That Friday morning was another typical Arizona day. I had left the house about 6:30, with the intention of being a Lyft driver for most of the morning. I picked up my first passenger, taking her from one Phoenix suburb to another, listening to her vent about problems and issues.
Once I dropped her at her destination, I checked my phone for messages. This was waiting for me from my wife:
Jerney died. I was 35+ minutes from where I had to go…and I couldn’t get there fast enough.
There were cops with radar guns at every offramp and intersection. Why today?
Jerney died. Things would never be the same.
I checked my phone again. There was a voicemail from an unknown number, that had called at 7:49am. It was my wife, with a very tear-choked version of the same message. Something horrible had happened to Jerney. I found out later that it was the phone of one of the detectives. He had let her try and get hold of me on it.
Jerney died. Let me back up and tell you about Jerney. Jerney and her twin sister Jersey first entered our lives on the first of August, 2016. My wife was hired to be their nanny. They were eight months old at the time, and they needed lots of attention. There were medical concerns as well.
My wife was with them for eight hours a day, Monday through Friday. The girls were the youngest of 9 kids.
Through numerous medical procedures, Jerney was always happy. Sure, she was scared sometimes, but she always had a smile.
Jerney died. My wife would get to the house about 7:15 every weekday morning, and help get the other kids ready for school. They all grew to love her. And then, once most of the kids were gone off to school, she would get the twins up, dressed and ready for breakfast. After breakfast, they would play most of the morning, and then nap time. My wife became part of the family. She was there when the adoption was finalized for the girls. She was “Miss Yessika” to everyone in the household.
Sometimes I would come by in the mornings, about 8:30 or so, and bring her breakfast (Carne Asada Fries were her favorite). She would put the girls up in their high chairs, and share her fries with them. If was a favorite treat for them.
Jerney was scheduled to have surgery on the 23rd to correct her sleep apnea problems. It wasn’t to happen. Friday morning, my wife went up to get the girls up early, because Jerney had a doctor’s appointment because she wasn’t feeling well. Sometime overnight Jerney passed away, and went back to Heaven.
Jerney died. That smiling little girl who loved french fries was gone. At 8:08am I was across the street from Chandler hospital. 30 minutes later I was arriving at a confusing scene in Maricopa. There were police cars everywhere. Officers and detectives, all taking notes and writing things down. EMS had come and gone long before I arrived. Victims Assistance was there, along with a PD Chaplain. Both of the parents were in tears. And in the middle of it all, trying to be brave, was my wife. She was trying to project some normalcy for the other children in the house. Their routine was messed up. By now, they should have been at daycare, and school. And here they were, sitting at the table having breakfast with all of these strangers walking around, taking pictures, and looking sad.
The next few days are forever etched in my memory, but are still too personal and painful to talk about yet. Maybe I’ll write about them in the future, with the family’s permission.
Jerney died. Yet her memory WILL live on in our hearts. She was one year, five months, and twelve days old when she was called Home.
Today, we are donating books to the local library in her memory. She loved books.
I am honored to call her, and her adorable sister, my God-daughters. Their family is now part of our family. God put us in their lives for a reason, just like He brought them into our lives for a reason.
She was a tough little girl, with a big heart, and beautiful brown eyes.