Joscelyn's Journey

A Beautiful Child's Journey Through Hemimegalencephaly

In My Mind’s Eye

on December 12, 2012

A few days after Nick’s untimely death, I sat on the couch, flipping through the pages of his school journal.

I stopped on a page with a writing prompt that asked students the question, “What Are Your Dreams?” and directed them to “List five things you’ve dreamed about doing”.

 Number one on Nick’s list? “Jump off an airplane”


 Nick had mentioned his desire to jump out of a perfectly good airplane to me before but like most moms, I wasn’t exactly crazy about the idea.

 But now that he was gone, why not make his greatest wish, one that he’d not been able to make a reality while he was alive, come true?

 A friend of ours knew of a pilot with a 6 Passenger Cessna who was willing to help us perform an aerial scattering of Nick’s ashes. We made the arrangements and on December 11, 2011, Michael, Marc, (Nick’s older brother) and I drove to the airport.

 I had no idea what a 6 passenger Cessna looked like until we arrived at the hangar and saw the plane for the first time.

(For those of you unacquainted with plane models, it’s a little plane; a really little plane made mostly of plastic; really thin, really cheap looking plastic.)

As we boarded this tiny toy plane, the pilot reminded us to step inside the “aircraft” gingerly, so as not to break anything.

“Be careful sitting down”, he warned. “She’s old.”

As my eyes wandered around the interior of the plane, nothing I saw gave me any assurance whatsoever that the aircraft I was now boarding was even remotely capable of staying aloft on its own, let alone with the additional weight of passengers, but I cautiously lowered myself into my seat anyway.

“PUT ON YOUR HEADPHONES!,the pilot shouted.

“WHAT?”, I replied.

“PUT ON YOUR HEADPHONES!, he repeated, pointing to a set of padded headphones hanging next to my seat.

Headphones with microphones are rather a necessity when flying in a small plane if you expect to hold any sort of conversation with the other passengers because unlike the steady drone of a jet’s engines, the sound a 6 passenger Cessna makes is less of a “whoosh” and more of a constant, very labored, “Ehhhhhh…..putt, putt, putt, putt…Ehhhhhh, putt, putt, putt, putt.”

 It’s a lot like riding on the airborne version of the “The Little Engine That Could”.

“I think I can! I think I can! I think I can!”

(Also, just as a side note, turbulence on a jet feels like the little lift your tummy experiences when the elevator stops on your designated floor. Turbulence on a Cessna feels like smacking your head against the roof of the plane.)

Once everyone else had boarded and put on their seatbelts, (Safety first!  HA! HA! HA! HA! HA!) we took off.

“WAIT!”, I screamed. “Your door isn’t closed!”, I said to the co-pilot.

“I know.”, she replied. “I can see better this way.  And besides, it’s hot in here.”, she shrugged.

 I clutched the framed picture of Nick sitting in my lap. “I wouldn’t be on this crazy adventure if it weren’t for you, Nick. Please be with us today!”

 Flying in an exercise in faith; faith in your pilot, faith in the mechanical components of your aircraft, faith in the very principles of flight. (Many of which I don’t I completely understand.)

 Faith is necessary because the forces that suspend aircrafts and their passengers thousands of feet above the earth are unseen,

 They’re invisible.

The Reverand Billy Graham is often quoted as saying,“Can you see God? You haven’t seen him? I’ve never seen the wind. I see the effects of the wind, but I’ve never seen the wind. There’s a mystery to it.”

We see the effects of the principles of flight but we can’t see the forces at work even when they’re keeping us in the air.

 Not long after we took off, I overheard the pilot ask the co-pilot if she saw anything to the right rear of the plane. “No.”, she said, craning her head and looking around behind her.

 A few minutes later the pilot asked again, “Do you see a plane or something in the distance over there?”

Again, the co-pilot looked around and said. “No.”

 Once we reached an altitude of 2,000 absolutely terrifying feet, we navigated our way over to Lake Yale. The pilot slid his side window open and I carefully handed him the bag containing Nick’s ashes. He gently opened it and placed the top of the bag outside the window. As we watched, the wind swirled, swiftly picked up the ashes and began carrying them away.

I recited the words of Mary Elizabeth Frye:

“Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.”

 I placed my hand against the closed window and watched as the last of the ashes faded and disappeared.

 On the way back, the pilot once again began questioning the co-pilot, “Are you sure you don’t see anything behind us? The Garmin has been picking up an object on top of or around the plane ever since we took off.”

 “It’s Nick”, I said. “Sharing one last adventure with us.”

 None of us could see him, but in my heart, I knew he was there.

 Antoine de Saint Exupéry wrote in “The Little Prince”, “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye.”

 This last year has been one very long exercise in learning to view the world with my heart, rather than my eyes.

We may not know right now what’s going to happen with Joss but we do know that we don’t have to believe in only what we see.

Do we feel sometimes that God has forgotten us and isn’t listening to our prayers?

 Yes. How could we not?

But as Hebrews 11:1 reminds us,

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

 Just because I can’t see God working in Joscelyn’s life doesn’t mean He isn’t.

Just because I can’t hear Him when I pray, doesn’t mean He isn’t there. It just means that I’ve forgotten to look for Him with my heart and to see the evidence of Him with my mind’s eye.

“In my mind, I’m where I belong as I rest in Your arms and like a child, I hold onto You in my moment of truth. We can ride the storm, endure the pain. You comfort me in my hurricane and I’ll never be alone again. In my mind’s eye, I see Your face. You smile as You show me grace.”



18 responses to “In My Mind’s Eye

  1. Andrea M. says:

    Oh Jennifer, as I read this the tears run down my cheeks. I remember when you posted about scattering Nick’s ashes from the airplane last year, and I thought what a fitting way to celebrate his life and honor his wish. My heart aches for your loss, but I rejoice with you as you choose to stand in faith, believing in a God whom you cannot see with earthly eyes, but who is gloriously evident in your life each and every day. I’m praying every day for you and Joss and your family. May God bless you with a joyful, peaceful Christmas!

  2. mariaslaby says:

    I’m certain it was Nick. He’s with you all every step of the way…

  3. Mariellen Barr in PA says:

    I’m so glad we are not alone in this mysterious world. The fellowship of other believers strengthens my walk so much.
    Thanks. Cool song!

  4. oh my eyes are leaking! and the goosebumps are huge. love you. carlanda

  5. Carolyn says:

    My heart is saddened to learn that you are once again thrust into the excruciating unknown. But, praise God, you know the One absolute Known. Renewed prayers for Jos, for your boys, and for you and your husband as you Make Merry in the midst of your grief and pain.
    “Because He lives (and holds me), I can face tomorrow.”

  6. Lisa Melton says:

    What a comfort your writing is, your strength in your own unknown circumstances is awe inspiring…I am always uplifted by your faith. You are my favorite writer. I pray that our miraculous God will bestow upon you a miraculous blessing in direct proportion to what you have given others in your grief. I am blessed to know you and wish you a Christmas full of meaning!

  7. I don’t even know what to say this is so beautiful. It started out with such laughter (your way with words; truly amazing) and then of course you spin it into great truth and insight…really startling story of the sensors picking up on something!!!! Just amazing. Love and pain. The deepest of both are truly inextricable. Powerful words this morning, my sister. I had a visual of me running toward you and veritably knocking you over with a hug as you continue to remind me to keep my heart open to life.

  8. I don’t know what it is about you and little Joss – you two have captured my heart. Please keep writing. Perhaps it’s cathartic to you and I hope it is, because it moves me. Thank you once again for your beautiful transparency.

  9. Gary Wayne says:

    I have to cry, even though every thought of Nick brings a smile to my heart.

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