Friday, May 4, 2012

Friendship Friday

Jack was so stinkin' smart, but he was also wise. He was humble, and he was funny. He did not rail about how unfair life was, even when he experienced that first-hand.

It's hard for me to believe the world didn't need to keep around the rare 12 year old boy who knew how to use a semi-colon and thought that it mattered. The boy who made people laugh by creating strange nicknames for them, drawing them into his made-up games and alternate worlds.

I made photocopies of Jack's pages and pages of doodles to give to his sweet classmates. They told me they were afraid they had all been thrown away. I will not forget their excited voices as they instantly recognized drawing after drawing, none of which made any sense to me but put huge smiles on their faces:

"Bread Ninja!"
"The Beer Mobile!"
"The Snatching Claw!"
"Wiki Tikis!"
"Damian's Histogram!"
"The Secret Chair!"


They talked about the words Jack made up. The imaginary characters. The expressions they still use today. There are so many, they wrote them down for us.

I am grateful that when they remember Jack it is with a smile. I am grateful that in that small private school environment, which sometimes could seem a bit TOO small, he was loved and supported, right up to the end.

But the end? The END? The inconceivable, asinine, violent END?

I am grappling today with how a few stupid seconds were the difference between life and death. Between the future we envisioned for Jack, versus the future we got.

His friends are having a car wash today. They "hang out" at each other's houses. They had a dance. Next week they go to Philly for a field trip. The boys' voices are getting deeper.

What will I do when I see stubble on their chins?

These are the friends I wanted him to grow up with. And though they carry a piece of him in their hearts, they can't control the march of time that separates them from the boy who will always be twelve.


Anonymous said...

Hang in there Anna, I hope you have a wonderful weekend. My children all lost friends way to young, my childrfen are all adults now and it's still painful to run into the parents, I know they are still broken hearted after all this time. Mary in NY

Mrs Changstein said...

Praying for you. I have my regular root-touch up appointment tomorrow & I'll be praying for you then. Although you may not be able to run with joy, sweet Anna, run with courage & endurance. Joy comes in the morning. xo Cindy

Momza said...

You don't know me. We'll probably never meet. I live way out west in Colorado and there you are on the East coast...but I want you to know that you have made a difference in my life. Because of you, I no longer make my12 yr old son pack away his LEGOS every time he uses them. They are, in fact, on his floor in his room right now. Because of you, I squeeze him extra tight every single chance I get and tell him how very very much I love him.
And it just sucks that your loss has been the catalyst for my changes. But I love you, Anna and I pray for your mother-heart to be comforted.
Much Love,

Susie - Walking Butterfly said...

The grief and pain are real, not imaginary in any way. All you can do is get up, breath and walk into the next day. I am so sorry that there is very little we, your friends can do for you. But we keep praying, that will have to do for now.

Leeann said...

I wish there were words of comfort I could offer you, some way to take away your pain.

My son reminds me so much of your Jack. They were the same age when Jack died, both going to a small Christian school.

Last night, when it was raining and lightning and again today, when I was hugging my son tightly, I sent up a prayer for you and to Jack.

I don't even know what the point is in anything I am saying, except maybe that I think of Jack often, think of you often, am grateful for my son and so very sad that you don't have Jack any longer. And I'm so sorry for that.

Cassie Bustamante said...

when i was 7 my best friend passed away. she had leukemia, so we knew it was a possibility. here i am 26 years later and i still carry her with me. i dream up conversations we would have, i imagine her being there at my wedding, being the godmother to my kids. the point is that she is always with me. it's not even close to being the same, but as the years pass for me, she is there. and i know that when we meet in heaven she will be a grown woman and we will have a lot of catching up to do. and i still miss her and i still have a big place in my heart that is occupied by her.

Laura at Ms. Smartie Pants said...

Once again I'm wishing I had words that could somehow help. I stopped by to let you know I will be thinking of you tomorrow and lifting you up. I'm starting my day in my little garden where the blue jays always visit, just the other day I saw a baby one, new life! Praying for strength and peace for you, dear Anna

The Skirts said...

Anna, I think of you all so often. Being a pretty self-absorbed person, I'm not one to do that, especially with people I've never met. But I think about you, about Jack, his dad, his sister... and I pray for you. I'm so sorry. God bless you, as He's blessed me through you.

New Mom said...

It's just inconceivable. Every mother has dreams for her child and we imagine a full life for our little ones. It must be so inconceivably hard to lose that. And I'm so sorry.

I'm looking at so many birds outside my window as I pray for you... they're probably the swallows that are supposed to go to the San Juan Capistrano mission every year, but somehow hundreds of them stop in our neighborhood. I have the song "His Eye is on the Sparrow" in my head and I pray for peace and comfort for your family.

Gina said...

Held by Natalie Grant

Two months is too little, they let him go
They had no sudden healing
To think that providence
Would take a child from his mother
While she prays, is appalling

Who told us we'd be rescued
What has changed and
Why should we be saved from nightmares
We're asking why this happens to us

Who have died to live, it's unfair
This is what it means to be held
How it feels when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive

This is what it is to be loved and to know
That the promise was that when everything fell
We'd be held

This hand is bitterness
We want to taste it and
Let the hatred numb our sorrows
The wise hand opens slowly
To lilies of the valley and tomorrow

This is what it means to be held
How it feels, when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive

This is what it is to be loved and to know
That the promise was that when everything fell
We'd be held

If hope if born of suffering
If this is only the beginning
Can we not wait for one hour
Watching for our Savior

This is what it means to be held
How it feels, when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive

This is what it is to be loved and to know
That the promise was that when everything fell
We'd be held

Thinking and praying for you and your family today and everyday.

Princess Kate said...

I know nothing can or will replace Jack but I hope there is some form of comfort in the fact ALL of us including his friends, family and even people that didn’t get the pleasure of meeting him in this life are smiling and carrying Jack around each day in our hearts.

I am stepping up my prayers for comfort and peace and holding your virtual hand right now. You are not alone.

Anonymous said...

I write all the time, and I am compelled to repeat myself again. I am so so sad for you my heart broke again when I read Friendship Friday. I had not let myself imagine his friends getting older and your memories stopping at 12. Because of you I have taken a much more aggresive hold of some of the challenges I have as a mother, and refuse to let time pass and my mothering be average. xoxoxo

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful photo. Jack obviously had a sweet side to his personality, along with the one that enjoyed making up games and being silly with friends. It tugged at my heart that the boys thought the doodles had been thrown out.

Suburban Correspondent said...

Sometimes I don't even realize that what I am thinking is "Life is not fair. I played by the same darn rules as everyone else - I played BETTER, even, if I do say so myself - and life was not fair.

And then there are those days when I realize that sometimes I benefited from life's not being fair. I left a 3-year-old in a hot car once for 45 MINUTES, and he is sitting here in the room with me right now, alive, a huge 14-year-old, fixing my computer. Doesn't seem fair, does it, when you think about the families whose toddlers have died from the same mistake. It ISN'T fair.

So do I really want life to be fair? That might be as horrible as a world that isn't. And is the corollary of not always having to suffer for our mistakes the fact that sometimes we suffer when we shouldn't have to? Is that the price we pay for not suffering even when we "should," when we DO mess up?

Anonymous said...

I was listening to Reba McEntire's "If I had only known" a few days ago and thought about your dear boy Jack. Our prayers are always with you and your family. Here is the link if you want to listen.

Anonymous said...

Oh Anna. I have a very strong feeling that Jack's friends will always be his friends, and that YOU will always have a special place in their hearts, tucked in right by the place where Jack is held. They won't ever forget him, I just know it. They will grow and change, yes, but part of them will also always be the 12-year old boys who love and mourn for their good friend.


Me said...

As a parent of a daughter who lost a good friend, fellow cheerleader and classmate when she was in the
8th grade, know that the thoughts are never far away from the ones we lose. I think of my daughter's classmate at every big event, most recently when the class got their H.S. rings this past fall. My heart hurts for her,her parents and those she has left behind to only remember her as 13 yrs old. And as we go on, we will wish she was growing up and moving right along with us.

Jody said...

Dear Anna~
A blogger whom I've never met left a link to your blog in the comments on my blog a few weeks ago. I came here to read some of your story. Jack's legacy and the pain your family is reeling from each day. I sadly, know a similar pain and heartache. My own 4-year old healthy, happy singing and dancing blond-haired little girl was killed in July 2001. Here I am 10+ years later and your heartache touches me through a computer screen. I have prayed for you. I have ached for you. I planned to write an email and share great wisdom with you.
Instead, your words about time changing and kids growing and voices lowering causes me to just stop and write a comment here today. On March 18th this year I marked another birthday without my Teagan. She would have been 15 if she were here. My mind can only picture her as old as 4. I still do not know why traedy stuck my family, but I have blogged and wrestled and cried and been weary and been strengthened in the past decades trying to sort it out in my head and heart. I would like to simply share my bloglink ( and specifically the post I wrote on her birthday this year:
that you may stop by and read if you ever need to feel a tiny bit understood, encouraged, hugged from a distance or to just find that you are not alone in your journey of grief and sorrow. It is a long and winding road. I pray that God will give you all the grace and mercy you need to continue to place one foot in front of the other. Until you see Jack in Heaven again. With love and most sincere sympathies as you live life with the memory of Jack instead of seeing them grow and change with him...Jody.

Unknown said...

My Husband lost a friend when he was 5. He barely remembers the little guy. It has been 26 years and we still keep intouch with the family especially his mom.

lotta joy said...

Each one of us suffers from the march of time. You, and all parents in the same position, suffer most of all.
I am sure you've heard all the platitudes and been told how strong you are until you could implode. One foot in front of the other doesn't make us brave, it just makes us move forward - and, you ARE moving forward.

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

My heart hurts so much reading this. Sending you love and prayers xo

Katy said...

But I think he *is* growing up...I don't think he's frozen in time. I think he just stepped outside of our time zone. Praying for a miracle, maybe a little tear in that fabric separating you, something.

Kathy said...

Dear Anna, This made me sob. I am so sorry for your loss. I am in my late 50s; my 'close-as-a-sister best-friend was killed when we were fifteen. I carry her close to my heart ALWAYS. She is a sweet 15 to me forever. I still ache for her young life lost. My Dad passed last week and it brings me comfort to think of her greeting him. My deepest sympathies to you and all of Jack's family and friends.

Geri said...

Oh dear Anna. I am at a loss for words now, which is pretty rare. Just wanted to let you know I am still reading, and praying, and so so sorry.

Liz P. said...

I understand - and I am sending you a hug today.

with love, Liz

Patricia said...

Dear Mother, So heartbreaking to read, every one of us here, probably/maybe all mothers, can all imagine the unfathomable pain....The second commenter, Mrs. Changstein, said it so well, 'you may not be able to run with joy, sweet Anna, run with courage......Joy comes in the morning'. You will be reunited with dear, sweet Jack again, who is now in the sweet, warm embrace of our heavenly Father.

Mary S said...

Anna, you and your whole family are so loved. As always, family, friends and total strangers are holding you up in prayer. Reading about Jack is a rare gift indeed. Thank you so much for sharing your rare bird with us. You don't know me but I am your sister in Christ and I love you beyond measure. and....I wish I knew how to use a semi-colon.

Karen said...


Today I was reading excerpts from Heaven is Real, I got up from my desk and went to look at the daily paper. First headline I read is "Protection sought for rare bird". You are changing (for the better)the way I think about God. Thank you!

Jenny Hart Boren said...

Today, a friend who lost her twelve-year old niece last year told me that her brother has chosen to name "that day" Erin's Angel Day rather than use the term "anniversary" to recall her passing. He prefers to save that word for happy things and celebrations, and not for something as horrifyingly sad as his baby's death. I thought of you when she shared this--perhaps it's something you can use. Now as always: I'm so sorry this happened. xoxo Jenny

Anonymous said...

I got nothin' helpful or hopeful. Just tears and a virtual hug.

Lisa G. in CT

Karen (formerly kcinnova) said...

Anna, your words and raw grief claw my heart. It is with tears that I pray for God's comfort to be a salve for the jagged wound in your heart.
~Karen (a 12-year-old's mother)

Varda said...

Oh, Anna, there you go, breaking my heart again. I will be thinking of you on Sunday, while you're reading. Wish I could be there, and that our NYC-LTYM weren't the exact same time & day. Many hugs.

A Speckled Trout said...

My cousin died when she was twelve. Like a previous commenter, I always wonder what she'd be like now. She had the loveliest eyes.......pools of blue with eyelashes that went on forever.

I wish a flock of blue jays could have pulled him from that creek....for all he was and had the potential to be was too much to let go, but you know that better than anybody.

Anonymous said...

Sending you so much love Anna.
Pip xx

LauraBeth said...

Anna... Sending prayers, hugs, and love to you, T, and M from the other side of town...

ella said...

I think of your family every single day, but even more on the weekends. Love you guys. Thanks for the sharing the quotes in the previous post; I was really touched by them.(Notice the semicolon! I'm a fan, too.)

Lisa said...

I just want to give you a hug and let you know that you and your family are never far from my thoughts. My heart aches for you....

Donna said...

Ever since I saw "What Dreams May Come," I have been in love with the concept that when we die we get to choose how old we want to be, how we look, what we want to do. It opened a tiny window of possibility for imagining what might have been, even though it remained colored with sadness. Maybe boys with Legos choose to become heavenly engineers.

Alexandra said...

Oh, mama..

on my knees crying for you in front of this computer.

Because this? Just so unimaginable.


Anonymous said...

This evening as I was driving home in the rain with dark clouds and flashes of lightning filling the sky, a song came on the radio and I immediately thought about your family and the terribly difficult time you are going through.
The song is “He Said” by Group 1 Crew and here is the chorus:
“You may be knocked down now
But don’t forget what He said, He said

‘I won’t give you more, more than you can take
And I might let you bend, but I won’t let you break
And No-o-o-o-o-, I’ll never let you go-o-o-o-o’
Don’t you forget what He said”

While God is actually telling us he won’t give us more temptation than we can bear (1 Corinthians 10:13), I believe it’s equally true with troubles and trials. In our most desperate times of need, when we think life couldn’t get any worse, He is always there for us to lean on, look to, and to comfort us.

(Here is a link to the song if you want to listen to it: )

How wonderful it is that Jack’s classmates were overjoyed when you presented them with his notebook pages! He made an impact on each of those young lives....

Praying for strength for you and your family to make it through another day.

Debby@Just Breathe said...

Anna, your loss breaks my heart. You and Jack are always on my mind. I still have the little owl with Jacks name hanging on my tree out in front of our house. For you to always have to wonder (the what ifs) brings me to tears.
I hate those seconds. ((HUGS))

Anonymous said...

Such sorrow. My thoughts and prayers are with you. Mandy xx

mia said...

Sweet Anna, it sounds as though today is an awful one.... i am so sorry and sending you so much love and extra prayers for GOD to comfort and Jack have made such an impact on me, i just wish is was not at such a cost to you... can't wait to hug you tomorrow. You are such an inspiration. BLESSINGS.xoxoxo

Jenn said...

I love you Anna...XOXO

Princess Kate said...

Thinking about you and prayng for confidence, wisdom and strengthen for your appearance tomorrow. I can't physically be there but I will be there with you in spirit and love. Good luck!!!!

Lynn said...

Just stopping by to see how you are getting along. I am still thinking of you and your family. Wishing for comfort for you. Somehow.

Anonymous said...

Praying for you Anna.

OSMA said...

I read this post, left the comment section open for about three hours and baked brownies to comfort, ameliorate, make better a feeling I cannot abandon at the risk it might leave you with more on your plate. Nonsense I know, to make brownies in my kitchen to give comfort to you in yours but that is what I did in hopes you don't have to contemplate, ache, solve, remember, or just plain hurt long enough to experience a virtual offering of solace.

I would give anything to undo those few stupid seconds between your then and your now. Anything.

I am so truly very sorry.


Beth Zimmerman said...

I want to share with you a verse that I just discovered recently. Isaiah 66:9 (NCV) - I will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born, says the Lord.

I'm not sure what new thing He is birthing in your life but I bet it's eventually going to be amazing!

Here's a beautiful artist rendition of this verse:

Ross said...

You are such an inspiration to so many people including me. You've made me appreciate the time I get with my own kids more. Even though it's hard for you and that you'll always miss Jack I hope you see the difference your making in so many peoples lives.

mribaro said...

Not connected with this article, but I wanted to share this video - when I saw it, my first thoughts were you and Jack:

A friend of mine lost her 18yr old son due to a car accident in front of their house, 18 years ago. Afterwards, she has adopted a 7yr old girl who is now a nice young lady. My friend is a cheerful, chirpy lady, but to this day she has tears in her eyes when she (on a very rare occasion) mentions her son. On the other hand, she also draws big joy from seeing his friends, watch them grow, she even attended the wedding of one of them. To her it's like seeing her own son grow, or imagine what he would be like. Her son's friends all like her very much, because they liked her son too, and to them she's like a second mom or a loved aunty.

Marta said...

Oh Anna. It is terribly inconceivably awful just plain unfair.

And really no more than that. Its just unfair.


Unknown said...

I have no words for this post or the last one, but I read every one of yours.

Love you

Teachinfourth said...

Your words are always poignant and make me remember those I've loved and lost in my own life. Again, you've struck a chord.

Jana said...

I love that you are mothering Jack's friends. And I love a well-used semi-colon :)

Mellow said...

I'm so sorry, Anna. Still praying.

Elisa @ What the Vita said...

The world did need him - the world DOES need him - you gave us him - and you keep on giving him to us - through your words - and I thank you for it. XOXO

Paula said...

This is just so suckishly hard, raw and so soon. I'm sure you read and read books/comments that this rawness will get better with time. But I'm just as sure it doesn't help at all right now. Only a great mom would wrestle with these emotions and questions and you are a great mom to Jack. Sending you love and prayers.

lizzied said...

Thinking of you so very often.

And now I'm wondering if you could maybe post the "Bread Ninja" drawing... ? Because that sounds awesome.


janzi said...

Oh I know it sounds mawkish, but I couldn't stop the tears coming as I read about that night.. most parents would have done the same- let the kids out with their friends to have fun.., its so hard not to feel responsible, but he was with his friends, and it should have been a great adventure.. The grief you feel will last a long time, but I hope the blogging will help ease the pain you all feel, as so many of us pray for you and send you comforting vibes from all over the world. You and your family were and are a lovely unit, and you will get through this.. time does fade the hurt.. hugs from across the world,.I hope you have a good week this week, and start to feel peace in your heart.. Janzi

Princess Kate said...

I was sitting outside this morning and a beautiful blue jay (which I'm sorry to say has never been one of my favorite birds) came within 10 feet of me, landed and just stared at me for what seemed like forever. It was so surreal that it made me cry uncontrollably for awhile. My heart is SO heavy today. Thinking of you A LOT.

Vodka Mom said...

Oh Anna. I know what you will do. You will do what I did, when Bitchy reached each milestone that her cousin did not.

But you will do it with MUCH more courage and grace...and much more intensity.

I watch my sister in amazement, and realize how cruel and amazing life really is. And to remember remember that what it's all about.

Vodka Mom said...

my heart and prayers are still with you.... each night...

Anonymous said...

My friend has preemie triplets, and they are still in the hospital at 2 months, and fighting every day. The smallest little girl is doing very poorly tonight, and I was thinking of you, and this post. How seeing the other two doing (relatively) better and celebrating their small milestones must be so hard, when little M. may not make it. Still praying for her, and for all of them, and not giving up hope. Praying she grows up to have silly and fun times with her siblings and friends.
On another note, I wish I could have been there this past weekend! Did you read something from your blog? Would love to hear more about it! You are so amazing!

Anonymous said...

I don' t know if you have ever heard of this group, but they have helped someone I know. They are called Compassionate friends. It is a support group for parents who have lost a child. 17 years ago when my best friend was lost to a car wreck, her mother joined and is still a member. To this day we all think about and remember our friend, and her mother. We include her in anything we can. I hope Jack's friends do the same as they grow up.

dwerrlein said...

I wanted to tell you what a great job you did on sunday! it had to have taken a tremendous amount of courage to stand up there with all those other mothers and tell your story--one that differed dramatically from theirs. in recent decades, women have come a long way in opening up and sharing our vulnerable experiences as mothers: things ranging from plain old frustration to post-partum depression. but i really feel like you are blazing a trail by sharing your grief. it is a subject we are all afraid to touch. and our fear, i believe, is part of why you feel like an "alien" (to use your word). it would be too much to say we can close that gap entirely, but i do believe by sharing, you can narrow it. you are helping your community to support you, and you are helping your readers support all the other grieving mothers that we know. it is a big gift--one that i hope comes back to you 10-fold.

luv2run said...

Been compulsivley checking to see if I sense a glimps of you finding any kind of peace since this last post. It pains me so when you leave us with such hurt/pain in your heart and I can't do anything about it to help you but to let you know that I am always praying and thinking of you and your family daily!



Kim said...

tears. lots of um.

Anonymous said...

My son would have been 21 on his birthday this year. He died at the age of 3 months. I have grieved the loss of him at every stage of development, every milestone of life. Love never ends. We will see them again. Praying for your comfort and hope.

Dawn said...

Hugs and prayers ...across the miles... is all I have to offer.

Laura said...

Eight months. Not long, but yet an eternity. My heart aches for you, Anna.
Sending love, prayers, and continued courageous strength to you, Tim, and Margaret.

Anonymous said...

Found your blog through Glennon, read most of it yesterday in tears. My entire body felt cold. I couldn't find the words then, but I had to come back today and tell you that I woke up in the night and prayed for you and your beautiful family. I wish you comfort and courage.

Sharon @ Elizabeth & Co. said...

There are just no other words Anna, I am so sorry for your heartbreak!

the mama bird diaries said...

Sometimes I just don't know what to say. Other than I am praying and thinking of you. xo

Nicole said...

Oh my Lord. That last paragraph... put a knot in my throat and a flood of tears in my eyes. Praying for you Anna, all of you.

Salvimom said...

Dearest Anna,
I'm sorry I have not written a comment in awhile, particularly because I know it encourages you to have your readers consistently show that they are always with you and are not moving on and forgetting the tragedy of your sweet and intelligent boy. As usual, I am keeping you and your family in prayer, and am sending love and spiritual hugs your way. You are wonderful.


Salvimom said...

By the way--and I almost forgot to mention mom has lived in the same home up here in the northwest for over 10 years. Last weekend, we noticed that for the FIRST TIME EVER, there was a bluejay nest in the tree in front of her home! Immediately I thought of you and said a prayer. Lord knows that little boy is just smiling down on you mom, and on his beautiful family. I pray you rest well.


The Bipolar Diva said...

Anna; I'm sorry, but I don't know what to say today except that I continue to pray for you and your family. I'm so sorry. I remember when Isaiah was taken from us people that didn't know how to respond simply avoided us. It would have made such a difference if they had only said, "I'm sorry, I don't know what to say." I hope is some small way this will help you see that those of of that read your posts really care about you and your family.
Much love,

Leah C said...

So poignant, so heartbreaking. Dear Anna, you are always in my thoughts & prayers. I read every single one of your beautifully written posts; but, I don't always comment. Please know this...we are with you...and we carry you, your family, & Jack in our hearts.

luv2run said...

Thinking of you and hope your Mothers Day is as best as it can get in these hard hard times!


And a long run in honor of YOU and Jack!!!!!!


Heidi said...

Oh, the void he leaves. It isn't right. I don't know why. My heart aches for you and your family.

prenni5 said...

And my heart breaks for you again Anna because there's no substitute for this enormous void. I think you were the one who said it's like learning to live without a limb. I truly cannot imagine. Nobody can unless they've been in your shoes. My only answer is Faith and I know you have that. I just know that God is with you and that HE will help you create a new normal with time. You remain in my prayers. -Annie