Tomato

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You held up that one half of one grape tomato on your fork, little hand shaking, little voice shaking, asking, pleading whether or not you had to eat it. Yes. Yes you have to eat it! Demand in my voice. Declaration. Staking a claim, thrusting that stake into the flesh of the earth. “You have a future!” I am your mother and I am claiming a future for you, I am declaring you a child who will live…if I have anything to do with it. Eat your vegetables!

But I had nothing to do with it. That was your last real meal and I forced you to eat a tomato. I will never forget your face, sweet eyes full of terror and desperation to somehow get out of eating that wretched tomato. You wanted pizza. But I had to say No. No. No, because the task at hand was to starve your cells of glucose all those starches of crust would provide. No, your cells must wither and yearn until the next day’s glucose injection for the PET scan when they would slurp up the energy giving glucose, powering their metabolic processes, the glow of their fervor lighting up on the screen. Those most hungry but with no business living would show up in yellows and oranges and reds, evidences of the throbbing, tenacious life of cancer, cell by cell by cell.

One year ago on a Monday night in Seattle, in our sanctuary away from home, in our Ron Don apartment, I could never have imagined you were eating your last meal. I could never have imagined that just two weeks later you would no longer speak, the ferocious cancer cells eating away at your brain, forever closing your mouth, forever silencing you dear little voice. As I turned you on your side to clean you up, the blades of your hip bones cuts sharp angles, your legs so thin, your frail left arm jutting up into the air as the pain coursed through you at even my most gentle touch.

I regret that tomato. I so wish I could go back to that night and say, no, no, sweet girl. You do not have to eat the tomato.

I sit in the light of a single lamp. The rain falling against the windows. Alone. No one left in this vast house but me. Allistaire dead. Sten has left. Half of Solveig.

The rain has turned to ice and beats against the windows. A flash of lightning.  Thunder.

The storm passes over.  Quiet except for the faint ring of the wind chimes.  A sound present before these children.  A child gone, a husband gone, a child absent.  Still the same sweet tones move with the wind in the night air.

46 responses »

  1. You are not alone. The great I AM is with you even now. I have never met you or Allistaire or Sten or Solveig, but I have prayed over you all for years (Adele introduced me to you via FB). Know that you continue to be prayed over. I am grieving with you. Praying. Hoping in Jesus! He is our Hope!

  2. How were you to know death would come so quickly to Allistaire, hard to believe it’s been a year already. My heart hurts for the sorrow you’ve endured. What a treasure we have to know that God doesn’t change, he’s still the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. Hugs to you Jai.

  3. I have thought of you and Allistaire so many times this last year, and each time my heart cries a prayer for the broken hearts of your family. Praying for comfort for your weary souls! Lord Jesus come! Come and make all things new!

  4. My dear Jai, I want to tell you again that Gayle and I have prayed for you every day for the last several years, including this past year. Our hearts are with you and share your pain. We love you, friend. And most important of all, the Great Comforter is also with you and cares for your pain. We continue to pray for him to work in you for your peace and his glory.

  5. Oh Jai,
    I’ve thought of, and searched for you hundreds of times since sweet Allistaire left.
    I’m heartbroken to know what has transpired over this last almost year. My heart aches for you and Solveig, I miss your baby girl so much. I’m so sorry Sten has left, omg Jai. I wish I lived out by you, oh dear God, I’m so sorry.

  6. My heart is breaking for you and my prayers are with you! You do not know me, but I did follow your story and prayed for your family and will be continuing to pray for you.
    Psalm 34:18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
    and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
    Praying that the Lord would make His presence known, very present and tangible to you. He is our hope!

  7. Hello dear prayed-for sister in our LORD JESUS… We can only imagine what you ARE feeling. Thank you for ‘letting us in.’ You never really knew us, but as friends of your dear parents (through church and BSF), we have continued to lift you up to JESUS. May you know HIS presence now more than ever. I lead the singing of hymns in assisted living, nursing care, and memory care facilities each week and the song on my mind as I type is O HOW I LOVE JESUS (because HE first loved me.) May this truth sustain you at this moment of loneliness and feeling desolate?… In HIS matchless love, Sheila Dean

  8. Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans for welfare and not for calamity, to give you a future and a hope.” Allistaire is free from pain and surrounded by love. You are a loving, joyful, creative, strong mother and role model for Solveig. You are upheld by the love and prayers of countless family and friends, and by the wings of angels: not those rosy-cheeked cherubs in the gilded paintings of old, but by fierce warrior Frank Peretti angels! Dig deep, stand strong, keep fighting, dear girl.

  9. When the brokenness and the darkness press in on your soul I pray that you will find Him there with you.
    I grieve and shake my fist at these things I don’t understand. And I pray for you and Solveig and Sten. Please, Father? Bind up these wounds?

  10. Just as I prayed for sweet Allistaire daily I have continued to pray for you, Sten and Solveig. Prayers for peace tonight. In his love,

  11. No words I say will take away your pain so I pray that in your desperatation God joy, peace and love over powers you and sustains you. You are in my prayers.

  12. I’m so sorry you’ve had more loss in the last year 😔 Praying for healing, comfort, and a season of joy to fill your heart as your home.

  13. Jai. Oh how many times I have thought of you. And prayed. I am very sorry I did not write after Allistaire died, or send a card. Honestly, each time I tried to compose my note I found myself not able to catch my breath. And then time passed….but I did not forget you. I thought Allistaire would live, and so hoped she would. I, too, have wondered how you and Sten and Solveig were doing this past year. I read and re-read your words: Alone. No one left in this vast house but me. Allistaire dead. Sten has left. Half of Solveig. And I wanted to think, Sten is gone off to work and Solveig to school. (“but what does ‘half’ mean….?”) And you are simply alone in the house. I am not sure what is happening, but I just want you to know that you are not forgotten and this sister in Christ is praying and….loving you from afar….

  14. Dear Jai,
    When you were my RD in Oaktree I so appreciated your care for me as I floundered through that year. Someone posted a link to this blog post on “The Master’s Mamas” Facebook page, and I just want you to know that hundreds of us are heartbroken with you and are lifting you up in prayer. Trusting the verse that says He is near the broken-hearted, and praying He strengthens you to press on. Love, Beth

  15. We never had the chance to meet, dear one, but my thoughts have never been far from you and your family, even over this last year. I am sending you so much love and light. So much love. I pray your heart can open enough to receive it, to be gentle and kind to yourself, to let others care for you.
    I am so grateful you have written once again. Ty for your vulnerable honesty.
    💜

  16. Dear Jai I have shed tears for you. I am horrified that your other two family members have departed and hope it can be fixed.I got this feed through my email but immediately recognized your voice when you wrote “Ron don” and sure enough “c onglomeration of joy” was the writer. When you are ready to share more of your heart I will be listening. I prayed for you this morning and your mamas heart.

  17. Your pain has been heavy on my heart dear soul. Yours. JoMarie. Jo. Solveig. The brothers….. As I wade through a grief of my own that is impossible to avoid or to shake off, my Dad’s baritone voice sings “Up from the Grave He Arose” in that not-so-distant memory on my head. How he loved that song.—

    Death cannot keep its prey.

    Death be not proud; even death will die.
    And yet, last night’s storm was fitting for the turmoil within……

  18. Jai
    I am a friend of JoMarie,
    I prayed for years and now I see you still need
    Many prayers
    The Lord is still with you
    I cannot even imagine a drop of all your pain but I’m offering a caring heart ❤️
    Call me anytime you just need to talk it hurts just to read & remember and see what you are struggling through.
    We know everything is still True but some trials or whatever we are supposed call them are so overwhelming. In Christ love
    Grace Regnier 406-600-8227

  19. Ji, what hard, hard things you have had to and still endure. I am so sorry. Praying you can find comfort, that you will keep your faith in this mysterious God of ours who can allow what seems so terrible, and yet He is somehow still good, still love. You, of all people, have reason to question and doubt this; may God alone still sustain you.

  20. We have never met. I’ve followed your story, cried with you during the low points and celebrated the blessings along the way.
    I have felt the pull to pray for you specifically this last week. I will continue to hold you in my prayers, pray for mending of broken hearts, pray for peace that passes understanding. Xoxo

  21. I’ve followed your story since I first met you in BSF 2 1/2 years ago. My heart hurts for you and all your losses. Your devotion and faith through all of this has been such an inspiration to me. Please know you are in my thoughts and prayers!
    In Christ’s love
    Laura Jones

  22. Though we have never met, I’ve so wanted to meet you. I treasured your posts reading them carefully and often more than once. Your telling of your family’s story so poignant, even in suffering remembering He was still in control. I’ve prayed often almost daily for you and your family. This past Thursday, my plea was let us hear from Jai. Sorry is inadequate to say. I read this from John Piper this morning, “I have never heard anyone say, “The really deep lessons of my life have come through times of ease and comfort.” But I have heard strong saints say, “Every significant advance I have ever made in grasping the depths of God’s love and growing deep with him has come through suffering.”” Please as you can let us hear from you. Prayers continue.

  23. Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans for welfare and not for calamity, to give you a future and a hope.” Allistaire is free from pain and surrounded by love. You are a loving, joyful, creative and strong mother and role model to Solveig. You are lifted up with love and prayers by countless family members and friends, and by the wings of angels: not those rosy-cheeked cherubs in the gilded paintings of old, but by fierce warrior Frank Peretti angels! Dig deep, stand strong, keep fighting, dear girl.

  24. Sometimes, all of the encouraging “so called” Christian comments, you know, what we are supposed to say, just really isn’t enough. So….I want you to know that I AM SO GRIEVED FOR YOU! I have no idea why God would allow this kind of devastation to come to you! Then I think of Job. He also questioned, wished he had never been born, but then, he NEVER rejected his Lord. Is that the point? We were never meant for this world anyway. Someday, you, Solveig and Allistaire will be holding hands and dancing for JOY! That is a promise worth hanging onto! Who knows, it may actually be sooner than you think!!

  25. One more thing, just like so many others, your posts that have been so publicly open and honest, have impacted so many of us….wow. Before Allistaire passed, I started a portrait of her and Solveig, dressed up like princesses. I spent long hours, sometimes in tears, trying to capture Allistair’s sweet face with my paints and paint brushes. Studying so many different photo’s of her. I managed to finish just her face, the rest of the painting remains vague and unfinished. Not sure what I will ever do with it…but your story, your life, her life, and Solveig, has truly impacted mine…to the depths. Beautiful and tragic story that probably has been woven into one of the most beautiful tapestry’s that God, the Master artist has ever created!!

  26. I am so saddened to read your words yet grateful that you wrote them. I too found the fall out, the life after cancer to be a brutal one to navagate. Relationships and life forever altered. On top of the unfathomable pain of losing one so dear. Take courage. You are not alone even though it seems and feels to be the opposite. I have a very dear friend in Bozeman who also lost a child and has recently started a grief group. Let me know if you would like details. I am so very sorry…

  27. I have prayed for you so many times. Thank you for checking in and telling us a new reason to pray, a new way to stand with you. So much grief–I ache with you. God is near.

  28. Oh Jai, I have prayed for you every day for the past several years, and will continue to do so. My heart is grieved for you and breaks with yours as the emptiness multiplies. May God make His nearness known to your precious heart.

  29. Dear Jai and family: Although we have never met, I know of you and yours through Caden Shrauger (his grandfather is my cousin). I have kept you and all of yours in my heart since reading your first entry in Conglomeration of Joy. Each day I think of you and hold you in my heart, sending you a silent wish for peace. I have been so worried about you, Solveig and Sten, The journey traveled has been and continues to be unimaginable…….for all of you. My hope is that you all reach a point where each day is a little easier. You have been and will continue to be in my heart. There are no words for me to express how sorry I am for all that you have been through and continue to go through.

    • Beautiful entry. Same here. I have looked and searched for anything since the last journal on April 30… my heart broke when she died and then shattered reading this last journal. So so sad for all of them. 😦

  30. Jai,
    You’ve been heavy on my heart today, one year later I could never comprehend your pain and all that has transpired over this year. My heart aches, for all of you. I’ve thought of you all, SO MANY times and I’m so sorry. I surely miss Allistaire. With love, from Minnesota.

  31. Just read your recent posting last night, Jai, and all the loving comments of support. You have to swim against the tide of this moment’s sorrow and almost unbearable pain, and simply endure. There is no other way forward than through this sorrowful crucifixion knowing only that you will get through it, like you have in the past, forgiving reality and asking only for His grace. Eat that cherry tomato every day, keep the lights on, be attentive to the wind passing through the chimes, and keep an eye out for that blue-bellied bird.

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