On February 17, 2008, our little muffin Jenna unexpectedly went to be with Jesus. We were blessed to have her with us for 3 and a half years. This is a page in her honor. I will be adding to this page when time (and my computer-savvy) allows.
This was taken on my cutie-patootie’s birthday. Here is Jenna showing off her hat to dad:
I want to add Jenna’s ballerina/princess pictures here since my blog entries have ousted them off the front page. I originally posted these pictures on January 7 2008:
Jenna had just put on her ballet outfit and I asked her for a pose:
Downstairs, getting distracted by the tv (I wish I had combed that hair before taking the pictures:-) ):
Jenna and Kiki:
Fixing her shoes:
Hey mom, can you fix this?
I loved the lighting on this one:
(Scroll down to the bottom of this page for a slideshow with more pictures. 🙂 )
Jenna was a true blessing to me. I had a secret, unspoken desire for a little girl as soon as we started considering having children. I wanted both, actually. I love the liveliness and sense of fun that boys inject into a household. Still, part of me longed for a bit of pink amidst the blues and browns, a bit of tenderness and sweetness in a world full of testosterone.
I was at a church fellowship many years ago when a visiting speaker (whom I have neither seen before nor since) pointed to me and said that he thought that God was going to give me another baby. Like Sarai in the bible, I simply laughed. It was not that I didn’t believe him, but I had my hands full with my 3 boys, and I couldn’t imagine adding another baby to my already overwhelmingly crazy life. The man went on to say that he thought it would be a little girl. He said that I had many unfulfilled dreams for my life and that God was going to bring them to fruition through this little girl.
What He didn’t know was that several years before that meeting, I had had a conversation with God that I never forgot. I was sitting in the car outside a convenience store whilst hubby ran in for something. I was wondering out loud to Jesus about whether we would ever have a little girl one day. I thought I felt the assurance from God that we would, and as I looked up in the midst of the conversation my eyes fell on the name of an apartment complex nearby. It was Jenna Close, or Jenna-something-or-the-other. (I forget the second part of the name.) It stuck with me. Our little girl, when God chose to bless us with her presence, would be named Jenna. (I have researched all my children’s names and Jenna is no exception. You can read what her name means here.)
About 12 years passed since that first inkling that I would one day be Jenna’s mommy. There were other, less obvious signs along the way, and always a deep but unacknowledged knowing that it would come to pass. I was content to wait on the Lord to bring it about in his time (or not, if I was mistaken), so we were not even trying to become pregnant, when it caught us by surprise. Before the ultra-sound confirmed it I knew – this was it. God’s promise coming true. If only I knew that it wouldn’t come in exactly the package I had thought!
Baby Jenna herself was packaged exquisitely. She was the picture of health, and had the cutest little rosebud lips and tufts of downish hair. She had her brothers, her daddy and her mommy wrapped around her little finger from day one. She grew up to become every mom’s wish for her little girl. I couldn’t have asked for a girl more perfect, more beautiful, more cute, more girly, more sweet.
Hubby bonded with her first, whilst I was being sewn up from the C-section. She cried heartily, indignant at being pulled out of her safe womb into this bright, glaring, noisy place. When hubby offered her his pinkie she latched on and sucked with all her might. He was smitten. It was the only way they could settle her until I came on the scene, and it made hubby feel so special! It was a gift she never lost. She said ‘dada’ before she said ‘mama’. Hubby was always assured of an exuberant and boisterous welcome from his little girl after a hard days’ work. “Daddy, you’re home!”, she’d shout, as she came running. He would scoop her up in a big bear hug and she’d give him a kiss on his cheek.
Jenna had that gift with everybody. When she turned her attention to a person, they felt blessed and honored. It made them feel special. This was obvious during those last few weeks in South Africa, where she met her cousins for the first time. She gravitated to her oldest ‘boy cousin’ at first, probably because he reminded her of her oldest (and ‘best’) brother back home in America. It made the other cousins feel a bit left out at first. One of them tearfully shared at Jenna’s memorial how she had longed for Jenna’s attention and affection innitially. She didn’t need to wait too long. As the trip to South Africa drew to a close, Jenna managed to spend precious one-on-one time with each cousin in turn.
I say that the oldest brother was her ‘best’ brother, but to Jenna, all three her brothers were her ‘best bruwwers’…on a good day. She was a typical little girl, as fickle as they come. There were mornings that the boys would try to steal into our huge king-size bed for a snuggle and Jenna would protest with all the chutzpah that a 3-year old girl surrounded by 3 older brothers could muster. Which is quite a lot. There were times she would prefer one brother over another and times when they were equally adored (or spurned). Then there were the evenings when she would come to give me a kiss goodnight and inform me she was going to bed with her brothers. I knew it was just a ruse though because when I would go to check on them a few minutes later I would find her grinning at me, happily snuggled up between two wide awake boys who were obviously lapping up this precious cuddle time with their sister.
I would often ask Jenna: “Do you know what?”
“What?” she’d reply.
“I love you”, I’d say
“I love you too.”
Once she got to know this dialogue by heart she started having it with her brothers. She always made them say; “Do you know what?” to her first.
Jenna was all girl. I don’t know where she got this from, but she decided long ago that it was a shame to be caught out in her pajamas in the morning. “But, I’m in pajamas!”, she’d say in alarm, if the doorbell rang early, or if I wanted to bundle her in the car for a quick run to the school to drop the boys off. She insisted on wearing ‘girl’ clothes instead. She went through a phase where she changed clothes several times a day. Her clothes were hung in my closet, almost too high for her to reach. She could barely get a grip on the lower portion of it, and if I wasn’t there to help her, she’d pull until the clothes slipped off the hanger – or until the hanger broke!
She loved wearing dresses or tank tops that flared out at the bottom (to her they were just short dresses) over a pair of matching pants. She would twirl and admire herself in the mirror, and then proceed downstairs where she would make her entrance in the living room in a very stately and self-conscious manner, expecting every eye to be on her (which it wasn’t… what can I say, we have a house full of boys who know nothing about nice clothes). She would sit down and spread the ‘dress’ out around her as far as it would go and sit there feeling beautiful.
She loved everything girly, flowers and dandelions, skipping and dancing, drawing and coloring, soft toys and doll houses, and shopping! One of my last special memories with Jenna was the day we hit the sales at a department store near us. She was a great shopping buddy. She snuggled her face into one super-soft velour night gown after the other and oohed and aahed over the tops I was trying on.
When I tried on some shoes she wanted some too. We picked out a pair of brown and pink boots for her for the next winter, with a matching top. Jenna even found a handbag in the children’s section that was a perfect match. She was so pleased with her outfit that she paraded it all over the store, and when we came to the check-out, I had to put her on the counter for the cashier to scan the label on her top. There was no way she was going to take it off!
Despite her girlyness, Jenna was a toughie. She had to be! She learned from a very young age to stand her ground amongst her brothers. She also learned to be quite the little dare-devil in imitation of them. Very few things scared her. On the farm in Africa she set off on her own to find her ‘boy cousin’, despite several yards of darkness between the fire-pit where we were all sitting, and the house. I remember once trying to rescue a poor spider from Jenna by trying to tell her how helpful they are. She unceremoniously squished it.
Jenna thought she had the power to make me freeze. I think she got it from a Dora the Explorer episode somewhere. At first it was just a game that would make her feel quite powerful, and I humored her. One day, however, she tried to freeze me in order to sneakily do something I had expressly told her not to do. She quickly learned that her powers didn’t stretch as far as she had thought!
Here are some of the things Jenna loved:
Back rubs…arm rubs…tummy rubs…shoulder rubs…leg rubs…
Balancing on anything that could possibly be balanced on.
Scribbling on my walls
Using a scissors – usually on paper but the cat’s hair wasn’t exempt.
Books, books and books.
Helping me ‘clean’.
Cats and kittens, and the neighbor’s maltese poodle, Morsel.
Spongebob (I kid you not)
Her pink bike.
Her ballet outfit, and dancing in it.
Washing the car with her brothers.
Her ‘best friends’ Joseph and Serena.
Joseph and Jenna knew each other from birth and were the ‘bestest friends ever’. They saw each other at least twice a week at church and one of the highlights of every church day was seeing their joyful greeting. They would run to each other with a squeal of delight followed by a big embrace. They were inseparable for the rest of the service. Jenna refused to let Joseph go home without a ‘hug and a kiss’. We often joked that Joseph would be my son-in-law one day. Now, he often looks lonely at church, and is a reminder to me of the stark reality that Jenna is no longer with us.
I cannot pretend to understand fully why God would allow Jenna to leave us so soon. I do know that he knows the end from the beginning though and I trust that he has allowed something in his wisdom that he could have prevented in his power. Jenna lived her full life span here on earth, and she is now gloriously happy to be with Jesus in heaven. We will meet her there. It may seem long to wait but in the scheme of eternity, I realize it will be but a blink of the eye.
Jenna truly was God’s gift to us…though for a short while. I hope that her life will touch many, and change me. Perhaps I will look back one day with the sure realization that she was God’s promise come true – and so much more.
(Postscript: I have had some queries as to how Jenna died. It pains me too much to write it out, but this entry might shed some light for you if would like to know more. )
My friend Dana wrote a tribute of sorts to Jenna on her blog. You can read it here.
I figured out how to do a slideshow! It only took me half a day. 🙂 I want to tweak this slide show because it is a bit too long and the images aren’t in order but I am pooped. I will do it as soon as I can. To view the slide show again, either refresh your browser or click on the X in the upper right hand corner to close the static page.