Jean (then Maloney) and I were great friends in high school. Exchanging notes, talking on the phone for hours, hanging out, stuff like that. Jean got married to another friend, Rick Smith, out of high school and we just kind of lost touch. In fact, I hadn't seen or spoken to Jean in more than 15 years - until last month.
In early November, I received a Facebook friend request from Jean. I couldn't believe it. It came at a great time and really completely made my day to poke around her profile, looking at pictures, reading the things she wrote and just kind of catching up with her life. We exchanged notes and she filled me in on her life, telling me about the four kids that she and Rick had and how great everything was. Although we didn't speak to each other, I felt like Jean was kind of back in my life by seeing her status updates and notes.
This past Friday, at some time between 1 pm, when she was seen at her son's high school,and around 3 pm, when he came home from school, Jean and her oldest son Jim (a sophomore at JMU) were shot and killed in their home in Dale City. The police have not released many details.
It is a miracle that I had the opportunity to reconnect even to a limited degree before Jean was taken, but I just can't process this. It doesn't make sense.
In our email exchange in early November, Jean summed up everything by saying to me: "Life is pretty darn sweet, and still spectacularly unpredictable." On her own page she once wrote:
"We all chose the times and the places and people where we think we should be. I hope that I am where I am needed, and that I chose wisely. I will have the opportunity to be remembered for what I have done, instead of what I have failed to do . . . ."
The Wall on Jean's Facebook account is flooded with messages from teens and young adults. I can't bring myself to read their last words to her - they seem too private - but I do notice that most of them call her Mama. From what I can tell, Jean, you chose wisely. It seems clear to me that you were where you were needed and making a difference with the people that needed you. There is never going to be a way to explain why this happened, why you were taken from so many of us, but I am confident that you will, indeed, be remembered for what you have done.
Until we see each other again, my friend, rest well.
For all reading this, please pray for Rick, Sarah, Connor and Liam. They are going to need all the prayers we can send their way.