Tag Archives: For Anna See

Rare Bird Review: Anything of Importance…

The morning of September 9, 2011, I was in a pretty good mood considering the night I had. I just survived a basement flood without significant damage to anything of importance. In fact, I didn’t just survive, I handled the entire disaster completely on my own. Chris wouldn’t be home from work for a while, the kids were more hindrance than help, and as I watched the water rising over the blockade of towels I had constructed, it was clear that waiting for assistance wasn’t an option. I transferred a room-full of both family heirlooms and random crap to a safer – drier – location, while simultaneously shoring up the dam of towels and holding my children at bay with television and junk food. All by myself. It took hours and I felt fairly heroic about the whole experience.

I had a lot of clean up work to do and by mid morning, I realized that it had been close to 24 hours since I had checked my e-mail or done anything online. Saving my heirlooms and crap had commanded all of my attention, and I had no idea that DC area flooding had destroyed more than just boxes of photo albums and antique furniture – that people had actually died. I didn’t know that 15 minutes away from me, an entire neighborhood had mobilized in a search for a 12 year old boy carried away by a flash flood. And I could never have imagined that the 12 year old boy would be my friend’s son.

When I finally picked up my cell phone, I saw that I had missed texts from early in the morning asking me if I had heard that, “Anna’s son died last night.” Assuming this must be a mistake, I turned on the computer and checked Anna’s Facebook page to see what she last posted. From what I remembered, it was a picture of her kids doing homework by candlelight after school due to a power outage. Instead I found a list of condolences so long that I finally gave up on scrolling to figure out WHAT had happened.

After that, my story is more or less the same one that you’ll hear from anyone else. Absolute horror. Terrible sadness. Inability to process the reality of the situation.

You will hear these stories from people who have never actually met Anna because of her blog, An Inch of Gray. Before the flood, many of her posts included sweet, funny stories about her children. Readers grew to know Jack and Margaret through Anna’s eyes, and I think they – we – grieved the loss of that little boy just as much as we would the child of a life long friend.

One of the reasons I first started reading Anna’s blog is that she’s a wonderful writer. She has a way of offering her own stories and thoughts without alienating those who are different. I could relate to her even though my children were toddlers and hers were in elementary school – even though I don’t identify with a specific religion and she often writes about her faith in God. While many of our life experiences have been different, she shares her own in such a welcoming way, without judgement of others.

I learned a lot about grief from my friend that year. Both online and off. She used her blog as a place to be brutally honest about Jack’s death and her life without him. As a writer, she was able to think things through on the page…and as a blogger she found community in sharing her story with others. While I was fortunate in proximity, and could talk to my friend in person, I found her blog posts to be just as disarming. The same open spirit was there, and comment after comment thanked her for everything from making people feel less alone in their own grief to just offering some enlightenment about what a grieving friend may be experiencing.

A year later when Anna told me that she had been approached to write a memoir, I could only think, “of course.” There was no question that if anyone could tell a personal story that would resonate with others, it would be Anna.

Two years after that, I was gifted with an advance copy of Rare Bird – and when I turned the last page, my immediate reaction was that I wanted EVERYONE to read it.

This woman wrote a book in which one of the main characters is God with a capital G, but I think that even the most ardent of atheists would find wisdom there. It’s a book about faith and we all have faith in something, whether it’s God or love or science. None of these are exempt from questions or cynicism, yet we have to believe – have faith – to keep going each day.

As a book about early grief, Rare Bird doesn’t preach or pontificate. It simply tells one mother’s story about a universal experience. Everyone eventually grapples with loss. No two stories are the same, but at their core, all hold hurt, anger and disappointment. They also include love, learning and hope. And life. In telling her own story without any claim to have all the answers or to even know what comes next, Anna has extended an invitation to acknowledge this and bear witness to a crucial facet of the human condition.

I won’t go too deeply into the details of what you will find in this book or why I think it’s so incredibly unique as a memoir (my own verbose style would require a thesis for that).  There are so many wonderful reviews that have accomplished this far better than I ever could – all of which can be found as links on the Facebook Page for An Inch of Gray. Though as far as details and quotes go, I really loved this one: Rare Bird, Indeed.

The only thing that I’d like to add to the rest is that “this is NOT a scary book.” Anna has mentioned in interviews that she doesn’t want anyone to fear the actual subject matter of her story. There are no awful surprises or anything written for shock value. It can be hard to read at times, but the overall message is one of hope.

When I heard this concern, I was immediately reminded of a childhood favorite: There’s a Monster at the End of This Book. Grover from Sesame Street finds out that when you get to the last page of the book, a monster will be waiting. He implores the reader to stop turning pages, employing rope and brick walls – none of which work. And of course, there is a monster at the end of the book. But it’s just him. I had a similar experience in reading Rare Bird. It’s hard to read something sad. It’s scary to think about losing a child. But not reading a story doesn’t make those fears and feelings go away. There definitely is something at the end of Anna’s book. But it’s just you.

Seeing another mother survive my own worst nightmare puts flooding basements into perspective. I often place a bit too much sentimental value on things – but it’s stories like this one that help me remember what is truly important in life. “Anything of importance” is a subjective concept, but I think everyone will agree that people matter most. The love we have for our family and friends is an incredible gift – but it comes with inevitable risk. One of my favorite quotes from Rare Bird is, “grieving is the price we pay for loving him so very much.” They would never trade their 12 years with Jack for a life without grief.

I will continue to be thingsy and want my kids to just go to bed already so I can catch up on Homeland… I will think I’m a super hero for clearing out a basement during a flood… And from time to time, I will be jealous and feel sorry for myself. But I know what is truly important. I will cherish the time I have with the people I love. I will be grateful for all of the love, wisdom and grace that comes my way. And I will tell everyone I know that they should read Rare Bird because it isn’t a scary book at all.

Personal History (Part One)

My father is putting together an “ancestor book” and has asked everyone in the family to write a little bit about themselves and their life to date. So of course as the only blogger in the family, I am also the LAST to actually write anything.

Isn’t that always the way?

Actually I find this very difficult since “brief overview” has never been my thing. Four pages in, I realized that I hadn’t even made it to Kindergarten!

I have been working on it though, and thought it might be fun (i.e. it might provide me with some much needed blog content) if I posted installments of it here.

So here is an intro of sorts:

My earliest memory is a family picture taken when I was about nine months old. Or at least, I had a memory – then saw a picture and made the connection. In my memory, I was in a good place (my mother’s lap). Then I was moved somewhere else (a grandfather’s lap), and that was no good. I cried. There was a flash.

My mother confirmed the sequence of events when I asked. So I know this must be true. And I like the idea of knowing what it felt like to be a baby. Pre-verbal memories are like dreams – everything comes in sensory flashes…no words or perception of what anyone else could be thinking. Just undiluted personal experience.

I think about this memory sometimes and marvel over the rare opportunity it offers. I actually have some insight into what goes on in the minds of babies! Apparently, babies prefer to be with their mothers. I know this first hand!

Okay – so maybe my pre-verbal memory doesn’t really provide any useful information… But it’s pretty cool, right?

I remember a lot from my childhood (which makes the exercise of writing a personal history less than 3,000 pages long a bit daunting…) But this is most likely because I was always an observer.

You know those fearless kids who hurtle into life, head first? Yeah – that wasn’t me. I was more of a watch-consider-decide that doesn’t look like a good idea kind of girl. One drawback to this attitude is that I often let my cautious nature get in the way of having fun. But on the upside, I grew up with astonishingly few scars.

Since a blow by blow of the last 40 years I’ve been on earth doesn’t seem possible, I’ll just try to cover the interesting stuff.

Cliffhanger right?! Don’t worry – I’ll be back in a couple of days with more!

In the meantime – here is a picture of balloons that were released in honor of Jack Donaldson’s birthday today. It was quite a site – all of those balloons. I brought Oliver and Eleanor with me (George was doing something with Chris), and while Eleanor was happy enough to send her balloon off into the great beyond, Oliver found the whole thing incredibly disturbing. He cried and kept saying “I want them down – I want them back down!” And I can’t say that I blame him. As lovely as the floating balloons were. I didn’t like seeing them disappear either. It was a fitting sentiment: No matter how beautiful the ascent, I wish they could have stayed…

Love at the Bridge

Blue ribbons in support of the Donaldsons – and a tree for Christmas:

Kim from Mosey Along and her sister, Lianne wanted to do something for our good friend Anna and her family this holiday season.

Since we both love photography and have been so touched hearing how the Donaldsons’ friends and neighbours having been using blue ribbons as a way to remember Jack, we decided that might be a way we could offer our love from afar.”

They started a Flickr stream, Blue Ribbons for Jack, for all of the blue ribbons outside of the Donaldson’s neighborhood. Okay – so mine are of the ribbons IN the neighborhood – but I thought people might like to see those too. These three are all tagged “love at the bridge” since that is exactly what they depict: the love that friends and neighbors have shown the grieving family at the bridge where Jack was found after that horrible river swept him away.

Visit either Kim or Lianne to see how you can show your love and support through photography. Obviously talent is not required (see images above). And if you are overwhelmed by the idea of setting up a Flickr account, Kim says in her post that she can upload them for you.

Much love to your and your families this holiday season!

On Gratitude. And Magic.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and like most others, I’ve been thinking about gratitude.

A couple of months ago, my good friend, Anna lost her twelve year old son in a flash flood. And it was yet another reminder to live in the moment – be grateful for everything I have right now, this very minute. I thought I had a good handle on those priorities before…but this? THIS?? This was an invaluable lesson on appreciation for what truly matters in life. I would give it back in a heartbeat if I could…but since that’s not possible, I’ll settle for the wisdom. And I’ll be so, so grateful for this one more day with my children.

On the flipside though, this horrible loss was a sledgehammer blow to my already cracked and crumbling belief in magic. I know that I once thought anything was possible – that magic could always intervene at the eleventh hour. But I’ve become more cynical over the years. For both good reasons and bad, I stopped believing in magic. And this senseless tragedy offered some serious validation of that attitude.

But leave it to the children to help us find magic in the world.

Anna’s ten year old daughter, Margaret is a bright, shining sparkler of a girl. And even in her own crushing grief over the loss of her only sibling, she’s managed to find ways to make her parents smile.

One day her Dad asked for a list of things she wanted from the store. Here is what she gave him:

The last, most important item on the list isn’t possible. Not even magic could bring her brother back. But the one before that….

When Anna posted that picture above, she had no idea how many people would take it seriously. Take it to Twitter. Write e-mails. Beg favors… People really thought this was possible. And that’s one of the things I like about people: they believe in magic. They make me want to believe too.

It’s a long story – and many of us have written various parts of it. But the end result was this:

In response to the outpouring of tweets and e-mails – or possible because of just one called in favor (who knows – and does it really matter?), Coca-Cola and Dick Clark Productions arranged for Margaret and her parents to fly to California and attend the American Music Awards. And as if that wasn’t enough, there was even an opportunity for Margaret to meet Justin.

I don’t know about you – the the fact that this seemingly impossible thing ACTUALLY HAPPENED makes me believe in magic.

It also makes me willing to make good on ridiculous promises.

My friend Minky Moo sent out the following tweet…

…and in the heat of the moment, I said “I’m in!” Because, you know – that was really going to be the effort that pushed this movement forward…

Sigh. So without further ado, here is my very amateur, very poorly lit (despite those extra lamps I strategically placed in the room!) thank you vlog to Justin:

I’ve said before the camera doesn’t love me. But seriously – I’m not doing myself any favors here. Why didn’t I apply a little lipstick? Perhaps some concealer? They say the camera adds ten pounds, but how about ten YEARS! Oh well – my lack of star quality isn’t the real story here (just a riveting sub-plot that we can discuss later). I’m posting that silly video in honor of the seemingly impossible actually happening.

In honor of magic.

I’m so grateful that something good and hopeful and magical happened to my friend’s daughter. Her family needed it. Their story isn’t over yet, and this is tangible proof that good things can happen too. That they will again.

And that is a very good reason for giving thanks.

*The “Belieber” posts are already going up! Mama Mary was the first. Funny Girl, Lizz actually used a “live impersonator” in her vlog! Minky will post her’s tonight or tomorrow. I’m going to link to all of them here – so let me know if you have one too.

**In full disclosure, I have to admit that the Justin Bieber poster is no longer on Eleanor’s door. She felt it was a little “too boy-sie” for her girly room. So instead we donated to a teenage neighbor named Emily who was eager to give it a good home.

***In case you are wondering where you can buy a Justin Bieber poster, I found mine at Michael’s. I first tried Target, but they don’t sell posters. I also burst into tears in Target while explaining to the twins why we needed a Justin Bieber poster. They both thought it was a good story, but due to my being a bit choked up while telling it, George now believes that beavers were somehow involved.

Mission Possible? (Alternatively Titled: Bieber Fever for Fortysomethings)

UPDATE below if you’ve already read this!

I have to confess – I saw pictures of Justin Bieber in US Weekly magazine long before I ever heard any of his music. And the only opinion I’ve ever had on his fame is that people are CRAY-CRAY with all of that hate/death to Bieber stuff. He’s just a kid! So weird…

But lately I’ve been thinking a lot about JB.

I read this post last Friday on An Inch of Gray, and for the very first time wished that I had some Justin Bieber connections. Did you read that post? No? Do that now, then come back.

After reading that, I did something that took very little effort. I sent a few tweets to my small list of followers.

I’m going to be very honest. That was all I had planned to do. I generally assume that I’m not important enough to ask for special favors. From anyone really. I just thought I’d put it out there and someone else might make something happen.

And I’m going to be even more honest. I never really believed that anything would come of it. Because I don’t believe in magic. I don’t believe in miracles. I say I do – and I want to – but in the darkest places of my heart, I’m a pessimist. I don’t believe that the impossible can happen. It can’t right?  Isn’t that what “impossible” means?

But then I kept reading the comments about people e-mailing Ellen and tweeting Usher. I saw people talking about it on Twitter. I saw FaceBook posts. So I thought I’d make one more weak gesture and e-mailed a list of friends and contacts that Anna and I share. I asked them to check out her post if they hadn’t already seen it – and to work every contact they might have (since Anna and I know some well connected people…)

And strangely enough, they weren’t nearly as pessimistic about the idea as I was. They were excited (actually using words like “exciting“). They really thought Justin Bieber reaching out to Margaret was possible.

This humbled me. I was ashamed to have made such a passive effort to help. To assume defeat before even trying.

And as a just punishment, one of the Project Bieber enthusiasts (Loukia) sent me an e-mail address for Eric Alper, someone she knows in “the industry.” Like she expected ME to make something happen. I don’t think I’ve ever made anything happen in my entire life – life happens TO me.

This had me reeling. But what could I do? I sent him an e-mail. Here is what I wrote:

Hi Eric!

Thank you so much for forwarding your e-mail.

I’ve never actually tried to get in touch with a pop star on behalf of a ten year old girl before…so I’m not sure where to start… But here is a brief overview:

I made a dear friend through blogging over the past few years named Anna Donaldson. On September 8th, she lost her twelve year old son, Jack in the DC area floods. Here is a link to the Washington Post article.

While Anna’s blog was semi-anonymous and had a small following, the media coverage (and social media coverage: blog posts and tweets linking the story to her blog) more or less outed her. This ended up being an unexpected blessing in that her family found great comfort in the outpouring of supportive comments and e-mails.

The main thing that has been keeping Anna and her husband alive over the past few weeks though, is their daughter Margaret. They want to do everything they can to help her through this horrible time and ensure a happy future for her.

I think they have every reason to expect that this is possible since Margaret has amazing strength of character. She’s a fighter. And at only ten years old, she’s managed to make her parents laugh every day – when all they really want to do is cry. Anna has shared a couple of these moments on her blog. And today she posted a picture of a list Margaret wrote for her father to take to the store. As you can see, she jokingly mentioned Justin Bieber.

But it made a lot of us think. Why not ask? Who knows – maybe if someone knew someone who knew someone… Maybe he really would do something to acknowledge Margaret and give her something to feel happy about during the absolute worst month of her life. It would be something for her to hold onto – proof that good things happen too. And while no celebrity in the world could possibly make up for this terrible loss, it’s the unexpected moments of happiness that get them through the day. My guess is that any attention from Justin Bieber could get Margaret through the week…

She’s an extraordinary little girl. But she’s also just a little girl grieving the loss of her brother and best friend. She has plenty of spunk and the resilience of youth. But she is getting through this one day at a time, just like her parents.

I’d like to help. And if that means writing fan mail to Justin Bieber (I mean – I’m almost 40!) I’ll do it. I’ll follow up on any lead and e-mail any stranger – including you!

So thank you for taking the time to listen and help if you can. If you can’t – I understand. I have no idea who knows who in this industry. But I so appreciate your willingness to listen.

Hope to hear from you soon,

-Kate Coveny Hood

Eric was lovely about it. He replied right away and was both kind and honest. He said he would make sure that JB’s management and PR people would read my message, but “what happens after that is magic really.”

Oh. Magic.

So this is where I typically call it a day. I don’t believe in magic, right? But here’s the thing – the fact that this e-mail exchange actually happened felt pretty extraordinary to me.

The fact that a friend e-mailed me to say she has a famous Twitter friend who might be able to help.

The fact that another friend has connections to a babysitter as well as other possible contacts.

The fact that a non-blogging friend commented on my FaceBook post that she has a friend who knows Justin Bieber and will talk to him.

The fact that people are doing things. They’re making things happen. It feels maybe just a little magical to me.

So I’m not giving up. Instead, I’m writing this. And not because I think it’s enough (it’s not) – but it’s a start. Someone who reads it might know someone who knows someone…

And even if that’s not you – you can still help. You can talk about it. Maybe if enough voices are out there…

So here is what everyone who reads this should do:

1. Follow @JBLiftMargaret (J and M’s Auntie: hoping to lift up Margaret. Her big brother died on Sept 8 in VA flooding. She’d love to meet Justin Bieber! Please help bring her a smile!! http://tinyurl.com/3bvr762)

2. Tell all of your Twitter contacts to do the same.
3. Tweet about it.
4. RT any other tweets you see about it

(okay – you get the idea…they need more followers)

5. Do whatever you can to get the word out on FaceBook. I’m somewhat FB challenged – so you will have to ask others for specific advice on this…
6. Blog about it (why not? I did)
7. E-mail Ellen (I haven’t done that yet – but I will in a minute)
8. E-mail everyone you know. You never know who they know…
9. Anything else? Please leave suggestions in comments.

The reason I included the text of that e-mail I wrote above is that I’m now considering it an open letter to everyone who might possibly be able to help. A “Dear Sir or Madam.” Like a letter to the universe (blogosphere?)

I still feel the limitations of “impossible”…I don’t believe in magic or miracles. But I do believe in people. And I believe in you. Us. We. And there’s a lot of possibility there.

I also believe in Margaret. For her sake alone I’ll try to believe that nothing about this is impossible. So if you have any magic up your sleeve, please help. Add your voice. And you never know – maybe we really can make a difference.

UPDATE: Anna actually posted more about the Twitter effort – it includes great info on the accounts (JB, his mom, his manger, etc.) that you should be tweeting! Check it out HERE.

Segue into…

I hate abrupt changes of subject. Not so much the change in topic…maybe just the tone.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m all about the tangent. So that’s fine. But one minute crying about serious matters – the next minute laughing about inconsequentials? It just doesn’t feel right to me.

So before I get back to my typical blog posts about my children and my wrinkles, I wanted to create some kind of bridge between last week and this week.

I won’t be writing about my friend Anna anymore. And I feel like I have to say something about this because I did write THREE posts about her. I wasn’t planning to do that, but one was a first reaction, the next was an attempt to do something supportive and the last was basically a letter to her. Each had a different purpose, but now there is nothing left for me to do or say here.

Feel free to add a link to the “For Anna See” post at any time – it’s there for everyone. And don’t feel strange about your own sudden change of topic. I know that you still care. Because I do.

Sometimes I really hate that saying “life goes on.” But it’s true for everyone. And as much as I will be emotionally invested in this for a very long time, my blog is not the appropriate place to talk about it.

So here? Life will go on. Just like it does everywhere else. I’ll talk about silly inconsequential things. I’ll even complain about my children. And I won’t feel guilty about it because that’s just something we do. It’s okay. We all know that none of that takes away from the bigger picture.

We all love our children. And we all die a little inside when we hear about a child lost. Because it could have been ours. It still could be. It’s terrifying.

But here is what we do… We cry. We feel sad and scared. We try to help. We feel so lucky that this time it didn’t happen to us. We accept that it could in the future. And we feel very, very grateful for this one more day with our children. Because they are all so precious – days, children, days with them… We know. We appreciate that.

And then we change the subject. Because life goes on. There is a time and a place for everything. And this is no longer the time or place for grief.

I will never stop caring. But I will stop talking about it here. I’ll be silly and irreverent and I’ll even say things that sound ungrateful – because I’m not. I’m very serious about how grateful I am. For everything that I have – for this one more day. And I know that you are too.

For Anna (From "Me – Kate Hood")

It’s time for me to write something too.

Oh – I wrote about “loss” last week…and I wrote about “support” a few days ago… But I haven’t really written anything to my friend. And that’s mainly because I don’t even know where to start.

Or where to stop.

I can’t possibly tell her everything that is in my heart. It’s too much – a never ending, stream of conscious-mess:


So I’ll just have to just pick one thing. And the one I keep coming back to is simply, Love.

I love Anna.

I’m serious – that’s it. That’s where the buck stops. Just Love.

And I’m not talking about some weepy, emotional, hyperbole-induced kind of love. I mean the mundane, regular jane, “my friend is so cool” kind of love. You know…like when you think about someone who has made you laugh more times than you can count and you say, “I just love ______.”

That’s it. That’s where it started and that’s where it ends.

Because as deep as friendship can be – it’s also so very simple. And that’s the lovely thing about having a friend like Anna. It’s easy.

And it’s fun. She’s really fun, you know.

I always wonder how I first found her blog because from what she tells me, she wasn’t really commenting on that many others at the time.

But one day, I did stumble across An Inch of Gray and the most recent post was about her mother. I loved it so much, I added her to my list daily reads (which at that time I could count on two hands).

This was sometime before I started my own blog in June 2008. And one of the first things I did as a new blogger was to leave a comment on Anna’s site.

I just went back to her archives to see when I did leave that first comment and I am DYING – it’s so funny:

Hello, my name is Kate. We have much in common and I would be greatly pleased if you would consider becoming my new blogging friend…” The formality is killing me. And I have NO idea how I managed to say “block” instead of “blog” since you know I read that letter of introduction at least three times before hitting publish.

And her reply comment (you know – IN comments) makes me laugh too. “Hello weird, stalkerish commenter. You seem like you might NOT get your hair cut like exactly like mine, start wearing my clothes and then try to steal my husband… Perhaps I will read your blog for a little while, and if I feel it’s unlikely that you will try to hold me hostage or ‘disappear’ me into a furnace…then I might add you to my blog roll. Thanks for the encouragement!” [Please tell me you caught the Single White Female reference in that.]

So that is how we “met.” Later we discovered that we actually live near each other, and have had the opportunity to see each other “offline” as well.

But Anna’s blog is such a big part of my friendship with her, that I always refer to her as a “blogging friend.” There is so little time in the day and we have so many responsibilities…it’s inevitable that we would only get together once every two or three months. Time literally flies. But I always know what Anna’s been up to. All I have to do is visit her blog.

And that’s how I’ve gotten to know her family. That’s why I can say that I “know” a little boy I’ve only met in person a couple of times.

Blog friendships are real. And this one means the world to me.

And she’s so damn funny. Even when she doesn’t mean to be. Two examples of this can be found on her blog, right this very minute.

Anna may be one of the only bloggers I know who has had her site for several years, but never learned how to update her sidebar. That pretty design she has? Is not new. She did that a looooong time ago, yet you will still find this on her sidebar:

That cracks me up every time I see it. But it’s also so indicative of who Anna is as a blogger. She wanted a pretty design, but she spends more time writing than updating her sidebar. She never went to the trouble to come up with a “best of” list.

She’s never cared much about branding herself or monetizing her site. Not that there is anything wrong with either of those priorities – they’re just not hers. She loves writing. She loves telling stories about her family. And she loves making connections with other people and hearing their stories.

And she has always prioritized her readers, even when there were just a few of them (including her sister and some college friends). I remember her telling me that she was concerned that people had a hard time figuring out how to subscribe since the button was all the way at the bottom of her web page. So for a while, she included this helpful note at the end of each post:

I spotted that when I was looking for my first comment and it made me L.O.L.
I love that Anna makes me laugh even when she’s not trying.

She laughs at herself too – and at me. And she encourages me to take myself a little less seriously. This is an area where I need as much help as I can get.

A couple of days ago, I sent her a text asking when I could call her – since I didn’t want to intrude on her time with her family – and I ended with “Love you!

Now, I should mention that I’m not much of a texter and I had to add her number to my iphone contacts before I could send the text. And shortly after I did, I worried that she might not have my number in her contacts either. And if that was the case – she would have this random text from an unknown phone number asking for a good time to call and declaring “LOVE YOU!

That could be awkward.

So I thought I’d better clarify things and texted “Oh! And it’s me – Kate Hood.

I guess I was in her contacts because she responded “I know who you are!

I don’t know if I actually made her laugh. But I’m pretty sure that she was laughing at me in spirit.

It makes me sad to think that Anna isn’t laughing very much right now. If at all.

I wish I could make her laugh and forget for a little while. But that would be impossible.

I wish I could have written something beautiful about the service I attended – like her friend Glennon did. But I couldn’t even begin to capture it.

I wish I had some expertise in grief management. But I’m at a loss – I have no idea what would constitute a “right thing to say.”

I wish I could make it not have happened. But we’ve already been over that…

I wish I could make any kind of difference at all. But all I have are words. And meager jokes at that.

I have so little to offer my friend – when I want to give her everything…

So I’ll just have to come back to the same place I always do. I love Anna. It could never be enough. But guess it’s something. Something I do have to give.

For Anna See

Yesterday I wrote about my friend Anna of An Inch of Gray, who suffered the worst loss imaginable. She lost a child – her 12 year old son.

Many of Anna’s blogging friends – and many kind people who do not know her personally – have asked what they can do for her.

How do you offer support when you most likely live far away – especially when you know someone only through their semi-anonymous blog? There is no address for sending a card or flowers…no information on a church service…

So I’ve been thinking about what people who love “Anna See” can do for her. And since almost all of these connections to Anna started online, I think it makes the most sense to do it here – online.

The church service will be crowded with people – and there will be family and friends at her house, taking care of her. Her house and her church are the two places where she is truly at home…but she also lives here. We can support her in this home. If you can’t give her hugs, comfort food or a hand to hold – you can give her your words.

So if you would like to do something to support Anna, please write. Or re-post something you’ve already written.

Anna and I have talked about how much we’ve loved getting to know people through their writing. Joining that open-to-everyone club where you make friends with “the people in the computer.” They’re real friendships too. And we value them.

You are valuable – and so are your words. Consider it your card. Your flowers. Your hug.

Below, you will find a place to link to a post in support for Anna. It could be thoughts about her, letters to her or stories that might offer her comfort. And if you don’t feel comfortable doing that, I’ve seen that many have left comments on her last blog post about her two beautiful children on their first day of school.

But there is one thing that I would ask of everyone. Whether you have a blog or not – if you know Anna or have just heard of her. Please pray for her and her family.

I’ve mentioned before that I don’t pray very much. But Anna does. She believes in prayer and I know that is what she would do for me. So that is what I will do for her. Please join me in this and take a moment to pray for Anna. Or just hold her in your thoughts. This would probably mean the most to her – to know that so many are with her in prayer or reflection.

Much love to you and your families. Especially the children. They are all so very precious.

If you would like to do something in the way of a donation, I have heard that the family has requested they be made to Samaritan’s Purse.



I just returned from the service where I witnessed one of the most amazing moments of spoken word that I believe I will ever see in my life.

My friend talked about her son. Who he was to others…who he was to her…who he was. It was was so entirely comforting to everyone listening – the people there to comfort her – that for the first time in several days, feelings of hope eclipsed those of sorrow.

I still grieve for my friend’s loss. And I wish I could do the impossible – taking some of that burden from her… But seeing her so full of love and belief in his peace was unlike anything I could have imagined. Do people actually exude light? If that is physically possible – then that is what I saw.

I hope that someday she will share those words with those of us who love her and couldn’t be there. Maybe she will – and maybe she won’t…but I can give you one very important piece of it. She said that while their hearts are breaking for what could have been, she knows that their boy, the little “homebody” who loved his family, friends and neighborhood so much, is now truly “at home.”

I love you Anna.



And then she did (you can also listen to the service HERE).