Remembrances of Jensen

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remembrance
[ri-mem-bruh ns]
noun
1. a retained mental impression; memory.
2. the act or fact of remembering.
3. the power or faculty of remembering.
4. the length of time over which recollection or memory extends.
5. the state of being remembered; commemoration
6. something that serves to bring to mind or keep in mind some place,person, event, etc.

7. a gift given as a token of love or friendship

We had visions of what this Christmas would look like for us.  But, a piece of our hearts and souls is missing during a time of year that is usually very joyous for us.

Although the grief is more pronounced this time of year, the one saving grace that is getting us through are the little remembrances of Jensen we have encountered every day leading up to Christmas.

Every day I walk by a fully complete, yet completely empty nursery.  I was so proud of this nursery.

Some days I can walk by and be okay; other days the tears fall.  I have thought of keeping the door shut, but in a way that makes me feel as if I am shutting my son out of my life or denying his existence.  To some that may sound crazy, but when you don’t have much of your son left, you want to hold on to any remembrance of him that you can.That is why now when I see his nursery, yes, I always feel sad, but I also feel joy in knowing that he was so loved before he was even here. The nursery is filled with clothes, toys, decor, and baby items that we bought or received as gifts. It comforts me to know that he was so loved by his mommy, daddy, grandparents, and family and friends.

We are one day away from Christmas and because of continued remembrances from others, we are actually making it through.  These acts of kindness touch our heart when we most need it.  I want to share some of these remembrances because they are just absolutely beautiful, kind, generous, and a true testament to the power of kindness.

We received a card in the mail yesterday from my Uncle Terry and Cousin Lori, and they surprised us by gifting us a butterfly garden for Jensen.  Butterflies remind me of Jensen, so this is extra meaningful to us.  I can’t wait for spring and summer to work on this garden.

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Two friends of the family, Kristy and Kelly, hung an ornament up on a remembrance tree at a church.  It warms my heart to know that they thought of us and took the time to remember Jensen.

My sister had planned on hand making a Christmas stocking for Jensen when she found out I was pregnant.  She still went ahead and made him one. It is stunning – the picture doesn’t do it justice.  It took her hours to stitch each piece together; a true labor of love.  When I looked inside the stocking, it contained a printed piece of paper that said she made a donation to a charity in memory of Jensen.  She said she and her Andrew are going to do this every year in memory of Jensen.

We bought a little tree that we will put out each year with the goal of keeping Jensen’s memory alive during Christmas.  The idea is that we will add an ornament to it each year to remember him.  And we will put all of the ornaments we receive from others in memory of Jensen on this tree.  It is our way to keep him close to us during Christmas.

I have met so many new people as we have been making our way through life after loss.  One of them is Liam’s mom, Suzanne.  Her son Liam has Down syndrome, and I enjoy seeing pictures of his handsome little face every day.  Suzanne put a “J” ornament on her own tree to remember Jensen.  We were very touched by this thoughtful act.

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One of my colleagues at work gave me a beautiful card and ornament in remembrance of Jensen.  This was completely unexpected and she happened to give it to me when I was feeling down. Her kindness had the power to change my whole day – just knowing that someone was thinking of us.

This afternoon I just received the most beautiful picture from a woman who is incredibly creative.  I know her by her Instagram name @natureplaynanny.  She makes beautiful art out of nature. She sent the wreath below with Jensen’s name in it.  How beautiful is that!

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This isn’t the first time she has thought of Jensen and made nature art. Here is one other picture of a creation she has sent me in the past.

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We are constantly aware of our son’s absence.  We have to be able to get up and function each day, so we do. We may look to others like we are “moving on”, but in reality there is always a constant sadness in our life.  We are learning how to live with it.  I explain it like this: we have a dark cloud hanging around us that never goes away.  Some days the cloud might be off in the distance and sunlight shines through – some days it will shine longer or brighter than other days – while some days it might not shine through at all.

So each act of kindness can hit us just at the right moment, when we need it the most.  It gives us a little boost to know that others are thinking of us and thinking of Jensen.

My husband had his family over earlier this month for his birthday.  Andy’s dad asked us if we’d like to send off a Chinese lantern in memory of Jensen.  I will always want to honor my son in any way that I can because it keeps his memory alive, so I was on board.  We went outside (in 20 degree weather!) into the park across our street and lit the lantern and sent it off into the night.  It was really beautiful to watch the glowing lantern rise up into and float across the dark sky.

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As I watched the bright lantern floating across the darkness, I couldn’t help but think of all of the opposites in life.  With life, there is death. With love, there is hate.  With kindness, there is cruelty.  And with light, there is darkness.

We need these opposites to teach us.  Without one, we wouldn’t be able to appreciate the beauty of the other.  Death teaches us to appreciate life.  Hate teaches us to appreciate love.  Cruelty teaches us to appreciate kindness.  And the dark teaches us to appreciate the light in your life.

And in those dark times we all experience in life, I truly believe light can shine and make its way out of the darkness.  I have experienced it with all of the kindness and love and support from my friends and family who are remembering Jensen with us this Christmas. We love you all and thank you for thinking of us and Jensen.  It has helped us more than you know.

We wish you all a merry Christmas.

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