Friday, April 20, 2012

Anna of Green Gables?

So I’m going to Margaret’s class today to read aloud from Anne of Green Gables and lead a brief discussion with the girls. Due to trauma and lack of energy, I was the last mom to sign up this year. Most moms have gone twice already.

Well guess what? My chapters do not deal with Anne Shirley dyeing her red hair green, accidentally getting her best friend drunk, or yelling at her busy-body neighbor. No sirree. Imagine my delight when I finally got to Chapters 36 and 37 yesterday afternoon-- my chapters -- and learned I get to read about Matthew, Anne’s beloved adopted father, dying.


Matthew falls down dead in front of Anne and Marilla, and despite their attempts to revive him, he receives the “seal of the Great Presence.”

Soooooo, you may want to pray for me, well for ALL of us, around 11:40-12 today. Margaret and I struggle to talk about grief and our feelings about it in the privacy of our own home, so all bets are off for a public discussion of Anne’s reaction to losing her champion, her biggest cheerleader, her Matthew.

No, the impact of Matthew’s death does not merit just a quick mention—it is described, quite eloquently, for the majority of the chapter—ranging from how Anne and Marilla feel, to what it’s like when time moves on without him.

Who knows? Perhaps I’ll just read the chapters without comment, throw a few cupcakes at the girls, and make a run for it. My tears make people uncomfortable, but they come quickly and flow freely these days. It won’t help that I’m already so very sad this week as Jack’s class is on an exciting 3 day field trip to the Chesapeake Bay. With lots of soda, chips, and middle school-ness. Aargh. Will the tears flow?

Maybe I'll dress in period costume ("fancy garb" as Jack would call it) just to throw things off and increase poor Margaret's mortification.

I must say, I think L.M. Montgomery, who wrote Anne of Green Gables, pegs certain aspects of grief very well. Here’s an example:

Anne :

“I’m not afraid. I haven’t been alone one minute since it happened and I want to be. I want to be quite silent and quiet and try to realize it. I CAN’T realize it. Half the time it seems to me that Matthew can’t be dead; and the other half it seems as if he must have been dead for a long time and I’ve had this horrible dull ache ever since.”

“…and then Avonlea settled back to its usual placidity and even at Green Gables affairs slipped into their old groove and work was done and duties fulfilled with regularity as before, although always with the aching sense of loss in all familiar things. Anne, new to grief, thought it almost sad that it could be so—that they COULD go in the old way without Matthew.”

Amen, Sister.

Friday blessings to you all.


It went very well. Thank you for your encouragement. I was able to read the chapters without crying and also make just a few comments based on Anne's experience:

1. People grieve differently.

2. It is sometimes hard to enjoy life after someone has died because you can feel disloyal doing so, but the person who died would want you to live life fully.


child of God said...

Oh dear! I'm praying for you Anna. You will do just fine and if you cry? That's fine too. I believe God has a plan in all of this, I mean why else would you get this chapter? Trust in Him and know you are being covering in prayer.

Isaiah 40:29
He gives power to the weak, And to those who have no might He increases strength.


Steph said...

I don't know what to say other than I'm praying for you and and your precious family.

Colleen said...

Anna, no words of advice for you regarding the challenge you face today. Just a reader who wants you to know I'm thinking of you this morning. Best of luck :)

lizzied said...

Sweetie, I cry when I'm reading sad books to my kids. There's power in the ability to share feelings... and tears make people uncomfortable, that's just the way it is. But learning that you can be uncomfortable and make it through is a good lesson for kids to learn, too.

CompatibleWithJoy said...

My prayers will be with you. I found your blog just last week when a friend posted a link to you post on grief. I haven't passed through that awful time of losing a child, yet. But my time will come, we just don't know when or how far away it is. (Right now we're in a PICU, again, fighting for life.) Thank you so much for being so open and honest about your raw emotions. I hope and pray that this will be a good experience for you and for your daughter. Your willingness to share may make this kids uncomfortable, but it will also broaden their horizons.

Gina said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gina said...

Oh, Anna, again, you can make me laugh and cry in the same post!! I have a sticky note on my computer at work to remind me to pray for you as you are reading. I agree with lizzied and Rebekah. If the tears come then let them flow freely. It may make the girls uncomfortable but you are also showing them it is okay to feel and express emotion and lets them see grief and it's effects in person. It could create a lasting impact on these girl's hearts and not in a scarring or traumatic was but one that instills empathy and compassion. Praying for you!! Please let us know how it goes!!

Anonymous said...

In a "there must be a reason for this" kind of way, it struck me as synchronistic that you just happened to be the one chosen to read those particular chapters.

If my journey through this life has taught me anything, it's that the universe (or God, if you prefer) always seems to find a way to nudge you in the right direction when you need it. I would read those chapters very carefully, and see if there's anything in there you can use to help you on your way.

All the best to you.

Mrs Changstein said...

Oh my. Our Lord will come through with you. I still cry when I read that chapter. And in Rilla of Ingleside, when somebody dear dies, (don't want to say who just in case it would spoil it for someone else) it was so wrenching & brought out, again, the ugly cry. But I think it could lead to such a cool discussion on the inevitablity of grief...and when it comes, how we can love each other through the hurt, and how each person handles it so differently. Tissues & chocolate. That's what I'd bring!

And I'm so sad, dear Anna, that you all are having to live this, but comforted that you are walking through it with the Lord. Hurting with you, XO, Cindy

Liz P. said...

Trust me - this is the way it always goes... After my beloved Michaela Anne died - we made a vow not to watch any movies with babies and dying - so which do we pick?

Little Women! The City of Angels! I'm sure there were others - Years later I just laugh at the ridiculousness of it...

My best wishes are with you - as well as a great big hug.

LauraBeth said...


I agree, there must be some providence in the chapters you've gotten. Know that you will be -are being- held up in prayer as you read to Margaret and her classmates.

And cupcakes are always good, too.

Continuing to send love, hugs, and prayers from the other side of town

Anonymous said...

Oh Boy, can't you get the teacher to do this! I'll say a prayer for you right now. Bless you all. Mary in NY

Anonymous said...

I had 2 boys, so no Anne readers in my house. I hope Margaret discovers them and loves them though...Anne has a lot of lessons to teach.
I'm sure you'll handle your assignment with the same grace and class you display the rest of the time. You and your family are never far from my thoughts.

Anne said...

Do you really have to read????Really??I don't think I could do it either.I cry easily as it is.And under the circumstances no way.I am praying right now for you.As we continue to keep you in our prayers.Today I will pray extra hard for you.
Hugs and blessings,

Anonymous said...

Praying right now as you will be doing this reading in less than 1/2 hour as I type this. Love you so.


Mandy said...

Praying for you today. Thank you for sharing your life with us.

Psalm 34:18 The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Anonymous said...

Praying for you Anna.
Much love,

Gilsner said...

I can't imagine how hard that will be. But what are the chances such a task would befall to you? Doesn't sound like 'chance' at all. And for the record, I remember being about Margaret's age when we read Charlotte's Web. And, to this day, the memory of being read the Chapter where Charlotte dies stands out so clearly in my mind. I remember my teacher crying and you know what that did? It gave permission for the rest of us to cry. To not react with giggles and awkward comments, to difuse the situaiton, but to sit in silence with our own thoughts and grief, in the moment, and discuss it after. I remember that moment because it was an important moment. As tough (and sucky!) as this will be for you I can't imagine a more compassionate and, unfortunately, understanding person to share a similar moment with those girls. Be strong... or don't be. Either one will be exactly what those girls will need because it will be honest and true. *hugs*

Lisa said...

Oh my. Sending prayers and well wishes...God helps us handle what we are given...He'll guide you through today's reading. And yes, cupcakes are always great for distraction. ((Hugs))

luv2run said...

WOW.........hard for me to read let alone you OUT LOUD to a class. I am praying for you girl!!!!!

luv2run and HUGS HUGS HUGS

Cami said...

Praying for you! Maybe this is God's way of opening a discussion between you and Margaret while she is surrounded by the support of her friends in class. I am also guessing many or all of them knew your Jack and feel his loss as well so it seems like though it is painful to go through the discussion, it could benefit everyone.

LauraC said...

Just finished praying for you. God will give you strength, and you will bless those girls, tears or no tears. Of course the girls will understand.

Jen said...

We're praying for you. I think you sharing these chapters, while so hard, will be a blessing for the girls. And I hope, with the Lord's help, for you and Margaret as well.

Laura said...

Thoughts and prayers - today, and every day.

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness. That chapter, seriously? Wow.

I am here for you, today and always.


Cassie Bustamante said...

oh dear! good luck! you are strong and you can do it. and it is ok if you get emotional or cry. this is real life, not a book.

Hayley said...

First time commenter, but I've been reading since the accident after hearing of it on Twitter.

What a coincidence that you posted this. Yesterday I sat at my mom's and waited for my kids to be done at their preschool, and my mom had DVR'd the mini series off PBS (love me some Megan Follows and I still totally swoon over Gil). I randomly chose a section- and it was this part, where Matthew dies in her arms. I promptly cried my eyes out, like I do every time I see it. And I thought of you.

Great book. Hugs to you and your girl today.

New Mom said...

I'm looking at the time and thinking you must be done by now and I didn't read this in time to pray, but I am praying now that somehow this worked out to be a blessing for you.

Gretchen said...

L.M. Montgomery is my favorite author. I have most of her books and read them over and over when I need some escapist fiction. There are spots in all of them that make me cry. I was given a set of the "Anne books" when I was young and read the beginning of the first one many times, but always stopped before the end because I knew from the movie what was going to happen to Matthew and I didn't want him to die. To this day, when I finish books like Anne of Green Gables or Little Women, I go back and re-read the first chapter, where everyone is alive again. If only real life were so.

There is a line from the end of another L.M. Montgomery book called The Story Girl that I loved from the moment I first read it and have carried a copy of in my bible ever since. Maybe it will have some meaning for you as well. Thinking of you this morning.

"Truly, we had had a delectable summer; and having had it, it was ours forever. 'The gods themselves cannot recall their gifts.' They may rob us of our future and embitter our present, but our past they may not touch. With all its laughter and delight and glamour it is our eternal possession."

Stimey said...

Oh dear. I definitely like the "mortify your daughter and throw cupcakes at them" plan, although you're probably already home by now. I hope it went well. I have cried many a time at my kids' school, in their classrooms, and it is tough. But I have absolute faith that you will make it through with grace and that those around you will understand your tears and appreciate the true lessons that you can teach. It is okay to cry. It is honest and it is okay to show your feelings and show those girls that it is okay for them as well. Sending love.

Unknown said...

I hope that this went well for you. And, if it didn't, you're teaching the girls an important lesson about grief and empathy. I teach high school English, and several books and passages have brought me to tears over the years, and when I'm open with the students, they are always very comforting to me and it often brings a good discussion. Again, I am so sorry for the loss of your precious boy, but through your blog, Jack is thought of by so many people.

Anonymous said...

Praying - though it's after the fact, but God can work wonders...

I hope you are ok with however it went. I am so sorry tears make folks uncomfortable - cry away, sister!

I am truly touched by your everyday courage - even on the days "don't wanna, only doin' it cause I have ta" kind of courage. I sometimes think that's the strongest kind.

Love, hugs, and ever more prayers,
Lisa G. in CT

Anonymous said...

Anna, I loved that series and so did my daughter. I also loved the PBS production.

Part of what made the books so meaningful is that they are so real -- especially the part about Matthew, the very quiet but very caring and devoted man. I can see how reading that section could bring you to tears, but that is simply because of how true and powerful it is. I hope you did not fear showing your feelings. They are true and worthy of respect. They matter.
I imagine that Margaret will be proud of you today. Please post about how it goes.

One of your fans,
Joan in PA
P.S. And I LOVED the quote posted by Gretchen,
"Truly, we had had a delectable summer; and having had it, it was ours forever. 'The gods themselves cannot recall their gifts.' They may rob us of our future and embitter our present, but our past they may not touch. With all its laughter and delight and glamour it is our eternal possession."

Anonymous said...

That field trip with chips and soda DOES sound awesome. No wonder you feel sad about that. I'm so sorry.

Hope the reading went well. What are the odds that you would get those chapters?!

Me said...

I know you have the strength to do this.... you know why? Because Jack will be right along side you while you are reading. No worries Anna, you got this!

Princess Kate said...

Being courageous and strong doesn't mean you can't cry. I say cry like a baby and then throw cupcakes at everyone.

Just kidding of course. I know you did well. Always thinking of you.

Unknown said...

oops - somehow my comment for this post went on your last post.

Kathleen Fisher said...

I read this and then my friend called me in tears to tell me her father passed away during the night. How, she said, can the world be without him?

I lost my dad when he was way too young and could only offer that you hold on tight to what's left and you make him proud, so that when you see him again he can say, "That's my girl."

Just like you, Anna. Just like you.

mia said...

praying that your time with the girls went well.... i am sure as always you handled the discussion with grace... hugs to you.

OSMA said...

Divine and insane that you'd get those chapters to read and discuss. Wish I read this in time, coulda pulled the fire alarm for you or something. But then, I'm betting the farm it went well.

I cried once in front of the class after one of my 10th grade students read a poem he had written about feeling like a loner. (He never did his h.w. assignment so that's also why the tears.) The kids looked compassionate, not stunned, and real without their teenage masks.

Then one student asked if I was drunk.

As you say, "S-weet."

Sending love through county lines.

P.S. I'm not sure any of us have or will go back to the "old way" because we are forever moved and changed by your loss.

kim jackson said...

God works in ways beyond my comprehension, that's for sure.... you remain, as always, in my thoughts and prayers, my beloved and treasured and true friend. love.

Meredith Self said...

wink. wink.

Leah C said...

Oh my...sending extra hugs and prayers your way.

Unknown said...

Hoping and praying that it went well.

Jen said...

Oh, you poor thing. I couldn't read those chapters out loud without crying for anything. (I have always been a crier.) I can't imagine how it will be for you. You do get an A++, though, for going through with it and being there for your daughter, despite how hard it is likely to be. I think I would be tempted to fake a sick day! Good luck and be sure to let us all know how it goes!

spedhead said...

That you would even consider going through with that is about the bravest thing I have ever heard. There is no right or wrong however it went down (or didn't). That all just really sucks, for lack of a better word. Hugs.

Geri said...

I've always been pretty pragmatic about things like there's no such thing as a coincidence, or this must be a sign or whatever, but I have to say, the fact that you got those chapters to read, well, gosh, come on now, really? What are the chances? when our son first died, it seemed every movie we watched had a Nick character in it, every other mother walking by was calling out Nick, so many kids I was seeing in my work were named Nick. I know it isn't an uncommon name, but I sure don't remember hearing 50 times a day before. Maybe our Nick was letting us know that although he wasn't here in a flesh and bones way, he really was, everywhere, always. I hope so, that gives me comfort. did it go? I sure hope you give us a follow up post. And as others have said, if you cried, you showed the girls that it is okay to be sad about sad things; if you didn't, you showed them that one can be sad and still carry on.

The school field trip? It just sucks big fat (insert favorite cuss word or phrase) that Jack isn't there with them, flesh and bones. But I sure am starting to believe he was there, everywhere, smiling and loving it.

Katherine said...

Oh Anna, are you kidding me? I cannot believe you had to read those chapters. I hope that it went OK. Talk about having to do hard things.

Debby@Just Breathe said...

Well I am late in reading this post. I pray that today went as smoothly as it possibly could. Can't believe what you had to read today. I agree after readying those two paragraphs that L.M. Montgomery did peg aspects of the grief. ((HUGS))

Kathryn said...

I know how you feel Anna. I had something similar happen a year after my daughter died. I had to play for a funeral, and it was my first funeral since I attended hers. I showed up only planning to attend, and the family had forgotten all about getting a musician to play. So I really felt like I couldn't let them down. My husband, mom, and brother all watched me like hawks throughout the service, ready to rescue me if I lost it. I actually sang along with all of the songs I played to keep myself from crying, and didn't break down until the sanctuary emptied and my husband came to help me off of the piano bench.

I know it's not the same thing you had to do, but was the HARD thing for me, and the way I can relate. How I pray that today went well, and reading that story was in some way a help to you today. I'm reading well after the fact, so I continue to pray that your day ends on a bearable note tonight, and you are not overwhelmed by grief. You are all on my mind, and in my prayers often...

Love, Kathryn

ALI said...

I pray that today went as well as could be expected & that Margaret was well mortified.

I was thinking of you tonight as I read 'Heaven, God's Promise" to my son. How awesome that Jack got it at such a young age?!?!?

Loukia said...

Prayers, always. Thinking of you all, daily. xo

mariann said...

Oh, my. I just read this. I was praying for you yesterday in full force and I hope those prayers got through and you got through this. I don't think it is a coincidence or accident that the reading schedule turned out with you reading those particular chapters. Heck, I wasn't even there and I will remember always that you were assigned those relevant, poignant chapters -- imagine all those 5th graders -- you will continue to have a huge impact on them as you show all of us around you love, faith, bravery, grief, hope, joy, responsibility, strength, patience, grace, mercy, eloquence, thoughtfulness......I could go on forever. You are (as many wrote on fb) doing the impossible -- I am in awe of you, and I am still praying for you. Oh, and I couldn't even tie a blue ribbon on a pony in Duck without dissolving in tears -- of course your tears are flowing freely. It's ok. It's ok for kids to see this. I grew up 'learning' that we should hold the tears back -- what nonsense. (((hugs))) and much love -- Mariann Alicea

Julia said...

By now, you should be through the reading. Let us know how you did...because however you did, it will be the right way. I think it's way more than a coincidence that these are the chapters you landed in. Perhaps this will open the "talk and flood gates" for you and Margaret.

Nothing....not even being a reader mom...will ever be the same for you. But perhaps, there will be great things in this new chapter of your life. That's my prayer for you and yours. And then that day, you reunite with Jack, you will have lots to catch him up on.

xoxo, Julia

Kate Coveny Hood said...

How did it go Anna? Tears or not, I'm sure it was lovely.

Anonymous said...

I read this after you had already gone ahead and read but I do think about you all the time.

Vodka Mom said...

I have found that crazy kids in school are an AMAZING distraction to grief.

most of the time.

(You kick serious ass.)

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

What a relief it went well. It seems those chapters were meant to be read by you and for both you and Margaret.

Kathleen Fisher said...

Big sigh of relief for your tender heart :)

Givinya De Elba said...

Oh Anna. If I was the teacher I would have the foresight and sensitivity to see that one coming, and I'd do something about it. I am glad you wrote the postscript.

spedhead said...

Thank you for letting us know. So glad it went well. You are ah-may-zing.

That gentleman's lady said...

Those two points in your postscript are so very true. As I was told so many times, life is for the living. I try not to forget it.

Anonymous said...

You are AWESOME. I'm sure Margaret class learned so much from you, and will never forget the day you came to talk to them about grief. What a strong woman you are!

Anonymous said...

Dee from Tennessee

THANK you for the postscript. To God be the glory - thankful His mercies are new every morning. Still praying in my heart of hearts for you and who love and miss Jack.

Tristan said...

Anna, we are reading the same book here and we are just a few chapters away from this and I'm already getting choked up knowing it is coming. Amazing that you made it through! But then you are the bravest person I know! Prayers and hugs for you all.

DawnGes said...

LOVED reading the Anne of Green Gables books as an adult--watched the movies far too soon after reading the books. THANK YOU for persevering as a volunteer MOM reader; it's wonderful to picture you reading these words and talking about how everyone grieves differently. Margaret is listening and watching. Much love and many prayers...

Kim @ A Brush of Whimsy said...

So glad things went well at school! I admire your bravery~ I think I might have ditched this one.

Anonymous said...

I've been a long time reader but this is my first comment. I only know Jack through you and when I heard about the accident, I was devastated. You all are continually in my prayers. Thank you for your honesty, hopefulness, and teaching me how to walk through grief. I never thought I would need your lessons so soon. Last Saturday I lost my dear cousin, who was more like a brother to me, in a tragic accident and my heart is broken. I flew out to be with his family and as I was waiting in the airport terminal, completely numb to the world, a bird walked across my path and stopped in front of me for a few seconds. Seriously, a bird out of no where in a busy international airport. If that's not rare then I don't know what is. I immediately thought of Jack and my cousin. I needed that sign right at that moment. It was my first sign of hope and comfort and I just wanted to thank you for opening my eyes and my heart to it.

Salvimom said...


Thank God for those tears that allow your release. I could care less the discomfort it makes others feel. You are entitled to being open and honest (like on here) and most people feel uncomfortable with ANYTHING involving some measure of truth and reality. "F" em. Sooo happy it went well for you. Thinking of you and your family constantly. Amen.


Evelyn Louise said...

I haven't read the 70 comments above, but want to say that perhaps God provided that you would find those truths in those chapters since you had to read them out loud and in front of your daughter.
So glad that you got through it without tears and that you could share those two very honest truths with the class.
Blessing and prayers still cover you and your family!

Heidi said...

This is one of those laughing/crying posts. Of all the chapters to get it had to be this one?! I'm glad it went okay, though.

Anna, know you're on my mind and heart often. xo

DonnaLinn said...

Anna -- your tears do not make me uncomfortable. You can cry with me any time.

Donna Middleton

Amanda said...

I don't know if you have ever read this, but these words speak to my heart and I pray they do for you too.

To my dearest family, some things I'd like to say...
but first of all, to let you know, that I arrived okay.
I'm writing this from heaven. Here I dwell with God above.
Here, there's no more tears of sadness; here is just eternal love.

Please do not be unhappy just because I'm out of sight.
Remember that I'm with you every morning, noon and night.
That day I had to leave you when my life on earth was through,
God picked me up and hugged me and He said, "I welcome you."

It's good to have you back again; you were missed while you were gone.
As for your dearest family, they'll be here later on.
I need you here badly; you're part of my plan.
There's so much that we have to do, to help our mortal man.

God gave me a list of things, that he wished for me to do.
And foremost on the list, was to watch and care for you.
And when you lie in bed at night, the day's chores put to flight.
God and I are closest to the middle of the night.

When you think of my life on earth, and all those loving years
because you are only human, they are bound to bring you tears.
But do not be afraid to cry; it does relieve the pain.
Remember there would be no flowers, unless there was some rain.

I wish that I could tell you all that God has planned.
But if I were to tell you, you wouldn't understand.
But one thing is for certain, though my life on earth is o'er.
I'm closer to you now, than I ever was before.

There are many rocky roads ahead of you and many hills to climb;
but together we can do it by taking one day at a time.
It was always my philosophy and I'd like it for you too...
that as you give unto the world, the world will give to you.

If you can help somebody who's in sorrow and pain,
then you can say to God at night......"My day was not in vain."
And now I am contented....that my life has been worthwhile,
knowing as I passed along the way, I made somebody smile.

So if you meet somebody who is sad and feeling low,
just lend a hand to pick him up, as on your way you go.
When you're walking down the street, and you've got me on your mind;
I'm walking in your footsteps only half a step behind.

And when it's time for you to go.... from that body to be free,
remember you're not're coming here to me.

Ruth Ann Mahaffey (author)
©Copyright 1998

Terb said...

Matthew Cuthbert is one of my favorite literary characters of all time, and his death really made me cry.