Monday, October 24, 2011

Monday Musings...

So I’ve come to realize that PMS and Profound Grief are not a winning combination.

Of course I’d gladly embrace the former every day of my life to be spared the latter, but that’s not a choice that’s mine to make. Last week I found myself silently railing, to no one in particular-- random cars driving down the road, strangers in the grocery store-- “Blank you and the horse you rode in on!” I don’t really even understand that expression, except, of course, its intent, but I was spewing it, inside my head, again and again. I found this slightly troubling yet liberating at the same time.

I remember reading “The Green Mile” years ago and being taken aback by the warden’s sweet wife, who was dying of cancer, as she spewed out every epithet in the book. Such was the depth of her suffering. I wondered how she could have the thoughts to formulate those words, when she had probably not used them in her entire life.

Now I realize I do not even know what the vocabulary of my grief will be. Ugly words? Ugly thoughts? Soothing words? Edifying thoughts? We will see, day by day by day.

When people say how strong I am, I don’t know how to respond. Because all I am doing is getting out of bed and trying to function through the day. I am eating. I am laughing. I am crying. I don’t feel that I am any stronger than someone else who does stay in bed. And, really, who knows what tomorrow will bring?

23 years ago, when my mom died suddenly, I was 18 and had just come home for summer break. Three days later, I got a job hostessing at the local restaurant where our family had eaten 3-4 nights a week ever since Mom decided she was fed up with cooking.

So that summer I pulled on my jean miniskirt, laced up my Keds, and smiled and joked my way through my shifts. I stayed busy during the days and wandered the house crying at night. It’s just what I did. My father, brother, and sister did things differently, and that was okay, too.

Tim, who misses Jack terribly, has found comfort in being with people. Watching baseball, football, playing cards or going out for a beer. Getting together with a group of neighbors to discuss where God is in all of this. In the first days and weeks after the accident, I couldn’t understand why my normally shy husband was becoming a social butterfly. He went to museums. He wanted to have people over. He had a catch with friends. I wondered, ungraciously, “Does he miss Jack or does he miss having a catch?”

He took another friend geo-caching, which was our family’s favorite hobby. Huh? When we talked about it, it became clear that Tim likes being in a group because it is a welcome distraction. Being with friends buoys him up, even when they aren’t talking about Jack. And doing the things he did with Jack, such as going to a cherished geocaching spot or watching a baseball game, helps him feel closer to Jack.

Me? I don’t want to be in a large social setting right now, even though that is more in my nature than Tim's. It's too hard to be with people talking about toenail polish, standardized tests and the like. I know that will get more bearable, but for now I would rather be with just a few people who are willing to talk about Jack. I want people to know that talking about Jack isn’t going to “remind” me of what we have lost. Believe me, we know.

I also find great solace in messages on facebook and comments on this blog letting me know people are praying for us, even when I don’t have the energy for face to face contact or to write back. These gifts from you are accessible to me any time during the day or night.

In the week ahead, with lots of “firsts” coming up, such as our treasured Halloween parade and trick-or-treating, we wonder how we will navigate them. Tim suggested maybe standing at a different parade spot with different people, while I want to say at “our” parade spot of 12 years. Who knows what we'll do?

Despite our different personalities and grieving styles, which we are grateful to be able to understand and express to each other, both Tim and I LOVE to hear how God is working in people’s lives as a result of Jack’s life and death. If you have something like that to share, I hope you will.

Sometime in the past year, as we were getting out of the car, Jack said to me, “I think I may want to be a missionary, but I might be too shy.”

Margaret replied, “I don’t ever want to be a missionary. They have TERRIBLE toilets!”

Fairly accurate statement, I suppose.

I told him there are ways of being a missionary even if you are shy.

Perhaps, through the way he is still touching people’s lives right now, Jack is getting to be a missionary without ever having to say a word.


jmh said...

I'm just a stranger who started reading your blog (linked over on Young House Love) about 6 months ago. I could never express my sympathy in words; but each and every time you post a picture of Jack, I smile and my heart melts. I also hug my kids tighter. So, I can thank Jack for gaining perspective on this unfair life. As the mom of a child with special needs (and struggles in school), Jack's words on your blog about himself, have helped me more than Jack could ever know.

God Bless you, Tim and Margaret; as I know He is blessing Jack every minute!

Unknown said...

I can't tell you how glad I am you are continuing to blog. Each post is read again and again. I don't always comment, because I don't know what to say. Which is ironic in that I could be writing your words. I have felt and continue to feel your emotions and pain and grief. I wish I could share them as you do.

When my daughter died and we had to pack up her apartment, I wanted to reminisce and weep over each little item. My husband just wanted to get things in a box and put it away.

I get it. I understand. I grieve for both of us. Your family continues to be in my thoughts and prayers.

Kate Coveny Hood said...

That last line took my breath away.

I realized after talking to you that it was better (even preferred) to talk about Jack and everything that has happened in the past weeks. That this is actually comforting because of COURSE you don't really give a sh*t about nailpolish right now and how could "taking your mind off of things" be helpful or even posssible?!

The writing that you have been doing is so incredibly generous - and you have be beyond gracious in the way you've welcomed the love that we all want to send you.

And FOR THAT you are one of the strongest people I know.

I love you and can't wait to see you Friday!

Lisa G. said...

Just wanted to quickly tell you again I do pray often for you and Tim and Margaret. You are often in my thoughts, and I love how you are sharing with all of us strangers on your blog.

My own son, 6 years old, just received his first real Bible yesterday. We'd never talked about a life verse, but as we were reading and praying, I remember telling him "Nothing is impossible with God." That is straight from your Jack - and my son resonates with it so much I think he may adopt it also as his life verse.

My little boys have faced their own struggles with our family circumstances (clearly though, nothing as awful as what you are going through) - their dad's addiction, our divorce, some special needs related to autism. Your kids are such wonderful role models for how God works in our lives, and how kids (just like them!) handle difficult and even horrifying circumstances with God. I am so grateful to you for sharing with, tears, and prayers for you from CT.

ella said...

My pent up anger over losing my husband resulted in me playing roller derby. True story, and I admit it's kind of funny so feel free to laugh. We all process grief differently, and no way is the right way. Whatever gets you through the day/hour/minute, right?

(I went back to Target and bought a few more of those gift bags. Every time I use one I'll be thinking of Jack.)

Prayers and hugs.

dwerrlein said...

Hi Anna,
It is so interesting to me that you posted about your preference to grieve quietly, with close friends and family, because I'm pretty sure I saw you yesterday. That makes me sound like a stalker, but really, I had just arrived for my daughter's soccer game, and I think you were leaving a game with Margaret. If it was you, I recognized you from your blog, but also, we are sorority sisters. I don't think we knew each other well, because, (I'm embarrassed to admit), I only sort of remember you)! The point, however, is that I considered approaching you to express my condolences, but for me, grief is an intensely personal thing, and I didn't want to intrude into yours in a way that might not be comfortable for you.

Seeing you, however, and reading this post, did motivate me to finally comment and tell you how sorry I am that you lost your beautiful Jack. I think the idea that Jack might fulfill his missionary work after his death is a beautiful one. And you will help him in that endeavor through all the ways that your family chooses to honor his memory moving forward, including this blog, where you have inspired so many.

You are right, we don't know what tomorrow will bring, but I hope it finds you up and writing--for you, for Jack, and for everyone who is reading along and praying for you.

Debbie (Tonkin) Werrlein

Unknown said...

This grief thing is strange indeed in the way that it changes us. No two of us grieve alike. Like you, I still would prefer to surround myself with those who will talk about Laynee and things that really matter. Like Tim, my Jim prefers the distraction that people bring. Neither is right nor wrong.

It is my own opinion and observation that children touch lives in far greater ways in death than they do in their lives.

You are strong, not stronger than anyone else necessarily but strong indeed, simply because you are on this path.

Prayers are with you always

Anonymous said...

Amen! (and when I saw the Parade banner go up a couple of weeks ago....I said a prayer for your family, knowing you wouldn't miss it but it would be so hard to even think about . I'll be praying for you that night as well, as will many many others I'm certain)

Heather said...

I do a lot of work with personality inventories such as the MBTI - a basic premise is that during times of stress we tend to invert our preferred styles of engaging with our selves and our world. Introverts - normally drained by the stimulation of constant interaction with people, places and things - suddenly are energized by that extroverted behavior. Extroverts in turn find routine engagement and being in large group settings completely draining and need down time or time in intimite settings to recharge. The key is knowing that this is a critical coping mechanism - it's how Tim has to engage - his needs and yours are different. What I know is that you will continue to honor your differences as you grieve together. Much much love to you both as you navigate.

vegan eden said...

I am also just a stranger.

I believe that you are the vehicle through which Jack's missionary work is to be expressed.

In fact, I can see it quite clearly from here.

I am learning so much from your dignity and grace.

Theresa O said...

Anna, Your family pictures make me smile and cry at the same time... you can just see the love your family had for one another..almost feel it through the precious pics you are sharing with us. My son is 10, and through all of this, we have posted "Nothing is impossible with God" on our mirrors in our bathrooms...something we can read each morning we wake up, and each night we go to bed. What a great outlook Jack had in life , at such a young innocent age. Your life with him sounds like such a joy - and though it was cut way too short- what an awesome,AMAZING mom he had -what awesome memories you have to always hold close in your heart. You amaze me each day, and I just have to let you know how much you do. I pray for strength for you...and all the "firsts" that are coming up. I pray that moments of peace fill your heart and ease your pain even in the tiniest ways, during these very difficult moments/days. God Bless you all with much love.

Anonymous said...

Anna-I lost my father when I was 23years old. During the funeral and for months thereafter I sought out people that knew him (which was no easy feat since he kept to himself). I did so seeking that lost connection albeit through an intermediary. I may not have known any of these people, but I listened to their descriptions of my father in ernest and it somehow helped me reconnect. Similarly, I believe Tim is attending Jack's sports venues to reconnect as well. Of course your beloved son Jack will always be in your hearts and I can say he has made an indelible mark on ours as well. I know Jack is sending you his love and prayers from Heaven. God bless you and your family.

Dinosaur Mommy said...

I stumbled upon your blog last week via twitter - someone had shared a post of yours. What a testimony...what a heartache. As I read your story, I cried. You and your family have been on my mind ever since. Your words, your honesty, and the stories you share about Jack are such an inspiration. I am praying for all of you, every day. God bless you!

Anonymous said...

Oh Anna--I can't thank you enough for writing. I check your blog multiple times a day to see if you have posted anything new...if you haven't, I reread something you have posted before. Your clarity of thought and God-given insight is blessing all of us who are reading along this journey with you. I,too, have found myself really changed by your sweet Jack and beautiful family. Love the idea that he is a missionary through many lives he is touching. I am kinder and gentler and more patient with my kids b/c of you all. Every time I am able to offer patience instead of a sigh of frustration, I do so with Jack on my heart. Although we have never met, I lift you in prayer all the time from down here in H'burg. You are loved...

Ellen aka Ellie said...

I hope you and your readers will get this. I'm not about to comment on the depth or profundity of your post.

My grampa Lee died suddenly when I was in HS. I remember reading how sometimes emotional upset could cause a female to miss a period, so I was really ticked that I got one that month anyway.

Seventeen magazine wasn't on target with that one for me or for you. Bleh.

As for the Mission thing, it's our mission to spread His word here, near and far. Jack did that in life, and yep, his influence bears great importance still. Just this morning, my class started making lists for our OCC boxes, and I talked about Jack, and I talked about Christ--eep, in a public school.

Mec said...

Anna - I am a stranger who prays for you daily. I am committed to each day at 3:00 lifting you up to the Lord that he may wrap his love around you, to help carry you into your evening. ~Everyday at 3:00~

Anonymous said...

I love your license plate - which I saw for the first time this week and knew it was your car. I thought of you today as my son was playing with a toy doll and asked the name of this toy doll. So I turned it over to look and it said, "Jack".

Unknown said...

I'm so glad to read this post. It's the first you've mentioned (or at least I've noticed) of how Tim is dealing with all of this. I was worried about him. I'm sure you know by now, if you didn't already, about the extrodinary stress that a family tragedy such as yours puts on a marriage.
Please, please, please....keep talking with Tim! I'm so glad that you seem to recognize and appreciate that the two of you are going to deal with this differently! You're different people. We care very much for your family and want the very best for you, despite this awful, awful thing.
We'll be praying for your family.

60 toes said...

As always I love reading your posts. I agree with you, Jack is being a missionary without even saying a word.

I also wanted to share something that Beth Moore shared recently and it has stuck with me. Your recent post reminded me of it.

Apparently Beth Moore's husband, Keith, lost a younger brother in a fire when he was about Margaret's age. One day Beth Moore was talking with her MIL after she(Beth) herself had children of her own. She inquired of her MIL, "how did you ever get through that tragedy?" Imagining herself, as a mother, how hard that would be. Her MIL's response has stuck with her ever since, and subsequently with me.

She replied, " I didn't mean to, I just kept waking up every morning".

I know you can understand that more than most of your readers. I pray that you will keep waking up every morning and that God in his mercy will slowly heal your heart and keep using Jack as the amazing missionary that he is.

TheLab said...

So many words! Wow, this post was so very impactful. We've been praying (as I've commented ad nauseam, sorry!) for the peace that PASSES all understanding that he promised us in Philipians for each of you. But we've also been praying for you and Tim as you grieve differently. I had no idea IF you even grieved differently, but I've read the blog for enough years to know that you had different personalities, like most couples, so you're probably dealing differently. You two are amazing for recognizing that and supporting one another.

When I was exactly Jack's age, two different pastors told my parents that they thought I was going to be a missionary... I told them, "I am NOT going to Africa!" :) Maybe my main concern was the same as Margaret's? Like you, my mom explained that there are many ways to be a missionary. Also like you did, I'm waitressing (though I'm doing it at 35!), so I suppose this is my mission field right now.

Thinking of these things made me really think just now. I've been changed as a mom since Jack went home to be with the Lord. But knowing now that Jack considered being a missionary makes me evaluate how I'm doing on my mission field. Not just in the home but at my jobs. Am I just getting by, or am I doing the Lord's work?

Your friends said it in these comments - he's certainly fulfilling the missionary role right now. He's changed me for life. Truly. And now he has me considering my life outside the home as well.

Thank you for continuing to write, Anna. On the days when no one is around to talk about Jack with you, PLEASE tell us more about him. Tell us his favorite color if that's all you can talk about, but we'd all like to hear.


Alexandra said...

I'm like you.

I turn into myself with grief.

When my grandmother died, the woman who had raised me with such incredible, accepting love, I didn't know what I'd do with myself.

I didn't know what to do with the broken heart that felt like it weighed 50 lbs.

Where to go with this pain? I didn't want to be around people. I wanted to just talk about my grandmother, tell stories about her, but I felt people would tire of that.

So I turned to paper and pen. And wrote and wrote and wrote. I have 5 notebooks full of stories of my grandmother, and I"m so glad I wrote during that time, because by now, I'm afraid those memories would have been lost.

Anonymous said...

Dee from Tennessee

I don't have the right words but I so "get it" that Jack's missionary heart & desire is being fulfilled a wee bit at a time and will be for years to come. (I fear I agree about the bathroom facitilies - or lack of.) Having said that though, we can be a "goer or a sender"....AND live it out in our daily life in honor of Jesus and those who know Him and follow Him as your Jack did while on this temporary place called Earth. And -- this may sound "strange and/or off," but I am so sorry that your mother passed away suddenly. I had taken it for granted that it was not sudden and -- I may be wrong because/gasp/ I have been wrong before -- I think a sudden death makes it harder on those left behind. As I've said before, Jack won't be forgotten. Praying here in the rollin' hills and mts of East Tennessee where the trees are ablaze with color -- color that God himself created -- and God himself will NEVER leave you through it all, through it all. Much love sent to your family....

Whitney said...

Your writing is so beautiful (I am not sure if that is the right word but I can feel your heart in each post). I know you would much rather be writing about something else but your words are heartfelt and raw. I can't imagine the pain you are experiencing and you are in my prayers. Jack is a beautiful boy!

Rachel said...

I so agree with you on wanting to be around a few people who are WILLING to talk about (your loss). I went through that when my daughter was stillborn. It drove me nuts when people were obviously avoiding the subject because they didn't want to 'remind me'. Like you said, trust me, I KNOW (what I've lost).

You are being strong by getting up each day, by letting yourself feel, and by sharing your grief. When people tell you you're being strong, you don't need to say anything. (You can even think internally, "yeah, if you only KNEW".)

I'll keep praying for you... I know the road of grief is a very strenuous road-it takes incredible strength just to do what you HAVE to do. Blessing from someone who has been there... ~Rachel

Anonymous said...

I too lost a son..a treasured, amazing, loving son who loved the Lord and his family..i could go on and on. It was a tragic, unnecessary, sudden death and I did not think I would live thru the grief. It has been 6 1/2 yrs now and I have learned how to live again..not the same..very different..but I am still here. If you would like to converse with another mother who truly knows your pain you can email me at I found your blog quite by accident and wonder if it was really an accident at all!

Jamie Miles said...

Wow. What an amazing thought. Your son's ministry and mission field. Such an authentic post on the experience of waking up each day, living minute by minute after the unthinkable happens. I join all the countless others praying for you, your dear family and those you knew and loved your son.

Rachel said...

I never know what to say, but I didn't want to not leave a comment because your posts about what you and your family are going through... the loss of your son... has touched me profoundly. I pray every single night for you all and tell the big guy thank you for my child who is sleeping in her bed 25 feet from my own.

Anonymous said...

I have often thought that your book (yes, book) about love, faith, life and grief could help so many people. Your chapters are inspiring and touch every reader in different but profound ways. You (and Jack and Margaret and Tim now too!) make me reflect every time I read your words. You are strong by keeping going....which must feel exhausting and unbearable often.

ALI said...

First, I think it is wonderful you can recognize that you & Tim have different grieving styles. DH & I do as well, and at times, I forget to look at things from his perspective & it causes me to get very angry for his not seeing things my way. Not feeling the same as I do.

Second, you asked for how Jack is ministering to me now... I never read your blog before the accident. I never knew of his humor or faithfulness & belief in God. But reading it, I knew I want his level of faith for my own 3.5 year old son. This past Sunday we attended Church for the first time in far to long, and it is with a renewed commitment to go each and every week.

And I think God wants this as well, as Sunday, when I was grouchy from lack of sleep/sick - I wasn't really wanting to go, my son looked at me very adamently stated "But I want to go to church Mommy." Matt, my husband, and I didn't know what to say, but we knew he was going & we made it right on time.

Thank you for sharing your memories with me. Not personally able to thank you, I'm including you in my prayers.

Lisa said...

You are more then welcome to come join us the Hill family for the parade, we sit down by Giant and Michael sits along the street in front of us. Margaret can sit with him if she wants. Love and prayers to you, Tim and Margaret.

SouthLakesMom said...

I didn't realize you all cache too. I was just out this morning doing that with a bike ride. Now I'll have something else to share with Jack...and another reminder to pray.

I'm so glad you posted that you want to be around people who want to talk about Jack. Sometimes people are quiet around grief because they just don't know what to you giving people permission to talk about your sweet,quirky kid is beautiful.

Yeah, he's a missionary without saying a word. The day of his service, I saw people there who would have probably not ever stepped into a church but for the tragedy of Jack's death. And there are people who visit your blog who are the same way.

You and Jack are both missionaries. And be sure to tell Margaret that if you do mission work via a blog, the toilets are just fine.

Love and prayers to you, Anna. Kelley Westenhoff

SouthLakesMom said...

Oh, and you want to know how Jack's death is changing lives?

My Lindy was VERY angry at God about this. She INSISTED I needed to take her out of school to attend his service. She was still angry about the end of her time at DCS as well. I pointed out that DCS people would be there, but she said she didn't care.

After your pastors both spoke, and after you, precious Anna, gave the Gospel through talking about Jack's life, my Lindy was very quiet. When we drove home, I asked, "do you feel better?"

She very softly said, "I'm not angry at God or DCS any more."

Since Jack's death she has lost a grandmother and a dear older friend. She grieves, but she isn't angry.


Love you all.

Heidi said...

Each time I'm here I cry, I nod, I feel for you. I understand a little about turning inward and taking a step back from outgoing-ness. After I was in my car crash I had little to no desire to be with many people.
I've been retweeting for Margaret...I hope this happens for her and for you too.
Thinking of you so much...

A Speckled Trout said...

Two years ago there was a shooting in Kansas City of an inner-city kid who with his own money, took two buses to a college here in town to apply for admission. He was robbed of $40.00, shot and died on the sidewalk outside the school, with the college application in his hand. He was found later that night, but it was too late.

I have grieved for that child who was trying to do everything right when the odds were so stacked against him, and wondered how his family coped with such an enormous loss.

Like your family, there are stories we hear and read that stay with us, and though we don't know the victims or their families, we grieve. The world isn't so big, after all. We all want the best for the most promising among us, and when they leave us too soon we remember.

We always remember.

Anonymous said...

Hi Anna, I came upon your blog just after Jack's accident and I'm not leaving. I've fallen in love with your precious family. And I think I'm like a lot of people, we're here, but we don't always comment. We don't always know what to say. Maybe we're scared, if it happened to you it could happen to us. Maybe we think something may upset you even more than you already are. But know that we're here listening. You say you don't know why people think you're so strong. I think it's because you can write so beautifully and honestly about your pain and suffering. I believe you're helping a lot of people by doing this, please know that.
Sending you much love, Patti from NYC

Anonymous said...

I'm a first time mom with a baby girl. The days I struggle with a fussy baby, I think of you and Jack. I'm reminded that these moments are precious and pass so quickly. Remembering that gives me the strength and patience I need. Thank you Jack, and thank you Anna. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

Kim @ A Brush of Whimsy said...

Bless you today, Anna~
Kim :)

MRH said...

Thank you for sharing your heart with anyone willing to listen. I too have fallen in love with your sweet family...and plan to keep reading. The pain is so raw yet you have hope, which is the only way to get through this. I can't wait to read this blog in five years and see the impact that Jack and the rest of your family has made on the world. It is amazing and such a blessing that you are able to look back on moments like the missionary comment and see how God is still working through this. Keep sharing - we will keep praying.

Debby@Just Breathe said...

What a lovely family picture. I am glad that you and Tim are able to talk about your grief. So many people can't do that. Strange how you have both gone in different directions that would normally be the others way. Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers. ((HUGS))
Your posts are so amazing. Thank you for sharing your feelings.

Anonymous said...

Thinking your Ana. It is true that so many of us have different ways of grieving. I think just getting thru the first year of firsts - even if you feel numb - and not your usual outgoing self - is just fine. one step in front of the other...So glad that Tim is letting you grieve your way and not pushing you too much. I think of Jack every day and pray for your strength in the days to come. xo Patty

Anonymous said...

p.s. I love seeing photos of Jack and all of you together. You will see signs in the years ahead that Jack's spirit remains with you. He is cheering you every step of the way.

p.s.s. I applaud you for keeping the rage inside you while i traffic et al - i know i would not be keeping it in - i would be screaming bloody murder in my car... a good scream can really help to get it out... try it!

Anne said...

I found out about your blog through Miss Mustard seed.She mentioned that someone on a blog she read had lost her son to a tragic accident and to keep you in our prayers.I came over hear and posted that prayers were being sent to you and your family.I saw a photo of a boy and a girl happy on there first day of school.I was grieve stricken.I did not know you or your family but was so heart broken at your loss.Some of the grief you have wrote about I have experienced only in a different way and different circumstances.After I experienced that I never went a day not saying "I Love you" to those around me.Every single day I tell my husband,daughter and those close to me that I love them.And lately I hug a little more.Maybe say I love you even more often since Jack has been gone.I think of him when I see a bird.That sweet poem is a memorandum of him.I shared this story with my family.And we are so touched.We continue to think of you all and pray for you all.I thank you for sharing your life with us.Even though I never met Jack or your family I feel as though I know you all.
Gods blessings to you all.

Cathy Reaves said...

I blog but did not read your blog until the death of Jack made it around the blogosphere. My heart aches for you and your family.

How has Jack's death affected me? In two ways: First, it has given me perspective. I have my own turmoil, some big, some small, but nothing compares to losing a child. Whenever I am feeling sorry for myself I think of how much worse it could be.

Second, I lost my faith a long time ago and your faith is inspiring. You are the second family I know who has suffered a tragedy with a child - theirs is in a permanent vegetative state. Both of your families rely so heavily on your faith and I am in awe of that. I wonder if it's a sign.

Anonymous said...

I stumbled across your blog a few weeks ago after reading Lydia's post on Rants from Mommyland. Until then, theirs was the only blog that I had ever read; however, when I saw your story and read your beautiful words and entered your life, I was moved in a way that brought goosebumps and instant tears. Now I check your site daily and have told all of my friends about you. I feel a connection to you and a subtle, whispering warning from you to seize the day, grab my children, appreciate the moments, and focus on that which truly matters. Please know that your heart-broken anecdotes resonate with me and with so many others. Also, the symbolism that you have uncovered is profound, and as a believer in the afterlife and he thin line between Earth and Heaven, I know that Jack is with your family and sending signs to offer you reassurance. Know that now, when I hear a bird chirp, I instantly to find it, and I think: Jack. Jack, a boy, who I never had the pleasure to know but who will now forever remain in my heart. Jack, a boy not yet a man, who reminds me of the here and now and who gives me hope in the hereafter. So Anna, thank you for opening the window into your heart and home and teaching us to see through your spectacles of grief. You and yours will remain in my prayers. In the meantime, find comfort in the words of Hemingway: “The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.” So continue to pick up your Lego pieces, Anna, for one day you will build a castle in the sky with your beautiful boy.
PS I decided to write to you now because I was downloading videos for my Wiki (I, like you were, am an English teacher), and ironically, as I was given a choice for videos for “Hope is the thing with feathers,” this is the one that struck me the most.

I said that I will always associate your sweet Jack with our feathered friends—and what a message this poem has. Perhaps Emily wrote this a very long time ago just for you.


Anonymous said...

embarrassed to say that I found errors after I accidentally published too quickly! aggghhh. not good for an English teacher ;) forgive me

Anonymous said...

I found your blog via another blog only 7 short weeks ago. Your loss has been unbearable for me to even comprehend. I too have a son and a daughter. 7 and 5 years old. I can not even begin to imagine what you are going through, nor do I ever want to. Jack is so handsome, your family is so beautiful. I cry everyday for you. Your posts tear my heart apart. Everyday I come to your blog and pray for you and your family.

I just wanted you to know that there is one more mother that is praying for you...

Lindsay said...

Even though I've never met your family, I find myself thinking about you all daily and praying you are having even a moment of peace during these hard days. Reading your words is allowing me to think more deeply about my own faith. I am also so inspired to do something with my life to make a difference and help others. I'm praying I will be shown what that might be and that doors will open. I have to thank you for demonstrating your faith, even in such horrific circumstances, and for showing us all what a grace-filled woman looks like. You are one amazing person. I pray that you will realize in those moments when you feel the very worst, that God loves loves loves you and your family and He has you all in the palm of His hand.

Jendy said...

I know you’re right that Jack is getting to be the missionary he pondered. People here in Richmond tell me regularly how touched they are by Jack; that he is moving people to be kinder, do better, love more, forgive more because, as he knew and lived: Nothing is Impossible with God. Jack taught me that and I say it every day.
I wish there were more I could do to change this stinking reality. I can relate to the railing in the car. The car is the hardest place for me. I’ll find myself driving around and suddenly feel out of breath. I hate that people I love so much have to be in such horrible despair.
Anna, your posts are raw, yet soothing, crushing, yet beautiful, devastating, yet inspiring. How your writing covers this broad spectrum of emotion all at the same time and so eloquently is an incredible talent, a gift that all of us readers are blessed to experience.

Anonymous said...

I too am glad that you and Tim are working through losing Jack together, even if it's differently. I fervently hope that your separate needs do not create a wedge between you.

I second Vegan Eden's comment about you being the vehicle for Jack's work. I wonder if that snuck up on you?

My heart goes out to the commenters who have also lost family members. There is so much emotion and love and support here. It's beautiful, isn't it?


My word verifcation says "crydrops". Indeed.

Kimberly said...

Sometimes, out of nowhere I will think of you and think of Jack. It's funny really since I don't even know you. I only discovered your blog after Jack had died. When I read about your empty spot at the dinner table I wept. When I read the details of the night he died, I wept. Your Jack is touching so many lives. People you may never meet. We have an adopted daughter from China and when Steven Curtis Chapman's son accidentally ran over one of their adopted daughters from China I just came undone. UNDONE. We had a son the same age and a young daughter from China. Our son was just learning to drive. That could have been us. Later that year I was visiting friends in Nashville and bumped into Mary Beth Chapman's best friend. She felt she could approach me because of Lilly...the obvious connection. She told me of the orphanage and hospital being built in the name of the Chapman's daughter and all the lives that were changing as a result of this one short life of their little girl. They would of course trade all of that for the gift of their daughter but that choice is not theirs. When we parted she hugged me and said I will go home and call Mary Beth and tell her I met one of her 'sisters'. I am sure you would trade any goodness that has come through all of this to just have Jack come home. I tell you this story about the Chapman's and that woman calling me a 'sister' to Mary Beth to let you know that I am your sister. We will most likely never meet but you have a sister praying for you everyday. Every single day.

Anonymous said...

I have found your blogs so inspirational and moving. I totally agree with you about your thoughts on when people say your are so strong - I have heard that several times when my mom died when I was 16 and during my surprising divorce. You do just keep moving and time just goes along and you don't think about being strong. I think and pray for often. I haven't spoken to my father in 4 yrs for many reasons but reading your blog has made me see things differently. I had a sister who died 1 yr before my mom - I now see through your words more of what he must have felt and I never fully understood. Thank you for sharing and being so honest with your feelings!

Anonymous said...

Bless you and your sweet family. I am so sorry for your loss, and I pray that God grants you peace and grace on this tough road.

Kelly said...

I just came across your blog recently, but I can't tell you how much your faith is inspiring at this terrible time in your life. I pray for your family often, even though I don't know you.

Every time I hear "Strong Enough" by Matthew West, it makes me think of your family.

Anonymous said...

Sending prayers, love and many, many hugs from Chicago. Thinking of you daily.

A Midwest Mom

Anonymous said...

I just noticed the birds on the clock over Jack's head in the photo you posted with this entry. Rare bird, indeed! Many prayers for you and your family!

Annie said...

My 5th grade son has recently started saying "my butt" to everything, which was insanely annoying until I read your "view from the back seat" post. And so now, whenever I am tempted to do the "that-is-not-how-we-talk-in-this-family" speech complete with disgusted look, I think of you, and how much you yearn to hear his voice again.

So yes, like other moms have said, your experience is making me a more patient person, dwelling less on little annoyances like PMS and rude cashiers and hangnails.

And most importantly, I am more open to the love of God, because I figure if you still have faith after what you have been through, then surely I can, too.

I hope you'll keep writing. Not just for all of us, but as long as it is cathartic and helping you to heal, for you.

Many blessings.

Jennifer said...

You and Jack continue to touch us all. He sounds like he had more character and integrity than many adults. I'll continue to pray.

Erin said...

Hi Anna,
I appreciate your thoughts on losing your mother and the grief you felt. I was very very close to my grandparents, and when my grandmother died 2 days before my birthday, it's like the life was sucked out of me. The day she passed, I went to dinner with the rest of my family, and we laughed and shared memories. As soon as I got home, I took a shower and cried by myself. It's been 11 years and I still do the same thing. I do most of my mourning alone.

Also, a very close friend of mine lost her 6 year old son in a car accident last month, two days before his 7th birthday. I passed on your blog, to let her know that she wasn't alone in the pain she's feeling. Thank you for your words and continuing to share how you feel. I know my friend truly appreciates knowing that someone out there understands her loss.

Meredith Self said...

Getting to know Jack is such a joy, Anna. Such a joy. Thank you so much for sharing stories. Every one is a touching heart opener.

Thousands are reading, and then that touch is rippling out to their families, friends and strangers....exponentially.

Praying for peace for you. Not as you both "missionary"--that's clearly covered--but for all the small moments, reminders and aches at every turn. In those nooks and crannies may you feel us all loving you deep in your bones.

Love the underarm story with you, Margaret and Jack! Love the video, "My butt." Love the way Jack loves you, and you him, soul-to-soul. Love the lego shrine. Love the arms wrapped around you keeping you cuddling at bed time. Every word goes in. Thanks. xo

Ms. T said...

Anna, this may not be helpful at all, but it is what it is. A few weeks ago, my husband and I were watching an episode of Mythbusters regarding pain tolerance. One of the experiments that they conducted was seeing how much pain a person could endure both with and without using curse words. All of the particpants were able to endure more pain for a longer period of time when they were allowed to use expletives than they were when their language was limited to G rated.
When you said that you don't know what your language will be, I thought of this. That your silent or even verbal railings are helping you deal with your pain, and helping you endure.
I know you are feeling as if you are barely surviving, but I am proud of you. I am proud that each day you choose to take that next breath, no matter how painful. I am proud that you are recognizing Tim's need to grieve differently, even though it may hurt you. I am proud that you are allowing Margaret to talk about Jack, even though it may bring the tears again.
So, please know that whether you say "bad chihuahua words" (as they are called in my family) or not, I am so proud of you. I pray for you each day that God will reveal Himself to you in more miraculous ways. The he will give you the grace that is needed to make it through this season of your life. Keep breathing, keep laughing, keep crying, and keep remembering that we are here for you.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anna, I'm new to your blog over the last week and I can't stay away from it. I also live in Vienna and heard about Jack through some mutual friends. Once I started reading and seeing the pictures something just kept tugging at me...I know her from somewhere. Past lives at the pool, VPC Preschool or the babysitting co-op. Your blog is gut wrenching to read and I cry every time. I can't imagine the road that your family is on and I wanted to thank you for being frank and honest in your writing.

I also lost a parent when I was 22. I moved off to DC after college to work and after I left my Dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He died 3 weeks later. It has taken me a long time to deal with my grief and guilt of not being there when he died. One book that helped me with my anger with God is "A Grief Observed" by C.S. Lewis. I figured if C.S. Lewis could be angry with God it was okay for me to be angry too. I also sought out a grief counselor but a lot of the journey is like you said just getting up and making it through the day and leaning on God on the good and bad days.

I love your use of birds. We have several bird items in our house too. We even had a blue parakeet named "Jack". On Sunday morning I was in my kitchen and a cute bird landed on my kitchen window and seemed to be looking inside. I immediately thought of Jack.

Keep writing and I can't wait to see what God has in store for you and Jack's mission work.

Anonymous said...

Grief. Such a personal thing, yet your words seem to sum up feelings some of us can relate to so easily. I'm so sorry for your incredible loss. Lots of prayers, lots and lots!

My word verification for this comment is 'buttsu'....I thought maybe Jack would have liked that one!

Anonymous said...

We have never met but I have been praying for you every day. I heard a song at church this weekend and thought of Jack.

Be Not Afraid
If you pass through raging waters in the sea, you shall not drown.
If you walk amid the burning flames, you shall not be harmed.
If you stand before the pow'r of hell and death is at your side, know that
I am with you through it all

Be not afraid.
I go before you always.
Come follow me, and
I will give you rest.

I truly believe your beautiful Jack is always by your side.

God bless you.

Anonymous said...

You wanted to know how your story is helping my life, so I thought I would share it with you. I have a 10 year old boy with a mental illness. He has wanted to kill himself numerous times. He also has kidney damage from a birth defect and as it turns out the only medication that we have seen that has brought our son some stability is also a medication that may destroy his kidneys completely. As a mother, I am left making decisions that honestly feel like they all lead to my son dying before me. As I struggle with what will happen to my son tomorrow, I am reminded by you to enjoy my son today. This perspective is a gift to me, thank you for reminding me that no matter what happens to my boy tomorrow, I can focus on loving him the best I can today, treasuring the simple things that I may not see tomorrow. Thank you for reminding me that no matter what, today matters.

MaryBeth said...

How do you do this? Make me laugh while I am crying?

Tell Margaret that those squatty pottys are terrible! Especially on a train!

Profound that first of all you recognize your own mourning style and second that you understand that Tim's is different. Took me years to catch onto that one!

Praying for you and Tim and Margaret as you navigate the next few months!


Susan said...

I think this might be the first time I have seen a picture of your beautiful family...all of you together.
I agree. He is.

mia said...

Anna, because of you i am hugging my kids a little tighter!! Jack was beyond his years. Your stories of him are helping us all in ways you may not know.. thank you. I hope that somehow they are helping you too. continued prayers to you , Tim and Margaret. xoxo

Jori said...

What a special boy! I don't know too many 12 year olds who are thinking about missions. I am praying for your sweet family. xoxo

meghan said...

Anna: I have been reading, every post, ever word. I can't help infuse your experience with my understanding of God...s/he and I are normally testy with each other, but I believe despite myself. I want you to know that I have prayed for you daily because I know that is what you want and even as a stranger I want more than anything to give you something that would lift even a minute of this heaviness.

I can tell you that when I went through a period of exceptional pain, my little sister called me every day which I found incredibly brave of her and comforting for me. When I asked her about it she said, "look, its not like I am really going to make you feel bad, right? " There was such grace in that for me because nearly everything made me feel bad at that time (in fact I was personally offended that the world was still spinning on its axis to be honest). I guess my point is for me, she was okay inside the gate and other people (most people) weren't. I think back on that time as sort of like living in an emergency don't make dinner plans with friends there, you just eat crappy cold pizza when you feel hungry because you feel like you should. You don't plan to sleep in, you just get sleep when you can, and you are so grateful for the people who come and go and support you, even when you don;t know their names. Ages later you understand your time, and behavior but that is a long time to come...
I think about you daily, and I pray for your because I know it means so much to you. I have you and your family in my pocket in my heart.

Anonymous said...

I started reading your blog this summer. FOund it through another blog I think. I love the way you write and the things you shared. I am so sorry about what happened. It is clear that Jack was a special person. I love to hear the storied you are sharing about Jack and the way you feel God's presence.

Kim said...

I would say there is no 'perhaps' about it! Missionary? Yes, indeed.
Thank you, Anna, for journeying right alongside him. It was wonderful to give you a hug in person at the concert last week. I don't think any of us who read your blog or pray for you or grieve with you (even those of us who never met your precious boy) will ever tire of hearing about him!

won said...

Yes, yes and yes. I get it.

When my precious Olivia passed away (age 11) I felt there was something horribly wrong with me because I didn't look at other children and think "why do any of them have to go?" I looked and thought "why not you...or you...or you? Why not anybody but my Olivia?!"

I'd stand in the same spot for the parade. I'd park outside the school and imagine her running on the playground. I'd pass by the Dairy Queen and wonder how all the ladies in there who knew exactly what she'd order every time she'd come in could possibly be functioning! The world should have been paused - at the very least! The grief kept me connected and I did not and do not want to loose that connection. My public store meltdown came in a Target. Same story; different store.

And I couldn't stand when people wanted to talk about their "problems". Oh please, I thought! Just tonight someone (who doesn't know) said something to the effect of if everyone laid their problems in a pile, everyone would surely pick their own back up and take them home. Ummmm....hell no. I'd trade with just about anybody. I'm sure her cliche fits for most.

But we're not most.

We're not widows. We're not orphans. Oh hell....there's not even a word for us. We're anomalies and the dance we do is to not stand out too terribly much- when it's a decent enough day for us to care about such things.

I hear you and I'm sorry you are now a member of this club none of us want to belong to.

I understand.

Anonymous said...

I stumbled across your blog shortly after Jack went to be with the Lord. I teach middle school and when I see Jack, I see my students. I don't have a family of my own, but I've experienced loss and wondering what God could possibly be doing because it makes no sense from my vantage point. Thank you for sharing your heart. I'm praying...

Anonymous said...

so I think it may help to let yourself say some of these things OUT LOUD - not just to yourself! People have road rage every day and they aren't dealing with profound grief, so give yourself the freedom/slack to scream and shout whenever you need to - let it out of your head! :)

I've wondered why your son's death has affected me so much. We've never met and I think about him and your family every day. I know other readers of your blog feel similarly. I was just thinking what a crucial role you are playing in Jack being a "missionary" right now. If it weren't for your beautiful writings, so many of us would not be examining our own lives and families. YOU have brought this out, teaching us about your Jack and all that made him so special. Unknowingly in your tributes to him, you have shined a light on our lives. Thank you. I cannot tell you the number of times I have stopped myself from losing my patience with my daughter and thought, " are lucky she is here today, present for her."

Anonymous said...

Dear Anna~
I just felt I wanted to leave a comment tonight though I came across your blog right after your loss. I just want to tell you that your comment that each night you would tell Jack how much you loved him and how proud you were of him struck a chord with me. I had been kind "tough" with my oldest son who is 6 and it occurred to me that I didn't tell him that often I was PROUD of him. Well, I am working on changing that! And some other things, that in honor of Jack's life, I am being very deliberate in changing in the lives of my three boys. I pray for your family often. There are no words to ease the loss. But I know there are people paying more attention to what they need to be doing because of it. God Bless.

steph said...

Thank you so much for your continued writing of your precious son. It is so comforting.

Unknown said...

I have trouble commenting (I tweeted for the Today Show) so we'll see if this goes through.

Saying you're strong is not a particularly helpful thing to say. In fact, it seems saying anything about you at all is not as helpful as saying things about Jack. It's all about him anyway.

I thought of you on Sunday - I'll send you an e-mail. :-)

Lydia said...

I heard about your blog through Young House Love,...having two little ones at home, I cannot imagine what you are going through. My hearts hurts so badly for you. I have cried throughout your beautiful posts and have even cried randomly thinking of you while making a cup of coffee. My husbands mother passed away right around the same time as Jack from a year battle with cancer. It's been tough dealing with her loss, but I hurt thinking of the loss you are bearing. Jack truly has affected so many people,...his life has made such an impact and I know, in the midst of NOT understanding why something like this could happen, that God is truly being glorified in all this...he has touched so many, as have you. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, pain, grief, and love for your children. You are an amazing example. There are SO many people praying for you,...even me, out in San Diego. :)

Anne said...

And then I hear this song.Up with the birds a new song by coldplay.And I think of Jack. said...

Just another comment of love. Thinking about you all and sending love and prayers...

Northern Exposure said...

I've become the biggest fan of An Inch of Gray in recent days, not only because we're kindred spirits sharing the dreadful gray root or because I feel like we could be such great friends, but because I'm so drawn to your writing - authentic, witty, themed and thoughtful. In this life we could all do with a lot more authenticity - tell us there is hell but tell us there is grace, hope, and redeeming qualities within our human capacity. You do that for your readers, Anna! Your talent for writing is such a blessing for us as readers. Please continue to bring us Jack's missionary work through your writing. We can walk through it together, and feel not isolated in the depths of profound grief. You can do it not because you're "strong", but because you're a resilient survivor with amazing grace! (I had my first 'Jack moment' today while watching an Oprah re-run, hearing her guest say "Nothing is impossible with God"! What a blessing for those of us on the periphery of your pain! May these blessings come through us directly to your heart!)

May Jack's loving spirit beat back your family's profound pain!

Meredith Self said...

My husband and I read your posts. We are reminded by you and Jack that family is something you create: the family rituals, the bonds, what you share, what you prioritize, and how you honor each individual.

I'm also touched to appreciate each moment, and let little things pass.

I also think of Jack and some stories at quirky times and feel a grace and joy fill me--even when it is sad.

Thanks, Jack. Thanks, Anna. We are exploring ways to deepen our bonds.

anymommy said...

I think of you and Jack and Tim and Margaret every day. Often many times. And I will never fail to think of him when I see a little bird. It is astonishing, the silent ways in which we can touch people's hearts.

Clare said...

I've been hearing a bird chirping for the past few days. Every time I hear it I think of you and Tim, Margaret and of course, Jack. What is a bird doing chirping in the middle of fall when it only reaches 60 for the high? Who knows. But I like hearing that bird's voice because it reminds me of you all.

Michelle DeRusha said...

You know what Jack and you are doing for me right now: driving home the importance of family and love, as trite as that sounds. This morning I stroked my sleepy son's head as he snuggled in bed (he's 9), and as I did that, I prayed for you and your family. And even though it might sound small and not very meaningful, it is a huge impact that Jack and you are making on me. Ordinarily I am rush rush rush in the morning. But not today. Thanks be to God. And thanks be to Jack.

Loving you... (even though that sounds kind of creepy because you don't even know me!).

luv2run said...

I want to hear every story about your beautiful Jack!!!! Keep writing because this girl is listening, praying for the four of you!!!!!


OSMA said...

Ever since finding your blog and learning about your journey, Jack has opened my heart to many things I thought were dormant, namely true faith. Reading your words about Jack, his belief system, your family then and now....all of this awakens a deeper level of faith in me. I can't quite explain it well and I know this will sound suspect coming from a stranger but just the image of Jack is comforting; his beauty so profound it brings a sense of peace over me... a higher sense of acceptance, calm, and grace like never before. It comes easy when I see his face and I have no idea why. Every day I think of your family and I cry great big heavy tears for all of your longing to have him back. May it serve as even a small comfort for you to know that your boy is now very much living in the hearts of millions. I, for one, awaken each day with a richer outlook on the bigger picture and work very hard toward building a more more meaningful life. I thank your beautiful Jack for this. And I pray every night all of this will eventually bring you peace and not pain.

Unknown said...

Jack is definitely a missionary - he has traveled into the far corners of my heart and caused me to truly search myself and my God. I, too, like your boy, can be a glass half empty kind of gal. As a mom there have been moments when I have wondered if there wasn't something more important for me to do, something that would REALLY bring glory to God. Stumbling onto your blog one Saturday morning while I was wishing for something more I was crushed by your loss. It was so instantaneous I couldn't comprehend it. It made me realize that any time I get with my kids is precious and that what I give to them here and now is more far-reaching than I can know. I can truly say that I am more intentional with my words to my kids, I listen to their stories, I savor the time I have right now. I really do think of your family often and remember you daily, multiple times, in prayer. You are not forgotten, even as the world continues on its axis and the seasons change.

Gigi said...

I cannot even begin to express my sorrow for you and your family. You know this, but your son has left an indelible mark on this world that will resonate through the years. He has touched many; even people he's never met.

My thoughts and prayers are with you always.

Leah C said...

One day at a time...
When my mother passed away 2 1/2 years ago, a friend of my father's shared these words of wisdom...your grief belongs to you and no one can tell you how to grieve or for how long...and somehow, I found that comforting. Wishing you peace & comfort; prayers as always.

Ann Imig said...

I love thinking about Jack's life as his mission.

Your writing about your grief and your thoughts is incredibly meaningful to read.

Sending light and prayers.

Anonymous said...

When I learned today that my friend's father's cancer has spread and that treatment is no longer being sought I kept thinking what can I do, what can I do? I came here to re-read your posts and search for an "answer" (of which, of course, there isn't a good one out there) and was greeted with your perfectly worded post about grief and how people deal with it differently, and that maybe she may not react in a way that would be "typical" of her personality type. Anna, your candor is helping others to understand just the tiniest bit of that unfathomable feeling which we assign the blanket term "grief" and how everyone feels it differently, yet immensely. Thank you for helping me learn how to help a friend. Thanks to Jack and the rest of your family for being an inspiration as well. I send my strongest positive vibes your way daily. All my best from Seattle.

Anonymous said...


I just came across your blog linked from another a few weeks ago and have been returning to it again and again these past few weeks, and praying for a warm enveloping cloud of love to surround you, Tim, and Margaret. As a mother of a son and daughter as well, I think each day of what you must be going through, but of course cannot even imagine. I just wanted you to know that the network of love and support surrounding you is far and wide - out to people whom you've never even met but who are thinking about you every day, admiring your bravery, and sending you love and strength to get through another day. I never post on people's blogs and know that there's nothing I can say to bring any comfort, but seeing your posting that you like to read people's comments - I figured I would at least let you know there was one more person out here inspired by you and your family, especially your amazing and beautiful son.

Kim Elkins said...

He is a missionary.
Thoughts of your Jack bring me to moments of prayer almost daily. Prayers for you, your family, and my own family. Prayers for comfort, and prayers of thankfulness.
Truly, because of your little boy, my prayer life has improved.

the mama bird diaries said...

I distinctly remember after I had my third miscarriage that all I wanted to do was be alone and cry. All my husband wanted to do was be around people.

As always, I think and pray for you all every day. Of course, it doesn't feel like enough. I want to do so much more for you all. xo

Sheila said...

I am a stranger that recently came across your blog. I am so incredibly sorry for your loss. The photos of your son are beautiful and I am sending all my prayers his way. I will continue to keep you and your family in my thoughts. The tragic loss of your son has been on my mind since I heard about it, and although I am not yet a parent, I am a sister, so your Margaret has been on mind especially. I know she will cherish the memories and continue to hold on to the special bond with her brother. It may offer little comfort, but please know that your Jack has inspired me to be more patient and hug my own sisters a little tighter each day. You are always in my thoughts.

Laura at Ms. Smartie Pants said...

I have mentioned to you that my best friend lost her son in an accident and so when I hear you, I think so much of that time that we went thru. I remember the first time she went to the grocery store by herself. Her world had stopped and she couldn't understand how everyone was still moving, she wanted to scream aloud, don't you know what I have lost, my life is different now! It has been 10 years and I have been talking to her about it again, my son has just moved away from home, and while it is NOTHING compared to what you are going thru it is a grieving process. My husband found me in his bedroom cleaning out the closet this weekend, a blubbering mess. My mind went down memory lane as I folded his Boy Scout t-shirts and gloves and little hats that kept his head warm. I kept thinking Laura he is down the street you can call him, why are you acting this way, but the more I go thru these things I am convinced it is how I let them go. And I don't mean to never feel or experience them again but to acknowledge that they were/are a part of our life. My friend said to me one day people are afraid to talk about Nick to me, but I am still his mom! I continue to pray for you and your family but I also pray for those who hold you up and sit with you quietly while you weep. On a lighter note I heard about a giant Lego man that washed ashore in Florida, a man found it and it said, I am as alive as you are!:) I thought about your boy!

Lady Courtney said...

Believe it or not, you, Tim, Margaret and Jack are all missionaries. Sometimes God takes us down a road we do not want to go. That is what you are doing, (forced down that road) and I think he totally understands anything you have to do (or say), as what is required for you to be able to travel down that road. My Prayers and thoughts are continued to your family. God Bless! Donna

Anonymous said...

You should check out Maya Thompson's blog about losing her son Ronan to cancer. She is grieving and blogging through her process. It is painful to read but amazing at the same time. Her latest post is about the F word and now she uses it to describe cancer and everything else right now.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for continuing to write about and share your stories of Jack. Like others, I check your site often to learn about this beautiful boy I never knew but wish I had.

He's on my mind throughout the day. I see Jack in birds, the sunrise and the leaves falling around me.

Your boy is all around and he is always, forever beautiful. God bless you and your family.

Anonymous said...

Your story has reached London; I am yet another stranger who thinks of you often and is so sorry to hear what you and your family have been through and are going through. The love for both your children and the incredible parents that you are is so tangible. I think of you all - and especially Jack - often.

Lots of love and prayers xxxxx

p.s. if you ever come to London and need somewhere to stay, blog about it, and my door is open!

Millie x

Rach said...

The thing that most resonated with me with this post was your comment about hating it when people say "You're so strong". I DESPISED it when people said that to me. What other option did I have?!? I didn't CHOSE to live this life. I didn't CHOSE to lose my daughter. And no gosh darnit (only, those weren't the words that poured forth in my head), I WASN'T strong. I had a 19 month old at home that needed me and I had no other choice.

It also made me think they were questioning the level and depth of my grief--did they think I wasn't grieving hard enough? Is that why they said I was so strong? And to the women who told me they would never be able to get out of bed if it had happened to them? I just wanted to punch them.

No, not pretty, and not kind and not nice. But, again, were they saying they love their children more than I loved mine?!?

Of course they weren't, but grief is an ugly bad thing. They were trying to show compassion and tell me they cared. It just didn't translate that way in my mind.

But, this isn't about me, this is about you and your family. Please know my heart aches for you as only a mother who has lost a child can understand.

My prayers for you all continue. Just take it one moment at a time.

Big hugs for you.

prenni5 said...

I always get something out of what you share. Thank you for that. I told you in my very first note that I knew you were going to write your way through this grief and that I am going to be there every step of the way. You are and I am.

K A B L O O E Y said...

It's so good to hear that you are each finding your best ways of grieving, and even better that you can recognize that Tim is going through the same pain, just processing it differently. I imagine you're right about Jack being a missionary now. What a great mental image to hold fast.

Momastery said...

"One of the things I always say to every group where I get a chance to talk about my book at all is to say, 'If you know someone who has lost a child or lost anybody who's important to them, and you're afraid to mention them because you think you might make them sad by reminding them that they died, they didn't forget they died. You're not reminding them. What you're reminding them of is that you remember that they lived, and that's a great, great gift."'

Elizabeth Edwards

Anonymous said...

Love that last post! So true...
Anna, I like so many others found out about your son thru another blog....I like so many others have come here everyday to read your words. We are getting so much from you, I hope you are feeling our love and prayers from us.
What the johnny! is my new saying....thanks Jack!

MK Gregory said...

Oh, Anna, we've never met but I feel as if I know you and I have come to love you and your family very much (strange as that sentence may sound). I always admired your blog and your comments on Momastary and I've been grieving so much for you. You show such grace and honesty here that you're helping me be a better person/wife/mother. I'll keep praying for you every day.

luv2run said...


The best best best part of the Halloween parade was to see you and give you the hug I have so wanted to give you for weeks!!! Sorry I wasn't registering what you were saying at first about Money and King....but you are totally right, what poor taste!!!! Always know that I am praying for the FOUR of you, that you can count on!!!!! When I left you with "keep" on writing, I meant it. I want to hear all of Jacks stories!!! I want to hear what YOU have to say!!! YOUR writing really makes me a better, more perspective person!

Anonymous said...

Was thinking of you tonight during the parade!!!

Katie said...

I live in NoVA, too, and am grieving for you and your family. I stumbled across your blog through DIY crafters right before Jack's accident. I lost my younger brother at age 16 in a car accident. This is when I learned why they call it "heartache" because for the 1st time I actually felt that stabbing pain in my heart that would not go away. But I found that as time went by, it ached only a tiny bit less. It no longer aches for him since after almost 20 years, I know he is living it up in paradise and I cannot WAIT to join him (in about 50 years)!

But my heart is aching again for Jack, even though I don't even know you or your family personally. Why is that? Because losing a child is by far the worst thing that could happen to a mother- hands down. My heart aches for you and your husband for having to go through this.

I just started heading up Operation Christmas Child at our church last year. We turned in 240 boxes. This year, I'm making it a goal for us to beat that- all in Jack's name. With God, anything is possible, especially when he has some helpers up there with Him. God bless you, sweet Jack. It is your passion for giving that will make this year's shoe box gift collection the best one yet (at least for me)! :)


Ann-Marie J said...

I'm but a neighbor who knew Jack and Tim through scouts. I still tear up at the thought Jack's loss and hold my own kids a little tighter. My heart goes out to you and Tim each time I shed a tear I know you shed so many more.

Your blog is amazing because it is so real. I am astounded at your articulateness.

Thank you for mothering me and the other 1,599 at Jack's service. Your mothering assuaged my sorrow. I pray often that your gift return to you and those closest to Jack seven times seventy times.

mypixieblog said...

I think that is certainly true, about Jack's dreams of being a missionary coming to fruition. I think often of your family and of your sweet boy and I haven't stopped praying and wishing comfort for you all. I know this isn't the course you would ever have envisioned for your family, but I hope that you continue to surround yourselves with people who believe in preserving Jack's memory and will let you be when you just a moment to yourself.

XOXO and lots of healing your way.

Mimi said...

Anna, I am praying for you constantly. In the still of the night when it feels like I am the only one awake, I sit in the dark and nurse Sam and think of you and Jack. When I lost my nephew and had two miscarriages last year I began to understand the fragility of life. Jack is a new angel reminding me daily of how precious the gift God gave me is. Jack helps me to not worry about being tired, he reminds me to be patient and rejoice.
I pray you feel our prayers comforting you and loving you.

bernthis said...

just wanted to let you know that I've been stopping by and thinking of you. lots of love

bernthis said...

just wanted you to know I've been stopping by and I'm thinking about you.

lots of love

Stimey said...

I wish I knew more about Jack so I could talk to you about him. If you ever want someone to come to your home and learn about your precious boy, I would love to be one of those people.

You are in my thoughts all the time, Anna. Whatever I write, whenever I complain, when I watch my kids for a long time, when my Jack builds with Legos, I think of you and Jack. I think of the unfairness and how each child is a gift, no matter who they are or for how long we have them.

Your words here are so important. Thank you for sharing them. Know that I am thinking of you and sending you wishes of comfort.

mariann said...

Dearest Anna -- You have all been in our prayers since we heard the terrible news about Jack. I've wanted to share this with you and I will here: A few months ago, the kids and I were doing Latin -- M12 is ahead of the twins doing Latin but she sits and listens. The twins were conjugating 'amo, amas, amat, etc). When they said 'amamus' Madison started laughing so hard she couldn't even talk. When she finally stopped, we were all sitting and waiting for the explanation. Madison said: 'In third grade, when we were learning amo, amas, amat, the 2nd person plural is AMAMUS. We were going around the room with each of us saying one of the words, and Jack Donaldson had to say amamus. He jumps up and says: I'M A MOOSE. We all couldn't stop laughing it was so funny.' We all started laughing, and ever since then which was probably last winter, whenever we are doing Latin verbs (which is not as often as it should be - but we try to get to them), all three kids jump up and say 'I'm a moose,' they laugh and we would wonder aloud what Jack and MArgaret were up to. These days, you are all in our prayers every single day, and we still 'honor' and remember Jack in that wonderfully silly way. Hugs and prayers -- Mariann Alicea (

mariann said...

Dearest Anna -- You have all been in our prayers since we heard the terrible news about Jack. I've wanted to share this with you and I will here: A few months ago, the kids and I were doing Latin -- M12 is ahead of the twins doing Latin but she sits and listens. The twins were conjugating 'amo, amas, amat, etc). When they said 'amamus' Madison started laughing so hard she couldn't even talk. When she finally stopped, we were all sitting and waiting for the explanation. Madison said: 'In third grade, when we were learning amo, amas, amat, the 2nd person plural is AMAMUS. We were going around the room with each of us saying one of the words, and Jack Donaldson had to say amamus. He jumps up and says: I'M A MOOSE. We all couldn't stop laughing it was so funny.' We all started laughing, and ever since then which was probably last winter, whenever we are doing Latin verbs (which is not as often as it should be - but we try to get to them), all three kids jump up and say 'I'm a moose,' they laugh and we would wonder aloud what Jack and MArgaret were up to. These days, you are all in our prayers every single day, and we still 'honor' and remember Jack in that wonderfully silly way. Hugs and prayers -- Mariann Alicea (

IrishRN07 said...

Thought of you when I read this with my morning coffee and bible verse: "He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the LORD." (Psalm 40:3) He truly is doing amazing things through Jack's life. May you continue to be amazed.

Susan Hunt Anderson said...

Hi Anna! I went to high school with your sister, Liz. I am so sorry for your loss. Jack sounds like a wonderful person. Unfortunately, I've had several friends lose a child over the past few years. After hearing about Jack's accident I called my friends to see what has helped them. One friend offered this article about sibling grief since it was her older child that died.

I hope this helps a little. God bless you all.

Susan Hunt Anderson, D.C.
PS: I've posted the Bieber wish on my FB page. Hoping and praying Margaret gets to meet him.

Rachael said...

I wish I could remember the name of the book I read after my brother died suddenly. It was about the emotions during grief. I am more social than my husband and it was my loss not his really. But I didn't want to go into the grocery store and run into people. I just wanted to be with few people I could talk with. I will continue to pray for you during this extremely heart breaking time.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I have watched friends deal with a similar loss and it is so vital to lift each other up as you are doing when it would be so much easier to tear each other down.

Thinking of all of you.

Christin Phelps Webb said...

Oh, Anna. If you want to know how you and your family and especially Jack have touched my life, then I'm happy to tell you. Since Jack's death, every day I think of you. Every day I remind myself that there are no guarantees. Every day I stop and force myself to observe how things are right this very minute, memorize it, be grateful for it. I am constantly releasing obsessive thoughts about the future. And I am sending so many thoughts and prayers your way -- to you, to Tim and to Margaret -- prayers for a little extra strength, faster healing, awareness of all the love that surrounds you.

So, anyway -- know that Jack is a missionary in ways we'll never fully understand. He's changed my life for sure. And I'm so grateful and awestruck by your continuing blog posts, and for this opportunity to reach out to you.

Lots of love....