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Oct 19, 2010

Recognize & Acknowledge

Sitting in  the choir loft Sunday morning, I was startled by a video. It highlighted our church's mid-week boys' class. It was the group that Andrew was a part of for a few years. He always liked the fishing, the shooting and campfire making the best. The book work, he endured. (That's our boy!)
Over the next few minutes, I felt the cruelty of not having our boy.
Cancer stinks.
We don't know why brain cancer attacked our boy. I don't want any other child to go through it. I don't want any other family to be in agony over a cancer diagnosis and death.
Sometimes when I see boys Andrew's age, the pain is overwhelming. I wonder why our boy. We tried to do all the right things to protect him ~ spirit, soul and body.

Still, cancer came.

Sometimes when I am out running in my neighborhood I see a boy riding a bike whose hair is the color of honey, like Andrew's.
Sometimes I close my eyes just a little and imagine it is Andrew for just a moment.
Sometimes I hear the familiar sound of skateboarding down our street and I miss hearing that right outside my door. I miss hearing Andrew skateboarding up our driveway, into the garage and coming in the side door with his hair plastered with sweat to his head.

Sometimes I see the friends he played with out playing now. It hurts. I often avoid the top of our street for that reason.

As the video played, I felt the heat rising in my body, tears welled up in my eyes and spilled down my cheeks. My hands began to shake. I wanted to escape. But I knew it would cause distraction and I would just feel worse making a scene.
The lady to my left reached for her purse and withdrew a tissue. She pressed it into my hand and then she placed her hand on my knee.
Grief and overwhelming sadness was recognized.
I grabbed her hand as the video seemed interminable and held on for dear life.
Grief and overwhelming sadness acknowledged.

I often feel that people don't know what to do with me anymore. And I wonder if it is more a reflection of my own discomfort. Should I try to explain how difficult it is being in church?
There are several reasons. Our family has discussed them. I think it would be very hard for someone to understand unless they have been in a very similiar situation.

It starts with driving to church. Instead of five of us in our van, there are four. Andrew always sat right behind me. Then there is the pew. Not five any longer, but four. We sat there believing and praying for a miracle as Andrew sat beside us. The elders of the church prayed for him and he was anointed with oil.

Our choir has begun rehearsing for Christmas and I remember that last December the five of us sat together and as the choir sang, Andrew leaned into me and whispered in my ear, "It's not the same without you up there, Mom."  That was only two weeks before he passed to Heaven.

Although doing life is sometimes difficult, we keep pressing forward. We do the hard things. I admit I do not always smile through it. But I do it. Can that be good enough sometimes?

I guess I'm sharing this to let you know that if you are in the presence of someone who is walking through a storm, in whatever phase that may be, you really don't have to say much. Please don't preach or tell them you know how they feel. Please don't offer platitudes and be very careful about "sharing" Scripture.

Just recognize and acknowledge.
Eye contact. A hug. A pat on the back. A squeeze of the hand.
That is comfort.

As in our case of our loss of Andrew, I want people who know him to talk about him when it feels right. That makes us feel good!
Please don't pretend he never existed. If you have a story to share, tell me. Maybe he came to your mind recently, tell me. Though we don't have his physical presence at this time, he is still with us. He is always in our family of five.

Forever A Family of "5"

"It's not the same without you down here, Andrew."

October 2009 ~ at church
A couple of nights ago as we lay in bed, I told my husband, "I want Andrew back."
He replied, "And he wants us home."


  1. These are really important things to voice Melanie and I'm glad you did. When my mom was dying, a dear friend came into the room and didn't say a word, just put her arm around me and laid her head on my shoulder. It was enough, and it was a comfort, no words.

    After dad went to heaven, it was so painful to go to church, for a long time. All I could see was him with his Bible under his arm, getting ready to preach, and the wonderful music made me weep.

    I have no words for you today, but if I were there, I would put my arm around you and lay my head on your shoulder.

  2. Thanks for sharing your heart sis, which always truly, and deeply touches mine. Your words are so precious. Praying for your forever family of five. I love you.

  3. Crying as I read this. Yet it is so good to express your experience and these truths.

  4. Thank you, Melanie...and Everything you do is good enough.

  5. Thank you for writing. Thank you for being you. And thank you for sharing so that I can grow through it with you. Love and hugs.

  6. I am sending you that hug...and I so wish you could have Andrew back....the pain must be immense...but God is good, even in that. We will understand all of it someday....

  7. Hi Melanie. I have been reading your blog since Andrew became ill. I don't know why, but I've taken his death very hard. I think it's because I now have two grandsons, and I adore them. Children are not supposed to get cancer, they're supposed to ride their skate boards up and down the streets. They're supposed to love their mommy's and mema's. They are supposed to outlive us. My heart goes out to you, I have cried with you, and for you. Andrew is a gorgeous boy. He's your gorgeous boy and someone who never met him, grives for you both.

  8. Hey sweet girl! This was such an important post. Thank you for loving us enough to share it! If I were there, I'd give you a big hug...and say nothing!
    Love you!

  9. Just wanted to say, we hear your precious heart. Sometimes, eye contact and a gentle touch to the hand....is enough.

    Sending my love.

  10. Love you Mella! You are so inspiring! Hugs!

  11. Oh Melanie, i'm in tears here. My prayers are with you. Even though I don't know you personally, I think of you and your family often. I am in tears with what your husband responded to you. My continued prayers for you all. God Bless.

  12. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I know you help a lot of people going through the grieiving process. Continuing to pray for you and your family.

  13. Very good advice here. I cannot imagine living through this kind of pain. I wish you didn't have to. Your friend gave wise comfort and your husband, a wise reply. Good thoughts of advice for those of us who undoubtedly will be confronted with pain like this one day. And an excellent reminder of our True Home. Thank you.

  14. Melanie, your forever family of 5 is greatly loved. reaching out in silence to you. love,B