Friday, August 1, 2014

for Tommy

Edited to add: Elizabeth Dehority and I have asked the Mussers to set up a site we can direct people to, to cover funeral costs for Tommy. Please help us alleviate any financial need during this difficult time by visiting :


Dear friends,

I'm voice texting this blog post from my phone while sitting in my van in the parking lot at the grocery store. So if the words are misspelled or this sounds a little broken… well then it's totally appropriate.

Yesterday while my kids and I were returning from the city pool, I got a text from a friend… I read it at the stoplight, and I don't even know how I made it home.

If you've been reading here for a long time, then you know who Susanna Musser is. If you're a newer reader I'll direct you to these posts…
I met Susanna through blogging right after Lily was born. The similarities in our families were overwhelming. Like us, the Mussers had seven boys and three girls, and their youngest girl had Down syndrome. Like us, the Mussers are Christians, they homeschool their children, and they share our love for adoption and orphan advocacy. When I had Hayden, our eleventh child, Susanna and Joe added another baby boy to their family as well . 

Sam and I had the privilege of meeting the Musser family three years ago when we traveled to Pennsylvania to visit my aunt. 

At that time they were in the process of adopting a little girl from Bulgaria named Katie.

We sat at the big table in the Musser kitchen, surrounded by her beautiful children, and I listened as Susanna wept and told us about this amazing little girl. Katie was born with Down syndrome and was  left in an orphanage to live nine years without a family. Although she was nine years old, she was the size of an infant… she weighed 10 pounds. Her condition had nothing to do with the fact that she had Down syndrome, and everything to do with the fact that she was severely malnourished and neglected from the time she was born. Joe and Susanna fell in love with Katie and her story and did everything they could to bring her home. I'm posting the before and after pictures of Katie, so you can see for yourself what love can do.

What happened after this, was nothing short of a miracle. You see, Joe and Susanna had fallen  in love with another little boy in the orphanage where Katie lived. And now I'm resorting to typing on my phone because I'm afraid I just can't communicate through tears to voice text.

Tommy was almost 16 years old when Susanna met him. However, she had no idea that he was that old: he was the size of a three-year-old, because of malnutrition. Tommy had cerebral palsy, a condition that made it impossible for him to eat or walk or stand or talk. But he had the biggest smile and the most beautiful brown eyes, and when Joe and Susanna left him in the orphanage, they left a piece of their hearts there with him. Last year, after a long process to bring him home, Tommy officially became a Musser.  

Tommy spent a wonderful and transforming year with his new mommy and daddy. For the first time in 17 years, he was loved. More than loved - he was treasured and adored and doted on. He was a son.

Yesterday, Tommy went home  - to his final home - to be with Jesus.

I can't even put into words how broken I am for my beautiful friend, Susanna. I can't even describe what a devoted and loving and selfless mommy Susanna is, and I am privileged and honored to call her a close friend.

I spent last night weeping and praying for the Musser family. If I am this heartbroken, and if I am questioning everything in the universe, I cannot begin to imagine what Susanna is feeling right now.

Last night Oregon delivered the biggest lightning and thunder storm I've witnessed since we moved here from Arizona almost twenty years ago. Sam and the kids and I sat out on our bedroom balcony, marveling at what we saw. Huge bolts of lightning and incredible thunder filled the nighttime sky until well past midnight, when we finally went inside to watch through the windows. Although my weather app had absolutely nothing on it preparing us for the storm that rolled in, our little town experienced a downpour and a demonstration of God's power last night, and it continued until the sun began to rise this morning.

For most of the night as I lay in my bed, surrounded by children and a sleeping husband, I stared out my windows at the lightning and rain. We slept with the door to our balcony open, and the smell of rain and the sound of thunder was thick in the air. I watched the storm, cried, prayed for Susanna, fell asleep, woke up to thunder, prayed, cried, fell asleep... around five a.m. the last of the storm rolled away, and I lay in silence in my bed.

I listened to the tiny breathing sounds of my sleeping baby and felt him press into me closer as the sun rose in the morning sky. My baby - my son.

I cannot bear the thought of Susanna losing her son.

I know how much his daddy must be hurting right now, and I can't even let my mind go to what the Musser children must be feeling.

But my mommy's heart is breaking right now for my sister, Susanna.

Oh friends, please, please pray for Susanna.

I don't have any easy answers for this one.

I don't have any trite cliches or magical scriptures or genies in the bottle to pull out for this kind of tragedy.

I am tired and teary-eyed and grief stricken and broken for my friend.

There are all kinds of thoughts flowing through my brain, and I do know God works all things together for the good.

I do know that.

Sam talked to me last night about the fact that we are only seeing in part right now... like looking at the back of a beautiful tapestry being woven together over time... right now all the broken threads and knots and colors just look like a jumbled mess. Nothing makes sense. And it isn't supposed to - we're not in Heaven yet. The tapestry of our lives hasn't been revealed here... it was never meant to be. In Heaven it will all make sense, in the place that was really meant to be home for all of us. This life - I do know this - will seem like a distant dream when we get there.

But for now... we see in  part.

For now, we struggle to hold our hearts together when tragedy strikes.

For now, my battle is to keep my eyes fixed on God, and to trust that no matter what happens on this side of eternity, I believe - I must believe - that the Lord is good.

I am praying through tears for my sweet friend, Susanna, and I am leaning hard into Jesus.

Yesterday would have been my dad's 74th birthday. He left this earth unexpectedly just over a year ago, and the thing that has kept me going is the hope of Heaven.

And yesterday, when I heard the horrible news that my friend's son had left this world behind too ... I instantly had an image of Tommy there - completely whole. He's no longer in a wheelchair, he no longer has limitations, he is able to walk and talk and run and play, and he is HEALED.

He left his home here - a home where he experienced love and joy for the first time in his life - for a glorious and perfect and forever home, called Heaven.

And I have not one doubt in my mind, that yesterday he was held in the arms of a good and loving Savior - the one who shed His blood so that we could make Heaven our home.

God knows what it is to lose a son.

His heart breaks with us, as we weep over loved ones lost, He knows the pain, and He knows our grief.

Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his faithful servants. Psalm 116:15

Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. Isaiah 53:4

I'm looking forward to that day when we see the other side of the tapestry. I'm holding onto the hope of Heaven, and I'm trusting that God -if not here, than there - will work all things together for the good.

He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.
Revelation 21:4

Although her heart is breaking today, I know that one day, Susanna will see her son again. And on that day he will run into her arms. 

I've been in touch with Elizabeth this morning, who spoke to Susanna both yesterday and today. True to Susanna's selfless heart, she would like any donations in Tommy's honor to go to the  fund that helps the orphanage Tommy and Katie came from, The Pleven Project.

Please consider making a donation today.


Amy said...

How incredibly heart breaking. I will pray for her family and for healing of the guilt she is feeling, because she really shouldn't blame herself. Clearly if she could have stopped it she would have.

Cindy said...

What a beautiful post you have made here. My heart feels exactly as yours. My thoughts and prayers are with Susanna and her family. Tommy was able to experience a beautiful love of family, and now he is experiencing the ultimate love of the Savior. You are right, there will come the day Tommy will run into Susanna's arms.

MamaV said...

Thanks for this. You say things better than I ever could. We are praying hard for that dear family!

Unknown said...

Patti, thank you for writing this, and putting words to the grief so many of us who love them feel.

Lilyofthevalley - Tanya said...

I've been following Susanna's blog since she first started it. My heart is breaking for them and she has been in my thoughts and prayers ever since I read the news yesterday.

cara said...

Heartbreaking for this beautiful family!!! Knowing the Lord knows all and is in control. You said everything perfectly! I shared on FB too to pass on for help for them. Praying and praying for them.

lizzielou said...

You have said everything so well. Many prayers for Susanna and the entire family from here. Broken hearted for them.

Anonymous said...

We love Susanna and her family and are hurting as well. I am sorry you are hurting so bad, but I understand. It's hard to deal with the kids today... the small stuff, when something so horrible has happened. : ( I pray not only for their family but for you as well. Take care of yourself. Thank you for being her loving friend.

Patti said...

Dear Susanna, I'm copying all the comments left on the photo (of you and Tommy) that I posted on Instagram here ....when you are up to reading, I hope they will encourage your heart a bit xoxo

Elizabeth said...

Praying for this beautiful family.

previously_owned_treasures said...

They are in our prayers !

Kimmedley said...

Praying they feel God's mighty are around them.

bal93 said...


britmontrella said...

oh I cannot imagine. I will add them to my prayers.

junebugsmama said...

Praying for all his family and for you as well.

mom in Texas said...

I'm so sorry ! Will keep all in my prayers.

Erin said...

Broken, Praying for her so hard.

kslemko said...

I've so often checked in o her blog for updates on Katie and Tommy. This is devastating. Prayers are with them.

mrscdunn said...

Been so heartbroken for Susanna and the family since I read this, this afternoon. Praying for her heart especially ! She is so precious as a mama.

lizbagel said...

Adding my prayers to the rest. Saying unexpected goodbyes is so, so sad.

headyj said...

I'm praying for your friend and her family and amazed by His love through them....reminded of this verse - "He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken." Isaiah 25:8

brenda.louise.b said...

Such a beautiful, inspiring family they are. Saying lots of prayers for them tonight !

ransburg1992 said...

My heart broke as well when I read it. I was stunned and have prayed incessantly since - prayers for strength and peace for the whole Musser family.

ojnopulp said...

Oh Patti. My heart breaks to hear this and yet somehow there's a much bigger plan going on that we just don't understand. But praying this will be used for the good of those involved and for the glory of our great God.

lovemyarthur3 said...

My heart is breaking fr them. She helped me so much when I was trying to get Hailey to gain weight before OHS. Praying for their family.

robinsoncameo said...

I have been following her since you first introduced her on your blog. I am heartbroken for her. Thank you for sharing her story so that all of us can lift her up.

susy616 said...

Such a sad beginning but a beautiful end. He was loved and that's what he needed.