“At rest, quicksand thickens with time, but it remains very sensitive to small variations in stress.

At higher stresses, quicksand liquefies very quickly, and the higher the stress the more fluid it becomes. This causes a trapped body to sink..” national geographic

Quicksand .. an analogy I googled mid post and realized was so perfect I cried at the understanding it seemed to convey to me.

When you are in quicksand you have move slowly. Deliberately. Constantly. It’s something you have to get out of on your own.

But what about when its your kids that are stuck in it?

We are pausing continuing to work on her room. We are concentrating on touching them. We are taking just a moment to listen before reacting. Because that’s what they need from us.

Last night Jonathan just started crying with Tony. That he missed him this weekend.. that he “loves him (Daddy) too much” This is a common saying for him lately. It’s sweet but it’s also dark. There is a yearning.. a fear in him that escapes when he says those words to us. Sometimes his arms are wrapped tightly around us, sometimes he is looking right into our eyes when he says it. But there is a question that comes with it. A scared little 5 year old boy.. searching us and himself and trying to sort out big, huge feelings. Last night it hit him hard.

walking hand in hand.. her in boots, pj pants,  bath robe and fur wrap.
walking hand in hand.. her in boots, pj pants, bath robe and fur wrap.

Tony told him he can always call if they are apart if he misses or needs him. And Jonathan admitted what he obviously felt like was a huge sin.. He forgot about him. “Just for a moment”  he said. “But Daddy I forgot about you.”

Before we had kids we spent time trying to talk about all sorts of parenting issues. We studied parents we admired and have tried to use things we have observed. But this is all new. Uncharted territory. Parenting young kids in the aftermath of this loss. It feels to me like trying to run across a sandy beach that has spots of quicksand.

Always difficult. Always hard to keep moving. But we do.

Then we hit the quicksand and have to work so hard to not get pulled in. It’s a sudden change, disorientating and often shocking. These pits of sand always keep a souvenir, a part of us in it.

Everyday we run.. Through a thicker uneven surface than we are used to. We tire often and easily. We feel like we have to be so careful, so many injuries can happen running in dry sand. Step after step we take unsure if what we are feeling is just the normal strain of running in the sand for just under a year and a half or if its about to be a patch of quicksand. One that has to be dealt with in a completely different way..

Nicholas. Only 3. He knew his big sister for two years. I can’t believe that. just two years. Its truly doesn’t seem real to me. If I read that B.C (before cancer) I would be sure that her death didn’t really impact him.  But as his Mom I know differently. The way he reacted the thought of us moving her bed was so surprising to me…Jennifer was more than just time spent though… I think I forget that.

he felt so safe with her
he felt so safe with her. what a thing to lose as a child

Well actually,  if I’m being honest it’s because I am married to his father that I know the depth of his pain over his sister not being here. Because for Nicholas it’s Tony, not me, who he needs.

Last night I got him settled and tucked into bed. A few minutes later he called to Tony so I took over getting Jonathan ready. He asked where we were this weekend. Tony explained I was with friends.

“What friends”

“Ones you don’t know”

“Ok but who are they?”

“Other moms that also have kids that moved to heaven”

“How did Jennifer die?”


Then he looked his Daddy square in the eye and said ” I want cancer. I want to die too.. to be with sissy.”

His is just so little.. so loving ... so trusting..
His is just so little..

Parenting quicksand.. sudden and terrifying but you have to react.

Over and over again he said he wants to die too. What does that mean to him? What is he trying to tell us? Tony dealt with it incredibly. Slowly and deliberately and by example showed him to just keep moving .. Our poor strong independent boy. He cried with his Daddy using the words we wish he didn’t have to know. “I want to be dead so I can be with sissy.”

She loved making him happy.. her joy over giving him this moment is overwhelming in this photo
She loved making him happy.. her joy over giving him this moment is overwhelming in this photo

Tony then came into me. And looked .. I’m not sure I can describe it. He looked bewildered and lost. Scared but also understood. Because our forever truth is that part of all of us just can’t wait to see her again.

He would sometimes just hold her .. with such gentle strength and gratitude.
He would sometimes just hold her .. with such gentle strength and gratitude.


The beach is beautiful, but moving in the sand, it is always hard and tiring and sometimes I just want to give up on even trying to walk in it. Then I hit my own patch of quicksand and wonder if I can actually pull myself out of it when its so deep strong and tight.

When you are in quicksand you have move slowly. Deliberately. Constantly. Its something you have to get out of on your own.

I ask aloud again..but what about when its your kids that are stuck in it?

I guess the same hold true for them as it does for us. We just have to stand at the edge of it and coach them. Tell them what to try and watch them struggle against it. We have to allow them to see us in quicksand and let them witness our slow but constant fight. We have to reassure them that they can do this and we will be here with them every step of the way.

This is childhood cancer. This is child loss. For a whole family.

we will see you one day sissy

never soon enough.


we WILL see you

one day.


…until there is a cure..


17 Responses to “quicksand”

  1. Libby, This is truly amazing. I hope that someday you will consider putting some of your posts together into a book. It would bless so many who are struggling through the loss of a child and don’t have the gift you so obviously have to put your feelings into words. I’d be blessed to help with any editing or compilation.

    And the photographs! I will once again walk around today with your family’s open and vulnerable faces before me, tugging at my heart and causing me to be more loving with everyone I encounter. You are all so beautiful in both your joy and your woundedness.

    Please so consider how priceless your writings would be to a world of hurting families…….not to mention how much you could raise for Unravel from the sale of such a journal! One more way to honor “our” Jennifer (sorry, but I just think of her that way!) and make her unforgettable to even more people!

    Thank you again for sharing so openly and honestly, and for making me a better, more caring and thoughtful person. I will continue to pray for your whole family as you bravely walk your journey, hand in hand with Jesus. And whenever people fail you, remember that He never will.

  2. Poignant words. Mighty truths. You are showing those kids of your compassion, strength, endurance, patience, kindness…but above all else, LOVE. My prayers are always with your family.

  3. The ability to paint these visceral feelings is a gift, Libby. Sometimes it punches me in the stomach and follows me thru my day. being a visual person, i can just see this sand everywhere and some quicksand areas… we’ve stepped in these on river trips. You’re right, the ground looks firm and seems like you can keep plodding forward and slowly the ground gives way… at first you are confused as to what is happening…and lost and gradually find purchase somewhere and a way to crawl out, sometimes with a helping hand..

  4. Thank you for sharing your story. I am a grandma of 3 boys JD, Jakub & our angel Jonah. We lost Jonah to cancer 12/7/13, Jakub was 3 at the time, he is 5 now. He does talk about Jonah, we still have photo s everywhere. It s tough hide our grief when we talk about Jonah, but we try. The entire family has been to counseling sessions, and family camps for grief, etc..

    Jakub recently had a similar outburst saying ” i want to get hit by a car, so I can be with Jonah in haven”. It broke his daddy’s heart to hear him say that. We all think we are strong and have come along way since December 2013, but when this happened it seems to pull us all back down. Too think our 5 year old could have thoughts like that, is so frightening.

    1. I try not be frightened because I think its just their way of expressing the loss they feel. From what I have heard from other bereaved families for kids its like they start over.. like the sibling just died as they reach new levels of understanding. I don’t think we as adults have to go through that

  5. What a perfect analogy for dealing with grief! It’s so hard to watch your kids dealing with it. So, so hard when you want to protect them from it instead of having to watch them struggle their way through it.

    I think the kids can be helpful, too, though. They give you a reason to keep fighting it. And force you to deal with it when otherwise you might just let yourself get stuck. My kids save my life more often than they will ever know.

  6. So much pain and heartbreak. I pray for you all daily- your pictures show just how much Jennifer is loved. LOVE4JLK always💗

  7. You two are amazing parents. We can all learn from you. Thankyou for sharing your beautiful Jennifer with us as well as yourselves as you continue to do so. We love you Jennifer! We love you all. ♡

  8. Such a heart wrenching posts – Libby I agree with the first post-er …your writing is incredible and I am sure you are helping so many other families who have lost children – I think a published journal would do even more good for those families! I wanted to also just comment on the beautiful picture of Jennifer and Nicholas hugging…its so sweet and what brings me to tears…I love his little hand around her beautiful long hair – its just so moving to me! Praying and thinking of your family so often – and remembering your Jennifer everyday…again you and Jennifer have taught me to live differently… more present, in the moment and more loving!
    Love and positive thoughts to you, Tony, Jonathon, Nicholas, Charlotte and Baby #5!

  9. Sometimes I just don’t know what to say except that losing Jennifer sucks for each and every one of you! I don’t mean that in a blase way either..it really does suck! I remember as a child growing up looking at two pictures on the mantle of my grand-mother’s fireplace. One was a sweet looking 6 year old blonde boy, my Uncle Glenn. The other of my Father who passed away before my birth.

    Uncle Glenn was born Dec 28, 1931 and died March 11, 1937 at age 6 years, 2 months, 13 days…of leukemia. Seems not much has changed, cancer in one form or another is still taking children from mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, and cousins. I remember how my Grand-ma’s face would light up when she spoke of her son’s. I also remember times her voice would catch, and she would struggle, then smile again and carry on. I think I understand more now than I did when I was a child, but now I understand the reason for the struggle, the reason for the smile, and why she wanted her grand-children to know about her son’s, one an Uncle, the other their Father.

  10. I have read your blog and seen your videos and I don’t know what to say, but I want to say something. Im so sorry for your loss. Its not fair. We get to live and destroy our adult bodies with our fatty food and tobacco and alcohol, and we live long unhealthy lives. While little angels like Jennifer are stolen from us way too early. Its just not fair. I pray they find a cure, so no parents will ever have to hear their child has a caner that no one has ever survived. They are all so beautiful, I hope they can put an end to this monster soon. God bless you and your family. I will pray for you.

  11. Loving your family so much, and so grateful you and Tony are so wise in the ways you handle these new challenges that arise. You are the most loving, thoughtful, kind parents. Your children reap the benefits of your care every day.

  12. This is just beyond heart breaking Libby. I am so sorry! I have no words, just that I am praying and thinking of all of you. xoxoxoxo

  13. I have reading all the parents expressing their sadness and suffering but not a one parent asking why their beloved children has been robbed from them by vicious monster called dipg and who’s fault is that for not put a rein on this monster . The biggest culprit in this tragedy is the US government. Last fifty years since the dipg came to known as biggest child killer government did nothing to find a proper cure for this beast and save all the children who were the victim of this ferocious monster. It was government primary duty to create a safeguard to protect their children from this killer dipg. If the us government was caring about their children they would invest billions of dollars every year for last fifty years then scientists would have founda pproper cure at least ten fifteen years ago like leukaemia . All these children died last ten fifteen would have saved . They would be still alive with their parents. Because government criminal negligent attitude towards their children not to spending money on vital research like dipg these children died without any chance to choose to live or die. Government just dumped them to the face of death. Government has got trillions of dollars to spend on defence research programmes which they will bring no good for human race and will counterproductive. US government has got enough weaponry to destroy the world fifty times. So why they need spend trillions of dollars on defence budget but they have not got few billions to do proper research to find proper cure for this child killer dipg. I government doesn’t care about your child because it’s only 300 hundreds in years getting killed by dipg and has got no vote or voice. They are the helpless victims of this government game. I find it very difficult all these parents who has lost their children not raised their voice against this extreme cruelty towards their children by their government who is supposed to be protect their children from harm. Now all this research going on to beat this monster dipg
    by people whose family is the victim of this monster. People like lauren hill who raised millions of dollars tofind

  14. A proper cure sooner than later because lots children life at risk because nobody knows when this beast will strike to another parents loved one and robbed them from their parents. All this research going on around the world are privately funded by the family whose children were robbed painfully in front of their eyes by this monster dipg. I think situation would have different if all influential people like president, secretary of state congressmen lobbyists billionaire pharmaceutical company top executive family were affected by this vicious monster then they would have spent billions of dollars long time ago and would have found a cure long time ago and all these children robbed by this beast last ten fifteen years would’ve saved. Now it is the time for parents to raise awareness and voice against government cruelty towards your children and forced to government to spend billions of dollars to do proper research and beat this beast permanently . Otherwise everybody’s child is at mortal danger . Otherwise have to watch how this monster will shut down your child vital organ including their last breath in front of your eyes and nobody no doctor no specialist will come to help you . You can’t do anything for child apart from watching your child will be taken from you painfully and you have to with this pain and suffering rest of your life. Nothing will alleviate this trauma that your child had endured in front of your eyes . I am telling from my own experience. So wake up all the parents who has small kids to do at your best to form public opinions to forced the government to spend billions of dollars because you need a lot of money and resources to fight against this ferocious monster to beat that beast permanently and find a proper cure as soon as possible otherwise your life will like us with full sadness and pain. Arif Ahmed

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