28 Aug


This has been one of the toughest weeks in the hospital with my son. As you know from my last blog, my 16 year old suffered a stroke on August 2nd. Since then he went from the ICU to a step down unit, to in patient rehab. He has made TONS of progress in terms of speech and his right side gaining movement, but all of this progress was leading up to 2 procedures to ‘fix’ the AVM in his brain; one to stop the blood flow in that area, followed by brain surgery to fix the actual malformation. What went from deepest sorrow, to joy from getting better, returned to grief and fear this past week for these next two steps. Everyday since last Friday, grief, fear, and joy lived simultaneously in his hospital room. During the day we would experience the joy of something gaining motion but at night, the fear of the upcoming procedures and what changes may happen would steal the joy. Then there were the questions amidst tears in the quiet before bed each night; Why did this happen to me? Why can’t I just be a normal teen? Why me? I didn’t know this momma’s heart could break even more, but watching your child in pain and struggling with these unanswerable questions broke the remainder of what I had left.

How do you answer these questions when you don’t have the answers? How do you remain courageous when you yourself have fear? All I could do was hug him, cry with him and tell him that it was ok to cry, be afraid, and ask questions but in the morning he needed to fight back and to push forward. I told him to ask God to strengthen and sustain him and to give him peace. For a kid (and even for an adult), that sounds so generic and blasé’, but it’s what I have to hang on to so I’m going to hang on to it. I also told him when he’s older, he can tell his kids and grandkids about the scar on his head and how he overcame the biggest challenge of his life when he was just a kid. Ann Voskamp speaks of grief and loss as a type of empty or negative space in our hearts which gives our lives definition; its constant presence in our thoughts and actions. She then says that God uses this space to give us permission to pause, help us reevaluate and draw our attention to what is positive-God Himself and the hope we have.

I am exhausted, mentally and physically. On top of this, we had 3 kids recently go off to college and another is starting her senior year of high school. Life moves forward. I thought that a Stage 4 diagnosis would do me in, but watching and caring for your child through such a major health crisis goes beyond human capability. I understand the being strong and fighting part when it comes to me and my fight, but for my child? It’s the next level. Children believe you when they see in your eyes that you believe, and it has taken every inch of my being, with HEAVY reliance on my faith to be strong and courageous for both of us. Love gives courage. We talk about life in seasons, ‘this is just a good or bad season,’ etc, but I heard Shauna Niequist on a podcast and she referred to life as more of a railroad track, the good and bad happen simultaneously side by side. I agree because I’ve seen it every day we’ve been here and even through my own cancer journey. In this hell, there has been light. On the worst of days, there have been glimmers of hope. There may have been tears but there has been laughter as well; always good and bad side by side.

The love we have experienced from friends, family, nurses, even strangers have meant so much and has lifted us up. I cannot thank you all enough for all the cards, texts, gifts, and prayers. As a Christian, I have always known the story of God and Jesus but now I understand even more the incredible sacrifice; a Father watching his son suffer real human suffering to give us all hope. That is love. Love gives courage.

Do not fear for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you…I will uphold you.’~Isaiah 41:10



10 Responses to “Courage”

  1. Leigh Lentine August 29, 2019 at 6:25 am #

    Hi Anna & Alex,
    I have been holding Alex and all of you in prayer. I/we am/are friends from
    St. Kieran w/your dad & mom. Please consider, in case you haven’t, getting Alex the Sacrament of the Sick by a Priest the day of or anytime now before his surgery. I understand surgery was scheduled for tomorrow. Usually there is a Priest at the hospital for whom you can send. This Sacrament is powerful. It made a huge difference in my mom’s care, with and without, by my forgetful omission, as she aged and needed medical attention. I offer this suggestion because often when we are attending the sick we forget some of the most important remedies due to our emotional involvement. Prayers continue for all of you healing, strength and courage.

    • Anna August 29, 2019 at 6:49 am #

      ❤️ Thank you

  2. Shelly Rizzo August 29, 2019 at 7:12 am #

    Both the good and bad.
    Laughter thru the tears.
    Blessings in the midst of tragedy.
    Joy in the midst of sorrow.

    We ARE on this “ride” called life. Although we were never guaranteed that bad things wouldn’t happen, He did promise us that He WILL see us thru it. This we do know. Ann’s analogy makes tremendous sense.

    Let Alex know we are “riding” with him and praying every moment along the way!
    Sending Live💜

  3. Anthony August 30, 2019 at 7:32 am #


    I am at a loss for words as anything I would write would seem hollow in comparison to what I just read. Your sons fight and courage with you by his side inspire so many of us while we Try to muster the courage to battle our own lil fights that in comparison seem small.

    I pray for his recovery.

    Thank you for showing both him and all of us true strength

    • Anna August 30, 2019 at 7:34 am #

      Thank you ❤️

  4. ML August 30, 2019 at 10:12 am #

    It breaks my heart to read this after everything you’ve been through yourself. I can’t even imagine. I do know that you’re an incredible person and your son will do great with your love, support, and strength. xo

  5. Dawn Bird September 1, 2019 at 3:30 pm #

    Anna, I continue to pray for strength for you, and courage for Alex as he continues to fight. Sending love to you…

    • Anna September 1, 2019 at 3:33 pm #


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