Monday, March 25, 2013

Fourteen

Some really neat things happened around Jack's birthday.

Tim and three friends ran a 5k in his honor, and one of our neighbors ran a 1/2 marathon.

On Saint Patrick's Day, the night before his birthday, we gathered at a Mexican restaurant with a big group of Jack's best friends and their families. Don't you think Mexican food when you think St. Paddy's?

People came and went as schedules permitted, ate dinner, visited, and looked at family albums. Three of Jack's classmates drew amazing portraits of him to give to us. I know that when I was their age, I was struggling to make a line drawing of a SHOE in art class, so the skill and love that comes through these drawings is astounding!




We were supposed to leave the restaurant at 8, but we stayed until closing time, sharing stories and laughing a lot.

On his birthday, which was snowy and cold, Auntie Liz ran 14 miles in his honor, while I nursed about 14 cups of tea. Two of my friends joined her for the first 5 miles, their hair covered with ice, the wet snow still coming down.

Friends decided to do 14 acts of kindness, and  we got to hear the stories pour in: of Lego sets given to children in the hospital, toiletries donated to women's shelters on the west coast, and even of grace extended to someone who had done something very hurtful.

Two of Jack and Margaret's friends went with their mom to a local grocery store and waited by the bakery. Each time someone came to pick up a birthday cake, they gave out a gift card for 14 dollars to help pay for the cake and then told Jack's story. This took guts and creativity, and one of the recipients was so touched she went home, Googled our story, and re-donated the money to Samaritan's Purse in honor of Jack. So many acts of kindness, so much love.

One of the neatest stories came out of a rural high school in West Virginia where my brother works. Our friend, an English teacher, developed a lesson plan around specific posts on this blog. The students were so moved that they decided on their own to commit to doing 14 acts of kindness for Jack's birthday. In all, these amazing teenagers committed to doing 3,000 acts of kindness in Jack's name! For example, one boy gave a veteran a ride and spent time visiting with him at a fast food restaurant.  A girl put positive quotations and affirmations in every drive-thru bag at the McDonalds where she works, spreading love up and down a major highway. Forty other English teachers from all over downloaded the lesson plan to use with their own students.

Each signature on this poster represents a student who will be doing these acts of kindness! Isn't that beautiful?

When this same English teacher was on a school trip 3 hours from home a few days later, a stranger offered to pay for her coffee. "Why?" she asked. "Well, I'm doing these 14 acts of kindness in memory of a boy..." The love was spreading!

These acts helped motivate Tim, Margaret, and me to do 14 of our own, and it helped us think beyond ourselves for a little while. We made "blessing bags" for our cars-- Ziploc bags filled with snacks, new socks, toiletries and a few dollars, to have ready when we encounter someone in need.

Cards, beautiful Lego keychains made by a friend, 14 luminaria on our door step, a stained glass window for our wall, flowers, and prayers from all over the internet, helped us get through the day.

Thank you so much!

My favorite jewelry designer, of Holly Lane Designs, created a beautiful pendant with Jack's favorite Bible verse on it. The Mobius Strip design is a perfect nod to Jack's love of puzzles, as well as God's ability to make the impossible possible.

The rest of the week, I was in birthday recovery mode, which I've noticed is pretty common after a major holiday. The buildup and anticipation are the worst, with our feeling weepy, irritable, and hopeless, and then it gets a little better afterward. Kind of like PMS for grief.

Five days after Jack's birthday, 8 family members and I went to a restaurant after Margaret's soccer tournament. The bill was NOT small. When it came, the waiter said it had already been paid for. "What?" We looked around, confused. Surely there had been a mistake.

"No," the waiter said, "Someone paid and said it was for Jack's mom.'"

Wow.

Life is hard. Life is good.

So grateful for all the lights that flicker in the darkness.


84 comments:

Jamie said...

This made me cry both happy and sad tears. Happy for all of the blessings spreading across the country because of a gorgeous boy named Jack. Man, I hope he can see this! The lead up to the big days I've also found to be the hardest. Followed by exhaustion for the days to follow. So glad for the kindness you've been shown

Ann Imig said...

Jack's legacy of love lives on and on and on thanks to you, your amazing IRL community and this blog.

Anonymous said...

Wow. All the acts of kindness are amazing. I bet the one at the bakery especially touched you because you have talked often about how you dislike confrontation or awkwardness in dealing with people in various stores or businesses. All such great tributes to Jack.

Christy said...

Wow. Some serious tears here. You are so amazing. xoxo

Anonymous said...

I am crying too. I love the stories and need to get a move on with my acts of kindness. I thought of Jack and ice cream when we woke up on this snowy March day.

Btw, those drawings by Jacks' friends are simply amazing. Faces are the hardest to draw and those boys did spectacularly. Wow!

Hugs, NoVa Mom Jen

Peg said...

Amazing, inspiring, and just plain cool.

I know all about those grief hangovers...hope it didn't last too long.

Kate Coveny Hood said...

Love all of the stories...so much good out there if we only seek it out. And of course I LOVE YOU!

Jana said...

Thank you for sharing. So inspiring. All of it.

Heidi said...

Crying over here at the pool while waiting for Annie to finish her swimming lesson. These stories are so damn touching and so beautiful. Oh, my heart. LOVE you, Anna.

Suburban Correspondent said...

All of that is so awesome! And so funny that someone recognized you at the restaurant as Jack's mom!

Sherri Newman said...

This is such a precious way to remember Jack...kindness and even laughter on what would have been an easy day to hide in a dark corner and cry all day. Thank you for sharing! You were on my mind all day!

Michele Wood said...

this made me cry too. What wonderful tributes to Jack. How much love and kindness he has spread!
Hugs, Michele

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful way to honor your son.

anymommy said...

There is just so much good here. I know that doesn't take away the pain, but it is so very kind of you to share with us how love spreads as you face Jack's birthday without him.

Julia said...

I don't watch the news because it's only about bad, bad people. I don't read the headlines or newspapers for the same reason. I started reading blogs because it was good news, good people, good things.

I found your blog and you made me laugh. I fell in love with your writing and felt like I knew you and your kids and your husband.

I still remember being stopped in my thoughts that horrible day I stopped by to read "you" and saw Jack's picture.

I am still here because I love you and your family. Today's post is full of good news, good people, good stuff. None of it replaces Jack but it's a reminder that this temporary home isn't all bad.

I can just imagine Jack's smile and pride as he sees the smiles on your faces once again.

And Mexican food is always appropriate...whatever the reason.

Love, Julia

Mrs. E said...

Wow! All I can do is cry and say Wow!

tracy@sellabitmum said...

Tears. You are doing so much good. Love you. xo

Debby@Just Breathe said...

Wow, the tears are flowing down my checks. What wonderful people you have in your life and so many awesome acts of kindness. I loved them all but the $14. GC for birthday cakes really hit me hard. I guess because it was Jack's birthday. ((HUGS)) I cannot imagine what your heart is going through but I thank you for sharing your story here with me. Take care and God bless. Debby

Karen said...

Beautiful.

scgrits said...

Wow. Just wow. How can I get a copy of that lesson plan? My sister teaches English and I'd love for her to see it.

LauraBeth said...

Anna...

You and Tim and Margaret were on my heart last weekend, and especially on Monday... Jack's birthday is the day after a birthday in our house. On Monday, we went out for Mexican, and I thought of Jack and his family.

These stories of people all over honoring Jack in so many ways are truly awesome!

Sending love and hugs from the other side of town...
Laura

Sybil@PeaceitallTogether said...

What amazing stories!! How proud you must be to be Jack's mom!

Anonymous said...

"Happy birthday to my son."

The tears were already flowing but this brought on the full waterworks. So much can be felt through those short little tags.

heather blair said...

Love the acts of kindness shared! Goosebumps on the bakery idea and your meal being covered. Hugs to you!

Jules said...

Wow. I'm so glad that you had so many to share this special day with you. It must have been an emotional roller coaster thinking of the many blessings that you have had with Jack but also missing him so much. I love that others wanted to do things in Jack's memory. Our family has started to do random acts of kindness since the Newtown tragedy & now we will add doing them in memory of Jack too. Sometimes we do them very randomly & sometimes we look to see who we know that is in need & do something for them. I hope that all of this helped to heal your hearts. Jack sounds like such an amazing boy. Your family is in my thoughts & prayers.

Anonymous said...

Some people are given many years on earth, but lead thin lives. It's obvious, through your words, Jack lived a full life. Full enough to inspire love.

You must be so proud to call him your son.

Rakesh Kumar said...

Most popular 2013 Cars and Vehicles, Latest Company Cars Huyndai, Honda, BMW, Nissan, New Aston, Ferrari and Most popular speed and Super Cars
WorldLatestVehicles.Com

Paula said...

Even though I knew about it, the last bit made me teary. I think it's the accumulation of kindness all in Jack's name. Brutiful. Love you Donaldsons. Keep the faith.

Erica said...

I know you must not feel like it, but you are an inspiration. I just donated to Samaritan's Purse in honor of Jack's 14th birthday. This is such an inspirational post - I am so happy for all of the kindness you have been shown and so amazed at you and your family's ability to keep Jack's memory alive by showing kindness to others.

Anonymous said...

I'm doing the blessing bags! I always want to give to someone in need and spare change just doesn't cut it. Also, I just read a post from today as well called Light in the Night Sky. Here is the link http://chronicville.wordpress.com/ and her last line"Thank you for helping me see the light in the night sky. Thank you for showing me the stars. "

Chrisy said...

I wish all of those beautiful acts of kindness could bring Jack back for you. Still unbelievable. Love to you all. xoxo

Ten Coffee Day said...

What a wonderful way to honor your son! Truly remarkable and touching!

Laura at Ms. Smartie Pants said...

Answered prayers knowing you are surrounded by love!

Wanderlust said...

This is so incredibly beautiful. Look what you have done with the pain you've been handed? You're transformed it into this amazing chain of love.

Natalie said...

I sit here in tears, reading about the beauty all around us. The kindness that was spread because of Jack is simply amazing. Many, many blessings to you!

Ryan said...

AMAZING

Anonymous said...

Wow, what a beautiful post.

I am late to the game but in honor of Jack's birthday, and his love for the Yankees, I will donate 14 tickets to one of the Yankees/Rockies games here this summer. I live across the street from an inner city school and I think they would be great recipients.

I am happy that you were surrounded by a lot of love on Jack's birthday.

PS: so impressed by the drawings. I am just learning to paint and I can't believe how amazing the drawings are.


Theresa in Colorado

Meredith Self said...

Happy birthday, Jack. Carrying the torch.

Cassie @ Primitive & Proper said...

wow- what a special chain of events. and how amazing that your bill was paid... that is awesome!

Stimey said...

Jack's light is so bright. It is phenomenal to see it sparking so many others. I love all of these stories.

Sharon @ Elizabeth & Co. said...

Again Anna, I am typing through tears! Jack's amazing legacy just lives on and on and on .....

jessov said...

Beautiful. Just beautiful.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing all these beautiful stories. I am in tears but also inspired. You and your family have been in my thoughts and prayers.

Kablooey said...

I'm going to make some of those bags to keep in my car -- and then find 13 other things to do in Jack's honor. Wow, your wonderful boy continues to bring out the best in people. Shock waves of compassion.

Kiri said...

Inspirational and filled with love.
Sharing on the Angel Zoe Kindness Project's facebook page!

Anonymous said...

That is incredible and inspiring. I think I might need to do 14 acts of kindness as well

Meredith said...

I continue to be inspired by you and your commitment to Jack's memory. This week, my boys (ages 4, 2 and 8 months) will help me be assemble our own "Blessings Bags" to keep in our car. Rare birds UNITE!

Anonymous said...

8 months ago today my oldest son was killed in the line of duty. He died 5 days before his 3rd wedding anniversary & 17 days before his 1st born child, a son, was born. Our hearts are crushed. I have enjoyed reading your blog.

The Empress said...

Crying here.

Because what would the dark in life be,without the light?

Thank you, for giving me a place, where I'm not the only one, feeling so very sad, on someone's birthday.

Thank you.

You are the light in my dark this birthday week. xo

Lisa C said...

I, too, cried both happy and sad tears for you and Jack.

It's heartwarming that there are still so many good people in our world.

Jack's memory is a catalyst for acts of kindness and I'm certain he takes pleasure in that.

Lady Jennie said...

I just want to sob. There is so much beauty and so much sadness all mingled together. And I keep thinking, unless a seed dies and falls to the ground, it remains a single seed.

But this? This is fields upon fields of sunflowers turning their faces to the sun.

Anna See said...

@anonymous 4:46 am: I am so very, very sorry for your loss. Sending you much love today as your grieve.

Mel said...

This sounds as perfect as a broken day could ever be. Hugs to you all.

Tami said...

WOW! That is amazing. It brought tears to my eyes, but they were happy tears. Thank you for sharing and what an inspiration!

kimber said...

I remember the day Jack died like it was yesterday. I remember thinking… oh no… I dearly love reading her hysterical musings, and now her life will be forever clouded.
But you shine brighter now than you ever did, you're still clever beyond words, make me laugh and today, cry.
Your voice is so much stronger and filled with so much more purpose that it was before that day in September.
I am filling Blessing Bags {Jack's Stash, I call it} to keep in my car, and never again will I avoid eye contact with a homeless person, but will bless them with the promise of hope, and the encouragement from someone wise beyond his years. Each bag will contain Jack's verse.
Hugs to all of you and bravo for all of the people who are remembering Jack with purpose and blessing.

Princess Kate said...

My heart is so overwhelmed for your family. I hope it comforts you if only just a tad to know that I think of Jack every day and he makes me a better person/mother.

I'm also doing 14 acts of kindness in his honor. Each act has to be special so I'm taking my time.

Hugs and peace my friend.

RachelSD @ Personality Crafts said...

Tears here, what a lovely gift you have given those of us who read your blog (and all the other people you come into contact with). Thank you for constantly reminding me to do better and be better. For Jack.

Rach said...

Beautiful. All of it.

I'm glad you've recovered. I find I'm worse after a big event and need a couple days to come to rights again.

Hugs!

Anonymous said...

To the grieving mom, who is also a new grandmother, I would like to thank your family for your son's service to his country, since service involves the entire family. Your loss is so sad and the timing is just heartbreaking. Eight months today. God bless you.

@Empress, I'm so sorry for your loss and the tough birthday week.

Recovering Church Lady said...

"Life is hard and life is good." Yes, your words ring with truth earned in a deep place. Blessings on you, Dear One.

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful post. The kindnesses of others are inspirational. I will participate in doing fourteen of my own, continuing the cycle. The portraits of your beautiful Jack are amazing. HOPE. That is what I'm filled with right now. Hope enables us to continue life here and now. God bless you, Sherri

AmyMak said...

That is so beautiful. I've never met you, but greatly admire the way you can write about this grief. I've been thinking about you all week as we head into Easter. How blessed we are with hope and optimism that there is such a thing as the resurrection. Thank you for touching so many lives. I want to go fill kindness bags right now.

Catherine said...

Another reader moved to tears. I've been checking your blog daily to see how you recovered from the day. The love that has spread b/c of your dear boy (and your gift with words) is so amazing and so beautiful. Your story inspires me daily to attempt to cherish the moments with my two small boys . . . and we will spend some time over our spring break filling our car with 14 blessing bags in honor of yours.

Anonymous said...

today I celebrated my daughter's 11th birthday. we still have a blue bow on our lilac bush (a memorial to my mother). We have a Jack in our family who will be 16 on the 30th. You don't know how often I think of you and your family. We will think of you all as we start the b-day tradition of acts of kindness. Thank you for sharing your joys and your grief and making me appreciate so much more all that I have.

Lori said...

A beyond beautiful celebration of Jack. I am so touched by all of it. Sending you hugs and love to each one of you. Had I been keeping up on my reading my family and I could have participated in doing 14 acts of kindness in honor of Jack...I guess it's never too late is it? ((((Anna))))

Nomads By Nature said...

Those portraits are amazing. There is so much captured in the eyes. Sending you hugs from around the world as you celebrate your Jack's life. As you can tell from all that is being done in his honor, Jack does live on in so many hearts and in so many ways. Hoping you continue to find comfort on those difficult days and moments. I am thinking of you and your family and holding you in prayer.

Uhu work said...

Many peoples want to earn money on internet without any investment but there is many online jobs which have many investments. Now you can earn without any investment with Just clicking and Earn daily upto 10 Dollars.
Join this Best opportunity to make money online without any investment or Charges.
HotProClicks.com

Alison said...

What a wonderful, wonderful tribute to Jack, and a testament to how much love surrounds his memory, and your family.

Mandy said...

Honestly, you make me cry every time I read one of your posts...you seem to get straight to the nub of what life is supposed to be about...love for one another and our God. All love and comfort to you, Tim and Margaret. xx

Robbim said...

Thank you for sharing your story, your heart, your son. I, like many others, sit here and read with tears streaming down my face. Beauty tangled with such pain.

Cat@BudgetBlonde.com said...

Incredible stories all around, Anna. My favorite is your dinner bill that was taken care of. Angels all around. :)

Karen (formerly kcinnova) said...

I just read this and started crying -- for you, for Jack, for your family, and for the love of so many that are inspired because you are courageous enough to share your story.

Kori said...

Such a beautiful boy you have to inspire so many to do so much. And I hope you don't mind me using the present tense because he's so clearly still here with you.
Much love to you, Tim and Margaret.

sunny kumar said...

Online Earning opportunities to make money online from home, Internet Online Business want to make money easy now.
www.jobzcorner.com

bhawan kumar said...

Online Earning opportunities to make money online from home, Internet Online Business want to make money easy now.
www.jobzcorner.com

Multigrain Woman said...

In memory of Jack, the biggest LEGO fan I've heard of...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NdDU_BBJW9Y

Anonymous said...

Don't you know how profoundly we all love you and your family? Blessed Easter. He is risen indeed.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much!!

Loukia said...

Of course this post made me cry. The sadness, the acts of kindness, all of it. Love to you.

thejugglestruggle said...

Jack has left such a powerful, positive mark on the world. He has accomplished more in his 14 years than many people do in lifetime. What a lovely legacy.

And Jack didn't live in a bubble, becoming the beautiful young man that he was. No, it was you and your husband and Margaret as the primary influences on his life, as well as those who knew and loved him.

Such a powerful message about how we touch each other's lives. Thank you for touching mine.
~Lisa AR

sunny kumar said...

World's Most Popular Website where you can get every thing you want, Marketing and Advertising, Social Media Marketing, News updates, Entertainment Updates, Funny pictures, Entertainment Pictures, Hot pictures, Classified Websites, Mp3 Tunes, Online Jobs, Videos, Funny Videos and Much More Fun Mania
HotCurrentAffairs.com

bhawan kumar said...

Earn Money Online without any investment or Charges, now you can earn unlimited with Just Clicking Advertisements, Earn with Clicking Advertisments without Investments
Just Visit the Start and Make Account Easy and Free
HotProClicks.com

Getrealmommy said...

I am so glad you have the amazing support that you do. Your loss is so huge. So many who experience tragedy like this don't get this type of support, I wish that this live could be there for everyone.