Saturday, September 8, 2012

A Tribute to the Donaldson Family: Tim, Anna, Jack, Margaret

A homeschooling friend asked today if there were any bloggers in our FB group changing names of children and husbands to maintain privacy and keep their identity somewhat under the radar.   A question with a huge rabbit trail for me today, September 8, 2012:  the one year crap-iversary of Jack Donaldson's death.  (G-d, just typing those words and I sit and reel from the eternal enormity those words have) 
Anna Donaldson used 'fake' names in her blog - her name was her own (I think), she used 'Tom' for 'Tim' and i don't recall what she used for Jack and Margaret. When I finally found Anna's blog (about 1 month after Jack's accident), I began reading from the beginning, and she wrote about 'Tom' her husband. I sat at my kitchen table feeling like an idiot.......a totally confused idiot - a fool even. ALL THOSE YEARS, my husband and I had been calling 'Tom' by the 'wrong' name -- we had been calling him 'Tim.' What the you- know-what was wrong with us? We had been in classes at Church, school functions, there were name tags, family address head was spinning. I continued to read Anna's blog. Yup, there it was in black and white: Tom. Photos of 'Tom' touching up the roots on Anna's hair. I continued reading.........I was reading about a month and some days back in time from the blog's date, Labor Day Holiday week 2011, and yes, she was calling him 'Tom.' :head:desk:   How could my husband and I have been such morons -- how could we have been calling 'Tom' 'Tim' for years???!!!
  I read on, sheepishly - and came to Anna's blog from the terrible night at the bridge (9/8/11) and, everyone is called by the names I know them to have. I continue reading and I come to Anna's blog post about the 'gig' being over as far as her keeping any kind of anonymity since Jack's accident. Now, Anna writes, everyone knows their names, everyone knows where they live, and now 'Tom' is 'Tim.'  I understand now.  I think of how normal it is for all of us to change names and locations in an attempt to insulate our families from any crazies who might read our blogs (btw, no one reads mine). The realization of how futile our efforts are to protect our loved ones does not escape me. 
Anna writes that she had warned her kids about '...lightning and salmonella and sexual abuse and pornography and STD’s and bullying and collapsing tunnels of sand and snow...'.  I've warned my kids about the very same things.  Every mom I know has warned her kids of the very same things.  Every one of us, I would bet, has smelled deli meat that we think has been in the fridge too long and tossed it out, had a whiff of milk (and even if we were only slightly unsure about where it was on the okay to drink ---------> pour it down the drain continuum), and we poured it down the drain.  Bread?  A speck of any color, I mean really, it could be dust....doesn't your bread get dusty?  Sweetie, put bread on the list for when we go out later, toss that loaf in the trash,and have your pb&j on saltines. 
   I sat at the kitchen table feeling the huge weight of grief on my chest, my heart aching for this beautiful family. I have a crystalline memory of Jack on the third grade field trip to National Cathedral. The kids were able to spend a fair amount of time in the lower level of the Cathedral, and docents gave them turns at sculpting marble with chisels and water;  they made faux stained glass, and did embroidery similar to what we had all seen and enjoyed in the Sanctuary. I remember Jack wearing his safety goggles,  heavy duty protective sculpting apron (akin to the weight of the cover used in the dentist office when x-rays are taken), and work gloves; he was completely immersed in the ancient craft of marble sculpting and oblivious to everything and everyone around him.  A nine year old 'renaissance man' in 2008.   (I took many photos which are all in the scrapbook the third graders presented to Ms. Ingham on the last day of school.)
I have no answers.  I have questions every single day.  These are always there: Why?  Why Jack? Why the Donaldsons? 
Jack had a life verse:  Luke 1:37 (Nothing is impossible with G-d)
That alone tells one what an amazing young boy Jack was.  What an amazing family he has......he had a life verse...a life verse!  The verse is on blue bow magnets stuck to vehicles all over......and I do mean all over.  We saw one on a minivan in the outer banks last April.  We see them all over northern Virginia when we are on the road.  The kids and I always point out the blue bow when one of us sees it:  'Look!  Those people have a Jack magnet!'  We gulp; we try to see if we know the people who have a Jack magnet. 
I cannot fathom the depth of Anna, Tim and Margaret's pain;  I cannot imagine the pain felt by their aunts, uncles and cousins. 
 Jack has been honored this past year in every word written by his parents, in his sister Margaret's dazzling smile that graces Anna's blog and FB page, and in the events that have been established to keep the memory of this amazingly handsome, well-mannered, incredibly witty and thoughtful (as in full of thought), uber-smart boy alive. 
Our family will never forget Jack Donaldson.  Never. 
Anna, Tim and Margaret, we love you and you are always in our hearts and prayers.
I think of this quote from C.S. Lewis always when I think of Jack, Anna, Tim, Margaret:  "Why love if losing hurts so much? I have no answers any more. Only the life I have lived.....The pain now is part of the happiness then. That's the deal." 
What does any of this has to do with using or not using real names in one's blog? I know that Anna's point about the things from which we protect our children was articulately and perfectly made...right on target. I guess we use pseudonyms because we can...we do what we can. ALL we can do is what we can.