Three decades ago, in 1999, I flew off on an adventure to California. I had taken a job based in LA for a year.
Josh took me to the Springfield airport, we hugged, kissed and said goodbye. It was sad and exciting. Of course, as soon as the plane backed away and I could no longer see Josh, I cried. (This was long ago when you could still see your loved one waving at you from the gate.)
That year was a tough goodbye and an interesting year of traveling the US. Ultimately, it was a pivotal point in our relationship. During our time apart our relationship deepen, we learned to communicate better and grew in our individual relationships with God. When I came back, I knew for sure I wanted to marry Josh.
Since then, we’ve shared in many adventures together, spent many hours in airports. We became really efficient at packing and airport security. Walking through the line today, I missed my travel buddy. And for the first time in 30 years, my eyes filled with tears as the plane hit the air. I missed the fact that Josh wasn’t with me and he also wasn’t at home waiting to pick me up after this solo adventure.
I know Josh wouldn’t be surprise that my adventuresome spirit lives on and that I am actually going to California for this decade change. But I hate that he is not on this trip too.
Looking out on the horizon, I can’t help but ask the question of myself, “If I could have seen what would have happen in 2019 back in 1999, would I have changed anything?”
Here and now I say, “Of course not!” Despite the heartache of 2019, I have loved our time together, our adventures, trips to and from the west coast around the world and more. 2019 has also been a beautiful year of friendship, community and encouragement in the midst of a lot of hard.
I am sad today as I continue to accept the fact that our (Josh & Jenn) adventures together on earth are over. Focusing my vision on 2020 I cling to hope because I have more to do, to see as #jennbrownadventures continue in a new way.
Here’s to 2020!!
A year that I expect will be both sad and maybe even a little exciting.
Below are just a few highlights from 2019.
Today marks three months since my beloved husband passed away. At the three-month mark, I am teetering on the edge of many feelings, I still at times feel the shock. Did this really happen? How? But mostly, I just miss him being part of my daily life and conversations.
The most common question today is, “Did you have a good Christmas?” I could say, “No” but that isn’t completely true. Yes, there were hard moments but also several good ones too. So, rather than explaining it all, I typically just answer, “Yes” or “It was okay.”
Christmas without Josh was okay - not my favorite. I felt better once the official holidays and various parties were over. Being surrounded with family and friends made a huge difference but there was still a new style of heaviness with this holiday season.
Also today, I am turning my gaze ahead to 2020 — not to just a new year but a new decade! Life sure feels different going into this year. Surprisingly, New Year’s celebrations don’t feel as daunting.
I know that the simple change from 19 to 20 won’t erase my heartache but the new year does offer a new kind of hope. Hope that new opportunities will appear. Opportunities to encourage others through my story, to explore and adventure onward and to keep wrestling out my faith and trust God in this next chapter.
The best words I have to describe my feelings when thinking forward is, “This could be interesting. Hard. But interesting.”
So with permission to look back and remember all that was 2019 and equal permission to hope for 2020, I continue on. I grieve onward.
I miss Josh and give thanks for our time together in 2019 and prior.
Christmas 2019 Debrief
Does a beautiful day, filled with great weather, moments, memories and thoughtful gifts always feel beautiful? No.
I wanted so much to enjoy every moment possible but also felt like a rain cloud was over my head all day (or past few) or like I was carrying around a big heavy brick. I laughed, smiled and loved spending time with my brother-in-laws family, my niece and nephews, my dad and stepmom.
I even carried on our tradition of watching LOTR this time with with a new viewing audience consisting mostly of my niece - who said she enjoyed it - yea!!
We worked together to make a special new meal (some Bobby Flay tacos). I imagined that this might be a recipe Josh might have picked for this year. His version would have been more elaborate but ours was good and enjoyed by all!
As I tried to cling to some traditions, the whole experience of Christmas and Christmas Eve was different this year. I knew it would be. Even if I did the same things at home, it would be different. Both variations sad. Once again it’s a continual mix of joy and sorrow.
At various moments, I felt disappointed in myself for not being able to fully enjoy all the great moments in the day. I wondered if I talked too about Josh or not enough. Was I making the day more sad for others? The insecurities that often tack on to grief make days like Christmas an even bigger challenge.
Even if I take up the motto of “you be you” I still am stumped at times of what that looks like, feels like, etc.
So at the end of this tiring Christmas that stretched me in my own grief process a bit more, I can stay Merry Christmas and I am glad this specific day, December 25, 2019 is over in many ways. However, I am also glad for the beautiful memories that God allowed me to experience on this specific day. For the joy that can still be found in seasons of heartache.
“But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people;”
Luke 2:10 NASB
I was caught by the words of a Christmas song today which seemed to have new meaning in this season.
The root song: The First Noel, which has always been my favorite carol. In this modern rendition, additional lyrics in the bridge had me thinking heavenward. (Full song below)
HEAVEN AND EARTH
WILL JOIN IN THE SONG
TO WORSHIP THE KING OF KINGS
Singing these lyrics, I couldn’t help but think about the people in heaven I love dearly also singing along in worship. It was a pause-worthy moment as I pictured heaven and earth joining together to not merely sing, but to worship our King. People and angels gathered to worship the same God from very different locations. Praising the King who came, and the reason we celebrate Christmas.
On a day when I couldn’t help but deeply feel Josh’s absence, God reminded me of the big picture of our story — with the our not being just Josh and I, but God and I.
And the community of heaven and earth joining together like the most beautiful Christmas gathering ever.
Bonus photos of travels and my friends who took a friend’s photos with me too!
View Full service church service here:
Have you ever asked Siri to do something for you while driving? To call someone, play a song, etc. and it isn’t even remotely correct. This happened to me recently when I wanted to hear one of Josh’s favorite Christmas songs.
Me: "Siri, play, Christmas Must Be Tonight by the Band.”
Siri: "Ok. Now playing, Turn Out the Light and Love Me Tonight by Don Williams.”
Yeah, so, there are only two words in the song titles that are the same. The scenario, in many ways, seemed to symbolize of my life this year, where I hoped for a different outcome than what happened.
But since I was already there, I thought, “Why not listen to this song and see what it is.” Maybe, it’s my country roots or going to Branson too much as a kid, but I found myself easily singing along with this love song about cuddling up with someone.
The first few line started with feelings I can relate to now,
“I've been lonesome, I've been empty, I got an achin,’ way down inside . . .”
Quickly, the lyrics turned to sappy and sweet as the artist sang about what it would be like to have someone to cozy up with. Surprisingly, I wasn’t a mess of tears but the song made me want to encourage so many of you out there who do have someone to cozy up with this season – to remind you to not miss the chance.
Not in an effort to use my story to guilt you into loving your spouse or loved one more, but rather to remind you to not take your relationships for granted. Each moment is special and God-given. Each relationship is special and God-given.
Josh and I had a wonderful relationship because we made time to talk, share and be intentional. We spent many nights hibernating together with the lights down low, listening to music, watching TV and talking. These memories are so special and greater to or equal than some of our best nights out.
Your marriage and relationships are important too and being intentional about the simplest things will make your relationships stronger.
My challenge for you this season and as you head into 2020, is to make time for a quiet evening together. If it’s been a while since you just snuggled up and relaxed together, make time for just you two. Take a break from the busy noise around you and relax and love each other. In the words of Don Williams:
“Turn off the T.V.
Put on some music
Pull down the shade
Turn out the light
And love me tonight
Don't think about tomorrow
It don't matter any more
We can turn the key
And lock the world outside the door.”
Side bar: If you hibernate too often, maybe it’s time to change it up and plan a nice night out to your favorite restaurant or a new one! And if you are local and need a free baby sitter, call me, I'd love to help you invest into your relationship.
Enjoy the songs below:
Today, for the first time in a long while, I was the one having a short medical procedure to try and better understand some issues with my throat and stomach - I would guess stress related but I'm not a doctor. Anyway, things went well but as I went back to get ready it felt so strange to be the one in the hospital bed and to know that Josh wouldn't be out there waiting on me. I wouldn't wake up to see him. And that, I needed another person to list as an emergency contact. (Shout-out to my amazing friend Alicia, who drove hours to be with me and be that person for today.)
With my mind so packed with thoughts and feelings in this season, I often wonder what's happening in my subconscious. Today, I found out that when in a drowsy stupor, I think about birds and dinosaurs - velociraptors to be exact. I, of course, don't remember talking about any of this but it was apparently entertaining.
Going in I was worried about what I would say. Would I wake up sad or ask about Josh? That could tricky if so? Thankfully, it was more lighthearted.
Even as my somewhat drowsy day wore on, my sorrow a tad blurred, I still wished Josh could have been the one in the room checking on me, hugging me and laughing at my bird dialogue. Yet I am still thankful for friends to fill in these gaps in life as I continue on.
Having to come up with emergency contacts means leaning on friends and family in new, unexpected ways. This is yet another part of the grieving on process that I experienced today - for the first time.
I am so thankful for friends and family who are walking this process with me in many new ways.
Hi! It's Jenn Brown, writing my story that is now slightly different as we enter a season of new grief. On September 30, 2019, my dear husband Josh passed away after battling brain cancer.