We are a happy family

we are a happy family

It’s the middle of the night after a long trip and my husband hands me a pile of mail. I’m not quite sure what to do with it all. It was a difficult drive and I don’t really know how to just come in and put the children to bed. So I sort the mail.

One pile for sympathy cards. My husband usually opens those. We read them together, but I can’t always handle more than a couple at a time.

One pile for medical bills. There’s almost enough in that pile to buy our house all over and it isn’t even all that we know are coming. I’m thankful for good insurance but can’t bring myself to look just then.

And then there are the seed catalogs.

I had been looking forward to these. I do every year. Garden planning, I’ve found, is my favorite part of gardening. I get to plant all my vegetable dreams on paper and there they never succumb to wind or rain or drought or weeds. My garden is already planned, but I can usually be enticed to squeeze in a few more things.

This year, it isn’t in me. The only thing I can think about is how Tiggy used to sit in his car down by the garden while I was working. Sometimes he toddled behind me. Sometimes he wandered about in the tall grass outside the garden. Always he shouted gleefully any time the chickens came over to work over the compost pile.

“Chickie Chickie!”

I’ve lost my little country boy. My little chore helper who was happiest at my side trying so hard to do whatever I was doing.

Mattias walking out the garden

I think about how I had to take my garden plan off the bulletin board because Tiggy wouldn’t stop tearing my paper vegetables out of their paper beds. Sighing, I shove them out of the way. They’ve suddenly become another chore, another thing to just get through.

But morning brings a new day. I’m seeking distraction, something to occupy my mind. So I pull the catalogs back out, dig up my garden plan, find a notebook and begin slowly working my way through. One has a sweet potato cultivar advertised for northern gardens. I make a little room in my plans. One has the luffa squash I had given up finding. One even has lignonberry which I’ve been wanting for the hill over the root cellar.

My daughter interrupts, pushing a Hello Kitty notebook between me and a catalog.

“I’m writing a story, Mommy.”

I notice her name written at the top of the page while she chatters on. I nod my head and return to the catalog. But she’s insistent. She pushes her notebook back at me along with a pen. I’m supposed to take dictation. I don’t want to take dictation. I just want to sit here and forget about everything else.

But this is the notebook my little Bug has been working through her own grief in.

Here, she drew Hello Kitty with tears streaming down her face, even while she continued smiling and giggling as if nothing had ever happened.

“Why is Hello Kitty crying?” I had asked her.

“She’s sad that Tiggy died. Too sad to talk anymore.”

So I drag my thoughts back to the present, back to my children, back to where my family is in this moment. Everything is so heavy. The catalogs I set aside, her notebook, the pen. Their weight is almost unbearable as I take the little notebook and sit up to write her story.

“I am happy,” she begins.

The words sting. She does seem happy. She is very much the same as she was before the accident. Except I know that Hello Kitty cries. And that Hello Kitty doesn’t talk any more. I want to help her, but I don’t know how. She continues her story.

“I wish Tiggy didn’t die. Mommy and Daddy are so sad. We are a happy family.”

I pause for a moment over her last sentence. I look up at her bright, hopeful eyes. Smiling, I finish writing and hand back her story and she skips off to show Daddy.

I keep smiling. Her words touch my very soul. I like that thought. That we can be so sad, but still be a happy, nurturing family where our children can grow and find happiness.

And as I take up my catalogs, they aren’t quite so heavy anymore.

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  1. Reply

    jay quiverfull families directory

    January 5, 2011

    Oh my goodness; I’m almost in tears now. #6 is on the way in May. From reading several blogs I’ve been preparing my heart that tragedy may occur in our family at some point should the sovereign God will it. And if He does it will be for His purposes such as willing His Son to be crucified–the most nefarious and greatest tragedy of all time…but part of God’s plan to bring glory to himself and to call us unto Him.

    Adding this blog to my RSS reader. And I’m afraid to hit “the accident” link.

  2. Reply


    January 5, 2011

    Congratulations! And try not to let fear of tragedy taint the joy in your children. There’s nothing you can do to prepare your heart for such a thing and your family will benefit far more from joyful parents.

  3. Reply


    January 5, 2011

    That was beautiful Dana. A very hopeful moment. Hugs. 🙂

  4. Reply


    January 5, 2011

    The love and strength of you and your family is so evident from the beginning. From before. Now. Yours is a happy family. That does not mean that there is not grief, for of course there is. Lots of it. But there is even more love.

  5. Reply


    January 5, 2011

    that is precious! you are a happy family because you have each other and you have the memory of Happy Tiggy to carry on with you!
    hugs and prayers to you!

  6. Reply

    judy aron

    January 5, 2011

    My children led me out of my grief when my parents died. They have a way of helping to mend those holes in our hearts. They often show us that even when things are not as we’d like them, that we still have a life to live and we can still be happy. It isn’t even about “being strong”.. it’s about being hopeful and able to receive joy. On days when I felt as if I was clawing through stone and feeling so disconnected, I still knew that despite tremendous pain and loss that there is still a future of happiness and fulfillment, and after giving time to grieve and process loss we must allow that future to come into the shadows of the present.. slowly it does come. Your family is such a blessing to each other. You remain in my thoughts.

  7. Reply


    January 5, 2011

    Dana, your honesty is beautiful. Thank you. So many of us would want to succumb to the temptation to write posts that make it sound like everything is okay…or to avoid writing anything at all for fear someone might realize that we’re NOT okay. I’m so thankful for your honesty. A window into your grief is having a profound effect on my own view of grief…and living…and loving. I don’t know if you it helps to know it, but your writing…even now in your pain…is such an encouragement! That seems impossible, but it’s true. Thank you for allowing God to continue to use your gifts in the midst of your great sadness.

    You are a happy family. A happy family living in a very sad story. Still praying.

  8. Reply


    January 5, 2011

    There is a song children sing in their sunday school at our church, it goes:

    “I love Mommy, she loves me.
    I love Daddy, yessiree.
    He loves us and so you see,
    We are a happy family.”

    Although there may be tears, your children have realized the most important thing of all, there is love.

    What a beautiful post Dana. Thank you for sharing your hope and your hurt.

  9. Reply


    January 5, 2011

    I have been an infrequent follower, but I have been so drawn to you and your grief since I touched back with you a week or two ago. I don’t have any special words that would heal or advice that will greatly lift your load…I just wanted you to know that a homeschool family in southeastern Michigan is praying for you daily. We remember you adn your family in our morning devotions and you pop into my mind through out the day. Prayers are being lifted for you and your family…

  10. Reply


    January 5, 2011

    I have been reading your story since New Year’s day and I have to say, that as a mother, this just breaks my heart for you and your family. I have four children, my youngest who is a two year old little boy. Is so busy and always sleeps with his hands behind his head in the car seat or in his bed. So when you shared the picture of Tiggy in the car seat, it broke my heart. The grief that must roll over you at times, must take all you have to just breathe…Every time you write something I tear up and get a lump in my throat. Happy or sad regarding these moments.
    The thing is, when someone like you shares your story. Then all of us know that we could easily be you.
    Life is precious.
    Last night, a family we know, lost their son to suicide.
    So today, another mom is broken and weeping at the feet of Jesus.
    Your baby was not quite two. Her baby was in his early twenties.
    So precious, sad and heartbreaking.
    May the God of all things start this journey of grief with her and continue with you on your path as well.
    From the bottom of my mama hurting heart Dana, I think of you and Tiggy every single day and pray for your grief, strength, hope, and moments that shine the light of healing on you like your little bug did with her story today.
    Love, Kristin

  11. Reply


    January 5, 2011

    You’ve been on my heart and mind today and in my prayers.

    In my journey, very different from yours, I admit, of watching a child disappear into autism, comfort comes from connecting with other families who walk with me in a similar experience.

    As I was thinking about that, I thought of something: When Maria died, Mary Beth Chapman blogged about her emotions and experience. (I think you two would have a strong connection.) Then she wrote a book, “Choosing to See”. I’ll send you my copy if you’ll send me your address.

  12. Reply


    January 5, 2011

    I will keep on praying for your and your family. There are many things I would share with you but it is not the time. Keep cherishing the short sweet time you had with Tiggy and the “happy family” you have. Many hugs and shared tears, since I find myself crying over your posts. I just want to gather you up and take away the pain, as unrealistic as that is.

  13. Reply

    Miss Roxie

    January 5, 2011

    Dearest Dana,

    I hope you keep reading the response posts. I was thinking about them, and what they might be able to do.

    And here is what I thought: they weave together a blanket for you to fall on. They are written with love, encouragement, hope, healing, tears, and hugs and hopes of hearing of a little joy in your life now and then.

    All the thoughts of all the people who are responding to you and your family can make a blanket of love and comfort for you to fall on so that you never get lost in a big black hole of grief. God weaves for you a net. A safety net of caring loving people. Just for you, Dana.

    There is so much love in these responses. I can feel it. I hope you and your family can feel it. When it’s time. You will feel it. When you need it. Let yourself feel it.

    God bless and keep you all through the rest of your days.

  14. Reply


    January 5, 2011


    We don’t know each other, but I have been following your blog since late December. I am a mother of 5 and stepmother of two. I enjoy reading about other large families.
    I’ve read and re-read your accounts of the accident and events since it happened, and I cry every time I read.
    I just wanted to tell you that I am grieving with you. I cry whenever I think about your little Tiggy. What a beautiful baby! My 2 year old is “Tubby”. Every time I say my son’s nickname, I think of your sweet, precious boy.
    And, any mother could be walking in your shoes right now, including myself. We aren’t guaranteed anything on earth.
    I pray for you and your family daily, and I pray that you will find the strength and courage to continue being a wonderful mother to your beautiful children. What a precious, sweet family you have!

  15. Reply


    January 5, 2011

    Beautiful and heart breaking. Your daughter has the joy of the Lord in her soul – obviously you have been great parents to instill that in her. I know this has destroyed pieces of your soul, but I believe God will repair it – in a different shape because nothing can fill the hole left by Tiggy’s absence, but somehow I believe you DO and WILL have a happy family. God bless.

  16. Reply


    January 5, 2011

    Oh, please plant your garden. It could prove a bit cathartic, a lovely place to mourn, and also a lovely place to watch new things grow, to be reminded that the Lord is still working, that he’s right there . . .

    Praying, praying, praying . . .

  17. Reply


    January 5, 2011

    I only came across your blog a few days ago and I cannot stop thinking about your dear sweet Tiggy. I am so sorry you and your family have to experience this profound loss, it is unimaginable to me. My son is 21 months and the night I read Tiggy’s story I wanted to wake him up and hold him tight. Thank you for your honesty in sharing your grief. You write so beautifully about your son and your family that it strikes a chord in my heart and I feel as if I know you all. I hope the kindness of strangers is some small comfort to you. You have touched many people with your words, and your son will be remembered by so many who never even met him. I hope that you plant your garden this year, and that it brings you some peace. God bless you and your beautiful family.

  18. Reply


    January 5, 2011

    I have been reading your blog since the week you lost your precious Tiggy. I cry every time I read your entries and I pray for you and your family daily.

    When I ask God why something like this could happen, I just end up tearfully thanking Him for solving our biggest problem and giving hope to this fallen world. Thanks to His Son, you will see yours again, and I thank God for that even when I can’t understand why it happened.

    I wanted you to know that tomorrow, my dad is coming by to attach our bookcase and dresser to the wall with the brackets I bought this week. I know that the hours of my children’s lives are in His hands and His will is sovereign, but if your story can prevent tragedy in other homes, your pain in sharing what happened will not have been in vain. My little boy is just a few months younger than your Tiggy was, and I think of you often when I look at him.

    Along with many, many others who have never met you, I am praying for you every day. We are bound together in Christ. As mothers, our hearts break for you whether we know the pain you are facing firsthand or not.

  19. Reply


    January 5, 2011

    i have been without reliable internet, and unable to check in as I would have liked though you have not been far from my daily thoughts, at all…

    This post touched me, beyond belief. You reminded me that things are not so one dimensional.

  20. Reply


    January 5, 2011

    Happy Family. I like that. It is as if she is giving thanks for her family, for happiness in spite of the devastation and sorrow.

  21. Reply

    Jennifer in OR

    January 6, 2011

    What a sweet, beautiful picture you posted. I love how you take dictation for Bug so she can have a voice for her emotions. Praying for you and hoping that come spring you have the beginnings of a lovely garden.

  22. Reply


    January 6, 2011

    I cannot say anything more than the others have. They have expressed all my feelings already. Just wanted you to know I am one of the *many* who are praying for you, grieving with you and loving you and your precious family.

  23. Reply

    Jan J.

    January 6, 2011

    Well this is where I come when I need a good cry! It sounds as if your children are very good at expressing their feelings of loss. Maybe you can plan a memory garden for Tiggy, a special place to go and think of him and the children can all contribute a shell or stone or some piece of their own.

  24. Reply


    January 6, 2011

    I found my way over here from myhomesweethome. I’ve sat here reading your last several posts, my heart aching for you and tears streaming. You and your family will be in my thoughts and prayers.

  25. Reply


    January 6, 2011

    Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me” and “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” It is amazing how often my children are able to help me heal even when they are not trying to do so. They look at life so much differently, more simplistically. The things they say and do don’t make the hurt go away, but I find the wisdom God gave them helps me heal and move through it in ways I didn’t think I could. I find myself on the other side, or further through the pain than I realised and I know it’s because of them and God’s gifts to me through them.

    I know I don’t comment often, but I do read and we are still praying for you all.

  26. Reply


    January 6, 2011

    I read your blog and your posts caused me deep sorrow, but you seem to find this deep joy within your pain. I am thankful for that. I am praying for your family, please know.

  27. Reply


    January 6, 2011

    There are truly no words. We lost our precious baby girl Jan . 29, 2010. She
    was just 20 months young. She was being
    treated for RSV, but died of type A strep.
    The days and nights all run together and time
    will forever be marked by that awful day.
    People mean well when they say time
    will help, but the sadness doesn’t leave your heart
    For long. Will keep you in our prayers.

  28. Reply

    Jen R. (emeraldsunshine.org)

    January 6, 2011

    Such beautiful, poignant words.

  29. Reply


    January 6, 2011

    I don’t know what it is like to lose a child, but I do know what it is like to lose siblings. I am praying for your and your children.

  30. Reply

    Nicole Wetzel

    January 6, 2011

    My heart says Amen, Dana. What precious children ministering peace and comfort even in their own pain.

  31. Reply


    January 6, 2011

    Dana, your words are so breathtakingly beautiful. I can feel your pain, I find myself transported to that couch as your little girl dictates words that surely come from a wise soul…far older than her years. In short, your words allow me to feel your heartache which in turn fuels my prayers for your lovely, hurting family. Have I recommended the book Tear Soup…it is song perfect for your older children. Truth be told it is pretty perfect for adults too. God bless you all. One day those memories of Tiggy will bring a quick smile to your face and joy to your burdened heart. Until that time, known you are lifted in prayer daily!

  32. Reply


    January 6, 2011

    I know no other child can ever take Tiggy’s place,but I’m so glad you have a baby to fill your arms and your other little ones to help fill your heart.

  33. Reply


    January 6, 2011

    And from the mouth of babes… my friend takes another step toward healing.

  34. Reply


    January 6, 2011

    Hi. I just found your blog tonight through another blog. My heart is so heavy with sadness for you and your family. The video you put together was beautiful. I feel honored to have been blessed with seeing your sweet son’s smiling face. May the peace of God surround you as you grieve your precious Tiggy and mother your other blessings. We will be lifting you and your precious family up in prayer.

  35. Reply

    Karen W

    January 7, 2011

    Dana, may God comfort your hearts during this time. Praying for you all.

    “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified. ” Isaiah 61:1-3

  36. Reply


    January 7, 2011

    I came back today to read your latest posts. I only found your blog in December when someone on facebook shared your post about how you lost little Tiggy. It was hard for me to read, but I have thought of you often since then and wanted today to see that my prayers for you were being answered, that you were finding healing and joy in the midst of your grief. I am glad that you are seeing glimpses of that. I can tell in your writing of your immense grief and my heart aches for you and tears come to my eyes as I read your posts. Please know you are in my prayers as you continue to walk this road of healing.

    Your words were also encouraging to me today as I was dealing with the frustration of being a mom, the tedious little tasks, the unending needs, the whines and squabbles and the messes. After reading and being reminded of your loss, I looked at my kids with a little more love. You’d think I would know how to do this every day because we too lost a child. Next month it will be 5 years since she died. She was only 7 months old. The grief never completely goes away, but the overwhelming feelings you feel right now will subside (though I have learned they return at random times in the years to come). But even I needed to be reminded today to treasure those around me, so thank you.


  37. Reply


    January 7, 2011

    Praise God for children! They just “get it,” don’t they? They can feel so sad to the point of tears and speechlessness, and yet somehow still be happy. So eternity focused. So beautiful!

  38. Reply


    January 7, 2011

    i don’t know if i wrote this already, and i don’t have time to look back in my other comments. i lost my husband in a car accident 12 1/2 years ago and my 5 month old son survived severe brain injury. God is a God of restoration. no, nothing can ever replace the ones we lost, but He will add joy to our grief, and restore as He did with Job that which we lost and more. i was given a new husband four years later, and a stepson with him. and since then God has given us five more blessings, all normal, active, wonderful kids. i never planned on seven children (and counting?), but God has done a great work, and the joy in His work is amazing. there is always a rainbow after the rain, and God promised no more floods to wipe us out. you’re in my thoughts and prayers…

  39. Reply


    January 8, 2011

    you family is an inspiration. i cry for you, there are no words to express nothing i can say that will help,
    but when i think of you i look around my house and try to make it safer. thank you for sharing your story

  40. Reply


    January 8, 2011

    This is a beautiful post. I have not lost a child, but I am a paramedic and a mom, and your blog has brought back a host of memories.

    I have sat here and cried tonight as I read your blog. There are no words I can say that can ever make this better, but know that you and your family will be in my prayers for a long time.

  41. Reply


    January 8, 2011

    So very precious.

  42. Reply


    January 9, 2011

    Oh Dana, I just learned what happened- I am so, so sorry. Wishing I could give you and your children hugs and make you a pot of soup and some bread.

  43. Reply

    Kim Wright

    January 10, 2011

    Our prayers our with you..I am so very sorry for your loss. I am so amazed at your strength to share your heart at this time. You are obviously one amazing woman..again, our prayers are with you.

    Kim Wright

  44. Reply


    January 10, 2011

    {hugs} I’m still praying.

  45. Reply

    Matthew reynolds

    January 10, 2011

    Just finished reading your latest post. I have lost it overtime i come back for an update. Your family must be i n so much pain. We have five kids of our own, and cant imagine what you are going through. I hope the you find the peace that only God can give. We are praying for you. Please keep us updated

  46. Reply


    January 19, 2011

    Lovely piece. I’ve said I’m sorry before but it bears repeating. Hugs.


January 2, 2011
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