Facing a New Year

Facing a New Year

Actually, I’m not quite there yet. I can barely face a whole day, let alone a whole year. But it did draw my thoughts to last year, to moving here, to the way I used to look at the land outside my window. This property was a canvas upon which we were painting our dreams. Everything was such an adventure, and Tiggy was in the middle of it all.


Now the color has gone out of my dreams and the flavor has gone out of life.

But the children knew the date and that it is one normally associated with too much junk food, staying up late and lots of games. So I did what I do every year and turned the planning over to them.

Mouse immediately made a list.

  • Decorations
  • Food
  • Drinks
  • Music
  • Games

I praised her for spelling everything correctly and all the children went to take stock of what we already had.

“Can we get some sparkling grape juice, mom? It isn’t New Year’s without sparkling grape juice.”

“Ask your father.”

“Can we dad? Please?”

“Gas is over $3 a gallon.”

Now mom hears that and hears either “No,” or “If we’re driving into town, it better be for more than grape juice.” The children just hear a random and irrelevant tidbit of information they didn’t care about anyway. So they repeat their request.


And over.

And over.

John looks over at me. It’s his, “Please help me say no” look. I shrug my shoulders.

“I don’t really mind. The stores will be closed tomorrow. I’m sure there are other things we could use.”

That isn’t quite the answer he wanted to hear so he musters all his fatherly authority.

“Oh, call the market and see if they’re open.”

And they are, so now he’s stuck. And Mouse delivers us another list.

  • Sparkeling grap juice
  • Egg nog
  • Chips, honey musterd or BBQ

I don’t say anything about the spelling.

It is determined that Mouse will stay home and work on the party plans but Bear wants to stay with her. We’ve let her babysit before, but not Bear. The two of them are just too competitive. But so much has changed in the last few weeks. My normal maternal fears are heightened. The world is suddenly a very scary place, where furniture tumbles, horses fall, and space heaters malfunction.

But it’s also a world where my children hurt and grieve and I want to say yes.

So I do.

And it is immediately apparent that they now live in the same scary place.

“What if Mouse gets knocked unconscious? What if there’s a fire? What if the roof caves in? What if…?”

We go over each scenario, emphasizing the importance of calling 911 and getting out of the house. We write out our address and leave it on the phone in case they forget, but remind them that all they have to do is call. 911 will figure out where we live quickly enough. We give them a tutorial on the use of the fire extinguisher because Bear fears being engulfed in flames with no exit, but remind them that all they have to do is get out. We don’t care about the fire so long as they get out. We even have Mouse put the cell phone in her pocket so they will have a phone no matter what.

I begin to wonder if we should just take him, but he wants to stay. My husband asks if maybe one of us should stay in case we’re in an accident so at least one of us survives. My heart aches for a time when we could take for granted that we could return from a simple shopping trip without calamity.

But we do. They rearranged the furniture in the front room to make room for a snack bar, a game table and an open area because what’s a New Year’s party without a dance floor? Paper chains hung from the ceiling fan and paper streamers hung from the doorway into the kitchen.

New Year's decorations

And Mouse, who wouldn’t say his name until now asked to bring out his picture.

memorial picture

The party started with a video: the memorial slide show my husband made for the funeral service.

And with mom crying. . .sobbing. . .there has to be a better word for it. The tears are never far away, but this is different. It over took me at the hospital and I collapsed, but there were no tears then. It was there when we left the casket at the cemetery, but my husband was able to lead me away. And it was there watching the short video of his life that was far too short as I thought briefly about entering a new year without him.

Bug just stood and stared at me, not sure what to do, until she crawled in my lap. L.E. and Mouse pulled up chairs to watch the show. Bear stayed at the table with his back to the computer until it was over. I cried until I couldn’t cry any more and then sat on the couch with the baby, trying not to think of anything else.


He liked the decorations. He particularly liked the streamers in the doorway when I walked through with him. They rubbed against his face and he kicked and waved and tried to catch them with his mouth. So I walked back and forth with him, smiling at his delight while the children danced to the Alvin and the Chipmunks channel on Pandora.

I even did the Moonwalk. Which left them all staring in disbelief. To prove I was cool and not insane, we showed them YouTube clips of Michael Jackson doing the Moonwalk. And even an instructional video on how to do it. Mouse and Bear gave it a try. Bug was much more impressed with him kneeling down and spinning.

“It just doesn’t seem like a family without Tiggy,” she said after trying a few times.

But the music and the games and the dancing drew her back in. My heart stayed with her words.

I’m not sure how we got from Michael Jackson dance moves to Weird Al videos to Colin Buchanan. I just know I fell asleep in there somewhere and woke up with all the children snuggled in a blanket on the floor watching clips on the computer.

The last thing Tiggy did was snuggle with his siblings on the floor while watching a movie.

And so midnight came and went and we’re in a New Year. A lot the same, yet forever changed.

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  1. Reply


    January 2, 2011

    Our prayers and thoughts are never far from all of you as you walk this incredibly hard road.

  2. Reply


    January 2, 2011

    Dana, I have been wanting to leave a comment to you ever since you starting writing about your young son dying. It seems every time I try to start one I start getting emotional and have to stop. You see I lost my 13 year old son back in February of 2009 from complications from the flu. I am so sorry that this has happened to you and your family. No parent should have to say good bye to their children. It has been almost 2 years for me and it is like walking through hell on a daily basis. I will say this though, the days get a little more manageable. They aren’t better but you learn to manage living with the pain and sadness. I have read all of your writings about the day your son died through today. I can relate to everything you have written and it takes me back to the day my son died and the weeks, months that followed. Walking around like a zombie just feeling numb to everything. You are right, as the numbness starts to wear off the reality of what has happened will hit you and hit you hard. I have been told that is the way the body protects you from the shock and trauma of what has happened. I remember it was like watching a movie to me, like an outer body experience when everything happened. This journey is much like standing out in the ocean with the waves of emotions beating up on you coming in one after another. Needless to say I’m still here because I have a 9 year old daughter who needs me. I wake up everyday for her because she still needs her mother as well as her father. We are survivors getting through another day without all of our children. I just pray to God and my son to give me the strength to get through another day and some how I do it. I just wanted you to know that you are not alone in this journey you have to take. Yes our individual journeys are different from each other but we are all taking them together. Some good advice was giving to me from a beavered parent just after my son died. They told me to do what ever feels good or right to you, take care of yourself, go easy on yourself as well, don’t make any rash decisions about what to do with your child’s possessions and one day the time will come when tears are replaced by smiles when you think of your child. Although that time has not come to me yet, I still cry on a daily basis. There is also a group called The Compassionate Friends that helps beavered parents and they do have a website. I’m sorry I took so much time and space with my comment but I have been so touched by your writings. I pray for peace and comfort for you and your family. Just take it one day at a time. Like I have come to say I have bad days then some are really bad days. Peace be with you!!

  3. Reply


    January 2, 2011

    Still praying for you sweetheart, still praying.

  4. Reply


    January 2, 2011

    My heart still aches for your family. You are in my continued prayers.

  5. Reply

    Nance Confer

    January 2, 2011

    I am so sorry for your loss. What else can I say that means anything in the face of such a thing. . .


  6. Reply


    January 2, 2011

    Dana, when my mother died last February, this is the song that ran through my head.
    The End of the World

    Of course, the song doesn’t quell the grief, but it gave words to the screaming “why?” in my mind.

    (in Mom’s case, my adult self knew exactly why, but the child inside me felt destroyed, breathing for the first time without her mother somewhere in the world, and she didn’t want to grasp why everything else didn’t also collapse with grief)

    When I see any of the pictures of Mom holding my older sister who died before I was born, I think of you and Tiggy.

  7. Reply


    January 2, 2011

    I’ve read every post but haven’t been able to comment on all of them because I always have the same response,

    “So sorry for your loss, you and your family are in my thoughts and prayers, wish there was more I could do.”

    How many times can you read those words before they stop having meaning?

    The thing is, I’ve never lost anyone that close to me…even two of my older brothers who both died in their 30’s. It’s not the same as losing a child, especially one so young and under such circumstances.

    I really don’t understand and I really can’t relate.

    Still, I’m praying for you and your family and wishing you all the very best.


  8. Reply


    January 2, 2011

    Dana, is it Ok that I laughed really hard at your baby’s expression? I was crying, then I was laughing! What a gift he is to you, and the other kids wanting to celebrate, even though it wasn’t the same. My children pray for your children every day. I think their innocent prayers reach God quickly, so I have them say extra for me, and I say mine, too. I’m glad that Mouse wanted to plan, that the kids decorated. It’s right for them, and how funny that you tried the moonwalk! About living without fear, some of us never have. We just try to work through it, plan ahead, try to cover the bases, like you did with the phone. The rest is up to God and His divine wisdom.
    I wish you peace and love.

  9. Reply


    January 2, 2011

    Yes, Mary. It’s OK. He has the same effect on me. 🙂

    And thank you everyone.

    Sheri, the words never become meaningless. I hope you never do understand, and I don’t really need anyone to.

    There isn’t anything anyone can say that can make it any better, but at the same time it all does help.

  10. Reply


    January 2, 2011

    Thinking of you Dana…

  11. Reply

    Karen W

    January 2, 2011

    Praying for you tonight. May you feel God holding you closely each and every day.

  12. Reply


    January 2, 2011

    Such memories all mingled together, the old and the new, the happy and the sad.


  13. Reply


    January 3, 2011

    I think your celebration was beautiful. Perfectly done. I know there are several online support groups. If you haven’t looked into one already, I think it would be a wise move when you’re ready. I think those who have gone before would have a tremendous amount of wisdom as you and your family learn to walk through such griping fears. I also know from when my dad died that Hospice hosts camps for children dealing with grief. Again, when you’re ready, it may be something to look into.

    And I also want to thank you. For CHristmas, my husband gave me anchors for a wall unit and dresser and new smoke detectors and installed everything immediately because of your story. It feels so wrong to thank you for that, but I guess I’m telling you to let you know you added a little bubble wrap to at least our part of the world.

    And when you get a chance, could you tell me what planting zone you are in?

    May God bless you and keep you. May His face shine upon you… today. One day at a time.

  14. Reply

    Devon Roesener

    January 3, 2011

    Dana & Family:

    I cannot imagine the pain and stress that you go through on a daily basis. It sounds like your family is very closely knitted together and that will be what helps everyone make it through this immensly sadden time.

    I also think that keeping this blog will help you stay intouch with your emotions and aid in the healing process. Although not sure that you ever completely heal. You are a very strong woman and sounds like you have a very strong family.

    You keep talking and we are here to listen. My family prays for your family and if you need help with anything we are just down the road. TJae says Hi!

  15. Reply


    January 3, 2011

    Wailing – that word from the Old Testament is the only one that seems to fit the pain your soul must be experiencing.

    I’ve been thinking about your family since someone posted your blog on a message board. I’m not even really sure what to say, just wanted to let you know I was praying for you and in some very small way sharing in your sorrow.

    We received an end-of-year gift that we need to tithe on and God has put it on my heart to give that money in Mattias’s name to Little Hands. I hope that it helps to know that his story has helped inspire that gift to help save other little ones.

    I pray that God brings peace and love to you, your marriage and your children through this healing process. Whenever people say that religion is a crutch I wonder if they have ever had to struggle with wondering why a loving God allows the things he does. Tragedies like this are not explainable and I don’t pretend to understand them. In the end, I guess we are called to trust that he will restore everything in the end – and to rejoice in the fact that we know we will one day see lost loved ones. I believe Tiggy is in his arms in heaven

    I believe that having the courage to tell your story – and in such a beautiful and real way – will help others – either those struggling with a loss or touching others as it has me. I have found myself thinking of you when I have my patience tested by my 2yr old – it reminds me to count my blessings. Of course, it has also made me get the hardware to bolt my furniture to the wall – and I will encourage others to do the same.

    God bless you all and I will keep you all in my prayers.

  16. Reply

    Ali Workentin

    January 3, 2011


    Just stopping in to see how you and the family are doing. So glad that you let your children plan the New Years Eve party and even in your grief you are being the best mom you can be. The pictures of Tiggy are precious and your littlest guy is darling.

    Continuing to keep you all in my thoughts and praying that God continues to make himself known to you. Hang in there and just keep putting one foot in front of the other…that is how you keep going…just saying from experience.

  17. Reply


    January 3, 2011

    I found your blog 3 yrs. ago while I began using much of the principle approach. It was a blessing, hearing your mother’s heart and your delight in your children. I’m not on the net much and for whatever reason have never had a list of blogs I check. So for whatever reason Dec. 13th I remembered your blog and looked you up. My husband and I sat teary eyed reading what you’ve had to face. I am so sorry. I am praying for you and your children. The post when you walk your precious 7 year old through his grief and questions just makes me ache for you. I have 4 children (2, 4, 7 and 9) and in the smaller grief’s we’ve walked through I have begun to understand needing the Lord so much more as I help my children walk through life. It’s one thing to throw a question up to God and for a mother an entirely weightier matter to have a sweet tear-streaked face look up at you and ask you those tough questions about God, life, death, and pain. I will keep you in my prayers as you walk through these days. I am so sorry you lost your precious son. I know you are an amazing Mom, a Mom that keeps a safe house. I felt for you as I read about that dresser. I know there was nothing you could have done and I feel for you. We have had 3 very close calls, when we as parents have done all we could or should have done and I just pray for your mind to know you are an amazing thoughtful careful mother. I am so sorry this happened. I pray God’s comfort will come strong, in torrents when you need it most and that numbness you speak of will cover you when needed.

  18. Reply

    Angela Gosnell

    January 3, 2011

    Dana- I found you through a friends blog and my heart aches for you and your family. My children and I pray for your family God to comfort you through all that you are going through.

  19. Reply


    January 4, 2011

    I have been thinking about y’all a lot since I found out about Tiggy last week. I had not stopped by in a while and I just happened to click on a link to one of your posts on my Blogher sidebar. I’ve been praying for you all.
    I lost my 2 year old brother the week before his 3rd birthday. I was 5 (I’m 32 now). He was run over by the truck as my mom was helping my dad pull our boat out of the water at the lake. I keep thinking about your post that said something about your kids and memories — I was so young when Alex died but God has blessed me with some wonderful memories of him and of us playing. My parents and I still enjoy talking about him. As time passed, even as a child, I embraced his memory instead of the loss. I sat at his place at the table, and I had a hulk of his on my dresser. I pray that your kids too will be blessed with wonderful memories of Tiggy that will remain as they grow older. I pray for you and your husband too.

  20. Reply

    Donna - WWAHHMpreneur

    January 4, 2011

    I am so blessed that you have found the ability to still share with us from your heart and your family’s experiences.

    In reading, I felt led to share this with you:

    This past Sunday’s sermon from The Church of Jacksonville (Sun 1/2/11 video on demand at thechurchgroup.org) blessed me and helped me to seal some things in my heart regarding trusting God’s protection in the midst of a world full of chaos. He keeps, protects and watches over us.

    You all are so very brave, and you’re letting God use you to help others.

    Thanks so much for sharing!

  21. Reply


    January 7, 2011

    Thanks, Devon. Hopefully TJae likes his sweatshirt.

    We seem to have found a wonderful community to move into. 🙂

  22. Reply


    January 20, 2011

    Hi-Still crying here, can’t seem to quit. I’m not a mother who has lost a living child (mis-carried was hard enough) but my sister did and I can relate a little. Her children were my children also and it was the hardest thing I have ever been through, and if it’s that hard with a nephew I can’t imagine what it would be like as a mother. I have 3 and I cherish their every day. I thank God for them every day. We are blessed to be mothers even if it’s for a little while. God put them here in our care and then when he is ready to receive them again to him, he takes back what is his, and His Heavenly gain is our earthly loss. Your boy, Your Baby is in the arms of our Lord and someday you will be reunited. Take care of his brothers and sisters who still need their strong, loving mommy. Time, you have to give it time and you have to grieve and grieve in your own way. You will pull through and you will smile again. Praise God he gave him to you to love. You must be an amazing mommy. Love and Prayers♥


December 30, 2010
January 5, 2011