My church created a memory wall this morning.
It was brutiful.
May God help us love each other.
Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down his life for his friend. – John 15:13
I know that you are worried and that you want to know. But I won’t discuss Jack, Anna’s baby, here. His life and his death are Anna’s stories to tell.
I can only tell you my story- what I saw with my own eyes yesterday.
I went to Jack’s memorial service. It was as brutal and beautiful as you might imagine, times infinity.
There were hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of guests there. The pastor said that in his thirty year career, he’d never seen the sanctuary so full. Most of the guests – children, adults, teens, elderly- wore teeny Lego cross pins.
And in the middle of the service, we witnessed a miracle.
Anna, Jack’s mother, stood in front of the masses of mourners and delivered a flawless, tearless, divinely inspired tribute to Jack and to the power of faith. I have never seen anything braver or more exceptional in my life.
Please, don’t respond by saying – “Oh my God. I could never do that.”
Because what Anna taught me yesterday is that a mother can do the impossible for her child.
Maybe you could do what Anna did yesterday. Because Anna is just a woman who decided that she would not stop mothering Jack, she would not stop honoring her son just because he left the Earth. And so trusting God to help her, she stood and spoke with power and love and her voice did not quiver, not once. And she honored her boy and proved true his belief that With God, Nothing Is Impossible.
She proved that scripture, her son’s life verse, to be true – in front of hundreds of grieving people. Many of whom, like me, had been experiencing a crisis of faith since hearing the news. Many of whom, like me, had spent some time shaking fists at God and then doubting His very existence. Many of whom, like me, walked into that memorial with less faith than they’d ever had in their lives and walked out full to bursting.
As I watched her, in utter disbelief, I thought-
Anna is a Mother. With a capital M. I am witnessing the essence, the transcendent power of motherhood. It seems, somehow, that Jack’s death did not rob Anna of her role as his mother, but intensified it. Capitalized it.
Anna Mothered all of us yesterday. She comforted us, she strengthened our faith, she ministered to us in her darkest hour. I don’t think she set out to do that. I think she just refused to quit mothering her boy. I think she just wanted to do justice to her son. He was her miracle and so she honored him by performing a miracle of her own. I will never forget it as long as I live. I will never forget her regal posture, her visible resolve, the mixture of tenderness and toughness in her face. Anna, standing on that stage, will forevermore be my mental image of “Mother.”
I have been praying for Anna and her family in a million different ways since I heard the tragic news about precious Jack. And I am still praying. But my prayers have changed since I saw Anna speak yesterday.
Now my prayers sound less like “Help them.” And more like “Help them. And please help me find the strength and faith that they have. Help me Mother like Anna does. Help me believe like she does. Help my son learn what her son knew. Help my daughters trust God like Anna’s daughter does.”
It’s like, this tragedy had me so afraid. So very, very afraid. I was having so many selfish feelings – if it could happen to her, it could happen to anyone. It could happen to me, to my son. Terror. How would I survive being separated from my only son?
Anna taught me yesterday to quit being afraid, because nothing can separate us from our children. Not even death. I don’t understand it, I’m just telling you that Anna proved it.
I know that Anna will hate this, but I have to say it anyway.
All of my other heroes have been bumped down a notch or seven. Anna is at the top of my hero list, now, and forever.
Her name is Written In Blue.
If you’d like to leave words for Anna…please head to her blog.
“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: