Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Time Machine


Jack's best friend in the world was his cousin. I've shared before a little bit about their relationship.

As you can imagine, Jack's cousin was devastated to lose him, especially in such a sudden and horrifying way. He misses him so much, and we miss the relationship they would have had as teens and adults.

A mere two weeks after the accident, Jack's cousin had to write an essay in English class entitled, "If I could bring anyone back for a day..." Wow. That must have been really hard to do.

Here it is:

If I had a time machine I would bring back my cousin Jack. Jack was my best friend, and he drowned on September 8th, 2011. If I had one day to spend with him I would warn him, and if that didn't work I would spend the day with him. I would also get a last goodbye and tell him about the impact he has had on the lives of the people around him.

First, I would try to reverse the events that happened. I'd tell him about that day and to avoid the river. If he didn't, we would go see his family in the present. We would still go see them even if he did believe me, though.

If that wouldn't work, I would spend the day doing things we wanted to do. We would watch the Red Sox play the Yankees, and play catch out on the field. Then, we'd take my sister and his sister Margaret and play the "River Game" at Smokehole campgrounds.

At night, we would stay up late talking about random things like we used to do. We'd also play "The Game," that Jack made up, an RPG style game with a character given obstacles by the narrator. Finally, he'd tell me stories about Kevin Youkolis and mess with my dreams while I was dozing.

Lastly, I would get the goodbye I never had. My last goodbye I got from him was an awkward one armed hug and "see you in a couple months." I can't tell you how much it hurts me to think that was my final goodbye to Jack. I would give up everything to see him again, even if it was just for a day. I would tell him how much he meant and still means to me and all of his family. I would tell him the impact he has had and how he has changed our lives before and after he died.

I can't describe how much I love and miss Jack. It pains me to kmow that I won't see him for a long time. If I had another day with Jack Donaldson, that is how I would spend it.

*****
I love you boys.

70 comments:

Debby@Just Breathe said...

Anna, Thank you for sharing this. Jack was so lucky to have such an amazing cousin and it is obvious that his cousin feels exactly the same way. ((HUGS))

tysdaddy said...

Jack was a gamer?! I'm new around here, so forgive me for not knowing the whole story of Jack.

I used to run games at the friendly local gaming store. The best part was introducing young kids to the word of RPGs. Their first characters were fleshed out on paper with dice and grins abounding.

I would have loved to have shared an adventure with Jack.

Also? What a touching and erudite essay. I hope he keeps writing . . .

Gigi said...

Oh Anna! Tears. I cannot type for the tears. What a beautiful essay. Your son touched SO many people.

Gilsner said...

Such wisdom, eloquence and sadness at such a young age. Awe-inspiring and heart-breaking.

Anonymous said...

My 8-year-old son's best friends are his cousins--brothers who are 7 and 9 years old. If he lost either of them, he would be heartbroken. I love them (and my niece) almost as if they were my own. I can imagine that for you, it was--and is--heartbreaking to watch your nephew mourn the loss of his dear friend. When I pray for your family, I always pray for you, your husband, and Margaret. Now, I will also pray specifically for Jack's beloved cousin. Thanks for sharing this beautifully written tribute to dear Jack.

Julie said...

I don't know you, but live in Vienna so I now know of you and your story. I now read your blog and know what you look like. As I was waiting for my 7th grade daughter's after school activity bus to drop her off at the corner of Abbottsford and Lawyers roads, I saw you drive by and it seemed like you saw us ( she had just got off the bus). I hugged her just a little harder than usual and wanted you to know I think about you often and keep you in my prayers. And on a side note, I am often in my pjs and down vest!

Jennifer said...

so very sweet.

Cassie @ Primitive & Proper said...

wow. that is heartbreaking and so vulnerable and powerful, too.

Jill said...

What a beautiful piece of writing. Jack's cousin is obviously a special and talented kid, just like Jack. (I didn't know him, of course, but the way you write about him almost makes me feel as if I did.)

Anonymous said...

I have read your posts for a year, and for some reason - with all the amazingly poignant posts you have written - this is the one that has touched me in the most raw way. Beautiful. So, so sad. Amazing nephew and really special relationship.

Anonymous said...

Ugh. Such heartache. Jack's cousin seems like a sweet boy and they obviously had a special relationship. What a beautiful essay. My heart goes out to him and all of your family. Sending all of your family thoughts and prayers for peace.

The Empress said...

What is that gift children still have??

That gift of putting their words from their soul out onto paper SO CLEAR, so without reserve.

So successfully.

It breaks my heart how many times he says, if he could do it over, he would warn Jack. He would warn Jack. Five times over he would warn Jack.

Heart wrenching.

middle child said...

I agree with Empress and Gilsner. Amazing. I hope Jack's cousin is doing ok.

Livyb said...

What a lovely, lovely essay. Thank you for sharing this and all that you do, Anna.

Mimi said...

Oh Anna, those poor babies. I'm so sorry. I wish all our wishes could bring Jack back.

Anonymous said...

I've started to write a comment, deleted it, and started again. Not for the world did I want to say anything that might strike the wrong tone. What a moving essay, and the photograph only makes it more so. Thank you for sharing, and I'm very sorry for your loss.

(Anna, I'm sorry that the thought of Homecoming makes you want to cry....)

Arnebya said...

Oh, boy. Children have such a succinct way of saying what adults tend to be verbose about. What strikes me the most, though, is his comment about how Jack touched lives. You've said it so many times before. It's been expressed by friends and neighbors alike. What a lasting impression, what a wonderful trait to be known for.

Momma Lioness Michele said...

I made it to the "awkward one-armed hug" part before the tears began. From the mouths of babes....
This post and the Michael's one...that photo that has to be a sign from your son...have touched my heart so much. Wishing you peace.

zcan said...

I remember you showing me this when he wrote it. My heart broke all over again reading it tonight. No words. Just so very sad.

Tara said...

It just makes my heart break for you guys to read this. It sounds like they had such a wonderful friendship.

Amber T said...

This breaks my heart and encourages me all in one breath... We are in the process of losing my father, slowly but surely. It's so helpful to see people express such raw emotions (even at such a young age) and to remind myself of the things I want my dad to know before there is no time to share them with him.

While my heart aches for your loss, I also realize God's glory is evident in your vulnerability and openness in this trial. Thank you for sharing. For being strong enough and brave enough to let others in. It's a blessing to me and to countless others.

Michelle said...

Oh. Just too sad for a kid to experience such loss. And for you to experience the loss of the "them". He seems like a great kid...Jack had a great cousin/bff. Going for a kleenex now.

Kara said...

I love everything about his essay. I love how boys love each other, and I always love how you share.

Kathy at kissing the frog said...

Love that. It gave me chills. It's hard to say how death affects a child, but it's always a healthy sign when they can talk about it. My seven year old was best friends with his brother and misses him so much. But, he has been very good about verbalizing his feelings and telling us when he is sad or misses him.

Lady Jennie said...

ugh. My heart is wrenched. It's almost more painful hearing this come from such a young kid (teen). I wish people didn't have to learn about loss so young. He sounds like a gem of a nephew.

Princess Kate said...

Such a beautiful tribute to a beautiful boy. I hate all the "what ifs". They make me cry.

Sharon said...

I am just so heart broken for your nephew, and for you and your family. You are all in my thoughts and prayers daily.

Anonymous said...

Jack shines on in others. What a beautiful friendship. It did make me cry to read that. So easy to picture them growing into men and being best friends still. But it made me feel happy also that they had such an awesome friendship. Jack will continue to touch his cousin's life in many ways... that I am sure. I hope he finds comfort in that. I hope you do, too. What wonderful boys!
Julie

Mel said...

What a really beautiful tribute. I am so glad he shared this with you and that you shared it with us.

Sue said...

What a wonderful tribute to your son. I feel so bad for your nephew and your whole family. It gave me the chills. There truly is a special bond between the two of them. You can tell that by reading your nephew's words. Hugs and prayers being sent your way.

Sue

Stimey said...

I wish he could have that day too. I mourn too for the loss of that relationship. It sounds like it was an amazing one. Having a best friend who is family is such a gift. I'm so sorry that this gift was taken away so cruelly.

Anonymous said...

Heartbreaking. It saddens me to know they won't grow up as teens, or men together...but wow, what an impact Jack had on his cousin's life and what a awesome relationship they had...so very special!!! Praying for your entire family Anna - hugs!!!!!!!!!

ashley said...

Crying at my desk, Anna. What a sweet, deep thinker your nephew is. I know you are proud of him and of the impact Jack clearly had on his life. ~Ashley in Louisiana

Lissa said...

Hi Anna, I'm a new reader. I found your blog through another blog, but I cannot remember which one.

I love how you write. I didn't really know what was going on, so I went back to September of last year. Over the course of the last two nights, I've read all you've been through.

It was very hard to read. Your writing is lovely, poignant, raw, real. I love that. Yet, there was so much sadness. I cried through most of your posts.

I'm usually not one to keep reading something so painful. I'm very sensitive, so even though I don't know you or your family, I felt your pain (and all of your LOVE) in every fiber of my being.

Yet, I continued to read, riveted by your words.

Jack was an amazing kid. A child every parent dreams of having.

I started running in April. It was a struggle in the beginning. It's easier now, but I still have my days.

My "a-ha" moment was when I reached the post about Jack's Lanterns. I knew that was why God sent me to your blog. I will be making a donation. I would love to run all of my races in honor of Jack.

One question though: Is there an official logo for Jack's Lanterns that we can use to print on a shirt for race days? I would love to have one made. If not, maybe one of your bloggy friends who are artistic could make one? I'm not artistic or I would volunteer.

I have read about the last year of your life. I am now going to go back to the beginning and read it all. I'd love to get to "know" your family.

You are an amazing woman.

Domestic Diva said...

Oh my word, that was heartbreaking and heartwarming all at once. Jack was obviously an amazing person and what a tribute to have written about you by your best friend.

Leslie said...

Oh, Lord. Wow. I'm adding him, SPECIFICALLY and by name, to my prayers. What awesome sons you and your Farrah Fawcet hair-ed (because I always see her in my mind as the photo of her as a teenager) sister have. Truly, what incredible boys.

Anonymous said...

Anna,

Oh the ache. I ache for you and think of you so often. I thought about you all day this past Sept 8th and when the weather suddenly changed I knew it was Jack making his presence known to you and your family. In that moment I hope you could feel the love from me and countless others in this area. And from Jack.

Hugs to you.
~Shanna

Kate Coveny Hood said...

So beautiful... Don't know how the teacher was able to continue grading papers after reading that one.

Matty said...

Oh Anna, and Liz. My heart breaks all over again. Tears. Hugs. Prayers. xoxo

Mandy said...

Heartbreaking...I can't see through the tears. xx

the ::packs:: said...

This just made me tear up. This is so sweet and precious. Lots of love in his words which I'm sure is such beautiful pain for you. xoxo

SheriJane said...

my favorite part of that sweet note was where he said he'd take Jack, AND BOTH of their sisters to play.... what young boys say that?

One crazed mommy said...

Oh sob - I'm teary eyed now...that is the sweetest, most heartwarming, yet hearbreaking essay I've ever read. I know that had to be hard to write! Sweet boy - my heart goes out to him. It's hard to lose a best friend, and a cousin all in one. Sweet boy!

Suzy said...

How does one family produce so many gifted writers? I love the line that Jack would mess with his dreams while he was dozing. Not a day goes by that I don't think of you and your family and pray.

A Speckled Trout said...

That was a brave thing to write.......to put all those things on paper when it was so raw. A writer he may be, eh?

I think he's destined to live a very big life. Big enough for him and the cousin who was his best friend.

The Carens Clan said...

Okay I'm bawling, could that essay be any sweeter? So heartbreaking.

mosey (kim) said...

It doesn't happen often, but I am brought to tears by this. What an eloquent and loving boy.

Anonymous said...

This makes me smile through my tears. Really beautiful and oh so sad. Thinking of you and your family tonight.

notme said...

Anna, thank you for sharing and baring your soul to the world this past year. We can learn so much from you.

Think of you often....pray for your family often, as well.

Nomads By Nature said...

Such eloquence and heartbreak from such a young boy. I hope in writing he received some peace, that it was therapy and release to his soul. He was so brave to share such strong and raw emotions about losing not just a cousin, but it seems a very best friend. I think gifted writers run in your family.

OSMA said...

My favorite part is when he wrote he would take Jack to see you in the present day even if Jack did believe his warning. An extra protective layer around his best friend. The picture shows everything you need to know about their love and loyalty to one another. The essay reveals all the layers to both.

Sending love and strength to you always and also some extra to your sweet sweet nephew.

xoxo

Laura said...

Over the years, I can recall several occasions when late night talks with siblings/cousins or talks on long road trip rides (after geography games and ABC games were exhausted) where the discussion led to "Where would you go and who would you see if you had a time machine?" It was always fun to think about and imagine.

Until now, I've never wished to hard for it to be possible.

" . . mess with my dreams while I was dozing."
I love that. I hope he's now visiting him in his dreams ~ and offering the kind of comfort his sweet cousin needs.

Laura said...

arrgh . . . *so*

(need more coffee . . . )

Anonymous said...

Oh, Anna. That beautiful letter is just breaking my heart. Give your sweet nephew a giant, two-armed, big squeezy hug from me.

You and your sister must be so proud of him for being able to express himself so well. It's pretty amazing.

love,
jbhat

the mama bird diaries said...

That is breathtakingly beautiful. And it hurts my heart.

Steph said...

Oh what exquisitely painful writing. My prayers are with your whole family.

Jessica Watson said...

Well I am just crying my eyes out now but despite the tears I can imagine that it warms your heart to know that your son was and is loved that much. Huge hug to you.

agent99 said...

Heartbreakingly horrible and beautiful, all at the same time. Wishing you and your entire family peace and comfort. If I had one wis, it would be to give that boy his wish.

Lisa said...

Oh how this tugged at my heartstrings. I wish your nephew could have his wish. I ache for his loss...

Anna Lefler said...

Oh, my goodness. That is just beautiful.

What a gift.

Sending you a huge hug, Anna.

XOXO

A.

for a different kind of girl said...

I'm speechless from reading this. What a heart your dear nephew has. Can't even begin to imagine how difficult this must have been for him to do so soon after.

Jana said...

Oh goodness. Thanks to you and your nephew for sharing. Big ol' lump in my throat.

Lady Courtney said...

Out of the mouth of babes...with tears in my eyes, my heart continues to reach out to you and your family! donna :)

Heidi said...

I am a wreck over here. That was just...I don't have words. Not the right ones.

We lost 3 loved ones this week - beautiful souls that have gone on. Scott's nana, my Oma and my aunt. For each of them it was time to go. This is what breaks my heart for you, for Jack. That he didn't get to grow older, do and love more. But, in the too-short time he was here he knew what it meant to live, to truly live. And to know what he knew - all of us can learn from him. We are learning from him. That beautiful, beautiful boy.

Thank you for sharing this incredible letter.

Manoel Carlos Alves said...

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Manoel Carlos Alves said...

PAZ E PROSPERIDADE...

Passando por uma breve visita e quero lhe dizer que adorei o seu blog, Que Deus esteja contigo. sucesso, paz e prosperidade... Parabéns pelo blog. Aguardo a sua visita em meu blog;

http://inkdesignerstampas.blogspot.com

Meg McCormick said...

Anna, I weep with you. And I can't imagine how the teacher must have wept after reading this honest, emotional essay.

PeachPrenni said...

Oh my goodness Anna--what a beautiful, heartfelt and also heart-wrenching essay. I can hear his pain. It's nice to know that Jack had a brother-cousin who loved him so much. Not everyone has that and it's very special!
Love you.
Annie

Robbie K said...

What a heartbreaking, thoughtful essay. My cousin drowned a week before his 18th birthday. My first child (a son) was born on his birthday.

Anonymous said...

If we could only bring them all back for one day... What a wonderful day it would be.