Lennox and Janet
Picture of Janet


18 years

Reading Time: 5 minutes

On this day, eighteen years ago, at this time, Silent Bob and I lay on a bed in a Grand Junction hotel room, our grief coming in waves in the dark. It would mark one of the saddest moments of my life. My Jake, my oldest, in a hospital bed in Grand Junction, Colorado, his father beside him, his 27 year old heart beating its last not 10 hours before. The ER nurse who tended Jake had held me and told me that the grief would not be like anything else I had felt, waves and waves that would come without warning. 

I would spend the next two years wading in grief so deep, one of my sons told me he worried how I was going to get out of it. During that time, I fought with myself over the loss of Jake and knowing how blessed I was to have my John and my Josh. Sometimes guilt can perpetuate good outcomes, I am certain that constant reminder of my blessings kept me afloat. As I write this confession, I realize how little of my mental time was spent wondering how they were handling losing Jake. Jake had a hold on the heart of our family that was so integrated, his loss so abrupt, it was difficult to get our heads wrapped around him not physically being with us anymore. It was as difficult for them as me, but as I look back Silent Bob, my Johnathan, and my Josh made my grief their priority. That knowledge makes me sad today.

The place where I was stuck was the need to reconcile my belief of a better place in the hereafter or to admit doubt and face the possible worst consequences, that my relationship with Jake wasn’t just over here but forever. This doubt was fueled by two things.  I had lived the life of a believer in that nether land where it’s easy to claim that named but undefined space, usually called Heaven, sung about in gospel songs, and spoken of at funerals. There was quite a bit of heart knowledge that married well with my beliefs but not nearly enough head knowledge. I had intuition that Christian scripture was complex, written in languages difficult to translate, and in a culture that might not have been considered in the rhetoric that was part of my faith tradition. To me this boiled down to two broad categories. First, I needed confirmation that I had a good understanding of what was after this one, according to Christian scripture. And second, would it be a space of constant worship where nothing mattered, not even relationships from my previous reality?

Now here is what I think. I am not an anomaly in what I have described and I am certain it’s not confined to Christians. Some of my best friends do not believe as I do, but be they religious or not, when life comes at you with an intensity that you cannot be satisfied with answers that don’t get at the hard questions, we all will need to make sure our belief system is well placed.

There is one thing that I believe with all certainty and always have because it is part and parcel to how we are meant to satisfy the belief systems we ascribe to. We humans are made for relationships. All of us. They matter to us in ways that nothing else does. We are meant to relate to each other. We are meant to relate to God.

I always indulge myself in my need to think about my Jake on the day I lost him. It’s not that I don’t think about him other days, but on this one I take an inventory of what God has taught me in what I asked Him to reveal to me and where I need to go. In the last eighteen years I have spent considerable time working on what is true and matters. It has always surprised me where help has come from.

Last night, in a confluence of events, I happened to sit next to a gentleman at dinner, a brilliant mathematician and a scholar who had debated some of the world’s most notable atheists. These debates center around the overlap, or some believe lack thereof, between science and faith. This gentleman, just shy of eight decades of living and thinking, was genuinely interested in everyone. He asked questions and listened, humble and caring. There was a sensitivity in his demeanor.

“Janet, you know the story of Lazarus in John 11?” he said, a Irish lilt in his voice.

I shook my head yes. I hadn’t meant for Jake to come up in our conversation, but he had.

“Read it when you get home,” he finished, “pay attention that Jesus uses brother to identify Lazarus to his sisters when they are discussing Lazarus’ death.”

I did this when I got home. I read and reread that chapter in John. I thought about it all of today.

There are very gentle ways that my Creator soothes my doubts and continues to strengthen my hope.  I marvel at friends who remember this day eighteen years on and let me know. I am humbled by their care. But I always seem to be caught off guard in God’s generosity to me. Here was someone I had only known by reputation and had little chance of meeting. I certainly didn’t expect him to minister to me about Jake’s death in ways that I continue to ask God to give me.

I celebrate my Jake tonight. I watched an exciting Astro’s game, and remembered his smile and his zany, somewhat random approach to life. I remembered how proud I was to be his mom and how much he loved God. I thought about the poetry books I had read him from the time I could hold him. I think he heard the cadence and art because while he really was a terrible writer, he had a lyrical poetic skill that came out in song lyrics. I remember how much he loved physical challenge. I remember that often, while riding with him, he driving, he would break the silence and say, “love you, Jan”.  

I celebrate tonight that God loves me. I will always shed tears on this day but not the wracking sobs of eighteen years ago. God continues to minister to me, this year through an unexpected friend, with soothing wisdom and knowledge, reminding me of the mysteries of scripture. Not a naive understanding or repeated rhetoric without thoughtful consideration, but one honed on discussions,  open-mindedness, and the Holy Spirit. Jesus spoke with comfort and care, of the enduring relationship of sisters with their brother, of relationship that death doesn’t end. They are as constant as the love between me and Jake, shared on this day in October, 2023. More importantly, today I was given a small window of understanding and revelation, illuminating the depth and breadth of God’s love.

See you, Jake.

Love you son.


If you would like to get to know Dr. Lennox, go HERE. If you ever have a chance to meet him, I am certain he will greet you with open and genuine interest. I would be remiss in not mentioning how much Mark Lanier has played a role in the understanding and growth God has provided to me, go HERE to watch the mental aptitude I have come to rely upon.  Tomorrow night Dr. Lennox will talk about AI, go HERE if you’d like to watch. You might want to read this book by Dr. Lennox, HERE.

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