It’s a mix of pain and joy now. This back to school week. Isn’t that typical of motherhood. My kids have their folders and pencils and glue and notebooks all over the floor. They label them, organize them, and carefully place them in new, stiff backpacks as they await their first days. Their clothing is set-out – for once it’s new and crisp and possibly ironed. Their hair somehow even feels and smells cleaner on the first of school. It’s a fresh start for everyone. We are ready for new friends, challenges, schedules, and a new year to grow.
And while we’ve been doing this dance of “newness” and school years for seven years – the past three years have felt different.
Because three years ago I met Anna. And Jack. And Margaret. And what was suppose to be a beautiful new start to a school year – changed for them in an instant.
I still remember the first time I clicked over to Anna’s blog when the story of Jack came across my news feed. At first I felt like I typically do when clicking over to a stranger’s blog because of a tragedy. Do I belong here? Should I read it? Should I click away? Am I being nosy or caring? Is social media a curse or a blessing or both? But just like I do when I see a tragedy unfolding on the news thousands of miles away – I cry for the mothers. And that day and many days since, I’ve cried for Anna and her family. Because I didn’t need to know her personally to let her know that she was in my heart and mind as she traveled a journey where none of us ever want to go.
Many of us went there that day – to offer Anna prayers, support, love and some sort of kindness to provide a light from the gray? All of us strangers. And she welcomed us. All of us. From that moment to now and always. And I still remember meeting Anna in person – not even a year after Jack’s death – and how her hug felt just as warm as I anticipated it would be – because of her strength to share their story – and to share their Jack with all of us.
And now Anna’s book Rare Bird is coming out in September.
“On an ordinary September day, Anna’s 12 year old son jack was swept away in a flash flood. Anna’s story of courage in the face of sudden loss and the surprising encounters with the supernatural after Jack’s death, shape this hope-filled book. Rare Bird is not only for bereaved parents. This is a gift to anyone who has looked up at life and thought, “This is not what I signed up for.” Rare Bird is moving, candid and eloquent as it explores how to honor the tenderness of pain while acknowledging, as Anna writes, “That God is closer than your own skin..and you are braver than you think.”
I was honored to read Anna’s book before the release next week. Her book isn’t one of grief and overwhelming sadness – but one of hope and her journey with her family. Anna lets us into her life, to know all of them – including Jack – with her intimate thoughts, pain, joy, and even with laughter. And may I just say that I love through her faith – and as a Christian – I love that Anna lets the word “Fuck” just fly once in awhile(on her blog) – because if anyone deserves the grace of using that word – it’s her. I devoured her book in a day – and the last page left me just where I knew it would – would a tear running down my face as I smiled.
For more information and as a window to Anna and family – please watch the book trailer…
I hope you will consider buying Anna’s book as a preorder now - and at the official September 9th book launch. And keep holding Anna and Jack and her family up in your thoughts, through your kindness, and in your prayers, and yes in your laughter as we all celebrate them together. During this time of year – and always.
Love you, Anna.