Tiny Spark Series: Beauty From Ashes

We’ve felt such heartbreak lately that I feel more and more grateful for those of you who’ve rallied around to share and love and embrace the Tiny Spark Series. Lord knows we need some light right now. The idea for this collection of stories chronicling everyday moves from darkness into that silver-lined space sprang from seeing a high school friend finding her Hallelujah Hat. Today I am honored to have her here sharing her story with you.

    Jenny Cooper Rumble has a sweet, bright-shining spirit that I’ve adored and even envied since our high school days. Witnessing her journey over recent months has made me question the theory that good things happen to good people. I’ve found myself accepting, doubting, and changing this age-old idea while watching her life unfold. Things good and bad happen to everyone because we aren’t in charge here. And this is scary, yes, because we’re vulnerable to such sadness, because we lack control. But once in a while we’re reminded that it opens us up to miracles beyond what we could ever design for ourselves. Read this post and know that this world, despite its darkest corners so heavy with hurt, still gives us beautiful things.

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  Since my husband Jason and I began trying for a baby last year, I imagined in great detail what it would be like when we finally saw a positive pregnancy test. I pictured tears of joy followed by tight hugs and warm laughter. Jason, filled to the brim with excitement, would wrap me in his giant arms, lift me from the floor, and twirl me around in that strong yet gentle way he always did. The following months would lead to increased elation with each doctor’s visit and ultrasound. Jason would stand beside me, holding my hand at each appointment, unapologetically letting tears roll down his face as he watched our baby wiggle and dance. I envisioned him lovingly rubbing my growing belly through the months, placing gentle kisses on it, and cooing to his unborn child in his special brand of baby-talk that was somehow both ridiculous and charming. I couldn’t wait for the day I could see him hold his child for the first time. Babies and children flocked to Jason like moths to a flame, and seeing him interact with them was always a fascinating and wonderful sight, bringing with it such heartwarming pride. I couldn’t wait to see him as a father. What joys we would share as parents!

JennyJason

The day I saw a positive pregnancy test was nothing like what I had imagined. It was July 12, 2012, three weeks after Jason’s funeral.

   June 18th began like any other Monday, but ended like none I’d ever imagined. It was Jason’s day off, so I woke up early and quietly went through my morning routine while he slept. Before leaving for work, I walked over to the bed to kiss him goodbye. It was then I discovered he wasn’t breathing. Nineteen agonizing hours later, my 29-year-old husband was pronounced dead, and I found myself a young widow with absolutely no idea what to do next.

The next three weeks were blurry and numb. Blurry and numb were his services and burial. Blurry and numb were the days that followed as I busied myself with mundane tasks. Blurry and numb was the week I returned to my job. Blurry and numb were my days as they began to resemble a new life, a life without my love… a life I had never ever imagined.

On a Thursday in mid-July I bought a pregnancy test on a whim. The thought had crossed my mind a couple of times, but I had continually dismissed the possibility, refusing to take a test. I’m not sure why I put it off so long. Maybe it was dread of facing a negative result and mourning our children with a newer sense of finality. Perhaps it was fear that I could actually be carrying Jason’s baby… the baby he’d never get to meet. Whatever the reason, I had put it off.

Moments later, I witnessed a second pink line appear on the test. Positive.

My head began to spin. My vision blurred. All I wanted to do was pace the floors of my house, but my legs behaved as if they’d forgotten how to operate. The feelings of perfect joy and elation I’d always imagined accompanying that second line were eerily absent. I was left with only confusion, disbelief, and fear.

I blinked back confused tears as my fingers fumbled for the phone and my shaking hands called the only person I could – my best friend. For the next several minutes, both of us sat in shock, alternating between phrases of amazement and disbelief with intermittent bouts of stunned silence. I eventually resolved to see my doctor the next morning and spent the remaining hours of the night in restless shock, staring at the ceiling.

The following morning I walked into the doctor’s office, steeled and ready to be strong, but the moment the words “I’m pregnant” escaped my lips I found myself sobbing uncontrollably. The receptionist quietly whisked me to a back room, holding me as I cried and told her about my husband. The next thing I knew I was in a darkened room, a screen in front of me displaying a tiny baby… Jason’s baby. As I watched in complete wonder, the flicker of light pulsed and the rapid drum of our baby’s heart thumped. It was the single most beautiful sound I had ever heard.

I am a Christian. Though I’ve always gone to church, I never considered myself to have the closeness to God that I’d heard other Christians talk about. However, in the months before Jason died, I felt God’s undeniable tug on me, drawing me closer to Him. Through that He presented passages of His Word that, little did I know, would help me through both the heartache and the joy of the events that lie ahead of me. In the weeks before Jason’s death, I had been studying the book of Isaiah in the Bible, specifically Isaiah 61:1-4. In verses 2 and 3, the Lord promises “to comfort all who mourn and provide for those who grieve… to bestow upon them a crown of beauty instead of ashes.” That day, as I watched my baby through bittersweet tears, those words finally resonated with me. Just then the ultrasound tech grabbed my shoulders and pulled me toward her. She embraced me tightly, and I felt her shoulders shake as her tears soaked my shirt. Through sobs she whispered the familiar passage, “beauty from ashes, sweet Jenny. Beauty from ashes.”

I am continually amazed at the ways God has shown Himself through all of this. Through the heartache and the joy, He has taught me to trust completely in Him to carry me through. At times those lessons were subtle. In others they were blatant, violent, and shattering. Nonetheless they were necessary. I still struggle with the anger, the sadness, and the questions that come with loss, but I find tremendous peace in knowing that even though I may not understand, God is in control, and all I need to do is trust Him.

Jason’s little boy is due in early March. While it breaks my heart that his son will never know him, that he will never feel his tender hugs or receive his loving kisses, I find comfort and joy in knowing that Jason’s legacy will live on through memories and stories. And I anxiously await the day that our friends, family, and I can share those precious memories with his son. Meanwhile, though the obstacle course of emotions I experience day by day is challenging, I feel overwhelmingly blessed for the comfort of beauty from ashes… words that are forever written on my heart.

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When have you spotted beauty shining from the ashes?

 

Upcoming Tiny Spark:

Amanda Haberstroh

Monday, December 31st

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46 thoughts on “Tiny Spark Series: Beauty From Ashes

  1. What a beautiful and uplifting story. Very moving and life confirming. I just read a book called Proof of Heaven – There’s no doubt in my mind that God exists and loves us beyond our comprehension. We’re never alone.

  2. A genuinely moving story. Truly a shining example of ‘beauty from ashes’if ever there was one. The life of Jason lives on inside of her. As for my own likeminded story, I will spend my morning in reflection until I tease one out. But I think I am in the midst of living it.

  3. You made me gasp, aloud, by myself. I am alone, sitting on the driveway, reading blog posts. My husband and my son are out doing errands. I take these things for granted. That they will come back to me. I am so sorry for your loss, but obviously you had an angel looking out for you. Your husband knew what you wanted. May your son be a blessing, and may your husband’s memory live in his son. (I think you should consider submitting this to PRECIPICE. The theme this year is luck. I think this is it.)

      • Jenny, you are fabulous. I really think this should be published in another venue. Please go online and look at PRECIPICE submissions. The theme this year is “LUCK.” This is very close to what they are looking for. You might have to cut out a few words to make the word count, but Tori could help you. You really have a strong writer’s voice. How do you not know this?

  4. I’ve rarely read a blog post that delivered such conflicting emotions – heart-breaking sadness and overwhelming joy. Truly an inspirational story…and it must be comforting knowing that a part of Jason will live on. Thanks for sharing.

  5. I sobbed and sobbed. It brings back so much pain and heartache. I became a widow at 25 (he was 26) with 3 kids (7, 4, and 7 mo). Only one of those kids remember their dad. I feel for you–deeply. I’m not just trying to get readers, but there really might be comfort on my blog. You are exactly why I wrote it, or people in your spot. If you have ANY questions or want to vent, contact me. We were meant to get through this life together. Be well.

    • Oh, Sara, thank you for reaching out! As soon as I get myself in front of a computer, I plan to scour your blog! This is not the last you’ll hear from me, of that you can be certain.

  6. I’m still getting chills and goosebumps as I’m typing this. As another commenter said, this post evoked such conflicting emotions that it was rather difficult to process it all as I read. I don’t cry easily but this post brought tears to my eyes….. the phrase “beauty from ashes” has never been more poignantly personified than through this story. Much love to Jenny and her son… and much love to you Tori, as always, for sharing such wonderfully moving stories.

    • I’ve loved that phrase for a long time, just the hope in it, I guess. But I’ve been sheltered or lucky or spoiled enough that I’ve never had to witness it firsthand. Watching Jenny’s journey through the last months has been the closest I’ve come to seeing, right there and in person, how devastating a loss can be and how beautiful a gift can come from it.

  7. This was both heartbreaking and uplifting. I can’t imagine going through this, but I hope God continues to give you strength. I know you’ll treasure your son- he is certainly a beautiful gift from God.

  8. Powerful testimony of Gods Love.. I cried but, in the end they were tears of joy.. May God continue to Bless you in the months to come….

  9. Jenny, I don’t even know what to say….so many have said already…how utterly devastating and joyful it is as these two events collide. But the important thing is your closeness with God. Beauty from ashes indeed. Sending up a prayer for you and this special miracle you are carrying.

    Thanks for sharing her with us, Tori.

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  11. I have chills running from the top of my head to my toes. I also gasped when I realized that Jason had passed away. I am so sorry for your loss, Jenny. And I feel your joy, your absolute love for our Creator, who has turned ashes into beauty. Your beauty. May Jason rest in peace, forever held in His hand. God bless you and God bless that little child you carry inside.

  12. I can’t even begin to imagine the pain. When I read the sentence about you finding your beloved husband dead I felt as if I had been hit by a Mac truck. It took my breath away, it’s too sad. I wish you the best of everything for the rest of your life.

    • That is too big a hurt to really comprehend, isn’t it? I’m daily awed by Jenny’s happy spirit, her ability to still shine and see good things after such a huge and unexpected loss.

  13. Thank you, Tori, for your very kind and flattering intro (Seriously? I was envious of your rare brand of popularity despite non-conformity… not to mention your “hot-enough-to-hang”-ness in high school), and for allowing me to share my story with your fantastic readers. Thank you, everyone, for taking the time to read it and share your words of encouragement, sympathy, and hope. The outpouring of love and support over the months has been incredible, and my heart is swollen with gratitude! Your encouragement to continue sharing may be just the boost I need to swallow my fear of writing for others and take the plunge into the world of blogging. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    • I’m going to print your comment and put it on my mirror for those terribly ugly mornings where my whole body gives up on looking decent. A reminder that even in pimple cream I’m almost hot enough to hang :)
      I am so glad you put yourself out there, or here, and wrote the hard things down. I’m a firm believer that the more writing about something makes our heart hurt the more it needs to be written, get all those words out! Turns out, maybe without you realizing it, that you ARE a writer. I’ve gotten so many messages asking for links to your blog or asking where you write on a day-to-day basis. You might just have to start a blog :)

  14. Jenny, I hope that, even if you do not blog, you will continue writing in some format or other. You have a beautiful voice and an important story to tell. It will help you and your son when he asks about his father.

    I am deeply sorry for your loss. I am at a loss for words…I’m just so sorry that you lost your husband. Thank you for sharing your story with us.

    • Isn’t she talented? When she e-mailed her post I read it and couldn’t stop thinking that, of course, it must of taken some big gulp of bravery to write those hard things down, but also that she, without even knowing it, is a writer.

  15. Sobbing, I mean actual sobbing as I sit here trying to type these words through the blur of tears. Oh Jenny. My heart aches for you, and yet I also feel such hope for your beautiful baby coming and for you. What a privilege to read your story. Thank you Tori for sharing it.

  16. No words I could add would help with your grief, nor would I expect them to. But perhaps your load will be lightened ever so slightly by this: As you teach your child about his father, you will get the chance to see Jason again. You will recall all the details that you loved about him, remember all the times he made you laugh or cry, and remember just WHY you fell in love with him. It will be a chance to celebrate him, and to celebrate your love for him, with the part of him alive in your son.
    And that is the best I can offer – celebrate Jason, remember him, laugh with him. In that way, you’ll carry the best of Jason forward, to give to your son. A wondrous present, indeed.
    I hope March finds you and your new son healthy, and happy, because of your husband’s gift of life to you both.

    • Thank you, John, for that beautiful sentiment of encouragement. I find myself getting positively giddy when thinking of the day I’ll see Jason’s traits in his son. And in thinking of sharing my memories of his father with him, I simultaneously dread the pain and anticipate the joy. Thank you for encouraging me to not only focus on the joy of his life (and his son’s) but also – more importantly – to celebrate it. Thank you for reading.

  17. I understand. Mother passed Sept 17. I was her home hospice nurse for last 5 weeks of her life. She was stricken so suddenly. I got to know her better then than in my 63 years. Half hour after she died a tear formed and fell from her left eye. Whether or not there is a link to the other side, I believe it now.

  18. Hi your blog is wonderful xx
    What a beautiful yet utterly heart breaking story.
    I have just turned thirty, I had a bad fall about eight years ago and broke my back.
    I have a spinal disease now which leaves me living in severe chronic pain everyday.
    my Husband and I decided to have babies really young and I am so grateful we did, after the accident I had to get sterelised immediately there was no way I could physically carry babies.
    We have a daughter and a son, Thank you God for blessing me with my children before I had the accident, my wonderful family make my life worth living, on my bad pain days my Husband and my two beautiful children are my shining light.
    Thankyou for posting such a special story, tomorrow I’ll hold those I love that little bit tighter xx
    Victoria

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    • Oh no. I bet you were like “Let’s go to Tori’s blog and see if there is something funny”. Surprised sobbing is the worst! Jenny is a really incredible lady. All these recent events in her life really became the inspiration behind the series. I’ve just been amazed at how strong and smiley and gracefully she goes through life, especially the toughest parts.

  20. Reblogged this on birminghambell and commented:
    This is a guest post, by my sweet friend Jenny on another fabulous blog! It’s so beautifully written, and I LOVE it. She really opens up to us and warms our hearts with her precious memories and sweet thoughts! Those sweet written thoughts carry over into real life too- I’m convinced Jenny is one of the most thoughtful people ever. :) Send your thoughts and prayers and internet HUGS to her as her sweet boy is coming sooooon! XOXO Bell

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