Ever since Jenna went to be with Jesus, I cannot help myself thinking about her at every ‘first’. Like the first time I washed my hair ‘afterwards. ‘ Initially I kept up a count of how many times I had washed my hair since that fateful Sunday. Until that became kind of silly and I dropped it.
But there has been a myriad of ‘firsts’ since that day. The first time I wore the Mudd shoes we picked out together and that I had worn throughout that visit in SA. The first time being in Hanlie’s car, where we had sat on the open window bar and spied out the wild animals in Mabalingwe. The first visit back to Ouma’s house. My first glass of pink milk without Jenna. The first time walking back into the Spar, Woolies, the airport, my house, my church, Michaels, Walmart, McDonalds.
I can’t help but remember being there and doing that with Jenna.
I can remember down to the underwear what I was wearing that last day. Putting those jeans in the washing machine wasn’t easy. Every time I put them on now they are a small reminder.
There are items of clothing that I had worn and not washed since that last day, that I cannot bring myself to wash yet. I imagine her scent still clings to the pajamas I had worn the night before, so I have put them away. My red fleecy jacket was worn at Zebula when Jenna was still in my arms, but I will have to wash it soon. Life does go on, and I know that there will be many ‘first’ happy things too.
On my last day in South Africa I forced myself to go for a swim in the pool that took Jenna’s life. It was a sad sad moment and I had to crawl out onto the side of the pool and cry for a while but I am glad I did it. It was kind of like a baptism.
The boys had had many fun moments with their cousins in that same pool, even after Jenna died. I remember the day I decided to grab my camera again to start recording the boys’ precious times with their cousins there – that was a good ‘first’, that I imagine must have left Jenna smiling in approval.
We visited with friends and relatives at the patio next to the pool for the whole 10 days we stayed on in South Africa. On hubby’s first evening there he asked me how I could be around the pool at all, but I told him I had good memories there – of Jenna playing soccer in the garden with her cousins whilst dressed in her ballerina outfit, of wrapping her in a towel and cuddling her at the patio table once she had decided the pool was getting too cold, and yes, of watching her splashing and swimming and having fun with her brother in that same pool. I could picture her everywhere, happy, sparkly, bubbly, and that was where I wanted to be.
We were sitting on that same patio 3 days after Jenna’s passing, fellowshipping with dear, long-time friends, when our friend saw something that he told me about only after Jenna’s memorial service. He said he saw Jenna standing in the garden between two angels. There was a sense that they needed to go, but Jenna looked at my friend and said: “Tell my mommy and my daddy that I love them.”
Hubby and I had a moment’s doubt as to whether that could be scriptural or not, but there has been times in the bible where the dead has appeared to the living (such as Moses and Elijah at the mount of transfiguration) and the measure of comfort I drew from my friend’s vision was great. When Jenna left there was this great void and the relationship we knew was severed. There is so much we do not know about heaven and I had no idea whether Jenna would still be the Jenna I knew. My friend’s vision showed me that as far as Jenna was concerned, I was still her mommy, and she still loved me. That was important for me to know. The relationship wasn’t severed, she will always be my little girl and I will always be her mommy.
Hubby encouraged me one morning to read the first chapter of 1 Peter. It is the passage that talks about the trial of your faith being much more precious than gold…etc. Preceding that verse though, Peter mentions our inheritance in heaven, which is “incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you.” The words leapt out at me: Jenna is my heritage. Yes, Jesus is my portion and my greatest prize, but Jenna too, is being reserved in heaven for me, incorruptible, undefiled, and never fading away.