....May God comfort you...

Lyndsay said...

Yes, this. Exactly this.

Mimi said...

Wow.Just Wow.

PeachPrenni said...

Wow, Wow, Wow!!! How amazing is that?! Talk about a God-Wink! It's stuff like this that makes me wonder how any human being could possibly question God's existence. HE is so good!!

The Carens Clan said...

What a post... Wow!
We are major Red Sox fans here but I will never look at Mariano the same (or say bad things about him when he comes in for the close ;) ever again. Thanks for sharing this letter. Lots of love & prayers for your whole family.

Danielle Rafferty said...

Simply beautiful...God Bless your family!

Danielle Rafferty said...

Simply beautiful....God Bless your family.

anymommy said...

It's a true gift that you shared that letter. Thank you.