Monday, August 27, 2012

Monday Musings: Changes

Jack was one of the brightest kids I've ever met, and although I know it is not always the case, his stellar test scores and grades attested for that.

He was a whiz. He was a high achiever.

But he was also a cutup in class-- as much as you can be in the small, laced-up, private school environment he loved.

We didn't really witness this, because of his quiet side at home, but we'd hear from other families that entertaining "Jack Stories" were part of their dinnertime routines.

Last summer Jack and I talked about middle school, and he shared that he wanted to be seen as more than just a funny guy. His wit and charm had been there from birth, but some of his clowning around had started as a way for this extreme introvert to fit in or find an identity. He didn't think he needed that anymore. While at home, on the ball fields, and at scouts we saw a more serious Jack, at the school he loved he had been a foil, sometimes a follower, and often a clown.

Entering middle school, Jack was interested in letting his more thoughtful, serious side show. He and I talked about how hard it is to change your image, particularly when you are in the same old setting, and when people like who you are. I proposed switching Jack to a large public school. Jack lobbied hard to stay where he was, and knowing that even in his small school, middle school would be different enough and would present more growth opportunities for him, we agreed.

So on that fateful Thursday, the second day of school, we drove home and I heard how excited Jack was about the coming year. How great he thought his Math, Bible, and English classes would be. How he loved his classmates.

Then he started telling me about a funny skit he and his friend made up that day. In the left turn lane, waiting to pull into our neighborhood, I looked at him in the rear view mirror. My eyes narrowed and I said sharply, "Jack!" That one word contained a bit of exasperation, maybe some venom, and certainly a big dose of expectation. Oh to be firstborn and have to carry the weight of it all!

That one word said: "Jack, I thought you were going to rein it in this year! What about our talk? Will others ever have the chance to truly see the Jack WE KNOW AND LOVE?"

He responded immediately with his rapid-fire speech: "No Mom No! I know what you're thinking! It wasn't like that at all. It was free time. It was great. Seriously, this is going to be the BEST YEAR EVER!"

We pulled into the neighborhood, continued our conversation about the future, and I truly felt we had made the best decision for Jack. He felt so positive about his friends, his teachers, his identity. I knew it would be his chance to grow and lead and flourish!

Well, you know how this story ends, but it got me thinking today about expectations and changes.

It takes a brave, strong person to change, especially if others aren't ready for it or don't understand it.

I've already shared that Tim and I have had to adjust our expectations of one another since Jack's death. I've turned more inward, and my inward husband has become increasingly social and physically fit. My couch potato-ness has reach new heights (depths?) while he is running, rowing and playing team sports to keep sane. We have to accept this in each other.

Sometimes we are given a change of perspective, and that changes US. This isn't always comfortable to those around us.

A mom who decides to stop drinking might feel marginalized at neighborhood events. Adopting a healthier diet or lifestyle could come off as rigid or weird. You may have changed your family priorities in light of some new perspective gained, but it has left your social circle wondering "Why?"

I have heard from many people who have changed as a result of Jack's accident.

They are closer to God. They are mad at God. Some have found more motiviation in their work. Some think their jobs are meaningless. They are praying more. Hugging more. Worrying less. Spending more time with their families. Ending unheathy friendships and habits. Trying to find more meaning in this life.

When you see things in a new way, turning back to the old way is an option, but it squanders whatever wisdom has been gained. And this wisdom is usually gained at a high cost.

For example, I was an ardent meeting-goer in my previous life, but at this point there is no way I'm going to get all up in arms about the minutiae of church business or youth sports, or whatever. I mean, seriously, if it's not about LOVE or LIFE or DEATH or HEAVEN, it seems like bull to me at this point. I want to keep this eternal perspective, even though I wish I'd never been given it in the first place. I don't want to squander it. Does that make sense?

Jack was ready to make some changes, but we never really got to see how that would turn out.

What about you? Do you have some changes you are pondering? I'd love to hear more.


Unknown said...

I recently decided to become a SAHM. And I started a blog. And a novel. I volunteer at my son's school. These are all new things. I know what you mean about the meetings. Can't make myself care. I don't know what it is to lose a child, but I lost my step-brother (he was 15), and watching my mom and step-dad walk through their agony has taught me some shit. We get one chance. And for the ones that left too soon, I feel like we have to live a little extra to make up for the living that they lost out on. Always prayers and hugs for you, momma.

Unknown said...

I actually feel like that all the time - if it's not about life or love or death or heaven, I don't care.

Although I would add laughter. Because that's right up there with the other big four.

Otherwise, I struggle a lot with who I should be and what I should focus on. I feel like there are a lot of avenues I could walk, but which ones?

The Bipolar Diva said...

you have so many great stories of Jack. I wish I had more of Isaiah, but since he was so young I don't. I think if I did it would help with the healing. ♥ Teri

janzi said...

what a touching blog, you really are an amazing mother, to be able to focus and concentrate so soon after your terrible loss to be able to write about him ,.the loss of your darling son will never go away, but the perspective you and your husband are developing must be a big help. Its so lovely to read about your boy and how he was such a part of the community... I am sure you had very deep talks, but you did get through to him and to be able to write about it now is an amazing quality you show.. thank you for sharing, hugs from across the pond.. Janzi

Mrs Changstein said...

I can't believe I'm saying this, but I encouraged my kids to take up golf - to the point of spending their summer camp $$ on a week of summer camp. Aaaaand, as a Father's Day gift, I committed to take golf lessons, and give it a year. I am SUCH a couch veggie. This is so weird. And yet, I have the inner push to do this for not just my husband, but my fam. I have a feeling that if I don't, I'll regret it. So me & my Advil are becoming verrrry good friends.

And, in the last few months, we're measuring our choices & decisions in light of eternity. Listening to that inner voice that's telling us to do something, and then doing it. Being intentional with our kids. Giving to someone in need, choosing to live with the car, rather than look for a van, obeying the prompting rather than asking God 'Are you SURE' 20 times first. (That's how come I'm baking cookies for the half way house that's a couple of blocks away. I'm sorta hoping they stop the b&e stuff into our cars, but it's a long shot.)

Thank you, Anna, Tim, and Margaret, for choosing your perspective, and driving the train.

Cathy Reaves said...

I'm about to make a big change. My husband decided he didn't want to be married after nineteen years and three children. So for the first time in my life, I am going to be living on my own. Married right out of college at the ripe age of 22, I now have to redefine my life at the age of 42. This whole experience has changed me. Social avenues and things I used to like to do now seem awkward so I avoid them. Divorce is like a death and I feel that it will have changed me forever.

Theresa O said...

I'm with the lady above! Divorce SUCKS and I have had to make many changes to survive as a single mom. One of the hardest is that Zach no longer has his "family time" like we use to..just waking up to all of us watching cartoons or eating our Saturday morning ritual donuts his dad would go out and get... some days are just plain tough. And when I read how many wonderful, truly happy memories you have with Jack as a family - it's amazing. He was a very lucky boy to have a such a very awesome, caring family. I only wish he was still here for you to love and hold tight and make more wonderful memories with. My heart breaks for you every day. And his school picture you have posted from last year, always brings tears to my eyes. Many, many hugs.

Loukia said...

I can't deal with changes, I fear change, and change depresses me. It can be about a new job, or a change of seasons, or things that are more serious, more LIFE serious. I tend to stay stuck, sometimes, because of my fear.

Anonymous said...

I have been a stay at home mom to my three kids for the past nine years. My youngest is in preschool 3 days a week and I am dreading him going to kindergarten next fall. I see the change coming. It's been all about the kids and of course, always will be- but I know I will have more time to myself which is a little scary. No one likes change. It seems like there is always something to lose and never anything to gain. I know this isn't true- but I am just a little sad about the passage of time.

However, Anna, I can honestly say that your posts help me to cherish this passage of time. You remember and reflect on Jack and it makes me see that all of this little really big.

Thanks for sharing all of your stories. The "you're my pal" post brought me to tears.

Stacy in AL

Anonymous said...

Oh, Anna. Now this entry... this makes me miss Jack. This makes me cringe at the unfairness of it all. That my children are back at school with a fresh start... and ready for a change.
I sometimes feel rotten sharing our goings on and how Jack has changed the way I see our circumstances. I wonder if some days it makes you want to smash your screen to hear that life is going on. But since you asked, I'll assume you actually want to know...

Emma, my lego-lover, as you know is off at college. She is absolutely ready for a change. She was so excited to be surrounded by people like her... and mostly people who dont know her so that she could be brand new. The day we left, I noticed a subtle change. I took me a minute to realize she had on eye liner and mascara. I have told her a bazillion times that beauty and brains can go together.... that she is beautiful with OR withOUT makeup and with OR withOUT a dress and heels. Throughout high school she always chose comfort over fashion, but I always had an inkling that some part of her wanted to be more feminine.... that she missed that girly pink dress phase that peaked around kindergarten. She is ready for a change... she is ready for everyone to notice that she is smart AND beautiful.

And Grace... I cant even tell you how much she wants to change. She has been working on it ever since last fall when she decided that her middle name suited her much better. Three days of school and her body reminded her that she is stuck with some of the same old limitations. I just wanted to hug her as we -- nurses, counselors, etc. -- guided her though a couple of long days with big challenges. She wants to be well and happy... and the changes she needs to make are not always understood by other students or parents.

Change is hard! Praying for you.

Anonymous said...

You paint such a clear picture of how Jack was truly coming into his own. I'm so sorry that you had to gain eternal perspective in this way.

Right now, change in my outlook toward life is happening in small, incremental ways. Since I'm not sure how much I'm changing, this might sound insincere, but your writing absolutely does give me strength, if only to sort of continue life along the same lines. That might not sound very exciting, but strength just to face the challenges of eveyday life is something really valuable to me, and I thank you for that.

Cassie Bustamante said...

the more you tell about jack, the more i am in awe of the young man you raised. thinking of you as you approach the one year mark.

Debby@Just Breathe said...

No you didn't get to see how Jack's changes would have turned out but he has seen all the changed lives that his death made.
It was a huge price to pay but I bet he is smiling at the blessings he has seen in more lives than you can count. ((HUGS)) I am so sorry for your loss and you are always in the thoughts and prayers.

Katie Day said...

Thanks for writing, for your transparency, your bravery, and your willingness to share your story & let it affect others. I found your blog by accident & read pretty much the whole thing at once, and again, am so grateful.
I feel moved to share with you a singer/songwriter i discovered on the same night that i ended up on your blog - his name is Peter Mayer - particularly his songs "Holy Now" & "God is a River". Check them out of YouTube or his website, if you're interested - or disregard it. Either way, I wanted to share that I've been praying for your family - know that Jack's legacy is still touching lives of total strangers!

Annie said...

You don't know me, but I have followed your story since last year. It is foolish to even type this, but I so wish I could go back in time and change that one day. Jack was a remarkable kid, and I am continually reminded of him as I raise my three boys. Thank you for writing.

Angela said...

Over the past few months, I've been listening to the young man next door lose his temper more and more. I know there have been times when I've heard him scream at his girlfriend, but since I didn't hear any physical abuse, I stayed out of it.

Yesterday he was screaming more than ever and I heard thumps and I called the police. She'd already left their home by the time the cops got there. Both have been home from their home for 24 hours.

Now there is a record of his behaviour. And if she returns to him, I won't wait for thumps before I pick up the phone again.

Kate Coveny Hood said...

I've found myself taking that same attitude more and more since having kids. Not that I don't have my moments of pettiness! But they're fewer and farther between.

You know I'm thinking about you all the time - especially these end of summer/beginning of fall weeks...

Unknown said...

Jack's positive spirit is such a legacy and lesson for all of us. I have changed immensely over the last year. Much of what I used to involved myself in I find trivial and worthless. Not in a judgemental way but in a way that I choose very carefully how and where I spend my time. There are still changes I need to muster up the courage to make.

Christy said...

Jack's death has made me realize that too - about the small things. I don't stress about them as much, or for as long. And when I do, I have people I call to discuss them with, and I work myself out of the funks faster.

Love you Anna, and love reading every single thing you decide to share with us. You're so amazing.

(oh my god - my word verification is RainAss...)

ella said...

I think I'm pretty unusual in that I don't mind change at all - in face I feel like I'm the opposite....I fear staying the same. I guess you could say being outside my comfort zone is where I'm most comfortable (ha). And now that I stop and think about it, I slowly became this way after my husband died. I wasn't always like this. Interesting.
That's what I really love about your writing, Anna. Every post is raw, straight from your heart, and makes me stop and think.

Laura at Ms. Smartie Pants said...

Oh Anna, I think I know how you feel, I would gladly get this perspective without going thru this pain if given the chance. I started out the year trying something new, instead of making a resolution I decided to pick a word for the year. My word was/is intentional. Sometimes I am good at being in the moment others not so much, but the recent sickness and loss of my husband has really made me understand and see what that looks like. Yes it sucks for sure!

Anonymous said...


I think I’ve gained some wisdom, albeit at too high a price. The thing I’m concerned about now is that I may take one of two paths in the future. I may proceed faithfully, with gratitude and acceptance. I may try to live with passion as I understand what a gift life still is for each of us.

Or… I may “give up” emotionally. I think I have a glimpse at why people get grumpy when they age. Life can take its toll.

I suppose I will need to keep reading inspirational posts to choose the path of embracing life (no pressure)! Perhaps what I need to understand is that, on some days, it is a choice.

Thoughts and prayers are with you.

IrishRN07 said...

I have a cool idea and I want to start a company. (But I couldn't do that.) I want to have a baby, be a family of two if that's what it takes. (But I shouldn't do that.)
So scared I don't have what it takes to make these big changes. So in awe of people like you and Tim who have dealt with the biggest, baddest kind of change with such grace.
PS: The more I read about your conversations with Jack the more clearly I can imagine how the story of his life would make a great book. You could do it Anna! You're a wonderful writer and an incredible mother. Talk about inspiring positive change in the world...

Anonymous said...

Seems to me, Jack's classmates needed Jack to be the one they knew and loved to live forever in their memories. We had some tear-filled hugs in the kitchen today. Still so many opportunities for God to be our strength. As I read this, I thought I should let you know Jack's classmates move to the upper school campus. I know they'll miss seeing you in carpool each day....God used you so much in their healing. Love you! Karen

Anonymous said...

I'm too caught up in the minutia of the day. I'm easily egged to frustration by the whining, grabbing, & tossing of food onto the floor by my wee ones. I want my agenda, I want to write that email, make that encouragement call, return that item, whatever can go on my daily to do list. Then enjoy the sense of accomplishment of crossing them off. Sometimes I cheat and write shower, brush teeth, just to have items to cross off Something to feel like I'm making a difference. My days are filled with activity. Some forced upon me & some created by my need to be "useful" I want to change that! I want to embrace this crazy season without trying to fill my moments with my agenda items.
Just last night while cleaning off our dinosaur of a computer I found letters typed to friends during a time of insane busyness, where every chunk of my day was filled with something before God made me come to a screeching halt. Suddenly my to do list was wiped clean & i had no distractions or requests on my days to fill my time. I was in a foreign coutry & everything was stripped away. It was 2003, I had high hopes suddenly & cruelly dashed by rejection & being completely used. I spent three months like that. Life went from fast forward to pause in those days. The waiting was excruciating. In an email back home I wrote said, "we all will face a time in our life where all we thought we knew was at best questionable. We can react with bittern ess or acceptance. At this time I refuse to doubt in the darkness what I once believed in the light." Well that time in my life i was hurt, it was intense, humbling pain, weight loss worthy. I don't want something like that to have to happen to bring about change. I call times like that the scary prayers. You pray for something to change & change comes but not in the way you expected. I don't want to have to say scary prayers to allow change. So I'm focusing on slowing down, enjoying the moments, surrendering my agenda for the day if I have to. Sitting in the pocket of whatever is happening around me. Not rushing it or begrudging it or making it something it's not. I want change that is birthed out of not doing but just learning to be.
Sandie brown

Anonymous said...

As I read each word you write, I find myself if I might come across something so very painful to you....something that I might not be strong enough to share with you...or, maybe not equipped to fix...strange how that feels. There are times when I just want this pain to go away for you and your lovely family....just being truthful. Prayers going up for you right now....

the Hawks said...

Dear Anna, I love and benefit from your heavenly, eternal perspective. sometimes the only thing that keeps me grabbing my children away from the possibilities of life is the knowledge of heaven. That even if I lose them tonight, they are not lost.

You are a friend to us, though we've never really met. Thank you for speaking of your son so well.

NanaDiana said...

You have no idea how your posts and your son's death have had on my inner person. I am much more true to myself now- xo Diana

anymommy said...

You are so right that perspective of any kind is so hard to gain and so easily lost. I think it's what draws me to your writing (in addition to the fact that I already loved you) in the wake of Jack's death.

I have to put in a good word for the minutia, though, if perspective can be held. Someone has to show up and care when the soccer practices are and who has snack and what color the new kitchen in the preschool will be. I am trying to accept that I care about shit like that and my life kind of focuses on it right now, somehow without losing sight of the bigger things.

Arlene said...

Changes? Yes, I've had a few in the past couple of years. My husband and I separated after 25 years of marriage. It was a long time coming. I downsized and now live in a condo. First my daughter lived with me as my son was living on his own. Last year, both of them were hospitalized with major depression. (one in April, the other in July while I was on vacation in N.S.!) After that time my daughter moved in with her Dad and his girlfriend and my son moved into a residence for the mentally ill. So I was a double empty nester for a year. Mental illness was an unknown entity to me, so I needed to educate myself by reading books and attending sessions offered through the hospital. This summer, my son decided that the residence wasn't for him so he moved back home. I was grateful for this. Luckily, I have worked as a substitute teacher for several years here, but it's very difficult to find a contract position. I was brave enough to take two on-line courses to improve my chances of finding a teaching position, but no luck yet. I'm planning on taking more on-line courses and going for more interviews. I know it's hard to find one, but there must be one job out there for me. Tonight, I just spent a wonderful evening with my daughter before she embarks on a new chapter of her life at university - very far away. My social circle has naturally changed, although I'm very fortunate to have had some of my married female friends stay by my side. I have to say, that despite all of the changes in the past few years, I am a much happier single person than I was a married person. Married life seemed hopeless to me. My faith has actually waned. I'm like Tim, I exercise to maintain a positive attitude. Those feel good endorphins take over and really help me to joyfully take one day at a time!! :) I don't volunteer very much anymore, not like when I was a stay-at-home Mom. I know that my days are numbered and I want to enjoy some of what life has to offer during this season of my life.

Alexandra said...

When I saw you posted so close to the start of the school year, before I clicked over, I had to steel myself. I placed my hand on my chest, wanting to close my eyes, because I knew I'd see a picture of Jack.

Oh, Anna: I wish I could turn back time. I wish it so hard that my throat hurts right now.

That's me: my way is denial in the face of the impossible.

I'd like to change, and take life head on, instead of sticking my head in the sand.

I'd like to change that.

Anonymous said...

I am NOW pondering changes I've made and changes I still need to make in my life.
Your blog gives me encouragement to look more honestly at myself and takes the fear away of what I might find within myself that needs changing & courage to make those changes.

Mariann said...

Anna: I love reading what you have written! Your family is uppermost in my thoughts and prayers as these last days of summer fly by. And, yes, I hear you. Two and a half years ago I began to demonstrate in all areas of my life that if it isn't about life or death or something even more important, I am probably not going to be phased by it or engage with it. I want to laugh, I want to be in the present moment, I long to be the wife and mom the Lord wants me to be. I don't know how you do it, Anna. I am in awe of you. I am one of those people who prays every day for the Lord to roll back time and make it September 7, 2011 and...and...and keep Jack's accident from happening. Much love, huge hugs, and the prayers haven't stopped. Mariann Alicea

Ann Imig said...

Tears for you today, as this anniversary edges so close.

It makes perfect sense and I'm so glad you're both doing what you need to take care of you.

Right now--as always--I'm working on patience and letting the little things go. Smiling more.

Thank you.

Rach said...

We made so many changes on the heels of losing Hannah--some of them happened within that first year and some took a bit longer. We started attending church regularly (had always been Christian but fell away from the church for a while), had another baby and I became a SAHM (always a dream of mine but finally MADE it happen).

I started taking better care of ME so that I could be here for the girls.

Our marriage changed as well. We turned to each other and instead of our loss ripping us apart (I very clearly remember saying to Brien, "You're going to blame me and hate me and divorce me!" to which he assured me that would NEVER happen) it made us stronger.

Change is so scary and hard and sometimes we're faced with change we never ever would want and we have to figure it out and move forward.

You and your family have done a beautiful job of that, even though it IS insanely difficult--almost impossible.

Many hugs and prayers,

Mel said...

I have read your blog and watched with wonder over the past year as you have managed to so beautifully put into words, the feelings and emotions that your family is going through. Your words are beautiful.

So much of what you have written is helping me with friends who just lost their 14 year old son tragically last week (also named Jack). We had grief councillors in to work this week to help us know how to act around our friend when he finally does return to work.

In my life, I feel as though I should change. Should make myself be improving all the time. But it's so hard - I never know where to focus.

Thank you for sharing your story.

Anonymous said...

About this time last year my kids were entering fourth and first grade. I was looking forward to the year, thinking that for once there would be no change: schools, activities, and jobs would all remain the same. About a month after your Jack's accident, my daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, and then EVERYTHING changed. My daughter must now take five insulin shots and prick her finger four times a day. Every day we live with the risk that she could take too much insulin for her activity level and end up in the hospital -- or worse. Yet we mustn't be too overprotective lest she conclude that diabetes ruins your life. My son has lived with his older sister's grief and rage the way other children live with a smoker: inhaling toxicity.

Ten months later, after diabetes sleep-away camp for my daughter and sailing camp for my son, confidence seems to have returned and emotions seemed to have calmed. Earlier this week I got excited about something -- and realized I couldn't remember the last time I had actually felt happy. So now I'm working on banishing my own anger and grief and fear and finding more moments of peace and goodwill.

Your blog has been so helpful to me, not only because it reminds me to be grateful that my daughter is still with us, but also because it gives me reassurance that I'm not the only one grappling with really big, life-changing events. Thank you and God bless you, Tim, and Margaret.

ALI said...

Jack was ready to make some changes, but we never really got to see how that would turn out.

My first thought on reading this was:

Jack was ready to make changes at God's calling. He was ready to be - because "I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me."

He has. He has impacted so many people.

For me personally, it has encouraged me to more strongly introduce God into our home with our son. I've seen the cold heart of my husband warmed at the sight of my son praying. I've watched my son start to pray on his own, and wonder 'Am I doing this like Anna? She did such a great job. I pray my son will have Jack's faith"

I've been praying for you as the fall approaches. Praying that as the 1 year anniversary approaches, you are starting to find some comfort in the Faith inspired through Jack's death.

Anna, I do not know you personally. I only know you through your blog. You have touched me & spoken to my soul so many times over the past year. In the virtual world, I hug you 10 thousand times, and I know it would not even make a dent.

Continued prayers as Margaret starts school. As the anniversary (what a horrible word) of Jack's death. As you guys continue to find the new normal.

Chimmy said...

change does call on us to be brave. and it may happen in the shittiest way possible, but we learn that we are built to be brave.

i happened on this quote the other day. you're post has me thinking about it again.

"You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery, and I promise you something great will come of it."

Heidi said...

Thinking, thinking about you and yours so, so much. Love you.

bernthis said...

I love this post. I am going through some changes right now, or should i say, I continue to, beginning with the sale of my home. There is an perspective I've held onto with regards to relationships that I'm grateful to say is changing. It's hard b/c as you said, the people that are used to that side of me, don't get it and i find it hard to be around them anymore as this change is new and I want to continue to move forward and my fear is to spend time with them will pull me into a place I no longer want to be. I'm so incredibly sorry that you had to go through what you went through but note that you are an inspiration to us all.

HeidiUnplugged said...

We've decided to follow our dreams. If not now, when? Right? So, we've quit our jobs, taken the kiddo's out of school, are (hopefully!) selling the house and are traveling for a year. First stop is volunteering with a non-profit in West Africa. We're equal parts elated and terrified.

Amy said...

After reading Jack's story and the incredible grounding he had in his faith, I've been trying to be more intentional in helping my children to know God. It's something that I craved as a child, and seeing how you and Tom did that for Jack has inspired me to try to do the same for my children.

Unknown said...

I am not sure what it is exactly that speaks directly to my heart in your words... maybe it is that you are so authentic and raw that hits me so hard... and rings so true. There are so many times we feel the need to apologize for the most honest of feelings... I am glad you do not. Your struggle to find your next foot step in and regain your balance rings true to so many- because even without the tragedy that you are enduring, so many of us find ourselves in some shade of gray just because life happens. Thank you for given me reflection... and so many important reminders to open my eyes and heart. Thank you.

McKenna said...

Oh I love you for putting into words what I have felt but cannot explain. If it is not about "love, life, death or heaven" it is just not that important to me anymore. I can't do minutiea. My mind wanders when I have to listen to inconsequential things and I have wondered if I am careless or unattached but I think it is the understanding of what truly is important that I have gained. I'm sorry it has been gained at such a terrible cost for both of us.
And reading this story about Jack, it just blows my mind again that a child can be here one minute, living fully, and gone the next. I'm sure you struggle with this so often and I can't imagine how mind-boggling this has to be to come to terms with. My daughter passed as an infant so we didn't have those conversations, she wasn't talking and walking and sharing with us and it is still so hard to comprehend, I can only imagine how this must be for you.

Wendy said...

I think about your family so often.
I am trying to be nicer and calmer w my kids. This is a result of many things but very importantly the people and stories I've come to know from blogging. I am often overwhelmed and stressed and insistent on perfection from everyone. I am committed to changing for the benefit of my family. God bless you.

Anonymous said...

your story has made me slow down and think about what's important. Your wonderful pictures have reminded me to take more pictures of my family...including me! your grace has inspired me to be more graceful. Your spirituality has opened my eyes and my heart to accept and believe. And,to be completely honest, although I know it's not healthy for me or my kids, I'm more overprotective and terrified of the worst case scenario, more often than i want to admit....but, i'm trying hard to seize the day, because I am awed by your strength, even if you don't think you have strength sometimes, it's clear you have amazing strength. thank you!!

Marble medallion said...

Hi Anna, I got benefited from your nice perspective. That perspective is well explained in book Bhagvat Geeta. We were without anything and are not taking anything when we will go.

- Herman Swan

Nomads By Nature said...

Dear Anna,
My heart has been breaking for you and your family as the new school year is so close to starting and that dreadful date approaches. I am in awe of your grace in sharing the changes that have come to your family this past year with Jack's loss.
The change that we are dealing with now is living in a new country whose language we can't yet speak and the kids are starting a new school and having to make new friends. With this move came a chance to have my youngest, also Jack(son), attend a vacation Bible school. The theme, was a parallel to your Jack's life verse: Anything is possible with God. You can't imagine how many times this past week I have thought of you and your family and what I have learned through your sharing of your Jack's life. If you get a chance to check out this link: I think you will find that your rare bird is still busy sending signs and teaching his mission. So, big changes for us: yeah, all that goes with an international move and uprooting, but bigger and more important changes are the internal ones helping me (us) lean on eternal truths. I am sending huge hugs of comfort your way these next days especially. Thank you for continuing to be open and to share even the most raw moments of celebrating life and grieving loss. You are helping me to be a better mom and person.

Arnebya said...

You never cease to amaze me, Anna, with your clarity, your ability to put into words what so many of us feel. Change is hard, especially when it's not your intention, when your instinct is to fight it. I have respect for change when it's thought out, prepared for, planned. I don't deal well with immediate, unavoidable change. Well, that's what I thought until a week or so ago when I stopped drinking. I made no conscious decision that day but I haven't made the effort to go back to the liquor store either.

I come here and receive inspiration constantly for you offer it in the words you choose. Even in your description of the changes in attitude between you and your husband, the simple words of you have to let the other do these things/be this way, is so telling of how aware of ourselves we should be.

Jana said...

Changes? Yes :) Love this piece. Thinking of you, Anna.

Cris said...

Changes...oh,yes. I am hitting the big Sixth Decade in a few, and that has me wondering...wallowing...wrangling with a new and better perspective for the next decade. Having quietly followed your blog since last September, I appreciate the love, heartbreak, insight, and changes you have expressed. You make me think, and want to be better...different, but better different. I look at caring for others in a higher aspect, and being more open and honest with my thoughts and ideas.
Jack's departure from this plane is not in vain. Life's richest, and hardest, lessons are there for the learning..and growing, for us all. Thank you, Anna

Nomads By Nature said...

better link to Jack's verse in song

The Mommy Therapy said...

I am consistently impressed with how mature Jack was about his sense of self.

I feel like I've been on the verge of hundreds of little changes lately, from stay at home to working mom, lazy lady to exerciser, etc. I need to make a move on something, but I've been postponing for far too long.

Anonymous said...
A friend of mine lose her nephew at a family reunion last weekend. He was 13. She and her whole family were not only present but watched him fall into the water and drown and they were unable to save him. It made me think of your story. I know you still need prayers but please keep them in yours as well. You can probably understand what they are going through better than most.

Salvimom said...

Anna you are such a blessing! Through your pain you have become such an encouragement to others. I and everyone else here wish that you would never have had to learn this bittersweet lesson in life though. But nonetheless, I am thankful. I have told you before that you have helped put my stressful life into perspective, and thus appreciate my children better. As for myself, it is time to make some positive changes in my surrounding relationships. Like you said, those changes that are healthy for us might be viewed as weird to others, but in the end, what does it really matter, right? Anyways, you are constantly in my family's prayers. Sending love, hugs, prayer and positivity to you and yours. God Bless.

Seattle, WA

Lisa said...

I think of you more and more as the month ends and September beckons. Know you are in my prayers.

I haven't made many changes, but I do try to let the little things go more...

Unknown said...

I have never commented on a blog before. Ever. So this is a first for me. I've read your posts for several months now . . . ever since I followed the link your friend Glennon placed in her own blog. I recently started my own blog and, although I only have about 80 followers so far, I'm having fun.

Peace and prayer for you and your family the closer we get to September.

Cindy O'Brien said...

What a beautiful and pointed message to all of us. Thank you for caring for others in your grief. Thanks for teaching us to not loose the wisdom we've gained, but to use it to better ourselves. I want you to know I pray for you and your family often. I'm sure your family and friends find strength in your words.

Anonymous said...

Anna....have you ever thought about a career work in organ donation? It is my field and i truly do feel like every day is life or death when I go to work. Its is incredibly rewarding.....more of a lifestyle than any "job" could be. I love to see families in the midst if intense grief, find solace in giving. I love knowing because of that gift, someone is getting a second chance at life. I only mention it because every state has an organ porcurement organization and many different roles necessary to make it happen. Just a thought from a longtime reader. I think of Jack often...particular how you call him the boy with the softest cheek. Thank you for bringing him to life for us with each entry.

Anonymous said...

Your insight into your children is amazing. I have never been one to get involved in all the meetings because I didn't want to take the time away from my family to be there. Or maybe that was my excuse to just be lazy! I felt so guilty about it wondering if I should be more involved in my community or be team mom, etc. I think for myself, since the day I learned of Jack's accident, I have just slowed down. I turn off the radio in the car in favor of conversation. The kids and I just sit and talk a lot more. Having just sent my first off to college and my youngest off to preschool, I'm so keenly aware of how quickly this life can pass. You know a few things my family has dealt with over the past couple of years. It all seems to be coming together to make me more flexible and forgiving. I never knew how rigid, how black and white I am. I'm working hard to see my kids as they are and let them be. It's been a challenge for my "by the book" self to hear their ideas and let them happen. I guess the change I'm working on is just letting go of my need to have things my way. Your post about the lockers cracked me up because my first reaction if Nat had asked me to decorate her locker (which she absolutely would!) would have been, "that's silly". Yet again proving how I block my kids from being who they are. So again, thanks for your candor! and be on the look out for the most fabulous locker in 6th grade!

Chrisy said...

Feeling so stirred for you, Tim, and Margaret. I wish you were getting ready to post a photo of jack holding his 8th grade sign. XO

prenni5 said...

Oh boy could I relate to this post Anna. I felt like you were speaking directly to me. Change was one of the scariest things about quitting drinking. Will I still have friends? Will people still like me? What if I'm not funny anymore? People are expecting me to be me and I don't know if I'll be the same "me" without wine. I did it anyway because it was time to change. It was hard. It's still hard, but I wouldn't trade anything for the insight, knowledge and wisdom I've gained. I wasn't mature or courageous enough to do this until age 36. It amazes me to hear about Jack's perspective at such a young age. I think that's so amazing! He was so bright and so intuitive. I loved this post.

Lindsey said...

I stumbled upon your blog awhile back and have secretly read your posts. I am amazed by you. I often sit here and cry as I read. You make sense in all that you write but I feel angry about what and why you write it (since the incident that is). The circumstance that has lead you to the insight does anger me but it humbles me too. I will keep reading and being amazed. I got sick last week and stopped smoking just because it felt awful to smoke when sick. Then I decided why not just keep it up and stay a non smoker. I have two little girls who have always hated it so it has been 7 days, not alot considering I have quit for longer when I was pregnant with both of them. But I will keep it up. Thank you as always for sharing your soul. Your Jack sounds amazing too!

claire plante said...


Thank you for this.

"When you see things in a new way, turning back to the old way is an option, but it squanders whatever wisdom has been gained. And this wisdom is usually gained at a high cost."

I am going through a major transition and that paragraph was so helpful for me to read. You are so right. It reminds me of the wisdom I have gained, and that this wisdom can conquer the fear and anxiety that I have been experiencing during this time.

As always, I have you in my thoughts and prayers, and even more so as the "crapiversary" approaches.

Lots of love,

Anonymous said...

I was actually thinking about this this morning driving past the blue ribbons. I started reflecting on all the loss it seems our community has shared in the last year. I was thinking how each loss is twofold --the loss of a loved one and then the loss of our way because of it. I began to wonder if we keep becoming less of who we are meant to be with each loss. We can't help but be changed when we experience loss first hand and when we witness it. I also lost my mother when I was young and so very often I think about how different every day would be if that didn't happen. As adults we worry too much and we worry that if this is what it does to us, what does it do to the children who also live through it. And being a child that lived with loss, you worry more. I was reading your blog and again felt saddened by this reality.
But then I scrolled down and I saw the recent pictures of Margaret. The pictures made me smile. She is getting older and her smile is infectious. She is giving off a glow and a genuine warmth. She doesn't have 'the look' in those photos -- 'the look' that we get when we are reminded of how our roles have changed because life is sometimes unfair. She doesn't look like she is saddened (as I am sure you were) that the first day of school this year was very different because it's the first time the first day photos do not include Jack. "First times' are painful reminders. Yet Margaret's first day of school photos have the look of promise and of confidence in her belief that everyday ahead is going to be the BEST EVER. Clearly her role has changed, but as a child she doesn't spend too much time worrying about that. As a result she unknowingly has begun to fulfill her new role. Her role is to be your light, to forge a unique and powerful mother daughter bond with you, and to give you the opportunity to mother her in ways you learned a young women needs to be mothered. If those pictures are any indication, Margaret's light will be a constant reminder for you and Tim that the new path is not as dark as it may seem. ♥

Gberger said...

Yes, it makes perfect sense.

mosey (kim) said...

This strikes such a chord with me right now, Anna. And changes are afoot for me. They are so big and earthshattering and anxiety-ridden that I have barely been able to talk let alone even write on my blog. In months. So... yes.

Skylar Murphy said...

Hi Anna, I don't know you but I came across your story shortly after the beginning of school last year. We live somewhat close to your area, and I had seen something on the news about Jack while I was in the hospital with My son Jackson. We Lost our daughter in October of 2010 and the story on the news broke my heart. A few months later i was directed to your blog, a read everything thing i could in a short ammount of time. I have felt so many of the things you wrote about so deeply, your blog posts helped me in so many ways, and I also began to grieve your son. I stopped reading and havent been back in 8 or so months but i think of you and pray for you frequently. I just took photos of my oldest son going to school and it reminded me to "check in". For some reason I needed to let you know that you helped me through my grief of loosing a child. And that I pray for you on a regular bases.

Thank you .