Tuesday, December 6, 2011

tradition from tragedy

i've often made mention here of how amazing my friends are.

probably not enough. but i also don't want to get anyone jealous or anything. :-)

in the days, weeks, months and even years following Jarronn's passing, i've been overwhelmed by the kindness and thoughtfulness of many people. and my closest friends have done nothing but prove why we've been so close for more than a decade.

a few months after Jarronn died, my closest girlfriends arranged a trip to arizona for my birthday. the trip was everything i needed, right when i needed it.

one year later, in 2010, we got the group together for a trip to charlottesville, va. we rented a beautiful house and toured some of virginia's best wineries.

this year, the group got a little smaller, due to scheduling conflicts and other challenges. but six of us kept the party going in philly.

as we packed up to head home, we each shared things we were thankful for. our bonds with each other. our acceptance of one another. the longevity of our friendships. and for me, i couldn't help but be reminded of why we started taking these trips in the first place and why i find them to be so special.

i'm thankful that our beautiful tradition of trips sprung out of tragedy.

sedona, az 2009

charlottesville, va 2010
philadelphia, pa 2011

Thursday, November 24, 2011

give thanks

happy thanksgiving to you and yours.

i pray that we enjoy our loved ones, and feast not just on food but on thoughts of how we've been blessed throughout the year.

and for those who know the feeling of holidays not quite being as they used to, i pray that those same thoughts give us some comfort.

thanks to everyone who takes the time to read.



i'm thankful...

for God's love.
for good health. for a loving family.
for beauty in nature. for new music finds.
for not taking myself too seriously.
for old friends. for new friends. for loyalty.
for confidence. for pretty things. for new business.
for the things that make us different and the commonalities that bind us together.
for delicious food. for yoga. for beautiful shelter.
for side-splitting laughter.
for my chance to experience true love.
for my chance to watch my story unfold.

Monday, October 24, 2011

cab rides

i've come to the conclusion that some of my best conversations take place while i ride in the back of d.c. cabs. whether it's talking about what it's like in a driver's country of origin (drivers from Sudan and i always have lots to talk about), or hearing tales of wild riders coming from adams morgan, or getting advice on my love life and the value of marriage...i'm always engaged and entertained.

i had another interesting conversation with a driver a couple weeks ago.

it was a short ride up connecticut avenue, as i was trying to make up lost time and save my feet from aggravation. the driver and i somehow got on the topic of age. most strangers tend to think i'm several years younger than i am, and we talked about that for a bit. the driver brought up the fact that age is really all relative (and no, this wasn't a set up for a bad pick-up line). that if you're 35, but going to live until you're 94, it's pretty accurate to call you "young." but if you're 13-years-old and going to die at age 17, you're actually pretty "old."

and this conversation reminded me of words i'd heard before. at Jarronn's memorial service, from the mouth of our pastor.

when Jarronn turned 29 (the same age i turned on friday), he was old. far, far older than he realized. far older than any of us realized. the understanding of this frequently bothers me. that he was so unaware of his mortality and his limited time. i try to consider whether knowing death is near is better or worse, and i can't come to any solid conclusion. but it does seem that having a better awareness of your "actual" age, might bring special opportunities to live a certain way, to say certain things, to tend to certain details.

last week my age increased, but i still have no idea if i'm young or old. i guess few of us really do. the question is...if i knew, would i do anything differently?

Monday, October 3, 2011

when i was 16

getting settled into my new place has been a steady process. i sold a lot of the furniture from the house and had to get new things that would fit in a space that's 1/3 the size of the old place.

it's been a constant flow of adding a new piece, unpacking another box, and finding space to put things away. over the weekend, i got through one of the final boxes, which contained binders and folders and other miscellaneous items from our office.

i came across a blue mead notebook, which served as my journal when i was 15/16. i was never really good at keeping a daily journal and have made several poor attempts to do so. i guess having recognized that about myself, this particular journal was more like a collection of "essays" about different subjects. it also had corresponding collages of photos and magazine clippings that related to the different topics.

flipping through the pages was pretty interesting. first, it's obvious that everything in the life of a 15-year-old seems far more dramatic than it actually is. as i read over my take on school (i was kind of angry), my first love (i was worse than a bad soap opera), and age (i was so ready to be grown), i couldn't help but recognize how time provides perspective.

i was also surprised to see that there was an essay dedicated to the topic of "death."

it seems that 10 years before Jarronn's passing, i was dealing with events such as the massacre at Columbine and my grandfather's deteriorating health -- all of which made me reflect on my own mortality, my beliefs about the after life, and the impact of losing a loved one.

in my reflection, i acknowledged that death was a part of life but still wrote that i couldn't comprehend the idea of my mom, dad, brother, or friends suddenly dying.

"we're supposed to be invincible, so how can my friends die? and how would i live afterwards? how could i look at the world in the same light? my shield will be shattered to pieces."

(i told y'all i was dramatic).

the truth is, even after maturing by 10 years, this was one perspective that didn't really change. while i knew i'd keep living, imagining a new reality after Jarronn died was extremely difficult. and 10 more years from now, i'm not sure that the sudden death of any of my loved ones will be easier to face. 

but reading this, i thought about being able to respond to my 16-year-old self's questions and tell her - "nothing can really prepare you, but you'll just find a way."

Thursday, September 8, 2011

good reading

as a lead up to the 10-year anniversary of 9/11, the washington post has been featuring a series of stories focused on different people/families affected by the events of that day.

one particular article focused on a widow and her family, 10 years later, dealing with their "new normal." though the circumstances of Jarronn's death are certainly different, i found the article deeply moving and could relate to so much that was described in it, even some of the words the widow used are ones i've heard come out my own mouth. a few examples...

being ok, but being a mess. 

not expecting to get better, and not knowing if you want to, because what does that really mean?

     searching for an identity outside of the loss. 

losing 10 pounds in a week. 

selective self-disclosure. 

     "i guess God thinks i am stronger than i thought." 

trying to draw the line between remembering and living. 

feeling like it's foolish to plan ahead. 

     and there's no such thing as perfect control. sometimes planes crash. 

it's a long read, but i think it's really worthwhile. as someone who spends a lot of time writing, i thought the reporter (eli saslow) did an exceptional job.

9/11 widow still trying to find her new normal since the Pentagon attack

Thursday, August 18, 2011

more inspiration...

love me some wynonna judd. thanks to momma etelle (my mother-in-law) for sharing this.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


lots of changes recently. the biggest one, which i haven't yet shared here is that last month i moved out of the house Jarronn and i lived in (commonly known by friends and family as 'JNJ Estates').

right after Jarronn passed away, there were several people who assumed that i'd want to move out of the house, in order to escape the memories. and there were still people who assumed my recent move was a result of trying to escape emotional baggage. but truthfully, being in our house never made me sad (at least not consciously). it was home. the place we had renovated and decorated together. ours.

if anything, i was inclined to stay in the house, knowing how much Jarronn loved it and how much he wanted it to be. the go-to place for holidays, cookouts on the deck, game nights in the living room, and shooting pool in the basement.

but with him being gone, a lot of those things weren't happening. and while having a home of my own was a blessing, it wasn't something i planned to do without him.

with everything i've been through, i've had to become more focused on doing what's best for me. ultimately, i moved because the house couldn't be what i needed it to be. i needed simplicity. i needed more security. i needed to be closer to things i love in the city. i needed more sunlight. i needed less responsibility. i needed a fresh start.

and so while it took almost two years to arrive at the decision, i'm happy with the one i made. and i think Jarronn would be happy with it too.

now, on to another change, which you probably noticed. the blog has a new layout/design. i thought it was long overdue. (in case you're wondering, the background photo was taken from our spot in jamaica, where i placed Jarronn's ashes.)

Monday, August 1, 2011


someone recently posted a comment in response to my post about the paradox of grief. the person asked how i apply the concept, and i started to write a response in the comment section. but then i realized my response was probably long enough for a post of its own. so here it is...

my post:
to lose means that you once had.
and that, in itself, is something to be cherished.


original comment:
Anonymous said...
how do you apply that? That's something I find it very hard to do..people say that to me, but I can't seem to do it.   --
my response:
how do i apply it? well, to the person who asked the question -- i'm not sure where you are in your stage of grieving, but i know that i've been constantly reminded that while there aren't tons of people who have experienced the loss i have, there are lots of people who also haven't experienced the kind of love i was blessed to have.

i can choose to focus on what i lost, or i can also choose to focus on what i had.

for some people, the loss of a parent hits them very hard. in those moments, the person grieving can choose to focus on the loss of that person or on the fact that they were incredibly blessed to have a parent who loved them, supported them, and shaped them into the person they are happy to be today. there are so many people who don't experience the kind of relationship they want to have with their parents.

for other people, it might be the loss of a child. the grieving person can choose to focus on the loss of the child or on the fact that they were incredibly blessed to have a child who brought them joy, made an impact on other lives, and made them proud. it's often said that no parent should have to suffer the loss of a child (and I can only imagine how the pain feels). but there are also so many people who want nothing more than to have a child, and for one reason or another, that hasn't been the plan for their life -- whether due to relationship status, health reasons, or other factors.

i say all of this not in an attempt to diminish the very real pain we all feel when we lose someone who is close to us. the same goes for the loss of a relationship, job, home, and other significant item. it hurts. it's tough. it feels unfair. it often has no rhyme or reason.

but when i look at my own situation -- even with my knowledge that what i had seems to have been tragically cut short -- i know that there are people out there who long to experience one month of what i felt. maybe even just one week.

i was blessed to have it for five beautiful years.

and while i still cry, the tears don't only represent the pain. the tears also represent all the good i had. otherwise, there'd be nothing to cry about.

though my loss feels nothing like a blessing, i only feel my loss so deeply because i had something so very wonderful. i'm thankful for what i had. i recognize it's something that many others wish for. i strive to not let it be overshadowed by the loss i feel today.

Monday, July 18, 2011


I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, 'The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.'

- Lamentations 3:19-24

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

the paradox of grief

to lose means that you once had.

and that, in itself, is something to be cherished.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

in the audience

earlier this week, i had another dream with Jarronn.

i was standing in front of a group of people, giving some kind of speech or presentation. at times i felt nervous, and i was working hard to get my point across.

later on, i was seated at a round table, talking to a smaller group of people, maybe eight or so. somehow, i started talking about the meaning of life. i'm not sure now, nor was i sure in my dream, about what qualified me to coach on this deep subject. but at the same time, i knew i was passionate about the subject.

i told the people at the table that life is about doing for others. that we have to fight the urge to do just for ourselves. that we should become less selfish. that we should choose the option that helps others and not just ourselves.

once i finished talking, i left the room and sat on the ground. i was feeling like i had talked too much (a feeling some might be surprised to know i often feel in real life). while sitting on the ground, Jarronn walked up and sat down on the ground across from me. i hadn't noticed his presence while i was speaking, but he'd apparently been there.

he told me i did a good job. he referenced a point in my speaking where he knew i was nervous, but that i recovered and got through it nicely. i appreciated the affirmation and encouragement.

i woke up, and i was reminded of a presentation Jarronn gave at work in 2004, not long after we'd met. he was presenting to representatives from one of johnson & johnson's hospital clients. i was sitting in the back of the conference room, taking pictures and notes for a story i'd publish on the company intranet.

seeing him present is what first made me think that he was really someone special. he caught me off guard and really impressed me. we would later joke about him being an "up and comer" within the company. i would later tell him that the presentation is what made me raise an eyebrow. he would later tell me that though he was talking to the clients, he was really presenting to me.

ask most girls what caught their eye about guy, or what's the "one thing that's got her trippin'" (a reference to a song that will forever remind me of Jarronn), and it's not likely to be something like business presentation skills. might be my weird communications professional mind. but then again, maybe more times than not, it is just one small thing about a person that makes them shine in your eyes. that makes you think, "huh." in my case, being with someone who could control a room the way Jarronn did wasn't even something i knew i wanted. but i knew how much i liked it when i saw it.

and i guess his technique worked.

Thursday, June 9, 2011


even though the last episode of the oprah show aired a couple weeks ago, my dvr is still filled with an array of episodes from the last two seasons.

some are episodes i've yet to watch, but intend to. others are episodes that i'm saving, either to watch again or with the hope of showing it to someone like my mom or someone else. it wasn't until after Jarronn died that i was able to keep a library that sometimes reached 50+ episodes. i guess that was the down side of having to share a dvr.

now that the show has ended, it's given me time to go through the library. (it seemed like for every episode i watched, two new episodes would record). almost every episode tends to give me some insight, emotion, laugh or new perspective. and one thing i heard in watching an episode today was something i thought worth sharing.

as oprah spoke to two young girls who spent years being abused by their brothers and father, she shared her favorite definition of forgiveness:

"forgiveness is giving up the possibility of a better past."

that definition hit me deeply. not just because of its insight into what forgiveness is, but also for its connection to moving on in life in general. to living freer. more peacefully. with more contentment. and more in the present.

giving up on the possibility of a better past has been one of the hardest things i've had to do. and i still haven't perfected it. but reading this definition, which captures what i've struggled to do, somehow seems empowering. it's like putting a name to my constant state of striving. it makes me more conscious of it.

and hopefully the consciousness pushes me farther forward, beyond the what ifs and should haves of the past. beyond the idea of a better past and into a better present.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

still dreaming

i still have these recurring dreams.

the details differ slightly, but they all have the same overarching theme.

in them, i am going about my life, living without Jarronn, and discover that he is not actually dead. that though i thought he had passed away, he was actually just "away." the circumstances around where he's been for such a long time is never the same. once it was that he was away on business. another time he had been in the hospital. and another time it was that he'd been kidnapped and held hostage in a cave somewhere.

regardless of the details, these tend to be some of my most vivid dreams. they pull me through a range of emotions. first disbelief. then joy. then relief that it's all over. and then concern.

concern, because once i realize Jarronn is back, i start trying to figure out how he fits back into my life. for the first few dreams, it was easy. drop everything and fall right back into step. into the way things were.

but with the most recent dream, i found myself having a harder time knowing how to go back and act like time hadn't passed. like i hadn't been forced to keep moving forward. to keep living my life and find meaning in his absence. 

when i woke up, this most recent dream left me with pretty mixed feelings. like other times, there was the disappointment that it was all a dream. that this is, and has been, my reality. there were also feelings of guilt that i hesitated to return to how things were. and at the same time, there was some satisfaction in knowing that i felt comfortable enough with my new life to not want to rush and abandon it.

as much as it isn't my first choice, i'm finding ways to create a new life for myself.

Friday, May 27, 2011

back to blogging...

is it really the end of may? has it really been more than a month since i posted something? i'm sure i've said this before...time flies.

and there have been lots of happy moments to make the time go even faster.

one that stands out was celebrating my brother(-in-law)'s 24th birthday. in an effort to make it an occasion that would be special, i packed up a picnic lunch for the family, and we headed to allen pond park.

it was a great day. great weather. tasty food. a competitive game of taboo. even pops (my father-in-law), who is known to be a bit resistant to trying new things, had a great time. and thanked me multiple times for putting it all together.

i cherish moments like those, when it's the four of us who have each experienced the pain of Jarronn's death in our own, deep way, and we're able to enjoy one another and laugh. it almost feels like in those moments, we're really smiling in his honor. in those moments, i feel like he's really smiling down. and while those moments make me wish that he was there, they make me thankful that we can find things that make us joyful, in the midst of everything. those moments also make me thankful that Jarronn gifted me with such a wonderful second family.

below are pics from the day. the last one of Theo is definitely a "Jarronn face." :)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

ecclesiastes 3:10-14

"I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil--this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him."

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

wine tasting

some time back in 2008, Jarronn and i were driving in virginia for some reason i can no longer remember, and we stopped at rappahannock cellars to taste some wine. i'm always amused by wine tasting and being told that a particular wine has "hints of blackberries, strawberries, and peaches." while i can appreciate a glass of good wine, recognizing the "hints" of fruit flavors in a wine, without prompting, is not my specialty. Jarronn, on the other hand, had pretty keen senses when it came to taste and hearing. and i still remember him that day calling out the tastes of different fruits and even being able to taste hints of different woods used in the barrels.

at the end of our tasting, Jarronn chose a bottle of red wine made from norton grapes, and we headed home. the bottle was placed in the wine rack on the counter and reserved for a special dinner we assumed would happen some time in the future and would potentially be enjoyed by a few of our close friends.

sadly, we never got to share the bottle of wine.

instead, it sat on the rack, and for awhile i couldn't imagine opening it. similar to other things in the house, i didn't want the bottle to go empty.

when i came around to the idea of opening it, i wanted to make sure it was on a special occasion. that it was with close family and friends. i thought i'd share it along with some wine i'd bought in napa valley. but we never had need to open it. i took it to a friend's party, and we never got to it. and the bottle continued to sit on the rack.

finally, i came to the realization that i might actually be doing the wine a disservice. that i had assumed that the wine would get better with age, but in reality, that rule doesn't apply to all wines. some wines stop maturing. and i could possibly miss a window of opportunity with all of my guarding and waiting.

so one friday night, while cooking dinner for myself, i decided to open the bottle of wine for myself (don't worry, the plan was never to drink the whole bottle in one sitting). opening the bottle felt special, significant, and like it connected me to Jarronn.

i sniffed. i swirled. i tasted. and the wine tasted...average. i thought that as the wine breathed that it might have gotten better with time. but as i tasted more and more, i realized i really didn't like the wine. i couldn't remember how it had tasted at the winery, and i clearly couldn't get Jarronn's second opinion. but i found myself working hard to drink it. wishing that i was enjoying it. knowing that i wasn't.

all of that waiting. all of that anticipation. and the end result was pretty disappointing. it was a reminder to enjoy more things in the moment, while we can. but it also seemed to teach me that certain things are meant to be enjoyed at a specific time or in a particular season. and when the time is over, it's over.

i never finished the bottle of wine. but i did save the cork.

Monday, April 18, 2011

memory monday #7

it's been awhile since i've done one of these memory monday posts. but this memory below got my week off to a laughing start, so i figured i'd share it with you all.

this is coming from one of my closest friends sonia, who i've known since my freshman year of college. after i graduated and moved to new jersey for work, sonia was one of the few people who really kept up with me as i adjusted to life away from all of my friends.

because we talked frequently, this also meant that she was the first friend to hear about Jarronn after i'd met him. in fact, her advice helped me navigate more than one "men don't make any sense" moment with Jarronn. and ultimately, she was probably the person who helped me understand why he and i would always work, when she told me, "the secret to your heart, jessica, is to keep you laughing. the person who does that will win every time."

she was right.

and she and Jarronn became great friends, mainly because they were both incredibly funny, silly and quick on their feet. they even had nicknames for each other. (Jarronn was "brother tipsy" and sonia was "sister secular." loooooong story.) :-)

on july 30, sonia wrote:

I have so many hilarious memories of Jarronn. He was hands down one of the funniest people I've ever met. Whenever I saw him he always had a funny greeting, a joke, something. 

My favorite memory is when me, him, Jessica, and a few other friends all went to see Stomp the Yard. The movie turned out to not be that horrible but there were tons of corny moments. 

When we all returned to Jessica's apartment, we spent the next 45 minutes re-enacting the movie for Jessica's roommate Roxanne, since she wasn't able to make it. Jarronn was the head of the Gammas and I was the head of the Thetas, or whoever the people who were snakes were. We got so loud that the neighbor downstairs came to the door [Jessica's note: they were doing cartwheels and acrobatics]

At the end of the night, we were all laughing so hard we couldn't breathe. That to me was the greatest thing about Jarronn. He had no problem being absolutely ridiculous. He had an amazing spirit. That's what I miss the most.

thanks sonia! i miss it too!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

little things

after long periods of not writing here on the blog, it's sometimes hard to get back to it.

i guess i put some kind of pressure on myself to say something new or interesting. and when life doesn't really feel that new or interesting, i tend to procrastinate on my postings.

the truth is...life is moving. forward. onward.

there are more days when i feel more adjusted to the "new normal." days when i feel empowered by knowing that i've survived for all this time. that i've found ways to smile and laugh and love and live. days when not wanting to get out of bed is simply due to my laziness and not to not wanting to face the day.

there are also days when i still miss my old self. the "old normal." the self that had little knowledge of the kind of pain and loss i've experienced. the self that had the ability to imagine a future for herself. or the ability to make travel plans without waiting until the last minute. or got excited about holidays.

it's the little things i miss and the little things that i suppose deserve gratitude.

moving. forward. onward.

Monday, March 7, 2011

birthday visits

last week tuesday was Jarronn's birthday. 31 years since he was born.

the day wasn't quite as tough as last year. i guess that happens when you're no longer planning towards the date.

we didn't have a party in his honor like last year. and i didn't have as many people reaching out to me like last year. but that's not something i'm sad or disappointed about. in fact, fewer reminders of the loss and the need for people to pray for me probably contributed to it being a more manageable day. it's encouraging when it's sporadic, but it can become overwhelming when it's all at once.

in the morning, i tried reading his facebook wall and couldn't make it through more than a few posts without tearing up. so to prevent the risk of looking crazy to the people working around me, i quickly closed the page.

i did get a chance to visit two of his "resting places" last week. i was in jamaica up until the day before his birthday and went to our special spot before heading to the airport. it was beautiful, as usual, though some of the trees around the spot had been removed and new things planted. change is constant, i guess. the sky was blue, the sun was bright and the horizon line seemed to stretch farther than normal. i thought about all the moments we'd spent in that spot, from friends to moments away from being fiances.

this past saturday, i went to visit the holly bush we planted at the site where we got married. originally, i planned to visit with the thought that it would be nice to visit both places (from jamaica to maryland) during his birthday week. but by the time saturday afternoon rolled around, i felt a huge need to visit, as though it was the only way to find some peace for the day.

i was happy to see none of the deer had eaten off the leaves. at the same time, i hoped to see a bird land on one of the branches, thinking it would somehow give me a sign that Jarronn was there and could and feel me. i sat on a nearby bench and talked to Jarronn. not a whole lot, but more than i normally do, because typically trying to talk to him just reminds me that i won't hear a response. that our days of having conversations are behind us. and i usually can't bring myself to mutter more than just a few words at a time. the sky was gray, the branches were bare, and the only noise was the rustling of leaves that were pushed around by the wind.

it wasn't easy. from warm, shining light to cool, dreary clouds.

it was a big adjustment last week. it was a big adjustment a year and a half ago.

Monday, February 14, 2011


happy valentine's day!

i hope you celebrate and appreciate today, not just for romantic love, but for love in all its forms.

not just for today's love, but for loves past.

not just for spoken love, but for love that needs no words.

not just for love's joys, but for love's priceless lessons.

not just love from others, but for love for yourself.

Monday, February 7, 2011

party of one

i'm a social person. i like hanging out with people. sharing experiences. having company. but i’ve also come to the point where i don't want my lack of company to hinder me from doing something i really want to do. like visiting a festival or a restaurant or a museum exhibit or any other interesting place. it seems silly to wait around for others to do certain things that i really want to do. and i’ve been pleasantly surprised to find that the experience of doing things on my own can sometimes turn out much better than one that's influenced by someone else and their preferences.

yesterday i had one of these moments. i had been craving diner food for most of the weekend and made a decision to visit ihop after church. my first intention was to find company, but when that wasn’t working out, i figured there was no reason why i couldn’t go to ihop alone.

sundays at ihop are always pretty crowded, and yesterday was no different. i made my way through the sea of people waiting for tables and approached the hostess with the waiting list.

i asked her how long the wait would be for one person. she told me less than 15 minutes, which i knew wouldn’t be bad, given that i had a book to read as i waited.

“name, sweetie?”


she wrote down my name and scratched a “1” in the box next to it.

as i turned to find a seat, a small part of me wished i could have been seated immediately, not to get to my food faster, but to avoid being the lonely-girl-sitting-in-ihop-by-herself-reading-a-book. amongst the families with restless kids and groups of friends, i wasn’t really blending in.

not long after my name was called, and i made my way to my table, my dad called. i told him i was in ihop, and he asked who i was there with.

“no one.”

he laughed and said, “i hear you!”

i proceeded to make him laugh some more by reenacting the waiting process. how because of the long list of groups, the names of the different parties were projected over the intercom…

“monica, party of six – monica, party of six.”

“smith, party of four – smith, party of four.”

“janet, party of five – janet, party of five.”

“jessica, party of one…jessica, party of one.”

we laughed some more about my love for food and my inheritance of his metabolism. i ordered. i read more of my book. i ate. i talked to a finicky gentleman in his 60’s who was sitting next to me (another “party of one”).

with a full stomach and a satiated appetite, i went up front and paid my bill. and as i turned from the counter and made my way to the door, the woman on the intercom called…

“jackson, party of two … jackson, party of two.”

and i thought about that. how that was the call i should have been responding to. not the one i responded to 40 minutes earlier. or maybe it's not "should have" but "would have." we would have woken up together. we would have gone to church. we would have gone to eat. we would have talked and laughed. there's more "would haves" than i care to count.

and i had to question if my theory about doing things by myself was still holding true. i questioned which was better -- "jessica, party of one" or "jackson, party of two"?

and the answer is neither. both are what they were and are. one might be more desirable, but it's also not possible. another might be more uncomfortable, but it's also my reality. what's been given to me. what i can make the best of.

so i'll just have to party of one.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

on writing

wow. january really flew by. this was largely due to a pretty demanding work schedule. one that required lots of writing and left me with little time or mental capacity to write here as well.

i’ve missed writing here.

i spoke to a widower a couple months ago, not long after his wife had died. we talked about his experience. my experience. Even how our spouses' names were similar. and i tried to give him one of the things that those of us who have experienced the untimely death of a spouse can share: a reassurance that he wasn’t the only person on earth experiencing tragedy on this level. there were more of us experiencing the ups and downs, the well-intentioned suffocating families, the lost identity, the physical pain, the words that fell short of bringing comfort.

he asked me if i found my writing on this blog to be helpful. i told him that in some respects, the writing does little for how i feel, because the things i write here only capture a fraction of my emotions and experiences. typically, for every entry i post, i think of two more topics that i may never write about.

but what i did realize and tell him was that writing helps me process a feeling. putting the feeling into words helps me more closely examine how i feel and what i’m going through. it doesn't make the feeling go away, but it helps me more effectively go through it. live through it. survive it. and once it’s out there, articulated in words, i can release it from my muddled brain.

so when i don’t write here, i miss it. i miss the release of it. i miss the going through. i miss confronting my grief and the reassurance that i’m feeling and living.

i’m hoping february brings more opportunities for me to be here.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Proverbs 16:9

In their hearts humans plan their course,
   but the LORD establishes their steps.

- Proverbs 16:9

Friday, January 7, 2011


i've mentioned before how i received hundreds of messages of support from different people after Jarronn died. some by text message. some by email. some by facebook. some by way of cards and packages.

some from family. some from friends. some from acquaintances. some from people who knew Jarronn. some from people who hardly knew me or Jarronn.

all of it has been amazing.

some shared sympathies. some shared personal tragedies. some shared personal triumphs. some shared treasured memories. some shared words of support. some shared their thoughts about this blog. some shared what they got from this blog.

i'm so thankful for all of those messages. i haven't always gotten to respond to all of them (and this was especially true in the first six months after Jarronn died), but i do read every message. and i take something from every message -- whether its a smile, a memory, a tear or encouragement. and many times when i don't respond, it's because i was so touched that i wanted to craft the perfect response but never got around to it (the downfall of sometimes being a perfectionist). nevertheless, i'm always most struck by how so many people are kind enough to take time out of their busy schedules and lives to reach out to me and offer support, even if that just means saying hi, praying for me, or letting me know they've taken something from my "story."

the same can be said for those of you who comment on and follow this blog (whether publicly or privately). who take time to keep up with my up and down feelings and sporadic postings. who often smile when i smile and cry when i cry.

i greatly appreciate all of you.

and as i've said in many of my responses to those hundreds and hundreds of messages, i truly believe that all of the thoughts and prayers and well wishes have made a difference. that they've held me up in a way i can't even really understand. and that you all operate in an orchestrated way, with just the right timing, in a way that you can't even really understand.

it's beautiful. it's a blessing.

thank you.

Monday, January 3, 2011


happy new year, everyone.

like many of you, i'm hoping that 2011 is a year that brings new opportunities, achievements, blessings, and fulfillments.

and perhaps unlike many of you, i have no interest in declaring or claiming what 2011 will be. no interest in saying what it will bring me. no desire to establish any great expectations.

i haven't really determined if this is a good thing or bad thing. i just know it's a real thing. my ability to have expectations or even plan things has been extremely limited for the past year and a half. and it's hard to find the boldness to say "2011 will be a great year," when i know i really have no way of knowing that. 2009 was going to be a "great year," and even started out that way. but of course, things have a way of sometimes changing, and changing pretty quickly.

i wrestle with this on a regular basis -- how to think positively about my world and even shape my reality with those positive thoughts while still recognizing my limits when it comes to writing my actual story. i haven't figured out how to expect great things or even set big goals when i know there are so many things that are outside of my control. that control is largely an illusion.

and while i certainly don't want to kill anyone's joy or goals or anticipation for the new year, i can't help but wish that there was a way for us to hope for things, but not specific things. to look for blessings, but to be open to the different forms they may come in. (even if that means it's in the form of a painful lesson.) and that we would face a new year with less expectation and declaration and more openness to whatever it is that may come.

it's not entirely realistic or possible. plans and ideas for the future make the world go 'round.

but it's not an expectation -- it's just a wish.