Saturday, October 3, 2009

Don't join the club...

Honestly, there are many days when I resent you. Yes, you random reader, who have no idea how lucky you have it. Last year when the first graders would bring home their journals from school and your kids would have random writings about unicorns and princesses and fairies and spaceships and dogs, MY first grader was bringing home a journal that said things like this:

One day, I went to the chrch and I sol my Dad. My Mom was crying. Then some people brot my Dad to the plas wher a caskit gets dug in the grawnd. Then I strted to cry to.

One day my Dad dide wan I was at my ants hous. Then when I got home I do not no what I did whin I got home.

One day my mom wos crying about my Dad. Then after my mom stopt crying we fixt ouwr tramprlen. Then my mom strted to cry agen. Then I sed wat is the mater mom. (in response to this day)

One day I sol my Dad in a cascit. And I felt his head And it was cold. And I sol a pichr of my Dad. And I love him. And I want him bak for evre.

And he drew THIS picture.

I bet most of your kids don't even know what a casket is or what it looks like. Regardless, I bet your kids are drawing pictures of their dads playing catch or reading books or mowing the lawn or playing golf. No, MY first grader? MINE? He was drawing a picture of his dad in a casket.

And if you were reading last month, you already know what MY kids were doing on an after-school afternoon while yours were eating snacks and doing homework.

So, I sometimes resent you and your normal life. Sometimes I think I just want to be surrounded by others who are like me.

And you know what MY kids did this Autumn Saturday while your kids were playing football, were at the movies or were playing video games? My kids were at camp. Camp Courageous, that is. A camp put on by one of our local hospice agencies for kids who have experienced a significant loss in their lives. And I resent you and your normal Saturday activities while my kids were at a camp for which the entire premise is A CHILD'S TRAGEDY.

I can only hope that my children took comfort in realizing they are not the only children living without a parent. I can only pray that they felt good knowing that their "normal" is the same "normal" many other kids get. Cuz, me? I didn't feel any better about it. I didn't feel any better looking around the room knowing these kids have the same crap to deal with as mine. In fact, the slightly glued together pieces of my broken heart fell apart all over today as I watched two six-year-old girls hold tattered teddies in one hand and grab each others wrists with the other hand delighting that "HER DADDY IS A GUARDIAN ANGEL TOO. WE ARE SO LUCKY!" I can only pray that made Grant feel a bit better to have those girls in his group. Because it didn't make me feel one ounce better.

It made me feel worse.

Then, I went to support a friend in a SHARE WALK she organizes - an event to remember babies lost in miscarriage, stillbirth, or early infant death. Babies who never had a chance to live life let alone experience a loss. I was surrounded by people grieving the loss of a life that was barely, if at all, lived.

When I went to pick up the kids, I found myself sharing "end-of-life, cancer, where do we go from here" stories with a sad, slightly anxious single dad who is left to raise a 6 year old daughter.

As I was resenting you, and wishing I could surround myself with others like me, I looked around the room at 70 kids and many more adults picking them up. I realized, I WAS surrounded by others like me. Others who also don't WANT their kids to be a part of this camp. Other single moms and dads left behind in the wake of tragedy and illness. Other kids just like mine living without moms and dads or aunts, uncles, grandmas and grandpas who were doing the parenting anyway. On the street, I would not have recognized that I was surrounded by those like me. It was only through Camp Courageous and the Sharewalk that I saw our common bonds called grief, loss, anxiety, loneliness, despair, sorrow and fear.

I also realized that as I resent you and your "normal" life and as I wish I could surround myself with others like me, I REALLY DON'T WANT to surround myself with others like me. I WANT you to have your "normal." I don't want others to be in my club. I don't want other kids in my kids' club. That doesn't help anything.

I will stop resenting you because the last thing I want is for you to walk in these shoes.



  1. My heart aches for you and your boys. Stay strong, and courageous, the Lord has good things in store for all three of you!

  2. A big hug for you and the boys!

    Praying for you!
    We love you!

  3. I always felt like I was trudging through mud in my grief, like I wasn't making any progress. And that's sometimes step forwards, two steps back. But Angie, you have such a deep foundation of faith. You probably won't spend as much time walking backwards as I did.
    Much love, Jen

  4. make that...STILL DO! ;-)

  5. My heart breaks for you.

    I however, am a bit envious that this Camp Courageous is available...
    My sister was murdered when I was in high school. Her son was 2 and a half when she died.
    That year, some other families in my Catholic High School suffered loss - one boy's dad drown... others lost grandparents or something... and the school counselor invited me to a weekly meeting/counseling session in which all these kids would get together - I thought that sounded absolutely awful - so I declined! Now that I'm almost 40 I realize what a great thing it was that they were doing for us...didn't know it then.

    But I wish my nephew could have participated in Camp Courageous... although it would have been years after the fact.

    Sadly, sweetheart, you are NOT alone.
    Sadly, it only feels like it.

    Much love and prayers.

  6. By the way... when my nephew was in kindergarten or first grade - the teacher asked the students to draw pictures of their families.

    He drew himself, me, grandma and grandpa - and a tombstone representing his mom.

  7. I have a son that is in 2nd grade. I cried when I read these words from your boys. You may not see your strength and courage, but others do.
    Keep believing....

    You know, as I look at the word 'believing' I see something very interesting.. I see "Be" and "Living".. but I also see the word "lie". It's smack dab in the middle of Be and Living and that's where I think Satan loves to hide. He wants us to believe it's all a "lie". Just as Christ surrounds us with His loving arms, He will push away the lies as you focus solely on Him.
    Love from afar.
    One of your random readers.

  8. angie you are one of the most courageous women i 'know'. i still have keep believing written on my info center. =) i sometimes feel selfish that i keep you on my rss list as an encouragement and inspiration for me when i don't commment very often. turn! =) maybe you've seen this but i think this vid is incredible... . you have to scroll down to the bottom of the pg. it's the video on the left. and one esp for the boys... .

    have a wonderful, blessed 'be living day'!!!! <3
    (i know i just borrowed that =) how cool was the interpretation susan made!?)

  9. Angie,
    I so understand!!! It is such a helpless feeling to watch your kids endure that loss while you are at a loss too. My children have healed yet there are those scars still there.I can say that they are such special young adults now because of the suffering they have gone through. I wish they had never experienced the loss of their Dad yet I am thankful for the tender hearted young adults that they have become because of it if that makes any sense. I continue to pray for you all and would love to talk to you any time. My Allie is getting married this next summer and it is another time to feel such loss for her Dad. She has decided to get a locket and have his name engraved on the inside to wear that day in memory of him, yet she is so very happy and joyous about her upcoming wedding. Your boys will heal, I so remember the drawings and journals that my children wrote and they were just so "wrong" for a child to have to share. Take care and know that there will be another season to your life when your children will experience happiness and completeness in their lives and yours as well, it is just too hard to imagine that right now. much love,

  10. Sometimes I just don't have words for you.

  11. Angie,

    This post brought tears to my eyes.

    I know I've typed it what feels like 100s of times before and I'm going to type it again because I don't know what else to say or do....

    I am praying for you and the boys.

    That's all I can say or do and even though I know God is all-powerful and can do anything,after reading this post prayer doesn't even feel like enough...

    But that's all I've got for you so I'm going to keep doing it.


  12. Oh Angie, I am so sorry. I am grateful to be able to write about my eyebrows or my stupid dog or paint chips and not about losing my husband. I so very much wish you and the boys were not in the club. Hugs to you, dear one.

  13. It is really a good thing that Grant can express himself in his journal and not keep it all inside...heartbreaking for you, him, his teacher, and all who reads it, but so good that he can even talk about it. I wish for all of you that we could rewind life for you back to when things were happy and he was drawing Star-Wars ships and alien battles. Everyday...that is my prayer for all of you..that God will navigate a way for you all to find more little moments of happiness and peace.


  14. I just re-read the first paragraph...was this written last year by Gavin, or this year by Grant?

  15. Your final conclusion is the correct one. You are surrounded by those who have lost a loved one. In my lifetime I have lost a grandfather, two grandmothers, my first husband, and my parents. Each is a different grief, but we all make it through.
    My daughter is stronger because she lost her Daddy when she was 10. She learned a lot about life and the world because she lost her father in a traffic accident. It was during the school year so there was support at the school level as well.
    Yes, it is hard when our little ones are so brutally honest. At the same time it is a relief that they can share their inner most feelings. You have shown your sons the path to follow after such a loss.
    You are strong in your faith and God is surrounding you and the boys with his arms as we speak.
    God bles you, Karen W. in S.W. Ohio

  16. What can be said that hasn't already been said? Life truly sucks at times...periods of time. But you know your God is still there, with you. When nothing else is right, that's all we have. Him. Being there for us. With us. Carrying us. Healing us.

    Keep going girl.

  17. Angie....all I know to say is that I am praying for you. It sometimes doesnt feel like enough but we just have to put our HOPE in Him. Praying for you to feel His love surrounding you today.

  18. This makes complete sense, right down to the last word. Bossy understands everything you say, without understanding to the degree you do, of course, as participator.

    But words are powerful and you have a way with them. Goes a long way toward making the rest of us stop and listen.

  19. Oh Angie! I couldn't agree with you more! My oldest talks about his brother in heaven. My heart breaks everytime. You know... we should get together and write a book for how to really cope with a loss.

  20. I don't know if you realized it or not, but I'm still here. Lurking and reading, and finding true strength and beauty in your words. I'm not in your "club", my kids haven't experienced loss like yours have. But I am a mom and a wife, and all I know is the love I have for my husband and children. That part I get. The part about hurting when your children hurt? I get it. I might not know YOUR hurt, but I know the hurt of a mom.
    All I can say is, resent away! That's a totally valid and natural feeling, and it's probably just what you need to be feeling right now. I've sat and watched (or read) as you've brought us readers through your journey, and I keep coming back. Just so that I might understand a little better. Just in case I might ever know someone going through what your family is going through. I know I'm not alone in finding inspiration in your words, and I know I'm not the only one silently cheering you and your family on, and praying for each step you take in your journey of your new lives.
    Peace be with you all, Angie!

  21. Sweetie,
    In Feb 2006, my bro-in-law was driving drunk & had a wreck, killing his wife who was in the passenger seat. Their two kids were in school at the time (Thank God!) and came to live with us 8 days later, just a couple of days after we buried their mom while their dad sat in a jail cell. They were homeless at the time of the wreck & had lived an awful life prior to the wreck, so it was a great joy to bring them into our home. A "normal" home where we could show them what "normal" people looked like. Watching them work through their grief that year, walking them to their mom's grave about once a month, reading their journal entries (like the ones you're talking about above), looking at the pictures they drew of their dad's van smashing into a was heartbreaking. Their mom's death was different than Brian's but I think we walked through a lot of those same emotions. I remember so many times that my niece would be talking to someone that she'd just met & would say "Hi my name is K___, I'm 5 years old & I live with my Aunt Liz because my mom's dead & my dad's in jail." It was just part of who she was & she had no idea that it was inappropriate to blurt it out to a perfect stranger. Over time, I found myself just nodding & half-smiling & saying "yes, that's true." to the adult who would look up at me with a shocked look on their face. While all of these things may not be "normal", it's just a part of who your boys are, part of their identity and part of what will shape them as adults. As hard as it is to embrace, confirm their feelings & allow them to talk about it as much as they want. (Although I'm sure you're already doing that!) It's just how kids process things.

  22. Let me for the record say, I am pretty sure I never say the "right" thing.

    But in the middle of all this loss, and loss that is unimagineable to most of us, God loves you and the boys. LOVES YOU! Unconditionally more than you can even fathom LOVES YOU!! Rest in Him. Lean on Him. And CRY OUT to Him. He has a way for you. Hang in there and know that you really will make it through. With "normal" or without we all BELIEVE in you!

    And I too am stealing Susan's thing. BE LIVING!!

    hugs, Kristen

  23. Angie just wanted you to know I enjoy reading you blogs and I am so happy you are back at it :o)