|Jenna and her family - Summer 2012|
I grew up being sent to a very large Evangelical Christian church. This was before the mega-churches that exist today. Jenna is the younger sister of two of my peers from high school youth group, church, summer camp and High School. She was always very cool. Not in an elite sense but fun and funny and outgoing. She is only a few years younger than I am and is the proud mama of 3 kids today.
Jenna has been fighting pancreatic cancer over the last couple of years. She was treated with a good outcome but the cancer came back with a vengance. I don't know her prognosis but Jenna has publicly shared her struggle on Facebook and via the CaringBridge forum (what a wonderful use of technology).
Jenna is in hospice care and down to approximately 70lbs. 70lbs! A human skeleton - it hardly resembles her. I recognize her by that crazy hair! During Christmas she asked for prayers so she could muster strength to attend Christmas service with her family. She made it! But her end is eminent and her time here on earth is a matter of days, weeks if she's lucky.
Jenna's high school BFF (Tara) started a closed Facebook group called "We Love Jenna". Many people from near, far, past and present have posted comments about their fond memories of Jenna so Jenna has them around her in her final days and moments. It kills me. I'm not close with Jenna nor her family. I know her from my youth as kids and her family as well. Although we aren't tight we go waaaaay back.
I love the idea of using Facebook as a progressive tool so Jenna can read, for herself, the good memories people have of her. It has messed with me. The true destination of "say it to my face". And how lucky WE are for that.
The difficult part for me in all this is accepting the fact that there is no rooting for Jenna. There is no encouraging or hoping for her recovery. She is going to die. Very soon. Her young children are watching their mother emaciate away... slip away on the recliner. This conjures debilitating sadness in me. But Jenna does not feel this way. When newly diagnosed she admits to 5 minutes of sobbing asking "why me". After the tears exhausted, she had a moment of clarity and said "why not me?" I do not like this sentiment but Jenna has a great point. She can do it. I just don't want her to! I'm amazed by her strength, peace and grace. Jenna Mitchell. Mark's and Sarah's little sister, Andrew's big sister. Daughter to Leith. Back in the day, who knew her life would end this way. Jenna, skinny legged and crazy hair.
Each time I check my Facebook messages I'm haunted that I will be informed of her passing. I love and hate Facebook.
I haven't found the right voice for my feelings. I struggle for words to say to Jenna. In this paralysis I feel saying something is better than nothing. So I say it plain: that I'm thinking and praying for she and her family. I suck.
Please remember Jenna in your prayers.