She always wanted to help and she was always a nurturer and a protector. First glaring evidence of this was at four years old and in the hospital with an IV in her arm and Mommy not able to save her from the painful needle necessary for going under. A hernia. The cause? Her little 40 lb weight carrying a chubby brother well over three quarters of her size. Oh she carried him alright …down from his perch on the counter (look out!), drug him up the stairs like a rag doll (bounce, hit, bounce, hit!), hands clamped firmly under his arm pits and around his belly up to the dinner table (his shirt crumpled up to his neck and exposing round white belly). “C’mon Jordan, time to eat dinner.”
It started when he was one year old and she was only two. “Pwewwwwy Jor dan. Here’s a diaper Mommy. It’s okay Jordan, Jannah has a diaper. Diaper, Mommy, diaper.” And then in the bathroom when Jordan was two. “Yay! Good boy Jordan! You peed.!! Here’s your cookie!” Clap, clap, clap and more cheers. She took it upon herself to see to it that every stage of his development was comfortable and complete. What a little maternal. She’s still incredibly maternal, she can’t help it. It’s built in.
But she was so much more than that. Quick as a whip. I mean sharp! Heightened intelligence. It began with the 13,000 questions a day. Incessant. And exhausting to her care giver. We couldn’t visit with our guests if Jannah was awake. It was as simple as that. She monopolized the conversation by strolling right up to our company and putting her face as close as one human face could possibly get to another without actually kissing. “Why did you come to my house?” “Where’s your daughter?” Oh so you are going to pick her up from big people school after?” “Did Mommy give you a tea and not a coffee?” Why? Do you like tea and not coffee?” “Who’s your husband?” Are you married? Is that why he is your husband?” And on and on it went literally until our guests took their leave. I did try to dissuade her, oh how I tried. But people were the most interesting thing on the planet to Jannah and there was no way she was going to miss even a second in their presence.
She learned so much- gathering information like we breathe the air. When big people school finally entered her world, it was a thing of utter delight ….kids to play with and knowledge to be acquired all at the same time. Wonder of wonders and joy of joys! Her teachers loved her. So many glowing comments on her quarterly reports: “ Jannah grasps all of the concepts quickly and loves to help the other children.” “Jannah is always eager to read the story, or help the teacher.” Jannah displays intelligence and flexibility.” Etc. etc. etc. All the same comments all year, every year. She’d come home from school, slap her backpack down on the table and break out the books, only to continue in her learning for another few hours, and to show Mommy everything they had done that day.
As the years rolled by her fiery independence and the need to spread her own wings caused some typical mother-daughter conflict and teenage rebellion. Mommy wasn’t always capable of meeting Jannah where she was at, and often lacked the wisdom & communication skills to make for smooth sailing during those trying years.
But I should have known she’d turn out right in spite of my obvious incompetence. I should have seen it in some obvious signs. Take for instance Jannah the nurse in full armor. I’d missed it. I was stunned by it, but never understood it as a positive sign for her future.
I remember standing on the couch to adjust the blinds behind, then backing off the couch to step onto the floor. My foot hit the floor in intense agony as it twisted finding no solid footing whatsoever, only immeasurable pain. My whole body went down and I screamed in agony. Both children were nearby and Jordan inquired after me a few seconds, but Jannah knelt instantly beside me cooing words of love & concern and all the while gently rubbing my back. Jordan disappeared downstairs back to his own affairs, but Jannah stayed until she was certain I could hobble to the kitchen and get a tenser bandage in place. I marveled because Jordan rarely gave me any trouble in those days, and seemed to sympathize with my insurmountable parental plight much more than Jannah seemed to. And yet, here she was genuinely concerned, attentive, and showing maturity beyond her years.
Years later as a young newlywed she would repeat this display of maturity and tenderness in another moving incident. She’d been married a day actually. She was lying in the arms of her husband in the backseat of Jordan’s car. I was in the front with Jord and we were all traveling to their uncle’s house for Christmas Eve. I thought how beautiful she looked flush with love and basking in the joy of her new husband’s secure embrace. I knew I had to get a picture, so with her eyes still closed I reached for my camera, lifted my body to make the one hundred and eighty degree turn toward the backseat and promptly sank my knee a good inch into the sheath Jordan had in the middle console. The tip of his knife pushed through the leather and right into my flesh. Blood began to spurt and I yelped. Jannah’s eyes flew open and she commanded Jordan, in frenzied screams, to pull that car off that busy highway so she could tend to me. And of course that’s exactly what she did.
Still, we had a lot to work through. It took years of fragmented communication, and finally some bold letters written by a daughter desperate for answers and explanations. Demands for justice, apologies, and responsibility owned. I had to swallow my pride. I had to acknowledge her pain and my contribution to her pain. I had to acknowledge that her perceptions of reality were just as real as my own perceptions of reality. We had to find a common surrender of self, and finally a huge gifting of forgiveness. God granted us both. We flew our white flags. And they are still flying in our respective doorways whenever we visit.
Today I marvel anew at the unique giftings of this child-woman that are not at all unlike her first years. She is a counselor. She is a friend. She is an encourager, and she is a teacher. She is patient. She is kind. She is multi-talented. She is lightning fast with a wide scope and range into life.
When I look at her, I am reminded of another. She has all of her traits. Generosity, drama, triumph over dangerous liaisons with the spirit world (that she has allowed the Jesus in her to overcome!), heightened genius, sick musical understanding, and the ability to love over the greatest odds. It is no surprise then that her twin, her grandmother, came to visit her the day after she died.
“Mommy, mommy!” My little three-year old came bounding down the stairs. “Grandma came!”
“What’s that Jannah?”
“Grandma came to visit me. She had to go now.”
“Uh huh. She said she just had to come and tell me that EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE ALRIGHT- Everything is going to be alright, Jannah!”
“That’s what grandma said, Mommy.”
Grandma would know. And grandma was right.