The spirit behind the 10-day adventure was the same spirit that led the way…Jena.
The penny we found on Adventure Day 1 was our first “Jena clue” that she was part of this adventure.
We set out to see the country, no plans and no destination in mind. Just love and adventure leading the way. Jena’s presence was strong thoughout our trip from our first stop on “Just Thursday” at the Flying J at 3:13 in the afternoon to Friday’s unplanned visit to the Natural Bridge in VA at 3:13, and then again at our gas pitstop on Saturday at yet another Flying J at…yup, you guessed it…3:13.
Jena’s birthday is 3/13.
The adventure seemed to be able to distract the heartache associated with this time. You see, this week (4 years ago) is the epitome of pain. The pain of seeing Jena suffer with collapsed lungs, the pain of awaiting for a lung transplant that never happened, and the pain on Monday, Dec 4th when God came to bring her home.
That pain, the monster of all emotion comes back in full swing this time every year and I can’t seem to control the intesity. Still, we tried to fight the debilitating force by taking an adventure, with no expectations other than to follow our hearts…and with Jena leading the way it actually did seem like an exciting idea.
It was. Day after day our adventure grew. Thanks to cyber-space we were able to share our adventure with friends around the country and it enhanced the joy.
Then came Adventure Day 9…at 11:59pm…in Savannah,GA. We checked into a riverfront hotel, made it to our room only to walk into a wall of emotion that just seemed to be waiting for us to arrive.
It was now Dec 4th and the reality of this entire trip hit me like a ton of razors. Four years ago today was the last time I saw, hugged, and kissed my baby girl. At least her birthday is a celebration of sorts…the day she entered my life but today, December 4th, there is nothing good.
Today is nothing to celebrate.
So what did I do?
I opened a very expensive bottle of wine that we bought yesterday from our new friend at Wine World. I poured a very large glass of wine and began to cry. The lump in your throat, can’t talk, ugly cry. I was ready for the wave of heart-wrenching pain my heart was about to endure.
It’s like watching your life pass before your eyes…but it was her life that I saw. The memories of the day she was born, the first time she said, “I love you, Mommy” …her giggle, her determination, and even our heated debates about what I think she should do and what she was going to do anyway. The memories of all the hospitals she endured due to CF, all the suffering she dealt with, all while having the strength to do it with the courage I only wish I had.
All 13 years of memories and emotions came flooding into my heart without any barrier to stop it.
I finished the bottle around 3am with puffy eyes and swollen heart and crawled into bed. Waking up wasn’t much better. But the love of Jena once again led the way and I looked at my phone to see that there were so many other people thinking of Jena and our family today and the tears began again. I spent the next four hours reading all the texts, emails, and Facebook posts of love, prayers, and strength.
I’m telling you it works.
The love and strength I got from everyone overpowered the seemingly unending hurricane of sadness and I was wonderfully reminded that love is the greatest gift and love truly is…never ending.
One particular friend snapped me out of it with her words,”Stay on your journey, don’t hide from the sun.”
With those words, I got up and threw all the tissues in the garbage. I took a long shower and headed out into the sun knowing Jena was right there by my side.
We ventured out on to the streets of Savannah and strolled along the riverfront. We took in the sights of the riverboats, the sweet smell of hot fresh pralines and the live holiday music in full swing.
Walking down the historic cobblestone streets, Marc and I recognized that life is an adventure and with baby steps you can get through even the hardest of days. The heartache and the happiness, it’s all part of the adventure and it’s ok to feel the pain, to hurt when it hurts, but remember to get back in the sun as soon as you’re able.
As we made our way back to the car, I stopped at one of the beautiful parks in Savannah. It happen to be where the famous “Forest Gump” bench is. I just had to laugh at the chance of the moment. Of course, I sat down and said, “Life is like a box of chocolates and I’ve been so blessed with the assortment I’ve been given.
…Love never ends.
I love you Jena.