It was a warm August day in 2007. My mom, Drake and I were gathered around Jud as he laid in bed listening to an audio book. Suddenly, Jessie came toddling toward me and we all erupted in praise for our new walker.
Surprised by our exuberance, Judson asked, “Is Jessie walking?!” There was confusion in his voice but also a sense of pride for his sister.
At the time, Jud was was around 31 months old and approximately 2 months into the onset of Krabbe Leukodystrophy. Fully blind and no longer able to walk on his own, Jud was hearing us cheer on his little sister for some of her first steps.
Something profound happened in that moment. It was as though our Jud Bud became starkly aware of his own increasing deficits while simultaneously celebrating with us the victories of his little sister’s movement.
I think Jud is still celebrating with us the victories of his little sister’s movement.
For all that he lost—becoming fully paralyzed, unable to even hold up his head—Jessie has distinctly gained. Whereas Jud was rapidly deprived of the ability to move his body, Jessie has gained greater and greater ability to move her body; she is enraptured by the joy of movement.
And we are enraptured by the joy of watching her move.
Jessie dances. It’s as though it was implanted in her. From the moment her brother died, she has been inclined toward dance. She dances to express herself. She dances to feel. She dances to heal. She dances for delight. She dances to entertain. She dances to create. She dances for beauty. Jessie dances.
And it’s become apparent that Jessie’s dancing is part of Judson’s legacy.
Nov. 7th is a sacred day for our family; it’s the day our precious boy breathed his last. So when we discovered Jessie had a dance concert scheduled on Nov. 7th, I had a pit in my stomach. It felt almost sacrilegious on such a hallowed day. But then I realized…it was poetically fitting — his legacy in her movement.
Gifts. God has given us many gifts through our pain. Jessie’s movement is one such gift. I experience it as an incredibly redemptive gift — wherefore we horrifically watched our Juddy lose every ability to move, we get to regularly delight in watching Jessie, as a dancer, continue to gain new abilities in movement.
The day after Jud died, all I could see was darkness. But Jessie-Girl was on our bed, oblivious to our loss at 14 months old, and jumping up and down in delight. Though mired in grief and sorrow, I couldn’t help but smile at the gift of watching her move.
And that gift still grows.
Oh Christina, this is so beautiful! I read it through tears. Your family is such a gift! I am so in awe of the way you recognize God’s hand in everything. I love you all and I hope to see Jessie dance, in person, one of these days! ❤️❤️❤️
Susie…Thank you for your sweet words. They got me all choked up. Sending love to you and yours.
Christina…This is too beautiful for words. How you can see God’s gifts in the midst of such horrific pain is such an example to everyone that knows you. It’s supernatural!!
Love you. Anne
Oh Anne, thank you. Love you so much and so grateful for your friendship! ❤️
Christina, this is so beautiful! It beautifully illustrates how we can hold both joy and sorrow in our hearts at the same time. I have been so moved every time I have seen Jessie dance. She has a special gift.
Thank you, Darlene. You so clearly understand the intermingling of joy and sorrow. Sending you, Laura, and yours much love!!
Reading this brought tears to my eyes. So are so right Jessie dances for Judson. And he is telling all of his new friends in heaven about her and he will show her dancing.
❤️ Thank you, Laurie!
The juxtaposition of loss of movement and movement abounding! I’m taking in your words and all you’ve experienced through this journey. Much love friend.
Thank you for engaging the juxtaposition with me, Gina. Sending love back to you
God is so good. He gives meaning and purpose to what seems purposeless. He redefines what the world has corrupted. Through Jessie and her gifts, you get to glimpse here on earth the freedom Jud now has with his father in Heaven.
So true, Eric! “Purpose to what seems purposeless!!!” Miss you guys! ~Christina
Christina, I can’t tell you how meaningful and precious it is to me that you share your life like this. This was such a beautiful depiction of what Jesus does in us. I know this isn’t really beauty from ashes but it’s certainly is beauty in the midst of pain. Thank you! ❤️
Thank you, Trisha! <3
Christina, when God closes one door he opens up another (I’m sure you have heard that a lot, but I truly believe this).. and what a gift that other door is!
Judson was a gift and now God is showing you his eternal love by gracing you with another gift and that is of your daughter and her lover for dancing. As you mention in your blog what Judson lost Jessie has gained incredibly, her movement! What you couldn’t see Judson do in his short life God is gracing you by giving you the joy of seeing Jessie do what Judson was not able to.
It touches me every time I read your story. It’s amazing… Jesse having her dance concert on November 7th is not a coincidence. God has a way of sending us messages. I get from this that God and Judson wants you to know that instead of celebrating death that is a day to celebrate Judson’s life and him being truly free. Free in Jesus’s arms and in heaven being able to do what on earth he was not able. And I know that Judson would have preferred to see you and your family commemorate this day by having his sister perform and do what she loves the most.
I am sure that Judson will also be dancing along with his sister in heaven.
I myself suffered a great loss when my sweet Evana passed at only 3 months old from Mitochondrial Disease on March 26, 2008. But I know that she is in a place where there is no sorrow or pain, she is free and in the arms of Jesus. I believe that these little angels send us little messages to let us know that they are okay. For me its every time I see a white butterfly fly near me I think of her and she is giving me butterfly kisses. These little angels are letting us know that they long for they day where they will be able to see us again in heaven. It’s not a goodbye but an I see you later. This is how I see it. I would like to think that Evana and Judson are both playing in heaven and wanting us to share this moment together. There is hope after such a tragic loss. Death has no sting… we will see our little angels again one day!
In the meantime this is how I am sure that Judson would have loved for you and your family to have spent November 7th. Celebrating his life by watching his sister dance and having this be part of his legacy.
Sending you the warmest hugs and well wishes. Have a blessed day and all my best to Jessie on November 7th on her dance concert.
Such sweet words, Sonia. Thank you! ~Christina
I opened this link days ago and finally just read it. So beautiful that his legacy lives on. Also I can’t help remember that very first dance class that our girls did together.
Brooke! I think about that dance class often!! Though she loved to dance, she seemed to like to do her own thing at that time. Ha! I hope you and yours are well! ~Christina