Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Bridge: One Terrible Night


A few weeks ago I thought my biggest problem in the world was that I’d gained 10 lbs over the summer. I may have mentioned it to you here a time or three. But as you know, everything has changed:

We sat around the table doing homework by candlelight a la Little House on the Prairie. The electricity was out, and we were psyched. Driving home a few minutes earlier had been an adventure, as we made our way through flooded streets that looked like a river of chocolate milk. We saw our favorite tiny ponds overflowing their banks. We drove home a different way because we knew that the little bridge on the road outside of our development would be flooded, and it was.

We planned to make nachos for a snack, but with no power for the microwave, that was a no-go. I put out apple slices with peanut butter and we talked about how great school was going, particularly how excited Jack was about English, and Science, and Bible. This was promising news from the brand new world of Middle School!

The rain picked up and a knock came at the door. Friends, soaked, playing in the warm rain. Giggles all around, with a “Go for it!” from me and they were out the door. I don’t know how many times I’d told them of the crazy fun my sister and I had tromping through the flooded dips and valleys of our yard as kids, but I do know I had told them. Dear God, I wish I had never told them. My last sight of them was 5 soaked, happy kids, walking down our driveway toward the cul de sac, Jack, in his school uniform, doing a full spin with a huge smile on his face.

I crawled under the covers and by camping lantern read a magazine article about a family that left their affluent lives behind to live in an RV and serve the poor, city by city, in two month stretches. Could our family do something like that without killing each other? Not a chance, but I liked the fantasy, so I folded down the page to share at dinnertime.

Here’s the thing: I may have heard thunder at this point. You know those parenting moments when you let something go on too long against your better judgment, but you do it anyway? It could be a play date that quickly turns to crap just because you needed a little more adult time with the other mom, or a party you know you shouldn’t let your teenage daughter go to, but you are too tired and fed up to deal with any more drama, tears and arguing. So I might have heard thunder, but I didn’t listen.

I talked to my husband on the phone and said we might go out to dinner because the lights were out and all sports practices were canceled. But we decided traffic would be awful and we’d just forage from the fridge when he got home. So I let the kids stay out longer, later, until just after 6. After all, it was much lighter outside than in.

Then my husband called from the road and said he saw lightning, and I heard thunder in earnest, and went to get the kids. This meant getting in the car because I didn’t want to get soaked. What is fun for 10-12 year olds is not so much for 41 year olds. When I reached the cul de sac, they weren’t there. My daughter walked down the street toward me, having felt a strong urging that she should come home. I had her get in the car and asked where Jack was. “In Joe’s back yard,” was her reply.

Not a single thought of our neighborhood’s paltry little creek entered my mind at this point, only the danger of lightning, so I waited a few seconds wondering which gate I should use as I harrumphed about having to go out into the pouring rain. I walked down the steep, steep steps of the backyard that led to a normally anemic little creek of steep banks, rocky soil and a few inches of water. I had never been in this backyard before.

As I called Jack’s name, Joe’s mom leaned out the rear window of the house and said “Jack’s not down there with them.” I turned around and told her he was. Who knows how long this exchange took? 2 seconds? Three? More?

I could hear the peals of laughter of boys having fun down below, and I quickened my pace. I continued down to the bank where I saw just 2 boys, not 3. When I shouted, “Where is Jack?” They answered, laughing, “In the river!” In their shock, it must have looked funny to see him fall in and be swept away. For certain they were used to Jack making them laugh, and the mud and the rain and the playing were part of an afternoon that had truly felt like a celebration of sorts. Until it wasn’t.

Our crappy little creek was now a raging, raging river with walls of rushing water, and Jack was gone. How late was I? One second? 10? A minute? It could not have been more than that.

Shouting his name, running through underbrush, losing my flip-flops and holding up my soaked pants, I had the feeling that he was already gone. That NO ONE could have survived what I just saw. But I’m kind of like that. A defeatist, if that’s the word. I watched my own mother die in a hospital bed and never even said, “Turn away from the light! We want you to stay with us, dammit!” I’ve never been a fighter and have always just kind of felt like bad stuff happens, so why not to us?

But this was my CHILD, so my self-talk went something like, “Don’t give up, Anna! Do what other mothers would do. Don’t give up. Jesus help me, DON’T GIVE UP!” But truthfully, I couldn’t see how my 70 lb child could have survived even a few horrifying seconds in a current that was making 2000 lb cars bob along the roads.

Yelling for one neighbor to call 911 and another to look for Jack, I ran to the car and began driving. I had to get out of the neighborhood and down to a bridge, where I knew the rushing water led. Traffic was stopped because of the flooding. I drove the wrong way down a two lane road honking my horn at oncoming cars, and I got close, but I became fearful of our safety. I could feel my mommy-saving instincts folding up inside of myself as hopelessness set in and seconds ticked away, so I turned back, driving through a neighbor’s yard in order to turn around, leaving deep ruts that are there today. I didn’t think it would be many, many precious minutes before rescue workers could arrive.

Closed roads, no electricity, that fact that rescue workers couldn’t get there and weren’t familiar with the creek's name, one middle-aged cop sent to mosey up and ask me questions like my son’s name, our address, where he went in, and whether Jack could have been pretending, talk of a “500 year” or “1,000 year” or whoever-the-hell-cares-year flood of epic proportions. A fenced-in yard where for 7.5 years my kids had never, ever played, so the fact that it opened to a creek at the bottom was completely off my radar. A neighborhood creek that was such a non-issue for us that we’d never once warned the kids about it.

And the bridge. I tried to tell the workers to go to the bridge, yet I couldn’t even remember the name of the major road that we’ve lived off of for 8 years to explain what I meant. Neighbors ran along the banks, and some went in the water, endangering themselves to try to find Jack; Jack and Margaret’s friends watched in shock. Soaked through, I wondered what moms did in situations like this. Should I pull off my soggy yoga pants so I could run freely down the banks in my underwear without falling? Or was all of this just too, too crazy?

I held my friend’s hand and knelt cursing and praying on the grass. But I didn’t go in the water. I quit yelling. I went home to wait, just as the police told me to. I didn’t run to the bridge, where they found him 2 hours later in the murky darkness.

A night of shock and terror, made more macabre by police with flashlights inside our darkened house, and a sobbing little girl saying, “But I don’t want to be an only child!” Prayers and preachers and sobs and words like “identification” and “medical examiner” and “autopsy.” Friends holding us and sitting with us, and my sister driving through the night to be there. Sobbing to my husband 100 times saying,“I am so, so sorry! I am so, so sorry!” and not being able to stop.

There’s so much more to tell you, of news trucks crowding our street, of neighbors shielding us and carrying us, and of love, love, love pouring out from our friends, our family, our community, our God. Of miracles big and small. Of friendships strengthened and relationships renewed. Of the growing impact of one little boy’s life.

But those are not the stories for today. This is the horrible story that hurts to write and I know it hurts you to read. The story of going to a funeral home. Of deciding to see my son’s body. Of keening and screaming and running out the door, only to be greeted by a news camera across the street, with a well-coiffed reporter on an impossibly sunny day mercifully not realizing that the shrunken, shriveled woman in a 12 year old boy’s sweatshirt, staggering through the parking lot looking for refuge, for any car to sweep her up in, was the prey she’d been stalking all day.

The reporter didn’t realize that this was the broken woman who had told her kids to go ahead and play in the rain. Who had warned her kids about lightning and salmonella and sexual abuse and pornography and STD’s and bullying and collapsing tunnels of sand and snow, but who had never given the creek one single thought.

A woman who, while completely and utterly confident of her son’s immediate presence in the loving arms of the God of the Universe, would feel physical and mental anguish every moment of every day but most keenly when, at least 4 times every single day, she had to drive over the bridge where they found her little boy.

393 comments:

1 – 200 of 393   Newer›   Newest»
Pam@OurAdventuresInHomeImprovement said...

My prayers are with you. I am so, so sorry.

Pam

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing this story. We are continuing to pray for you and we are all so so sorry.

Anonymous said...

Anna, I don't know you and came to your blog from another one around the time of your tragedy. Fifteen years ago, I lost a loved one too.
Hugs helped a lot, so here is yours, even if it's a virtual one.
(((((((((((( Anna))))))

Shauna said...

I am so sorry. No words. Just prayers.

Miss Mustard Seed said...

It is simply heartbreaking and words are not enough. We're praying for you and your family still.

Kim said...

You are so very brave Anna. I'm so sorry for your loss and feel your pain acutely while reading this. My heart is broken for you. Prayers that God continues to give you strength to deal with the pain.

Heidi said...

It must have hurt so much to write this. I'm sitting here with tears streaming down my face. You did what most of us do...letting our kids play and go off on adventures. That's what they're supposed to do. You couldn't have known. I love your love for Jack and Margaret.
Take care, dear Anna. Love you.

Charlene said...

what to say what to say, thank you for sharing, I was wondering what happened. I have been praying for you and will continue. I love the scripture, " we don't grieve like those who have no hope." Boy does that ring true. What a joy it will be to see them again, and we will. God Bless you and your family.

Lindsay said...

Remembering your family daily in my prayers. May God surround you all with His peace and wrap you tightly in His arms. Thinking of you all. Thank you for continuing to share your story.

The White Farmhouse said...

I wish that I could take you in my arms, lay your head on my shoulder and tell you what you are feeling is okay. There are so many "shoulda's" that you run across in your day to day lives. Some are small and dismissable. Some stay with you for the rest of your life as a hole in your heart. I cannot believe the amount of strength that you had to conjure up to write this account. I feel for you that you have the daily reminders of that fateful day. My heart and prayers go out to you. I don't think anyone would think bad of you for screaming and ranting. Even though I know it hurts, I think you being able to talk about Jack is very healthy. It may not feel like it now. I stare at his picture many times and am always amazed at how many people he has touched and continues to do so. What a great legacy. You may doubt your mothering, but you can't deny the fabulous job you've done and are continuing to do. His legacy is proof of that. Thank you for sharing your story. As always my thoughts and prayers are with you.

4suns4me said...

Thank you for sharing this with all of us. Your strength is amazing, and from what you write, I believe it is exactly what Jack would expect from you.

Anonymous said...

Oh Anna!! I'm so, so sorry for you, T, & M in losing Jack !! Love of life, love of Jack, love for the Lord Jesus, love of your family, and friends; these things will help you and your family survive this tragedy. Life can turn tragic in just the blink of an eye as you so carefully noted. Thanks for sharing this with us. You are a strong, confident, Christian mom and you are LOVED. ~Lou

Lissa said...

I'm so sorry. I am praying for your family's healing and peace.

Anonymous said...

thank you so much for sharing such an unbearable experience. please know that there are many, many out here thinking of all four of you, and hoping to help carry your burden in some small way. good for you for being the kid of mom that lets her kids go play, even when it's raining. jack truly lived a blessed life. <3

Tracy said...

Tonight, while reading this I cried with you. Please know that your community has rallied around you and your family. We offer all our love and support. I hope that this helps, even just a little.

Karen said...

Oh Anna! Prayers and blessings for your sweet family during this hell. My you continually feel the comfort only the Lord can give you.

Keep writing. It helps.

Laura said...

Thank you for sharing. My heart breaks for you.

Jenny@daysofchalkandchocolate said...

I will continue to pray for your family. I'm so sorry this happened and it's not fair. It feels so wrong for you to have to endure this. I wish I could change it for you.

Marlo said...

Your strength amazes and inspires. God bless you and your family, today and every day.

Erica & Betsy said...

I have no words. Only tears and prayers. You and your family are in my heart.

Erica

Ellen Stewart (aka Ellie/El/e/Mrs. Seaman) said...

Jack's death was not your fault.

Robin LeTourneau said...

Oh Anna.... praying every day for you and yours...

Robin

Marinka said...

I'm crying with you, Anna. And praying for your family. I so wish I had the words and the ability to make things better.

My prayers are with you.

Anonymous said...

No words.....

Prayers and more prayers and love and more love,
Lisa G.

LauraBeth said...

Anna... I haven't posted to you yet, but I have read every one of your posts. And you, Tim, and precious Margaret have been in my constant prayers and thoughts.

With love, from across town, Laura

Debby@Just Breathe said...

Reading your words breaks my heart and I know your heart was in the most excruciating pain and fear that a parent could feel that night. I am so sorry for your loss and feel so sad that you have to live with this vision of the night your Jack went to Heaven to be with God. He knows how hard your tried and we know that as parents we do not give warning for things that would normally never happen. You are a loving and caring parent who has nothing to be sorry for so please don't think that way. Keeping you in my prayers.

Meredith said...

Thank you for sharing this with us. I can't imagine how you were able to write it..but thank you. I'm sooo very sorry. I'm praying for you.

Christy said...

I wish I could take some of your pain away. I am so heartbroken for you. I feel so helpless, so I'm just continuing to send you love and hugs and prayers dear Anna. I can't stop the tears tonight.

Theresa said...

Words fail. God and bold love prevail.
Big hugs and lots of love-

Theresa

Martha said...

I think of you often and pray for peace and comfort. ((hugs))

Jessica said...

I am so, so sorry. You are all in my prayers.

Sharon @ Elizabeth & Co. said...

I am so sorry for your loss Anna. I am keeping your family in my thoughts and prayers.

Anonymous said...

Hi,

I am just a total stranger who heard what happened to your family on the news. I am sorry for your loss and in awe of your family's strength.

alexandra said...

This was the most wrenching thing I have ever read. I am truly heartbroken for you and your wonderful family. I just wanted you to know that we are out here and thinking of you all and praying. Thank you for sharing this with us, and for increasing our own faith through yours.

Just Words On A Page said...

Anna - I am going to be honest and tell you that I don't know what to say to you other than I am so very sorry, and that I can feel your heart breaking. My heart is breaking with you. I know I don't know you. I am virtually a stranger who wishes she knew you so I could reach out and hug you, love you, and hold you. All I can do is pray for you, your family and know in my heart of heart that your sweet boy is with my two daughters in heaven with God. God, I am so sorry.

Erin said...

Thank you for sharing. I can't imagine how difficult that was to do. I'm so very sorry for your loss. There are just no other words.

OSMA said...

Anna, I admire you so much for writing through the accounts of the worst day of your life here. I hope it is some comfort to know that so many of us would've done the exact same things you did that night, right down to the yoga pant conversation you had in your head. My heart still aches for your entire family every single day. You cross my mind so often and each time I say a silent prayer and pray the things I don't understand about heaven and earth show themselves to you so that your Jack's presence is never very far. Sending much much love and strength.
Erin

Meredith Self said...

Oh, how I loved playing in the rain as a kid. And playing at the creek. I'm so sorry for your loss and heartache. Loving you all.

Amy said...

Please know that you and your family have been in my prayers since Momastery brought me here after Jack's memorial service. My heart continues to hurt for you.

Hillarie said...

Anna,

My heart aches for your loss. Much love for you and your family.

Cindy S said...

There are no words.

Thank you for having the strength to share your story. I hope the words are healing for you. We are all holding those closest to us a little tighter and we thank you, and Jack, for that gift.

Cynthia said...

Unbearable. I weep for you. I love you so much. I love your love for Jack and Margaret.

luv2run said...

Sending you a HUGE HUG, ARMS WRAPPED TIGHT AROUND YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!

I ran across that bridge a week ago, stopped and said a prayer for your beautiful Jack!!!! I am sure to do this often!

luv2run

Kate Coveny Hood said...

I've been carrying this story around in my purse since you gave it to me. As hard as I know it was to write, I'm glad you posted it. So many people have been thinking and wondering about what you've been going through. This provides not just information, but a little insight into...all of it... What "in an instant" really means. What it's like to be part of a string of events leading to the worst outcome imaginable. What it must feel like to live through something so hard to just read...

In the end, this gives others just a little understanding. And I have to believe that it will help them (me) know how to support you better. How to pray for you better.

You were so brave to write this and to share it. I love you.

Momastery said...

there are no words that properly offer the awe this essay deserves. the honesty, the precise and brilliant writing, the putting into words that which is supposed to be impossible to describe.

anna, i don't know. i don't understand any of it. i just love you, and respect the hell out of you.

I'm so grateful that God gave you the gift of writing.

G

Susan said...

I can only imagine how difficult this was to recount. Let alone write down.
It is amazing.
I feel like I was there ~ and can only imagine the horror.
I continue to think of both you and your family daily.

Lou Cinda @ Tattered Hydrangeas said...

Anna, there simply are no words...my heart breaks for you....knowing that I have done and said the same things to my boys....it is so hard to warn them against things we cannot fathom ever happening....many many prayers have been said and will continue to be said for you and your family....

Lou Cinda

Cassie @ Primitive & Proper said...

what a heart-wrenching account, anna. my heart breaks for you. thank you for sharing the story and i hope it helps you heal in some small way. i know writing is therapeutic for me. i am also still praying for you and your family.

Anonymous said...

Anna,
I don't know what to say except I am so so sorry for your loss. Your words were so moving and truly offered me a glimpse into what that One Terrible Night was like for you. I am not sure what else to say except that you are in my thoughts and prayers.

Andie

Ann Imig said...

Anna,

I just want to say over and over and over me too--ALL OF US TOO.

We hedge bets, we caution against probably the wrong things, but we want to say yes and usually against our screams of fear within. They are so constant, if we always listened to them, our kids would never go anywhere, have any experience.

I thank you so much for your brutal honesty. I think I'm a bit of a fatalist too, and often feel I should be more hopeful more active more of a fighter.

I related to your every moment here. I saw myself making your decisions. My own kids have been injured on my watch--injuries that could've been fatal in the wrong set of circumstances.

Praying for peace for you from this vicious recounting of what ifs. Sometimes it is helpful to me when things happen to say to myself "it couldn't have been any other way" just to stop the endless questioning of myself.

Absolve yourself. This is a really good step.

Hugs,
Ann

Kelly Rojas said...

Praying for you continually. Thank you for sharing what happened that evening. You are such a brave woman and mom. I am heart broken for you and pray that you are able to find peace again as you walk through the rest of your life here on earth. Scripture tells us that our life here on earth will seem like the blink of an eye once we get to heaven. Your sweet beautiful boy will be waiting there for you and it will feel as though you were never without him.
Many many prayers for you and your family!
xo
Kelly Rojas

darcie said...

My heart breaks for you & yours...you have been on my mind & in my heart.
I'm so very very sorry.

Jill said...

You have experienced every parent's nightmare. I admire you for being able to share this story with us. I agree that we all want our children to have adventures and we all certainly cherish the time we have alone with our magazines. We don't expect awful things to happen. Do not beat yourself up. This was a horrible accident. Wish I could give you a big hug or hold your hand through this. Please know that my heart is with you and your family.

Anonymous said...

Reading your story recounting the horror of that night, I can only imagine the pain in your heart. we are all here for you and praying for your continued strength in the days to come. keep writing about Jack. xo Patty

Anonymous said...

I am amazed at your strength and your ability to share your innermost thoughts during this time. You share your most honest and raw emotions in a truly gifted way. I feel like I should say thank you for allowing me into this time in your life. I have no doubt that you have changed me and how I mother my children for the better after reading this blog. I truly think of you and your family each day. May God bless you and your family. You are an inspirational person and mother. Your love for your family is inspiring. We are strangers, but I read your blog and feel like I know you...I am so so sorry.

Anonymous said...

My heart breaks for you and your family...praying for you everyday and always thinking of your beautiful boy. He will never be forgotten...keeping you in my prayers everyday. xxoo

Yanet @ 3 Sun Kissed Boys said...

the biggest teary hug to you from me.

Stimey said...

It is really hard to breathe as I read this. I can only imagine how hard it has to be for you all of the time. I know how you must torture yourself with the what ifs and the could have beens. I hate that your family has to live with this terrible heartache. I am so sorry. I am so sorry.

Julia said...

A woman who let her 12 year old boy play in the rain...because that's what childhood is.

A woman who was the perfect mother to that perfect boy.

Thanks Anna, for using your gift of the written word to tell this story. You are not at fault. It was a terrible accident.

xoxo, Julia

Anonymous said...

I am so very, very sorry for your loss. My prayers are with you, Margaret and Tim.

Anonymous said...

I can't stop crying. For you. With you.

Your God-given gift with words has been with you during so many stages of your life. As a student, as a teacher, as a blogger and now, when it is needed most, as a grieving parent. Thank you for sharing Jack's story with us. I pray that you find some solace and catharsis through your writing and from the continued prayers and support of those who love you, myself included.

Colleen said...

There are just no words. None. And yet somehow you put words to this tragedy. Thank you for bearing your soul and letting us pray for you. My heart is broken for you.
colleen

Anonymous said...

Thank you Anna, for being brave for us. Us the people you hardly know, and other's you know well. I am one of those that you don't know. But, I am also one of the many who have had your family in my thoughts and prayers since this horrible evening took place. Please remember you were, and are a great parent, a parent I would have had no second thoughts in letting my children play in the rain with your children. Your love shines through in your stories and pictures. Please keep your stories coming, and let us know when you need us on those harder than usualy days, and even when you can't feel us or see us... we are thinking and caring about you and your family.

Christy

Anonymous said...

Thoughts, prayers and love are with all of you.

Metamorphosis of Me said...

I continue to pray for you and your family every day. There are so many days that have passed that you have weighed heavily on my mind and I just want to hug you and pray with you. Loss of a loved one, especially a child is inexplicably painful, but God is the ultimate healer and comforter. It's so easy to say that when things are going great, but when things are down it's another to believe it. I truly hope you are gradually getting peace and comfort...please know that your readers love you and are thinking and praying for you!

PeachPrenni said...

It's nice to think of his happiness and joy that evening; to know he was playing with those kids and having so much fun in the rain. Some of my happiest childhood memories are the times I got to play in the rain. And I know that God swept him up and embraced him quickly; I just know it. Thank you for sharing this story with us Anna..thank you for all that you share. I love you. I love your family. I'm praying. -Annie

NanaDiana said...

I hope this will lessen, just a bit, the ache in your heart and soul. How many times have we ALL forgot to say ONE LITTLE THING that we should have said and had it come back to haunt us? I cannot imagine the pain you are going through..made all the worse because it seems you are full of guilt. You are a Mom...mortal...loving...a regular old Mom. You did NOTHING wrong- NOTHING!

I am not going to tell you that it was HIS TIME. We heard that over and over again when we lost our granddaughter- it was HER TIME! That doesn't help one bit to hear that.

What did (and does) help will be for you to know how special, and wonderful, your son was. How much he is missed now and will always be missed. I know that there will always be a hole in your heart that no one on this Earth can fill. I know that you understand that someday, somehow, someway, you will be joined again.

I think one of the worst things is that people don't know WHAT to say-so they say nothing...they don't want to cause you pain so they are silent...and you think they have forgotten-or put it out of their minds. But-they haven't-they are just avoiding saying it aloud because it is too scary-and if it can happen to you-it can happen to them. You will have to forgive those that you love, and that love you, that seem to skirt the issue of Jack's loss.

I have a little trick I do- everytime I pass by the place our little one lies resting-I say Hello-I love you-Nana loves you-and just for a moment I feel connected. Maybe you can do something like that when you come to the bridge..offer up a little prayer-or a word of love.

God bless you in these upcoming hours, days and weeks as you begin to move forward in this life-You have lots of people here that love and support you..xo Diana

mgh said...

Oh, Anna. I am so sorry. I held my breath as I read this, my hand over my mouth... wishing again that the story would have a different ending.

A week or so before Jack went out to play for the last time, Savannah got "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas" on netFlix. I had been disappointed when I walked in the room to see the end of the movie -- she was watching it for school and I wanted to see it with her. I came in just before the mother began looking for her son in the rain. I remember thinking, at the time, that the actress who portrayed the mother was wonderful in a horrible sort of way. I felt her rising panic and incomprehensible anguish in that moment when she knew the truth about her son. When it was over I told Savannah to put it in the mail... I didn't need to watch it from the beginning because I wasn't sure I could handle that scene again.
That image has came rushing back at me when I heard about Jack. In my mind I could see you running through the woods. It was then that I realized the actress, the photography, even the music could not express the fullness of that kind of pain. I am so sorry you had to live that scene... it was meant for the movies.

Still thinking about you with every raindrop -- which is a lot around here! And now every time I cross a bridge. With love and prayers.

Beth J said...

I'm so sorry. There's just nothing more I can say.

Thank you for sharing your story.

Sara said...

(((((((((((((Anna)))))))))))))))

I'm sorry.

The Carens Clan said...

Anna,
I am so very sorry. I cannot stop thinking of you and your family. I'm so heartbroken for you all. You are constantly in my prayers and will remain there. Please remember that there are so many of us praying for you. Seeing your strength through your words has been such an inspiration to me, as a mom and as a Christian. Continue to lean on God, one day He will reunite you with Jack in His Kingdom of Heaven.

Pam Priester said...

Through my tears, Anna, what I see in you (whether in person or in writing) is an amazing woman of God: one who is strong and courageous and faithful (Joshua 1:9). I am humbled and blessed to experience your gift of the written word that the Lord has given you; it is powerful. Thank you for sharing with us the raw and horrible details. Yes, my heart is broken over your broken heart. But, you are a glorious witness that our God is a faithful One, even in times that are too hard to bear. You are an amazing mother -- and your husband and children are blessed (Proverbs 31: 10-31). Continuing to send love and prayers....

Sara said...

http://thespohrsaremultiplying.com/heather/how-to-grieve/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TheSpohrsAreMultiplying+%28The+Spohrs+Are+Multiplying...%29&utm_content=Google+Reader

She lost her daughter. Her list is good. I'm sorry I don't know what else to do.

Cat Alford said...

Oh Anna - I don't even know what to say...... only that I am thinking of you all the time.

xoxo
Cat

the mama bird diaries said...

Anna - I just don't know what to say. You are human. You are a wonderful mother. You did nothing wrong. His death is not your fault. This is all true. I so wish I could take away your pain. xo

Shell Flower said...

Don't feel guilty for letting your kids be kids. Better they fall out in the rain than whither inside in front of the television. You might not feel that way at the moment, but you were being a good mom letting your kids play outside. If we lived our lives in constant fear with the utmost precaution, bad things would still happen. We're not in control of this life as much as we'd like to be. Still sending you good vibes. Thanks for sharing this story. Jack's stairway to heaven is under that bridge.

Jim Rosen said...

I am so sorry for your loss. It takes a lot of courage to share this story as well as talent. You sound like a wonderful mother. I will continue to remember you and your family in my prayers.

Ms. Molly said...

Anna, I think of you and your family often. My prayers are with you, I'm so sorry for your loss.

MK Gregory said...

Love to you and your family. No one should have to endure what you are enduring with such Grace and honesty. I don't often pray, and I have prayed for you every day since this happened. You, and Jack, have touched so many.
Love,
MK

Anonymous said...

I have never commented on a blog before but want you to know that nothing you did was wrong. You did exactly what I would have done, let my kids play outside. I know it will be hard but please, please don't blame yourself. I am so sorry for your loss.

Kristina P. said...

No one can beat yourself up better that you can, yourself. You an amazing mother, lucky to have Jack, and he was lucky to have you.

mariellen said...

I wish I could hold your hand as you cross that bridge.

bonzo said...

Anna,

I am in awe of you and your writing. And I am devastated by your loss. My heart and belly ache for you. You were saying YES to fun and to getting wet and to LIFE. What happened is a sickening tragedy, and it is not your fault. I admire you so much. I am so, so, so sorry.

Please keep writing.

With much love,

bonzo

Josie said...

I am so sorry, Anna.

Mo said...

I am so, so sorry for your loss. My brother died suddenly about a year ago. I think about my mom driving to his house after getting that horrible phone call. She, like you having to cross the bridge, has to drive that road several times a day. When I visit her and have to drive that route myself, it takes my breath away. I don't know how she does it. And I don't know how you do it. Or how you are able to write so beautifully about your terrible, terrible loss. Hopefully you feel the love and prayers of friends and strangers that surround you.

Anonymous said...

Anna, ..I just wanted to let you know that I think Jack's childhood sounds wonderful, here in NYC I very often long for my kids to have independence and the ability to just go out and play. I pretty much think about it and feel guilt everyday at four o'clock when they come home from school..because that is what kids love to do. I am so sorry for your horrible loss and I am confident that you will see him again in heaven.

Kim Elkins said...

Please know your little boy's life has changed mine.

Beth Darrow Condon said...

Anna, thank you for sharing this. As a mom myself, I think over the dozens of moments that "could have" gone the way this moment did, with my own boys (6 and 3). You take precautions, but there are still those moments...lost in a store, crossing the street, playing in the waves...it could be any of us. I can relate to the thoughts running through your mind at the time, and am amazed at the clarity of your memory, and your forthrightness. You, and Jack, are touching thousands of lives, and you are inspiring me to do more NOW with my kids. I hope you are feeling more peace each day.
Hugs from Alabama,
Beth Darrow Condon

Julie said...

No words. Prayers, prayers and more prayers.

Erin said...

Thank you for sharing your story. I hope that in writing about the events of that tragic evening you find some catharsis or peace. Indeed you did nothing wrong. You said YES to fun and life that night when you told your kids to go get wet and have fun. And you are continuing to say YES to life every day by honoring Jack's memory and being an amazing role model for your daughter and us all. I have so much respect and awe for how you are handling the unimaginable. I am thinking of you and praying for your family.
Erin

Jayme said...

I don't know you, but I am sending you more love than I have to give. Thank you for being brave enough to share your story with us, so that we may share your pain, and relieve you of some of the burden, if only for a second.

Anonymous said...

Anna,

Your grief breaks my heart, but your words amaze me. I don't know you, but of course I almost feel like I do after reading your beautiful words on your blog. I cannot imagine what this feels like, and I will not try to say I understand how you feel.

There is one thing that I can somewhat relate to, and that is the feelings of guilt and regret about a loved one's death, in my case my father's. All I can say is that you bear no responsibility at all for Jack's death, and I hope that you will be able to find peace with yourself over your feelings of guilt. God had a plan for Jack, and this was it. It was not your actions that facilitated or could have prevented the outcome; it was God's. Every single thing that you did, thought, and said that night, as you wrote about here, was EXACTLY what any mother would do. We cannot protect children from everything in life, especially something so impossibly unforseeable, a tiny creek that no one would ever expect to rage into a flash flood at the exact moment their child is playing by it.

So of course you let him play in the rain--you are a mother, and good mothers do let their children go out and play with their friends in the neighborhood, let them have that little bit of freedom to grow, and let them be happy. Because playing in the rain makes kids so inexplicably, deliriously happy! And of course you wanted to let him stay out there just a little bit longer, even if you thought you possibly heard thunder, because you knew how happy he was out there, and because you could not possibly have ever known what was going to happen. You did not make any wrong decisions, you did not fall short in any way, and you must learn to forgive yourself, to know that you are only a victim of these unknowable circumstances, just like Jack. And so I think it is strangely fitting that your last interaction with Jack, your last parenting moment with him, was to make a decision (the exact right decision) that made him so wonderfully happy. And it is likewise so perfect that Jack's death, tragic as it was, happened while he was doing what he loves--just what he SHOULD have been doing, as a kid--playing in the rain! The fact that his last moments were spent in the blissful, childish innocence of playing in the rain with neighborhood friends--and that you, his mother, gave him that chance to have his last moments be a rush of happiness and excitement--well, isn't that God's work right there?

Thinking and praying for you daily,
Ashley

K A B L O O E Y said...

You took us to a place no mother can imagine, except in our literal nightmares. It would be heartbreaking to read in a novel; to know this is you going through this moment by moment torment is crushing. You write with such candor and humanity, Anna. I'm honored you shared this with us. It is an account I will never forget. Bless you, Margaret and Tom. We are all so, so sorry for your loss. Know Jack's story now lives in all of us.

Kirsten said...

I've been staring at my screen trying to think of just the right thing to say. I know there probably is no "right thing."

This hurts my heart to read. It hurts that you have to experience this and it is not fair.

stephanie moors said...

thank you for writing this. i cannot even imagine what you experience every time you cross that bridge. i have an idea of how it feels to lose a child as my baby came so close to dying a few months ago. but i have no idea what it feels like to live with that loss every day.
i am so very moved by your honesty. and i just want to join with the rest of the world and tell you that what happened to jack was not because of bad parenting. he was clearly a loved and protected little boy. he was blessed to have you as a mama.
i still pray for you every time i remember jack's story. my kids mention you often. you are in our thoughts. i can't even find the words i want to use so i'm just going to say this: i'm in it with you. even if you can't see me or hear me, i'm holding you up by crying out to Jesus on your behalf.
Jesus. Jesus. Jesus.

jessica said...

Anna, I do not know you personally, and I know this all sounds trivial in the pain you are facing, but beginning of this past summer, my 5 year old daughter was diagnosed with Leukemia. Completely out of the blue.

Yes, I still have her, and I am so sorry you don't have your Jack here on earth anymore, but looking back for me, I found such a comfort in writing about the pain {via blog}, heartache, and asking God why. I write about things that I've found to be encouraging to me through my pain. I believe you are made an 'overcomer' by the word of your testimony. I also wonder {and believe} when God takes one of his children to live with him, if He was looking down the road of time, and decided to save them from something a whole lot worse? I don't know if you could/would find some sort of comfort in that thought, but that is what has helped me deal with the pain.

Thank you for choosing to share such a touching story. I continue to pray for you and your family through all this!

Hugs & Prayers,
~*Jessica

Anonymous said...

Anna, my dear, Anna. I am so so sorry. Prayers are continuing. Wish I could hug you. Amy

Brianne said...

Adding my hugs to the rest of those given here. Thank you for sharing this, I know it must have been incredibly difficult.

Anonymous said...

Dee from Tennessee

Still praying, still praying. (Sitting here just with my thoughts...so so so sorry. Really no words to express the depth of my feelings.)

Anonymous said...

Anna, you are not a defeatist! you are getting out of bed and going to the dentist and soccer practices! You are continuing to live and care about life and your daughter. Which is what your beautiful boy would want you to do.

Anonymous said...

I hope that your family can find an instant, and ounce of comfort. This is truly unimaginable.

Tasha said...

Reading this post brought out such a genuine physical response from me. As you described the events in which you waited longer than you normally would, I saw myself. My hands began to shake.

As you described how you are a defeatist, I saw myself. I have the tendency to assume the worst or even expect it. I started to sweat.

When you got to the part where you described what your home was like after the news and how you kept telling your husband how sorry you were, I had to hunch over and sob.

I am sorry beyond words for your family.

I am sorry you have to drive over that bridge.

I am so sorry.

LauraC said...

Oh Anna, your selfless act of writing takes my breath away. So personal, so excruciating, and yet you shared anyway. Thank you. I keep thinking of Gen.5:24, "Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away." It makes me think how special Jack must have been; God wanted him with him, so he took him away. I'm so, so sorry for your loss, your pain. But I am also so thankful for your amazing testimony of faith, which tried and tested is proved gold. God is glorified. I continue to pray for you, Tim and Margaret, every single day.

Anonymous said...

You had absolutely no way of knowing this would happen. You are not to blame. You did everything you could have done and more. You are a brilliant mother.

KelBel said...

You have just given me the greatest gift-- a large heaping dose of perspective. God has definitely just used your testimony to quell the pettiness in my own heart at this time.

You are in our prayers. Thanks for the courage it took to write this.

Anonymous said...

Anna, we're still praying for you and asking for peace for your family. Thank you for sharing your story with us.

Donna said...

But you did everything right! You watched him, you warned him, you loved him, and you let him run free. You saw him, spinning in his uniform and smiling, and you have to know that he was joyous in that moment. There is no way you could have prevented this, no need to count the seconds. But of course you do, because you're his mom. You did everything right, honey. Prayers your way from here.

Anonymous said...

Oh, dear Anna, I'm so sorry. I can tell by reading through your blog that you are such a loving and mindful Mom. I'm lifting your family in prayers throughout the day. May God wrap all of you in His arms and hold you tightly. You are brave for sharing the way you do with all of us. Thank you.

Lynn said...

I don't know what to say except to say that I pray for your entire family so often. I cannot imagine what you are going through. Please know that there are so many people sending prayers your way.

The Woven Moments said...

Sending you so much love. I hope the outpouring here can help shoulder some of the burden. Lots of love and light headed your way from Richmond.

Angie @ The Country Chic Cottage said...

Continued prayers for you...

luv2run said...

Woke up this morning still not calm from reading last this post last night. Was talking to my husband about what happened and we both agree that YOU DID NOTHING WRONG!! I would have done the same thing if friends showed up to get my two boys. That's what kids do!!!! Those are suppose to be little treats of life...running, splashing around in the rain!!

PLEASE DO NOT beat yourself up as you are NOT the only mother who would have let their kids go out!!!!!

Sending positive vibes your way!!!

luv2run

Anonymous said...

Anna, defeatist is actually not the word. What you are describing is the strength of acceptance, not weakness. At such a young age you stood with your mom until the end, and you had the courage to let her go in peace. I think that is a beautiful gift to her. And it sounds like your mommy saving instincts didn't fold up, they rose up. Rose up to protect the rest of your precious family. It took courage to turn that car around. What would other mothers do? Another mother just might have thrown herself into that creek in despair and desperation. But if you'd done that, you probably wouldn't be here to help your daughter through this terrible time. It's part of your role as Jack's mother to second guess yourself. But hopefully you see from all of these comments that no one else second guesses you. It could have been any of us. Thank you for sharing your family's story. I hope that when you lay your burdens down here, we can help you carry them.

Tracey - Just Another Mommy Blog said...

You did nothing wrong. NOTHING. I know my words mean little, but you sound like you are a mother who encourages her children to love life and live it fully. Playing in the rain is one of life's simple pleasures and you had NO IDEA it would become so horrific.

I am so sorry for this incredible loss. Many prayers of love and hope for peace for your whole family...

Annie said...

Anna, I don't know if this will help or not. But I am the world's biggest helicopter parent and avoid many risks others wouldn't hesitate to take. But there is no way...no way... I would have done anything other than make the exact same decision you did. Play in the rain? Of course! It wasn't a bad decision. It was the really the only reasonable natural one to make for kids your kids age. Jack was the victim of bad luck. Nothing else.

Tales & Blessings said...

Please read "1000 Gifts" by Ann Voskamp, I think it will be really healing to read. I am so terribly sorry for your horrific loss. I have a 6 year old little boy named Jack and he disappeared this summer by being lured away by a neighbor boy. I had all the feelings you described and went through the same emotions. Thankfully he returned an hour, 10 police and many tears later. You and your family will be in my prayers.

Paula said...

Oh Anna. This was hard to read, so know it must have been anguish to write. You have said you are living our nightmare, but in reading this, I think it's because you are living our lives. I know i would have made all of those same decisions you did down to letting kids play in the rain and reading the magazine, esp letting it go on too long. My car broke down once on the way to preschool, a road I had driven nearly every day for 4 years and in my flustered state I couldn't remember the name of the road - just couldn't. I get that, I don't think there's any way you could have remembered the name of that road. I pray for you, T & M so many times a day. May you continue to grieve knowing you are held up in prayer by so many.

Katrina Jackson said...

I hope you find peace and comfort in what has to be the worst nightmare of any Mother. My heart goes out to you. My prayers are with you. I am deeply sorry for your loss.

Anonymous said...

God bless you and your family.

Leah C said...

Dear Anna, I can't think of any words that would help or that haven't already been expressed here in the comments. Saying sorry just doesn't seem like enough, but I'll say it anyway. I am so, so sorry. I'm crying, I'm praying, and like so many others, I'm wishing I could turn back the clock. But I can't...all I can do is offer the love & support of a stranger. Thank you for sharing your story; you are truly stronger & braver than you think. Hugs & prayers...

ella said...

Oh Anna. This broke my heart and left me crying myself to sleep. I'd blame you for my swollen eyelids this morning but you have enough on your plate.

I am so moved, so touched by your words. They must have been so difficult to write, and yet I image there was some measure of comfort getting it all out.

Please know you are not carrying this tremendous burden on your own. I turned the car radio on this morning and Rascal Flatt's "Won't Let Go" was just coming on....and the tears started again. For someone I've never met, no less. I'm so grateful for the friends you have on here, the people who really can 'dry your eyes and fight your fight'.

Hugs from Kentucky.

missy said...

Oh Anna. I am sobbing right along with you this morning as I read this. I am so thankful that you are now walking in the strength that I'm sure even you didn't know you possessed. You might not feel it, but girl, it's there, or even breathing would be impossible after going through this.

But please, please stop blaming yourself. It is all over this post and it breaks my heart. THIS IS NOT YOUR FAULT.

Sending all of my love. ((HUG))
Missy from Toledo

Anonymous said...

I am praying for you and your family. You are a loving mother and did not cause his death. I believe God has a plan for you guys. Right now it is hard to see it or even care what it is (you ache for your boy!) but trust in Him. Try to find solace in the time you did have together though I know you will miss him every day forever. Prayers for peace and comfort to you.....

NancyS said...

Anna - my online search for wisdom and hope led me to your blog and information about your family's devastating loss. I am sorry for your family and community. We lost our beloved son Eric in August just weeks shy of his senior year in high school. Our daughter too has become an only child. Joy, despair -- how little I appreciated what these words truly meant. The first seems impossible to attain again because of a certain level of innocence and naivete that it seems to require. As for despair, what little credit I gave to the depths of emotion the word alludes to . . . a ditch, a gully, a ravine, a chasm . . . yes it is bottomless. How sadly apt for us these terms -- it was down a ravine that my son fell while exploring the area around our family's vacation home in the mountains of Virginia after coming out to family communing on the deck overlooking a peaceful and panoramic vista and saying, "I think I'm going to check out that road." And I too said words to the effect of "Go For It". We had no idea that a deep ravine was at the end of the path off the long driveway -- yes, definitely off our "radar". I feel I spent 17+ years warning my son of so many dangers that we all know exist for our children and the one I should have warned about . . . I did not. Your story of your tragic day and night is achingly familiar to me in all its nuances . . . as is your community's response. So where do we go from here? I know that I could not get through these days without the family and community that are there for us. And I am praying that our beloved boy is in a place with no sorrow or pain and that one day we will all be reunited in His presence. I pray the same for Jack and for your family. God Bless.

Leah C said...

I had to come back and comment again because I have a confession to make: Each morning before my girls leave for school, I silently take note of the clothes they are wearing...just in case they go missing or something. Anna, I'm the kind of mom who questions her choices on a daily basis, who worries herself silly. And I'm also a mom who knows that there isn't a parent alive who should {would}question your judgment or the decisions you made that tragic night. Losing Jack was not your doing. My love & and prayers--

falcofamilypictures said...

My heart hurts for you. I can imagine it was incredibly painful and yet a small release to tell your story.

Anonymous said...

Anna,

Good God. What a gift you have. To express your pain, heartache and utter grief. so, so beautiful.
This essay took my breath away. truly.
I'm praying for you and your sweet family, dear one.

Love,
Miss Molly

Jen@ADropintheBucket said...

Can't imagine your pain. My mother lost her daughter in a drowning accident at nine years of age. That would be why I am here on earth at all (born 2 years to the day after the event). I can't imagine my mother's pain, especially now that I am a parent, and I can't imagine yours. All of my thoughts and prayers are with you that you find peace and joy in your memories and life with your daughter and husband.

NTH said...

You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.

Steph said...

I wish I could come through this screen and hug you. Of course you let your son play in the rain. You could NOT have known what would happen. Please, oh please, be kind to yourself. Imagine what you would say to a mother in your situation. Then say it to yourself. Over and over again until you know it is true. I am praying that you and your family find peace. Much love.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your story. I hope your words can be the beginning of your journey towards healing.

I don't understand how things like this can be.. I do know that as parents, we do what we CAN. We instruct, guide, protect, where we are able. We cannot make every decision for our kids. We must let them go out in the world. As others more elequently wrote, I hope you'll find some space to absolve yourself. Our hearts and thoughts are with you!

Loukia said...

This story, your pain, your reality, will never ever leave my mind. I don't even know what to say, but I am choked up, tears flowing, and wishing, praying, that this was not the outcome for you. I am so so so so sorry. I can feel your pain. I can't imagine how painful it was to write this, but thank you. Because we all care and we are all praying for your family.

Kara said...

Words cannot express my sorrow for you and your family. I have prayed for your family every day since I stumbled onto your blog. This horrific thing that has happened to you boggles the mind - how quickly things can change, how fragile this all is. I don't know if it's a comfort, but even after reading the tragic details of how your sweet boy left this world I still find myself thinking more of how he lived in it. The fact that you shared God's love with him and he lived it out in your family and community has reminded me how important it is to share that with my children; to be intentional with what I share with them about God and his word. God bless you and your family.

Issas Crazy World said...

No words today. Just tons of love and prayers.

Lady Jennie said...

Thank you for sharing your story Anna. I'm crying but am still glad to know it.

Prayers and tears and hugs and love.

Clare said...

Anna, I come back every day. I am in awe that you shared this story with the world. My heart hurts but the hurt is an incomparable fraction of the hurt that yours is feeling. I am so so sorry.

Jenny said...

Like so many others I am just humbled by your honesty and grace, your ability to share such a gut wrenching account just leaves me speechless and in tears. My prayers continue to go out to you and your beautiful daughter and husband. This tragedy has touched so many people. Saying I am sorry for your loss just seems so insignificant, but it is all I have to offer. My prayers are with you all.

Erika said...

You are an amazingly strong woman Anna. I do not know you, but I know that you are my sister...we are are all children of a loving Father in heaven. And I, with countless other brothers and sisters (should we know you yet or not) are praying for your strength, your healing, and your happiness (and that of your families). Thank you for sharing this and so many of your stories with us, your strength and faith inspire and your realness is beautiful.

Delenn said...

You are a mom and you did mom things. You did what you could. I am so sorry.

Anonymous said...

love to your family. i can relate to Margaret as I too lost my only sibling at the age of 8. please remind her that she's not an only child and Jack will ALWAYS be her brother and the love will ALWAYS remain. may your loving memories bring you comfort during this beyond difficult time and always. xo kjk

anymommy said...

I am so sorry, Anna. So much love to you and healing and light.

A Speckled Trout said...

I had an incident with my kids and the creek across the street. My daughter escaped with a concussion, but I can tell you every detail of that day, including how five minutes before the knock on the door, I thought about going over there to bring them in. Five minutes after that, the wail of sirens seemed to come from every direction.

She remembers none of it and the next day asked me if she could go back there, which was met with a firm "hell no". She responded by saying, "I just want to say that before I hit my head and blacked out, that was the most fun I ever had."

Fun for a kid in a harmless creek is rarely equated with tragedy until it is. Before that happened, maybe Jack was having the most fun ever, and that's because his mother said "yes" like we've all done a thousand times over.

Wing and prayers, Anna, wing and prayers.

MarkL said...

Anna, it was so courageous of you to write this. You help us all to grieve with you. I hardly know you and Tim, and I never met Jack. But like so many others, this has touched me deeply, and I'm hurting, hurting, hurting with you all.

Yes, we feel your sorrow acutely when we think of your family, as you mentioned in a previous post. But who would ever wish it to be otherwise? It is our privilege to follow our Lord in this, and bear one another's burdens. In a world where twelve-year old boys are torn from their families, what would we have left if we did not testify in this way to something beyond our tragically contingent horizon?

This is in part what it means to be a community. This happened to all of us, and we couldn't turn away from it any more than you could. All the many little hurts that form the fabric of our existence come into focus through the lens of this great big hurt, and now we know for sure this world is not our home.

We will continue hurting and hoping with you. We talk about Jack in our family, and what we can learn from his life and his death. He will have some share in the good that I trust God will do in our family as our kids grow up. We will continue to remember Jack in this way, and we will ever hold you all in our prayers.

The Shades of Pink said...

I am so so sorry

Nicole said...

I love you and I love your family and lift you up in prayer at every opportunity. Thank you for sharing your grief and your heart and your light. They are all treasures.

From the Kitchen said...

This was very hard for me to read as a mother and a person who cares deeply. I really don't know what else to say that would, in any way, help you. I will just say, once again, that I do care.

Bonnie

Anonymous said...

Sweet Anna. I am so sorry for your loss. My heart aches for you.

I think about you and your beautiful Jack all of the time and keep you in my prayers daily. I know you will reunite with him one day.

Love across the miles to you and your family.

Anonymous said...

I am stranger who heard of your story and I just wanted you to know all 4 of you are in my prayers. I am so sorry for your loss and wish I could comfort you in some other way. I am a mother too and I cannot imagine what you're feeling. Prayers to you and yours.

breathe said...

i am SO SO grateful for your courage, strength, bravery - and generosity of spirit - to share this with us. you have such a gift and talent with words, with being able to use language to communicate what we all feel, so that we can identify, know that we are not alone, that we are understood. the way you have described your experience of this particular kind of grief - it is a perfect expression of what so many of us go through and don't know how to describe. thank you. it breaks my heart that we cannot stop ourselves from questioning, regretting, wondering, the "what-if", "if only" - it's SO gut-wrenchingly painful. i know so many parents who rob their children of the normal experiences of childhood - the adventures, the fun, the memories - childhood! - because they are so terrified of something happening. they don't let their children go anywhere to do anything, out of fear, trying to protect them, which of course, we can't ever really do. and even when they do all of that, and are as rigid, conservative, careful -life still happens. so, i am grateful that you allowed your son to be a boy, to taste life, to have fun, to experience being. the image that you shared of him, in the rain, spinning with a big smile on his face - that experience of being happy in that moment, that's a gift. thank you for sharing everything that you have with us - so huge-hearted, huge-spirited generosity - because we need to let each other know that somehow, these tragedies will be survived, somehow. wishing you and your family all the love, tender mercy, grace, blessing, relief and comfort that can possibly be.

wratwrds said...

You're in my prayers, darling mom. ox

@writewrds

Child of God said...

Anna,
How painful this must have been to write. My heart just aches for you and your family. The pain you are going through is so much, I read it in the perfectly chosen words in this post. I wish I could say something to help ease the sorrow but the only thing I can offer is really not mine to give but only for the Lord Jesus to give to you. Love. His never ending pure love. Embrace. His warm, comforting embrace. Peace. His reassuring peace that this is not your fault but His timing.

Thank you for sharing, my heart is just breaking for your pain.

Praying,
<><

for a different kind of girl said...

Anna...I don't often think about the word 'brave' or what it means to be such, but reading this made me think about it, and I think you are brave. I also think you're strong. To share your son with us, to share this story. I can't imagine that any part of it was easy to write, but that you did was brave and strong. That you did it so beautifully, I think, is a testament to your grace even if you don't feel that sometimes. I don't think any of us, as parents, ever really, really want to spend time thinking about what if's when our kids are being, purely and simply, kids. This is not something you could have foreseen, and I wish I could do anything to help take any pain you feel about that away. You were being a mom to two kids who, I think it's clear, love you so very much. You were letting them be kids who explore and create and have adventures. I know this isn't the ending to the story you wanted for Jack, but I get the feeling that Jack's story has a good, never-ending, incredibly inspiring message that will continue.

I say a prayer for you all every day, and send you a hug across this connection. Much love, Anna.

Jen said...

I read your post last night and haven't stopped thinking of what I wanted to say since. What I have taken away from all of your posts is your unwavering faith and the fact that your faith is so instilled in your children. I can only hope that my children have faith like yours.

Reenie said...

I don't even know what to say....thank you for sharing your story, and thank you for sharing Jack with us. He was definitely a special little guy.

My continued thoughts and prayers are with you.

xo

Anonymous said...

You are living every mothers worst nightmare. I can't even imagine how you get through each day, I suppose you just put one foot in front of the other and breath, after all what else can you do...

Anonymous said...

There are no words, I think and pray for you and your family daily....Gina

Anonymous said...

I don't know you Anna but I wanted to thank you for sharing this. That was so powerful. It's plain to see that you are a writer. Keep writing. Maybe a little bit of your pain will be lessened when it's shared. Praying for better days ahead for you.

Anonymous said...

I heard "If I Die Young" by the Band Perry today on the radio and immediately thought of you. Some of the words in that song sound as if they were written for you and your achingly beautiful son.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anna,
I am probably not the only one here who feels somehow connected to you.

You write so beautifully and honestly, it's very healing, and I imagine especially for those of us who have suddenly and unexpectedly lost someone we love very much.

Your kids are so playful and witty. I love reading your blogs, I can feel your love for them in every post. You're so funny and smart and brave, and I am thinking of you every day hoping that you and your family are taking some comfort in wonderful memories of Jack.

Michelle said...

Ever since iI learned about youyou on SM, I think about you and pray for you every day. This hurts my heart so much. I'm obsessed with hoping you and your family are ok. Please be well.

Anonymous said...

Please don't blame yourself for this horrific accident. It's not your fault. It's not your fault. It's not your fault. It's not your fault.

It was an accident. A terrible, horrible accident. It's not your fault.

You are a wonderful mother!

I think your story is touching so many lives because it could be us. It truly could have been or still can be one of us. It's unimaginable and when I let myself 'go there' with one of my 3 kids, I freeze and I know I would not be able to continue living. You are amazing and inspiring and we love you!

Anonymous said...

What you and your family is going through is heartbreaking.
May your faith and family and friends help you at this unimaginable and tragic time. My thoughts and prayers are with you. I'm so sorry for your loss...

Julie B. said...

I feel inadequate to even leave a comment; for there simply isn't a comment that would provide any comfort. To even imagine what your mommy-heart must be feeling; both now and during the nightmare you endured, is almost impossible. Words fail me. I am simply a stranger who is so, so very sorry that you are going through what you are going through. As a mom of a son, no one will ever know how close we are to our little guys. I pray that God will bring you comfort in these hell-ish days. Jack is such a precious boy!

twoonlychildren said...

Bless you, your daughter, your husband, and Jack's friends. I wish you could all un-live, un-see, and un-know all this tragedy.

twoonlychildren said...

Bless you, your daughter, your husband, and Jack's friends. I wish you could all un-live, un-see, and un-know all this tragedy.

Mediterrangirl said...

Thinking of you and you family on a daily basis, dear Anna. You are not alone as you walk this unimaginable path. Anyone of us could have had the same fate that aweful evening. I admire your big heart but above all how brave you are. I'm a betetr mother because of you. Sending hugs and prayers every day.

Alicia said...

No words… no words. Last night I read your words and cried for you. I have a Jack. I prayed very hard for your family. You are amazingly strong. You may not feel it, but you ARE. Hold on – prayer warriors are behind you!!

Jennifer said...

Anna, your words are so eloquent and your family's tragedy so heartbreaking. My prayers are with you... may your family and friends continue to comfort you.

mosey (kim) said...

Unfathomable pain. I'm sorry to the core of my being, Anna. I pray that a gentleness toward yourself is something that will eventually seem possible. much love. x

Marcela said...

Thinking of you and praying Anna. I am sorry.

kitty said...

My heart continues to ache for you all.We continue to pray for you all that your broken hearts will heal.Please continue to keep your faith in God.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anna,
Thank you for sharing. I'm so sorry that you are going through all of this. I think of Jack often and will continue to pray for you, Tim, and dear Margaret. The post you wrote just before this one had me laughing and crying at the same time, I think it worried Hudson a tad.
Much love to you,
Jina

Dena said...

My thoughts and prayers to you and your family! If it helps at all, this is a great book to read about a little boy. "Heaven is for Real" A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back. By his Father, Todd Burpo.

MaryBeth said...

Anna,
Thank you for trusting us with your story.
Still praying!
xo
mb

Stefanie said...

Anna, you are incredibly brave for opening up your heart and sharing your story with us. You have to know that what you've described is typical mom behavior, which is what makes it so heartbreaking. We just don't always know which are the scary moments we should be paying attention to, until it's too late. You sent your kids out to be kids, and serendipity took over. It is not your fault, but I feel your pain, and I am so very sad for you. I continue to think of you and your family and to wish you peace.

The Empress said...

I know that writing every word of this story helped you, and so I read every word.

I'm going to read every word again, because I want to take up some of your pain.

I can't stand the thought of this pain.

I cannot.

I will be here every time you post, I don't know what else to do, and my heart tells me I have to do something.

I just can't leave you in this pain.

Jeanie said...

Thank you for sharing. This must have been so hard for you to write. Prayers for you and your family. And, of course, your beloved Jack.

Lilia said...

Prayers for you and your family.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anna, I have been reading your blog for a few days since a friend linked to it on facebook. I am so sorry for your loss.

Every mother imagines, when reading your story, what it would be like to walk in your shoes. Unbearable. A nightmare. A sucker punch to the gut.

We will hold you in our prayers: you, your husband, and your darling daughter.

Anonymous said...

Thinking of you and your family every day. Sending prayers and peace.

Anonymous said...

I am crying with you tonight. And each time I drive over the bridge, see the beautiful flowers, and blue ribbon tied everywhere I pray for you and your family. "Jesus wept" for his loss. He understands yours.

Anonymous said...

You are not at fault. My heart breaks for you. My thoughts continue to be with you and your family.

Patricia said...

Dearest Mother : I know there are no words that can comfort you - my prayers are with you every day. Your dear, beautiful son is in the loving arms of our heavenly Father.....

Lindsay said...

Thank you. For being you. For sharing and having the courage to do so. For letting us all grieve with you. For allowing us to express our love and support, even if it's only through the web, and for receiving all of those feelings with such grace. For sharing Jack's life, Jack's personality, Jack's wisdom. He has affected us all in such amazing ways.
Thank you.
Thank you.
Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I have been sitting here trying to figure out how to write something. I may be a lot more rusty at praying than others on here, but I am praying for you.

Ann Skjei Brumbaugh said...

Anna, I am so sorry. Believe that you were the best mother Jack could possibly have had! He had more love, encouragement, and humor in his too-short life than many people ever get. You make a difference.

Jodie said...

You're so brave to share your story with us. Thank you. I will continue to pray for you and your sweet little family.

Anonymous said...

I have been reading this blog regularly and have been inspired by your courage and grace in the face of this awful tragedy. Please know that your loss has affected so many. Thanks for sharing your story, as I am sure it will give comfort to others who grieve. I am so sorry for your loss. Nick

Luciana said...

Each word must be so hard to be written here. My heart is broken.

Jack was too good to live in our world. He has reached the evolution stage we are all trying to understand about and fighting to reach, to be better spirits. God bless you.

~Kori~ said...

Thank you so much, Anna, for having the courage to share your story. Your love for you family shines in each post you write, both before and after.

Sue@Uniquely Chic said...

Oh my God, Anna.... I am so, so sorry for what you are going through, your loss, your little boy. I am sitting here crying reading this. I can not even begin to imagine. You are in my thoughts and prayers and I am so very sorry. Peace to you...Sue

Anonymous said...

Oh Anna, I'm so sorry for your family's loss. You're in my thoughts and prayers daily.

Love and Hugs,
from San Diego, CA

Stephanie said...

I'm so so sorry Anna. I would've let my kids have fun in the rain too. No words are sufficient but you have my prayers and hugs.

Kim Moldofsky said...

This must have been a very difficult post to write. Thank your for sharing it with us. I am heartbroken for your family and your son's friends.
Wishing continued support and healing for your family.

Anonymous said...

Dee from Tennessee

Still praying and will continue. Anna, you, Jack, and your husband and daughter are now in my heart of hearts. And one thing I know: Jack will not be forgotten.

With love in Christ and may His grace cover you and sustain you day in and day out, Devonia

Me, You, or Ellie said...

Oh, I am sorry. So, so very sorry. I pray that Jack's presence remains felt strongly in your life forever, and that you and your husband and daughter continue to find resolve and comfort in each other in this new normal that you never wanted, and surely never deserved.

Peace,

Jacquie

Laura at Ms. Smartie Pants said...

I pray you don't hold yourself responsible for this and that you are able to forgive yourself, you never meant for this to happen, you didn't cause this! Your sweet boy is resting in peace, I pray for yours!

Emily said...

Anna, thanks for sharing this. I have appreciated being able to read your posts. We are still so saddened for your loss, and we think of you and pray for you often. While we are so thankful that you will see Jack again in eternity, we know that the pain you feel of missing him now must be so difficult. We are praying for the Lord's comfort and peace, but please let us know if you have any specific requests.

Love, Your cousin Emily R

Kim @ A Brush of Whimsy said...

Oh, I can just picture Jack, doing that little spin and smiling!

Remember in Steel Magnolias where Julia Roberts' character says, "I'd rather have a few minutes of wonderful than a whole lifetime of nothing special"? I totally know that there is NOTHING you want more than Jack back. But it is just so clear through your writing that Jack received a lifetime of love and joy (that "wonderfulness") from his mama in his 12 years. And that is what makes me happy. I hope that it makes you smile, too.

p.s. You're awesome! :)

Vodka Mom said...

oh God Anna I have no words. I will return later when I have composed myself.



I am so relieved that you are sitting with God's arms wrapped around your heart. He will keep you.

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