Sunday, January 15, 2012

It's been a long time...

Hello again. I have to apologize, since it's been so long since I've written anything on this blog. The truth is, I've sat down numerous times in the last couple of weeks to write something, but while I get onto the blog to read your comments, I never get to the page to enter a new post. Why? I don't know. Maybe I'm scared. But really, I don't want to think about why I haven't written. There definitely has not been a lack of material. On the contrary, every day things happen that I find myself thinking about how I could blog them. But...I never get here.

So, now I am. There are too many incidences that have occurred since my last posting to post here. As such, I'll try to remember a few. I think I'll start with some more recent things. Maybe I'll get to go backwards into this last week, or even further. Who knows. We'll see how far back I can go. Without making this post long enough to publish as a novella, that is.

Tonight we had dinner at Chris and Mendy's house with most of Alissa's family. Mendy's mom was there too. As an intro, Chris and Mendy are two great people who have been friends with Alissa's parents for a long time. Their children were roughly the same ages as Alissa and her siblings, so they all grew up knowing each other quite well. Chris and Mendy love to host dinners at their wonderful home. They have a very large dining room table that can seat well over a dozen. And they love to dabble in gourmet type cooking so meals are quite spectacular. They also like to put little cards under everyone's dinner plate, and sometime during the evening, everyone has to answer the question on the card. It's typically a very fun and engaging dinner.

Anyway - that's where we were. Randy (Alissa's dad, for those of you who don't remember...), was asked something along the lines of what he respects most about his dad. Randy answered the question, but while he was doing so, I couldn't help think about what I respected most about my dad. Randy stated he respected - among quite a few things - how his dad is a very engaging person, and is very comfortable making other people feel comfortable. My dad was very similar in that regards, so it was easy for me to relate to what Randy talked about.

I also thought about how over the years, I often asked myself "what did dad (and mom...) do to make all of us kids turn out to be at least half-way decent people?" I often didn't have an answer. Randy, in his response to the above-mentioned question, said that he found the older he got the more he realized how many things he respected about his father. Likewise, I have done the same in answering my ongoing question. In the last couple of years, a lot of those answers have come just by being a father myself.

That being said, with all that has happened with Anna, I have never missed my dad more. Or, I guess I should say I have never missed Pops more. That is, after all, what I called him most of the time. Pops. Such and endearing term. To me, "Pops" says so much more than "Dad." Anyone can be a dad, and any dad can be good or bad. But I have yet to meet someone who is called Pops that has been a bad dad. Therefore, Pops = good dad. Aaaaannnd - I get off on a another tangent. Where was I? Missing Pops.

Did I mention somewhere else on this blog about him passing away? Well, if I didn't, know that he did, about five or six years ago, after a bout with leukemia. While there have been lots of times over the years that I have missed him, I haven't missed him as acutely as I have since we found out that Anna had her heart defects. While he never lost his any of his own children, he lost a lot of siblings, and his mother and father. So he was no stranger to grief. And while none of his children ever had any major medical issues, he had a quiet and simple faith in God that always seemed to come out. And, he always seemed to know what to say. Plus, he gave good hugs. Nice, big, strong, hold-you-tight-for-just-the-right-amount-of-time hugs. Man o man, I miss those hugs.

Speaking of Dad's hugs, the day that Anna died, Alissa's parents, siblings (and spouses), and some others were there from her side of the family. My mom and Pete, my oldest brother, were there from my side, but since my other two brothers live in Idaho and my sister lives in Spokane, they weren't able to get over. Anyway (geez - enough sidetracks already!), in the moments after Anna passed, I don't really remember many specifics. I remember holding Anna's body, and I remember sobbing over it. I was told later that I wailed. I don't remember that, but it is certainly possible. Then, later as I went around giving and receiving hugs, Pete put his big, strong, arms around me and held me close, for just the right amount of time. In that moment, I felt as if my dad were hugging me through my brother's arms. I also knew that, at the same moment of my hug from Pete, my dad's arms were enfolding my little precious angel, Anna Joy. And he was welcoming her into heaven, telling her about all of the wonderful things that are there.

As I said in Anna's service, I am extremely jealous of my dad. He gets to be with Anna, and love on her like I would like to do. How I would love to be there too. I can't wait to get there. But apparently God still has something for me to do here. I'm not sure what, but I'm trying to figure it out as I go along. As the Apostle Paul says, "for to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain." That verse has been with me for a long time, and I have tried to implement that thought into my life. Anna has given me a new perspective on that thought though, and one day maybe I'll write about it. I have meditated often on that passage since Anna passed away. There are lots of thoughts bouncing around in my head, and I haven't got a full grasp on them yet, so the writing will have to wait a bit.

Well, this post has already taken on epic proportions, so I guess just one moment will have to do for now. I will say, however, that if you want another good read (and cry), check out Andy and Katy have an incredible story too. Andy's recent post is quite heartfelt, and while we have only met in person twice, I know that he and I would be good (if not great...) friends. This couple is just one of the countless stories of triumph in pain that are out there. Andy and Katy, if either of you get to a point where you can find a few minutes to read this post (okay ten or fifteen, since I'm too lengthy...) know that Alissa and I are praying for you too. You guys are incredible.

By the way, every day Alissa and I eagerly await our postman (actually, I think she's technically a postwoman, but I hope I'm being PC by saying postman - you know, lady actresses call themselves actors now, too, right? Aaaaannd, another sidetrack...), hoping to get yet another sympathy card. There was one day this week, that for the first time since Anna died we did not get a card. We were both crestfallen. But the next day we got a couple more, and haven't missed any since. Thank you to all of you who continue to support us, pray for us, and generally love on us. We love you all too.

Good night, maybe I'll write again soon.


  1. Good Evening Matt,
    First off we are greatly honored to have mention of our blog on yours. Your prayers and support have be very uplifting. However now that we've spent the past fifteen minutes reading your post we don't have but seconds to respond back...just kidding.
    We continue to be amazed at your faith along your journey, whether it be now or in the past with the passing of your Pops. I can almost guarantee that he is looking down on you as he holds your Anna Joy thinking Matt is one heck of a Pops! You said in reference to God's will for you on Earth,"I'm not sure what, but I'm trying to figure it out as I go along," it is without a doubt to raise Issac to follow in Christ and to continue to be an amazing husband to your dear wife.
    As you stated we have only met a few times for very brief moments, but it is easy for us to see that our paths have crossed for some unknown, yet divine, reason. We believe there is a great friendship to be made here. We are from the same cloth, heck look how lengthy I can make a comment too!

    We continue to pray and think of all of you on a daily basis. God Bless You.

    ~Andrew Rondeau

  2. Thank you for updating the blog. This post is going to be long...I could read Alissa's most recent post 100 days in a row with all the scriptures and honestly and vulnerability there. However, this was a wonderful surprise tonight. I should be sleeping (sshh). Please know that along with many others I am continuing to pray for you and lift you both up to our Lord. Honestly praying for your entire family as this sadness affects you all. Thank you for sharing your memories of your Pops. I nearly cried when I read the part about you and Anna being "hugged" simultaneously by him. My breath caught as I imagined how powerful that moment was. I want to tell you that this month on the 22nd will be the third year since my brother Brett passed away in a tragic accident. He was only 22. He was my baby brother, and I held him, changed his diapers and fed him the night he was brought home. I was 17. Over the years I watched him grow up into a wonderful young man, and he was engaged to be married to an equally wonderful young woman when he died. Though we weren't close as he got older, the grief I still feel after three years makes me wonder how you are surviving each day. I hope you don't mind me saying that. It's obvious to anyone who reads your blog or talks to you that you are relying totally on your Saviour, believing and trusting the Comforter to carry you, and knowing amidst your sorrow that God loves you and that Anna is with Him waiting for you in Eternity. I really want you to know that your blog is an inspiring reflection of the your faith in our Amazing God, and that as long as you are willing to keep it going it will be a blessing to all who read it. Thank you again.
    Kathy K

  3. Oh God's grace is so evident in your post.....praying and knowing that the Lord will use all of this for His glory as you continue to seek Him.

  4. It sounds like your Pops was a wonderful father...much like I consider my dad to be. He gives hugs like that. I, too, was so touched when I read the part of your blog where you spoke of you and Anna Joy being embraced by Pops at the same time. How comforting that must have been. Matt, I'm so glad you met and fell in love with Alissa. You are such a kind and caring person...just who God had in mind for her to share her life with. I continue to pray for you guys, and I am loving on you from afar.

  5. Matt,

    I know what Pops hugs were like. We were blessed to enjoy Thanksgiving day with he and your mom somewhere around 9 or 10 years ago. That was one of the best Thanksgiving days ever. We were welcomed with open arms and sent off with big hugs from the same.

    Thanks for the reminder.
    Hope I'm like that to people I care about.

  6. Oh Matt... (long pause - where to begin? I have a similar tendency to write a lot, and if i don't stop to think I can really ramble...). I guess by now you know I'm a hugger. And I credit my dad for that, because he, too, gives the best enveloping hugs. So your description of your Pops and how you miss him and his hugs really struck a chord for me. The image of him hugging Anna, while Pete was hugging you brings tears to my eyes (I guess Pete learned to hug from the same guy you did). All during this journey, from the day I first learned about Anna's heart - all I wanted to do was hug you and Alissa. That thought, that desire would cross my mind, and then I would think "like a hug is going to do something?". But it does. When I finally got to hug you both at the memorial service, I almost couldn't let go. I know you're glad I did. :-) Are you like me in that when tears are close, a hug will sometimes just force them out? There's something safer about letting go when someone else is holding you. I hope you feel "held" by God during these days. That is part of my prayers for you and Alissa every day. Anyway, thanks for posting. As much as I love reading what you and Alissa write here, never feel pressure. Write when it feels right and we will all take it in. I hope you're writing for yourself (via a journal, etc) as well. I'm so glad Alissa has you for her partner in life. She and Isaac and Anna are blessed. Love .... and hugs.

  7. Matt and Alissa,
    I've thought often about writing you, wishing so very much that I would be able to speak some God-given word that would bring you comfort or do something that would lift your burden. Despite your pain, you continue to wait on God with all the strength you have. I have no words. I, too wait on God on your behalf. My prayer is that He provide you both comfort and peace.

    I do not pretend to know or understand the mind of God. I only know that He is good. I do not believe it is God's will that any child be born into suffering, save His own Son.

    I cannot tell if your suffering is something that God has chosen or something He has allowed. In either case, He is still God. I cannot lift your burden; it is a holy place belonging only to you and God. I wait on God on your behalf and ask Jesus to intercede before the Father that He send the Comforter to you. This, I do.

    And it is sufficient because He is sufficient.

    Lord Jesus,

    As the Father has willed that Anna Joy be with Him, her family who fought with all of their might and strength to keep her alive desperately need You. Please, Lord, ask the Father to send the Comforter to Anna's family. I pray for strength and peace. If it is within the Father's will, please give them understanding. You shared with your disciples about Your pending suffering; if at all possible, please enlighten them to the beauty of Your way in all of this suffering that they now share with You.

    Please hold them about; do not allow their faith to stumble or their strength to fail. In Your great mercy and lovingkindness, deliver them, and not only they, but their families as well.

    I know You are good, Lord. I know I can trust them to Your care. Your mercies are rich and Your strength knows no bounds. Into Your hands, Lord we rightly depend. I pray my friends find such mercy and comfort that it would bless both them and You.

  8. Matt, That was beautiful. Your dad was a great man that everyone respected. "To live is Christ and to die is gain" is the verse on my dad's headstone. It is loaded with hope. Praying for you and Alyssa.

    Becky Nagle

  9. Matt-
    I have been following your and Alissa's story for about 2 months now, and have often wanted to comment, but haven't. Until now. I just want you both to know I have been praying for you as you travel this road. I am amazed, encouraged, and grateful for both of your strength and continued faith in spite of the heart ache. We truly have a GREAT God who carries us in the hardest of times! I am praying for continued comfort and peace as you grieve and heal. I am blessed to have known your family, and your Dad (Pops:) ) was the best! Your dad really did have the best hugs! Thank you for posting, and for how you and Alissa have shared about this journey.

    Lori (Oelrich) Schilling

  10. Praying for you both today. May the Lord take the burden of pain away so you can feel His strong grip holding you up.

  11. You're never far from our thoughts and prayers, I pray for strength for you each day. But more than anything I pray that He gives you hope in the midst of this unimaginable grief.

  12. Continuing to pray for you guys...Have you ever read the book "Heaven is for real"? I read it after my son died and it really comforted me. It was really easy to read (I know how hard it can be to focus on anything for awhile)

  13. Thinking of your family today and keeping you in prayer! Praying for peaceful hearts and trust in God as today is probably extra tough. He is faithful and will help you through this.

  14. We're are continuing to pray for peace and strength to face each new day. I pray that you three as a family will only grow closer through everything that you face and that you continue to turn together to Him for comfort.

  15. Dearest Alissa and Matt-this is Kathleen, I was your nurse when you delivered your lovely baby girl. I have followed your blog and sent you so much love and so many prayers. As I said before I will say again, your lovely daughter picked the right parents to come into this world with. She was and continues to be so loved and cherished by so many people each and every minute. Take the best of care of each other. You are in my heart and in my prayers.

  16. I don't know how this blog got on the desktop of my iPad, but I'm glad it's there. It was 38 years ago on February 8th that our precious little premature baby girl passed away, and the hurt never goes just learn to live with it. She was a twin who was only 2 lbs., 2oz. at birth, and lived only 15 days. We never got to touch her or hold her until she passed, and we weren't able to take any pictures of her. I will always wonder if she would have lived if I would have gotten to the hospital sooner. Her twin brother weighed 2 lbs., 4oz. and is doing great with a wonderful wife and a handsome son. Your strength and faith in God really shines through in your writings, but it took me many years to accept God's decision to take her from us. I now believe that everything happens for a reason, although we some times never learn the purpose. It's been a long time since we lost our little angel, and seeing your blog made me cry knowing that your family is suffering such a loss. Your postings will help to encourage and strengthen more people than you will ever know, and it's all because of Anna Joy. God bless and comfort you and your family, and may your ministry touch many lives in miraculous ways.