We were supposed to be there.
We were supposed to be watching her on Saturday, May the 2nd. We were supposed to be full of pride and joy, of gratitude to God, enjoying a full weekend of celebration & emotion. We were supposed to be jetlagged from having flown from Spain to California to watch her receive her diploma - our firstborn's BA in Global Studies with two minors. We were supposed to celebrate with her and her friends these wonderful, life-changing four years together. We were supposed to make that memory.
But we didn't.
I think I mourned it more than she did!
But when the pictures started popping up on Facebook it became very real, very hard and felt so very far away. We saw the weight of the emotion on her face. We felt both the happiness for friends and the mourning of her own loss. She has bravely walked up to this day and has maturely embraced that there will be another time for her. But can we just give her this time to mourn? Can she just mourn not being part of the rush of all the To Do's for graduation with her dearest friends, of not ordering any announcements or taking photos or personalizing her sash, picking out her outfit, packing up her room, having a million last lunches & coffees & late night talks on campus? Can we just give her this time to ask tough questions like: will she be done with chemo in time to finish her last semester and graduate in 2015? Will her graduation photos be with really short hair? Will she know many people in the graduating class of 2015?
We'll give her all the time she wants.
In the meanwhile, God has been doing His God-thing and sent her a really precious gift:
This is Becca. Another Global Studies major. She is also one of those crazy TCK's (Third Culture Kid) like Jen who has grown up among various countries & whose world is really big. She sent this picture to let Jenna know that she wore this ribbon for her throughout graduation. So did all the others from her Global Studies cohort. Jen was so touched that she just bawled. In a way, she was present after all! She walked the line with them! She celebrated with them! She was there!! Wow. Such a gift.
So, these special kisses sent from friends, the last minute photos with your dearest groups and your whole graduating class' well wishes were summed up in a little ribbon that said to her...you were missed, you were remembered, you were celebrated...
We look forward to the future things God has planned for Jenna. We know this year is about learning things that cannot be learned in a classroom. (There are many days she wishes she could be back there!) But we choose to believe there will be a mark left on her life from this year. A mark on her heart. A mark on her spirit, on her character, on her soul. There will be a definite before and after. A pre-cancer Jenna and a new & changed Jenna. There are powerful, life-changing things going on that none of us are even really fully aware of right now...It's going to be amazing to see them unfold! God's curriculum is our most treasured education.
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."
Plans to give her hope and a future? Absolutely!
photo by: Kevin Dooley