Sunday, May 8, 2011

365 Days With Jesus

Happy Mother's Day!

The photograph to the left is the spot where I proposed to Janie (she said "yes," but I honestly have never figured out why haha). The view is spectacular and Janie & I had taken many walks to this spot up above her parents' cottage in Vermont.

I had gotten the ring in the summer of 1984, and I just had to show it off to the cool waitresses I worked with at the Piccadilly Deli where I was a cook at the time. Afraid of losing it, I
tied a string to it and attached it to my belt loop and stuffed it - no box - in my pocket! What a goon. I had planned to give it to her and pop the question on her birthday in October. We'd be up at the cottage in Vermont, it would be peak foliage, it was her birthday....all the stars aligning for a dramatic and romantic Proposal.  When the Day actually came, however, my heart said, 'yes,' but my body said, 'no!' My palms began to sweat, my cheeks sucked in, my eyes bugged out of my head and my ears got all hot...and I panicked and couldn't do the job. I bailed. Just too many people around on a birthday...yeah, that was it.

So I actually proposed the day after Janie's birthday, standing right on that rock under the swing. I had already given her a nice ring (an opal) to wear that showed we were committed to each other...a 'promise ring' if you will. Now, finding the courage that had abandoned me the day before, I brought up the subject of finally getting married and she said that she did want to marry me like we had talked about someday. Not to be deterred, now that I was in it, I pressed it and said that I wanted to marry her, and right now if I could, and I asked her to marry me. She said yes.

We had already kind of agreed that, were we to get engaged some day, we'd use the promise ring as an engagement ring so as to save money. So I said I wanted to take the ring off and then put it on again as a symbolic gesture kind of thing. I asked her to close her eyes and I took off the opal. That's when I deftly made the switcheroo and put the diamond on in place of the opal. Did you see that? Smooth. Her jaw dropped of course and she began to cry.

I, being true to my drooling, hairy, knuckle-dragging gender, said, "why are you crying?"

"Because!" she said, "I'm so happy!"

Sheepishly: "Oh."

I'll save the wedding story and the rest of the intervening twenty five years for another post. To sum them up, we moved to Greenfield, MA where I attended photography school and she worked for a dentist's office.  We moved back to central MA and I began my career as a photographer, and she continued hers in medical offices. Then Rebecca was born, and along came Daniel and then we moved to Vermont and along came Carly.

All the while, God was carrying us along and preparing us, in so many unnoticed ways, for what was ahead.


So now it's been one year since Janie went home to be with the Lord. One year ago today, we had the high privilege of watching the exact moment she entered into the joy of His rest. In a way, it was a very beautiful thing, though it was awful and sad and scary too. Janie did so many things so well; I'm so glad that she died well too. Does that make sense to you?

But boy! How can can it have been a year already? Honestly, I really don't feel like I've lived 365 days since then - it feels more like three or five months, tops. But a whole year?

We all miss her terribly of course; her radiant smile lit up the room, and her energy and love for God energized everyone around her. She loved life and lived it well. Like C.S. Lewis said about his wife, "she liked more things and liked them more than anyone I have known." Sounds like Janie, huh?

She was a marvelous wife, a brilliant mom, a delightful daughter and a faithful and true friend.

Now don't get creeped out by this, but: I actually see Janie every day. I see her in Rebecca's  den-mothering in her dorm and her kind, gentle spirit. I see her in Daniel's playing music at church and his great tennis swing. I see her in Carly's ready laugh and her walk with God. Yes, I do see Janie every day, and I thank God that so much of her has remained behind in my three wonderful children.

So maybe you had guessed that this was coming, but I decided to make a little slideshow of the last few years with Janie. So grab your box of Kleenex and enjoy....

Oh, by the way, the music is by my kids' band, Till We Have Faces. The song, "Promise," was one of her favorites....

I haven't been as diligent in giving family news as I should have been, I suppose, so here's a quick rundown of our year since May 8 of 2010, including a few links to some of my previous posts:

May: Janie's Memorial Service was really quite something. I can't speak for everyone there, but for me, it was the most positive and upbeat funeral I've ever been to. And that says something about Janie and her great God doesn't it? Here's her obituary. We also welcomed Emma and Pippi into our family!

June: Carly's birthday, the end of school, the start of summer...all while still a little shell-shocked of course.

July: more summer stuff. Work gets busy for me, kids had their work, Carly had tennis, etc. Our Anniversary was July 27th.

August: my birthday month. First birthday without Janie. Weird. Everyone was quite wonderful to me, I must say. We went to Soulfest, a big Christian rock music festival. Back to school happens at the end of August around here.  Becca & her boyfriend Dan got off to Houghton for sophomore year, Daniel started his Senior year of high school and Carly went into 8th grade at RACS.

September: Transitioned from summer mode to hitting-our-stride-everyone's-in-a-school-schedule mode.

October: Janie's birthday month. More weirdness but it turned into a very positive experience for me. I spent some time alone with God on the Appalachian Trail with a camera.  I felt calm and peaceful and relaxed afterwards. Oh, and the studio got burgled too....

November: Here's where some excitement came along: Janie's Stocking started up the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Read about this here, here, here and here if it's new to you. This was a very happy thing - it really put a spring in my step, and how many people can say that during their first Holiday season after losing a loved one?  Plus, Janie would have loved it.

December: Really all about the Stocking thing, and getting kids home from college and working hard at making Christmas about Jesus and not missing Janie so much that we become incapacitated. I think we did really well.

New Year's: We had a hoe-down! And a worship-event-thing. I know: sounds weird. You had to be there.

January --> Today: Lots of daily life routine stuff: school concerts, report cards, phone calls to the college kids, science fairs, and, in the winter, shovelling, shovelling, shovelling! I don't think I personally have ever been so busy as February/March/April. I took on the design work for the RACS yearbook. Some of Daniel's scholarship applications needed the rather comprehensive Fafsa (the standard federal college financial aid application) forms filled out (a Janie thing) and in order to do the Fafsa, it goes better if your taxes (the long form) are done (another Janie thing).  Plus I was the speaker for Forge, and did I mention I decided to refinance the house? Crazy!

As a last bit of news, let me just add that though not perfected, my attempts at Janie's world famous chocolate chip cookies have had some success.

And finally, I'd like to make a very public THANK YOU to Janie's parents and her sister Dia (and the rest of the Linds), who have given to our family far beyond what we could ask or even imagine with their continuous help in the every day comings and goings of the Booths.

Thanks for reading - I know this was a long one! We love you all and are so grateful for your prayers for us.

"Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you." Psalm 63:3


  1. Thanks for this, Chris. An epic post! It's been quite a year. That took a lot of time and work of heart.

    And to think, these 365 days have been like a twinkling of an eye for her!!

    I miss and love you!

  2. This was such a wonderful update to read~you all were in my heart today from the moment I woke up. I'm so glad I get to share life with Dan and Becca and therefore with you and Carly! I hope you have a wonderful Spring season!

  3. Love the switcheroo with the rings...smooooooth. ;) Your post was good for my heart. Yours too, I presume. Bless you brother.

    BTW - word verification: wellnes :)

  4. Beautiful post, Chris. Thanks for sharing!