Friday, December 7, 2012

Here's Looking at You, Kid


I'm working on our yearly photo album. I've always enjoyed getting a whole year's pictures bound in one slim volume-- a family yearbook that we look at again and again. Last year's was tough, but at least we had Jack for 8 of the 12 months represented. That yearbook looked pretty normal, until it didn't.This year's is a struggle that I'm just trying to power through before my online coupon expires.

My heart is heavy.

It has made me think of baby books. As the third child in four years, I took great offense upon discovering that my own baby book was nearly empty. I took it upon myself in first grade to rectify the situation by gluing in random pictures and filling in the blanks to describe myself. For "HAIR" I wrote: "Pretty" instead of brown; and for "EYES" I wrote "Nice" instead of blue. My mom got a huge kick out of this. I  drew, in ink, a portrait of my family, including our dog, cat, and guppies. I also drew fart bubbles coming out of my sister's rear end, so I guess my love for potty humor and my jealousy toward my older sister started young.

For Jack's baby book, however, I was on the case! As the first child, he had my undivided attention and resources. We also had no cable tv, blogs, smart phones or high speed internet to lure me away from my glue sticks, or Pinterest to intimidate me into creative paralysis.

So page after page is filled with lists, cute anecdotes, ticket stubs, folded paper party hats, class photos, and certificates. I hoped that someday Jack, or at least an interested wife or child, would pore over his well-documented cuteness.

And now it sits here, to what purpose?

To mock us about what should have been? While his friends get facial hair and all we get are memories?

I've spent some time this morning crying and looking over his book. I know that if it has been a while and I need a good cry, looking at pictures helps me get there fast. Videos are still almost too painful to watch. I wondered whether Jack had even seen his baby book, but I was pretty sure he had, because he loved things like that.

I smile through tears when I see he has indeed read it, like mother like son, taken it upon himself to pencil in a few additions.

He must have been 8 years old because where I had left off writing down Halloween costumes at age 6, Jack had added in sloppy cursive:
"Age 7: Darth Vader
Age 8: Zombie Doctor"

On the page about the origin of his name, I had left a blank:
Your name means:___________________

Jack added: "Successor, Given by God."

Given by God?
Given by God.
Given by God!


"You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name"

It's a choice. Every. Single. Day.



49 comments:

Laura said...

{{hugs}}
xoxo

Anonymous said...

My son's name is also Jack (he is 5) and I get such strength and encouragement reading about your Jack and the wonderful person he was/is.
From what I learned upon naming our son, the name Jack means "God is gracious". I believe that with all of my heart and know that His grace is sufficient for us all.Your Jack seemed to know that so well. God was gracious enough to give you 12 wonderful years with that boy and gracious enough to take him Home again when it was time. He is gracious as he sends tender mercies to your family and he is gracious as he wraps his arms of love around you and carries you through these hard times. God is gracious, indeed.
Much love and prayer for you today and always.

Loukia said...

I'm thinking about you so much this month, crying with you, I am. My heart is heavy for you. I'm so so sorry. Keep those memories alive and well. You will see your Jack again, and when that time happens it might feel like only yesterday was the last time you saw him. I truly believe this. Love to your family. Strength, too. xoxo

Anonymous said...

Please pray for my niece Cali, her twin brother and my sister and brother in-law. Cali had emergency intestinal surgery last night. The prognosis is bleak, however there is still hope. Give us all strength. Pray that she pulls through. She's a tough girl. If anyone can make it it's Cali.

I don't know what to do aside from writing things like this. Thank you - amy

Anne said...

My heart still aches for your pain! We continue to keep you all in our hearts and prayers!
xx
Anne

Anna See said...

Amy-- praying for Cali right now!

Kierstin said...

My heart aches for you. I'm so sorry that you're having a hard day. I hope you can find some peace and comfort in his precious scrapbook. I will be praying for you and your family. Merry Christmas. ((hug))

Kristen Mae said...

I just got caught up on your last few posts after having been away from the blogosphere for several weeks. I loved the pictures, especially the first one with your daughter jumping in the air. Beautiful. And I'm totally going to do that Christmas tree ornament thingy. As for today... how incredible is it what Jack wrote in his scrapbook? When my brother was killed in a 4-wheeling accident 6 years ago, we found a lot of things like that after his death, things that shocked us all, while making us cry, bringing us peace, and reminding us of the presence of God. I'm so glad that you have the scrapbook.

Karen (formerly kcinnova) said...

I'm so glad he wrote in the baby book. He was loved and he knew it. No, he won't have a wife someday to enjoy the book (and this makes me cry right now) but perhaps it will be a blessing to Margaret as it is for you.

Jill said...

I'm so glad that you found those additions to the book. Jack will continue to sneak in a "hi" for you when you need it.

Anonymous said...

Oh Anna. This makes my heart heavy too. I guess it is a choice, and I'm glad you are making the one that keeps you strong.

love,
jbhat

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry, Amy! I am praying for Cali. (HUGS)

Sybil@PeaceitallTogether said...

What an inspiration you are! The word, "brave" comes to mind. Doing the hard things, making the hard choices, despite the fear and pain. Praying for you as you make that choice, every day.

Four in Costa Rica said...

Several years ago my little daughter was being tested for possible asthma and had a "routine" EKG (just to rule out heart issues) that ended up showing she almost certainly suffered from Long Q-T syndrome, a congenital disorder of the heart that can lead to heart attack or sudden death. We immediately were told she needed to see another cardiologist at the main branch of the children's hospital. Of course we had to wait nearly two months for this appointment. Daily, I looked at my girl, and I struggled and prayed ... and then one morning in church we sang those words you wrote. "You give and take away. My heart will choose to say, 'Lord, blessed be Your name.'"

Soon I was sobbing as I realized ... He might take my daughter. She is His child. And if He does, then what? Will my heart still choose Him? Every day? Can I do that? Will He help me do that?

What came of this story is that my daughter -- now 15 years old -- does not have long QT. She doesn't have anything wrong with her heart. She doesn't even have asthma. The doctors said the first EKG must have malfunctioned (though it didn't appear to for any other patients). I say it was a miracle. I believe the Lord healed her little heart.

And then I read your story and those words of Job yet again, and I rejoice that my Erin is here and weep that your beautiful Jack is not. It seems to be too much at times for even the most devout to make the choice daily. The mom in me wants to scream and cry, "It's not fair, God! No mother should have to live without her child!"

Then I remember that He knows how it feels so see His perfect and sinless son suffer the crushing sins of the entire world and die on a cross out of the most amazing love ever. And more than that, I am reminded that our ways are not His ways, and we cannot even begin to fathom what it means to be God. I know that doesn't mean that a child's death doesn't or shouldn't hurt so much. I ache for you often, Anna, and I have never even met you. But I thank God for Jack and that through his death, the way and the truth and the life of Jesus has shone to people all over the world. I'm so grateful that the Lord gave Jack to His people, even if for such a short time, and I'm living with faith that someday this mourning will pass and there will be no more sorrow or crying or pain. Just an eternity for you to spend with your precious son.

I will pray for you to keep choosing, Anna. And Amy, I am praying for your family as well. May God put his comforting hand on you all today. Much love to you all, sisters.

susanna said...

Oh it is a choice, isn't it friend? So many of my acquaintances think mothers like us are so strong and I always, always, always feel weak when I flounder for a way to respond.

This is not strength but rather just the ability to fall into the right and knowing and loving arms. I'm sorry you also have to live without your child...I cannot imagine it ever getting easier.

E in Vermont said...

Sometimes I've wondered why I keep coming back to your blog -- other than the fact that your writing is interesting, wise, and often funny. But all of this is very painful, so why do I keep coming? Partly because I want to express a voice of support and compassion but there's something else, and I think I figured it out. I recently read that the Lakota consider a person who is grieving to be "wakan" -- holy. That their presence is a blessing and their prayers more powerful than those of the rest of us. Yes, I do believe that. It makes huge sense to me. And if I may be permitted to be greedy, will you send a quick prayer in my direction? With gratitude and prayers for you. E.

Anonymous said...

Maybe it feels like a struggle that you're just trying to power through, but you ARE struggling.

Maybe you look at pictures in order to have a good cry, but that's because you're NOT crying all the time.(Not that it wouldn't be understandable, but you're not.)

You keep trying.

Who does that remind me of?

One crazed mommy said...

I have read so many beautiful words from other readers, and I don't have much to add they haven't said, besides you are always in my thoughts and prayers, and it STILL strikes me how similar your Jack is to my sweet boy. It literally gives me chills. Even when I read at 7 he penciled in Darth Vader...my son is 7 and that is what he dressed up as this Halloween. Legos still make me think of Jack, and my son is obsessed with them. I know you feel as if the book is for nothing, but look at the memories it gives to you...painful, yes, but they also make you smile and let you know that even for a while all of those memories were real. Tangible proof. One day you will see him again - this is memories to hold you over until you can hold him in your arms again! Keep choosing every day...

One crazed mommy said...

I am also sending prayers to Amy - praying for your neice and your family!

Salvimom said...

To Anna,
God Bless you always! This post just shows so clearly how in line your family and especially your dear boy is with God. God is amazing. Its so beautiful that He gave Jack such wisdom and goodness. Well, continue to have a blessed day. prayers always.

Ury

darsden said...

Oh Anna, I my heart hurts so much for you and your family. Precious Memories for sure.

I remember watching a video not to long ago totally unexpected I heard my mother say my name again. Waterfalls I tell you but soooo priceless hearing her say it again.

Love & Prayers

Gigi said...

4My heart hurts for you. I'm amazed at the strength you have. Keeping you all in my thoughts and prayers.

Heather said...

Oh, how I can relate. My Austin's book is filled too. Maybe God gifted us that so we would have the memories?

http://austinslegacy.blogspot.com/2009/03/baby-book-memories.html

Recovering Church Lady said...

Oh Sweetheart, I want to hug you hard, my friend. Praying this season for you and your family.

Anonymous said...

Oh Anna---this is the type of thing that cripples us, after we think we've done a pretty good job ofg forging ahead after our child died. The second year , I think, is truly worse---I don't know why. The holidays? A trap for disaster and heartaches and tears because you won't hear YOUR child's voice then, nor until you see him in Heaven. That's not the first or second year---it's every year! God gives us children whom we love, and then when they are taken away, we don't know WHY! And I think that's okay. I've heard all the stuff--"They were His to begin with!" (True! It just doesn't help right then! and on and on!) After Sherry died, I asked a woman who'd lost her teenager 17 years before that in a terrible accident when he stepped on a live wire and was a electrocuted on a stormy night on a lonely road. She still goes to his grave and talks to him! It's has now been 33 years for her!!But the thought of seeing her again, and remembering her voice in my heart-- those are things I cling to still!
Blessing, Anna!
Sherry's mom

Anonymous said...

Left out that I am praying for Cali--this to Amy!
And also meant to say that I asked the woman who had lost her son who was electrocuted--WHAT DID SHE DO WHEN HE DIED!! She started crying, and hugged me...and told me that she still sits at his grave and talks to him. (She had written me a note and told me to call her if I ever needed to--and so one night, struggling, I did--and asked what she did to get through this awful pain?) Pain is something that we struggle with every minute of everyday, then not every minute, and then some days come and you feel GUILTY for NOT thinking about them for an hour, then a day...it's sort of ...how it seems to go, Honey! God bless you, Anna and family!
Love, Sherry's mom

Jamie said...

Oh my gosh, this time of year is so hard! We sang that song at Sully's funeral. I chose the music. I think that's the only part I had in the planning.Sometimes now I wish I'd chosen songs that we don't sing at Church and hear on the radio. Maybe I'll go look through the baby book. Prayers for all of you this season

Jen said...

so true. beautiful. thank you for sharing.

Erin said...

Oh my goodness. Your last few lines just grabbed me. I just wanted to say thank you for sharing your pain, for sharing your frustration, your laughter, your humor. It takes a very special person to share the experiences you have had. I learn so much from you.

Buttercream Bakehouse said...

I can't imagine your pain but as a mother my heart is breaking with you. Your posts always grab at my heartstrings and make me hug my kids a little tighter. Today, I am pulling out all four baby books (which I have neglected) and will do my best to fill them out and keep them up to date. Videos would be hard. I don't blame you but at least you have them. So sorry Anna.

Rach said...

Oh, Anna, I'm so SO sorry. Sometimes those tears ARE necessary and can be so healing.

Watching videos of Hannah is almost impossible for me even now, five years out. To hear her voice and see her there, so happy and vital and ALIVE and then just not. It's hard.

I pray for you as you continue to work on that photo album. It's another milestone, you know? Another one to power through.

Big hugs,
Rach

spedhead said...

Bless you Anna. I have not commented in a while, up to my eyeballs in my own family issues, but I think of your family often. There will be people missing at our family table this year also but we all help each other get through. Your blog helps me so much. Wishing you and yours peace and love this holiday.

Deb said...

Oh, Anna. That song was my mantra and kept me going when I was losing my mother and planning a wedding at the same time. She didn't make it to the wedding, but the song did.

It seems perfect that it comes to you now, reminding you of the precious gift of Jack while still acknowledging your pain. And you finding it at this time, and smiling through your tears. Seems that it is the perfect time.

Steph said...

How sweet that your thoughtful boy wrote in his book. I love that song and I pray it brings you much comfort.

Kathy at kissing the frog said...

I understand this, Anna. After Joey died, I put all of his pictures in books. I'm not sure what hurts worse - looking at the last book that has the pictures of when he was sick, or looking at the first books when his life was so full of promise. He loved looking at his baby book, too. I loved the ending to your post. Every day, every moment is a choice, whether to get caught up in the memories and the reminders and let them drag us down or let them lift us up with a happier memory. I'll be thinking of you and praying for you this holiday season.

SouthLakesMom said...

My older sister couldn't find hers so she took mine, crossed through all the things that were written up to that point, and wrote in all info pertaining to her. (when she was somewhere around 5th grade). Now I look at those crossed through things and laugh.

I think about you all a lot, and today when I rode the W&OD through Vienna, the sunshine made me think of you all geocaching with Jack out in the park around the trail. Prayers of encouragement and strength for all of you, Anna.

mandy dix said...

you are so brave. i can only reiterate what 'four in costa rica' said because she said it so well. You have a host of christians (and of angels i feel), praying for you. Stay strong. xxx

A Speckled Trout said...

Sometimes I come here and look at a picture of Jack and I can't believe it. I can't believe he went out to play in the rain and didn't come back. It makes no sense and I only know of him through here.

I couldn't sleep last night........thoughts of you and Tim and Margaret and the burden of grief when all around the season shouts for joy. I would help you carry your heavy heart if I could.

Peace soon.........peace more often.

Anonymous said...

I will never stop thinking of you, Tim, Margaret and especially Jack. Your courage and strength amazes me and I aspire to be a better person because of you. I smile when I think of Jack because he was full of wisdom beyond his years. His time here was well spent and he will never be forgotten.

Geri said...

Very touching post Anna.

Lady Jennie said...

Anna, I have been meaning to write you. This post is a punch in the gut, but I would rather have that with you than have you go through it alone. I have small offerings all alone over here, but together we are a community.

claire plante said...

Anna,

I think of you all the time and send prayers and hugs your way. It is all such a mystery and your choice to hang in there with your faith and try each and every day is so admirable. Your writing and sharing is such a gift.

Love,
Claire

the ::packs:: said...

I'm scared to click on last year in iphoto on my computer in only a few days and no photos of my Colum will pull up. I was just talking bout this! My heart is with you.

tracy@sellabitmum said...

My heart hurts so very much for you my friend. Love you. xo

Debby@Just Breathe said...

My stomach hurts and my heart breaks for you. (((HUGS))
Something you mentioned is a Godincidence which He placed in my heart before I even read this post. Package coming..... You should see my daughters baby book, not done at all. My husband had left, I had to work full time and it never got finished.

Leslie said...

THIS POST MADE MY DAY. I'm bawling, as usual, but to hear that he wrote that! Oh Lord. Wow.

Jana said...

Oh my goodness, Anna. Your words make me cry. Thank you for making yourself so completely vulnerable with the rest of us. That takes COURAGE.

Lesley T. said...

Beautiful, true, and heart-wrenching as always.

Kablooey said...

Love you, Anna. Hugs. And prayers for Cali -- you taught me to do that, by the way.