Sunday, March 23, 2008

being jeni

One of the really odd and wonderful things that blogging has brought to my life is the connection I have established with people who live hundreds or even thousands of miles from me...some of them live on the other side of the world. One of these connections has been with a woman in Australia who is suffering from stage four colon cancer. Jeni is a single mom struggling with dignity and passion though issues that are beyond my ability to imagine. A group of women, including my friend Bella, have gotten together to raise money for her care by hosting an auction on ebay. You can read more about it here. I hope you'll consider participating in some way.

Jeni asked a question that's been on my mind ever since I heard it. She asked anyone reading her blog to consider writing a piece detailing what they would do if they only had one year to live. (Jeni has been told that, in all likelihood, she has less time than this.) I've read many of the responses that were posted in the weeks that followed, and I've been holding this question close to my heart. The truth is, I don't think it's a question that anyone can really answer until it's real. I have no idea what I would do or think or feel if I knew that my time was so limited.

I do, however, know what I would hope for. I would hope that I would shed every bit of non-essential baggage in my life so that what remains is simple and good. I would hope that love would be the motivator behind every decision and movement in my days. I would hope that I would be fearlessly devoted to the things that are important to me and that I would find the courage to be exactly where I am. I would hope that I would listen with sensitivity to God and to the people who are close to me, and I would want to choose my words so that they would leave behind a wake of blessing and hope. So what prevents me from doing all of that right now, apart from a death sentence? Nothing, really.

In this moment I want to have the courage to be Jeni, holding all of my love in the palms of my open hands. I am speaking a blessing to anyone who is reading these words. Thank you for your presence here, and for listening to this little story. I hope you will be Jeni too for a moment, maybe long enough to correct the course of your life just a tiny bit in the direction of goodness and love.


  1. Terri
    What am i doing blogging at 3am? Because i can't seem to pop in a good movie?? Now why is that?
    Off of that now. Terri this blog is such a reflection of who you are. I don't always have mushy words to pour out on these blogs. I can't say some things just to say them i have to feel something first.
    I hear such a brokenness in your voice here that it leaves me broken too. I challenged myself in one of my blogs by asking God or really maybe myself if I had the ability to see a spray of color in someones heart when i am too color blind to see anything but black and white.

    I see all kinds of colors here. I will not pretend to know what God is doing in your life but i will say this........i could smell the fresh fragrance of oil that has been spilled out on the feet of Jesus. Something of you has been poured out and something of Him has been poured in. I smell that sweet scent from here.

  2. T,

    Thanks for sharing Jeni's story. What a beautiful woman she is.

    A woman I know has been given 2 weeks to live...she is dying from ovarian cancer. The family asked that I come and do a photo-shoot with them this last Saturday as they celebrate her last days. Peering through my lens I couldn't help wonder...when it comes to the last days...what really matters? What I saw through my lens looking at this woman was peace, love and family.

    Perspective is a great thing.

  3. Terri, this is beautifully done. I had a similar reaction to you when I read the question before you answered it--I have no idea what I'd do, but I hope I'd do it with my whole heart, out of love and from the center of me.

    Love you, big sis.

  4. preach it baby!

    i didn't know i married a preacher cause that's definitely sermon material.

    and i don't mean preachy. i mean it in the best way possible . . .

  5. all you have to do today is....

    do you know....?....

    love yourself. xx

  6. I think you are right Dave, Terri may be a preacher. Huh Terri?

  7. Thanks for spreading the word here.
    And thank-you for sharing so honesty, your own hopes.
    It moves me and inspires me.
    Love to you.

  8. Maybe a prophet huh Terri? Bargain with God on that one Terri. Tell Him you will be His prophet if He gives you the ability to call fire down from Heaven, no worries if you can't find a target in Minnesota i have a few people in Tn. that we could sizzle. A holy BBQ.

    On second thought you may be too merciful. I should ask God about calling fire down from Heaven myself. I'm jus sayin' if you see smoke rising........hmmmm. Don't be alarmed Terri Jesus knows i need to get saved.

    After reading the bible i see why God changed His mind about giving a human the ability to torch people.
    I would be a cussing prophet Terri destined to carry my tongue in a pickle jar. I would be preaching a fire and brimstone message in sign language. Is it just me, or are you suspicious that it might lose its impact?
    Oh Israel thus saith the Lord.........and flip em the bird!

  9. Terri- thank you so much for sharing about Jeni. It is amazing the love you can feel in an instant when you hardly know someone. I will be praying that each day she has will be fuller than all the days she has had so far...

  10. oh terri . . . wow. what a huge knowledge jeni must be carrying inside herself. i cannot imagine carrying that kind of knowledge. i cannot imagine feeling like my body had betrayed me. i cannot imagine counting down my last days.

    i'm with you and sarah: i have no idea what i would do. but i love that you've carried this close to your heart for many days. i love that you've shared what you hope you would do.

    love to you, girl. miss you.

  11. tammy: thank you for seeing those colors and loving them. thanks for smelling that oil and knowing that it is a far-away scent from God. bless you dear. as for the rest of your silly crack me up.

    marcia: i thought about that woman as i was writing this. it's unimaginable, isn't it? and to look through your lens and find it there...thanks for the courage to give that kind of gift.

    sarah: love you too.

    dave: i know what you mean. and i'm preaching to myself.

    linni: yes, yes. love you too.

    bella: it's an honor. truly.

    julie: she certainly welcomes the prayers. it is odd to feel so connected to someone that you have never spoken to.

    christianne: thanks for entering in. i think it's a good question to ask, even if we can't really know the answer. it's ultimately a question about living, not dying. miss you too. hope you're finding everything you're looking for.

  12. wow momma... this is heavy stuff... i'm gonna have to think about this one for a while... hearing something like this makes all the problems in my life seem so small. thank you for sharing this. i'll be praying for jeni.

  13. thank you terri...
    as you so beautifully put it, this needs to be taken in and held close for awhile in thought and prayer until the emotions settle in enough to clear a way for saying or doing something remotely helpful of the lemon scented reality of jeni and jack...for now there are just too few words.

  14. I had the same reaction when I read her assignment - that I can't actually imagine what it feels like.

  15. Dear Terri, thank you so much, this is beautiful. I appreciate your support and friendship so much. Take care Jen B. xxx

  16. danny: yes, it is heavy and it does put things into perspective. that's a good thing. take your time honey.

    di: i took me a long time to form any words about this too. bless you for entering in to the point where words leave you.

    mary ann: thanks for popping in on me here. i've seen you over at bella's and read your interview...and i know jeni's been on your mind and heart too. bless you.

    jen: oh my. i'm so happy to have you here. i hope all of these little gestures encourage you and make your load somewhat easier to carry. peace my friend. and much love.

  17. One of the other blessings that Jeni brings - the connections we might not have come to make but for her. I'm so glad you found your way to my blog, so thankful for your kind comment, so grateful for the blessing you offer here. Thank you.

  18. Great thoughts Terri - and a great reminder to really think about what matters -- as we live each day. I also love the odd yet cool way that blogging connects people all over the world --- I so appreciate knowing you through both your blog and our common love of Tess E. and Jen H.


  19. imelda: so good to make your acquaintance. your blog is so beautiful...i felt an immediate kinship with you. you're welcome here. yes, jeni is blessing so many of us.

    tara: yeah...especially in our case it strikes me as odd that we are from the same place and you were here for so long before you returned to haiti, but we only connected via the blogs. it will be interesting to connect in the real world when you come home. take care of our darlings and yours too.

  20. Hey Terri
    Go check out Sarah's blog there is a song there for ya. Ha Ha

  21. Terri,
    wow. i can't really think about it for too long or I'll lose it. I wish I could ask my mother what she thought about when she knew she was dying. She couldn't talk the last couple of weeks because of a tracheotomy. But we wrote the alphabet on paper and would point to letters until we could understand basic things. I do remember her telling me to be strong. I have outlived her by almost two decades, and am soon to have outlived my father. I hope I can live more authentically as each day goes by - I know in my heart that with one year left I would spend every extra minute with my husband, daughter, grandchildren and sisters, because, really that's where it's at. So, I am right this moment thinking about radical ways to make more of that happen now. (maybe I'll have to quit my job, haha) Thanks for the reminder of our transient nature, sad as it is.

  22. marcell: i really hope you don't quit because i love working with you, but i'm glad this is prompting that kind of question for you. love to you my friend.

  23. hi terri. i am just beginning to stretch and yawn, eyelids aflutter as i wake up from my blogging sleep.

    this is a beautiful post, because those questions like "what would you do if you found out you have a year to live" help us to hone in on & clarify those things that really matter. we wouldn't hold back our love as much, we would probably take more risks, we would live every day as if it were a special occasion. maybe we would be more willing to take risks.

    thank you for putting this question out there. i feel like, in small ways, i'm beginning to live it. and i know you are too.

    so thrilled to be on the journey with you, sister.

    love you.