In elementary school, I liked being a little bit different. For instance, I lived in a cool house. Not a fancy house, but a great big, drafty 100-year-old farmhouse surrounded by 60’s colonials and ranches and split-levels. I loved how I would hear people say at school, “The Underground Railroad runs right through that old house’s basement!” or, “That house was a hospital in the Civil War!” and I’d think, "Well, not exactly," but I loved how it made me feel a little bit different, or special. I found that being a bookworm and playing by myself most of the time set me apart, too, but I didn’t mind. Why put down “Gone with the Wind” just to fit in?
When junior high arrived, I didn’t want to be different in ANY way. I longed to be invited to boy-girl parties, and have feathered hair and Jordache jeans just like everyone else. Problem is, due to body type, and braces, and general “Anna-ness,” I couldn’t pull that off. Ever. I later came to see that being different in junior high probably protected me from a lot of dicey situations, but I certainly saw no value in that at the time.
As I got older, I managed to both fit in and be a little bit different at the same time. During high school and college, I had friends from a lot of different groups, and that worked for me. As a result of straddling different groups, I never felt completely enmeshed in any one, but that's how I liked it. In college, for instance, I’d go to frat parties with my sorority sisters and have a blast, but I wouldn’t necessarily join them in doing beer slides or drinking grain alcohol out of trashcans. I liked being a little bit different, and besides, some people are born to be designated drivers.
As a young mom, I wanted to be different enough as in, “Wow, her kids are GENIUSES, and so stinkin’ CUTE!” while also hoping certain issues I was going through were the exact same for other moms, such as, “My daughter won’t put socks on if she’s already brushed her teeth” or, “My son picks his boogies and eats them during every preschool concert!” Often, I didn't accept my kids' differences, or quirks, and tried to make them conform to what I thought was normal. But always, I tried to be real, encouraging other moms that we were all in this together and could do this hard, wonderful thing called mothering.
After I put my kids in private school, I sometimes felt too different, because I wanted to be part of two communities at once. I didn’t want to miss out on neighborhood/town connections, and I didn’t want people to think I was Judgy McJudge Pants for having my kids in a different school. I just wanted to fit in and have people like me. Sound a little like junior high, just without the mullet? Perhaps.
Faith-wise, I’ve always been comfortable being the woman who goes to church a lot and loves God, but not necessarily comfortable enough to talk about it or stand out as different.
So sometimes I’ve wanted to be a little different, sometimes not. But now? As the parent of a dead child? I don’t just feel different, I feel like an alien. This life, this world, doesn’t seem to fit me anymore. I can’t believe I look remotely normal when I walk down the street or drive in my car, because I feel so “off”-- so stricken-- with a new reality that I consider completely, utterly, unacceptable.
This is NOT the way things are supposed to be. Those previous "differences" in my life? Were infinitesimal in scope and fell neatly within the parameters of “normal.” This is not normal.
I don’t want to be the mom of a dead son. Not my Jack. Margaret does not want to be that sister, and I hate that this sad distinction will follow my zany, sparkling girl. And Tim? Quiet, affable Tim, whose most traumatic life event to date had been finding out, at an embarrassingly late age, that Santa wasn’t real? This kind of pain, this heartache, sets him apart in a way that he never could have imagined, not in his worst nightmares.
Because it is just not right.
We’re supposed to be talking about Jack going to HIS first boy-girl party and, unlike me, he was cute enough to actually score an invite. We’re supposed to talk about the school play or video game ratings, or S.E.X. We are not supposed to talk about whether we are getting grief counseling, when we’ll pick out a headstone, or how we’re going to change our Christmas traditions this year.
No. No. No!
This all too different, too brutal, too strange.
I must admit, that underneath this formerly stable, predictable life ran a current, planted in early childhood in the mind of a reader of books, that her life would somehow be different from those around her. But what did that look like to a young dreamer's mind? Perhaps becoming an actress, winning the lottery, or cracking a case a la Nancy Drew. Doing something unusual. I can't pin it down, but there certainly was a niggling desire to be different in some more significant way.
But THIS? This is NOT what I imagined.
I KNOW it's not the same...believe me I know. But this year I'm different because I have a son who has made some scary drug-induced choices and I'm terrified for where he'll end up....so while all of our friends are talking about their children going off to college or starting their first jobs....our son is living in hell right now and there's no end in sight. I never expected to be this different either. You think you'll just be like everyone else, or even better, and then your life takes a turn you never saw coming. I'm praying for you and yours.
I think of you ALL the time even though we have never met. I spoke of your Jack to my son, Jack, yesterday because he wanted to walk to dog around the block all by himself and I wasn't comfortable with it. Long story how your Jack came up, but he was thought about by strangers...a lot.
If only people's thoughts and prayers could actually put a dent in your family's grief. I hope you are attending some kind of support group. Maybe it would help to share your grief with others in similar situations (never the same as they are NEVER the same.)
I'm sending you love and hope you feel a tiny bit of it somehow for your sake...so Margaret can be her true self and still fly...so your husband can heal....still praying for the all of you, Jack included.
It's as if you're living in a parallel parenting universe, one you never planned to be in, but somehow just dropped into. You're walking and talking and going through life, but on a different path, next to but not WITH the other parents. I'm so sorry.
I've been thinking of you all the time as you navigate through this difficult season. I take solace that you're talking through this on your blog, and I hope you continue doing that. As others have said, you are in our hearts and prayers, and we are here, holding you up even as you go along that parallel path.
And yet you've joined an infinite line of mothers/sisters/husbands who belong to this exact group.
You are not alone. You are not an alien.
Love and peace to you guys.
I hate this different-ness so much. The world is upside down. All wrong, wrong, wrong. Hate, hate, hate it. Love, love, love you.
Oh Anna. It's never what we imagine I don't think. Your pain,grief,and anger are palpable.
You're not "alien" in any way. You,Tim, and Margaret are deeply loved by so many who know you, and so many who don't. We can only play the hand we're dealt, and you're playing a spectacularly hideous hand with grace beyond words.
I don't like to imagine what I'd do under the same circumstances, but I think we'd be spending Christmas somewhere strange and warm, where we'd be just another beautiful couple with a darling daughter.
You always remind me so much of me... See it's not just Tim!
This has always felt SO wrong to me. And the last conversation we had gave me a lot of comfort. It doesn't change how it feels, but it helps.
And I can't tell you how often I think about you during the day. How often I wish that things were different. And not *this* kind of different.
I love you.
This post is beautiful. You are doing it. You are surviving...more than surviving...you are creating art during this excruciating time. Like this post...this post is art. Thank you for being so honest and brave. Please don't ever hold back. We are with you and for you and we can handle the truth. I love you, Anna.
My heart aches for you right now. I feel helpless , when all your readers want to do is make your life better, happier and easier.
I teach middle school and have only taught MS for the same reason you felt. Kids are different and want to be accepted during this time of their lives. You can really make a difference in this fork in the road.
But let me tell you, you are making difference to us, to our lives. So you are different in many ways but we dont view as different because you lost your beautiful Jack. Your different because you write what we think, you give advice when not even realizing it and you have helped make other live better because your so different! THANK YOU!!
When my dad was dying, he wanted soup from his favorite Chinese restaurant even though he could not eat it.
I went out to get it for him on a lovely December "everyone else is Christmas shopping my dad is dying" kind of day. Normal? I thought my car was wrapped in NEON.
I remember driving to work after my dad died, I had to go in to do sub plans, and I threw the toll change past the receptacle. I did laugh at how unhinged I was feeling.
In that moment I hoped I would always cut others slack, since I didn't know where anyone else's shoes were carrying them.
I thought about you recently, at church, at work, at the grocery store being "the dead kid's mom." I know people don't smack that label on you to be mean, but it has to be hard in public and in private. Your shoes are carrying you on a walk none of us wants to take.
I still can't believe it has happened, so for you, my heart hurts each morning.
Sorry for the rambling.
Anna, you never fail to write something beautiful and poignant and meaningful to other people's problems and histories. So, because you can articulate what we all have or will feel, you aren't different at all. You are a voice for all the people who feel something similar but don't know how to speak.
As my kids deal with the recent, sudden death of their dad, I also think about the loss and emptiness that will always be with them and the 'longing' that will always, always be there. I am trying to accept the fact that because they have been dealt this crappy hand, that they are destined to one day be the ones who are helping others through terrible, tragic loss in their lives- just as you are through your writing. Again, thank you for sharing your thoughts about your beautiful boy- you are helping us.
Anna, you have a gift for taking words and weaving them in such a way that leaves me feeling like I am peeking into your soul. I cannot imagine the way life feels right now.
I do understand the feeling of alienation...the feeling of being a stranger in your own world..and I wish I could make that stop for you, because it is such a crummy place to be.
I continue to pray for you, Tim, and Margaret...
oh anna, as always, your posts just resonate and touch me so. we do feel like an alien, we hate thinking (knowing?) that people are looking at us and whispering "she's the one whose son died", we can't bear to see our husband and daughter in so much pain, when we are in so much pain too. as one commentor also wrote, as much as we feel like an alien, we aren't, cuz there are so many of us out there. it sure seems like everyone around is living in the world we used to live in, we long and ache to live in again. yes, this is wrong. this is shitty and horrible and terrible. someone told me after our son died that this must have been God's plan, and all I could say was that it was a really crappy plan then (which I don't believe it was anyway). keep on writing, keep on sharing. Jack mattered, you and tim and margaret matter. sending huge, enormous, heartfelt cyber hugs.
I hear you, girlfriend. You speak the truth and I like it. And I definitely refer to middle school as my "Chelsea Clinton Years."
You got dealt the shittiest of all hands. I am so sorry. Always here to witness whatever it is you have to say.
so many thoughts...but first of all, without having met you, I adore and love your Anna-ness. Your writing has inspired introspection for so many of us. I guess you are feeling your mind is separate of the motions your body is going through, right? Like you are watching yourself carry on each day and your mind is always off somewhere else, filled with a myriad of emotions. Like that sign I saw a bird figurine holding in a local shop, "love is the answer." Love you receive from friends, family, readers will see you through and the love you continue to give to Jack through your writing and such, will see you through. I can't imagine trying to take care of your own grief while also keenly caring for your daughter's as well. It is a huge task, but love is the answer. Love will get you through, in all of its beautiful, wonderous forms.
I remember that wonderful house (it wasn't a civil war hospital?!) Being the kind of wonderfully different person you are I'm sure that, ironically, the "alienness" that you feel will now will eventually turn into a powerful sense of connection to those around you, be it across the street or across the world.
Sometimes I try to write something profound in response to your profound posts, and then I think........Hmmmm, if I were on the other end reading this, I'd tell this chick to shut her piehole.
So I'll save you the effort of thinking that or giving advice of which I know nothing about. But, I do know that fitting in and sticking out is equally uncomfortable when living the life you planned, in all its glorious dullness at times, is all any of us wish for, and the very thing that has no guarantee.
Your incredibly honest words are just breathtaking. We are praying for your precious family.
You have an amazing way of expressing yourself. Praying for you still.
A wonderful post. It somehow makes me feel a little bit more normal. This fall has been excruciating. It baffles me that the world can continue to revolve on its axis at the same speed.
Sometimes I feel like there is a sign on my forehead...that people are staring and talking as soon as I pass. Other times, I WISH there was a sign on my head... because I just do NOT want people acting normal. I want to stomp my feet and scream because nothing is normal anymore.
I am so sorry that everything is so different. When I think of you, Anna, you are still the same. You are beautiful and kind and wise... a wonderful friend. I love you.
Sometimes I think it must feel the way Adam and Eve felt after being driven out of the Garden of Eden. That's how I feel sometimes - exiled. And there is no way to get back, now that I know what it is like "outside." If I were to go back, I would still be changed.
It's not normal, and it's so wrong.
I am sorry.
This is not what I imagined either. Know that my heart stopped that day in September. Not for me, but for you, my sweet friend. I've thought about you every day since that day in September and I wish to goodness I could bear that pain for you.
As I grieve this holiday season, I long for joy and an ability to celebrate in the midst of some really dark times. This is my wish for my friends. And for me. Know that you are being lifted up before our Heavenly Father who understands your groanings. Please keep sharing. I can only hope this helps.
Hugs to you from me!!
I remember when my brother went into a coma. It was the day before Halloween. I flew in, and I kept forgetting it was Halloween. And I kept thinking, the world just moves on no matter what has happened to my brother. At times, it was a blessing. I wanted to hide my feelings and myself. Other times, I wanted to shout, who cares about your insignificant problems... my brother won't wake up you ^%&^&^! More than three years later, I am the sister to a 44 year old brother in a nursing home. I still can't believe it. My brother is too young to be surrounded by all those old people. And the ridiculous part.. those old people can DO more than my brother. I don't like this new "normal" in my family. No Matt to act goofy at family gatherings. Only Matt to visit in the horrible nursing home. I try to remember exactly our last conversation. But I can't. They believe my brother can understand us. But he can't respond in any real way other than blinking or slight hand movements. I've had a lot of one-sided conversations. I haven't told anyone this. But one really hard thing for me. At church, there is a man that looks so similar to my brother… right down to the haircut. He has two young children. I look at him, and feel so sad for my brother trapped in a useless body. At times I can't stand that that man is there. Other times it almost brings me comfort.. like seeing the healthy brother I'll never have, again. Crazy, right? I know my situation is very different than yours. As a mother, I can only attempt to imagine your feelings. I understand feeling like the world goes on and your life doesn't fit. And how can this be how your family now exists. My parents have aged before my eyes. It is so hard in so many ways. I pray for you. And my two daughters do as well. I am thankful you have your faith. Mine has brought me comfort. You might feel like an alien right now, but your words speak clearly to all your readers. You have a gift for honestly expressing yourself. And, in turn, you are helping others without even realizing it.
I can't even imagine how different you must feel Anna. I would imagine that this has changed everything. And I don't know what advice to offer that would make you feel comfortable in your own skin again. I do believe though that if God took Jack away; he must have a plan for your new and very different life. I pray that you find that new plan soon. Your writing is amazing; just keeps getting better and better. With blessings & love, Annie
are you still reading? do you find time to get lost in fiction stories? i just published my first young adult novel, so if you want to um... read something for teenage girls, let me know. i'd love to send you a copy. see? once again, i've managed to make 2 of your posts tonight all about ME.
but really, sometimes books are... the perfect escape.
You know my prayers are with you. 2011 was a rough year. One of my closest friends lost her husband to a rare form of cancer. Their children are 3 and 6. Two months later another friend lost her husband to a heart attack. Their son is 10. I thought our family had it rough when our son was diagnosed with severe depression and anxiety disorder two years ago and we learned how to try and help him through this.
Then your family lost your beautiful boy. I don't want you to be different for that too. All the love in the world to you and your family.
My dear sister lost her daughter four years ago. She too feels alien and 'different'. She hates it, but at the same time feels like, well, things are different. Irrevocably, horrendously different. Something so huge and immensely important is missing. She wants people to know and recognise that on some level. Yet she too has this feeling of being alien, and as one of the commentators noted, being on a separate yet parallel path to other parents. How lonely this must feel breaks my heart. But she is NOT alone. She is surrounded by so much love. So many of us are walking with her, willing her on with each step. I can see it is the same for you. You may feel lonely and different but you're not alone. I hope that helps just a little, somehow.
I can't imagine how difficult the next few weeks are going to be for your and yours. You are all in my thoughts and prayers. I will never forget Jack's story.
Your life sounds like a twin to mine, except for the grain alcohol out of trash cans part. Thus the abstinence in my current life. ;-)
In spite of my heartbreaking personal experience with death, I know it's not the same as losing a child. All I can do is become part of this large support web that hopes to support you should you fall in too deep.
You are magnificent at wording exactly what grieving parents/people feel. You say the things that don't get said. I know this is far from your mind, but--if you could put this in book form, I think it could help a lot of people who are walking your walk or have walked your walk.
I understand what you mean about thinking from a young age that your life would be different. That somehow your path would be different to the "average" person.
I can relate to the idea that you've had of maybe being a published author or an accomplished actress...or perhaps an astronaut or Nobel prize winner.
What we don't realize is that sometimes it's what we've experienced in life that has made us different and articulating our pain from being "different" is what we're here to do. That it helps so many of us who feel different from our own life experiences.
Having said that though the pain sucks and you don't deserve to go through this much of it!
Sending you a big hug.
Always thinking of you Anna......
I have no words, but how beautiful your writing is to me. Tears today. I will pray for you and your family this Christmas.
May God Bless you all.
It may not be the Christmas you wanted, but maybe it will still be a good one.
I felt separated from the majority when my dad died from a massive heart attack. I was 19. A couple weeks before Christmas, crowds of people in line at the mall, only instead of buying gifts I was returning them.
I morphed into an alien 6 years ago when my husband committed suicide. The whispers, the rumors, the avoidance. I felt completely and utterly alone.
I don't know why these things happen. Some things, like a heart attack, can be explained. A suicide? Harder to explain. A child's death? Impossible to explain.
Our situations are not the same, but I understand the feeling of not belonging, of not quite fitting in to the rest of the world. I'm so sorry, Anna. I pray you'll be given some measure of comfort and peace in these upcoming weeks.
Anna there is nothing right in this world. My 1 yr/o niece is in the hospital having a chest catheter placed (she has cystic fibrosis), and all week I've been wondering if I have the strength to watch her slowly die, and not end up believing bad things about God.
Death is not right. In the words of Ecclesiastes, everything is utterly meaningless. The only hope we have is in what comes next, after death. Those of us who walk through life with intact families are the luckey few.
I'm reminded, "what is normal." There isn't even really a normal, in reality. Only a story of normal. So many stories we tell ourselves of how we should be, how things should be.
One thing I love about reading your posts is the truth you so rawly weave. The ups, the downs. The real. Telling it in the real way you experience it. It blasts through the story of any normal way grief should be....or even how life should be.
And I'm reminded of the beauty of story. And also, how Don Miguel Ruiz conveyed in the Fifth Agreement to not believe the story.
Thanks for bringing that up for me, whether you meant to or not. :)
Dear Anna - Your words are so painfully true.....my heart aches for you. I remember after losing my brother, my mother couldn't believe that life was going on for others - every time we went out you could see an incredulous look on her face, that people were continuing to do what they had to do, while we all suffered so much.....I am praying for you and your family, that your hearts may find some peace.......
Your writing is so eloquent Anna, so poignant and heart-rending...I think you are going to use your gift of writing in some way to help other families in your situation realize that one can survive this horrible "differentness" with grace and dignity, while still honoring the memory of your dear loved one. You are talented Anna! Not to mention amazing, and funny, and inspiring, and classy and...
I don't think you're normal...I think you are sparkly, radiant and beyond brave and inspring.
my aunt and uncle lost their daughter when she was in her late teens to suicide... they never spent another holiday in their home nor in anyone else's - they travelled the world... not saying this is right or wrong.. it was just too painful - the memories. our hearts continue to break for you, Tim and Margaret. Life is not fair but somehow a shining light will be with you this Christmas as you try to get thru the horrow of missing your boy one holiday at a time... xoxo Love Patty
So many young girls dream of finding their prince charming, getting married and having children. No one dreams of burying a child. Those are nightmares we worry about being a parent. I know I do, almost everyday those thoughts run through my mind. My greated fear being realized. It breaks my heart that you lost your Jack and the fact that people all over the world have to live through this nightmare of burying a child. Why? Why does life have to be so painful. Not just painful for you, it's more than that because the death of a child is extreme pain. The heart is broken beyond repair. Only knowing that he is with God and that you will be together again is the ounce of strength that keeps you moving forward each day. I pray to God to give me the answers, tell me something that I can pass on to grieving parents. You should not have to hurt like this. ((HUGS))
Your posts are amazing.
You write so well and I'm always trying to express myself in a reply the same but I just lack the talent!! Ha!!!
You were a redhead ?! I was and still am a very different breed from the rest of the world but this isn't about me...
I can imagine that you feel a complete disconnection from everyone because you lost a son, it's beyond heartbreaking and all seems like just a horrific dream! :(
I can tell you this.... I've learned so much from your blog, things I should pay more attention to when it comes to parenting, and things that I shouldn't do. I want to thank you for that.
Jack will forever live in all of our hearts.....
While this is definitely different for you, different from your old normal, alas, you aren't that different from a lot of us moms out there. And, it sucks. It sucks for all of us.
I had no idea so many parents had lost children until we lost Hannah. Then, suddenly, people were coming out of the woodwork. It's not something anyone talks about--it makes people SO uncomfortable, and who wants to be the person who does that? And, don't even get me started on answering that fantabulous question, "How many children do you have?" GAH! How I hate that one!--but once you join this godawful club, you realize there are far more of us than you could ever imagine.
I'm so sorry you have to be "different" with us. This is not something I would ever wish on anyone, not even my worst enemy. It's excruciating and confusing and hard and weird and and and...yeah. I don't have to spell it out, you know.
I know you know this, but it bears mentioning anyhow, do whatever feels right and best for your family and don't worry about what anyone else thinks. You and Tim and your sweet girl are the only ones who matter when it comes to your choices this Christmas.
My prayers for you and your family continue.
It's not right...It's not normal...It's not fair. Oh Anna, I am so sorry.
Reading this post of yours, so eloquently written, I couldn't help but think "she sounds so much like me". Except I haven't lost a child. I don't know that kind of horrible, unbearable grief; but I have known grief. How it does make you feel "alien" & alone. But, you are not alone.
And I wish, oh how I wish, I could "undo" it all...so you & Tim & Margaret could have Jack back. So that you could be spared going through the unimaginable, the unthinkable, this holiday season(or any season).
Wishing you peace & comfort and, as always, prayers for you and your family...
'Normal' is just a setting on your dryer.
Wow... I completely understand why you feel like an alien in this world... You are certainly forever changed and different for your experience. I can't relate to your circumstances specifically, but I know that when my dad was near death and after my dads death, when I would enter out into the bigger world, I felt like an outsider... I wanted to scream, "Stop it everyone. Don't act normal. Don't you know my dad is going to die way too young?" or "Why do you act like life is as usual when I have a dead dad?" I get it.
Wishing you love and peace.
Anna know and trust that you are never alone. You are loved and believe me when I say that your Son shines the light of love down on you every second of every day.
Love and blessings to your and yours this day and every day.
'Stricken' I understand. Not in the same way as you, but I understand feeling marked, changed in a way that you don't want, didn't ask for, never thought would belong to you. I feel for you so much. So, so much. All my love to you and your family, especially now.
I wish I could change everything for you. You are in my prayers every night. xo
I began reading your blog 2 days before your tragic loss and many nights I have sat and read your posts with tears pouring for you and prayers going out. Seventeen years ago, Christmas day, I lost my first son at 6-1/2 months gestation. I would lose my next two sons in 1996 and 1999 to stillbirth. Tonight my 9 year old son, born in 2002, prayed for dinner asking God to wish his 3 big brothers a "Merry Christmas". Seeing your child grieve for what they cannot have is such a helpless feeling.
I am so sad for Margaret and pray that she find rest in the Lord.
The "alien" feeling I total get and for me it was a long hard road to a place of even feeling something. Functioning at this point is something. Grief counseling can be such a blessing and I pray that you can find someone that can help you all through the loss of this beautiful young man, your son, Jack. From one grieving Mama to another, much love.
No, it's not the way it should be. It is every mom's worst nightmare, Anna. I am so very dreadfully sorry. He'll always be in you, with you, and in all our thoughts and prayers. Thinking of you, always.
Oh I know this feeling all too well. I'm the mom who's sister and brother-in-law died and who's two nieces live with her. If I feel so different and awful I constantly assume others must see me differently. Some friends has moved on...unsure about how to be with me. Thank goodness many have hung around.
what is strange is that I want to feel like my old self, but somehow that feels like a terrible betrayal to my sister.
I am so sorry for your loss.
I don't know what to say to ease your sadness. But your words are powerful and always move me deeply. Praying for you all.
Thank you for the beautiful post. I am so sorry for your pain and loss, but bless you for your amazing courage and honesty.
Anna, I continue to pray for you and your family. Your honest and expressive writing is your gift and will help get you through the rest of this new life you didn't sign up for.
I'm sure many folks have already told you, and surely you're not ready to contemplate it now, but when the time comes, I would encourage you to make a book of your posts about loosing Jack. Your experience so beautifully recorded would be so helpful to other parents who grieve and their loved ones who want to support them appropriately.
Love and prayers,
Your Anna-ness is what made me love you in the first place, because I knew that you were a kindred spirit (plus, you and I could be twinsies in our junior high pictures, ugh). And although you have added an unwanted descriptor to your list of traits (Grieving Parent), I believe nothing can take away your fundamental Anna-ness. You will always be dear Anna, Tim will always be a gentle soul, and Margaret will always be a super star.
But I know what you are saying. As I try to process this, I’m realizing that it’s no wonder that you feel like a target of some sort. The covert glances that probably follow you when you are out and about, or those awkward moments in conversations with people who don’t know what to say to you are, I think, the marks of fear. It’s different now. YOU are different now, and it is scary to the rest of us. It’s not that we fear you, but we fear what you are going through.
You and your family are experiencing something that is everyone’s worst nightmare, yet here you still are, buying groceries, picking up Margaret from school, standing in line at the post office; how is this possible? What do we say to you? You are now in the midst of gaining a deeper understanding of one of life's great mysteries—a truly profound distinction, one that must be affecting every fiber of your mind, body and soul at all times—but on the surface you still have so much in common with the rest of us. We see you buying those groceries and running other errands and wonder how WE would be able to do those things, knowing what you know. I think our fear of experiencing the death and loss of a loved one is then compounded by social faux-pas fear too—we worry that we may upset you by bringing up Jack or that we may offend you by not bringing up Jack. I think it makes us not know what to say or do when we see you at the grocery store or at the school or wherever.
I think it must be especially worse for the people who know OF you, but don’t know you from your blog, where you pour your heart out. Knowing you from here makes ME less scared. That’s one of the reasons I think that your continued writing is so important. It’s helping. It’s not only helping you, maybe, but it’s helping us to know how to conduct ourselves with you and others like you who are now “different.” This is not to say that it’s your responsibility to make your new status of Grieving Parent status be easier on the rest of us—not even. But I think it’s unintentionally having that effect. It’s helping me figure things out (however naively or rudimentarily), and it’s helping me to see that if I should ever have to bear a similar weight, that I remember to conduct myself with the grace, dignity and strength that all of your amazing Anna-ness is providing you.
Much love to you, Tim and Margaret.
That picture is the girl that I remember from Thoreau days! The smart and witty girl who helped me survive 8th grade English with Mrs. Campbell! Another former Thoreau-er led me to your blog after Jack's accident. Although we went our separate ways for high school and beyond, I have always remembered the fun we had at Thoreau in spite of the braces, feathered hair and trying to "fit in". As a mother of two girls (almost 14 and 9) and a boy who is almost 12, my heart aches for you. You have been in my prayers since I got the news. Your strength, faith, and humor have brought me to tears many times. I have hesitated to comment as I felt like I was a distant "stalker" or something, but have so wanted you to know that you are and will continue to be in my prayers.
Allyson in Alabama
Even though I don't fully understand why, I am changed through what has happened to you and your family. I don't just stop to think of you when things are going wrong. I stop to think of you when things are going right and my head spins with the realization that your family does not get to have that lightness now. I pray it will again but I know it is heavy and incomplete like someone removed your torso and yet you are still somehow expected to breathe. I too wish I had magical words to make this easier for you. I hope in some way you get to feel us out here pulling you toward a life that isn't the one you ever wanted or imagined but will be beautifully lit from above.
oh Anna. I am holding your hand and nodding my head.
But this voice of yours is incredible, and we are learning, loving and mourning right along your side.
So sorry, Anna! I think of you often and of how hard it must be for you to live without your precious Jack. I am so sorry you are having to endure such pain! I am praying for you that the Lord may comfort you in the midst of this great difficulty you live every day.
Your cousin Emily R
It's what no one imagines.
It's not only what we don't imagine, it's what our minds will not even allow us to imagine because the thought is so very horrifying. I am so sorry this is your reality.
This is truly a horrible tragedy to live through, but thank God you all have each other.
Your family is beautiful... it will always be beautiful. Your son's beauty will shine through everything he loved (Most importantly, his mom, sister, and dad.), meaning he will never truly be gone.
You're right, you are different, your daughter, and husband are different, but that doesn't have to define you... or maybe it does define you, but in positive ways, like Jack's Lanterns. What a wonderful idea, and continuing tribute! I'd love to participate!
My heart aches for you, Anna. I pray that you can continue to be strong for yourself, your daughter, and your husband. In my extended family, we have experienced several losses of children throughout the years, and somehow my aunts, uncles, and cousins have endured the pain, though they were changed forever. They almost seem closer to heaven than the rest of us.
I am so sorry for your loss. I am a follower of Momastery. During the time of Jack's accident, we were away adopting our son. A blessing on Earth during a tragedy on Earth. It boggled my mind and left me speechless. From your writing, I can tell you are a very special, loving, and wonderful person who is capable of so, so much. Jack was so lucky to have you as his mother, even if for such a short time here on Earth. However, your bond is forever, and that can never die. Your faith, family and friends will keep you going...I believe that 100% Love and prayers, Stacy
No. No one imagines this. I don't know if I will say this right, but I found you different before this tragedy. I felt your peace and your light and your kindness and it was unusual. I still see it all through the pain, which I wish every day I could take away.
I have to echo AnyMommy's comment. It is exactly how I feel.
Anna, you are in my prayers constantly. What you are going through is unimaginable. Please know that we all are sending out love and prayers
I am so sad for how separate you, and Tim and Margaret, must feel. The world must seem raw and unnatural right now. I will be praying extra prayers as we round the corner into Christmas and the New Year. Praying that you are each daily touched by the presence of Christ.
You are anything but normal. Your words, your grace, your way of dealing with the worst tragedy imaginable... Inspiring? Heroic? Beautiful, inside and out? Yes. Normal, never.
I am a complete stranger, having found you through Fancy Feet, which I came across totally by chance. I check your blog every day, I think of you and your family at the slightest thing. I would say that you aren't normal; nor was Jack, nor Margaret, nor Tim. You are ALL special, and will always be special. xxxxxx
Thinking of you and aching for you and blown away by you all the time. Thank you for your words; thank you for allowing us to walk (stumble) along beside you.
Wringing out every ounce of love I have in me and sending it straight to you.
I just want you to know that I am thinking about you and can only imagine the difficulty of this week. Praying you feel his arms wrapped around your family!
No one would ever imagine this life, not for anyone. Thinking of you every day even as the days go on. I saw this and thought of you. This photo was taken (not by me)exactly one week after Jack's accident http://www.wjla.com/pictures/2011/12/weather-photos-from-2011/sunset-in-arlington-14015-990.html
My dad died when I was 14. He was sick for the better part of my 9th grade year and died by May. I lived in a small town; EVERYONE knew me to begin with, knew I was Larry and Rosie's daughter. But after he died, I became - for a time - that poor Meg, whose dad died. I totally understand feeling like an alien.
I will pray for you as you continue to process the unfathomable loss of your dear sweet boy.
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