I was born in a mid-size border town to "goodly parents" and had a normal childhood where I roasted pecans on campfires in alfalfa fields with my sisters and drove a '61 VW bug as a teenager. That was in '87, so it wasn't that cool. When I was 18, I met and married a United States soldier and became a mother at 19. I was shocked, completely shocked, at how much time it took to care for a baby. It literally took every. waking. minute. of my life, and things were never to be the same. That being said, I loved being a mom, so I had another baby 2.5 years later, then, as we moved from place to place as per Uncle Sam's request, I had four more babies over the next 9 years totaling six altogether.
My first love and I had more good times than bad during our marriage, but tragedy struck in November of 2004. If you don't want to be momentarily depressed at this space in time, you may want to skip this part and move on to the line of asterisks below...... Okay, you're still with me, so let's continue. Due to a series of heart-wrenching events, my husband and best friend of 16 years left the house in the middle of one cold autumn night, while I slept in our bed, and committed suicide. When I, personally, read of tragedies that have struck others in the blogging community, I have a morbid curiosity to know how the tragedy occurred. I try to go back to their archives to the date of the occurrence to try to find more information, and it's very time consuming and I usually don't find out anything. I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who does that. So....I'm going to tell you... right here... how it happened, to save you the trouble of looking through my archives.
He did it for a particular reason, leaving 18 pages of love-filled writings trying to explain it to us. I can't tell you why, for that's his story, not mine. He gassed himself with carbon monoxide in the cab of his red pick-up. I'm the one who found him, and he looked like he was sleeping peacefully. But it wasn't peaceful for me. After I lifted and jerked his 180-pound body out of the truck with one hand, recovered from kneeling on the pavement with him on my lap and screaming "no" and "help" and his name, I administered CPR for 15 minutes, until the EMTs arrived, but it was far too late. I then had the task of telling my six children, ages 2 through 15, and his dad, and his mom. That was probably the hardest thing I have ever done in my life... telling his mom.
Of course, we received professional counseling, me on a weekly basis, and the kids via what is called "coached counseling", where I would speak to my therapist about any issues with the kids and he would coach me on how to resolve them and help the kids work through it. I don't know how well that worked. The kids never talk about it, although I try to gently bring it up, without forcing it, but they remain largely quiet. I don't really know how they've dealt with the whole thing, and that scares me. I still have forgiveness issues. I'm Christian, and I know I'm supposed to forgive 7 x 70, but I don't think I have been able to completely forgive this one thing. I regularly have nightmares about it and I don't know when all that'll end.
My sessions with my therapist ended when I began to fall in love with him, told him that I needed therapy for the fact that I had fallen in love with him, then began to feel awkward and was tired of forking out my entire savings for the sessions anyway. Don't get me wrong, it was probably one of the best ways I have EVER spent my money, but like all good things, it was time for it to come to an end. I learned so much about how to resolve and deal with the issues I was facing, and it turned out that I had a few other problems, completely unrelated to my husband's suicide, that needed to be worked on.... like the fact that I
After losing my husband, I thought I would be alone for decades to come. What man in his right mind would want to be with a woman with 6 kids and the kind of baggage I was dealing with. Even if there was someone out there with that level of insanity, I wouldn't even look until one year after the death of my husband. I would find a nice Mormon singles group and make friends and maybe meet someone I could spend time with.
God had other plans. Two and a half weeks after losing my husband, I was asked to speak to the adult members of the Mormon church in our region, scheduled for one month away, about how my faith sustains me. I agreed to do it, but knew I couldn't give an effective talk unless I spoke of what I had just been through. I posted that talk a few weeks ago, and if you would like to read it, it's HERE.
In the audience that Saturday evening was a man named John. The next day at Sunday services he came up to me where I was seated with my mom and six kids, knelt down on one knee in front of me and told me how my talk had inspired him, and how he thought that he was having problems, but now knew that there were others with much bigger ones. I politely thanked him, saying that all I had hoped to do by giving my talk was to inspire someone, then turned back to my children, assuming he was a married man and that further talk would be inappropriate. At this point, he continued to speak with my mother, and when he left, she said, "Jen, he's from _______ (the Mexican town where her mother grew up and where she spent her summers) and he's single!
"Yes, Mother, and he's old!" I replied. To me, he appeared as though he was in his early 60's and I was only 34. "Besides, I've only been a widow for 7 weeks. It's much too early."
As the weeks wore on, and I learned how to cope as a widow, knowing that this was much more than the year-long deployment I had faced when my first husband was stationed in Korea, I began to plan my future. I would most likely be single for years to come, and if that were the case, I was going to make the best of it. We 7 were going to travel all summer and I would do puzzles. I don't know why, because I wasn't a big puzzle person, but at this time, I decided that I would do puzzles. I planned our vacations and I bought my first puzzle, a butterfly mosaic, and stayed up late into each night working on it, listening to Chopin or Dave Matthews or Handel's Messiah or David Gray.
During this time, I quietly observed John. I noticed that one week in church he would sit by a lady close to his age, but the next week they would sit on opposite ends of the chapel. This confused me, but I didn't give it much thought. Five months after my husband had died, my mother began to mention John again and how he was a faithful choir member and that he even teared up while singing some of the numbers. In subsequent talks she would say that he wears loafers, so that makes him trendy and asked if I'd seen his teeth, because they were amazing. I rolled my eyes, but agreed that I would start attending choir practice to scope him out. Before I got too serious, however, I had to find out his age, and upon further investigation, I discovered that he was only 49. He has been going through a difficult time, and I think that had made him look older initially.
To make a very long story short, I was impressed enough by him at choir practice to muster up the courage to ask him out. I didn't do so without first seeking the Lord's guidance, however, and I received as strong an impression as I've ever felt that, indeed, I was to initiate a relationship with this John.
Longer story shorter, I asked him out and we were married 8 weeks later. The kids liked him, and one even asked if he could be our dad when we had only dated for six days, so I knew I was in a win/win situation. I had only finished one puzzle.
After several months of being married, having traveled down to his home town in Mexico several times, we began to feel the pull to move there. We talked to the kids, fasted and prayed, and received confirmation that that was what we were to do. We started the construction of our home soon thereafter, as per THESE posts, then several months later I gave birth to our first child together, my first and only flax-haired little boy. We moved to Mexico a year later, expecting another baby by this time, and moved into the tiny mother-in-law's quarters of our unfinished home, a space that was designed for two. We were eight, as our oldest had already left for college.
During this time I was suffering through early pregnancy, as I am right now, as I write this, but I felt exceptionally fatigued. I chalked it up to the move, my age, the altitude, anything to try to find a reason why I was feeling this bad. Then it came... one of the happiest days of my life. During each of my previous seven pregnancies I had begged and pleaded and prayed for this, but was always left slightly disappointed. Fourteen and a half weeks into my pregnancy, at my first prenatal visit, I learned I was carrying twins!
The twins are now 18-months old, and while the first year was grueling and exhausting, it was wonderful and amazing and I wouldn't trade it for anything! Twin A is the strong, silent type, loves books and watching his brother try things to see what the result will be before he jumps in. Twin B is our rough and tumble boy, who usually can be distinguished from his brother by his ready smile and various bruises on his face from daily experimentation with physics and gravity. Our other children are...
-the 20-year-old girl, who lives on her own, and rock-climbs, and calls me almost everyday on her way home from working with special needs adults;
-the 17-year-old boy, who plays football and puts up with a lot of hormonal issues from me;
-the 14-year-old girl, who sings and writes music and sews and cooks and is my equal when it comes to homemaking skills;
-the 12-year-old boy, who does weird things like earn and save $130 to purchase a light saber online;
-the 9-year-old boy, who, 4.5 years ago, asked if John would be his father;
-the 7-year-old girl, who loves all things pink and girly and holds the babies almost as much as I do;
-and the 3-year-old boy, who has an amazing mind, probably a genius, and will hopefully use his powers for good one day. Not that he doesn't now... he's hysterical, but he wreaks havoc where ever he turns. He's still super-cute.
So that's me and my family, in a nutshell. Perhaps more than you wanted to know, but if you're still reading, I guess it wasn't boring enough for you to move on to the next blog. Thanks for listening.
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