Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A Beautiful September Day

On this gorgeous Tuesday, it is impossible to forget about that beautiful Tuesday morning 11 years ago, and I don't want to. I don't want to forget the lives lost, and how each life represents a family, a story. I want to remember what it felt like to hug my babies close that day, brought to my knees by the weight of pain for the families left behind. I want to remember how off-kilter the world seemed with the bright sun shining in my windows as I watched the black smoke billow into the air on tv. I want to remember the full parking lots at church that Sunday when folks showed up to love on each other and ask God what the hell was going on.

It's just too easy to forget. And a lot more Tuesdays and Wednesdays and Thursdays came and passed and life moved on and on and on.

I think about this with Jack's death too.

I know it's not possible or even advisable to live in a constant state of remembrance. Life and soccer and jobs and hunger and homework and money and the internet and poo get in the way.

But perhaps it's not impossible to live in a state of heightened awareness or compassion that comes from a tragedy. Somehow to stay just off-kilter enough that we don't forget that something significant has happened...and what, if anything we've learned from it.

Sending love and prayers to all hurting people today.

p.s. Cemetery is officially off our backs. Jack's bench was installed 1 day shy of the one year mark. Yes, it's ok to sit on his face.






105 comments:

ScrappinLita said...

Remembering... you've honored Jack with a beautiful bench.

Anonymous said...

the bench is lovely. prayers to you all.

Claire said...

Anna, the bench is so beautiful. You have all the important things on it: Jack's beautiful face, the life lessons he taught us, his favorite bible verse and more. What an incredibly difficult decision you had to make and you did it, and you did an amazing job.

A Speckled Trout said...

It's perfect.

NanaDiana said...

What a wonderful monument to your son. It makes me cry to see you sitting there though- I think it is just the sadness of the day all the way around- xo Diana

darsden said...

always remembered

Formerly known as Frau said...

((hugs))

Rose D. Frenchtown, NJ said...

Anna, no words can describe the feeling in my heart upon seeing the bench. Keeping you all in my prayers...God Bless.

spedhead said...

The bench looks like a quiet place to sit and feel close to Jack. He will always be in our hearts and so will the pain and horror of 9/11. My grandmother and I share a birthday tomorrow, this year is the first one without her. A lot of emotional things kind of piled up this week, but it is a beautiful September day and I choose to focus on being grateful for the beautiful things in life and the hope that one day we will be reunited with our loved ones. Love to everyone missing someone this week.... And so glad you don't have to devote any more energy to headstones Anna. It's a really a sweet little bench.

Anonymous said...

This is a Child's Grave
by Marion Cohen

This is a child's grave;
You may kick it, stamp on it, sit on it.
You may pound and pound, pretend it's a drum.
You may dance on top, pretend it's a stage.
You may hide behind, jump out and go Boo.

This is a child's grave;
You may dig a hole, build a castle.
You may pick the flowers, pull up the grass.
You may leave your toys, clutter the path.

This is a child's grave;
You may race around, have a tea party.
You may lie on top, suck your thumb, take a nap.

This is a child's grave.
There are no rules.
No rules, please.
Please, no rules.

from "She was born, She died."
1983

Thought you might like it.

Jill A.

Shannon said...

I love Jack's bench. :) Your family (and you) did a wonderful job designing and picking it out.

spedhead said...

Wow that's powerful. Thanks for sharing.

elizabeth said...

Thank you for your words and reminder to remember. You are a powerful writer. Your bench for Jack is lovely and perfect. Thank you for sharing bits of your life.

Momobug said...

The bench is beautiful. I never knew the cemetery staff was on your back; why the heck?
-Ann

the ::packs:: said...

I love it. So proud of you. I hope it brings a little peace and even sometimes (for me) talking to a slab of granite is kinda nice :)

Laura said...

You continue to amaze me.
As I scrolled down the page and saw the bench, my heart skipped a beat. It is lovely. Absolutely perfect.
(But that 'floop' is way too cute to risk sitting on. ;-))

So many thoughts and prayers winging their way to the Donaldson Family each and every day.
xoxo

Gigi said...

You made me cry and then smile. Hugs to you.

Suburban Correspondent said...

I love the bench and hate it at the same time. Love it for the life it represents and for its implicit invitation to sit and keep Jack company a bit, and hate it for how it tells us that Jack is no longer here.

Margaret E said...

Anna,

The bench is beautiful. I have Jack's words " Be kind, pay attention," on my refrigerator and I read them each time I am in the kitchen. I think you summed it up beautifully, to live in a heightened sense of awareness, to see the world for how fragile it is. That August, 11 years ago, I had purchased a deep green suede jacket and I had looked forward to wearing in the fall. Every time I put that jacket on, I thought of all those people who had anticipated something, had looked foward to something and never had a chance to realize their wishes or plans- and I cried. I think of them still and I keep that jacket-worn and not so fresh looking- and I wear it and I remember to hold close those I love. Life is precious and so uncertain.

Many blessings to you and your family this fall and always.

Margaret

Marinka said...

I love you, Anna.

The Empress said...

Love to you and your family, Anna.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful bench...perfect really. I wish I'd known the cemetery was bugging you....I'd have been happy to call them and gently encourage them to leave you the heck alone.

Christy said...

I can't find the words this time Anna. Love you all so much. Praying. xoxo

Jodi said...

Oh my goodness...tears just welled up when I saw the bench. It is simply lovely. What a wonderful tribute.

Cassie @ Primitive & Proper said...

the bench is beautiful, anna.

Unknown said...

My heart is overwhelmed today... emotion overload...the bench is beautiful... as beautiful as what you give to us all in sharing with us. Thank you.

Cheryl said...

Perfect. God bless and keep you always.

Sharon @ Elizabeth & Co. said...

I love Jack's bench Anna!

Kim said...

Such a lovely bench to honor your precious boy and bless all those who wish to remember and honor him, too.

Annabelle said...

Anna, The bench is a perfectly lovely spot to remember. What a great choice.

Jill A - You are blessing! Thank you for sharing that poem. It seems just right to be able to BE even at a gravesite.

Pam Priester said...

Fresh tears....so struck by the beauty and uniqueness of Jack's bench. It's so perfect..beyond perfect. The care you bring to everything you write and do....you're really something special Anna. Thank you for sharing those pics with us. Sending love across Vienna....

Anonymous said...

I can only imagine how difficult it has been to accept this particular thread, the choice of a marker, in the tapestry of your lives. The bench is beautiful, and your love as a family, even more so.

Leslie said...

Beautiful

Mimi said...

What a beautiful bench. I'm so glad Jack has such a wonderful memorial. He will never be forgotten, nor will the legacy he has left on mine and many others hearts.

Sybil said...

What a wonderful description - "just off kilter enough" - simple, yet profound. Love the bench!

zcan said...

Oh my. The bench is beautiful and perfect. That is to say, totally awful and wrong and shitty that you had to get this bench at all. But a great memorial for your Jack. Love you.

Laura at Ms. Smartie Pants said...

Anna what a beautiful reminder of Jack. Remembering is truly one of our greatest gifts! Blessings

New Mom said...

That bench takes my breath away! I am speechless at it's beauty and perfection. I pray that you will always feel Jack's presence and the peace of Jesus as you sit at that bench.

Alison said...

Wow it is so perfect. I love that you put all the important Jack things on it (his Bible verse, rare bird...) and I LOVE that it is a bench for people to sit on and contemplate and talk - not just to observe and then walk away like with a traditional head stone.

I just started reading your blog last week when a facebook friend linked to Glennon's blog post about Jack's memorial service. I have read all the way back to summer 2011, and I'm commenting because I want to tell you what a huge impact your words, your family's story, have had. I have two daughters, and my older one is extraordinarily challenging. We adore her, and yet parenting her is a lot of work - much more so than parenting our other daughter, or than what my friends go through with their kids. Your blog has given me such a dose of perspective and I am really cherishing my strong-willed, defiant little girl, remembering more often (the way I always want to but often don't) what a privilege it is to be her mom and get to raise her and hold her and kiss her goodnight. I'm not religious, though I am spiritual, but I feel God so strongly when I read your posts. I don't know how else to describe it. So I just wanted to say thank you for sharing your past year so honestly and bravely and inspiringly through this blog. I wish so much that Jack was back with you, making a smaller difference and leading a normal middle school life, but I am also grateful for the way he is able to touch others' lives now. He has certainly touched mine, and so have you. So thank you.

lots of love and prayers,
Alison Marra

mollysmith222 said...

How I wish you didn't have to choose that bench, I think it is the most beautiful memorial I have ever seen. Prayers and love sent to you all.

Anonymous said...

Excepting the fact that it exists in the first place, everthing about Jack's bench is perfect.

I have the heightened awareness too. Things just seem different, even for those of us who did not know Jack, but who feel that they know you and him, through your words and from when he was Jake, here on this blog.

love,
jbhat

Jen G. said...

Anna, what a beautiful tribute to a precious boy. I carry you and your family close in my heart.

Lesley T. said...

A beautiful bench for a beautiful boy.

Karen (formerly kcinnova) said...

I wish I could sit on that bench for a while, in the middle, so I could trace the words with my fingertips, and then trace Jack's pictured face. I would wait for a bird to come to the quiet cemetery, and I would probably quietly tell Jack that because of his mom's generous spirit and broken heart, his light is shining all over the internet. I know I would cry. I've never met you, but I would do all those things, if I could. (If I still lived in Virginia, I most certainly would.)

But mostly I wish you didn't have to chose such a beautiful memorial bench. I wish you didn't have to mourn the absence of your wonderful son.

Wishing you peace and rare bird sightings.

Anonymous said...

That bench is perfect. When I am walking through the cemetary I notice the stones that are different. So much has changed in the world since the people they commemorate left it, but people still read who they were, and a little something of what they meant. Your thoughtful monument means that Jack's lessons will still be learnt hundreds of years from now, by complete strangers. xxx

Stefanie said...

Just perfect. Thinking of you, Tim and Margaret, sending hugs and prayers your way.

Serial Swooper said...

The bench is perfect. And beautiful. Love to you.

Anonymous said...

Ahh you have made me cry again with the beautiful bench!! May your hearts be healed as each day passes and as you proudly celebrate Jack's life and memories!!

Lisa said...

A beautiful memorial to a very special little boy taken way to soon.

Jesika Jewell said...

I feel like you do , you never want to forget, and it's so easy to when you aren't directly affected by the loss. September 11 is an exception because for that whole week after I felt violated and grief like I didn't think existed for people I didn't even know. That changed when I figured out what it felt like when that grief is so close you feel like you could rip your skin off to make it go away. So yesterday on the anniversary of September 11 I knew what those people are going through. I could feel it deep in my soul. A month from tomorrow is our one year "crapiversary" ( I like that description). October the 13th is the day I got a call from my Mom who had just received a call from my older sister. That call changed our lives forever, the information was devestatingly unbelievable. All my sister could say is " Mom I think Kelsie died today, I need you to be strong" . Kelsie , my 6 month old niece did die that day, and it hasn't been the same since. It was one of those things you hear on the news and think that would never happen to me or anyone I know and you think " how in the hell could someone do that "!! Her Dad accidentally left her in the car that day. I don't question how, why. Now I just know that it can happen, it did happen and he is forever broken just like the rest of us. He is a wonderful man. So I will never forget , I think of your son when I look at my own , I will never forget Jack. Even if I had never heard of your story until another bereaved mother linked it to my fb page. I will never forget her son either. It's so hard to forget when you feel the same pain. I will never forget, ever!

jodi said...

I cried when I saw the two dates. Not fair, not fair at all.

Like many others on here, I do not know you personally, but I spent quite a lot of September 8th thinking of you and remembering. You and your family are in my thoughts.

Jenelle said...

I see Margaret's kids going there someday with dolls and teddy bears, and having a little tea party with the bench as a table. It's just what I thought about when I saw your pictures.

One crazed mommy said...

Jack's bench is beautiful - made me teary. Thinking of you and your family.

luv2run said...

Oh wow Anna....my heart just sank. But what a nice bench and gorgeous picture of Jack!

Hugs!!!

luv2run

Anonymous said...

I also found your blog through Glennon's a few days ago. I was so incredibly moved in so many ways. My oldest (7) is a "Jack'. Your Jack reminds me of my Jack in so many ways--right down to his floop (though my Jack's floop is blonde). I literally was frozen because the descriptions were so uncanny. I went back and read everything you had written. You are an incredible writer and Jack is alive and so vivid when I read your words. He jumps off the page.

I can't stop thinking about you and your family. I don't think anything I've read has effected me this way. The tears don't stop coming, but like another reader wrote--I still feel uplifted.

Jack's preschool teacher told me once "he thinks everything is a joke'. At 2.5- I didn't see the fault with that and I still can't today.

The bench is absolutely beautiful. I have been thinking of your Jack a lot the past few days and will continue to remember. All the best. Another NoVa mom, Jen

Anonymous said...

Anna you and Tim have honored your son well,the bench is breath takn. Lov u and still prayn for ur family..

Seeing Each Day said...

What a special beautiful result from the horrible sickening task set before you. When I read your words/ thoughts about a bench as a possibility, it just made perfect sense, and seeing it now through your photos proves that.

Mexmom said...

The bench is beautiful

Jen said...

It's beautiful. A perfect choice. :)

Lisa said...

What a beautiful bench. I love all of the special things about Jack that were incorporated on it.

Thinking of your family...

Sharon said...

It's perfect. I remember Jack every day. Thank you for sharing that with us Anna. Praying for all of you and sending virtual hugs your way.

Kerry said...

As tears roll down my cheeks I have to write, as many others already have, that the memory bench is such a beautiful tribute - so powerful - so meaningful. Oh how I wish it didn't need to be made but I know Jack must be so impressed. (yes I believe he has seen it somehow - I really do)
God bless you Anna and Tim and Margaret. Much love to you all and of course Jack.

Karen L. said...

Thank you so much for sharing today and for the pictures of Jack's bench, too. I so appreciate what you and Tim decided to inscribe on his memorial bench. God's Word is promised to "never return void" which means that Jack's impact will be felt for many years to come. I will always remember him, Anna, Tim and Margaret---that's a promise. Praying for you all and rejoicing with you for all the Lord's strength for you. Karen L.

Anonymous said...

Anna, the bench is an incredible tribute to Jack and to your family. I think it must be the most absolutely perfect idea I've seen - a place for you not to watch (as in a headstone) your rare bird but a place to sit and share with him as you would if he hadn't been so suddenly taken. The words on the bench capture the essence of Jack as you've described him here on your blog - I can't imagine anything more fitting.

I tend to read here avidly but not post (I've emailed you a few times), but the beauty of the bench and my history with many loved ones who lost someone on 9/11 compelled me to post.

Sending you strength!

Anonymous said...

The bench is beautiful, and so are you and Margaret, sitting there smiling. He IS with you.

Anonymous said...

This one was tough. The lump in my throat refuses to go away, especially after seeing those photos.

Love to you, Anna. Can't wait to meet your boy one day.

Skye Harmony said...

The bench is beautiful. The photo of you two on it brought tears to my eyes. May I ask what cemetery it is? I live in the area and would love to pay a visit to Jack and sit on his bench, if I wouldn't be intruding.

tara said...

Anna, I have never left a comment but I read your blog regularly. You are an inspiration to so many. I know that this was not what you would have imagined becoming to so many of us just over a year ago, but you are an amazing person and mom. I saw a tribute to 09/11 shortly after the tragedy where the song "I can't cry hard enough" played. It was so moving when I heard it so many years ago. Yesterday morning driving to work the song was on the radio. I hard not heard the song in years. I thought of the tragedy of the day of 09/11, but I also thought of you and your family as it seems like it was almost written for you. I cried, and had to wait in my car awhile before going into the office. All the best to you and your family; thank you for the gift that you have given to all of us. The bench is beautiful.

Beverly @ The Buzz said...

It's perfect. Just as I knew it would be. Just as Jack is now.

Pamela said...

Anna - it's beautiful.

Kate Coveny Hood said...

I love the bench. And you know I love you!

tracy@sellabitmum said...

Beautiful Love you. xo

Diana Lesjak said...

That is just beautiful Anna!

G said...

Beautifully designed. That must have been so hard. Thinking of you all.

Brynn said...

Beautiful. Both your words and Jack's bench.

dusty earth mother said...

I so love that bench. And I so love that you said it was okay to sit on his face. xxoo

Nicole Yontz said...

Aww, I love the bench! My first thought (and I wish I was lying) was "Aww, that is so sweet. I wish I was close to Virgina so I could go sit on Jacks face." Then I silently corrected myself and realized that I'm an idiot.
Love to you guys. Xoxo.

Meredith Self said...

the bench turned out great, Anna! And I like the picture of Jack! I see what you mean by it looks like Tim, but then, Jack looks like Tim. :) I love the Our Rare Bird around his picture...and Liz's words. :)

I hope this space is a lovely place for people to remember Jack.

Princess Kate said...

You captured everything. Pure and beautiful.

Jamie said...

Beautiful bench. So much more personal than the flush with the earth rectangle so they can mow right over it thing I had to pick out. I think that the extra time you took before deciding on anything shows up in the small details. Very well chosen for your guy.

Beth Darrow Condon said...

Anna, thank you for sharing pictures of Jack's memorial. I agree that it is perfect.

I remember how close Jack's death was to 9/11, and was thinking about that again this year. Last year I was taking a class in Spain and was worried about flying home on 9/11, being the 10th anniversary. The time zones were so different and I heard about the tropical storm and was worried about my experiment getting messed up down in Alabama. I had trouble communicating but emailed my lab to see if they could move things out of the field and they said the water was too rough to do it - so it sat out there through the storm and I worried. Then I found out about the flooding in VA and heard from the Browns and my mom about Jack. I remember sitting there at 1 am in the computer lab in a resort town in Spain, crying and explaining to the other students who you were. The days were bright, warm, and beautiful in Spain. My field experiment back in Alabama was OK, but it and flying home on 9/11 both didn't matter so much anymore. It's amazing how the date probably will always now bring me back to 2001 as well as 2011.

I also wanted to thank you, through your writing about Jack and your journey, for giving me a way to somehow make talking about death with my boys easier. Maybe not easier, but more unavoidable, since it has been on my mind. We have had a few heart-to-heart talks about Jack, God, and heaven, and since then, another little baby from our church who died. Talking about the tough stuff is really hard, but I am glad we have done it.

Anonymous said...

The bench is beautiful, Anna. A perfect tribute to your rare bird.

Renee from Ohio said...

Perfect.

Leah C said...

Never forgotten.

Leah C said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ella said...

It's beautiful, Anna.

OSMA said...

Oh Anna, that bench. So beautiful but...oh.

Your sad eyes.

Margaret's too.

The underbelly of this tapestry is brutal which can only mean the flip side is better than we can imagine.l.

xoxoxo

csmith said...

Jack's bench is just lovely. But, oh, how I hate the need for it. I think of you and your family often, although we've never met. I look at my own precious boy and my heart breaks for you. I love on him a little more than I did in the past and I thank you and Jack for this special awareness.

Anonymous said...

I've never seen anything more beautiful or perfect :-)

Anonymous said...

Oh Anna, it is lovely. Heart-wrenching and lovely. Much love and prayers to you.

Tara

Lady Jennie said...

You did it. I was wondering. My throat aches.

Ruth Schulte said...

I am a Nova mom, too, and was heart broken when I heard the story last year. I found your blog through Glennon's. While I missed the exact anniversary, I have written Jack's name on my hand today and am thinking of all of you.

The bench is beautiful (though I won't sit on his face even though you said it's okay).

Life goes on, I know, but grief is fluid and has no sense of time. Peace and love to all of you.

Anonymous said...

It is beautiful-and I love the idea of sitting awhile and visiting with Jack. I think of you and your family often. Hugs !!!

Beth said...

The bench is absolutely beautiful! Perfect!!!! I am glad that you waited and found just the right thing to put at Jack's resting place.

Mama Mary said...

Beautiful 9.11 post and oh what a beautiful, perfect memorial for Jack.

Gina said...

The bench is perfect! You captured something here that never should have to be. These days my heart is aching for Margaret!!! I look at my sweet seven year old who is struggling with her own issues and it makes me think of sweet Margaret navigating the world now without her best friend, trusted confident and protective big brother. I think of the load my sweet girl is carrying and it just makes me thing of Margaret. To be honest when I first discovered your blog I had to give myself space for a few days here and there because I was really carrying your grief in my heart and it was a heavy load. I found myself crying all of the time which is odd because I never met you all. But I think of the scripture about bearing one another's burdens and I believe that can be true as the body of Christ even when certain parts of the body don't know each other. Praying as always for beauty for ashes, oil of gladness instead of mourning and the garment of praise for despair. Praise the HOLY name of God who works ALL things to our good, makes the crooked ways straight and sets our feet on a solid rock!!!

Anonymous said...

Now the task of arranging the bench is complete, you can breathe a sigh of relief.

So kind of you to remember others in their grief, despite your own pain.

Take care of yourself and your family.

Wishing you peace.

Lots of love
K x

The Carens Clan said...

It's really beautiful. Continuing to keep you all in my prayers. Xo

Irene Bean said...

A beautiful post for a beautiful life.

Sue said...

You'll probably never realize how much you've inspired all of us. Your strength, your faith and your resilience are incredible. This doesn't diminish in any way your suffering, just adds to the legions of people who admire your grace.

LilyWhite said...

Anna,
Your story found me tonight, and I can't thank you enough for your transparency. Your words are almost as beautiful as your family. Love and prayers for peaceful healing to all of you.

Bonjour said...

I LOVE Jack's bench!! We also lost a son at the sweet tender age of 14! That was 19 years ago. I still miss him so very much, but that awful pain is not as raw and brutal! I promise you...its does get a little easier. Someone sent me this poem not long after our Joshua died...just wanted to share it with you. HUGS!

The mention of my child's name may bring tears to my eyes,
But it never fails to bring music to my ears.
If you are really my friend,
let me hear the music of his name!
It soothes my broken heart and sings to my soul!
~Author Unknown ~

Karen said...

I love the bench. I love that you can sit on Jack's face. I love that they got the apostrophe in "others'" correct.

PeachPrenni said...

Oh Anna..I love the bench. It's perfect!! What a peaceful place to sit and visit with your Jack. It's beautiful! I love you guys. -Annie

Debby@Just Breathe said...

I will never forget that day 11 years ago. (my word verification for this post has 11 in it)

Anna, Jack's bench is so beautiful. I love the choice you made. How different to be able to visit and sit with him. ((HUGS))