Thursday, April 23, 2015
"She took more than my bracelet, Mom..."
Rowan has been missing Jalene so much this past week. Every night when we go to bed, just after we say prayers, he sighs really big and says "Mommy, can I tell you something...", and it is always, always, followed by some Earth shattering, heart-felt statement, that most nights, brings me to tears. A couple nights ago, it was, "Mommy, If I had one super power, I would use it to bring Jalene back." The next night, he said "Mom, I want to start a fundraiser to cure Cancer. I don't want anyone else to go through what Jalene did. And I don't want anyone else to lose a friend like I did. Or a daughter... like her Mommy did." Tonight he said, "I wish I could have one more play date with her, Mommy...I want to do more art with her." But last night, God really let him bear his heart to me, about how he has been feeling...and it's beautiful, just beautiful.
First you need to see the picture that sparked last night's conversation...
This is a cropped photo, from one of the very last pictures taken before the casket was closed at Jalene's final service. Moments before this, Rowan asked me if he could go ask Jalene's Mom if she could wear his bracelet. I said yes, that he could ask Jen if it was ok. He was so happy. He immediately took the one he was wearing off of his own ankle and walked up to the front of the Church where Jen was sitting, without even waiting for me. He has worn one of these on his ankle for the past 6 or more years, so it is very special to him. It has his full name: Rowan Jameson Windham, and his life scripture: Psalm 119:175 "Let me live! (that I may praise you)". Jen looked back at me, as if to see if I was ok with it, and I nodded yes. Then, she took him by the hand...
...and led him up to the casket, where she helped place it on her beautiful daughter, Jalene's, little wrist.
I couldn't keep it together myself, but I was so proud of Rowan for approaching her Mom with this special request, even without me by his side. And, I so admired Jen's strength and nurturing touch in that moment. It could not have been easy for her, but she did it for Rowan, and I think...also because she knew and understood the bond that God has given these children.
For the past few weeks, Rowan asks me every couple days, if anyone has a picture of Jalene wearing his bracelet. I mentioned it to Jen once, soon after the burial, but did not want to bother her about it any more. Well, the other day, she came across the photo and immediately sent it to me. It meant the world to Rowan and I, both. I asked Rowan, "Does that make you feel better to see that she had a piece of you when she went to heaven?". In his pure, child-like faith way, Rowan said, "Mom, she took more than my bracelet to heaven, she took a piece of my heart. But, I have a piece of her's too."
Losing Jalene was not easy for Rowan, by any means.
However, the way he has handled it, and the faith, love and courage her death has given him, is almost more than I can comprehend. He misses her dearly, his heart aches for her family, and he wipes away my tears every time we talk about her. However, he is a stronger, more compassionate, more loving little boy because he has witnessed and shared in the death of a friend. It is one of Jalene's greatest gifts to this world... peace and strength... and the ability to keep going, in spite of the troubles, despite the trials. Her death has saddened him, of course, but it didn't break him. It strengthened him, it built him up, and in many ways...I feel that it prepared him for whatever God has planned, for any of us.
The following three photos explain it all...
He is but a young, sick child himself, and at first, when he went up to view her body, his sadness and grief overcame him...
...but only for a moment. Then he smiled, telling me, "She doesn't have cancer anymore Mommy, and she's with God and Jesus. And I see Jesus, and He's smiling, and He's smiling because of all the people she brought here to see Him."
...and in the end, during his final goodbyes, which both break my heart and make it burst at the same time...he blew his friend a kiss...
It's such a poignant photo.
When I showed it to Rowan and said, "Look Rowan, this was when you kissed her goodbye." His response was confident and sure, "Mommy I was just telling her body goodbye. Her angel is still with me. She smiles at me, and waves at me, and protects me all the time. And I already know I will see Jalene in Heaven soon. I actually can't wait."
I know what Rowan means, though it's sad to hear a child say it. There are many of us who cannot wait to see Jalene again. To see her smile, to hear her giggle, to hear her belt out "In Summer!" by Olaf, with her sister Zoe. But Jalene's life and death taught us that everything is in God's time...and that, until He is ready for us, we should smile always, love everybody the same, and shake off the bad stuff!
Thank you Jalene for those lessons. Thank you Jen for sharing her with us.
Thank you God for sharing this family with Rowan and I...
And thank you Rowan, for loving Jalene's Mommy, almost as much as Jalene herself did!
(This picture blows my mind!!! How can we see and feel such love through a simple photo, even with their eyes closed? But you can't deny it! His face, his hands around her neck...I see Jalene's angel, and God's work all over this photo...working through Rowan, to hopefully, help heal her Mommy.)
Rest in peace sweet angel Jalene.
Thank you for letting us love you.
Until we meet in Heaven again...
(Photo credits: Ashley Grimmer)