From The Heart

January 7, 2007

Edit/update below…

The thing that I have held back on posting about, since our return home, and my return to communicative action, the thing that makes my heart swell and ache and my eyes burn with tears of both joy and pain, the thing that is testament to both the light of hope and love and kindness in the world and the cruelty of nature/fate/god, the thing that strains-stretches-pulls (but such beautiful, love-affirming strain) my tired heart but that I absolutely must share with you, my friends: Tanner, and the first batch of his letters, and the sweet, sweet wonder in his eyes as he read them:

What wonderful new friends you have! I exclaimed, as he opened letter after letter and unfolded drawing after drawing and card after card from children more sweet and funny and sage and generous than I thought possible. (Size and age, clearly, provide no clue to the measure of the human heart. These hearts, in such small bodies, given expression by such small hands: so open, so expansive. How do their little chests contain them?)

How can they be my friends if they’ve never met me? he asked. And I told him about how, sometimes, very special friendships form between people who only know each other through words, and pictures. People who know each other’s hearts, because they know their stories.

These are very special friends, I told him, because they’ve heard your story and it touched their hearts and made them want to hug you with words and pictures. These are very special friends, I told them, even if you never get to meet them. You can know them from their words, from their art, from the love that they’re sending you.

He nodded, solemnly, and went back to examining the lion-dragon that one such very special friend had sent him.

What friendship does, what love does, for the muscle that is the heart: make it swell, make it grow, so much that its cracks come to seem so, so small.

Thank you.

Because you asked… more batches of letters continue to go out to Tanner weekly, and more letters are more than welcome.

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    MotherBumper January 7, 2007 at 10:20 pm

    Wow. That it just beautiful HBM, what a wonderful way to describe what friendship does. It’s so amazing what words can do.

    m January 7, 2007 at 10:32 pm

    Gah! The tears, my heart.

    Kyla January 7, 2007 at 10:51 pm

    *wiping eyes, face, and changing my tear soaked shirt* Beautiful, HBM, beautiful. And so amazing to be a part of it. *sniffle* What a blessing HE is to us all. Thanks for sharing Tanner with us.

    urban-urchin January 7, 2007 at 11:08 pm

    That was so very beautiful, as is Tanner.

    metro mama January 7, 2007 at 11:12 pm

    Wow. I’m speechless.

    chelle January 7, 2007 at 11:17 pm

    That is so simply wonderful.

    T. January 7, 2007 at 11:18 pm

    That just swells my heart.

    I hope Tanner enjoyed his letters/pics/bad jokes.

    We certainly enjoyed sending them.

    It helped us through our grief too.

    Lena January 8, 2007 at 2:06 am

    Am crying.

    What a priceless experience for Tanner. He will be in my prayers tonight. As will you and WB.

    Lara January 8, 2007 at 2:22 am

    i cried from beginning to end. like, tears streaming down my face kind of crying.

    i once heard someone say my a cappella group’s music made her “heart feel full.” i hope and pray that tanner’s heart feels equally full from the love we all (and probably countless others you will never even hear from) are sending him.

    and you.

    Janet a.k.a. "Wonder Mom" January 8, 2007 at 8:18 am

    Yup. Crying.
    I love that. Thank you for sharing.

    lara is right. However, Tanner (and you) have made MY heart feel full. I am so honored to ‘know’ you both.

    TB January 8, 2007 at 9:22 am

    How truly, truly wonderful.
    This community we find ourselves a part of is an amazing place.

    mamatulip January 8, 2007 at 9:35 am

    *happy sigh*

    Lisa b January 8, 2007 at 10:33 am

    This post brought tears to my eyes.

    K January 8, 2007 at 10:46 am

    Hooray! Tears of joy over here for Tanner — and all the wonderful kids who sent letters.

    Beck January 8, 2007 at 11:16 am

    I’m so glad that the letters brought him joy. Your post made me cry this morning.

    Plain Jane Mom January 8, 2007 at 11:31 am

    I’m so glad he gets to experience that kind of community and sharing.

    Much More Than A Mom January 8, 2007 at 12:48 pm

    What a beautiful child, and what a beautiful way you described our e-friendships.
    Welcome back.

    crazymumma January 8, 2007 at 1:58 pm

    oooohhhhh. lion dragon. what a powerful image. Chimera I think?

    My girls liked doing it. They wondered if they were ever going to be able to meet him….

    scarbie doll January 8, 2007 at 4:22 pm

    K, crying at my desk. It’s amazing that an online story like this can touch even the most cynical of hearts.

    Meena January 8, 2007 at 5:09 pm

    Oh, goodness. Can’t. hold. back. tears. So wonderful, I’m so happy for him. And so touched that so many have been willing to expand their friendship to him.

    The world can be very good.

    ewe are here January 8, 2007 at 7:09 pm

    Teary and speechless.

    So delighted he got such lovely letters. And your description about being hugged with words and pictures — so perfect.

    Perfectly wonderful.

    wordigirl January 8, 2007 at 7:49 pm

    My throat is swelling as I read this and see Tanner’s precious picture. I am humbled…really.

    Mom101 January 8, 2007 at 10:59 pm

    Argh, I’m crying. This is so beautiful – the words, the pictures, all of it.

    When Thalia is old enough she can’t wait to join the big-hearted letter writers and picture drawers that comprise Tanner’s new friends.

    jen January 8, 2007 at 11:46 pm

    really, truly lovely.

    what a gift all of this is, not only to your family, but to everyone who knows of it.

    Lady M January 9, 2007 at 1:46 am

    Beautiful, beautiful.

    something blue January 9, 2007 at 2:20 am

    I have had to reread your touching words that make my heart swell like an inflated balloon. Your description of a special friend is perfect.

    GIRL'S GONE CHILD January 9, 2007 at 4:11 am

    Beautiful. Just wonderful.

    Amanda January 9, 2007 at 8:10 am

    I think that was such an incredible idea to have people send Tanner letters. What a great way to let him know how he fits into this world and to know how much people care, even if they have never met him. What a true sense of community, caring, friendship and human nature. What a wonderful way to teach children how to be empathetic, kind, generous, giving, etc. Thank YOU for the opportunity to share a smile with Tanner. What a strong, adorable, kind hearted little guy.

    MamaLee January 9, 2007 at 10:40 am

    Thank you so much for sharing this with us. And what a great Aunt, and a great Mommy you are…

    Your family, especially your nephew, is lucky to have you.

    kittenpie January 9, 2007 at 3:57 pm

    Argh, I’ve been feelign so crap about not getting orus to you on time for you to take it along, so it’s been riding around in my purse ever since. Will you be sending another batch for us perpetually late types?

    FishyGirl January 9, 2007 at 8:35 pm

    That left tears in my eyes. Count us among the late – my DD lovingly made her card, and I haven’t been able to get the crew of us out to the post office – only have 2 at home tomorrow morning (Thank GOD they are back at school), so will get it out then (sorry!). My kids want to come meet Tanner and play with him – it is hard to explain to 7, 5, and 2 year olds just how far away he is. At least we have the blessing of the internet and the postal service, and can “see” and “hug” him that way.

    Bloor West Mama January 10, 2007 at 9:45 am

    I am in tears…at work. How wonderful that Tanner enjoyed reading the letters. Thank you for sharing with us. Welcome back.

    soleclaw January 10, 2007 at 11:21 am

    Crying like a baby over here. I’m imagining the wonder in Tanner’s eyes, the sparkle, when he read the letters and my faith in humanity is renewed.

    Binkytown January 10, 2007 at 12:41 pm

    It’s hard to find the words. Looking at that picture of him opening letters warms my heart. I’m glad you’re back.

    Paige January 10, 2007 at 2:10 pm

    I’m so glad to hear he’s getting letters and hope they’ve provided him with some sunshine.

    Very moving post. Very.

    Rock the Cradle January 10, 2007 at 3:03 pm

    Wow. Tanner has given the greatest gift of all. A reminder of how we can live and love…

    Thank you.
    And I’ll be sure to thank him.

    Kate January 10, 2007 at 5:24 pm

    How sweet. That’s so nice you are sharing all this. My son and I will have to script a letter pronto! Glad he enjoys receiving them and that you have explained to him how he can have friendships with people he’s never met. Kind of like blogging!

    Haley-O January 11, 2007 at 12:23 am

    This is absolutely beautiful. I love the way you explained “virtual” friendship to Tanner. Thank you, my friend.

    Jenifer January 11, 2007 at 3:55 pm

    He looks so sweet reading all his letters so intently…

    You are an inspiration to others, I can only aspire to write an eighth as well as you do and I will consider myself brilliant!

    AdventureDad January 11, 2007 at 5:36 pm

    I’m ashamed I still haven’t sent anything. Your writing about Tanner simply kills me. I want more but a the same time I don’t want to hear any more.


    Sandra January 15, 2007 at 4:47 pm

    My heart is postively bursting. And the tears stream down my face. Hugs to you, C and Tanner.

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