eternal flame

My lips play a perpetual game of seesaw. One minute they curve upwards into a smile, capturing a moment of happiness, realizing that everything will be okay. The next minute, they droop so far down I doubt even a botox injection could help. Staying focused on the long term, and getting past that moment—all the moments in my life that have been cloaked in sadness, well, it often feels like I’ll never get off this life raft I’m so strongly clinging to.

Lately I’ve been thinking about life like a high-risk 401K. When the short term feels wrought with imminent despair, it’s important to reflect on one’s life as a whole. After numerous decades, the hope is that the sum yields more good memories than bad ones. This is what I’ve been trying to instill in my girls, especially Isabella. She has learned the harsh lesson that “nothing gold can stay”. That is just the reality of life.

The sun rises, and it sets.

Flowers bloom, their lush petals teasing the beginning of something new, only to eventually wither away.

It is so easy to see life in this black and white way, to diminish the in-between. Those moments that make up the middle, though, are the substance. They are the moments that satiate us, and in the end make this journey all worth it. We wouldn’t truly be able to appreciate happiness if we had no understanding of deep heartache.

My uncle passed away last week, and it brought up many of the girls’ fears again, especially for Isabella. In the span of 18 months, she’s lost the two most important men in her life—my uncle was her godfather. She was his little captain and buddy. I’ve tried to explain that wishing these things never happened is a futile use of time. Life owes us nothing, but every morning we wake serves as a chance to work towards being happy. Instead, the painful memories from our past are ingredients that help us grow into stronger, more resilient people. The love left in our hearts from the people we’ve loved and lost makes us richer emotionally.

It’s not an easy concept to accept as an adult—I fight with myself about this daily, so imagine how hard it is for a child to navigate. Still, I hold firm in my belief that our inner light can only be squelched if we let it. And in the moments when Isabella feels her flame dwindling, I’ll be there with my eternal flame of hope and happiness to keep hers from going out.


  • Cristie

    I had a mom just like you once. She fought so hard to make my life happy. I am forever grateful because it worked. I am certain Isabella will feel the same. Both girls were. You are a force to be reckoned with and those girls are so lucky to have you. I only hope some of the happiness you are teaching them to look for can land on your plate as well.
    Love to you all.

  • Rose D. Frenchtown, NJ

    Wow, Cristie’s statement is so true. How can I follow that up? I will say exactly what I’ve been saying for quite a while. Michael is smiling down on you, Ms. Jennifer. You are a true inspiration to so many. Now it’s your turn to experience all the great joy this life can bring you. You deserve it. Much love to you…

  • Maria in NJ

    Jennie, so sorry for your loss…

    My Michael age 22 is leaving me…he met a girl on the internet, she lives in England, she is one year younger than Micheal…a lovely girl and she loves to bake and cook!! We were talking the other day Michael and I and he was telling me all his plans for his and Kirsty’s future, I listened and wished him the best that life has to offer…and then I said…there are two things in life that are certain, death and taxes! Jennie I am going to be a mess when he leaves… and yes like everyone else said, the girls are so lucky to ahve you…m

  • Kim

    My father passed away suddenly from a heart attack when I was nine. Everything you said in this post is right on. Your daughters are beyond blessed to have a wise mother.

  • Tracey A Alvernaz

    Morning Jennie,
    Sometimes the words just elude me, which isn’t often. All I can say is good job on your parenting skills . That and your love will shine on in their memories forever.
    Wishing you sunshine and happy times,