Celebrate Jeanette Day:
From Our Heart
(This was shared at Jeanette's memorial service.)
Jeanette would love the idea of a day named for her! We used to joke all the time about how being an only child meant “it’s all about her.” She would get the biggest kick out of us calling this Celebrate Jeanette Day! That’s what we’re here to do, to celebrate her life, to remember the good times, and to cherish the blessing that she was to all of us.
We knew exactly what Jeanette’s wishes were when it came to planning a memorial service and the decisions associated with her passing. In many casual conversations and comments over the past couple of years, Jeanette and I had talked about it. How many mothers and daughters have conversations like that?! If it’s discussed at all, it’s usually the mother telling her daughter what she wants. But in our case, the conversation always went the other way with Jeanette telling me what to she’d want. So, there was no guess work about where, who, what, and most especially, to wear bright colors and make it a celebration of her life.
Dennis and I marvel at all the ways God prepared us for this, and we want to share some of those things with you. We didn’t realize we were being prepared for something until it happened, but then we looked back and could see all the ways God planned ahead. We are truly amazed as our eyes are now open to how God prepared us.
Probably the biggest preparation for me began last year when Jeanette had her first seizure. I had never before witnessed a seizure and it was so unexpected and out of the blue. I had no idea what was happening. I was terrified and I felt completely helpless. When I called 911, I was in such panic I could barely get the words out. Then, riding in the front seat of the ambulance to the hospital I cried out to God telling him I couldn’t live without her. I just kept repeating, “God, I can’t go on without her.”
A week after her first seizure she had another. We never found out the cause of the seizures. Tests came back normal. The doctor chalked it up as being stress-related, which was a totally plausible explanation. After her 2nd seizure, it was a mutual decision by all of us that Jeanette and Joe should move in with us. Our lives turned upside down with her seizures.
She didn’t have a seizure again for many months and we were resting confidently in our belief that it was just an isolated event and she’d never have another. But, she did in November. Ever since then we’ve felt like we’ve been living on high alert. Jeanette would get exasperated with me always asking her if she was ok, but I couldn’t help it. My “mom-radar” was up.
Sunday, February 9, we received a frantic text and phone call from friends. It was our worst, worst fear. On the surface we were in complete shock and disbelief, and yet at the same time there was an odd indescribable undercurrent of somehow knowing this was coming. It’s a very strange thing to be taken completely by surprise—and yet not.
Then, the realization dawned on us. It was 1 year to the day from her second seizure. A year ago I cried out to God that I couldn’t live without her, and he mercifully gave us one more year, not only to enjoy her, but moving back in and living with us. The past year we have been blessed, blessed, blessed, blessed, blessed with her daily presence! And, so….one year later, we discover an amazing peace which defies all description and all reason. We can look ahead and know, it’s not going to be easy, but life goes on, and we can survive this. Only God could produce this kind of peace, assurance, and confidence.
The first question everyone asks is why? Why did this happen? Why, God, why? Of all the big questions to ask, why feels like the heaviest, most ponderous, most burdensome one of all. And, yet, in just these few short days since Jeanette’s passing, why seems to pale in comparison to the goodness of God.
That’s really the bottom line. Do we believe God is good—or not? Is He loving and kind—or not? Is he trustworthy—or not? How we view God determines whether we become bitter or better… whether we only see the pain… or whether we reach past the pain to find purpose. Already, in just these few short days, we are seeing purpose.
I don’t believe for a moment God “caused” this, or as people sometimes say, God “took” her. I’ve been saying, “Don’t you dare blame God.” God is not to blame for this. HOWEVER, God can use this for a purpose. He can bring meaning to our mourning. And, we already see him doing that.
The message from Dennis and me to all of you who loved Jeanette dearly and miss her dearly is don’t despair. Trust in God to bring something beautiful out of our loss. And, He will, because he is a loving, and good, and kind, and trustworthy God.
Sara Faith Nelson
Sharing the journey, because, I find there are so many others making the trek through life without a loved one