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.
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!
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.
When have you spotted beauty shining from the ashes?
Upcoming Tiny Spark:
Monday, December 31st