Written Saturday, posted today:
We had a good day today. I have been wanting to go ‘see’ Jenna for a while. (It is difficult to say the words cemetery, or grave in the same sentence as my sweet, lively, spunky baby girl.) The cemetery is quite far from us, and since gas is so pricey and the boys were antsy to do something different we called friends who live nearby to suggest going to an ice-cream parlor together afterwards. They met us at Jenna’s grave and we had a wonderful time just hanging out and letting the boys run and play.
My sweet sister-in-law spent hours scouting out just the perfect place for Jenna to be laid to rest, while we were still in South Africa. She found it. Jenna’s grave is in a private, quiet spot at the back of the cemetery, and at the edge of it. It is underneath a huge oak tree and overlooks an area that would serve as a retention pond in wet weather, but is dry most of the time. I only saw water collect in it on the day we buried Jenna, since the sky was weeping with us. Close to Jenna’s grave, on the other side of the water drainage area is a shady embankment which is covered with lush grass and is several degrees cooler that the rest of the cemetery.
This is where we hung out. I just lay on my back staring at the brilliantly blue sky and talking to Jesus and Jenna in my thoughts, when little Joseph, Jenna’s ‘bestest friend’ came and lay down next to me and extended his hand for me to hold. Holding that sweet pudgy toddler hand was not quite the same as holding Jenna’s hand, but it was a moment I cherish. We told each other how we missed Jenna, and then he was off again, running and playing with my boys. I could so easily picture Jenna running and playing right along with those boisterous boys, but I know that she is not missing anything. We are just missing her.
I am glad that we lingered at the cemetery a little. As always, I had to find something special to take to ‘Jenna’. The boys and I decorated some ornamental butterflies and flowers that you can stick into the ground. It is unthinkable to me to go to the grave empty-handed. My love for Jenna finds expression in the small little tokens that I can lay there on that patch of grass, even though they are of no use to her. I do think they make her smile. I think she rejoices in the fact that she is loved so greatly.
It made me think about how we express our love for Jesus. I think he appreciates it when we don’t come to him empty-handed. Often we have nothing to give, and the only thing we can do is simply bring our hearts to him in our hands. I am sure he rejoices when we do so, when we simply give ourselves to him because we love him.
I have been cognisant of the fact that today, 4 months ago, we were with all the family on the farm in South Africa. Jenna had just met most of her cousins for the first time, and we had a precious time getting to know each other again and filling in the years since we had seen each other. Jenna’s cousin Gareth taped her chatting away with him on his cell phone. I listened to the recording again this week and was struck by the personality that exuded from Jenna. (It made me miss her all the more this week.) She was just soooo cute, and had such a spark and a spunk about her. Somebody wrote in a memory journal that we are passing around at church that Jenna was always the focus of the room. Wherever she went, she seemed to draw people to her. Jenna could charm the hind leg off a donkey if she wanted to, and she had her cousin Gareth wrapped around her little pinkie.
She gave me a hard time there in South Africa, to be sure. I think she disliked the fact that everything was different, the language, the food, the people, the routine. She got a bit anal about wanting things just so. Add to that the fact that she was going through the ‘terrible threes’ (terrible two’s never existed for me), and Jenna was a handful. She was better behaved here in her own surroundings and I often wondered what impression she gave to my family, at a time when I so badly wanted to show her off to them.
I remember that visit in SA, that wonderful fellowship around the fire in the evenings on the farm, with a bitter-sweet fondness. I am grateful for that time, I am so grateful for that visit. My middle boy often comments how Jenna had the time of her life those last three weeks we spent with her.
Here are some picture from that first night on the farm. You can click on these for a larger view:
Jenna is showing Gareth her muscles:
Jenna and Gareth and her brother:
I tried to share one of Jenna’s conversations that Gareth taped on his cellphone but WordPress does not support amr files. If I can manage to convert it to a wav. file or something I will post the link in another post. I wish you all could hear Miss Cuteness talk.