Anna’s Mom: Being Present Through Grief


Anna was starting first grade and I remember looking at her in the rear view mirror on our way to school, she sat silent looking out the window. I could tell by the look on her face that she was contemplating something.

“Are you nervous Anna?”

“A little,” she said quietly without breaking her stare from the countryside.

Her little school was not our neighborhood school, but one I always dreamed of sending her to. Being a traveling teacher in the Forest Grove School District I had close friends who taught there and I knew she was in good hands. Her best friend was also attending, and they had already made plans for lunch and recess.

We pulled into the parking space and I asked her if she wanted to sit for a minute before going in. She nodded her head and smiled nervously.

My heart swelled.

I climbed in the backseat and held her hand. All I wanted was to scoop her up and take all of her nervousness and fear away. I knew that in that very moment I needed to be present, and lovingly guide her into her new adventure, showing her that, no matter what, I was there for her and so incredibly proud.

We sat in the back of the car and I shared with her all the reasons why I loved this little school so much. From the back pasture, on a clear day, you can see all the way to Mt. Hood. The beautiful garden behind the school where, during lunch recess, kids could sit at the picnic tables and draw. She would learn lots of fun things about all sorts of interesting topics and would have music class and physical education. I assured her that she would make lots of new friends, that her teacher was one of my favorites and how I couldn’t wait to hear her stories at the end of each day. She asked if I would visit when I was teaching at her school and I assured her that was already my plan and I couldn’t wait.

“I’m ready,” she said with a soft voice.present

I looked deep into my little girls eyes and with every ounce of my heart said, “I love you Miss Anna.”

She smiled and said, “I know.”

A year later, it was the end of September and I found myself driving on the same country road that Anna and I had taken that morning. I thought about our drive together and how all I wanted to do was be present and ease Anna’s nerves. On this drive all I wanted was for her to ease mine.

Quietly, I whispered, “Anna, I’m going to see your friends and I’m so nervous.”

I was headed to my little girl’s school to volunteer for a couple of hours. As another school year began I knew that my heart needed to connect with her friends and to mother my girl in the best way I knew how, by being in their classroom.

I walked into the office and signed in. The secretary asked if I was heading to second grade, and with a cracked voice I said, “yes.” She came around the desk and gave me a hug, saying, “the kids will be happy to see you.” I walked down the hallway slowly. I didn’t want to upset anyone or show emotion while I was there. I wanted to simply read with Anna’s classmates, get to know them, and be present in their lives. I wanted to sit in their classroom and feel what it was like to have a daughter in second grade, because I did.

Standing at the door, I stopped and took a deep breath.

“I’m ready,” I whispered to my girl in heaven.

I opened the door and a room full of second graders looked at me with delight.

“Anna’s mom is here!”

With a broken heart full of love, I smiled and said, “Yes, Anna’s mom is here.”

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The greatest gift bestowed to Susan is that of being a mother. She has worn many hats in her 43 years but being the mom to 5 amazing children (1, 10, 15, 17, 20) is definitely the hat she wears with the greatest amount of pride. Susan does not consider herself a natural writer but rather found the gift of writing as a tool to help her move through grief after her daughters, Anna and Abigail, went to Heaven due to a tragic accident in 2013. Susan has found that the written word along with her unwavering faith in God has allowed her to stay very connected to her daughters and their beautiful lives here and in Heaven. She writes at and is also the founder of Love Rocks, a movement of love and joy that honors her daughters’ lives,


  1. Following …. a dear friend who was from your hometown in OH is now living near me in SC. She sent this blog link . I too, am very connected to my daughters friends . We lost our Darby 4 1/2 years ago and I would love to journal and write but haven’t found the courage to do so. God has been so faithful in all the God winks and stories …. too numerous NOT to share. ….. I am inspired . Thank you

    • Kelly I was so scared when I started to write ~ I hated writing and thought I would just draw a blank. I think that God does something amazing when you are willing to sit with Him in your most vulnerable state. Having this outlet has been such a blessing to me. I am so sorry for you loss of Darby ~ know I am sending you love and prayers. If you want to connect sometime don’t hesitate to send me an email or Facebook message. Love and prayers.

  2. Susan~ what God has given you through writing, has kept you and your girls present in my Heart every single Day. You are Amazing and Wonderful…A Quiet Yet Infinetly Courageous Spirit! You continue to show others through God and Faith…there is Joy to find each new Day♡♡ Much Love

    • Thank you Lisa for you message, your kind words and for keeping us close. God is good and He does show me everyday that there is joy to be found!

  3. Susan, you continue to amaze me. Such beautiful writing. I am sure your family is so very proud of you, especially Anna. I never stop learning from you and look forward to many more of your blogs.

  4. Susan, from one mama to another, thank you for sharing your heart. I can’t begin to imagine how difficult this journey must be for you. You and your family are in my prayers.

  5. As an author and freelance writer I can assure you that your words are poignant and felt. As a mom, they tear at my heartstrings, and as the secretary at Hilltop Elementary School, I was the proud holder of a love rock this past fall and felt it’s possibility just a few days
    later when it changed the course of a child’s day as I passed it along. ?

    • Thank you so much Kathleen. Hilltop Elementary ~ you know that is where I went to elementary school? So happy a Love Rock found you!

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