Monday, September 10, 2012

A Life's Design

We did it! We made it through the first year. You were praying like crazy for us over the weekend, weren't you? We could tell. THANK YOU! Still processing the hardness and the goodness of the weekend, but I have something special to share with you today.

Here's what Tim had to say on September 8th, the one year Crap-iversary of losing our Jack:



When Jack was in first grade, his teacher asked the kids draw a picture of one of their favorite things. I did not see Jack's drawing until his sweet teacher gave it to Anna and me last year. She said that all of the drawings were what you would expect from first graders: puppies, flowers, candy. And then she showed us Jack's drawing, neatly labeled "Designs." Looking at the picture filled my heart and broke it in the same instant. That's my Jack. A six-year old who dreams of designs and is thrilled by their arrangement and patterns. That's the boy who captured my heart with a fierce love that will never die.

As I have been cherishing this memory during the past week, the idea of "designs" reminded me of the imagery of the Tapestry of Life, reproduced here from a daily devotional:

The sages teach that our world is like a tapestry. Every tapestry has two
sides; the front where everything is neat and orderly, and the backside
where threads are cut and tied. Even though both sides are made with exactly
the same threads, the pictures they produce are completely different.
On the front side, there is a beautiful design. The other side, however, is a mess.

All of history is producing one enormous and gorgeous tapestry. However, at
this time, we are only able to see the backside. Nothing makes sense, and
everything seems chaotic. The picture is ugly, and we wonder, "What in the
world is the artist thinking?"

But there is another side to the tapestry, yet to be revealed. On that side,
nothing is out of place and every thread is where it ought to be. The
picture is clear and perfect. If we were to see it, we would stand in awe at
its beauty and brilliance. We would understand the artist's intention all
along.

Jack, I don't understand why you were taken from us at such a young age, leaving a permanent, gaping hole in our lives and in the plans we had for our family. But now I wait, impatiently at times, to see the other side of the tapestry. To see God's beautiful design and your smiling face.

We love you, we miss you, and we'll never forget you.

Dad.


91 comments:

Jessica said...

That was absolutely beautiful. I've heard the story before, but it hit me more this time.

I was (and am!) praying for your family this weekend.

Chrisy said...

So poignant, beautiful, and strong. You are generous to share. We all are blessed by the words and images found on this site. Love continues to flow from our home to all of you. x

Mexmom said...

So beautiful, and your family is always in my prayers.

Mrs Changstein said...

Make me cry at work, why don't you? I was - still am - praying for all of you. For some reason, I especially thought of Tim & Jack this weekend when I sent my husband & 10 year old son out to play a round of golf - his (my son's) first one on a full-size course...and I was praying for him then. You are all so courageous - and that it comes from Him who gives you strength.

luv2run said...

After reading this my hearts a bit achey breaky!!!!!!

HUGSSSS

luv2run

ericka.erwin said...

I have never thought of it that way before. Please thank Tim for that wonderful perspective - I can't begin to explain how much that truly affected me and my current path. I have kept your family in my thoughts. I'm a true believer that things happen for a reason but the frustration of not knowing why can be quite overwhelming. The love and faith your family shares and receives gives me hope for better things to come. Thanks again for sharing this beautiful message... you don't know how much it helped!!

Loukia said...

My heart is breaking all over again, reading this.

Chris said...

Thinking of you today!

Laura said...

Beautiful.
xoxo

LauraC said...

You bet I've been praying for you extra - this whole week. Thank you for sharing, Tim, you are prayed for every time Anna is; please know that. How is it we can care so much for strangers, people we have never met, and most likely won't? I believe it's called fellowship, the same Holy Spirit living in you, lives in us, and binds us together. Love and continued prayers.

pam said...

i read about your family on momastery - i'm praying for you. you're right; it IS everyone's worse nightmare, but just seeing you helps us believe maybe we can survive the unsurvivable if it comes. so thank you. it's so so important.

spedhead said...

I love the message of hope in that story. Thank you for sharing. My heart always feels so heavy yet uplifted at the same time after so many of your posts. It's an odd combo but I guess that's real life. Cyber hugs and very real prayers to the D family.

mgh said...

The circle of life. Hardness and Goodness.

Saturday night I was at the first band competition of the season. After the sunset, I remember thinking. They've almost made it. By morning, I hope, they will have a new sense of survival.
But then the announcer came on and asked for a moment of silence as another band walked onto the field. They had lost a band member recently and would have to march without him. I could feel myself start to tremble. I got out my phone and did a quick search. They were sharing an anniversary with you. For them 1 month, for you 1 year.

That whole band of 100+ teens (and the directors and parents) lost a son, student, friend in car accident involving 5 boys speeding around a curve to get to band practice. Only 1 of the boys was ejected from the car. The others were saved by seat belts. I have to assume that both the death and the saved lives were by the grace of God, right?

In the context of what I've learned from you in the past year, it was interesting to imagine how they were able to channel their grief into something beautiful. The name of the show was "To the Edge".

Tim's letter was beautiful. And Jack's design precious. My prayers seems so small compared to all you have given me this year.

One bolt short of a toolbox said...

Beautiful story, you know he's looking down on you from above smiling.

Anonymous said...

I was looking at that design and thinking it would make a cool stained glass window. After reading about the tapestry, maybe someone could do some needlework.

Lisa said...

Loving you and the family so much

Anonymous said...

I've been reading this blog for a year now when Glennon shared her dear friend Anna's tragic news of losing Jack...I've been completely amazed at the honest and emotional filled posts/journey you have brought us on while moving forward, one day at a time. My husband and I were overcome with emotion as we scrolled through all the Jack Hands pictures...I simply thought to myself how unreal this is, the deep connection people from all over the world feel towards you and your family. THANK YOU GOD for the ability to connect and pray for one another. And then to read Tim's post today...such a perfect illustration. Keeping you close to our hearts and in our prayers. The Vosbergs from MN. <3

Unknown said...

Yes you have all been in our hearts and prayers all weekend. And yet you have, again, given to us in your pain and struggle another post to reflect on and grow from and heal with. Thank you.

Princess Kate said...

We kept you in our prayers all weekend and my promise to you for the coming year is to kick it up in the prayer category. Jack has changed my life and for that I am eternally grateful. Hugs

Deb said...

A beautiful reminder. Thank you.

Sybil said...

I am going to share this "tapestry" story with a friend who lost her husband last month. She was sharing with me this morning, how hard it is to "think straight and simply understand why" in the midst of her and her family's pain. This is the perfect message for her today. Thank you!

Lisa said...

I thought about you loads this weekend. I sent many prayers, hoping they'd lift you up. This post just made me cry all over my sandwich...what a beautiful tribute. Thank you for sharing it with us...

Anonymous said...

I see several things when I look at Jack's work...

Interconnectedness. He called it "Designs," not "Design," so he thought of this as several motifs, linked carefully through lines and repetition of shapes.

Confidence. It's unusual for a child to use the entire page. Instead of timidly using part of it-- a kitten here, a house over there-- he not only uses the entire page, but also implicitly goes beyond it.

Playfulness & Sensitivity. The colors (navy; purple; aqua; green) contrast against one another pleasingly, and move your eye around the design. It's deliberate, but with a real joyfulness. (In the anglican tradition, blue and purple represent waiting or mourning, while green represents the goodness of everyday life.)

Thank you for sharing Jack with us.

Kate Coveny Hood said...

Sending you all so much love today and every day...

Lady Jennie said...

You're right. I've been thinking about you and praying like crazy.

Laura at Ms. Smartie Pants said...

I'm glad you felt our prayers. This is just what I needed today and I have lived the first month without my Mike. Thank you Anna!

Esther said...

Beautiful. So happy for the strength you have in God.

Anonymous said...

Love. Love. Love this post. :)

Erin said...

Amazing!

Rach said...

Tim,

That sums it up perfectly. Thank you for sharing such beautiful words of wisdom.

Anna, yes, yes indeed my family and I were praying for you. We will continue to pray for you as you begin this latest chapter.

Many hugs, and so happy you made it through the weekend.

Rach

Love, Jacquelyn said...

I followed you here from Glennon's site - I was startled to realize you share a ZIP code with my parents and your son's service was held at the same church I attended my senior year in high school.

What a vicious, terrible loss. My heart hurts for your family.

Victoria said...

I'll be honest and say I never know what the date is or remember anniversaries so I had not connected the crap-aversary with this weekend. Yet God put you on my heart Saturday night and I spent some time in prayer for you. He definitely had you covered.

Anonymous said...

I love hearing from Tim here. That was beautiful.

Anna, you wrote that you have heard and read that year two of grieving Jack's loss may perhaps be harder to go through in some ways than the first. Pease know that we are here for you just as much as ever (if not more!).

love,
jbhat

Rebecca said...

Anna and Family,
I found your blog yesterday from another blog. I haven't been able to get you off my mind. I've prayed for you guys and felt all of those emotions that those of us on the other side go through... Hugging my own 13 yr old son so tight and thanking God for the opportunity to recognize that it could've just as easily been Him. Thanking God for another day of "normalcy" and praying that I'd never take that for granted again. Your handsome Jack reminds me so much of my Alex. Nothing anyone can ever say will take away your pain, but I want to thank you for sharing your story so that we can pray for you and millions of others around the world who have had to say goodbye too soon. I love your attitude and perspective. I love the analogy that you shared above. Great insight. Blessings to you and your family.
-rebecca

Kerry said...

Jack's design made me think of a stained glass window - beautiful.
Thank you for the post - I kept checking here to see if you had written. I was still working on my hand picture when it started to rain (changed my outdoor shot to an indoor one) and I was worried that the storm would make such a hard day even harder for you. Seeing that rainbow at sunset gave me such a lift - I thought of it as Jack's rainbow immediately and I was so glad to read your comment that it was right over your house.
Love and hugs from a relatively new reader,
Kerry Switzer

Leah C said...

Beautiful post...you and your husband certainly have a way with words. Though I have been absent from blogland lately, dear Anna, you & your family have not been absent from my thoughts or prayers.

Domestic Diva said...

That is one of the most beautiful and perfect things I have ever read. Thankful for that and for you today. Prayers for your family this week, and always

Erika said...

Unbelievably moving and beautiful! Prayers and love to you at this tender time!

Hillary said...

I cannot even imagine your loss, but I love your faith and your perseverance, and I send all the love that I can in these words from one human being to another.

I will remind myself that the tapestry is beautiful on the other side, too, from now on.

NanaDiana said...

God bless you- I will never forget the date because it is my daughter's birthday-xo Diana

Kim said...

words of wisdom from your husband. wisdom for us all. yes, indeed, we were praying you through the weekend and will continue to pray you through...

Anonymous said...

I was holding my breath for this post.,, for weeks it seems. Absolutely beautiful...Tim's voice is as fierce and true as a devoted daddy's should be.

Love to all.

Mandy said...

Beautiful, insightful words as always. You all remain in my prayers. Xx

Sharon said...

I have been thinking about all of you a lot this past weekend, and praying for you all. Thank you for that beautiful story, for your courage in sharing what must be just the most unbearable grief. I will never forget Jack either and look forward to the day when everything makes sense.

tracy@sellabitmum said...

So beautiful. So many prayers. xo

janzi said...

Truly utterly moving, and so brave to share with us, thank you both.. hugs from across the pond.J

Christy said...

Anna and Tim, I am so heartbroken I can barely think straight sometimes. I really can't imagine how you're feeling. He was indeed a rare bird and has two of the most awesome parents around. Sending you hugs and loves and PRAYERS. xoxo

Anonymous said...

PS I got so caught up in admiring how Jack's art that I didn't say what I wanted to say, to begin with: How very moved I am by Tim's love for his son, which burns so brightly. It reminds me of how God loves each of us as His children. We're not just loved, we're KNOWN.

IrishRN07 said...

I was in Panera today and a guy walked in who looked just like Tim. For a split second I thought about approaching him because I wanted to tell him how much Jack's lessons have taught me. Specifically the part about "sharing each other's joy". Sometimes things like weddings and baby showers used to get me down because all I ever wanted was to get married and have a family. That hasn't happened, and may never happen. The weight of that sometimes gets to me. I NEVER thought I would be that person. Thankfully, most days I remember a lesson from a beautiful, bright boy who I never met and I share in my friends' joy. I dance at their weddings and coo over their babies and I am a better person, a better friend, for it. Thank you Jack. And thank you Tim and Anna for sharing your wonderful son with the rest of us.

Gigi said...

Of course you were in our thoughts and prayers. And those words? Well, those words are currently being printed out to remind me that although we sometimes can't see what the design will be when it's finished, it will be perfect when it's done.

Julie said...

Love to you and your family. You are always in my thoughts and prayers.

Heidi said...

This is beautiful, powerful. I feel honored to read this. In fact, I always feel honored when I'm here. Thank you for sharing your words and heart with us.
I thought of you guys so much. Your family was in the beauty of the sky this weekend. In the warmth of the sun. In the quiet of the evening. So much love to each of you...

Elizabeth said...

Love the tapestry analogy. Your husband made me cry harder than you do...that's a good thing. Prayers.

Cassie @ Primitive & Proper said...

what a gorgeous, beautiful post. and yes, you can bet i have been thinking of you and your family and sending my best.

Susan said...

You are always in my thoughts and prayers. Thank you for sharing this beautiful entry.

Fairy Godmother said...

Beautiful. Sending you love, Anna. Today and always,
Andie

PeachPrenni said...

I LOVE this Tim!! So beautiful. What a perfect description for this life that God is designing. Perfect! I thought about you guys all weekend. Glad you could feel our prayers. Blessings and Love! -Annie

Jackie said...

Like so many others, I am so glad you could feel our thoughts and prayers as I shared your story with so many others this past Saturday. There were people all over NY praying for you. I left Jack's name on my hand all weekend, until it faded ( name written through Glennon's blog). And whenever I looked at it, it filled me with both sadness and hope. It rained and rained all afternoon on Saturday here in Westchester, tears from heaven on your beautiful son's anniversary because I feel heaven is crying with you, with us. Jack is above all that, comforted and peaceful. God bless you all. Much love & prayers. Jackie in NY.

A Speckled Trout said...

I thought and prayed for you all weekend. Then I did a drive-by of this blog a dozen times to see if you were o.k.

Yesterday I was working with somebody I'd not ever worked with before. Five hours of getting to know each other between customers. At some point, she showed me the website of an artist who designs clothing. She stitches patterns on the outside of the garment complete with knots and loose threads showing and it was incredible.

Then, Tim, you go and write about that very thing. For Jack to have drawn that picture so detailed at such a young age is also incredible. While we live in the loose thread world, Jack is on the other side designing change.

Yep. He is.

DeeBee said...

Anna, I have been thinking of you since August rolled over into September. Your family has come to matter to mine, through your blog. Like every one of your readers, I want to reach through space and distance to bring you all strength and comfort at this crazy time. I know I am a stranger in a different country, but you have all come to matter to so many. Jack has become a part of my life, and I love his memory, his spirit, and his massive contribution to the world. You are a spectacular mother.

Anonymous said...

I love the tapestry metaphor. What an amazing way of looking at life! This really resonates with me. Thank you, Tim and Anna for sharing. Both Tim and Jack have a special something that I can see from the bits I've read about/from each of them. What a special family you have there, Anna. I'm so sorry for your loss, and continue to keep the Donaldsons in my thoughts and prayers. I put up a new ribbon this week in honor of Jack, and saw SO many on Lawyers Road - made me smile and cry.

LauraBeth said...

Anna, Tim, Margaret...

Love, prayers, hugs, prayers, tears, prayers.....

Anonymous said...

You are both such wonderful, beautiful parents. I have been praying for you all weekend.

for a different kind of girl said...

Tim can share a story as beautifully as you, Anna. Thank you - and Tim! - for sharing Jack with us. I feel like Jack had such an amazing spirit. I truly believe the power of people praying for us can be amazing. I'm so glad you could feel us with you.

juli said...

Thank you for sharing that. My family is going through our own loss and your words always seem to be posted at just the right time. I have never heard the tapestry story and it is a beautiful way to think about life. Again, thank you so much for sharing your words and your thoughts of your beautiful boy.

Kara said...

So thankful that you felt the prayers. My family prayed for yours through the weekend, but especially on the 8th. Grateful, as always, for your family's willingness to share.

Anonymous said...

....And how about the local weather here on Saturday??Nice late summer weather all day long. Then precisely late in the afternoon into evening, graying skies, windy storms, and down pouring rain. All for a very short while. Immediately followed by a beautiful clearing which ushered in the most crisp, clear autumn day stretches ever! The beautiful tapestry of the periwinkle skies and white bulbous clouds truly paints an amazing design. Coming out of this weekend, it's as if, with God's permission, Jack (or is it the other way around?) is showing us litlle peek glimpses of the other side, the beautiful non-raggedy tapestry side, the amazing place he is at right now, and the promise that that holds for us! The amazing synchronicity of the weather from the weekend up until now is simply breathless and awesome! What an inspiration you continue to be!

Auntie Mip said...

Tim and Anna,

I am equal parts breathless and broken by these exquisite words. Such a profound and perfect description of the balance we must find in this life. The trust we must place in our God despite everything in us screaming no. Yet, to know His eternal promise is to unfailingly believe, "thy will be done".

I don't know why Jack. I don't know why such a young, vital and beautiful boy. I cannot reconcile in a God that would allow the death of a perfect child just to teach a lesson. We live in a fallen world. The peace, the faith, the miracle of God comes not from Jack's death, but that you could see past your anguish and believe in spite of how shattered your hearts are. That. THAT is the miracle from death. That is the Phoenix rising from the ashes. That is a precious gift you have just shared with countless people on this forum.

God bless your beautiful family. I pray for you daily. I pray that you feel closer to Jack with every lasting day. I feel confident you will find joy again in unexpected ways and moments. I know this because my brother died many years ago. My family survived and so will yours!

New Mom said...

Wow, thank you for sharing that. I immediately saw stained glass when I looked at Jack's drawing and it reminded me of heaven. The tapestry imagery is perfect though! I can't even imagine how impatient you must get waiting to see the full picture. And God I pray the Donaldson's "full picture" will be extra AMAZING considering what they have endured.

Anonymous said...

Sending you my best wishes on this difficult journey. Please continue staying strong and together.

May you have some solid moments of peace and calm - in the very least.

So many people are thinking of you, wishing you the best in the circumstances.

Lots of love.

K x

Shell Flower said...

We were definitely praying for you guys this weekend. I love the tapestry story and hope that you all get to see the beauty in the design some day. Keep on keepin' on :) Thanks for helping us all see what a shiny spirit Jack is. We won't forget him.

Meg said...

Beautiful and heart-breaking. So sorry you had to have this crapaversary but glad you made it through. Continued thoughts and prayers with you all.

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

I am one of those blog followers who you have never met, never knew Jack and clearly missed out on knowing someone very special... I am one of those blog followers who never wrote to tell you that I think of you nearly everyday when I pass Jack's old school as it it right by my neighborhood... I drive through Oakton/Vienna and see blue ribbons -- Jack! There are days I have been working at home, having just read a blog entry of yours, and looking out into my yard with no rain in sight, a cardinal bird on my roof top -- Jack! I am the follower who got chills and burning eyes when my son attended his first Vienna t-ball Opening Day ceremony and heard Jack's name mentioned -- Jack! I spoke of your journey as if we're old friends. You don't know me, but I am a follower who cares and prays for your family oh so often. Your strength and courage are infectious and your family inspiring. Wishing you peace and comfort now and always. Thank you for sharing Jack with us all. I will never forget...

AshliAGMG said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Katy said...

That was beautiful - thank you for sharing and know you all are in my prayers!

Maureen said...

Thank you for sharing!

Jana said...

Yes...you're right...praying like crazy. Thanks to your hubby for sharing these words with us this week...and to YOU, Anna, for sharing so many of your own words with us during your excruciating journey this past year.

We may never have met in person, dear woman, but I love you all the same.

Lizykitty23 said...

Dear Anna, perfect stranger dropping a few lines on your blog! I found it (your blog) by accident, I still don't know how or why. But it has been one of those blessings in disguise!!! I've been battling depression for 4 years now since the birth of my son. I've gone through some difficult times since, including the sudden passing of my nephew in a bizzare accident in the lake the last day of summer vacation.
I don't pray a lot, but I want you to know that I am praying for you, I complain about stupid crap and I feel I have no right to do so when there are people like you and my sister in law going through real stuff and keeping their chins up regardless of life! I am grateful of finding your blog and please know that today another perfect stranger is really praying hard for you and your family to find some peace and comfort every day. From my heart a big hug and God Bless You! Lizy

Deb said...

thank you Tim for sharing. I really like that tapestry analogy for its way of making something beautiful out of a mess.

I didn't have time to skim the comments. Did anyone mention the tapestry we had in the sky (in Fairfax) on Sat. evening? After the storm: very dramatic fiery sky in the west. and in the east: an amazing double rainbow tinged purple by the pink sky around it. it was breath taking and unusual. i've never seen anything like it. I thought of your family. I hope you saw it too.

JMB Ranch said...

My heart goes out to you. I stumbled upon your blog through another and then I found why....I too have just made it through the first year of loss. My husband left this earth on August 29,2011.
So my heart and prayers are with you. I think I have found a new blog to follow and invite you to mine.
Thanks for sharing...
Brenda

Amanda said...

Perfect. Just perfect.

Meredith Self said...

praying all year and this year, too!
LOVE the tapestry devotion. so insightful.

thank you for sharing your life with us, with me.

Oh...not only our sat small group was with you on the 8th, but our sun small group was with you ushering in this second year with wishes for peace and love amidst all the emotions, memories, thoughts and experiences of this year. love you!

Janna said...

Today was my first visit to your blog. I love the designs Jack drew. I haven't cried like this in ages. My heart is heavy and broken, as I imagine your grief. My two boys are 5 and 9. I will keep your family in my prayers.

Anonymous said...

Tim, Anna and Margaret:

Tim, your words are touching and inspiring about the connection you made to Jack’s drawing.

A number of years ago, I sat with my grandmother as she was at rest in her nursing home. Beside her bed was a table filled with prayers, prayer cards and poems. The following poem caught my attention and I held on to a copy to always remind me of two ways to view our lives.

The author of the poem is unknown, but I thought you might appreciate this version as well:

The Plan of the Master Weaver

Our lives are but fine weavings
That God and we prepare
Each life becomes a fabric planned
And fashioned to His care.
We May not always see just how
The weavings intertwine;
But we must trust the Master’s hand
And follow His design
For He can view the pattern
Upon the upper side,
While we must look from underneath
And trust in Him to guide…

Sometimes a strand of sorrow
Is added to His plan,
And though it’s difficult for us,
We still must understand
That it’s He who fills the shuttle,
It’s He who knows what’s best,
So we must weave in patience
And leave to Him the rest---

Not till the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Shall God unroll the canvas
And explain the reason why…
The dark threads are as needed
In the Weaver’s skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned.

Brwynn said...

Beautiful and hopeful and filled with faith! Wow!

the Hawks said...

Dear friends,

Thank you for those words. Tim is wise and generous to share these thoughts with us.

~jen

sweetpagene said...

beautiful. thinking of you.

Jen said...

I've had your family on my mind and in my heart these past few weeks. Knowing that you were facing the world's worst milestone made me worry about you and how your family would get through it. You all seem to be handling it with your usual grace and faith - what a wonderful thing. Thinking of you still.

youaremysunshine said...

the tapestry..what a beautiful and true analogy of life! i tried posting this a few weeks ago and had trouble. it was a story a friend of mine shared as she was remembering a fellow coworker who had passed on and who had helped her through the loss of her newborn twins...her coworker had also lost his only children and she asked him how did he ever go on and how he seemed so strong after losing his kids...she thought his pain had to be so much greater than hers as his kids were older and needed his encouragement....and they were teachers...he went to the chalk board after she asked him that and he drew two lines...one short line segment and one long line segment. he pointed to the short segment and said this represents our time on earth and pointed to the long segment and said this represents our time in Heaven. he told her that we have an eternity to spend with their children in Heaven and our life on earth is such a small part. It really helped her. I felt compelled to share her story. I think of you pray for you often. big hugs.

Debby@Just Breathe said...

I read this over on Facebook. Here was my response:
Sending all of you my love. ((HUGS)) His drawing reminds me of the view through a kaleidoscope.

"Wikipedia: As the viewer looks into one end, light entering the other creates a colorful pattern, due to the reflection off of the mirrors. Coined in 1817 by Scottish inventor Sir David Brewster."

BEAUTIFUL, BEAUTY.....My vision of Heaven!