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.

Tiggy following Bug down to the garden where Mommy is

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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jay quiverfull families directory
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.

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.


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


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.


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!

judy aron
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… Read more »
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… Read more »

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.


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…

Dana, 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… Read more »

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.


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.

Miss Roxie
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… Read more »
Dana, 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,… Read more »

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.


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 . . .

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… Read more »
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… Read more »

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.


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.