Her suffering ended ten years ago tonight. A decade can take forever to pass, with each day stretching into the next into the next, yet you can come to the end of it and feel like all those things you lived and thought would kill you were only yesterday. Sometimes you still wake up and the slanted light makes you feel like it is the morning after and your home is an empty place. But it didn’t kill you, and your house is not quiet, and you can give thanks to God even with a heart that has never again felt quite whole.



  1. Lore


    It will be a decade this year since our loss too. Strange how the barometer of wholeness changes–no one could have warned us of that ten years ago. It can only be known in hindsight.

  2. TWilson

    Tony – Never having walked through that particular shadowed valley, my sympathy and/or empathy are cheap. But as a fellow father and a fallen man much in need of grace and perspective, I can offer my gratitude for what you write. Thanks and God bless.

  3. Jonny


    May you and your dear wife both be granted the peace which only God can supply and may you find mutual comfort in each other and in ALL of the children you have been granted.

    O Lord who watches over children in this present life and in the world to come because of their simplicity and innocence of mind, abundantly satisfying them with a place in Abraham’s bosom, bringing them to live in radiantly shining places where the spirits of the righteous dwell; receive in piece Thy little servant Caroline, for Thou Thyself hast said: “Let the little children come to me, for such is the Kingdom of God.”

    May Christ our True God, Who rose from the dead, have mercy upon us; He Who as Immortal King has authority over both the dead and the living; through the intercessions of His spotless, pure and holy Mother; of the holy, glorious, and all praise-worthy Apostles; of our venerable and God-bearing fathers; of the holy and glorious forefathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; of His holy and righteous friend Lazarus of the four days; and of all the saints; establish the soul of His maidservant Caroline, departed from among us, in the tentings of the Just; give her rest in the bosom of Abraham; and number her among the holy, through His goodness and compassion, as our merciful God.

  4. Jeff

    Tony – I’ve written to you before with my sympathies on Caroline’s passing, but my thoughts are with your family once again on this day. I cannot begin to imagine the heartache, and I pray He gives each of you peace and strength.

  5. MMM

    in the desert of the real i sit and gaze into the pool.
    the pool that is called “caroline”.
    in this pool the water dances just a little more sparkly like.
    in this pool the colors are just a little bit brighter.
    if you close your eyes against the glow you can hear the little girl giggle in the lapping of the water against your feet.

    to plunge the hands deep, the vain attempt to grasp again,
    causes the dancing ripples to turn outward
    but with no sadness.

    the water sprite you loved is beyond this solid plane.

    she is mist and air and fire to us.
    to Spirit.

    when it is time
    that wave will overtake you.
    drown? no, not you. you will drink thirstily
    and there will always be enough
    of her.
    of Him.
    of YOU.

    of all of us.

    that one who is her mother, that one who held her so tight,
    she looks also into this pool and sees.

    never doubt the watersprite

  6. Paul Crabtree

    I’ve been a follower of your writings for several years now. Every year at this time, my heart breaks a little bit for you and your family. May God bless you with peace and comfort as you look to the day when you are reunited with Caroline.

  7. Marc V

    My heart also breaks for you. May the God of comfort and peace continue to work in your heart. I’m confident that your daughter is one of the precious jewels in His crown, and your reward is waiting for you.

    Thank you for the example you give us in dealing with the thing I cannot say, with the thought I cannot bear to contemplate.

  8. Donna

    Thanks for writing about your grief. I was 56 years old before I lost someone close to me. When I went back to work I was surprised at the number of people who came to comfort me and to share with me their own stories of loss and mourning. Grief gets hidden away. So, thanks again. I deeply appreciate your openess.

  9. wife

    somewhere in the Psalms (116?) it says “His loved ones are very precious to Him and He does not lightly let them die.”

  10. Beth

    I grieve with and pray for you now. You must miss your little girl so much.

    MMM, that poem was one of the most beautiful things I have ever read.

  11. Linda

    I am encouraged when you share your grief and your memories of your daughter. As a child I watched my three-year-old sister die. Soon after my father made it clear that our family was not to speak of her again. Twenty-seven years later I have only my own memories but no others to help recall her life. I’m so thankful that you and your family chose a different path. Your writing of grief and loss adds to my healing.

  12. Ann Voskamp

    “… and you can give thanks to God even…”

    And here I sit weeping in the dark.

    Could there be greater faith?

    She had a great father.

    You, an even greater.

    All’s grace,

  13. Katy McKenna

    Tony, My big brother Patrick died on the same day in October, 1955, when he was 4 and I was 2. I think of him every day, and often, when I do, I think of your family and little Caroline.

    Ten years is an eternal feels-like-yesterday. Praying for you….

  14. Deb Johnson

    “The LORD is upright; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.” Psalm 92:15

    My prayers are with you and your precious family.

  15. Jennifer

    Thank you. Every tribute to your beautiful little girl reminds me to hug my kids a little longer, to give in to “just one more” story or kiss or minute to chat, to treat them with a little more grace and mercy, to give just a little more of myself over to loving and training them. And always, to see them as the gifts they are and not the “work” that I have allowed myself to let them become.

  16. Greataunt Nisey

    Tony, Celeste, etal,

    I pray for you all in your remembrance of our family’s little bright shining star. She was a gift and a beautiful one at that. MMM – what a heartfelt poem – capturing her essence. She is in glory now – and I believe, doing her little backdoor dance in place, in anticipation of seeing you again. Excitement too, at your first glimpse of the Father and of the Son and all that heaven offers – which is everything! Much love in Christ….

  17. Renee

    I too have been reading your blog for a few years now, and I too feel heartache and sadness for you each October. Last month, I lost a dear, dear friend – my husband’s mother passed away unexpectedly at the age of 54. I have never felt pain and loss like this before. There is a hole in my life, in my husband’s life, in our four children’s lives. I know that hole will never be filled.

    Thank you for writing about Caroline, Tony. God bless you and yours.

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