enn B. has appeared on this blog before: here, here, and here.
She was truly a beautiful person, but, more so, she was a beautiful soul. Where can I begin? The first time I met her, I suppose.
But I saw her before I actually met her. In Perspectives. In 2003. At the end of the semester-long class, there was a praise night that incorporated the talents of the students. That's when I saw and heard Jenn sing. She had an absolutely beautiful voice. But beyond that, I was drawn to her joy -- eyes closed, peaceful smile, hands lifted high -- as she sang out in praise to God. The image of her posture continues to be a model for me.
As I transitioned to attending that church I found out that Jenn also went there. I joined a prayer group and study group that she happened to be in, too, and a friendship was born. In addition to seeing her at church and once or twice during the week, there were girls' nights and other hangings out. I still remember the Easter luncheon at her house, where she and her mom fed about 20 of us a traditional meal, complete with ham and pineapple sauce!
Jenn was diagnosed with breast cancer about five years ago -- which surprised all of us as she was in her early 30s. She underwent chemotherapy and radiation, and got better. I knit her a hat that she said was her favorite (but I'm sure each hat that someone gave her was her favorite). She was a leader in the church and had gone on several overseas missions trips, so many missed her while she was undergoing treatment. Though we went to visit her from time to time, a lot of people were longing for the days when we got to see her regularly again.
A while after she'd gotten better and was around a bit more, probably two and a half years ago, we were told that other cancer had been detected in other parts of her body. So she had to undergo a different type of chemo and radiation. From there, there were snippets of news about surgeries, medications, infections, etc. And requests to pray for Jenn.
Despite the hospital visits and pain, Jenn still moved into a community house where she could serve. We helped her move in, some helping to paint her room pink, and she lived there for about a year. I remember helping her move out last summer, when the house was closed. Her condition was worsening, too, so it made more sense for her to move back home with her mom.
The past year was, obviously, the toughest -- physically, mentally, and spiritually. This past summer I was able to go alone and with friends to the hospital and to her home, bringing food, good cheer, and prayers. Whenever anyone came to visit Jenn, she asked all kinds of questions about their life. She made sure they knew how much she thought about them and missed them. Each conversation felt like we were just picking up from our last talk, no matter how long the time in between. She had a remarkable knack for remembering details about your story, and asking you about how those things were coming along. She would lament, too, about not being able to get out of bed to visit other patients to talk to and pray with them. That's typical Jenn for ya!
The cancer continued to spread. It debilitated her liver, and her white blood cell count was too low to withstand another surgery. So after her last hospitalization, Jen was released home to hospice care. A couple of Sundays ago a bunch of us went to her house after church. We sang songs, held her hand, and prayed for healing, peace, and, most of all, mercy. Jenn was sort of in and out of consciousness then, but every so often she would reach her arms out and say, "Jesus!" Jenn passed away that night, while a few of us lingered out on her driveway, praying for her and her family.
Our pastor hit the nail on its head when he said that Jenn's was a life interrupted. Equally true is that God's ways are higher than our ways. To me, Jenn B. personified the suffering saint. Yet even unto her last breath, no matter how much pain she was in, I believe she also lived with the joy of the Lord. And she truly lived every moment for the glory of God.
I miss my friend dearly. I feel guilty about not visiting her as often as I could have, not praying for her as consistently as I should have. I felt especially guilty when her mom said to me one night, "I'm so glad you could make it tonight, Jean. Jenny talks about you all the time. She loves you so much." But I'm glad, too, that I got to know Jenn B. And not only that I got to know her, but that I got to be known -- and loved -- by her.
I'm so glad that Jenn is no longer suffering, no longer in pain, and is finally Home.