Today (December 1, 2021) is only two weeks after my daughter, Jill, had a surgery for a brain aneurysm in Dayton, Ohio. Complications followed and she died on Saturday, November 20. She was a 34 year old mother of two preteens. Just a week later, November 27, we had a ‘Celebration of her Life” with many family and friends attending and so many others praying for us and sending flowers, prayers and notes. Since part of the way I process things is to write about them, I want to share with you what I shared at her service. I still miss her so bad. As I write this, I have tears in my eyes. But I am so thankful that I was Jill’s dad. I have more to be happy about than sad about. The joy and peace from God is winning the day. I hope these thoughts will bring joy to your life if you have had someone you love pass away recently.
My Tribute to Jill
I want to thank all of you, family and friends, for helping us through this. It has been extremely difficult to come to the realization that Jill has really passed away. It still feels like a dream that I will wake up to and find out it’s not real. But the longer the days continue I realize that this is our new reality. I know many of you hurt as we do. This has been really hard. A friend sent me a song that simply said, “This isn’t something we’ll get over, but it is something we’ll get through.” How true it is.
Jill left us with so many fond memories, that we can’t help not have a celebration of her life. And since this is Thanksgiving week, I thought I’d thank God for a few things.
I thank God for good memories. Going through our pictures brought back so many wonderful memories. We laughed through our tears. She truly made life interesting. We watched gymnastics and dance classes, watched school plays, sat for swim meets, taught her to drive a car, and had a lot of family vacations and holiday celebrations. Though I’m sad for the new memories I won’t make with her, I am so happy and thankful when I think about the good memories we’ve had through the years.
I thank God for Jill’s love for life. It’s hard to believe four children born to the same two parents, growing up in the same house, can be so different. But ours are. Some of our children are quiet and meditative. Not Jill. Jill was the spark of our family events. She loved making people laugh. When you look at her pictures, the first thing you notice is her big smile. She loved being around people and made friends with everyone and anyone. She never wanted to be the center of attention, but she soon became the life of the party. She took it upon herself to make sure everyone was having a good time.
I thank God for leading Jill to Christopher. The primary thing as a father that I wanted for Jill was for a young man to love her and take care of her as much as I did. Christopher you did that. Thank you. I was the first man she ever loved. But Christopher, I believe she loved you most. Most may not be aware of an early incident before Jill had her driver’s license. She talked a friend who just got her license into taking her all the way down to West Milton (3 hour drive) so she could see Christopher. We thought she was going to the mall in Toledo. She might have gotten away with it until Uncle Paul who lived next door to Christopher called us and just wanted to make sure that this was a legitimate visit. It wasn’t. We thought something was wrong when Jill came home from all day shopping without buying anything. Their relationship may not have started out with my blessing, but it sure has matured into a wonderful love story. I also want to thank Roy and Le Henderson for raising such a fine young man and loving our daughter
I thank God for my two grandchildren, Ellie and Evan. I’ve come to the realization that Jill will never be gone. Every time I look at Ellie I will see Jill. And every time Evan acts a little crazy, it will remind me of his mom. I believe Jill loved being a mom more than anything in the world. She loved you two and always wanted the best for you. Your dad has his hands full, but you are going to be okay.
Lastly, I want to thank God for His Son Jesus Christ. As I stood by Jill’s bedside last Saturday and prayed, cried, and gave her a kiss, I realized that God knew exactly how I was feeling. God the Father watched His Son die on a cross. I am sure His heart broke. But good came from that. Jesus died to provide salvation for all who trust Him and have an eternal home in Heaven. When Jill was little, she trusted Jesus as her own personal Lord and Savior. Because of that, I know she is with him today and I will see her again. She is free of any pain, anxiety or trouble. She is home. She would want all of you to know how you can go there too.
Heaven is a perfect place. And since none of us are perfect, including Jill, how could a person ever get to Heaven? The answer is Jesus. Jesus paid the penalty for our sin. And whoever calls on Jesus to forgive them for their sin and surrender their life to Him, can go to Heaven forever. If you have never surrendered to Jesus and given Him your life, please do that today. That is what Jill would want you to do.
If you ever received an email from Jill, you probably noticed that her email address – firstname.lastname@example.org. “Jillybean” is the nickname I gave her when she was little and it stuck. “ps71” stands for Psalm 71 – her favorite Bible chapter. Let me share a few verses of that Psalm as I close:
In you, Lord, I have taken refuge; in your righteousness, rescue me and deliver me; turn your ear to me and save me. Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go. You have been my hope, sovereign Lord, my confidence since my youth. From birth, I have relied on you; I will ever praise you.
I love you, Jill!
This is a link to a wonderful video that has brought me comfort: “Scars in Heaven”