On Life and Love

To an amazing woman: Jenny Zartman

I’ve been musing for several days what to write about the death of Jenny Zartman.

There are the details: that she died in a car accident heading down to Wilmington to be with her cousin early August 5, 2006.

There’s the emotional impact: her parents’ immense grief; Michael’s heartrending sadness and infinite helpfulness and patience; my mother’s sad calls to my father, half a country away; Becca’s broken voice over the phone; my own unending shock and sadness and my eleven-hour drive to Charlotte to be with those I love and who love Jenny in their time of grief. I have not stopped thinking of her and Michael during the day and crying for the loss of this amazing woman’s continued wisdom and love.

I’ve been trying to sum up the effect Jenny’s had on my life, and it’s been so far-reaching that I don’t think I can possibly succeed. And Jenny’s influence is intricately tied up with Michael’s influence on me, so pardon me if for a moment it seems as though I am mourning the loss of Michael as much as I am Jenny by talking of the phenomenon known as JennyAndMichael. He is alive.

Jenny taught me to play Pretty, Pretty Princess my senior year, amidst what were probably incessant grumblings about such a girly game. It was the highlight of the party, in my mind. If memory serves, she won.

JennyAndMichael taught me that relationships could be more than what I’d seen up that point: more mature than typical high school tangles, but more… connected than anything my parents or my friends’ parents had. I probably wouldn’t be in a long-term relationship at all right now if not for them. They taught me what love could be and how it was actually possible to work through a relationship’s problems.

Jenny taught me (ridiculous as it was for me to need the lesson) that women in care-giving roles don’t need to be weak or limited to sock-less kitchen duty. 🙂 Feminine implies weakness in our society, but such is not the case. Trust me. *grin… with teeth*

Jenny, in so many ways, epitomizes my definitions of womanly, giving, honest, and fun. Being in Charlotte again last weekend, I saw her in all of my friends. I saw her perseverance in Chris, her love in Michael, and her patience and wisdom in all of us.

I feel as though the best possible tribute to Jenny is to remember what’s she’s done for me and to carry that with me for the rest of my life.

Nathan wrote a very nice post about Jenny and living in the aftermath of her death. I think he’s very much on point.

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