Wednesday, December 22, 2010

comfort in a time of sorrow-miss you JZL

It's been a rough week. While I am SO excited about Christmas coming in just a few short days-its also been an extremely sad week for me. When walking out of church this past Sunday, I realized I had missed calls and messages on my phone. My boss from Union had passed away late that night/early that morning. She was 47, in decent health, and I was shocked. She had a massive heart attack. She had spent her entire Saturday with her hubby, daughter, and grandson shopping and preparing for Christmas. She went to bed earlier than her husband. When he came to bed he found her, and she'd stopped breathing. What a shock. What a huge, awful nightmare. Joni was so wonderful. When I got this news it really took a while for it to sink in. I seriously thought that people were joking with me, so of course I became angry because that's a horrible joke. There's no way she's gone, she's so young, she was fine when I'd checked in on her just the other day, and its Christmas. People just aren't supposed to die at Christmas are they?

When I say Joni was wonderful, I'm not just saying that because she passed on. She truly was an awesome person. She was my direct boss for the group I worked in at Union-CDU. CDU has always been kind of the redheaded stepchild of Union, because it was a newer group, Union is very old school, and a lot of the people don't do well with change. So when Joni started the group, she received much resistance from all parties involved. She had to learn a HUGE amount of information in such a short time. I remember thinking daily, how in the world does she know all this stuff?  I mean her brain must be amazing to contain so much information. Joni really did know everything there was to know about the business. She'd been with Union for 26 years. So not only was she truly their most knowledgable person, but she was so loyal. So willing to help. As I sit here I can think of 1000 times where I'd call out "Joni...can you come sit with me?" "Joni...can you come help me?" "Joni...I don't understand this.." and you know what? She would drop everything, every time, and help me. She was so good to us. Too good to us. Too good to me. At my new job now I can see just how amazing this woman was with me, and how PATIENT. When I started in loans, I was CLUELESS. I knew how to fill out a loan payment slip, and that was IT. By the time Joni was done with me, I could process any loan, from the smallest unsecured loan, to ridiculous home equity loans and mortgages. With the help of Ashley, she really did teach me everything I know about loans. She's the reason I got my new job. Without her knowledge and patience, I would be clueless. Now at my new job as I said, I can really see how amazing she was with me. I've realized out in the real world, normal bosses don't coddle you every time you have a question, make a mistake, or just don't seem to get it. In the real world you dont get second, third, and one million chances to get something right. She warned me of this when I gave her the sad news about me leaving, and just like always, she was right. That woman did more for that company than they could ever begin to pay her for. Thank God for Joni. Yes thank God for her. I remember us saying that almost daily in our small group. I remember the countless times we'd say "this place is nuts, I swear, if anything ever happens to Joni, this place will fall apart" No one knows the system like Joni. She knew EVERYTHING. I honestly don't know how they will make it without her. I know a lot of people in their jobs are easily replaced. Joni was not. She was and is honestly irreplacable.

And all this isn't even a big deal in the scheme of things, when thinking of the hundred other reasons Joni is irreplacable...she was a wife. A daughter. A mom. and a Nana to an adorable boy who hasn't even reached his second birthday yet. She LOVED that kid. When her daughter would show up to work to visit with her grandson, Joni would light up like the 4th of July. I've never seen anything like it. The love she had for her family was so great. And the love she had for everyone in her life, was amazing. She was like a second mother to Ashley and I. Truly worried not only about how we were doing with our work, but how we were doing personally. She knew EVERYTHING that was going on with us, because she cared about us. There whenever we called. Patient. Loving (her last name!!!) Kind. Generous. I don't know how she did it. Maybe that's why she's not here now. Obviously Heavenly Father has a plan for all of us, so He does for Joni too. But maybe that's it. Maybe she did so much, for so many people, and lived such a good life, that she was done. I don't know. What I do know is that I wish she were still here. I have so much guilt. I know the last two months since I've left were terribly hard on her as losing a member of a small team makes things stressful, and that place was already VERY stressful when I was still there. I feel bad that I didnt get to spend 40+ hours a week with her for the past two months. I wish I could take it back. I missed her so much before just not getting to see her every day. Now that I know I wont get more time, its awful. I hope she knows how much I cared about her. I hope she knows how much she'll be much she's missed already. I am glad that we were able to speak at least a few times after I left, and she was always so sweet. I'm glad I got to tell her that I missed her.

Saying goodbye was hard. It was hard last night, and it was worse today. It was especially hard visiting Union and stopping by my desk that doesnt belong to anyone now, and then seeing hers...still the same, still untouched, her things still on the desk, loans still stacked up neatly, nothing has changed yet. Maybe it was a blessing that I left. I honestly don't know if I could handle walking into that place and sitting by her empty desk every day. :( I pray for strength for my coworkers-my friends really, we are like family. I pray for strength for her family and other close friends. I miss her.
Sunday was when I got the bad news. She'd passed away late the night before. Most of Sunday I spent in shocked. I slept a lot. I ignored it. I was "ok". Monday...oh boy. Woke up. Cried. Put my makeup on while on my daily morning phone call to Ashley. Cried. Got in the car, drove to work, while crying. Got to my desk, people kept asking me what my deal was, more crying. Oh boy I was a mess. I talked for a while about it with one of my new coworkers. She is a great believer too, and she had a lot of comforting words to say. She prayed for me.
That same day...a couple of hours later while at my desk, processing away, I noticed I'd been singing to myself, for quite some time, a song I hadn't heard in a good 2 years at least. I didn't have music going. No one else did either. This was strange. When I say it was strange...I mean for a song to get in my head, I either have to hear it first or read the lyrics. Neither of those happened. I just remember one moment I was upset....and shortly after-I was fine, and singing to myself. The song? "It is Well with My Soul". An old hymn. How did that pop into my head? Where did it come from? That never happens to me. So I told my friend at work that had prayed for me earlier. "Oh come on Jen, why are you so surprised? That was God and Joni telling you, that she's ok, and you should be too. It is well with her soul..."
It was one of those amazing moments where you just feel this HUGE rush of comfort that you've been longing for. It was awesome. This song to me is so meaningful, because I remember once before a gentleman sang it at my old church, he told the story of why it was written. (thanks for the refresher course Wikipedia!) So I figured I'd share:  (and if you haven't actually heard've GOT to listen to it as well. Beautiful!!!)
This hymn was written after several traumatic events in Spafford’s life. The first was the death of his only son in 1871 at the age of four, shortly followed by the great Chicago Fire which ruined him financially (he had been a successful lawyer). Then in 1873, he had planned to travel to Europe with his family on the SS Ville du Havre, but sent the family ahead while he was delayed on business concerning zoning problems following the Great Chicago Fire. While crossing the Atlantic, the ship sank rapidly after a collision with a sailing ship, the Loch Earn, and all four of Spafford's daughters died. His wife Anna survived and sent him the now famous telegram, "Saved alone." Shortly afterwards, as Spafford traveled to meet his grieving wife, he was inspired to write these words as his ship passed near where his daughters had died.

"It Is Well with My Soul" by Horatio Spafford

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,

when sorrows like sea billows roll;

whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,

It is well, it is well with my soul.

It is well with my soul,

it is well, it is well with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,

let this blest assurance control,

that Christ has regarded my helpless estate,

and hath shed his own blood for my soul.

It is well with my soul,

it is well, it is well with my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!

My sin, not in part but the whole,

is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,

praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

It is well with my soul,

it is well, it is well with my soul.

And, Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,

the clouds be rolled back as a scroll;

the trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,

even so, it is well with my soul.

It is well with my soul,

it is well, it is well with my soul.

Joni Z. are awesome. Thank you for ALWAYS taking care of me-even after you've left here by putting that song in my head countless times over the past 3 days to comfort me.  I love you, and I miss you, and I am so sad that you're gone...but I know you are in a better place, and I'll see you on the other side one day :)



Hollie Dyson said...

This gave me chills and brought tears to my eyes. It is so sad and I'm sorry you are hurting, but you're right, God has a plan. Sometimes we don't understand it, but that's why it's HIS plan and not ours.

Thinking of you!

Jen said...

Thanks Hollie, you are so sweet!!!!!!!!!!!


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