Today is Jaelyn’s 12th birthday. As I sit and reflect back over the past twelve years I can’t help but wonder what our life would be like and how different Jaelyn would be if her dad had not died when she was 7. I try not to stay in those thoughts long as it really serves no purpose. I can’t go back and change what happened. What it does do is make me grateful for who Jaelyn has turned into despite the tragedy of losing her dad. I don’t often talk about Jaelyn’s journey over the past four years as that is her story, but I think it is important to see the hope and healing that can come not only to adults but also to a young child experiencing a tragic and life-altering loss.
I remember reading a post about a year ago on a widow/widowers Facebook group about the damage to their child because of the loss of their parent. I know this hit me very wrong in that moment. Neither I nor Jaelyn are defined by the death of Scott and I refuse to allow that to be how we are defined. That is NOT the most important thing to know about me or her.
When I look at Jaelyn I see a caring, compassionate, hard working, happy, and wise beyond her years 12 year old young lady starting that transition to adulthood, who just so happens to have survived great loss in her life. Jaelyn had all of these qualities before her dad’s death, but I believe that her growth spiritually and mentally since his death has only enhanced those qualities. I have seen her make wise choices in the friends she has made that will surround her and influence her going through the crucial years in middle school and high school.
When I look at how far Jaelyn has come in the four years and 2 1/2 months since her dad’s death, it will very quickly bring me to tears - tears of gratitude and thankfulness. She pulled herself into her shell and was comfortable with only a limited number of people. Yet God continued to bring very special people into Jaelyn’s life, who had a great impact on her healing and self-confidence. And she has just blossomed! From not wanting to do or be involved in anything after Scott’s death, and needing gentle pushing and prodding to do what I knew she loved, to now choosing to be involved in guitar lessons, soccer - year round, junior high youth group, Envirothon group and competitions, and Community Service Club; she is definitely coming into her own and defining who she is and what her interests are. I am excited to see what God will continue to do in her life and what an amazing person she will continue to mature into!
Happy 12th birthday Jaelyn!!!!