Thursday, April 29, 2010

23 days

i can't tell you how happy and relieved i am that my semester is over. wrapped it up last night and feel like a 16-lb. weight has been lifted (that's one pound for every week of hard work).

the summer semester starts in 23 days, so i'm hoping for a break that is both relaxing and fruitful. i'm sure the time will fly by, but somehow i keep adding things to my list of to-do's in my head. my most-used phrase these days seems to be, "that's another thing i hope to do while i'm on break." and if you're wondering -- yes, i'm known to be over-ambitious.

but here's a sampling of what's on my list, if you're interested:
  1. blog more
  2. catch up with family and friends i haven't seen in a long time
  3. read a book for pleasure
  4. enjoy d.c.'s outdoor scene
  5. deal with more paperwork
  6. travel (more on that later)
  7. give my talent to a good cause (nu-aaa)
any other suggestions??? 

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

mah neesh mah

working as a sales representative meant that Jarronn got to meet all kinds of different people. he’d often come home or call me during the day with stories about people he met in a waiting room, the doctors he called on, or the front office staff. on occasion, the story might have even been accompanied by a photo he snapped with his blackberry — like the one below of a 80+ year-old woman wearing rocawear sunglasses. (something he had found hilarious.)

one of the reasons why Jarronn was so great at his job was that he had a gift for connecting with people. for the offices where there was a doctor that seemed less than eager to meet with him, he’d charm the front office staff — memorizing their names. things about their families. or their favorite things to do on weekends. since he died, i’ve found business cards and slips of paper with his notes about someone he met, so he could remember the details later. it wasn’t that he wasn’t genuine in his interest in the lives of people he met. but he was intentional. and he knew how much it would mean to people when he remembered details about them.

in the weeks after he died, i received lots of thoughtful messages, cards, and emails from his co-workers. one of them noted: "Jarronn is such a positive & humorous force; all lives are changed as a result of him. I have never seen a man so sure and excited about his marriage and his wife and his God and his family. You gotta know how much of an impact he made on our customers, his co-workers, I have barely sold a drug since Jarronn left us." i even got a card from one of the doctors offices he called on — something that i felt was a true testament to how much of an impression he made on people.

one of Jarronn’s favorite doctors was dr. jacobs. as i understand things, when Jarronn first started his sales job and calling on dr. jacob’s office, all sales reps were confined to standing in a corner and waiting, if they were lucky. the unlucky ones just couldn’t come in at all. fast forward three years, and Jarronn took me to dr. jacobs’ office where the staff couldn’t have greeted us with a warmer welcome. and dr. jacobs took time out of his packed patient schedule to visit with us. that day, he blessed our future marriage with a hebrew prayer, shook Jarronn’s hand heartily, and gave him an approving and supportive pat on the shoulder. it meant a lot to both of us.

this week, as i was getting ready for work one morning, i was searching through the nightstand next to the bed, looking for something. it’s full of things collected by Jarronn that i’ve yet to sort through, but it often turns up useful items. a tube of chap stick, a book of matches, or a needed document. on this particular day, i found a tiny blue slip of paper — a prescription sheet from dr. jacob’s office.

on the tiny slip were two words, written in a language i couldn’t understand. but i immediately knew what i was looking at. i immediately imagined Jarronn talking to dr. jacobs. asking him to teach him some new terms in hebrew. writing it down so he’d remember it for their next conversation or the one he’d have with the next jewish person he met who spoke hebrew.

and so i immediately went to my computer. opened up google. and searched for the words on the tiny slip of paper in my hand. i searched for meaning. i searched for the knowledge Jarronn had. i searched for connection.

what i found was that “mah neesh mah” was the phonetic spelling of the word “Mahnishmah.” Jarronn had written it in a way that he’d remember the pronunciation. and the meaning of “mahnishmah”?

it means “what’s up?”

and so i smiled. i felt that connection i’d been looking for. and i replied out loud, “not much, boo. what’s up with you?”

Thursday, April 15, 2010

on being social

the semester is winding down, so i've spent most of my time trying to wrap up loose ends on final projects, assignments, and presentations. two weeks to go, so i'm seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

in the midst of all this busy-ness, i've, of course, found time to fit in a healthy share of social interactions. everyone who knows me well knows i have trouble saying no to invitations for get-togethers, lunches, dinners, celebrations, outings, and such. always have. probably always will.

but it's not such a bad thing. in fact, interacting with all of the different people i've come to know is probably more fulfilling than anything else in life.

there's the comfort in my parents. the loyalty of my high school friends. the lunacy and compassion of my co-workers. the intelligence and inspiration in my classmates. a spectrum of beauty and aspirations in my girl friends. the protection, realness, and boyish antics of my guy friends. the possibilities for the future i imagine because of new friends. the encouragement found in messages from people i hardly speak to. the warmth of smiles from strangers that pass me by. the reminders of Jarronn's legacy as an amazing friend in the hundreds of people he brought into my life.

yes, i'd be lying if i didn't admit that some interactions are accompanied by winces of pain. sadness that Jarronn isn't here to be apart of them. to insert his perspective. his joke. his tap on my knee under the table. his post-interaction analysis. his hand-clapping laugh. his smile. his warmth. his knack for being such a good judge of character. his role as my partner.

but, ultimately, these interactions are sustaining me. they make me thankful. they make me recognize my blessings. they make my lack seem little, or even non-existent.

and though most aren't new relationships, they all somehow put me further along the path of finding the new jessica.

thanks for that.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

an example

this morning i attended a funeral. the grandmother of my Godsisters -- mrs. kirk, as i called her -- passed away. in some ways, funerals have taken on a whole new meaning for me. now that i've had to plan out the details. give the remarks. sit in the front row. as i sat in my seat, i was struck by the fact that whether a person has lived a full life or has been sick for years or dies suddenly, a loss is a loss. even for those of us who fully believe that there's life beyond physical death.

while i experienced my share of tears, it was a beautiful service for a beautiful woman. a woman who exuded grace and love. and a woman who i truly admired. she was a wife. a mother. a teacher for more than 25 years. a great cook. a great card player. and she encouraged her granddaughters to "play the game of life successfully, effectively, and ethically, even in a world where the men were born with four aces in hand."

while many people know me as the one who can be lively and tell stories and laugh loudly, there's a part of me that wishes i was like mrs. kirk. that i had a quiet confidence. an unspoken steadiness. sophisticated beauty. a tender voice known for its wisdom.

mrs. kirk and her husband, dr. kirk, were married for more than 63 years. (in fact, he made sure to mention during his remarks that they were married for "63 and a half years.") when i looked at them together, i saw the kind of marriage i hoped to have for myself. one of commitment. and devotion. and love. a marriage that had built a beautiful family with lawyers and engineers and doctors. a marriage that had built traditions and instilled values. a marriage that made the world a better place. a marriage that truly represented the intertwining of two lives.

she and her husband set the example.

during her eulogy, her pastor turned to dr. kirk and spoke of how intertwined their lives had been. how she feared the thought of being without him. that the renewing of their vows last summer, on their 63rd wedding anniversary, had been such a special way to tell her that she'd never go without him. that at a time when she felt that her illness was such a burden, her husband reminded her of his undying love. and the pastor spoke of how while it may be difficult, dr. kirk is giving a gift to mrs. kirk by being the one to bear the loneliness, as opposed to the other way around.

wow. perhaps i can look at my own situation like this. perhaps my faith was stronger and able to bear this level of loss in a way that Jarronn could not have. would not have. perhaps my continuing on is me giving him a gift. the gift of dying and resting at his happiest -- successful in faith. in love. in friendship. in health. in career. in living life passionately.