More Farewells

This is me and my friend, Bridger "BJay" Smith outside the White House in 1996.

This is me and my friend, Jessica Juett, outside the capitol in 1996.
Not long after this, Bridger and Jessica got married and made a happy home in Pinehurst, North Carolina.

This is BJay, Jessica, and their four gorgeous children, Christmas 2009.
Even though we live all the way across the country, Jess and I have been good pen pals and our kids exchange fun packages each year. This year, Hila (far right) even wrote her own valentines to my kids! They are the cutest family.

Last weekend, they took a family vacation to North Myrtle Beach. On Monday morning (as we were driving to Logan, Utah to bury Grandpa Bill), an "unexpectedly strong tide" pulled four of them out to sea. BJay saved Jessica's mom and three children, but lost his own life.
You can read more about him HERE.

Today his little girl, Hila, turned seven. Tomorrow is his funeral. It makes me pretty heartsick, but I know those same blessings that were poured out on my family just two weeks ago are being poured out on my dear friend and her babies today.
***

After a busy day in Logan, I checked the internet to get details on this story and see what, if anything, had been mentioned on facebook. I found this beautiful sentiment on Jessica's page:

Thank you, everyone for your love and prayers. I feel them. There is a lot of love in the world, it is a powerful thing. It makes you do things you think you can't. And save people who mean more to you than your life. I am thankful for that. I am thankful for my life, for my children and that I married the champion of my heart. Our life together was wonderful.

That is amazing grace, Jessica.



***
So yet another Saturday at 10:00am, my body will be here, but my heart will be with loved ones at a funeral for a good man--this time in Pinehurst, North Carolina, instead of Tucson.
God bless you, Dear Smiths!
***

Today I got an email letter from my cutie cousin, Joseph Elrey, who is serving as a missionary in the New York Rochester mission. I hope he won't mind if I publish a sentiment here:
" The times when I am most obedient are the times when I love the mission the most. I think about the influence of our hero and the wonderful ways he has shaped and influenced my life. He is such a part of me. When I do something right I know I did what he would have done and when I receve praise I know I have made him proud. The best part about it is, in looking at everything he has taught me and desired for me, I realized something: He was my best example of being Christlike. When I do something right, I know it's not me acting like grandpa, but it's me being like Him whom I represent and it never was the praise of my grandfather but the praise and satisfaction of my Savior. I love my grandpa! Hey, go get his cowboy hat from off the porch and save it for me--the one he always wore to do yard work in and sit and love the sun in. Boy, it will be nice to sit with him again and instead of admiring the beauties of the earth we can admire the beauty and expanses of the universe. Ha! That will be a treat!" [-Joseph, 09.17.10]
I have felt that way often and said so in Grandpa & Grandma's 50th Anniversary book. Today I wrote back and shared this story with Joseph & Uncle Sam:
I had a dream, a very vivid dream after I came home from visiting Grandpa in April. In the dream there was a monsoon shower, a really fierce one, and everyone was battening down the hatches, so to speak. We were in an unfamiliar house, one with an arched balcony overlooking the desert--like Ballantyne's up on Sunrise or something. Anyway, Grandpa was in a wheelchair and he and I were sitting on the balcony watching the storm roll in and when it got really fierce, Marti and Gram wanted him to come in and kept calling him from inside. He told me to get him a blanket because he wanted to stay out. I brought it to him and tucked him in all cozy. Then he told me to shut the door so nobody would tell him to come in. And the the storm just poured and the thunder crashed and it was BEAUTIFUL (like the night of their anniversary party). He held my hand and said, "I want you to remember this forever."
So on that "farewell" weekend in August for the anniversary party, I was praying all weekend for a full-blown monsoon storm, but it never came--it just hung over us all weekend. UNTIL the party was over and I was driving up to Phoenix to catch my plane. The sky over the desert was literally FULL of lightning, over and over. I was SO HAPPY. Later I realized that it was probably the last storm my Grampy would watch, the very last time we would be together in this life, and I was so thankful.
Quite the legacy. I miss this:
Gram & Gramp with Heidi, James, and Addie on James' blessing day, October 2006.

Grampy last summer in Alaska...livin' the dream.

Comments

Taralyn said…
Tears, Tears and more Tears - You have such a talent and gift with words Jamie!! I enjoy your take on life and your heartfelt love of The Lord, Life and Family!!! Thank You for reminding me when I need reminded of all the glory and blessing we have in our lives. Even amidst huge heartache.... <3<3<3 ya so much!!!
Ally said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jill said…
It was a killer to read her words of "the champion of her heart". It's amazing and such a heartache and I know my prayers are with her sweet family. I am still in shock and I know he wasn't even my friend, he was yours.

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