Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wednesday "Wramblings" and Walmart

Today was my first trip to Walmart since the accident. I’ve been dreading it, because the last time I went was with Jack, just the two of us, to do some last minute stocking up on back-to-school snacks. He was in a great mood. You would have thought my willingness to buy pudding and two flavors of goldfish made me mother of the year.

We were in a bit of a rush, so I let him stay by himself in the toy aisle looking at Hot Wheels cars (an interest he and his friend had recently renewed from early childhood) as I ran to the refrigerated aisle. He rolled his eyes as I said, “Don’t talk to ANYONE!”


I felt panicky that he was out of my sight, and I made a mental note that even though he was about to start 7th grade and was probably more than ready to be on his own, I wasn’t ready . I wasn’t yet ready for him to be apart from me. When I told him I’d buy him 3 cars just for the heck of it, something he didn’t ask me to do, he was thrilled, even though it only cost me a whopping three dollars. Later that night he ordered another car off the internet, which arrived the day after he died.

Jack and I also searched unsuccessfully for a Latin/English dictionary, since he couldn’t seem find his old one, not that he looked very hard. After the accident, when I emptied his backpack, I saw it zipped up in one of those little-used front pockets where it had been since June. Sheesh.

This past weekend I read Elizabeth Edwards’s account of a colossal meltdown she had in the grocery aisle when she came upon her dear son’s favorite soda. Brought to the fetal position, on the floor of a public place, by Cherry Coke. I get it, Elizabeth. I get it.

For me, at Walmart today, it was a little bit of everything. I avoided looking down the toy aisle, or at Halloween costumes, but the truth is, our kids are everywhere, in every aspect of our lives.

Dill pickles, picante sauce, Resees Puffs, and goldfish. Pudding, school supplies, and a favorite yogurt flavor. Each felt like a stab to my heart.

On Monday Margaret and I donated our “Jack Food” to a food bank, because what’s the point of keeping unopened boxes of Frosted Mini Wheats or cans of Spaghettios as a shrine to my kid?

So today I was restocking, trying to find something that would appeal to us, when very little seems to. It was hard.

After the food aisle, you could have found me among the soap, sniffing all the varieties of teen-boy body wash, trying to find Jack’s smell. You see, the cleaning lady came the morning before the accident and stripped his bed, so no smell of him lingered there. His other clothes were clean-- sweatshirts washed and ready for the new school year.


So today I bought some Old Spice “Pure Sport” for a kid who can no longer use it. Damn, he smelled good. I still can’t believe he didn’t get the chance to get old and stinky. Over the summer he informed us that he did, indeed, have B.O., but Margaret and I checked him out, a face in each pit, and begged to differ.

Even the cleaning products got me down today. I couldn't locate our laundry detergent or any of our "green" cleaning products. "Must EVERYTHING change?" I thought.

So today is hard, as was last night when my hand reached instinctively for four plates to set the table. I realized that for years there’s been no counting, just a connection between mind and body to grab the perfect stack of four.

And we went to cheer on his baseball team, which was brutal because those gorgeous young boys were having so much fun. There was such a sense of learning and camaraderie, and very little pressure. Just boys playing their favorite game under the lights. Tim and I kept looking at each other saying, “He would have loved this!”

And there were the binders. The “new to you” thrift-store binders filled with only 2 days worth of middle school work. A friend emptied out Jack’s locker and brought them to us. I had avoided looking at them for a while. You see, in classic parent style, Tim and I had micromanaged the school life of our eldest. Oh yes we did.

He always had stellar grades, but we were even more focused on the non-academic areas of “self-control,” “works well with others,” etc. In 6th grade we noticed that Jack’s handwriting, which had become pretty sloppy over the last few years, was completely illegible! We considered this a sign of disrespect toward his teachers and Tim, in his usual “chart-loving, self-improvement” fashion, was on it. Middle school was a big deal, and Tim wanted Jack to start out on the right/write foot.

He printed out cursive sheets for Jack to practice on this summer. You know, “The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.” Yep, at 12 ½, Jack was back to first grade penmanship sheets, but he did them.


When I opened those binders, representing just two measly days of school, I wasn’t sure what I’d see, and whether the pages would be sloppy or neat. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to see.

But nothing prepared me for the loss of breath and rush of tears when, upon opening the binders, I saw page after page of the neatest, most deliberate handwriting I’d ever seen.

I can’t explain it, but it kind of killed me just a little bit more.

121 comments:

Cindy S said...

I've been reading along with you since just before the week you were evacuated from the Outer Banks. My family of four was also evacuated by Irene (Corolla), I loved your writing and added you to my blog reader.

There are no words, of course, to describe what you've been through. I can't begin to comprehend.

I want you to know you are amazingly strong. I hope I would have half your courage.

Thank you for sharing your journey. I hope writing heals you if even in the tiniest of ways.

Mel said...

I'm at work, crying just a little bit at my desk. Your talent for writing is so immense. You have the ability to convey feelings in such a way. I only wish they weren't the feelings of heart wrenching grief.
I don't know you, and I've only started praying in recent months, but I have been praying for you. I liked your post from a few days ago - and like to believe that Jack is everywhere with you, looking and watching over you.

Cassie @ Primitive & Proper said...

i can't imagine how hard this all is, anna, but what i do honestly believe is that all these things right now that are killing you, will make you smile one day again. i really believe that these things, the frosted mini wheats, the handwriting, one day you will look at it and you will prbably still cry, but you will smile at your son as well.

Megan said...

I can't imagine how you're getting through these days, but you are and with your humor intact. You are incredibly brave -- thank you for sharing your story with us. I hope you know how many people are thinking of you and praying for you still.

ella said...

Oh Anna, dear stranger, friend of mine (is that weird?)....I get a literal pulling feeling in my chest reading your words. I remember when my dad passed away. I was 19 and would wake up every night convinced my heart was breking, really breaking! The pain was so intense. As painful as it was, both emotionally and physically, I imagine it can't possibly compare with what you're going through.

Your stories about Jack and how you're handling this tremendous loss leaves me breathless. I think about your family and pray for you every single day.

Leah C said...

From the very first sentence, I was crying. I am so, so sorry for each & every "stab to the heart" you feel. But, thank you Anna, for sharing your thoughts, your feelings, and most especially, your memories of Jack with us. Hugs & prayers...

vegan eden said...

Just simply sobbing -
my words are inadequate anyway...

KellyM said...

Every post makes me cry for you all. I pray for you every time I read you....my heart is breaking with that last paragraph.....

luv2run said...

My heart goes out to you Anna!!!!!!

Sending you a virtual hug!!!!!

luv2run

Debby@Just Breathe said...

Today at my computer I seem to be crying with every comment I type.
You don't know me and I know you because of your precious son Jack passing away. I am Debby from Just Breathe but I am the woman who mailed you a handkerchief from For Your Tears. I read so many sad stories each day. I am a person who needs/desires to see the growth after something tragic. I need to see people move forward. Even something as simple as leaving your home and going to Walmart. My greatest fear is what you are living. I am so sorry that you must travel on this new road. My heart aches for you. ((HUGS)) Reading your posts I know that making it from day to day and typing these words on your posts comes from the strength you get from God. Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers.

Anonymous said...

It's this stuff that just must be the hardest. The day to day pangs and the moments that send you crashing to the floor.

Thanks so much for sharing, Anna. It must help you immensely to be able to put this into words.

love,
jbhat

Lissa said...

My heart breaks for you. I agree that you have a special talent for expressing your feelings, and I'm sorry this is the way that some of us have had to find you. I also wanted to say that your recent posts have really made me think differently about God and how he speaks to us (sometimes unknowingly). As always, I continue to pray for you.

Lisa L. said...

Your writing is so honest and intense - just as I think mine would be if such a horrid thing had happened. I'm thankful for your words because they are so real. I pray for you not to get over the grief (because that would be impossible for someone who loved their child so much) but instead to find support in going through the grief. Hugs Lisa L.

Marinka said...

Your courage inspires me. I'm crying with you.

fleurcottage said...

grief is soo hard & lonely & the yearning to go back when 'everything was alright' is deep! thank you for sharing bits of your journey w/ us...be blessed in this moment!

Kristina P. said...

Your experience gives others strength. Which just isn't fair that you have to be the one to do that.

His smile is so breathtaking!

Clare said...

Ugh, this post made me cry the most of all. I don't know why. Maybe it's because it's one that shows that you are dealing with this every single day no matter where you go or what you do. I can't even begin to imagine what it feels like.

Still praying, still thinking of all of you, still hoping that Jack is somewhere beautiful.

xoxoxo

Rach said...

I'm so very very sorry for your loss. It is so hard and so awful and so surreal.

My meltdown came in Ukrop's (a local grocery chain), over the green beans. That first trip to the grocery without my little helper was agonizing.

My heart hurts for you and your family. I pray for peace and comfort for you all.

Many hugs for you.

jessica said...

You are such a beautiful soul. I hope and pray that I can be such a mom to my two little girls. I read every post you publish. I pray and think about you everyday.

God Bless you,

Jessica

Kimberly said...

Your gut wrenching honesty is achingly beautiful. Keep going. People you don't even know are here hanging onto your every word...like me.

Anonymous said...

Anna-
What a beautiful post. I cried with every word you wrote. I feel so sorry for your loss. I have been checking in on your blog everyday and wondering how you and your family have been coping. I can not imagine what you are going through. You have the courage to share your story with us even when it hurts the most and that is incredible.
On a side note- I am tweeting every single day for Margaret in hopes we can make her smile.
Praying for you and your family everyday. xoxo

mia said...

Anna, your talent for writing is unbelievable...I have so enjoyed getting to know Jack through your entries, he sounds like such a wonderful little boy. I think of you many times daily and continue to pray for God to give you strength. I am so sorry for your very sad day and hope that tomorrow is a little bit better. Your courage and grace are admirable. HUGS...

Child of God said...

Anna, I am just grieving with you. I am so weepy as I read this post. My heart aches for your pain and loss.

Please know many, many prayers are being said for you all.

<><

NanaDiana said...

I understand the fetal position in the aisle of Walmart...and I also know the heartache of sitting in a car just staring ahead while tears run down my face. You are moving through the first phases of grief and doing so beautifully. Writing about it is cleansing. Love to you- Diana

Sara W. said...

Hi Anna,

I started reading your blog shortly before you lost your son. Although we've never met, I feel very connected to you through the stories you share with all of us here.

In a recent post, you were discussing your connection to Jack through birds. It moved me so much that you kept having experiences that let you know he was still around you.

Well, today I was flying on Delta for a quick work trip, and I pulled out the Delta magazine "Sky" from the seat pocket in front of me. On the front cover is a picture of Steve Martin with the words "One Rare Bird" scrolled across the front. It moved me to tears... What are the chances that it was merely coincidence?

I hope you find strength in the prayers and love you have from so many readers out there.

Sincerely,

Sara W.

Stefanie said...

Oh, Anna, this post totally made me cry -- it's always the little things, isn't it? All those little details of a life. I think you are simply amazing, for being able to write so eloquently and honestly, for sharing yourself, and for somehow going on day after day after day.

I think of you and your family every day, hoping each one gets a tiny bit easier. Keep writing, and I'll keep reading.

I agree with what someone else said: I think you know Jack is there, watching over you, in all those little signs. And I'm sure he's very proud.

Take care.

Meredith Self said...

So many moments of Jack everywhere. Sending you so much love as you go through these changes. xo

Laura at Ms. Smartie Pants said...

Still lifting you up!

The Green Family said...

Hello Anna.

What a simple statement that is…a simple hello. What is so intimate about it is, that I feel like I’ve gone through this experience with you. Your talent for expressing feelings, events – you just have an innate ability to take me to those places with you through your words. I know you hear this often, but you really are so talented.

I want to say I’m sorry for your loss, but those words just seem so empty. I’m not sure if you read every comment, but I’d like to share how Jack’s life through your words have impacted mine. I have two small boys at home, 5 and 2.5 years. They are my world, just as most children are to their mothers. For some reason, when I look at pictures of Jack, I see my Jayden. Although, they don’t carry many resemblances in physical features, something about the strong lines in their face and light in their eyes remind me of each other.

What a strong character my Jayden is ~He knows my buttons and pushes them regularly, most days to my chagrin. Some days I’ve felt guilty for struggling so much to maintain my role as his Mother. What I have found through your words is the answer to the simple yet dramatic question ‘What would I do without him?’ I’m finding myself not taking for granted our chats at night. I read that you and Jack shared similar moments while tucking him into bed at night, you would share conversations, stories and sometimes just snuggle close. Where I have been finding excuses to cut that time short, laundry, dishes, etc. I’m now spending more time just watching and being grateful. Instead of being upset about something he has done…I take a second and think ‘Is this really that important?’

Anna, the world is grieving with you and along the way you are making a difference in so many people’s lives. Through your humor, tears, honesty and candidness. We are listening, we are praying and we are holding you close in spirit. What a great example you are to all the mothers out there. You are helping me to be a better mother.

If you ever need a break or some comic relief…feel free to visit me
www.coryandkimberli.blogspot.com

kimberwidmer said...

Sweet, sweet Anna.
Do you know how much I think about you every day? Do you know every time I see a @JBLiftMargaret tweet I pray for you? (because of that, I pray… a lot!)
Your courage and bravery in sharing your heart is so valuable.
So very valuable.
And now I'll be going to get that Kleenex.
Love you friend.

Rene/ Not The Rockefellers said...

We live our lives not in the grand ballroom, but rather in the little nooks and crannies of the crown moulding, don't we?

I still can't go down the soap aisle without sniffing a bar of "Irish Spring" just to remind me of my daddy.

Beautiful, Anna.

A Speckled Trout said...

A twelve year old who practices penmanship over the summer honors his mother and father. You honor him every time you write. This was heartbreaking.

kitty said...

Oh Anna I weep for you all.I can't imagine opening up his folder.I really don't think I could have done it.Although it was hard I am sure you will hold on tightly to every bit of him that you can.We continue to pray for you all.Sending you heartfelt hugs ((((((( )))))))

OSMA said...

Oh Anna, I'm bawling so hard it's impossible to see but I must write to tell you how much I wish feeling all this heartache for you would just spare you some pain already. What you endure on a minute by minute basis seems too much for a person to bear and yet you are, you will, you must. This virtual cheering section here holds you at the forefront of our thoughts and we would do anything to protect you from the toy aisle or Frosted Mini Wheats if it would help. Damnit,, anything at all. xoxoxo

Stimey said...

Love to you and your family. Your words are breathtaking. My heart goes out to you many times every day.

Ann Imig said...

You continue to be a wonderful mother to Jack, as he continues to be a wonderful son.

You are so thoughtful, graceful, honest and so often funny.

Go sniff some Old Spice :)

Kate Coveny Hood said...

Oh Anna - I wish...you know. Everything. Thank you for continuing to share these pieces of yourself. I consider each a gift. So glad I'll get to see you NEXT week (think I finally have that straight). I love you.

Christy said...

Oh Anna, I'm crying with you and praying you all. Love and hugs. xoxo

irv family said...

I hope that you know that we all get to know YOUR Jack with each click of your computer keys. We see him in your words...we know him by how he relates to our own. MY smelly (you two are very brave for taking face to armpit!!) 12 year old first born boy...who has that messy handwriting (that used to be so perfect...what happened, and why?), loving baseball and that same cereal. And we feel anguish over your pain because we know how Walmart would take us to our knees if Jack were ours. Luckily, he does feel like ours...simply because you share him. Keep writing...we love getting to know him and that vivacious girl of yours!

Erika said...

The pieces of your broken heart that you share with all of us are so sacred and are teaching me so much about strength, love, and faith. I am praying for your strength, love, and faith as you are grieving your tremendous loss. Thank you.

anymommy said...

So many small reminders through a day. Which must bring joy and pain so intermixed that they are almost unrecognizable. You are absolutely correct, they are so much a part of our lives. The very fabric. Loving you from afar.

Jen said...

I started reading your blog after finding you through Momastery. Your life and feelings before the accident make me feel so normal, and not so alone. After the accident, your grace and strength amaze me. I hope all of the love people feel for you and your family make you feel a bit lighter somehow, if that is at all possible.

Misty - A Crooked Kind of Perfect said...

As I walk through Walmart from now on, I hope instead of the rushed, hectic, just trying to get it over with trip - it's different. I often make eye contact with strangers. I always try to smile, nod, recognize. I don't even try really. It's just one of my quirks. I can only hope that my next Walmart trip, I smile at someone like you. Someone who is hurting, breaking, splitting on the inside. Yet so strong and held together on the outside. If nothing else, maybe my kindness can give them the will to just make it to the next aisle to grab that bottle of Old Spice.

You are precious. You are strong. You are Jack's mother. You amaze me.

Anonymous said...

((hugs)) from Australia

Anonymous said...

Praying for you and your family tonight. Praying that after such a hard day you are blessed with a peaceful night tonight and that you feel the presence of our Lord as well as the presence of your sweet boy surrounding you.
xo
Kelly R

Anonymous said...

i lost my sister when we were teens; there were many days, months and years where the hole in my heart - as if it were really breaking. it will stay with you always but....in time the pain will be bearable. don't know why i'm telling you this. i read your posts every day and feel the pain you're experiencing all over again for my sister who died 27 years ago. i'm so sorry Anna. Jack was an incredible kid but pls know he doesn't want you to suffer and punish yourself. Hang in there girl - jack's spirit lives on in Margaret and all your awesome memories...xo Patty

Lisa G said...

You are a wonderful writer. thank you for sharing your grief with us.

I am not a wonderful writer, so I can't express very well the love and thoughts and dozens of prayers I send your way - and wishes and hopes that you didn't have to feel all this and go through all this.

From trauma in my own life (nothing to yours, though) - just those dual feelings of trust in God and wishing it wasn't this way.

Anyway - hugs. Just also especially praying for Margaret lately.

Lisa G.

Anonymous said...

No.

Shell Flower said...

You are so brave to write this, and so eloquent as you do. Jack is an amazing kid. Beautiful, from his picture to his penmanship. What a good kid. You are blessed to have known him, and he was blessed to have you for a mom.

Erika N said...

All I have to offer you is prayers. I'm sending them everyday

alongdistancelovestory.com said...

This broke my heart.
I'm thinking of you guys... always.

Anonymous said...

I wish we were friends so that I could go to WalMart with you and hold your hand through the hardest aisles. (I hope that does not sound too strange!) Thank you for sharing your heart, son, and grief...I hope knowing that so many people are praying for your family and thinking about y'all daily offers even a tiny bit of relief.

Peace,
Eliza

Anonymous said...

Anna...I am sitting here reading all your blogs as tears roll down my cheeks. My heart breaks for you each day. But Ur strength and courage is amazing. Ur beautiful, handsome son is so lucky to have had u as his mommy, mom and best friend. How proud he was of u here on earth, and even prouder of u now. So much of how u Describe jack reminds me of my son zach. Oh how so many of us wish we could ease Ur pain. Thinking of u and always praying for you and Ur family and beautiful Margaret.

Theresa said...

Anna..just posted above..forgot to sign my name

Theresa Greve Otley

Amanda said...

Anna, I've been a long time reader of your blog. I always thought you have a great attitude toward life. You always seem to see the bright side of every situation.

I, like you, try find the positive and see the lesson in everything. As awful as I understand this has been for you and your family, I wanted to let you know what I have learned from this.

I became a mother for the first time on September 8. After a stressful labor, I found motherhood more difficult than expected. Last week was particularly bad. It just seemed like one thing went wrong after another - gas, constipation, diaper rash, nipple blister (ouch) etc. My mom came over to give me a break and I ended up checking your blog, when I learned about your son. I read all your posts in disbelief and with a heavy heart. I can't imagine. I went and picked up my daughter and held her close. I realized how lucky I was to have this healthy little baby here with me. I had been letting the stress of everything take over my emotions and I wasn't allowing myself to enjoy it. I felt so much guilt, and as if I was wasting this amazing opportunity.
I've learned from you to enjoy every single moment, even the ones that aren't so joyful (like poop up the back at 4am).
You are an inspiration to all of us that read your words, and I do believe your son is with you. He is sending you signs.
I think about you everyday. Thank you
Amanda

Karrots said...

Heartbroken as I read this...your bravery is inspiring. You are dearly loved by us and everyone who surrounds you. I hope you can feel it...and I hope it lifts you on these days that are especially painful and long. Love you anna!! Love your fam! We pray (& now we tweet)...and we pray some more! Trusting God to strengthen you mightily!! kara

Steph said...

So just wanting to hold you up. Your writing is wonderfully hard to read because it makes me feel (the tiniest fraction) of your pain. Wishing all of us readers could take away your pain. Jack is beyond gorgeous and I don't know what else to say except I'm so sorry for your loss and again thank you for your writing. Wishing you much love and peace.

PeachPrenni said...

Oh Anna. Not even sure what I'm gonna type yet. I am crying..a lot. It was particularly hard to get through this post and I'm trying to figure out why. I think maybe it's because so much of our life as mothers is wrapped up in the day to day stuff. So when you're talking about favorite snacks and backpacks and trips to Walmart; I feel it; I see it; I see your Jack standing there in the aisle and I can see my Jake there too. It could be any mother; it could be any child. And I wish it wasn't you; I so wish it wasn't you and your special boy. My heart aches for you Anna. I'm praying.
-Annie P.

MaryBeth said...

Anna,
As I read your blog tonight it took my breath away!

What you described about the smells and shopping and remembering Jack at every turn reminded me so much of when my boys each ventured away from home to go to college!

I wasn't going to share that in your comments because the grief you bear is so overwhelming.

I can't even call the emotion of children growning up and leaving grief, it is a bittersweet feeling, because after all we raise them to someday leave us.

But I had a moment - thinking that Jack is with his Father - but away from you and I realize that part of your grief is also bittersweet. He is where you raised him to go - just not so soon!

Thank you for sharing your heart and pain with us. I had not thought to pray for you as you go to Walmart. I've been praying for the big things, like driving over Jack's bridge.

As you share with us we know better how to pray, not only for you, but also for our friends who share the pain of lost children.

You just keep enriching our lives - you can't help it. It's who you've always been.

You are amazing and you raised an amazing boy. Thank you for sharing him with us!

Beth said...

Tears... Thank you for sharing all the baby steps you are taking, the little things that turn into big things, and your treasured stories about your sweet boy. I love getting to know him through your words. Even if the words are stabs to the heart!

p.s. Walmart makes me cry too, but for different reasons. :)

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness. I just started reading your blog last week when a friend of a friend passed on the Justin Beiber story. I can't imagine your grief. But I also have to thank you. I have a son who's 13 and the things you write about Jack remind me so much of my own sweet boy. The renewed love of Hot Wheels, the "glass half empty" view of the world, the mother/son trips to Wal-Mart where son spends time in the toy aisle while still tells him not to talk to strangers, the incredible bond with his younger sister. But the handwriting thing took my breath away- I also spent the summer hovering over a newly teenaged boy learning to re-write cursive because his has become so awful. I want to thank you. You wonderful words of memories are making me realize I need to remember what's important. Everyday. Prayers to you and your family. Your courage and strength are amazing. Thank you for passing on your wisdom in the midst of such pain.

Terri said...

Anna,
You are so brave to share your pain with all of us. I am praying for you for continuing strength to get throught this awful terrible heartbreaking time. The holidays are coming and as someone who recently lost her mom, I dread them as well. Take care, Anna.

NancyS said...

I am so sorry you feel this pain. For me it is the popsicle aisle and the Strawberry Quik -- minefields everywhere. The bottle of A-1 sauce he threw in the grocery cart the day he fell for the steak dinner he never came back for. Your words gave me strength - tomorrow night is senior night for the High School Volleyball Team and we had planned to TRY to go - for the kids really - to show them that they have to go on and they deserve to have a great senior year even though Eric can't. We will go - thank you for giving me the strength. You stay in my prayers.

Erin said...

Beautifully written post Anna. Your gift for writing and expressing yourself with honesty, candor and often humor is exceptional. You seem to be helping so many others by writing about Jack. I only hope that you, too, are finding it cathartic and helpful to share your grief with us. The grief will come and go like the tides, overtaking you at unexpected moments. Hang in there and just keep taking it moment by moment. We are all praying for you!

Erin

Lindsay said...

Oh dear Anna, though I don't know you, I feel like I do. The way you write is absolutely remarkable. I am in utter awe of you and your constant strength. I'm so thankful for you. I pray daily for your renewed strength in the moments when you think you can't take another step forward...may God surround you and give you peace in the only way He can. Hugs.

Pip said...

Oh Anna I wish I could walk with you. Sending you so much love.

Lady Jennie said...

This hurts so much to read. Thinking of you, sending you hugs.

The Mommy Therapy said...

Anna, I have a love/fear relationship of seeing your blog in bold in my Google Reader. I never can stop myself from clicking and reading and crying with you though.

I love your writing. I love that you share so much with us. I love your family that I do not know and pray for every night, and every time you or your Jack wander into my mind through the day.

I just want you to know that there are so many of us trying to lift you up in our prayer and that feel torn for you and your family.

I hope this helps in even the smallest way to help you keep moving forward. Thank you for writing.

Danielle said...

Two night ago I had a dream that I was you. I cannot imagine. I truly can't. But for a moment, in that dream, I was there.

I do not know how you are able to put one foot in front of the other. God says He gives us strength... you must be proof of that because in that dream... just the act of taking my next breath was too much to bear.

You and your family are in our daily prayers. My mother watched my kids the other day and called to ask who Jack and his family are. Every day. We are committed to praying that once again you can get up and breathe and put a foot in front of the other.

Leslie said...

Oh Anna, that trip was so, so, so painful for you. I am so sorry. I'm praying for more and more peace for you and Tim and Margaret every day. I'm so sorry.

Momastery said...

Yeah. Punch in the gut. He was so good. Trying so hard.

Love You, Anna.

The Empress said...

Blogger has eaten 2 of my comments.

But I will not give up.

I love you, Anna.

NotaSupermom said...

I'm in the hair salon trying not to cry.
I remember after my brother died how I would see boys who looked like him. It would be hard not to gasp or stare.
When I worked my first job, I remember a customer who looked at me with the same sad longing. I wonder who I reminded her of.

Kristine said...

Lots of love to you and your family. We grieve with you.
xo

Kir of the Corner said...

Oh, I come over off and on, and pray that I can offer some comfort, that my prayers for you and your family have been heard.

I still have my sons, and they drive me crazy at 3. But they also are the light in every corner of life for me. I get it, I do, the smells, the 'Trying" of the writing exercises, the way that life is different with them in it.

I am just so sorry and grateful for your words. You write about him and A boy I never knew is ALIVE and smiling and playing with the matchbox cars that my Giovanni is obsessed with lately.

my dad will be gone 16 years this Sunday and while it wasn't my child, I feel this way about this time of year and his smell etc. I find myself frozen in a cologne aisle or when a song comes on the radio, it's unbelievable he is gone...and so I get it...but I wish you didn't have to.

much love to you Anna and my best good thoughts...xoxoo

Scary Mommy said...

This took my breath away. Sending so much love.

From Tracie said...

Tears.

I love you. Sending prayers your way.

josie said...

your concise writings stab my heart. i am grateful that God is guiding you. you are an amazing woman and thank you for letting us readers in!

MySleep-DeprivedLife said...

Because of you, I will hug my little gal a little tighter. And pray for peace and healing for your family.

By sharing your pain, your fantastic gift for writing, and your remarkable knack for finding humor and light despite your tragedy--you are a hero in the truest since of the word. Your family is blessed to have you.

Missy said...

I have no words, I can't even form them.

Please know how much you are in my heart.

Charlotte said...

Dear sweet Anna,

I check in from time to time to see how you are holding up and I can't express enough how often I think and pray and wish your family all the best. I'm just so terribly sorry for your loss. I never feel there are words adequate enough to convey this, but I hope you know how much you are being lifted up in spirit by this community and I hope that takes away a bit of the sting. Jack is always with you. While you shop at Walmart, while you go through his bookbags, and while you clear the dinner plates. And when you need to break down and shed some tears, you do just that. Don't think you have to put on the brave face all the time.

XOXO

Maureen said...

Dearest Anna...I don't know you but your words brought me to tears. I cannot imagine your pain and nothing I can say will ease it out but I can offer you my most sincere prayers that God will wrap you close and wipe away your tears and your handsome little angel will forever be watching you from heaven. Hugs!

Julie said...

What deep love he was showing you, and what deep respect.

Trying so hard to craft his words just so.

What love and respect you must have showed him to elicit such a response...such deliberate lovely handwriting.

I am continually stunned by the love in this family.

Powerful, transcendent, enduring.
And bigger than everything else.

No Drama Mama said...

Thank you for sharing this. I hope someday the pain fades, as much as it can, and just the remembering is left. If there is anything those of us in the area can do for you, just note it on your blog.

Kim @ A Brush of Whimsy said...

I love that picture of Jack with with poofy hair~ so cute! You're awesome, Anna!

zcan said...

Oh Anna. I don't know what to say. Just sending you all my love and prayers.

butwhymommy said...

That was just beautiful. Know that you and your family are in my prayers

Robin | Farewell, Stranger said...

This is the most beautifully written, heartbreaking thing I've read. I can imagine how you feel after reading your words. Scents and smells, yes. What pain. I wish virtual love could heal it.

Mommy Shorts said...

Your writing is beautiful and every word is felt. Thank you for sharing your son with us in a way that makes your heartache relatable- if that's possible. I don't think I've ever internalized a stranger's loss the way I have yours.

My thoughts are continually with you.

vegan eden said...

one day the world will read your words.

For now, please know that in spite of your soul scorching pain and grief, your dignity is a source of inspiration to many.

Lady Courtney said...

Cassie is right, one day, these little things that are so painful, will be little moments of remembrance that will bring a smile to your face. The pain does not go away, you learn to live with it, and will treasure those little memories. Even though Jack is not here, you are still a family of four, he has journeyed ahead of you. You will catch up one day. Donna

Jayme said...

My heart hurts. I cannot imagine how yours must feel.

Jack said...

So very sorry for your loss.

jodifur said...

Anna,

You don't know me, but I'm also a DC blogger and we know many of the same people, like Jean. I know another strangers I'm so sorry and I'm thinking of you probably doesn't mean much, but I want you to know I am so, so sorry.

Renee said...

My heart hurts for you and your family. A mother's loss of a child is probably the most painful loss someone can have. Your blog put me in my place after this morning when my husband asked me if I was looking forward to seeing our son this weekend at college. We havent seen him since August. I told him yes I was excited, but then said in the same breath "but not looking forward to it too, as I will be sad when we have to leave him again." Its a different type of loss, the child leaving home once grown. I related to your reference to the smell of your son. The day when we came back from taking him to college his freshman year, I went into his room to breathe in his scent. Everytime I think of my son's scent, I know I will think of you and your dear son Jack. I will guarantee that one day, Jack's scent will somehow be in the air for you to smell. I know he will make sure of it.

Lenette Sparacino said...

Each time I read your posts, my heart breaks for you all over again. But, also each time I read one of your posts, my heart is filled with hope. Hope that God is doing a good work in your family through all the circumstances. I pray for you and your family daily. I know He will continue to do good things for you.

Peggy said...

You are an amazing writer and an amazing woman. I am a local girl and of course heard of Jack's accident on the news. I felt so bad for you it hurt. I have a 12 year old son too and I just can't imagine... I have been praying for your family. A friend of mine from Church shared your blog and at the time, your latest post was from the first day of school. What a beautiful family! I just couldn't bring myself to really read or look at your blog again until just today. Your faithfulness to God through this storm is so inspirational. The messages you have received on your Bible apps and from the singing birds are just incredible. Thank you for sharing. I will continue to pray for your family! Hope to see Margaret on Ellen :)

Susan said...

Gosh Anna. I can't stop thinking about you ~~ I totally understand. Every last bit. I would feel the exact same way...holding onto memories...smells. The car story. I can't imagine what it felt like to receive that hot wheel car. Can't imagine.
I will continue to pray for you. I'm not a praying gal but for you...I pray.

Kim said...

weeping right along with you.

Jessica {Team Rasler} said...

This is exactly what my mom has told me about life after my dad died (she was pregnant with me at the time). No one warns you about how it's all the little everyday things that make you break down, and she always, always mentions the grocery store. Sending a virtual hug.

Anonymous said...

Everything is the same and
Everything is different.

I almost had to be escorted out of Bed, Bath and Beyond.

Thinking of you and praying for you and your family.

Anonymous said...

I am a university professor and just before reading this post yesterday I had graded an assignment from my students. Several of the boys turned in papers that were a mess, the writing so sloppy that they were hard to read and harder to grade. I'm still struggling with how to explain to them that how their work looks is important, just as much as the correctness of the answers. Sloppy work reflects badly on the pride they take in themselves and their seriousness as students, and although I hadn't thought of it this way until you said it, is disrespectful to me and my time. I wish all of my students had grown up with parents as caring and conscientious as Jack's. You did good by your son.

Susan said...

Precious Anna, it is amazing to see how many lives you and Jack touch every day. You taught my beautiful daughter, Jennifer Alexander Orr, waaaay back before you were married, and we were so impressed with you then. Who knew that you two would stay in touch. And Amy Larsen and I worked together at Shrevewood for many years. So, along with so many others, I was stunned and horrified at the tragedy that hit your beautiful family so unexpectedly. I'm sure there are no words of comfort, but am so glad that you have your faith in God to help through the many, many difficult times that most of us can never imagine. We are all so sorry that such a senseless thing could happen, and hope that the outpourings of love and prayer will in some way help. I will never race through Walmart again, without thinking of you and Jack. Thank you for sharing your courage and grief with us, and reminding us to cherish every moment.

Chrisy said...

Because I have three sons, I can't tell you how often I think of Jack...of you...of Tim...and of course, Margaret. Reading this leaves me speechless. We continue to support you all through loving thoughts and prayers as you grieve. Hugs and love. xo

Lisa @ Crazy Adventures in Parenting said...

Everything you wrote here is the truth - our love ones are most certainly everywhere, and when we miss them as much as we do, when they are taken, we almost subconsciously seek out things everywhere, even if we don't want to, because they truly are everywhere.

I may not have lost my husband, but when he deployed, that's how I felt, that he was lost. And what you described here is how I felt whenever I opened my eyes, he was everywhere.

Continued prayers for you and your family's healing. You are constantly in my thoughts.

Pseudo said...

Oh Anna. I wish there was something I could do for you.

This piece was so utterly honest and it made me feel like I was hovering above you.

All the love and prayers in the world to you and your family my dear.

Michelle DeRusha said...

My heart is breaking for you, Anna. I am just praying and praying for you and Tim and Margaret every day. That's all I can say.

Jill said...

The neat handwriting and having had the sheets and sweatshirts washed are making me cry. My heart hurts for you so much. xoxo

the mama bird diaries said...

Oh Anna, I am sobbing and praying for you. What I wouldn't do to bring your son back to you.

mosey (kim) said...

Like all of your friends and readers, I fight for words when I visit you here - comfort? support? love? understanding? It sometimes feels like there is nothing I can say that can even touch the depth of grief you must be feeling. And so I avoid visiting for a day or two, feeling completely helpless. But then come back because if visiting you here can make me feel better, even just for a moment, then hopefully it works two-fold and helps you as well. So for all these moments of grief and pain countered with love and blessing, know that you are heard. And loved, so much.

Loukia said...

Anna, as someone who has been blogging for almost five years, I've read enough heartbreaking stories to know I have probably aged 10 years from the pain and worry and tears. This post, this very post, has been the most raw, touching, heart wrenching post ever. I was sobbing. For you and for Jack and for your husband and daughter. I am so sorry, and I pray every day. Your story, Jack's story, has touched me to my core. Your words in this post are chilling and you are an incredible mother. I don't know what to say. God bless you all.

Kristin said...

I remember coming here to the post of the first day of school after hearing about this terrible tragedy. I am so proud of you and your family for keeping on (although I am sure what you share is the best side of it all). It's comforting to hear your ability to rely on neighbors, faith, and each other to live with your loss.

Know that you are helping others through theirs.

Brianna Storch said...

I found your blog from another blog. I often click on so many links that I often don't even know how I landed there, and sometimes the posts are of parents who suffered a loss.

I'm not a heartless person -- I always feel badly for the family -- but yours hit me like a ton of bricks. I'm not sure why... maybe because you this post talks not as much abut the big picture but more about the little things. His handwriting. His smell. The most recent visit to a store you frequented often with him.
I don't know how you do it or how you manage but you have something in you that is so strong, it takes my breath away. To find the courage to go on living after your sweet boy is no longer with you. My heart is with you.

Gina said...

Anna,

I read your blog every day. I found your blog through YHL. I come here daily and have been reading your post both the ones from after and before the accident. Anna, I want to have some profound words, some prophetic word from God, something, anything that doesn't sound trite or empty or stupid. This post made me cry and hit me harder than any other I have read. I did have to laugh about the B.O. part - your family is freakin' hilarious. And, the part of the neatly written handwriting killed me as well. I am not sure why either. Maybe that you saw another glimpse into that sweet little heart of his. That heart that was part of a little boy growing into a responsible, respectful, God-fearing young man.

Karah @ thespacebetweenblog said...

I have been truly moved reading all of your posts about the accident. What a terribly tragedy, I know others are finding strength in your words. I sure am.

Heather said...

Beautiful post, as always (and congratulations). Again you took me back to those raw "firsts" of grief. I too remember my first trip to Walmart and how unprepared I was for how overwhelming it was. Tears fell when passing the Sunny D, the jerky sticks, Austin was everywhere. And then again when you mention the four plates...how many times my finger lingered over that fourth plate, willing it, wishing I could set it out. ...Or the first time we went out to eat and the lady says, "only 3?" two words that broke my already broken heart. (sigh) Sending you many hugs today.

paddle attachment said...

Wow, Anna. I just clicked over to you because it has been a long while. And now I am crying. Your sweet son - our sweet children - really want to please us, don't they? Jack just keeps on giving, doesn't he? Congrats on the Voices of the Year nod. This post most definitely deserves the honor. Take care, Kristina

Buttercream Bakehouse said...

there are no words to describe the hurt and pain I feel for you as one mother to another. I sit here reading your blog with tears. Your writing is beautiful but what you write is heart-wrenching. Something that no one should have to go through. But still I read and read just to learn more about your wonderful boy Jack and your family. Your story will stick with me forever. I am so sorry for how unfair life can be and how some things just don't make sense. I have four kids and one son is 12 in 7th grade this year. I can't imagine living through what you have and I admire you for going on for your daughter and husband. You are an inspiration. I am so sorry for your loss and I'm sorry for Jack and what happened to him that horrible rainy night. Please know that even though we don't know each other, your in my heart and prayers and that I am SO SORRY this happened.

Stacy O'Neill said...

You are so raw, so lovely in your writiing...I have not been so touched as I have been by your transparency, thank you. I came across your blog by a friend of mine posting it to her FB account. I cannot stop reading.
I must say Jack's life has already impacted me and I look forward to knowing more about him through you...because I truly acknowledge him, his life...what an amazing boy!
Please know I am praying for you...today I celebrate Jack and the gift of now knowing a beautiful life I never knew a few hours ago...I am blessed! May Gods love, peace, comfort, grace overwhelm you and your family today!
Stacy O'Neill
Boca Raton, FL.

Anonymous said...

Anna, as I read your blog for the first time today I am transported back to February 28, 1995. The day my son and I were driving singing Our God is an awesome God. The van hit black ice, lost control, broadsided by 1/2 ton truck and my Jake was transported to the arms of Jesus. Our families and church family were overwhelmingly wonderful. My heart breaks for you. For here I am almost 18 years later and can feel like it was yesterday. God is good and he is an awesome God. I have seen many wonderful things that could only come from him. As I have read through each blog post I remember being there. You are a great writer and your book will be such a blessing. Thank you. Leasa

an apropos beginning said...

So glad I found you. My thoughts and prayers are with you. The heartache is unimaginable...stay strong.