Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Graduation

Prom and graduation are approaching fast.

It's weird and hard being in the throes of toddler parenting when I thought I would be planning a graduation party and have a house full of teenagers soaking up as much time together as possible before scattering for college.

Tim and I are ragged out and on edge. Interrupted sleep isn't helping. Thank you to An Inch of Gray readers on Facebook for the gentle advice on helping Andrew sleep past 5:12 a.m. We've had a bit of progress this week, but we're still so darn tired. "Andrew liked the, um, bread. You know, the brown kind," Tim says. "Wheat." I reply. We talk about, "that thing" and "that other thing" and do a lot of pointing because our brains are mushy.

But guess what?

Jack and Margaret's high school asked me to be a graduation speaker!

I was overwhelmed with gratitude because that means that Jack is remembered, even 5 1/2 years later. Through Jack's death, the students have learned important lessons about grief and being supportive, and I believe those lessons and their kind hearts will have positive consequences in the world. They didn't think in terms of "Dead kid, how depressing! Let's not drag down our big day by listening to his mother speak." Instead, perhaps they remembered what it was like in 7th grade to have their moms and dads stop, hug them extra tight, and give them a naked glimpse into the fierce love of a parent that goes way beyond grades, achievement, or even likability-- a sacred glimpse brought on by death of a boy just their age somewhere across town.

I thought about the offer for a few days and then declined. Yes, it would have been difficult, but I often surprise myself by doing the next hard thing that comes my way. Speaking is one of my favorite things. However, when I pictured what it would be like to go to the beautiful venue and be surrounded by happy parents and kids I've known forever, but then have to drive away alone, I decided to cut myself some slack and decline.

Sigh.

Would you do me a favor these next few weeks? Would you remember Jack this prom and graduation season? I know it's hard to picture him as an 18 year old, but let's try to do it anyway.

And while he doesn't get to graduate from high school and I don't graduate from missing him, there's still a place for him in the festivities, in our town, our world, and in our lives.

Love never dies.

33 comments:

Angie said...

"And while he doesn't get to graduate from high school and I don't graduate from missing him, there's still a place for him in the festivities, in our town, our world, and in our lives. Love never dies."

Yes. This. I understand. Our son's graduation would have been in 2013. It's okay to say no. We suck up the bitter with the sweet every day of this bereaved parent life. Thankfully, the grace to walk this path has grown through the years, though the grief remains.

Your post today was timely, as today, this morning, in fact, is the yearly scholarship presentation in our son's memory at the high school he attended. I'm having someone videotape it for us.

((hugs)), my friend

Shannon in Austin said...

Absolutely.
With love,
Shannon

Shannon in Austin said...

Absolutely.
With love,
Shannon

Anonymous said...

You never cease to amaze me. Love & God's peace.
PS- I know you are best tired but I hope you write another book, we need your humor & insight. Ruth Larson

Steph said...

It is so wonderful that his school asked you to speak at graduation. It is proof that your precious son is not forgotten but remembered, loved, and honored. I'm so glad you listened to your intuition and were able to receive the blessing but not put yourself through such a heart-wrenching event. I will think of Jack throughout this season, especially when I see prom dates and graduation announcements.
p.s. Last year I gave your book to a local family who had tragically lost their son right after graduation. Thank you for your beautiful writing.

Anonymous said...

Anna, I don't know you, but I think of you and Jack EVERY day.

Kate Coveny Hood said...

Love you Anna. And always remembering.

Anonymous said...

Once again, perfectly said! Hugs

Anonymous said...

You have done many unbelievably hard things. You show up in ways that amaze me and you do it over and over. And this was the brave thing too. You're showing up for yourself. It's wisdom that led you to the decision and I wish I had about a tenth of that wisdom or bravery. (At my age, I fear it is becoming a lost cause.)

I saw a dog sculpture made out of legos just the other day and I thought of Jack.

Caroline from France said...

Oh Anna,
I don't know you and I didn't know Jack. Actually, I came across your blog through Momastery the day you announced his death, and read you ever since. I've followed you silently, thinking of you often throughout my days, wishing you the best, knowing I could nothing for you except pray for you, and love you and your family from afar.
I knew you were safe in God's hand, and glad that you knew it. They say "I can't fall deeper than in the hand of God" and I deeply believe this to be true.
I've been so, so happy for y'all as you announced your pregnancy, and smiled with every picture of Andrew. He really is the cutest little guy and I hope he'll let you sleep more when he figures out how to make the difference between night and day.

I know that joy and grief exist together, side by side, and I'm glad that you're able to be gentle to yourself by declining the invitation to speak at the prom. Jack will be remembered even without you speaking that day. He's kinda hard to forget !
I can't remember Jack, but I think of him often. I'm sure he would be a super-handsome young man, just as Margaret already is a gorgeous woman-to-be and I bet young Andrew will be just the same. It's the genes !! And I'm sure he walks with you and his family.

Please know that even total strangers are there with you, keeping you in their thoughts and prayers, feeling with you, smiling with you. You did that, by writing so honestly about your life, pain, grief, faith, memories, and joy. Thank you, for being such an amazingly lovable woman.

Caroline

Nisha said...

Like you’ve done so many times in the past, you struck me with the beauty and honesty of your blog. I don’t know how you do it in just a few short sentences, but your words really do shoot straight to my heart. It’s a testament to you as a writer and – more importantly – to you as a mother.

I’ll be thinking of you during prom/graduation and remembering Jack. I didn’t know him, of course, but I’ll try to picture him right in the mix of things during this time of excitement. He IS in the mix of things, you know. In the hearts and minds of his friends (and of people like me who never even knew him) forever.

Blessings and love to you.
Nisha

GMG Knits said...

Consider it done! I do believe that love doesn't die. Thank you for your sharing through the years. I've read this blog and haven't commented but funny how certain words can touch all of our hearts.

Anonymous said...

It would be impossible to forget Jack. As a mother of a boy graduating from high school and going to prom, I say prayers for you and send you virtual hugs to get through this joyful, painful season.

Claire Weech said...

Dearest Anna,

I think of Jack and you every day, and will continue to do so. So many things make me think of him, including seeing kids reach these milestones, and I do find myself trying to picture him as an older kid. I am always so very sorry you have to miss him - words don't capture it.

Sending love and hugs as always,
Claire

Deborah said...

My thoughts are with you and your family.

GG said...

Thinking of Jack, and of all of you. May his memory be eternal.

NanaDiana said...

Love never does die. I will honor Jack and picture him all grown up, proud and strong, headed down the aisle in graduation garb. I have a granddaughter that I picture the same way--although she would just be a tween right now.
Love never does die....xo Diana

Joan Ziebart said...

I think of you often and I think of Jack often, too. He has graduated to a life with Christ, far better than here. But, I know it is so difficult to miss him and the life events he would have experienced.

I will be thinking and praying for you during this time, especially.

Joan Ziebart

Melissa said...

I am listening to your story right now on Audible while reading this post. Thank you for helping me learn about a loving God. I was not raised with religion and I want something different for my young baby girl, although I don't know quite how to get there. Anyway, I just wanted you to know that. I'll keep Jack in my heart. 💛

mposkin said...

You are not alone. I am in Kansas City, and I have been reading your blog for years. I have been touched beyond words reading your words. I feel like I know Jack, and your family, and I will be remembering Jack and holding your family in prayer during this time.

I recently purchased a St. Francis statue for my back garden. A bird has taken to perching on St. Francis' head and singing to me every morning. It too, has made me think about your very special 'rare bird'.

Prayers to you and your family,
Mary

Cindy P said...

Anna, you are right. I know from experience, love never dies. Jack will be remembered - Jack IS remembered. We have never met yet I think of Jack (and your family) daily. I've learned thatI never want to take a minute of life for granted.
You are doing a great job making sure that Jack is in our hearts and memories. Never, ever stop talking about him. God bless you sweet mama.

Anonymous said...

Yes your son will be thought of and remembered. take care.

Elaine Alguire said...

I will think of him, as I often do. And you too, my friend, thinking, praying, loving... always. <3

Jen said...

Anna,
I love that you declined. Sigh... I was having images of it all. Good, ok, hard- we do them all every day. I love that you are taking care of you, whatever that is for you. I left Facebook over 7 months ago. It was difficult everyday, so I decided to let it go and it has been good for me. I love when we all can be together and doing what is right at the moment for us.
I will imagine Jack 18! Blake would be 19. I had a dream Mother's day morning that Blake was with my husband and other two making breakfast for me, then I woke up. It kinda felt like a visit. Instead of being sad, I was happy.
Thank you for sharing your heart and life and experiences, they bless me.
Hugs to Tim, Margaret, Andrew and you! Gratitude for Jack! I love thinking of him.
Many blessings,
Jen

MLP said...

We'll remember him, Anna.

Ann-Marie Johnson said...

Anna, Tim, and Margaret - with Jack's impish grin and sweet spirit, I can just see him voted Mr. Congeniality whilst organizing an amusing senior prank. I shed tears the other day telling the story of losing Jack. That will probably never change. That's ok. Along with prom and graduation, I'm also wondering what college he would have chosen. I am so thankful for the gift of ALL of you

Unknown said...

Jack would be so proud of you. You take good care of your family and make the world a better place. Based on everything you wrote about him, this is exactly what he would have wanted.

amourningmom.com said...

Thinking of Jake during this prom and graduation season. Sending you hope and hugs. Love never dies.

www.robinbotie.com said...

Yow. You are amazing. And I am thinking of you, and Rare Bird, and Jack and your beautiful family, wishing you all well.

Karen L. said...

I will always remember Jack and your lovely family. He has impacted my life in a super way. I think you made the absolute best decision declining that speaking offer. You and your family will get through this time much smoother and with more peace. God's great Love to you all.

Debby@Just Breathe said...

Jack is always in my thoughts. Every time I see our Norfolk Pine in front of our house I think of him. That is the tree I decorated with ribbons in honor of Jack. I totally understand why you would decline speaking at graduation however I know you would have touched the hearts of everyone in attendance. You have touched the heart of millions of people. Hope that you can get the rest you need. You are one amazing woman. ((Hugs))

Stefanie Cloutier said...

My son is 18 and graduating this year. I always say a prayer for you and Jack, but will make sure to think of you all as my son attends these milestone events. You never cease to amaze me.

Anonymous said...

Thinking of you!! This blog brings comfort and joy to many and we are all supportive of you and your family.