Sep 292011

Dear Anonymous,

Tish’s fish, Sadie, died last week. We’ve been through the passing of a fish before, but this time was special. My little man, Chase, experienced what I can only describe as an existential crisis. He cried and shook and begged me for answers . . . for two hours. He said things like, It’s not about Sadie, mom. It’s that everything we love is going die. How do we survive that? And – I know what you’re going to say about heaven, mom, but how do you know it’s real? You don’t. And I don’t know if I can believe it.

I didn’t offer many brilliant answers to my baby’s brilliant questions. But I was grateful to be able to tell him truthfully that Yes, I believe that there is some sort of heaven, though I doubt it’s like anything we’ve heard described. When he asked how I believed l told him that I believe because I have to – because if I didn’t believe, the terror that was gripping his heart, the terror of losing the people I love forever would overtake me and I’d have no joy or hope and I’d die inside. I told him that I believe because I have no other choice, because I was made to believe, because if I didn’t believe in life after death I wouldn’t be able to live life before death. I’d panic and then freeze.

When he asked me what I believed heaven was like, I told him that I believe heaven is a place where everyone loves each other perfectly.

When he asked me, Why, mom? Why does God send us here, where things hurt so much? Why does He make us love things that He knows we’re just going to lose? I told him that we don’t love people and animals because we will have them forever, we love them because loving them changes us, makes us better, healthier, kinder, real-er . . . stronger in the right ways and weaker in the right ways. Even if animals and people leave, even if they die- they leave us better. So we keep loving, even though we might lose, because loving teaches us, changes us. And that’s what we’re here to do. God sends us here to learn how to be better lovers, and to learn how to be loved, so we’ll be prepared for heaven.

When I finished this part, Chase looked right into my eyes and his tears cleared for a moment and he said, “Yes. I can believe that part. That sounds right. I believe that.”

And I agreed. I thought – Wow. Yes, that’s actually what I believe. I can buy all of that stuff I just said. That sounds True to me, thank God.

Anonymous, I am trying to become more loving down here. I am trying to learn. And you, willing or not, have been a teacher for me. I want to apologize for my response to you. It was a great essay. It really was. But this place has never been about great essays. This place is about Love. And I have learned that sometimes I have to leave a great essay unwritten in order to love better. Because it is better to be kind than to be “right.”

If I speak with the tongues of men and angels but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

As I read and re-read my response to your comment, Anonymous, I realized that I must have sounded pretty clangy to you. Because what I did was announce that I was going to turn the other cheek, and then didn’t. At all. What I did, actually, was defend myself and then sweetly judge and attack you. My least favorite part was when I wrote “people like you.” I don’t even believe in people like you and people like me. I just believe in people. I’m sorry for using those divisive and unfair words.

To be clear, I don’t regret writing that essay, just like I wouldn’t change what you said. I don’t spend a lot of time beating myself up and I hope you haven’t either. I’m grateful for this whole process. We needed to go through all of it to get to here.

But now I know I didn’t really listen for the love in what you said. I listened for the judgment, so that’s what I found. Seems to be how it works…seek and you shall find.

If I’d really turned the other cheek, I would have simply tried to explain to you why I want to adopt, which is so hard for me to put into words, but would have made for an even better, kinder, truer essay. Less sassy, but better.

Anonymous, I am so in love with this brutiful world that I feel torn up a lot of the time. I find people to be so beautiful, so strong and this world to be such a painful mess for the brave people who live here. I tend to take on the pain of others as my own pain, because I believe it IS my own pain. Because I really, truly believe that we all belong to each other. I believe that heaven, at first, will be a revealing, a lifting of the fog when we will look back down on Earth and see that we were in fact, one big family. And that hell will be seeing that and knowing that while living our lives, we let our brothers and sisters and mothers and father suffer and starve and die, while we had more than we needed. That will be hell, I think, for awhile. Knowing the truth. Knowing we let our own family members die. But then God will wipe our tears, and forgive us, and make everything new, and redeem us all. And we’ll heal, and become whole and enter our eternal family with forgiveness and understanding and love for all.

That is my interpretation of Matthew 25:33.

And so I just want to be part of my eternal family now. I love being a mama, and I love other mothers. I am awed by our strength and sacrifices and bottomless love and passion and courage. And I don’t understand why I get to raise my babies and some mamas don’t. Why I have every resource I need and more, more, more and some mamas, dying of AIDS, have to travel miles in bare feet to beg for medicine for their starving babies. Babies whom they love and cherish every bit as much as I love and cherish mine.

Thinking about this disparity drives me close to what I would consider the edge of insanity. I hate it. I don’t understand. And I feel compelled to do something, to show my love for and solidarity with these women, these mamas who are just like me. And so I think, I can’t do what I want to do, which is to fix things, to make things fair so that these mamas can raise their own damn babies. But I can give one of their babies a home. I can offer one of these mama’s babies every good thing I have- which is my husband and my children and my home and my faith and my friends and my joy and my hope. I can do that part, I can beg God to use me to answer another mama’s prayers. I can care for her baby since she can’t. I can be part of the second best thing. And I can love that baby and raise him to know how much his first mama loved him too, and when I get to heaven I can put that baby into her waiting arms, because I’ll know her, and she’ll know me, and we will finally be a whole family.

And all of this- it still doesn’t describe completely or precisely why I want to adopt.

There is a book I love, called Pillars of the Earth. In it there is a man named Tom, whose dream it is to build a cathedral. He sacrifices everything -his family’s money, future, security, even health to realize his dream. Some people, even in his own family, decide that he’s a foolish, selfish, crazy man.

When he finally gets his big break and the man who holds the power to make Tom’s dream come true asks him: Why? Why do you want this so badly? Why have you sacrificed everything to build this cathedral?

Tom replies:

Because it will be beautiful.

That’s my real reason, Anonymous. I want to adopt because it will be beautiful, to me.

That’s why I’ll never be an adoption advocate, which has been requested of me several times. Because I don’t believe that everyone should adopt. I believe that everyone should discover what she finds to be most beautiful and then create it.

So anyway, that’s what I should have said, Anonymous. I should have tried to bridge the gap of understanding between us instead of building a bigger wall. I should have explained instead of defended.

Also, Anonymous.

I may have been extra sensitive for this reason:

Craig and I had to make the horrible decision of letting our adoption go last week. We were as close as a family can possibly get to bringing our baby boy home, but we had to say no, we’re sorry- we can’t. Please give our baby to another family.

My health, it’s getting worse instead of better- and there was a bit of an intervention from some people I love.

Glennon- you’re sick. You’re barely making it through the day. You can’t do this. You must take care of yourself and the family you already have. You must heal.

It was quite familiar to me, actually. I’ve been through a similar intervention before. That one was tough to hear too, but necessary. Good things came of it.

But you can imagine, Anonymous. It’s been hard. After all these years.

It’s been hard, but not impossible. I have a friend who’s doing impossible, and I know the difference.

We have some emptiness now, Anonymous. Empty space in our hearts where we thought that baby would be, an empty nursery, empty time, empty plans where shopping and decorating and nesting used to be.

But if there is one thing I’ve learned about empty, it’s that empty can be more exciting and ripe with promise than full. There is space, now.

What will come fill it? What will enter our lives? What’s next?

I hope that healing comes next. From this loss and from my disease. I hope that I will learn what healing is, what it means, what it looks like, and that I will be able to share the whole healing process with you. Because we are all healing, right? So we might as well do it together.

Love You, Anonymous sister.


Sep 212011

How to Contribute in Jack’s Name

Thank you so much for your love and support. I am almost, almost but-not-quite-yet ready to get back on here and write and rant and process and share and cry with you, my friends.

But first, I know a lot of you have been asking for ways to make the world a better place in Jack’s name. In addition to one of Jack’s favorite charities, Operation Christmas Child at Samaritan’s Purse –- (there is a button on the second page of the donation process to select a memorial card), there will be a scholarship set up in Jack’s memory at Dominion Christian School. If you would like to contribute to this fund, please send a donation to:

Dominion Christian School
10922 Vale Road
Oakton, VA 22124

There is an additional fund that our family will be able to use for future projects in memory of Jack. We are excited to include Margaret in these decisions. Any contributions to this fund may be sent to:

Jack Harris Donaldson Memorial Fund
Apple Federal Credit Union
PO Box 1200
Fairfax, VA 22038-1200

Thank you for your loving support during this heartbreaking time. Above all else, we are grateful and dependent upon your prayers as we figure out how to live and breathe. Your outpouring of love has been amazing, and we are thankful that so many of you have been touched by Jack’s life.

Sep 192011

“Behold, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.” – Isaiah 43:19

I’m not sure how to explain what has happened in our family during the past week.

I think it might be best to just report it, without commentary. I’m not real sure what any of it means yet, I just know that it means a lot.

Last week, one of my little ones had a full blown panic attack. Heart racing, drenched with sweat, vomiting, clenching my arm so tight that I’m still bruised….repeating “Mommy, I’m dying. I’m going to die.”

During the days after the attack, Craig and I came to believe that our baby’s anxiety is due to my deteriorating health. I’ve been sick for a month straight now . . . in bed by 8:30 every night and weak all day. The kids are noticing, and they’re afraid. The whole family is, but it took the ingenuity and courage of our little one’s body to make us all face our fears.

So one night last week, Craig and I sat down to talk. To really talk.

I will just tell you that we removed that “love barrier” I wrote about before and we finally told each other the truth.The whole truth, the broken and confused and resentful and lost truth. As we spoke honestly, without holding back, we came to know things that we’d each been avoiding knowing. We admitted that I was really sick. And that my illness was putting some stress on our marriage.

But we also admitted that my illness wasn’t the real problem between us at all. My illness was just making our real problems harder to avoid seeing.

We have come to believe that our real problems are that we’re not taking care of each other in the most important ways. We each have needs that the other isn’t meeting, that the other doesn’t even know about. Our problem is that we are not best friends. We want to be, but we lack the skills to reach each other. We are so different. Craig survives by skating gracefully on the surface of life and I live at heights and depths that he can’t see and doesn’t know how to reach. I do not skate. I crash and fly. So, the Truth of the matter is that within our marriage, we are each lonely. I am high and low and he’s in the middle and we can’t hear each other, we’re so far apart. We admitted this to each other. We said it out loud.

We admitted that we are good at taking care of our children, we are good at taking care of the world- but we are not great, yet, at taking care of each other’s hearts.

We admitted that we needed help.

Because we also agreed that we love each other so crazy much. We will die trying to take better care of each other. There are no other priorities for us. We will find a way to trust each other with our real selves, to become best friends.

So I called a Monkee whom I love and respect and is a therapist and I said, “Help me, please.” She drove from another state and met me at a coffee shop and let me talk for three hours. Of course she did, because We Belong To Each Other. She helped me find therapists for my littles, to help them deal with having a sick mama, and for Craig and me, to help us learn how to become best friends. That’s what we want. We want to learn how to know each other, inside and out.

We start therapy soon. We are afraid and excited. We have felt something shift between us already. We are on the verge of something new.

It’s kind of like we are deciding, once again, to marry each other. And by choice, this time. I mean, I’m not even pregnant. Craig must be wild about me, to start over like this. To want so badly to be my best friend. And he’s my favorite thing on God’s Green Earth.

Anyway, wish us luck.

Also, My Favorite Monkees:

Love You,


P.S. Thanks again, Lyme.