Hello readers! Adam, a very dear friend, asked me to share my story as a guest blogger for “Graphic Grace”. What an honor!
I was a bit taken back, as I am blessed in so many ways. Until I was asked, I didn’t know I had a story to tell. But I’ll give it a try…
My life in Lake Havasu
For those of you that do not know me, I am Jeanine (Jenny to friends and family); I am a 36 year old wife and mother of 3. I was born and raised in Lake Havasu City, AZ. I was also born and raised going to church every Sunday, Wednesday and for every church function and accepted Jesus as my savior when I was fairly young. My fondest memories growing up are church camp, youth group and various mission trips. I led a straight and narrow life and never got into trouble; although I think it was the fear of my mother more than the fear of God that kept me out of trouble.
I met my husband, Paul, in High School. I saw him applying for a job at the wonderful fast-food restaurant all high school kids work and thought to myself “he’s kinda cute, I wonder if he is a Christian.” Would you believe it, I met him in church the very next day! We dated for 3½ years and have been married now for 15½ years.
My moving…away from God
After High School, I moved to Phoenix to go to college. Paul eventually followed. We got married and bought our first house. We lived in Phoenix for approximately 4 years and then moved to Las Vegas, NV, where we lived for 2 years until we ended up in Gig Harbor, WA, due to Paul taking a job with the Railroad.
I tell you about all of the moving because it is my excuse for getting out of religiously going to church, finding a church family and continuing my relationship with Jesus.
Don’t get me wrong, I still believed in and chatted with God often, I just didn’t worship as I know I should have. On top of my own excuses, none of my friends went to church so that made it even harder to get motivated to find a church. It seemed like the longer I stayed away, the harder it was to get up on Sunday mornings in time for church.
My family begins
So as my story goes, I always wanted kids, but as time went on, the longing subsided a little bit as we both got set in our ways. As we approached 30, and 9 years of marriage passed, we thought if we were going to have kids (we only wanted two) we had better get started! As with meeting Paul, we were pregnant immediately after our “do you want to have kids” conversation and were blessed with a beautiful baby girl, Calli Marie, 9 months later. Wow, what a change. What a blessing. She is perfect.
2½ years later, we decided we would try for another little one. This took a bit longer than the first time, but a few months later we were expecting. With the anticipation of a second child, we discussed the importance of raising our kids around family and therefore a move back to Arizona would be in our future. I had a job immediately and although we knew a transfer for Paul would be challenging, we decided to make the move any way, trusting that God would help with the transfer. I worked out an arrangement with my employer to telecommute 2 weeks a month so that Calli and I would not have to be away from Paul for extended periods of time. So Calli and I shuffled around every two weeks; pregnant and all for about 18 weeks. At 36 weeks, I discontinued my traveling and worked from home in Washington until October 27, 2008 when our beautiful angel Cole Richard was born. He was a beautiful, healthy and perfect little boy.
We had the perfect family. Mom, Dad, Girl, Boy and cat (for all you dog lovers, the cat making a perfect family is debatable). I spent my maternity leave in Washington and although Paul still did not have a transfer, we decided to make the move anyway. Calli, Cole and I moved to Flagstaff, AZ, on January 10, 2009 leaving Paul behind with only a TV, couch, bed and the cat, of course.
Paul drove out with our furniture, got us settled in and headed back to Washington while I started back to work on January 20th.
Then the next day…
I got a call from daycare telling me that Cole stopped breathing during his nap and was on his way to the hospital.
My world forever altered
I do not consider myself a high stress mom and never in my wildest dreams would I have ever thought he would pass away. As I said, we had the perfect life, minus normal marital struggles, but who doesn’t have those. So I sat there, concerned and staring at my little boy of 12 weeks old hooked up to various machines which were keeping him alive.
Then on January 22nd at 7pm, we had to let him go.
Now, a week and a half later and heartbroken, having to return to work, sending my husband back to Washington and having to deal with a 3½ year old, by myself, I felt alone in my own personal tragedy. Paul had a prospect on a transfer, but nothing definite. We struggled with the long distance family for another 2 months until we decided on April 1st that keeping our family apart was not worth it and Arizona was not meant to be.
I realized at this point that I had not been listening to God.
My season of pain
The following year is a bit of a blur. I spent most of my alone time crying and spinning my wheels trying to retrace my steps; trying to figure out what I had done wrong, how a perfectly healthy little boy would just pass away.
I avoided some of my friends that had recently had babies the same time as Cole because I couldn’t bear to be around them. I realized after a while that there had to have been something wrong with him that nobody could see and combined with the move to Arizona (change in altitude and weather conditions), we lost him to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
I consider 2009 as the year of crabbiness and crying. How Paul and I survived, and Calli is still a happy child, is beyond me. While Paul and I do talk about Cole and celebrate his birthday and remember him on the anniversary of his passing, we never talked about our feelings and still to this day do not talk about our pain. I think it makes Paul uncomfortable because I still cry every time I think of him.
So, you will understand my shock when I was telling Paul I was leaving for my fun-filled annual doctor exam and he turned around and asked me if I was going to ask my doctor about options for having another child. Oh, I forgot to tell you, I had my tubes tied after Cole was born. Remember, we only wanted two kids.
Well, our options were invetro or tubal ligation reversal. We decided that we (I) would undergo a tubal ligation reversal and if God were willing, we would have another baby.
My story is not over yet
I am happy to say God is gracious and we had Cade Andrew on March 23, 2011, just shy of 1 year after my tubal ligation reversal.
I realized through this time just how deeply rooted my faith is. Although I was not an avid churchgoer, didn’t read the bible, and don’t openly share my faith other than through actions, I have a deep faith and love for the Lord. Even though I was deeply saddened with this loss, I somehow never blamed God for taking our little Cole so early. I knew there had to be a reason I had to go through this, although 28 months later I still have no idea.
Maybe I am not listening…again.
My, oh my, isn’t God good?
I also realize that I am truly blessed in so many ways! Paul and I have a strong marriage. Through all of this, we never once questioned our love and commitment. I will admit, I spent many months not liking him very much, but leaving never entered my mind. We have a beautiful and amazing little girl who has endured so much in her 6 years – Two moves, the loss of her baby brother, the birth of another brother and a mom that probably wasn’t all that nice to her for the last 2 years. I’m sure she took the brunt of my sadness, but she eventually stopped asking “Mommy, does your heart break for baby Cole”.
No six-year-old should have to think and ask “Mommy, if we get to keep this baby….” It breaks my heart. We have been blessed with a beautiful home and wonderful jobs. We have been blessed with a new little baby to love and cherish. We have been blessed with a family of friends in Washington that will be there for us no matter what happens.
As I stated before, I have no idea why God chose to take Cole so early, but if nothing else, our loss has shown us just how lucky we are and helped us be a witness for Jesus to our non-believer friends. The service Steve Ormord prepared for Cole was absolutely amazing and touched so many lives, including our Washington friends who all endured the expense of traveling to Arizona to support us during this time. I pray that after returning to Washington our friends have seen us reiterate the words Steve shared as well as the strength and grace God has given us.
If nothing else, this tragedy gave me the ability to have a few conversations about faith and Christ. It also helped me realize that time is short and that although work is necessary to maintaining our lifestyle, my family is so much more important!
I have stopped putting work first.
It is amazing how much Cade has healed our hurt. I am sure Paul will say I am like night and day. Just the thought of trying for a new baby helped with the healing process. Cole can never be replaced, but having another baby to love definitely helps! My only struggle now is feeling guilty about loving our beautiful Cade, knowing that we had to lose Cole in order to bring him into the world and still praying that it is God’s will that we get to watch Cade grow up. I am confident that God will get me though this as well.
My hope is that none of you have to experience the loss of a child, but if that time comes, remember God will give you the strength to move forward one day at a time. You will never forget, but will eventually find peace.
Cole Richard Jordan
October 27, 2008 – January 22, 2009