My email today from Shutterfly: ‘Your memories from this week eleven years ago…’
This picture was taken on Tuesday, November 28, 2006.
This picture is the very LAST picture taken of Jena; us as a family of four.
The next day her lungs collapsed and she moved up to Heaven on Monday, Dec 4, 2006 at 9:57am.
Thank you Shutterfly for being able to instantly transport me back in time where I can hear Jena’s voice asking me “Are we really going to be on TV?”
The Today Show was in our living room doing a segment on families with chronic diseases. Jena was always willing to share her story about living with cystic fibrosis. She had just been listed for a double lung transplant in October and she wanted to let folks know she would be donating her lungs to science in hopes of providing answers in curing cystic fibrosis.
I was foolish enough to believe it would be AFTER her lung transplant, AFTER she would breathe that unbelievable clean, clear breath with new lungs, AFTER she would exclaim how easy it was to breathe.
Eventually we did fulfill her wishes and her lungs were donated to science; Jena did make a difference. Unfortunately, it just all happened AFTER she moved up, never taking that amazing breath.
And though it’s been 11 years, a heartbreak, just like a picture, can tell a thousand words.
A heartbreak knows no time, no matter how long it’s been.
A heartbreak has the distinct ability to reach to the depth of your soul and hijack your emotions without a care as to where you are, or what you’re doing, leaving you mumbling an explanation to countless strangers at the outburst of tears that come without warning…its source this time, an innocent email.
I have to admit, over the years I’ve gotten better at the explanation of such outbursts but it still leaves the person wondering if I’m slightly crazy or perhaps having a truly special relationship with my daughter.
You see, I often talk out loud to Jena without a care of who hears me. I smile with joy and exclaim, “Well, Hello Jena!” when I spot a penny or see ‘313’ somewhere unexpected.
And when my iPhone randomly plays Pandora without me even touching the phone, I tell people my daughter’s my personal DJ and she plays the perfect songs for the perfect occasion.
But when the sun sets, or a rainbow shines brightly after a rain, I bow my head and thank God and Jena that they continue to show the magnificent beauty of this world just when I begin to think that love and compassion are a thing of the past.
I’ve come a long way from being that sobbing emotional broken mess with ANYTHING and EVERYTHING that would remind me of Jena. Now, I choose to see all those ‘tokens’ as #LoveFromAbove.
In the 11 years I’ve learned that a broken heart still beats.
I’ve learned that dreams are my only reality to hold her in my arms again.
And I’ve learned the value of sharing your story, finding your true voice, and making unforgettable memories.
So, if by chance, should you ever lose sight of being present in the moment, you can be rest assured that Shutterfly will remind you at the perfect time, on the perfect day, in the most innocent of ways that you really were present, recalling every nuance captured.
Because as we all know there truly are #NoCoincidences.
And thank you Jena for that email today, I know it was you.
I love you forever, and yes, you were really on TV.