Monday, December 19, 2011

The Spirit of Christmas Past and Present

When Tim and I met with our counselor today, we talked about which Christmas traditions we wanted to keep this year, and which ones we would alter. Of course "want" is not the right word, because we really just want our old lives back, but you know what I mean.

We've been following Margaret's lead on Christmas, and she wants it to be as much like "before" as possible. Thus, our trees are up, the house is decorated, I've completed our 2011 photo album, and we'll be going to Chevy's for Christmas Eve lunch, which could or could not be a hellish experience.

Since the accident, I have discovered I prefer to lean into my grief, rather than try to avoid it. For me this means spending time with people who are willing and able to talk about Jack. I figure I probably have about 40 (!) or so years left on this earth to talk about other things, but for now, if someone isn't willing to talk about what happened, or to process with me, or to at least acknowledge our loss, I really don't have the time or inclination.

I don't mean that every waking moment has to be about Jack's death, for we still have school and jobs and housekeeping and small talk, but I consider grieving Jack to be significant, important work and I want to face it instead of avoiding it.

Christmas has been like this, too. Going through the homemade ornaments and remembering the story surrounding each one is a way of leaning into grief and experiencing it, rather than trying to pretend that by leaving them boxed up, we didn't lose our sweet son. Yes, it is hard to see them, to touch them, but the ornaments provide a natural springboard to be able to talk about Jack.

When we hold up his preschool "Peanut Jesus" (a peanut in its shell, swaddled with toilet paper and nestled in a mini raisin box) or his pathetic reindeer ornament which is really just a bare clothespin with a googly eye stuck on it-- Rudolph the One-eyed Cyclops-- we are acknowledging and feeling our huge loss while celebrating great memories.

One tradition that is definitely a keeper is the Christmas morning scavenger hunt, passed down from Tim's family. Tim writes a poem that goes from one clue to the next and eventually leads the kids to a final, "big" present. One year found us all down at the mailbox in our pj's, having been led there by poetic clues which had the kids plug certain coordinates into a handheld GPS. Another time the kids had to open a certain computer file to find their next clue. And so on and so on...

Big presents ranged from an electronic keyboard to the air hockey table that Tim and I spent most of Christmas Eve assembling. I went through a dozen sugar cookies during the frustrating process before giving up around 2 a.m. Tim stuck with it, aided by about 4 rum and cokes. Christmas morning our neighbor had to sneak into the basement under the pretense of borrowing a tool to help us turn the table, now fully assembled but upside down, onto its feet.

We have a lot of sweet videos of the kids, always together, traipsing upstairs and down, inside and out of the house, Jack reading clues at lightning speed. Tim usually stays up pretty late working on the poems and I vacillate from being a bit annoyed that this is his contribution to Christmas, as I plan and shop and wrap and hide, to being grateful that this is his contribution to Christmas because it is so meaningful for our family. I predict there will be some tender late-night tears this year as Tim writes his clues for a sister instead of a sister/brother duo.

A month or so ago I found a little stack of paper scraps in the guest room with rhyming clues written on them. I asked Margaret what they were and she said they were from a scavenger hunt her brother had made for her just for the heck of it one random day. Here are the clues, in or out of order:

To find your clue step inside,
Go upstairs I have not lied.

Your next clue is out back,
Look under a pot and that's the fact.

Go back inside and take a peek
Under the bed where the dog sleeps.

Now that you have found this clue,
I think Margaret's bedroom will do.

For your next find go back downstairs,
Look near shells your clue is there.

Almost here you're getting hot,
Go to the kitchen and look in a pot.

To find your last one,
Go to the basement for some GAME FUN.

This is your last clue,
In the guest room there's something for you.

I asked Margaret what her prize was at the end of Jack's little game. She has absolutely no idea.

I guess just like with the now-dusty air hockey table, keyboard, and whatever else we gave the kids over the years, the thrill of the hunt, or the process, meant even more than the prize itself.


Cassie Bustamante said...

anna, i am thinking of you, tim, and margaret this christmas. and i am so thankful to "know" you and to be able to read all your stories of jack- i think you can lean into me, and the rest of your readers, any time. much love to you.

S. Taylor said...

Been thinking of you and your family and continue adding you all to our nightly prayers.
Thank you for sharing your stories and your emotions with us so openly.

ella said...

I'm a leaner too, Anna.

I'd gladly meet you somewhere for a drink (coffee or something a little stronger) and listen as you tell me all about your Jack. Sound crazy? Maybe, but it'd be a privilege. I've driven way farther for things not even a fraction as important.

child of God said...

I am so glad you can talk about this. Talk and talk and talk.

Praying and praying for you and your family during this time.


Jendy said...

I love this. At such a young age he emulated and appreciated the traditions you created. As always, your honesty is so uplifting and awe-inspiring. John was playing with a 2-way radio today and asked if the radio signal reached heaven. I asked him why he wanted to know. He said he wanted to tell jack that he loves him. We love you. Xoxo

ckbrylliant said...

Though I am just a reader, I am so impressed with your honesty and proud of you for honoring your sons memory by 'leaning'. There is no need to pretend. “Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.” Dr. Seuss. Know that I am praying for you and your family and immensely grateful for your honesty. You provide perspective and truth not found very many places.

macmac524 said...

Good for you!
May you feel the prayers and thoughts being sent your way during this Christmas season. said...

I can't imagine how you feel & yet I get it. I hate that your family is going through this. My heart aches for you. I love hearing about Jack & check in daily just to read about him. I usually read & rarely comment. This time I wanted to comment, to let you know I'm here to listen :)

Kristie Jackson said...

Praying for you tonight, Anna. And thank you for sharing in such an honest way. There's such sorrow in your writing but also hope, and I know it is meaningful to so many.

ter@waaoms said...

hello, I have been reading your blog today. I came across it earlier and I did post a comment on the post about Jack's accident.

Christmas is definitely the hardest time. The first few years after my daughter died, I did not want to celebrate Christmas but my husband did, so we did. Since he joined her in Heaven, I have not put up a tree or done anything Christmassy. I miss Christmas but it seems pointless alone.

However I think you are right, you do need to talk about it and you have every right to do so. You deserve to have Jack's memory acknowledged. I hope this holiday will bring some peace for you. ((many hugs))

Sharon @ Elizabeth & Co. said...

Hello Anna, I have been thinking of you often during this holiday season. I know that every single day is hard, but the holidays bring new and different challenges. I look forward to your posts just to know that you are doing Ok. I will continue to keep you all in my thoughts and prayers!

Anonymous said...

Leaning into grief ... what a great term for such a crappy process. I don't know what to say, except thank you for sharing your story, the great pics of the kids having silly brother-sister time, and know that I'm thinking and praying for you. I know I read and rarely comment—I'm a 28-year-old single and childless magazine editor who lives in NYC—but I do want to let you know that reading about Jack is such a joy and a privilege. When my mom passed away last year, I found it so weird the way my friends divided into the ones who could talk about her and the ones who couldn't. It actually totally changed all my friendships, and I dropped quite a few of them. I love when people can tell stories about my mom, laugh about what she would have done or said in a situation, or just bring her up in casual conversation. Because she existed, I loved her, and I miss her. I feel a lot of people somehow think, if you don't talk about it, you won't be reminded, but when it's as part of your daily existence as breathing, there's no such thing as a "reminder" because every single thing you do is a reminder. So that said, I love reading about Jack and getting to know him, as well as getting to "know" your family.


An NYC Anna

Anonymous said...

Dee from Tennessee

"leaning into" could you not? (But...having said that, I know that what is best for one is not the best for all.) Y'all are being uplifted by so so so many...and Jack is not forgotten --- nor will he be.

Molly said...

Honey, if you ever want to talk about Jack, just tell stories to someone who didn't know him but loves him now. I'm here to listen.

Megan said...

I feel like I need to lean into your grief too. Everytime I read your posts and cry and my husband wonders why I read them. I hope you find joy in the wonderful memories you have created as a family over the years. I know there will be a lot of heartache, but I hope there is a little room for joy.

Annie said...

Wow. I'm in awe of how you are able to do such a good job parenting Margret by letting her lead with regard to Christmas and also actively parenting Jack's memory by honoring all of the amazing things he did, including the adorable game for his sister. I will be thinking of you over the next few weeks and hope things can be as good as possible as you love and remember Jack and tell his stories and enjoy your days with Margaret in this "after"

New Mom said...

This makes me think of the treasure hunt you're on now... 40 years is a long time to wait, but someday you will reunite with one of your most valued treasures!

Praying for you three and your extended family as well!

BethR1997 said...

I think of you often, having learned about the accident through Momastery. I come to this page to read your posts and feel so sad that you all have this path now as your new reality. I just wanted to tell you that you have changed many lives; ones you don't even know about. I've decided to slow down and listen to my kids, to hug them more, to parent them better, to cherish our small moments together. I always have been that kind of mom... but now I'm better. And that's because of you, your writing, your family and your beautiful son. Thank you.

Deb said...

Dear Anna, Last weekend, as I began opening the kids ornament collections to decorate the tree, I cried as I opened Andrew's train ornaments (I have continued collecting trains in his honor for the past 14 years.) Then I cried for and prayed for you and the two other moms I know who are experiencing the first Christmas after losing their beloved children. You have been on my heart so much. Thank you for continuing to share your journey and stories of your beautiful boy. Blessings to you.

Auntie Mip said...

Dear Anna and Family,

I have no clear memory of how I found your family. I think that is because when I read of the accident and Jack's death I was so stunned. I wept for an hour...but a brief mist when compared to the ocean of tears you have for this beautiful boy and his precious sister and parents left behind. You are thought of at Christmas and often. I wonder, has anyone told you about a book called Tear Soup? It is by a hospice RN named Pat Schweibert. I recommend it to families often(I am a pediatric oncology nurse). It speaks to the long road grief is, how it is different and requires a certain amount of seasoning and simmering...that no two people make the same soup...grief is of course by its very nature deeply personal. And yet you have shared it all so lovingly here. Tear's what you a making as yu navigate the holidays, clue by clue without your Jack. There is no magic salve for a wound such as yours. There is only prayer and love and peace and hope. May you know all of these at Christmas and may the babe in a manger remind you of the greatest gift of all, an eternity with your funny. Passionate, Lego loving boy!

Unknown said...

In spite of the pain of this post, I still managed to laugh at "Rudolph the one-eyed cyclops."

You guys are always in my thoughts and prayers, especially these next two weeks.

For what little it's worth, you are healthier than I am. I still haven't opened the box of my brother's things that included a video of him showing every room of our empty house before we moved out, along with a running commentary. (There are also my notes from the speech I gave at his funeral, etc). And shutting that box tight means that it still oozes out in weird ways nearly 20 years later.

Love to you and your family.

Peggy said...

I have been thinking about your family every day. Wondering how you are getting thru this time. I know it will be hard to get thru EVERY month though. I continue to pray for all of you.
I love the treasure hunt tradition!! We do that at Easter time and hide the baskets. Same little rhyming clues. My husband does it all since this was a tradition carried from his child hood too. I think I will share the idea with him about Christma time treasure hunts. Peace be with you.

Scary Mommy said...

You amaze me, Anna.

geri said...

as always, your strength, spirit, honesty and beautiful heart and soul shine through in this post. yes, talk about your jack, and if someone can't or won't listen, move on to the next person who will. "what is there to do when people die, people so rare and dear, but bring them back by remembering". - May Sarton. thank you for sharing yourself and your lovely, loving family with all of us.

Anonymous said...

I hope you have many friends IRL who can/are willing to talk and grieve Jack with you.

I am glad you're sharing your need for that, too - grief is such a difficult personal, thing. It IS hard to know what to say, whether a person wants to be distracted or as you say, lean into it.

I love how much you share with us, and please know you are in daily prayers.

Lisa G. in CT

Marinka said...

I'm just in awe of your parenting, in following Margaret's lead.

I pray for you constantly and will be praying for you on Christmas.

Anonymous said...

Not sure if you've seen this. We've had a loss in our family and this has brought us much comfort. It is said to have been written by a 13 year old boy who was about to lose his battle with cancer. He gave this to his mother.

My First Christmas in Heaven

I see the countless Christmas trees
around the world below with tiny lights, like Heaven's stars, reflecting on the snow.
The sight is so spectacular.
Please wipe away your tear,
for I am spending Christmas
with Jesus Christ this year.*

I hear the many Christmas songs
that people hold so dear,
But that music can't compare
with the Christmas choir up here.
I have no words to tell you,
the joy their voices bring,
For it is beyond description,
to hear the angels sing.

I know how much you miss me,
I see the pain in your heart,
But I am not so far away;
We're really not that far apart.
So be happy for me, my family;
You know I hold you dear.
And be glad I'm spending Christmas
with Jesus Christ this year.

Please love and keep each other,
as our Father said to do.
For I can't count the blessings or love He has for each of you.
So have a Merry Christmas,
and wipe away that tear.
'cause remember, I am spending Christmas, with Jesus Christ this year.

Christy said...

Hugs Anna. How I wish I could come over and give you one in person, and hear about all the ornaments and memories. Love you.

Meredith Self said...

Leaning into Life. Even grief. There's so much fullness I that, even with the loss. Thanks ao much for sharing.

Tears at Jack's poem hunt. Love it.

I've been opening to new family traditions to create. I'm adopting this one!

Xoxo love you

Me said...

When you are leaning into grief, you are leaning into all of us for support. I do not know your or your family, as I came across your blog when one of your fellow readers asked for prayers for you, but I feel like I know you. I look every day for a updated blog entry from you and always hope for a better day for you. Keep your wonderful family traditions, work through the grief and talk all you want about Jack. We are listening, and for that I thank you.

Anonymous said...

Thinking of you and your family, and the unimaginable grief this Christmas brings. My brother and his wife are walking this same road, and I know what long and difficult journey it is.

All I can offer you is my sincere hope that your hearts find some sense of peace and healing in the spirit of Christmas.

Kristin said...

Thank you for reminding us all to enjoy the process more than the end game. And thank you for sharing your grief - it's a powerful gift you are giving to all of us.

Mrs. E said...

It is never about the material things. We rarely remember the gifts-- just the memories with loved ones.

I have thought about you during this season. I have a student (an older brother) whose 18th and final chemo treatment is to be completed by Christmas. He has a little sister who has fought right along side of him...who doesn't want to be an only child either. They are an amazing family. Incredible kids. And through it all, I've thought of you and Tim and Jack and Margaret. Two families are linked in my mind-- one I know personally and one I know only through blog world. Both families stay in my prayers.

Ellen aka Ellie said...

As long as you talk, I will listen.

As for the clues, I'm sure Margaret will think like Jack at moments to figure some out, and if you all do talk about him so much, I'm certain his favorite places/things in the house could be included.

He is your son, he is Margaret's brother.

With love,

Julia said...

Lean in to it. Wish I was there and you could talk about Jack all day long.

I just read Mary Beth Chapman's book, Choosing to SEE...about her life before, during and after the tragic death of her daughter. I thought of you the whole time.

Read it when you think you're ready. I'm sure you will find a kindred spirit in Mary Beth. But she is 2 years into her grief when she writes the book.

xoxo, Julia

Mariann said...

Anna -- 'leaning into grief' -- you are amazing and brave. Madison has the most stories about Jack (naturally......any of us would love to sit with your family and listen to stories about Jack and share stories about your precious boy. One of the clearest pictures I have in my mind of Jack is at their 3rd grade Roman feast. The boys were all in togas with laurel wreaths on their heads - reclining on the floor, and eating pasta, and other foods with their hands - and just cracking each other up as they were having such a good time. Jack and MC were next to each other and their wreaths were just a little cute. Blessings to your family - you remain in our thoughts and prayers -- our house is the one with blue bows and blue lights. Love to you all -- Mariann Alicea

Theresa O said...

As always thanks for sharing Anna... love reading your blog... and always love seeing the adorable pics of Margaret and Jack. What beautiful memories. If there was anything I could hope & wish for this Christmas, is that Jack will provide one of his wonderful and amazing "signs" to you that he STILL is with you, watching over you. Whether it's a song, a bird, or just a presence of love you feel surrounding you. I'm asking God to bless your family with peace and hope during this very tough holiday season. Much love to you and your family.

Shell Flower said...

Aw. It's amazing how Christmas ornaments all have stories behind them. Jack's peanut Jesus sounds adorable and I hope it has a spot on your tree for years to come. What a wonderful tradition to have a scavenger hunt every year. Obviously it was special to you kids since they played their own version. I love to hear about their relationship and I'm so sorry you will have such an empty space to try to fill with only memories this year. Good for you for keeping up the traditions for Margaret. Our thoughts are with you all. I hope you are blessed with comfort somehow over the holidays.

Deb said...

Leaning with are in my thoughts and prayers often and your open-hearted sharing is priceless.

Clare said...

Thinking of you guys every day, more and more as Christmas draws closer. The scavenger hunt for his sister was so sweet.

luv2run said...

I drive pass the bridge every wed night to my sons bball practice and noticed a beautiful christmas tree.....brights my heart every time I see it.

THis reader would love to hear every story about your beautiful Jack....every single one!!!!!!!!!!!!

We dont know each other so this is our only way of I obsessivly check for new postings every day.

This time of year must be very difficult............parying you find any kind of joy in this holiday!!!!!

Hugs from a stranger!


pamlovesbooks said...

hugs from another stranger!

L said...


Ann Imig said...

1. I will listen by email or phone whenever you want to talk about Jack. Please take me up on this when you want a fresh ear. Okay "fresh ear" sounds horrible, but you know.

2. Peanut Jesus is the cutest thing I've ever heard.

3. Peace and love to you all. Lean in to your grief and each other and the strong arms of all who love you.

Anonymous said...

What a fun tradition! I am so sad for you all this Christmas, but so inspired & in awe of your processing, remembering & cherishing Jack. I don't even know him, but I can tell he wouldn't want it any other way. I am praying for your family this Christmas & always. Thank you for sharing your thoughts & your family with us.

Kim said...

lean, lean, lean. I think of the hymn, Leaning on the Everlasting Arms. You are leaning on arms that will hold you up, and sustain you through all the pain, sorrow, sadness, messiness, and in the joy. They are are intermingled, aren't they? grateful you can feel joy as you remember all the sweetness each of those ornaments hold --and his scavenger hunt for Margaret is a treasure. Just like you! Praying.

Anonymous said...

Keeping your family in my thoughts this holiday season.

Kate Coveny Hood said...

I love processing with you. And I'm always available.

Alexandra said...

Oh, Anna.

I am crying so hard for you, because I cannot imagine.

I simply cannot imagine. I am the mother of 3 boys.

I will always stop over here, and promise to always read every word.

I dont' know what else to do.

Stimey said...

I have been thinking of you and your family and Christmas. You have all of my love. I will be thinking of you this week.

I think leaning into grief is smart. It is painful, but so necessary. Hiding pain doesn't make it go away.

Love you.

Robin-Lynn said...

There are really no thoughts are with you and your family. Your bravery to share your story and grief is unmeasurable.

Heidi said...

Lean into grief...I like that. Well, I don't like it but you know what I mean. I hate that you have to do it, but I understand what you're saying. And, truly, I think it's the best way.
I'm here. Reading, listening, caring.
Love you, Anna. Thinking of you.

Anonymous said...


If I were your nearby friend, I'd want to be with you to talk about Jack as much as you wanted me around. As it is, I am a faraway friend, but still want to read about Jack and learn about how it's all going for you and your family. We are all here for you. And hey, just let those nearby friends know that that's what they can do for you, if you haven't already. I think they'll appreciate the invitation.


PS) We FINALLY have our tree up and last night I tied a blue ribbon onto one of the boughs. I will do so every year.

Katie said...

Anna, I have thought of you so much this Christmas season and have prayed for your family during this time knowing how absolutely impossible life must feel. I was at a Christian Christmas concert last week and heard this song as they finished the concert, offering a prayer and a blessing to all of those that were there, and I have said repeatedly thinking of you. God Bless you and your family, and thank you for all of the beautiful memories you share of Jack.

An Irish Christmas Blessing

Now may the fragrance of His peace
Soar through your heart like the dove released
Hide in His wings oh, weary distant soul
He'll guide your spirit home
And may His love poured from on high
Flow to the depths of your deepest sigh
Oh come and drink from the only living stream
And on His shoulder lean
And may the hope that will not deceive
Through every pain bring eternal ease
There is no night that can steal the promises
His coming brings to us

Anonymous said...

God Bless your family and Merry Christmas.

From the Kitchen said...

What precious memories you have of your sweet Jack. I would think that all who knew and loved your son would want to listen to you and join in. I wish for your family a Christmas filled with love of each other. Just reading about your Jack, I'm sure that's exactly how he would want it as well.


Kim @ A Brush of Whimsy said...

Hugs, Anna

Anonymous said...

Ya know, if you post about him 10 times a day, I'd read about him 10 times a day. I'm sure everyone else here would too. Granted, you've got better things to do than post on here all day, but don't think anyone's getting bored with your musings on your darling lost son. Because it won't happen.

Love to all of you and sending strength and love to help make it through the next week in one piece. You'll all be in the hearts and thoughts of legions of people you might never meet, if that's any solace.

The Carens Clan said...

I was thinking of you & your family at our church service this weekend, our pastor was focusing on Hope.... He said "Rejoice that my Lord will not leave me during my sufferings" ...not that you feel any urge to rejoice in this horrific situation, but knowing that it is Jesus that is the Hope that shines the brightest on our darkest days and that all of your blog readers are always here to listen to you talk & share stories about Jack. Always praying for you, that you may get a glimpse of peace in such an unimaginable time and praying that you will be surrounded with love from those around you

Amy said...

I am so very sorry that this tragedy has happened to your family and your son Jack was taken way to soon! The stories of Jack are so very touching...bless you for sharing them! Prayers to you and your family!

I don't know you but if I could I would just hug you, slide you a cup of coffee and open up my ears. I am a's just not supposed to happen this way!

Princess Kate said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Princess Kate said...

Just wanted to say that I come here to your blog every day and have not forgotten Jack in any way or what he means to your family. Praying for peace and some kind of understanding as you move forward.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely AMAZING! That is what you are, Anna. Just when it seems that maybe this is the point that it is going to be too hard for you to process, maneuver through, and still write about - you come shining through! Again amazing is the wonderful way you are guiding Margaret through this process. Allowing her to lead the way, allowing the traditions to continue, embracing the memories and not shutting them out - truly inspirational. I wrote before about not only losing my dad to death at age 11, but also losing my mom, as I had always known her, due to her inability to deal with my dad's death. I am so happy that Margaret isn't experiencing that same thing, that you and Tim are strong enough to carry on for her sake - and your own. Keep processing, talking and leaning. Know that you always have a listening ear here and we want to hear every Jack story ever. God bless each of you and wishing you peace and comfort always.

Anonymous said...

Drove over the bridge for the first time in a while this afternoon and saw the Christmas tree. Brought a tear to my eye.

Anonymous said...

This one is profound. And so beautifully said. It IS very important work, despite the fact that our culture likes to hide from grief. People don't know how to behave around the deepest of grief, and it can be so frustrating (sometimes infuriating) but they generally mean well. In the past, death was present everywhere, for everyone -- very few got to the age of 35 without a sibling or child to mourn. But now we are often so estranged from these experiences. And it makes grievers feel alienated. Here's hoping you feel surrounded by wise and intuitive people. Erica

NanaDiana said...

Anna- You are in my thoughts and prayers. Your friends may be afraid to talk about Jack with you. We found this to be an unwelcome truth when we treaded these waters many years ago. You broach the subject first because they will be afraid to bring it up. God bless you- xo Diana

mia said...

Anna Each story you share about jack and your family makes me love you all more. What at extraordinary little man. You all are in my constant prayers ,,,, blessings to you all this Christmas. Xoxo

Mrs Changstein said...

Keep leaning sister. I thought of you this week when I heard the Casting Crowns song 'Already There'. Beautiful. When I went through something life-changing, I too found that not all my 'before' friends could stick. And that was ok. God brought me the ones I needed. You're not alone. Praying for you here in British Columbia, Canada.

Leah C said...

Lean in, dear Anna, lean in...wishing you some peace & comfort as you make your way through the holidays without your beloved boy. There's a song on my ipod called "Borrowed Angels"{sung by Kristin Chenoweth} and every time I hear it, I think of Jack. Big hugs and prayers for you and your family.
P.S. I'll be tying a blue ribbon on to our Christmas tree this memory of your sweet angel.

Carol Rooney Everhart said...

Dear Anna,
Watching you navigate through each day is both anguishing and inspiring. I ache for your pain, yet through your words I am comforted by the open presence of who you are.
Though I never met Jack, because of your words, he has become woven into the tapestry of my memories. I think of when we were kids and how your house was the “Mecca” for the neighborhood. How your mom always made us feel like we were special, no matter how shy or awkward we may have been, the kitchen door was always open. From the things you share, I imagine yours to be the same kind of home, warm and full of love. Because of this, I smile when I think of Jack, knowing he and Margaret would have been right at home back then, climbing trees and building forts, surrounded by friends and family that love them so.
As you continue to put one foot in front of the other, through the sorrow, challenges, and the hope that somehow tomorrow will be a little better, know that I hear you, pray for you and am grateful that you let me in your “kitchen door”to share the beauty of your family, again...

Debby@Just Breathe said...

Those clues sound like so much fun.
We have never done that in our house but I think we need to try it sometime. I think your family has some wonderful traditions and continuing them will make Jack smile. Your desire to talk about Jack is important. I have been reading posts of BLM (baby lost mothers) for several years now. The hardest part after losing their child is the fact that so many people don't want to talk about their child or don't know how important it is to you so they end up saying nothing. Praying your holidays are blessed with all the beautiful memories you have in your heart. I know how broker you are right now. I pray God give you comfront, strength and peace.

DawnGes said...

I used to create those treasure hunts when our children were younger--rhyming and all. They LOVED it. This summer we were all together for a family reunion and I made one for the younger nieces and nephews; it was a huge hit.

Maybe it's time to Jack up the treasure hunt concept and connect it to Christmas even with our young adults and teen daughter.

Thinking of you, praying for you, loving you, dear Anna.

the mama bird diaries said...

My dad used to send me on treasure hunts too. What a beautiful tradition. As usual, your post and beautiful words brought me to tears. xo

Christen said...

I don't always know what to write because this whole experience is so unimaginable, but I read every word of your posts and think of you and your family constantly. Much love to you always.

Kristin said...

I am amazed at your ability to access grace and wisdom in a time of such intense grief. You are an inspiration.

TheLab said...

The most consistent thing in Jack's life was fun and love, that is so apparent. What a wonderful, fun life with such a loving family, and Savior.

We pray for you all like crazy. Keep telling us all about him, all about your family, all about even the smallest thing that Jack said or did. We love to "talk" about him with you through this blog.


Anonymous said...

i saw this and thought of your daughter - made me laugh that it even exists! Thought i'd pass on in case you're looking for one more gift for the treasure hunt.

Anonymous said...


2 things:
I noticed that the ornaments above your children in the pictures look like a halo and an angel. I read through the posts b/c I figured others might have noticed - it just struck me that those seemed appropriate symbols - a halo around your sweet son and an angel above your beautiful daughter.

The second is a family secret but as I'm "anonymous" here and I believe it might help I will share - one of my parents siblings committed suicide when my parent was young and the family never dealt w/ it or acknowledged it - this was the best they could do at the time - but I am glad you are facing the pain and leaning into it. I can't judge what one who has lost a child chooses to do, but I can say it has an effect generations after to never have dealt with his death. The pain stays and that parent has a very hard time dealing with emotions up front. So do I to some extent as the MO is to stick ones head in the sand. I think it will be better for your daughter that you feel and deal with the pain and talk. Thank you.

Jill Nunes said...

Anna, we don't know each other in 'real life' but I've been reading your blog and praying for you for some time now. Have you ever heard of Maureen Hancock? I have this strong feeling I'm supposed to connect you two:
This post just made me think of you. (((hugs))) Jill

Laura at Ms. Smartie Pants said...

I love the expression leaning into the grief and that this is the most important thing to grieve Jack. What came to mind is the old Bear Hunt we used to do with our kids when they were young, I'm going on a Bear Hunt, I'm not afraid, can't go over it, can't go under it, I guess I'll just have to go thru it! Know that we are here with you but most importantly the one who is all know and full of strength is within you every step of the way!

Susan said...

Know that although we are total strangers, I think of you and your family almost daily.
I cannot begin to imagine what you are going through - at Christmas especially.
What an amazing contribution your husband makes to making Christmas special ~ I hope Margaret finds some joy in remembering and continuing the tradition.
Hugs to you all.

Anonymous said...

my son had those EXACT jammies a few years ago. adorable. your Jack and your family are in my daily thoughts and prayers. Especially now. let your family and friends carry you through the next couple weeks.

julie said...

I too prefer to spend time with my Khristin's friends and people who knew her. My daily goal is to include her in atleast one conversation every day. Haven't been able to decorate though. Our son made us get a tree and I'm grateful. It will be a tribute to her...all purple. I don't think of it as avoiding or pretending...I simply don't have any energy to go on at times. You may find, like I have that 6-10 months down the road is actually much harder than the first few months. Thank you for helping me realize that we do need to go on. Lots of prayers.

Pip said...

Lean on Anna - we are here, we're listening and we love you very much.

Jen said...

My heart is with your family this Christmas. Although I know your season won't be quite "merry", I hope at least you are able to find some comfort in all those Christmas memories as you work through your process of grief. I love the idea of "leaning into" your grief. You're right, it is important work and necessary. Lean away, and please continue to share your lovely stories and memories of Jack with us. I hope Margaret's special scavenger hunt this year leads her to more than just a thoughtful gift...I hope it helps lead her (and all of you) to a more peaceful place, remembering precious times with her brother. Love to you all this Christmas.

Becky Houston said...

I am glad you are talking about Jack. He should be talked about for as long as you want to talk about him; which will probably be for the better part of the rest of your life. God talks about His son, Jesus, all the time. So I think we should go right ahead and follow His example.

prenni5 said...

I LOVED this post..all of it!! First I want to commend you on leaning into your grief. I'm no expert but I feel very strongly that the sooner you deal--the quicker you heal. This was how I chose to handle my fathers death and my mother on the other hand sold her home and travelled the world like a gypsy. It's been 6 years and she is just now settling in and accepting. I loved the scavenger hunt that Jack made for Margaret. He was so thoughtful and so smart! Thank you for all that you share. With blessings & love, Annie

Amy Knorr said...

Dear Anna - A blessing for you. your story touched me more than you can imagine. Kenbe.

(by John O'Donohue, from Bendedictus: A Book fo Blessings)

For a parent on the death of a child
No one knows the wonder
Your child awoke in you,
Your heart a perfect cradle
To hold its presence,
Inside and outside became one
As new waves of love
Kept surprising your soul.

Now you sit bereft
Inside a nightmare,
Your eyes numbed
By the sight of a grave
No parent should ever see.

You will wear this absence
Like a secret locket,
Always wondering why
Such a new soul
Was taken home so soon.

Let the silent tears flow
And when your eyes clear
Perhaps you will glimpse
How your eternal child
Has become the unseen angel
Who parents your heart
And persuades the moon
To send new gifts ashore.

Buttercream Bakehouse said...

Thinking of your family and Jack always and especially this Holiday season. Continuing to pray for you as I know it does not get easier for you. You are strong and an inspiration to many for putting your thoughts into words for the world to hear.