Tuesday, January 6, 2015


We received this letter not too long ago from Jenna's "favorite" Doctor, the one who was her very first contact at her first appointment, took out her "umbilical tumor", ran her quickly through numerous tests during the Christmas holidays last year to find the main tumor, diagnosed her cancer and was the surgeon in a number of her surgeries.  We were touched by his generous words & wanted to share them with you:

Dear Pamela and Bruce,

I wanted to tell you that your affection and appreciation is absolutely reciprocal.  Jenna has always been a a special patient for me and I know that she has been so for all the specialists that have known and treated her.  I don´t say this because of the medical challenge that her case represented from the very beginning but because of the quality of person that Jenna was and the admirable fortitude with which she confronted her illness.  We were all conscious that her case was quite advanced with a limited survival rate and we tried to fight with all available resources, but unfortunately the norm is that these situations don´t end the way we would all like and the illness was unstoppable. 

Although in the last phase of her illness because of my work obligations [he was her digestive surgeon and not involved in her whole process] I wasn´t able to visit her as I would have liked, during that time I have often thought of you all and frequently asked the endocrinologists and oncologists about how she was she was doing whenever I had occasion.  Knowing Jenna and her family has been a life lesson for me.  A lesson of love, serenity and inner strength when things go bad.  Because of all of this, the one who will always be grateful for having known her is I - and I give thanks to God for that.



(Dr. Ignacio Machado Romero)

Original letter in Spanish:

Queridos Pamela y Bruce,

Quería deciros que ese cariño y aprecio hacia Jenna y su familia es absolutamente recíproco. Ella siempre ha sido una paciente especial para mí, y se que así lo ha sido para todos los especialistas que la han conocido y tratado. Y no lo digo por el reto médico y quirúrgico que desde el principio supuso su caso, sino por la calidad como persona de Jenna y su admirable entereza para afrontar la enfermedad. Todos éramos conscientes que era un caso muy avanzado con una supervivencia limitada y tratamos de luchar con todos los medios disponibles, pero desgraciadamente lo habitual es que estas situaciones no tengan el final que a todos nos hubiera gustado y la enfermedad ha sido implacable desde el principio. Aunque en la última fase por motivos de trabajo no he podido visitarla tanto como me habría gustado, durante todo este tiempo me he acordado muchísimo de vosotros e interesado por su evolución preguntando a endocrinos y oncólogos siempre que tenía ocasión. Conocer a Jenna y su familia ha supuesto para mí una lección de vida. Una lección de amor, serenidad y fuerza interior cuando las cosas vienen mal. Por todo esto el que estará siempre agradecido por haberla conocido soy yo, y doy gracias a Dios por ello.

Un abrazo.


Photo by:  Total Assist Locum Agency

Sunday, January 4, 2015


I am touched to share this poem written by my friend John Simmons in response to my poem ¨Senseless¨ yesterday.  I am so glad to think upon this great contrast - heaven & earth - and now, to share it with you.

Her eyes opened with a clarity
they had never seen before
She sees beauty unimagined;
Colors that have no name here,
because the few that saw them
and returned, could not explain.

A garden of delight with strange fruit;
Apples tasted by Euphrosynus* the cook,
and his friends but which for us are
just a description in an ancient book.

There are not many conversations
there, because silence is the mystery
of the future age, while words are just
the tools of this world and inner
knowing of the heart has replaced them.

But the music! Oh what music!
As unimaginable as heavenly colors,
Such a chorus was never heard elsewhere;
melodies that dance with dizzying melismas,
An impossible range of sound, thunder
and ever so gentle harmonies,
all in praise of the King that none could
gaze upon, were not the eyes and heart
strengthened by glory.

Every pain and sorrow are gone.
There it is only a growing reunion,
and the wait is not as long as it seems
In the dull earth and vale of tears.

There, triumph is obtained,
but here, there is yet more
sowing in sorrow and struggle
In the morning, until the evening 
brings the joyful harvest.

Tears wash the eyes and the soul,
purifying, cleansing, refining;
tears mixed with grace, already
strengthening the eyes to see
what she sees.

*Euphrosynus was a 9th century monk from Alexandria serving in a kitchen monastery in Palestine. His humility & gentle spirit were evident.  He liked to remain quietly anonymous in his devotion. His far reaching spiritual heights were unknown to those around him.  He is known for one incident.

It is told that a head monk who fervently desired to know more of heaven prayed to see it and in a vision was walking in a beautiful garden that filled him with both joy & fear.  To his surprise, he also saw Euphrosynus, the cook from his monastery.  He asked Euphrosynus how he came to be there and he simply said, ¨through the great mercy of God.¨  The priest asked if he could have something from the beautiful place.  He decided on 3 luscious apples and Euphrosynus wrapped them up in a kerchief.

The next morning, the priest initially thought his vision was but a dream but next to him on a table were the 3 apples from Paradise.  The priest found Euphrosynus in church and asked him under oath where he had been the night before.  He answered, ¨the same place as you.¨ And explained that the Lord, in desiring to fulfill the prayer os the priest had shown him Paradise and given the fruit through him, ¨the lowly and unworthy servant of God, Euphrosynus.¨

The priest shared all this with the monastery brethren but Euphrosynus fled human glory and went to a place unknown, concealed except to God.  The monks always remembered St. Euphrosynus, and knew that they, too, ¨through the great mercy of God¨ would meet their brother someday in heaven. 

The slices of apples from Paradise were reverently used for blessing and healing.

The full story of St. Euphrosynus can be found here:


Here is the song which inspired the John´s verse about the music.  It is lovely!

¨give rest to the soul of the girl that you love...¨

Saturday, January 3, 2015


Who changed the artistry of my world?
For suddenly, all is Black and White.
Colors & designs are gone and beauty is hard to find.
I used to find it everywhere.

Where did the music go?
For suddenly, there are no lovely melodies,
No rhythm or harmony or dance tunes.
Only deafening silence or annoying loudness.

What cosmic chef stole the flavors?
For suddenly, neither food nor life has any.
No spice, no texture, nothing to set it apart.
There are no ¨parties in my mouth¨ anymore.

Which doctor anesthetized my nerves to feel?
For suddenly, I cannot touch what I love.
And what I touch has no feeling for me.
There is only a numbness in my fingers & my body.

What demon stole my sense of smell?
For suddenly, there are no roses or jasmine.
The lavender of life is only neutral.
Those natural scents used to intoxicate me.

The sudden absence of my dear one
has rendered my world senseless.
I can only press on in Black & White -
towards a future world & life of color,
of melodious notes, of flavor parties,
of wonderful, joyful textures in my hands,
and smells - oh! the smells!
of roses, jasmine & lavender again.

Photo by:  Joao Loureiro

Friday, January 2, 2015


Can it really be
that I won´t ever see her smile again?
or hear her tell me a joke?
make me Lebanese coffee
talk about the ¨great nation¨
choose a scarf for me
dazzle me with her 20-second make-up routine
paint a picture
write something that takes my breath away
tease her brother or sister
love on all of us
cook her glorious creations
or throw her head back and laugh?

Can it really be
that I won´t ever see her fall in love?
have children?
study in Paris for her Masters
come home for Christmas
travel to faraway places
be her siblings´counselor
be her parents´ counselor
take care of us when we´re old
see her change the world
use her languages & amazing life experiences thus far
love Jesus in this generational context?

Can it really be
that I cannot stare at her rare beauty
and ponder her equally profound inner jewels?
share conversations & secrets
and equally comfortable silences
go shopping together
laugh & cry over a movie or novel
repeat inside jokes til the tears stream
have mate by the beach
get angry over injustices
tear up over a heroic kindndess
treasure her amazing mixture of passionate & crazy?

Can it really be
that I won´t  ever see her
be her Dad´s compañera in travel again?
her sister´s confidante?
her brother´s inspiration?
her mother´s first love-child?

Can it really be?

Photo by: Joe ¨The Suspension of Disbelief¨

Thursday, January 1, 2015


This lovely painting was painted and gifted to us a week or so after Jenna's passing.  This is what Vanessa wrote with it:

Jenna's Hands

The beauty of her hands...
Goes deeper than her slender fingers
It is more than the grace with which she holds them;
Deeper than the strength within them.

The beauty of her hands is in the lives that she has touched;
In every hand she has held,
And in all the love that she has given.

Now her hands are held by the
One whose touch has healed
And while He leads her in a dance of love and victory...
Here on earth, her touch continues on
In every life that she has loved,
And every heart that she has blessed.

Vanessa Brooke

For now Vanessa´s painting rests on our ¨Memory Table¨ but soon it will find a more permanent place on one of our walls.  We are so blessed with friends who share our love of Jenna and give of their talents to express it in such lovely ways.

P.S.  When we first saw the painting, Bruce thought that was his hand holding Jenna´s!  (We still let him think that.)  And it DOES look a lot like his hand.  He spent many precious hours holding her hands this year during her suffering and THAT really WAS a picture of her Heavenly Father´s hands which were to hold her later.  Whatever the interpretation, we are comforted by the fact that SHE IS HELD.