This is a very different post tonight. About 15 minutes ago I learned that my dear friend, Jenny, has been diagnosed with breast cancer. My heart is so heavy and I'm too tired to bake, so I'm doing the only other thing I know how to do when I have a heavy heart- write.
I want to tell you about how I met my amazing friend. I was a Resident Assistant in Hudson Hall at Northwest Missouri State University. The most adorable, lanky, blonde young lady with a dimple-filled smile moved into the room next to mine. As she began decorating her room, I noticed that we had lots of things in common. She was Catholic, she had lots of arts and craft supplies, she wore a really cool Egyptian cartouche necklace, and she loved the movie 'The Jerk'. I instantly knew that this young woman was going to be a fast friend of mine. She finished her side of the room and then began to decorate the outside of her door. She hung the most AMAZING picture this only child had ever seen. It was a very contented looking woman surrounded by a sea of blonde children- EIGHT of them. This was a picture that had been in the Omaha World Herald on Mother's Day. I had never known anyone who was a member of a family with EIGHT children. I was instantly in awe and we forged a fast friendship as she told me all about her siblings. I still, on nights when I can't sleep, try to recite all of the names of the Reynolds siblings!
The year wore on and Jenny and I noticed that we also had a love for music and she introduced me to what has become one of my very favorite groups, the Indigo Girls. We sang many duets to the song, "Language or the Kiss" as well as just about every other song on the Swamp Ophelia album. I cannot even count the number of laughs, tears, and songfests in the hallway that were had that year. It was magical. Jenny continued on and went on to be an RA in my husband, Matt's, residence hall and her decoration of her floor was flawless! While Jenny was at northwest, Steven, Angie, and Anna were born! Jenny was now the oldest of ELEVEN!!! My awe continued!!
Jenny's was the only wedding I've actually missed. I mean COMPLETELY missed. Matt and I headed to Omaha on a Saturday morning, spent the day with my mom, gave her our baby, and were headed to the wedding. I couldn't remember the time, so I gave Jenny's mom a call and asked what time the wedding started. I'll never forget the heartbreak in her voice as she said, "Oh, Jill. Bless your heart. The wedding was last night!" AAAACCKKK! I was devastated and teary and what did Jenny and Tim do? They took time out of their busy family wedding weekend and came to the hotel to see US! That's just he kind of person Jenny is. Always putting herself above others.
She is now an amazing wife to Tim, and a model of mothering to Kate, Josh, and Andrew. She is still her incredible self, singing in her church choir, working to live her life to glorify her god, and being an amazing oldest child for her now very, very large immediate family. She is truly one of the very best people I know, and someone who I wish I were more like every day.
My heart is breaking, not because I don't have every faith in the world that Jenny will persevere, survive, and emerge an even better image of herself. My heart is breaking because this beautiful soul is going to feel pain and suffering. The thought of my dear friend going through this kind of pain is almost more than I can bear. I know Jenny, though, and I know she will be a warrior like no other. I am not one to believe that God makes choices to 'do' bad things to people or to 'make' bad things happen. I believe in a kind and gentle God and believe that my faith is that God will sit with me in the times in which I cannot bear to go on. I believe that prayers for wisdom for doctors, strength for Jenny's family, and a never-ending prayer chain of faith and love can raise the strength and spirit of Jenny's body. I know that God doesn't cure disease, but he does provide the grace and wisdom of doctors. That's what I will be praying for, unceasingly, from now until Jenny is completely cured. I would ask that you, if you are inclined to believe in a higher being of any kind, pray for Jenny, Tim, their children, and ALL of those Reynolds siblings that they may be strengthened and find love and laughter in this fearful time.
Tonight I will dry my tears, and know that Jenny has undoubtedly already found the silver lining in this ominous cloud. All I know is that if cupcakes could cure Cancer, I'd bake, and bake, and bake.
Thanks for your prayers,