It amazes me when people say, “History always repeats itself.” Little do they know, in my life, it has and it is. It seems like just yesterday that I was sitting on the living room floor with my best friend watching Sesame Street. When I say my best friend, I also mean my cousin, Jennifer Lynn, whom I called Jenny. However, it was not yesterday. It was not a month ago. It was not even a year ago. It was more like twenty years ago. That is how long it has been since I have seen Jenny. You see, Jenny died 20 yrs ago on November 13th, 1979.
Jenny was very close to me. We were one year and four days apart. We were identical with the exception of our eye color. Jenny had blonde hair and blue eyes; I had blonde hair and brown eyes. Everything about us was the same. We liked the same things; we did the same things. When one of us cried, the other comforted and sympathized. When one of us laughed, the other laughed. In any picture that Jenny and I were in together, we were always either looking at each other or had some type of physical contact with each other, as in holding hands or having our feet touch. We were one person in two bodies. Biologically, Jenny was my cousin. However in my heart, to me, she was and always will be my soul sister!
I do not exactly remember how old I was when Jenny and I became close. I do, however, remember all the little things we did together and said to each other. We had our little secrets, as do most children. Ours were very precious to us, and still are to me. We used to go to the zoo and to the playground together. We used to get together and go shopping with our moms. People would stop our moms while shopping, and ask if were twins. Jenny and I thought it was hysterical. We would look up at the stranger(s), look at each other and giggle with pure delight. We always wanted to be together, and when we could not be, we were on the telephone together.
Now, years later (20 to be exact), I still think about all the times I shared with her. All the times that we had together were so very precious to us. We had a connection that I believe nobody has with anybody, except maybe twins. Those times with Jenny, though very short, are still very important parts of my life. I often wonder what she would be like if she were alive. I wonder what career goal she would have followed. I wonder if she would have a family of her own. The one thing I do not ever wonder about though is whether we would still be as close. I know, in my head and my heart that we would be just as close if not closer than ever before.
I think back to the last time I saw Jenny. It was on her fourth birthday. My mom became ill and I was unable to see Jenny due to my mom’s fear of spreading her cold. Jenny and I talked on the telephone for hours on end. We begged our moms to let us get together so we could play. We needed to be with each other. Yet, every time we asked, the answer was still no. We were told repeatedly that we could talk on telephone to each other as long and as often as we liked until my mom was feeling better.
However, by the time my mom was feeling better, it was just too late for Jenny and I. The last time I talked to Jenny was on November 10th. You see, Jenny died three days later. One day, November 13, 1979, there was a knock on our back door. When my mom answered it, my grandparents stood there. Their eyes were red, swollen, puffy, and full of tears. I remember looking at my mom, then at them, and back to my mom. All I could hear was the horrible words come from their mouths “JENNY IS DEAD!!” I was confused. All I really remember about that day after that was crying harder than I had ever cried before in my entire life (to this day), my mom running to me to hug me and comfort me the best she possibly could.
The next thing I remember is going to the visitation for Jenny. I do not remember much about that. However, I do remember walking up to Jenny’s coffin, taking her hand, leaning over and kissing her cheek while telling her that I loved her. After that, I do not know what happened until I went to the cemetery. After she was buried, I looked at her gravesite and asked myself and God “Why Jenny?” I asked myself “Why not me?” For years, even now, when I go to the cemetery to visit her grave, I always ask “Why Jenny?” Each time I visit her grave, I always sit down next to it, trace each letter on her headstone and ask that question to myself repeatedly, trying to come up with an answer.
I have told myself ever since the day she died, that if I live to have a family of my own, I will tell my children about my experiences with Jenny. When my kids are old enough to understand what I went through with Jenny, her death, and how I coped, then I will share it all with them. Now, I have that family of my own. I have two very special little girls. My older daughter, Neve’, is almost 4 1/2yrs old. Her birthday is a special one to me. She was born on November 10, 1995. This day marks the last day I talked with Jenny before she died 16 yrs before. My youngest daughter, Stacie Lynn, is definitely an angel. She is almost 6 months old. You see, she was born on November 13, 1999. And, this day marks the 20th anniversary of Jenny’s death. To me, Stacie is a second coming of Jenny in my life. She reminds me a lot of Jenny, too. Some of her expressions and certain ways she looks at me reminds me so much of Jenny.
Today, while standing in line at the store, my mom picked up a baby name book. Just for giggles, she looked up the name Stacie. We were curious to see what it meant. Well, we were very surprised when we learned that the name Stacie means ‘Resurrection.’
Not everybody is as lucky as I am. I believe everybody has an angel watching over them as they take their paths through life. However, I believe I have three.Jenny, Neve’, and Stacie. And, my girls will also have three. Jenny, their father, and myself.
Jenny, and her brother and sister, died of a fatty oxidation disorder known as Medium Chain acyl coA dehydrogenase deficiency, MCAD for short. Jenny’s brother, Matthew died when I was only 4 months old and he was 9 months old. Jenny’s sister, Lori, died two months short of her fourth birthday. It was not until then, that Lisa and Jill (Jenny’s other sisters) were tested and diagnosed with the fatty oxidation disorder.
Later, this disorder fascinated me so much that I wanted to learn all I could about it. Therefore, to satisfy the wanting to know within me, I did a research paper in school on it. I had to write the doctor’s that Lisa and Jill saw (in New York City) to get information on it. No doctors in the Kansas City area knew anything about it, most of them had not even heard of it. I put a lot of time and effort into writing this paper. I received the highest grade in my class for the paper. My paper was on display along with a poster board with pictures of my cousins and a genetic graph of hereditary factors. We noticed a group of people standing around looking and reading my work. This made me feel good. It made me feel like this paper would or could serve a purpose to somebody somewhere in the future, and it helped me to understand why my cousins died.