Saturday, February 28, 2009

Tidal Wave

Some people are so extraordinary that their very presence in your life has an eternal impact. Jen O. is one of those people. She was my brother's first girlfriend. He was 15 and she was 16 and they were in love! Her chcharismatic personality made it impossible not to fall in love with her and our whole family was under her spell! She had a vibrant, boundless energy. My brother had met her through their church youth group. Jen, who was always Mary in the spring play, convinced my brother that he would have fun on retreats and at the youth group meetings. And he did! She got him involved in all sorts of activities and service projects and trips. They had a blast. On the weekends she would spend the days at our house getting the whole family involved in cooking, baking and making crafts. She always had an idea, we were never bored, but we were exhausted when she left! It was like having our very own camp counselor.

In the evenings, my parents would be sitting in their king size waterbed reading and Jen would run from the doorway of the room and jump onto their bed yelling, "Tidal Wave!!!" Then we would all pile into my parents bed and pour out all our stories to them. My parents never had to wonder what my brother was doing cause Jen told them everything!!

My brother turned 16 the summer before Jen started college. He was so young and it was is first relationship. So when she went away to college, they broke up. Jen was devastated. My parents and I were sad too, we would miss her. But, it was for the best because he was too young for that kind of commitment and needed to be a teen.

I saw Jen that winter after her first semester of college. She loved school! She missed my family and especially my brother. We promised to all get together soon.

A couple of weeks later, Jen went on a ski trip with some friends from college. Her parents met them in New Hampshire for the weekend. On the way home Jen drove back with her friends and her parents followed. At an intersection, someone drove through a stop sign and hit the car Jen was a passenger in. Jen, the only person wearing a seatbelt, was the only one killed.

Her funeral was held on my Dad's birthday, just 4 days before her 18th birthday. It was the largest funeral I have ever attended. Hundreds of people came. Her parents hadn't even realize she knew so many people. It was a true testament to the incredible person she was and the kind of life she lived. I will never forget the priest saying he believed Jen was up in Heaven creating committees and getting things done! I know she is up there creating Tidal Waves!!

Jen's death set my brother's life on a course that included becoming a teen parent, marrying at an early age, divorce, and drug addiction. And he overcame it all!! He is currently battling his way back from a spinal chord injury he endured from a fall down the stairs. But like the mythical Phoenix, he always rises from the ashes. He is good hearted man, a hardworker and he always strives to be better. He is one of the strongest men I know.

I know his life, all of our lives, would have been different if Jen O. had lived. But, if for one moment that would mean that my nephew would never have been born then I can't really stay sad for long. But, I miss her. We were blessed to have had an angel among us.

Jen O.'s birthday would have been this weekend, Feb. 29th. And just like the 29th of February will not occur this year, Jen O. will not grow another year older, but she eternally exists and will not be forgotten. Our Tidal Wave lives on in our hearts!


  1. A lovely, heartfelt post!

    I want to let you know that I have awarded you with the Kreativ Blogger Award. When you have the chance, come over to my blog and pick it up! I hope you enjoy it!

  2. After all these years just seeing the title Tidal Wave sends tears streaming down my face. Thank you for keeping her spirit alive.
    She touched all our lives and the lives of all who met her. She was a truly beautiful person in and out. I know she is looking down and smiling. I think of her whenever every sping when I see the first tulip bloom.

  3. Is there a way to download the song dad wrote titled Tidal Wave?