Well, honey, we said goodbye to 2016 last night and woke up to 2017. We went to church and with today being the first Sunday, we had our usual covered dish meal but it was a brunch instead of a lunch. I made 4 pans of homemade cinnamon rolls and of course, I had to cook collards because some traditions can’t be broken. I learned that from you. 🙂 They must have been good because all we brought home was an empty bowl. We also had communion and this time I was able to take communion without tears flowing.

Not a moment goes by that I don’t think of you. Doesn’t matter what I’m doing, you are always there to help guide me or to be my voice of reason. I find myself asking so often, “What would Jennifer do?” As close as you and I were, it just comes natural to me. I always valued your opinions even if we didn’t always agree. How I wish we could have some of our mother-daughter times again.  I miss them so much. I miss your phone calls, your texts, your walking into our house with that big, beautiful smile of yours. I miss your asking me to make some chicken and dumplings for you and I smile when I think about how you always wanted Dad’s pound cake to fall so you could have the “smooshy” part. I miss seeing you and Doug together. You were such a beautiful bride and he smiled from ear to ear as you walked down the aisle. The love between the two of you was real and so obvious to anyone around y’all. I couldn’t wait for y’all to tell us that we were going to be grandparents again, but it wasn’t meant to be. God had other plans. Just wish I could understand and not question why.

Clemson won the Fiesta Bowl yesterday and I can only imagine the amazing view you had from Heaven. I also bet that you were loud and proud during the game. Since our house was clean from the holidays, I didn’t have the house to clean during the anxious times, so I actually watched the entire game. There were times when I was almost touching the TV with my nose trying to encourage the players to run, block, tackle, etc. I think that I must have scared Sadie because she disappeared into another room. As usual, Dad was the calmer of the two of us throughout the game. Now on to the National Championship on the 9th to play (and beat) Alabama. I really feel that this is our year to do so. We are counting on you to help them out from Heaven, honey.

Dad and I went to the West End Zone tonight to welcome the team back into town. There were around 2,000 people there or so the news reported. It was cold and wet but that didn’t stop us from standing outside for about 2 hours. The players seemed to appreciate all of us being there; you could tell by the looks on their faces. Bless them all.

We had Christmas and Thanksgiving at our house this year. We really liked it better and the family did also. Of course we had the bouncy house for the little ones and for the little ones at heart. The weather was perfect. You would have had a good time with all of your cousins. Dad told me that one time during the afternoon when most of the kids were outside playing in the bouncy house, he could have sworn he heard you laughing. He said it was the sound of laughter that only you could make. Wish I had heard it.

Aunt Jane told me that she had a very vivid dream about you the other night. She said that you had come to visit everyone and that you were very beautiful and very happy. She said that you wanted us all to be happy. I’m glad that Jane had such a wonderful dream about you. I pray every night that you will come to me in a dream but so far, you haven’t. I know that you will but I wish it would be soon. I just need to see you, hear you, touch you, and feel your presence. I need to know that my baby girl is ok. Is God keeping you so busy taking care of all of the little ones that you can’t visit me? Tell Him that you need a day off…I don’t think He would mind.

It won’t be long until the baby will be here; about 6 more weeks. Wesley keeps saying he is going to have a baby sister. Is that true? I know you must know. Just like when they were expecting Wesley, Robert and Caitlin didn’t want to know the sex until the birth. I understand; it’s one of the few surprises that can be managed still. I know that you have already seen the baby and I imagine that you will give the baby a big kiss before he/she makes her appearance. You have watched the baby grow and I bet you will be right there when the baby is born. I don’t see you “letting go” very easily. One thing is certain, though. Wesley and this baby will have the best guardian angel ever. You loved Wesley so much and he loved his Aunt Jenn.

Honey, I have begged for all of this to be a dream and that I would awaken from it and you would be here. I have cried out your name so many times wanting to just hug you and tell you how much I love you and need you. A parent should not have to bury their child. It’s just not right.

God doesn’t make mistakes, though, and I know that we are not supposed to question, but being human, that is very hard not to do. I pray for guidance everyday and for peace in my heart to help fill the void that is there now that you are gone. Some days are harder than others but I am trying. Your sweet brother always seems to know when I need to hear his voice and I love his phone calls. He misses you, too.

And so, a new year has begun. A year that will be filled with new birth, new beginnings and new adventures. We will take each day as it comes and will always honor you in whatever we do. You are no longer a physical presence in our lives but your loving spirit remains and is with us every step of the way. We find comfort in that.

I need to go to bed now; maybe tonight will be the night that you will visit me. Until my next letter to you, remember that I love you so much and that I miss you even more.