Never Forget.

Never forget. JRC [7.01.11]

One year ago today, I was hostessing at the same restaurant I work at now. It was a normal shift, no crazy customers or big events. My boyfriend and his friend had come to see me, but were eating outside so when things got slow, I’d sneak out to say hey. All of the sudden, I received a cryptic text from a friend “Did you hear about the Cernutos?” I said no, but didn’t get a text back. I didn’t think much of it and kept working. Then Paul came in and told me that they had been in an accident. Honestly, I didn’t think much of that either. They are smart, strong girls. I had roomed with the twins in Peru a little over a month before that. Just weeks before we had graduated together. Nothing could hurt them. So I said a prayer, and kept going. A bit later Paul walks in, stone faced. I knew he was worried about the accident since their families were close, but like I said, nothing could touch those girls.

I hadn’t even made it back to the hostess stand when Paul approached me. All he said was, “Jenny’s dead”. I couldn’t even process it. Jen was going places, more places than I could ever go. She was outgoing, funny, and incredibly motivated. There was no way God would take her away from her huge group of friends and family. That was the day I gained immense respect for my manager. I walked up to him, stuttering as I explained that two girls from my class had gotten into an accident and they thought one had died. Before I could finish my sentence, he said “just go”. I wasn’t close with Jen by any means. But graduating in a class of 52, you knew everything about everyone. I had roomed with her in Peru. Her dad was one of the kindest men I’d ever met. Their family didn’t deserve this.

What happened that next week was just a whirlwind. From work, I went and picked up Rae and my mom drove us to the hospital to meet Paul and the others. I will never forget the faces of my former classmates. All of us in complete shock. I almost expected Jen to just walk into the room and laugh like it was all a joke. But it wasn’t. The prayer meeting, the viewing, the funeral, the scene at the graveyard. Everything just flew by. I kept thinking that at the next event, it would sink in. One year later, it still hasn’t. I still get on Facebook expecting to see Jen’s pictures of her friends and her on the lake, living the good life. But that’s never what I find.

Her family continues to amaze me. They threw a going away party for our entire graduating class before we left for college. At that party, they gave us all pink roses in honor of Jennifer Rose. I love that idea. A little reminder of her in all of our yards, so we never forget. They sent us Christmas cards updating us on their lives. They created a scholarship for graduates from my school in Jen’s honor. Every time I hear something new about their family, my jaw drops in awe. They amaze me.

Basically, through Jen’s death I’ve learned a lot about myself and others. I’ve learned life is shorter than we could ever guess. I’ve learned that simple kindness and genuine concern about others leaves a lasting footprint on their lives. I’ve learned that even in the worst situations, God will prevail and create goodness out of it if you allow him. I’ve learned that you need to make every moment count.

Lesson for the Day: Don’t take anything or anyone for granted. You never know when everything will end.

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