July’s Stunningly Strong Woman: Jen Bass

Trigger Warning: If you have suffered the loss of child this blog post could trigger you. Please allow someone else to read this post first then let them decide if you will be okay reading it. 

I had a dream about you last night.

What was it?

I dreamed that we were standing on the opposite sides of this HUGE canyon. It was deep and dark and you couldn’t see how far down it went. I was saying something to you, but I couldn’t hear what I was saying.

Could I hear you?

I think so, because you were talking to me. Then I noticed that you had this really small tiny glow coming out of your chest.

Oh my gawd?? Was I dead? Were you dead? Were we both dead together??

No, we weren’t dead. I watched this glow seep out of your chest. It was so small but it was really bright. Then, I noticed that you started glowing out of small cracks all over you body.

Did I explode? Because I don’t want to explode.

No. You didn’t explode. You just started glowing from all these little tiny cracks, then this light burst out of your chest.

You said I didn’t die.

You didn’t. Now will you let me finish? The most light, the brightest light, was pouring out of this huge gaping, jagged hole in your chest, and that light illuminated a bridge that spanned the canyon and when I saw it, I was able to hear what I was saying to you.

What were you saying?

I was telling you to keep shining the light on the bridge so the other people behind me could walk to you.

Well, what the heck does that mean?

I have no idea. But I just wanted to tell you my dream. I love you. I’m praying for you.

That conversation took place almost seven years ago. I was the one who had the dream. Jen was the one with all the light pouring out of her chest. I remember that dream so vividly, I also remember being angry with God. “Good job Lord. You gave me a freaking dream about one of my best friends and it means NOTHING to her or me!!!!” I also knew that my frustration, anger and pain were nothing compared to what she was walking through.

“I’m not angry with God, but boy I sure don’t understand Him right now.” Those were the words that she sobbed almost incoherently to me hours after holding her daughter in her arms. Her daughter that would never wear tutus or hair bows, her daughter that would never be walked down the aisle by her daddy on her wedding day, or be picked up for prom or homecoming. I’ve never heard so much pain or grief.

“We have to plan her memorial. The funeral director said not to do a casket. That we wouldn’t want to remember that or have that in our minds, I can’t believe we have to do this.”

“Maybe I shouldn’t have been so worried about us needing a new vehicle because it doesn’t matter.”

“Someone asked me today if they could use Addison’s nursery furniture as a prop!!!! What is wrong with people??”

For days, weeks, months, I listened to Jen grieve for Addison Lucile. Her arms ached at night to hold her baby girl. She fought every morning to get through the day.

As her body adapted and changed like every new mother’s does after giving birth, the absence of her daughter was magnified. Her milk came in but there was no baby to drink it. As her C-section scar healed, her heart continued to bleed. As her body changed back to “before” pregnancy, her life was a different kind of normal.

Anger, rage, disappointment, confusion, all the emotions that accompany tragedy, she walked THROUGH them, but she never battled AGAINST them, she leaned into the pain and did not try to deny it or suppress it.

Jen also grew incredibly angry with God. But, in the same manner that fathers are capable of handling their children’s anger, she knew God could handle hers. Her relationship with the Lord became very raw, very real and incredibly beautiful. She went from a place of religion to a place of relationship. She has the most beautiful example of a Heavenly Father/Earthly Daughter relationship I have ever seen and I have never learned more from one person’s journey with grief than I have learned from Jen.

She embraced everything she felt. She called me if something made her sad or angry. We cried together just sitting on the phone listening to each other sob. I believe with all my heart that Her ability to be so candid about what she was experiencing and continues to experience is what has helped her these last seven years. She’s not afraid of grief, not hers or anyone else’s, and because of that, she is the first person to be there when devastation hits people that she knows.

July 8, is Addison’s birthday, each year on that day, balloons are released to heaven in honor of a beautiful baby girl who waits for her family on the other side of eternity because she is in their future.

Those milestones, the ones that we use to measure life, those are the hardest for Jen. On Addison’s 5th birthday, the year that she would have began kindergarten, a group of 25 people showed up to release balloons and eat ice cream with the Bass family.

She’s told me that time doesn’t heal all wounds it just makes it easier to live with them. You learn to adjust and adapt to a life that is different from what you expected it to be. The pain and loss of Addison is still there and it always will be. People say the first year after a loss is the hardest. Jen says that all the years after a loss are hard; you just have to learn how to embrace the pain and to be okay with continuing to live, to not feel guilty for laughter and smiles and to continue to acknowledge that your broken life is still beautiful.

Healing comes in various ways and in different measures. There is no time frame for grief and it is cruel to demand that someone heal by a certain time and that they cope in certain ways. Moments, that’s how healing has come to Jen. Small moments, tiny moments, significant moments, just a bunch of moments that have slowly put pieces of her heart back together.

A significant moment of healing came in 2016. It was the first day of school and Addison would have started kindergarten. Jen is the Chaplin for her children’s school and that year, as she did the first chapel that Addison should have been a part of, She told me “I was feeling so down and sad and even cheated that she wasn’t there. But as I stood in front of those kids I thought to myself I AM NOT going to let this pain win. That week I was able to pray over all the students from kindergartener to seniors. It didn’t take the pain away, but it definitely was redirected and I gave the devil a black eye.”

Seven years later, that dream makes complete sense. All that light pouring out of all the brokenness that Jen has endured is lighting the way for others to cross that chasm of tragedy and grief, allowing them to walk towards someone who can hold them and simply say “I know. I know.”

What sums up Jen’s stunningly strong story?

“Sometimes all you can do is hold on because the things you go through, someday, you will be able use them to help other people.”

Gena’s PS: Jen is the absolute strongest woman I know. She has endured the most awful tragedy and she has continued to live and not just live but thrive. Her and her husband have had a rainbow baby, Joe, since Addison’s death. Joe Bear as we call him has been on his own health journey since he was born, battling with food allergies and eczema. Currently he’s in light therapy as treatment and Jen has started a blog that allows others to follow his story. I encourage you to follow her blog at

https://mywhy6.blogspot.com/2018/06/set-back.html?spref=fb&m=1

xoxo

Gena

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