This journey

OK…you all have convinced me. Here is the loooooong post I wrote last week, posted for a few minutes, and then deleted:

I just love our Bible school! As I sat there this week, surrounded by my family in the Lord, sensing the sweet presence of God in the room as we worshipped him together, I thought to myself: When all is said and done, this is where I want to be. Yes, I would give my right arm to have Jenna back. Anytime. Plus a whole lot more. But if this is how it must be, then I am glad that I am here. I am grateful for the precious people in my life, for the awesome Word I am priviledged to sit under, for that deep stirring inside my heart that whispers promises of great things to come.

Every day has pain, but every day has hope. It is a surprising paradox. Pain and joy, mountain highs and valley lows, my weakness and His strength, all co-exist in a strange harmony.

We were singing the old song: “Father, we love you, we praise you we adore you, glorify thy name in all the earth…” on Sunday. The song is sung to each person of the Godhead in turn, and as we sang it to the Holy Spirit I realised again how grateful I am for his indwelling presence that is such a comfort and a strength to me as I walk this road. For much of my christian life, I have paid attention to who God is as a Father, and who Jesus is as my redeemer, but I have not given the same focus to the Holy Spirit as the One who dwells inside me. It is He who endues me with the rivers of life which I need to outlast this wilderness experience. And his fellowship is beyond precious.

When Elijah had run away from Jezebel, (see 1 Kings 19) and found himself despairing of life in a barren and inhospitable place, an angel awoke him and showed him a cake baking on the coals and a cruse of water at his head. The angel told him to rise up and eat, for the journey is too great for him. My journey is too great for me too. But as I eat of the cake of God’s word and swallow it down with the water of His Spirit, I am refreshed and strengthened for what lies ahead.

It is still early enough in our journey to find unexpected reminders of Jenna around the house. Yesterday it was the little inserts that were in the boots that Jenna had picked out for herself on our last epic shopping trip together. She had put on those brown and pink boots right there in the store, and strutted along in them, much to the delight of other shoppers who thought she was the cutest thing they had ever seen. When we arrived home I had stuffed the big shopping bag in my pantry in the kitchen for later use, without bothering to empty it properly. I discovered the bag with its precious, utterly useless contents yesterday, and promptly folded it up again and returned it to where it was before. Yup, sentimental old me.

This is going to sound awfully strange to you all. There are useless items with a Jenna connection (however small) that I have tossed in the trash can. But before I do, I pause to kiss it (if it is at all kissable, LOL) simply because I remember that it was a ‘Jenna thing’. There. I just provided you all with your ‘weird mental image of the day’! Seeing Sumi standing in front of a trash can kissing the empty box of zip-lock bags because Jenna helped me pack our toiletries in the baggies before we flew to South Africa. If you ever wondered whether I was normal, you now know that I am not! 😀  

It is so strange that this house is so full of Jenna’s things, and so empty of her. Her clothes are still in her closet, her toys in their place, her big fat Tom cat still sleeps at my feet at nights, her scribbles are on the walls and in my bible, I still find her hair scrunchies in the oddest places. Her cheese sticks and electrolyte solution are still in the fridge. The wii character that the boys created for her still appears in their games. Every now and then Jenna’s mii scores a home run and the boys cheer and thank her for it. Another mii character named “Harry” that Jenna made with her younger brother’s help is still around too.

I often catch myself looking at these floors, these walls, these furniture and thinking that there was a time that they were touched by Jenna on a daily basis. Her little feet walked here, she sat over there, she splashed around in that bathtub. Sometimes I have to pinch myself – was she really here? Everything around me cries out that she was, but her absence is so absolute and complete it is hard to wrap my mind around it.

Our neighbor was away this week and asked if I could walk her little maltese poodle, Morsel, for her. It was a request I had been expecting, and one that brought back many bittersweet memories of Jenna. Walking Morsel was the highlight of Jenna’s day. We would walk down to the neighbor’s house, and often Junior the cat would accompany us, winding between Jenna’s legs as we moseyed along. It would take a while to even get to their house, since Jenna would stop every so often to love on Junior.

When we reached our destination Jenna would ‘push the button’ to open the garage door and Junior would make himself comfortable underneath a parked car outside. Morsel would nearly jump out of his skin to see us and Jenna would try to pet him while I clipped the leash on to the little bundle of excitement. Jenna would then grab a hold of the leash while we let Morsel do his business outside. She could handle Morsel by herself for the most part, and was proud of it!

Once Morsel was done, Jenna would lovingly give him a doggie treat. Her favorite part came next – she would select a few lollipops from the bunch that the neighbor had purposely left out for us. We would walk home with a handful of lollipops. Two or three for Jenna, and some for ‘the brudders’.  Junior would follow us home again, and often we sat down on our front door step to pet him for a little while before going inside.

Jenna didn’t want the neighbors to come back home. She wanted to continue walking Morsel and would ask for many days afterwards to go and do it again. She would tantrum about going, in fact. 🙂

I find it strange now to go through the ‘ritual’ without Jenna there to add her special little spark. Every time I open that garage door I remember that it used to be her job. I shouldn’t be giving Morsel a treat, Jenna should. I feel the same way when I turn on the dishwasher, load dirty clothes in the washer, or switch off our bedside light. Jenna delighted in doing those things too. Like any little girl her age she loved being a part of what I was doing and I miss her little precious presence ‘helping’ me as I go about cleaning my bathroom mirrors or mopping my floors.

Jenna has left an unfathomable hole in my life, there’s no denying it.  Yet…on that dreary day when we buried Jenna the Lord promised me that a new thing would spring forth in my life, and I am daring to believe him.  I can feel it. My spirit anticipates it, and part of me is straining to see what lies ahead on this journey, while another part of me is tempted to linger on the memories so that nothing will be left behind as I move on from here.

Isa 43:19 Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.

21 responses to “This journey

  1. Thank you for sharing!! I think you are perfectly wonderfully you, and I personally love your idea of kissing the things that have any connection at all with your Jenna!

    It is so surreal….that this is forever…..but only until our ever-after with the Lord begins……

  2. Thank you for sharing your heart so openly. I found your blog from SCC’s comments, and I cannot imagine the loss you have experienced. I am excited to see your anticipation for God’s working in and through you through this horrible tragedy.

    I will pray for you and your family as you wade through the grief process.

  3. it wasn’t THAT long. Besides, your detail makes it so easy to imagine Jenna being there as you describe her actions. Thank you for that. It helps us remember her too.

  4. you are a beautiful writer and i am so glad to get to know Jenna through your writings. thank you for being genuine. people are being drawn to the Lord through you and this blog. Praise God! your faith continues to greatly inspire me. praying with you and your family!

  5. Yes, yes, yes! That’s it, exactly! I KNOW Hannah was here, she left imprints of herself EVERYWHERE, and yet, her absence is so profound, was she ever here at all?

    I kiss the photos of Hannah as I head up the stairs, horde hair doodles and brushes that have pieces of her hair in them, kiss the oddest things. I get it. I’m there with you, my friend. I often find myself breathless when a Han something or other pops up unexpectedly, such as the boot inserts you found the other day. Sometimes I’ll smile a little wistfully, other times delight I had the privilege of having such a child in my life, and yet other times cry my eyes out.

    I understand.


  6. I love how you fiercely hold on to the hope that God is giving you beauty for ashes. Your journey reminds me of the verses in Psalms 27:13-14 that speak to unquenchable hope:

    What, what would have become of me had I not believed that I would see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living!

    Wait and hope for and expect the Lord; be brave and of good courage and let your heart be stout and enduring. Yes, wait for and hope for and expect the Lord.

  7. Hello Sumi, I found your blog through Rach’s. Your little girl is beautiful – happiness just shines out of her eyes. I have not lost a child, but my heart breaks for you. I treasure mine even more, and cuddle them more…even when they resist…!

    Love to you,


  8. Hi. I read your site linked from my best friend’s site (deanna). Your daughter’s name is what caught my eye. My daughter’s name is Jenna.
    My heart breaks for you and your family. I know there aren’t words to express the sympathy in my heart, but I just wanted to say that I am inspired by your faith. I am a Christian also, but when I read your journal, I just feel like my faith is nothing in comparison. Thank Him for your amazing faith. You have nothing without it, and I am so glad that you have such a strong faith in our Perfect God.

  9. Thank you so much for deciding to share this! I love the different ways you remember Jenna, and don’t find it odd at all that you kiss things before throwing them away. I’m sentimental too. 🙂

    I haven’t ever experienced the loss of a child, and pray I don’t ever know that heartache, but I have lost loved ones and anything I can find of them, whether it be something that belonged to them or a precious memory, I cling to it.

    Love to you!

  10. Sumi,

    I just read this entry you posted. First, length does not matter. The content is beautiful. You’re sharing a part of your very special girl. You’re inviting us all to read and get a glimpse of how precious she is.

    I don’t think you’re weird. I think your as normal as we all are. I believe you are handling your grief perfectly (not that I’m an expert).

    Thanks for sharing another piece of “your Jenna.” I so wished I could have met her. But, I will in heaven one day.

  11. I read everyone word not once but twice have added you to my blog I feel like I have gotten to know Jenna and thank you for that..keep writing, keep praying and as silly as it sounds keep crying..hug!

  12. Sumi, Thank you for sharing in my happy news. I have to say that the happiness is there but it does not cover the sadness. Somehow they are all blended together into what I think is the new me. Do you know what I mean?

    Thank you for the offer to help. I really appreciate it. I will keep you up to date with everything on my blog.

    Love to you

  13. I loved this then and I love it now. And if this is long, sweet Sumi, am I writing novels??? 🙂

  14. Hello,
    I linked to your site from Angie’s – usually I’m a silent reader but I wanted to tell you today that I’m praying for you and that I’ve spent about an hour reading over your posts and the story of your beautiful daughter. What a blessing you all are and I pray you feel a wind of strength today from the heavens.
    God bless,

  15. Sumi,
    I’m so glad that you posted this. We have so much to learn from your walk. Thank you.

  16. Sumi,

    Your faith is an inspiration to me and others.
    All the things you loved about Jenna show in
    the way you remember her. I pray that God
    continues to guide you, comfort you and bless
    on your journey as He is doing on mine…

  17. Hi Sumi, I don’t really remember how I found your blog, exactly. But here I am and finding so much of myself in your words. I too have lost a child. Our dear son, Payton, died in a freak accident 3 years, 2 months, and 13 days ago. He was 3 yrs, 5 months and 6 days old. I still have his tennis shoes in the closet and a snack size container of Chips Ahoy cookies up in the kitchen cabinet. I do not intend to move them. Ever. They’re a tangible reminder of my sweet little boy. Don’t ever feel weird for keeping some things of Jenna’s and giving away others. Everybody deals with grief differently and there’s no wrong way.
    I pray tomorrow is a day filled with happy memories for you and that you find joy in the knowledge that Jenna is deliriously happy with Jesus. Possibly alongside my Payton boy!
    In Christ,
    Mary Franks

  18. You know Sumi I still do that with our son Matthew’s memories who died from drowning almost 8 years ago.

    We had a bag of his things that I just couldn’t let go of. I finally let my youngest son have Matthew’s bag of special toys a couple of years ago.

    After his drowning, I didn’t dare wash off the vomit from my mouth (after doing CPR) because I could still taste him.

    God is good Sumi. A new thing will spring forth without losing your Jenna again. Jesus gives us the power to live forever! Cling to Him.

  19. That is not too long Sumi, its beautiful words that hold memories of precious times with your daughter. We must retell the stores, its apart of grieving, and writing allows us to tell those stories to people that love and encourage us. They are blessed and you too!!!! Keep sharing Jenna “happenings” You really should post your posts, they are always inspiring and others are so touched, I am blessed by them as we travel this grieving road together. Many blessings to you!
    Cindy Morris

  20. This is the first time I have read your blog. It brought tears to my eyes – I feel like I can see Jenna through your words. God bless you – now I am going to go back and read previous posts by you.
    Take care.

  21. Sumi
    How i drink in your words that read as though i myself were speaking them. thank you i lost my daughter, Sami, who was 3 1/2 to drowning in May 2006. I waiver minute to minute in the feeling that she is still here or that she was never here, it is a very confusing feeling and one that i had no one, until now, say they could understand. I started, with friends a group called Sam’s Rock = from 2 SAMuel 22:2 …the Lord is my Rock… it has given my husband and i an answer to our prayer that in some way Sami’s death would glorify the Lord. God bless your journey

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