Written by Kathi Stringer
The following is a true story about my friend Jerry. It has been several years now since this fateful day. I saw him just the other day and he speaks of Dalton and how Jenny would have been so proud of him.
It's raining out here in southern California tonight.
It does seem right. a friend of mine called me today. he told me that his wife died this last
Sunday. She was only 22 years old. She checked in the hospital to have their first
baby, but she never checked out. She never recovered from complications due to the
pregnancy and birth. He ask me if he could have her service at Dancetime (it's a place that
Cristina and I have where people dance and meet for good times). He reminded me why....
"You know, Jennifer and I met at Dancetime, then after a time we got married there too. So I know that she would have wanted it that way, her service at Dancetime with all her loving friends."
You see, Jerry and Jennifer came to dance a lot. They made friends and started a relationship the led to marriage. She was small with a smile that would brighten your life. She loved Jerry so much and followed him everywhere. When she married jerry at Dancetime, she called me almost everyday making sure that everything was just right. She did worry about things. Jennifer chose Dancetime because she wanted all their friends around her. That is why Jerry wanted her service there too.
I feel so sad for him right now. Very sad for the new little baby. His mommy should be holding him right now. They should be a family. He was crying so much over the phone and I cried with him. The whole thing is so sad.
A few words for Jennifer and Jerry...
Pain and despair
in his eyes,
As he leans over to kiss her
one last time.
Good-bye my darling,
I'll always love you.
I hope that you are happy
wherever you are.
And all the years
that we shared.....
God, it hurts so much,
I still care.
I'll stay here a little longer
and hold you tight.
How can I leave you,
It just doesn't seem right.
I must go....
They say you are an angel,
so I am told.
Spread your wings,
and fly your way.
my thoughts are with you everyday.
Then gathering his courage,
he turned to leave,
Leaving his lady
somehow he knows,
That his best friend
found her way back home.
.......a few days later....her service....
The weather was serene. A certain coolness in the air. Trees with different shades of foliage and the still crisp air. The creek cheerfully sounding it's watery notes. There sat Dancetime among all the glorious African daisies. Only a few days ago they bloomed for the first time. This picture is graced in the national forest enjoying the peace that surrounds it.
Soon the autos appeared down the well traveled dirt road. They entered one by one. The people emerging from them were filled with mixed emotions. All came to bring their last respects to Jennifer and support Jerry and his newborn son, Dalton. Dressed in their best country western clothes, there must have been several hundred of them.
I had in my hand a large folded paper. On the front is a picture of Jennifer, she is gorgeous. Often called a little Barbie doll, with her small frame and beautiful features. Her smile is relaxed and sincere. On the inside it states:
In memory of Jennifer services will be held at Dancetime hall,
Sunday March 17, 1996 at 3:00 PM. Tribute will be given by
planting a tree and setting off balloons in her honor. Jenny's
friends and family are welcome to speak and express their
feelings in her memory.
That is pretty much what happened. When everyone was seated, one by one they came forward to speak of Jenny. Each one had a friend next to them to give them courage when they started to falter with tears. Then Jerry, the love of Jenny's life spoke. There was a hush. Such pain and despair, his voice breaking up, oh, he loved her so much. Stopping to catch him self and then continue. He talked about his young wife of 23. How much she wanted this baby. About all the things that made Jenny so special....
"I met jenny here on this dance floor, and I got married to her on this dance floor and
I....<tears> watching that strong young man struggling to keep going, from collapsing in grief, brought tears to our eyes.
The white helium balloons each had the jenny's name on them. We were all invited to take part in a loving tribute in releasing the symbolic tokens of our love for her. Gathering in the lot in a state of respect, we waited. Then after a few words in a loud clear voice, Jerry said, "Let'm go". Like a message sent from our souls the balloons sailed into the soft blue sky. They were on there way to jenny to let her know how much we love and miss her. Two of the balloons were tied as one carrying a note from Jerry and baby Dalton to mommy Jenny. Soon they were beyond sight into the heavens. Our message was clear.
Then the silent tree of remembrance. It was ever so much larger then jenny was. Perhaps, still much smaller then our memories of her. It was contained in a large wooden box. In a place for quiet thoughts the handsome young cowboys in there jeans and colorful denim western shirts began. with busy shovels the fresh dirt flew aside. Those boys working together with respect and dedication making ready Jennifer's silent tree. Jerry walked over and motion one to step aside and he joined their efforts. Now the shovel pierced the bands surrounding the box. The wooden sides fell flat. In a team-lift the tree went into place. Soon water filtered down to it's roots. They had done it. As a labor of love. Wishing to give so much more at only sign. Those young men were looking out for Jerry, friendship ran deep within the grain of their upbringing. Jerry, holding baby Dalton dedicated the tree in her memory, stating, "A new life goes on". Jerry then invited all to come here as a special place for Jenny. "She loved this place," he said. This tree belongs with some of her best memories.
Later I left. I feel so much for Jerry. There will be nights when he will wake up looking for Jennifer. Then reality will set in. She is not there beside him, only in memory. In the months to come the emotions are sure to overwhelm him, but we will always be there to support, love and understand best we can.