Nancy Jensen joins Michael again as the first Guest of Season 2! This year Nancy will talk about ways she continues to celebrate Jessica. She'll talk about the importance of Silly Socks and how you can also use Silly Socks to celebrate your loved ones. Finally, Nancy will share how working with Hearts Unite the Globe: A Nonprofit Organization for the Congenital Heart Defect Community keeps Jessica ever present in her life.
This show originally aired on January 4, 2018.
Thank you to our Patrons, as 2022 comes to a close.Support the show
Links to “Bereaved But Still Me” Social Media and Podcast Pages:
Apple Podcasts: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/bereaved-but-still-me/id1333229173
Become a Patron: https://www.hug-podcastnetwork.com/patreon.html
Welcome friends to the first episode of the second season of Heart to Heart with Michael Program for the brief community, Our purpose is to empower
community with Resource is support and advocacy information. This season's theme is a celebration of life, and we're lucky to have returning Guest and our producer and graphic artist and suggests today's show was silly socks and celebrating
Jessica talking with Nancy about how she celebrates Jessica, what silly socks are and how you, too, can you something socks as a way to remember loved ones. And we'll finish up by talking with Nancy about how working with hard tonight the Globe Help sir continue to celebrate just this life.
Nancy Jensen and her husband Call have three heart healthy sons, and Jessica Jessica was born with complex congenital heart defects. Sadly, Jessica passed away on October 4th, 2010 but she survived 22 years. Despite all her medical issues, Nancy continues to support the CSG community, offering compassion, CHD warriors, their families, breathe parents and yours truly. She is the graphic artist and producer of this podcast, and she has been a guest on heart to heart with Anna as well as heart to heart with Michael. Nancy. Welcome back. It's great to have you.
Thank you. It's great to be here.
You started off season one, and now you're starting off Season two. So this has become a tradition for us, mate. Go on for many, many, many years. So let's start now by talking about ways that you celebrate Jessica today.
Jessica is in my heart in my mind, like every minute of every day, pretty much And, um, having cared for her for all those years she continues to live on, um and I feel her close to be many times, um, practically non stock. Um, and even like my family and I, if we see a sunset or butterflies, rainbows, anything we always say, or even the moon. So hey, come out and look at this. And doesn't it remind you of Jessica or Jessica says hi? And so there are just all kinds of things that we do to celebrate her every day, even joking about some of the same things that she joked about.
What would you talk about?
Oh, just every little thing. Like we tease each other about everything and like if we teased her about something or like Carl would ask her. She would say, Hey, are you my little girl? And she'd see I'm not little that started from the time she was She could talk and should be going in a little girl voice about little. It was a
little girl, because that's important. She would actually remain a little child most of the way through. Yeah.
Oh, all the way through. Yes, she was at the level of the seven or eight. Um, she could right about a first grade level, and she loved writing stories and what? But even as a big girl, she would see I'm not little. And so we tried to get her to stay in bed at night. We told her big girls stay in bed. So we get to call you little if you get out of bed, which was eight or nine or 10 times every night.
So it worked really well.
Yeah, it worked really well. Great. Okay. But when she actually did stay in bed, she would say, Daddy, I'm a big girl today. I see him bad. So but when we tease her about something, she's go. Oh, Daddy, your silly. Or if I tease Daddy about Sum's Yes, Mommy. You got Daddy? Yeah, Or she would call him Little Jessica. Are you my little girl? No. Your little And he joked and said, Oh, no, I'm little And she'd laugh. Mommy, I got Daddy. But
Oh, by the way, one of the nicest people I've ever met, Um and he's He's a big teddy bear. So for him to be playing little like that with her, I I can see that I really can't.
Oh, yes. Oh, yes, yes, there. I've got many, many stories.
We're here to celebrate. We're here to talk about all the good stuff. So give us another one.
Oh, my gosh. She absolutely loved meeting family Towards the end of her life. My aunt and uncle were coming through Tim, and they came by and they had met her when she was a little girl that they stopped by and got to meet her. And when I was telling her But my aunt Karen and Uncle Jerry were coming, she emphasized, When are my care and Uncle Jerry coming? And I say, Well, Uncle Jerry is Graham pas brother. So he's my uncle. She goes. But that means he's my uncle too, Right, Mommy? And I said yes. She always said, right, Mommy. And I said, Yes, it does. She goes, Okay. When are my Uncle Jerry not caring? So she just loved meeting new people, or I'd show her pictures online and say, these are your cousins. You know, there'd be second or third or, you know, whatever cousins she had met. Oh, she gets so excited. And all their my family all that's so wonderful. So,
yeah, I guess each family is very important to her. I know it is to you, and I can see why she would think that.
Oh, yeah. You know, whenever we planned a birthday party or Christmas, which was every day all year round, mind you, she always talk about who she was going to invite and, of course, family and friends. And she would just love to talk about two getting together with people. And it was just she loved a party. That's what we've always said about Oh, Jessica loved a party. She loved Planet, too.
So tell me now about some of the ways that you celebrator today when she's not physically here but she's still very much part of your life. How to celebrate her today.
I have been a crafter, an artist, ever since I was a little girl. And I love doing arts and crafts with my kids, all four of them. And with Jessica staying at the same level and not being able to run and play and do sports or do any of that kind of thing, that's what we did. We did lots of crafts and she loved to trace pictures. Carl used to say she'd make a great Xerox machine. One day she would trace those pictures, like out of coloring books so I'd buy your coloring books. You would trace it, then she would color. Then she would cut it out, and then she would give it to somebody or put up on the wall. Or maybe not cutting it out and and give it to somebody. And then she would draw me pictures. And for years she would almost
every day here, Mommy, I drew your picture. Or if I was sick here, Mommy, I want you to feel better. I drew your picture.
Another thing that we enjoy doing together is beating jewelry so I have quite a few necklaces and bracelets and such that she made for me. So I continue to celebrate her by the artwork that I dio I for a while for several years got into making cards and all my cards had something of Jessica in it. And I still do make cards either butterflies or her favorite colors or a little girl in it or her favorite flower. I mean, something of her is in it. And if you knew Jessica, you'd be able to look at the card and go, Oh, yeah, that's all about Jessica and pretty and and feminine. And so I have all these things around me, and they help me to feel. And like I'm celebrating her. And I have quite a few of her things hanging up like some of her pictures and things, Um, so that when I look at it, I smile and think, Oh, I remember when she drew that for me. So and I have pictures of us doing cards together, so I enjoy looking at photos so lots of different ways I'm celebrating her life, and also by offering support and love to other families. I'm celebrating her. She wanted to help everybody she
knew, and she just couldn't do much so she would draw them a picture or made of a bracelet. Fourth in
Hi I'm John Montas of NBC's Hit a Cappella Show, the sing Off and a cappella music. It takes a team to create a sound that many will enjoy. Just like it'll take a team to help my good friend Miles Sweitzer, an H LHs survivor. Let's help Miles fulfill his dream and make a big enough sound to bring awareness to congenital heart disease. Please visit him at Go Fund me dot com backwards slash the miles project Miles with the Why again, that's go fund me dot com The Miles Project This is for Miles. You
are listening to heart to heart with Michael. If you have a question or comment that you would like addressed on our program, please send an email to Michael even at Michael at heart to heart with michael dot com Now back toe heart to heart With Michael We
were talking about how you celebrate Jessica today, but I know there's something special going on there, Nancy. So tell me more about the socks.
Oh, this is the really awesome tradition. So, um, we didn't have the Internet because we couldn't afford it for the first about 11 12 years of Jessica's life, and it was a very verily very lonely. And so when we got the Internet, my sister recommended I go online, and I found some support groups. And in one of those support groups, they had a tradition which was wearing Christmas socks for a child who was very ill in hopes that they would be able to not only survive for still Christmas but enjoy their time with their family. So when I went online, I told the whole story about how Jessica was not going to survive her. See HDs. Her health was declining. Um, and we just were hoping to be able to have a good Christmas and everyone that group started wearing Christmas socks for her. And it was amazing because within a month or two we counted 12 countries and our lowest estimate was about 5000 people or more. Wearing Christmas socks. Yeah,
How do you measure that? Just people are already. And saying how we met
Yeah, on the group, there were, say, they were telling us where they were from, so or they would send me e mail and telling me where they were from. On that they were wearing Christmas socks for just good. They had their prayer groups, their church groups and whoever we're waiting Christmas socks. And I mean, I even had a couple of Jewish people asked me if it would be okay if they were Hanukkah socks or or one of them said, Do you think it would be OK for this Jewish woman to wear Christmas socks? And I'm like, where
you look that up?
Well, you know, Christmas socks aren't necessarily the socks that you stockings that you hang up for. Santa Claus. They're just regular socks that have a Christmas design on. It s oh, yeah, like like ugly Christmas sweaters, which I think a lot of them are actually cute, but that's just me. So in October, they had a reporter come out and do a story on the's Christmas socks for this little girl, and it wasn't even Christmas yet, And so they did a news report on her, which was pretty cool, and then a Christmas time they came and did a follow up story about the Christmas socks, so that was kind of neat. So afterwards I started getting receiving messages and then the groups they were posting Well, now what do we do? Let's where Valentine socks for Jessica and then Easter socks. And then it just, you know, poke it out socks or summer socks. Or so after a while, they just start calling his silly socks. It was amazing. We started getting mail. We opened Hubbard a mailbox, and she got was getting sucks,
Did what she was. Sucks. They were sending silly
socks. Yes, and cards and pins. Some of the CHD groups had made pins, and so she got a couple of pins. She got one from Australia on. And so it was really quite amazing to see all this 11 support when I went online. I figured, Well, we've been through strokes who have been through collapsed lungs. We've been through all these, you know, all these major surgeries
silly offer support. Well, I all wanted offers support to other people, and all of a sudden there's
all this support coming into me, and we weren't used to that, and it was so, so amazing. It was so amazing. And so, um, now Jessica didn't just suddenly get well. She was still a very sick little girl, and her health would go up and down and she would like, get a cold and she would be at death's door and people would start sending out the notification. Let's where Christmas sucks. Let's were silly sucks. Let's wear these socks for Jessica. And you know, it was the love and support of all these people that helped pull us through. And she would come back to us. And then in 2010 when we found out that Chris Gimmick Bells, um, had really were completely shutting down and that was that was she had suffered from all of her life. Um, and we knew that time for sure, was running short. Someone even made a Facebook event about silly socks for Jessica, and it was for her passing to be peaceful and for love and support for our family. It was so amazing.
I want to say something because I remember I remember the silly socks I remember. So this sucks for Jessica, but I remember also that it became a thing, but as soon as somebody said, you know, my kids in trouble, other people would start wearing socks for for other kids and that it became sort of a folk cure kind of a thing. And in many, many ways it was amazing because it was something that it started on a small, obscure group that we were both a part of. Yes, and it's spread all around. So let me ask you, this is keeping this tradition going Now. I hope you feel that you're still close with Jessica. Doesn't feel that she's still next to you when you do that.
Oh, absolutely. You know, towards the end, there she was, so afraid her biggest fear was that people would forget her. No, and that just blew me away. Of all these people who loved her so much, how could we ever forget her? And so I feel that us wearing these silly socks on her birthday and on her angel day that she can actually, visually see all these people that still love and care about her so much it does this angel heart mamas heart a lot of good to know that people still love her. And remember her and that our family aren't the only ones that she still lives on through the silly socks. And like I had said before, she wanted to help everybody that she met or even heard of. And she got to, you know, chat with people online and such. And so we would wear silly socks also for other people, and she would as well. And so I know that doing this honors what she would want to dio.
Did she know that they're wearing silly socks for her?
Oh, yes, absolutely. People sent me pictures all the time, and I
was show them to her. I would show them to her. Say, Jessica, look, this is so and
so they would put them on their Children, the heart, Children, and take pictures or all of them. They sometimes the just socks. Mostly they would take pictures of their feet with their socks and send it to us. And so what we have done, um, usually on her angel day is we have gone out to the cemetery, whatever family members are available and sometimes a dear friend of mine who had been her home health aide for quite a few years and we will go and will. Where are silly socks and take picture there. And, um so and having people send me those pictures, those pictures, it just really wars my heart and I just feel Jessica smiling, you know?
Yeah, it's very lovely sentiment, and it's nice that it it's an ongoing thing. And in whatever the reason, if there's a reason to wear the socks, you pull him out, your they're here with her. That's really sweet.
Forever by the Baby Blue Sound Collective. I think what I love so much about this city is that some of the songs were inspired by the patients. Many
listeners will understand many of the different songs and what they've been inspired. Our
new album will be available on iTunes. Amazon dot com. Spotify. I love the fact that the proceeds from this CD are actually going to help those with congenital heart defects join Music home tonight forever.
Tha Heart to Heart with Michael is a presentation of hearts, Unite Theglobe and is part of the hug podcast Network Hearts unite. The globe is a non profit organization devoted to providing resource is to the congenital heart defect community to uplift in power and enrich the lives of our community members. If you would like access to free resource, is pretending to the CHT community. Please visit our website at www congenital heart defects dot com for information about C H D. The hospitals that treat Children with CHD summer camps for CHD survivors and much, much more.
You are listening to heart to heart with Michael. If you or someone you know would like to be a guest on Michael's program, please email him at Michael at heart to heart with michael dot com. Now back to our program way.
We're talking about jewelry and cards and all kinds of things that I used to do with Jessica that you continue to do now. So tell me about the jewelry because I think that's a That's a big thing here.
Oh, thank you for bringing the half. I am with origami L. A jewelry and we personalized lockets. And the way I came about finding them is I was invited to a party, and when I saw some of the charms on there, it was like Jessica was excited and she's like, Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, I would love those. Oh, my gosh, you got to get him. So I had to get him and put them in a locket. And it has grown from having a couple of princess charms to butterflies. And, um, we have these dangles and different things, and it has helped me heal so much by having that locket. And I've had other friends and customers who have created lockets about those who there be relieved of and they'd love their lockets. And they gift lockets to other people who are be relieved or they're celebrating somebody with these lockets and helping others is something that I absolutely love to dio. And these lockets is one way to help others while honoring Jessica. And I just enjoy it so much.
That's nice. I'm glad that you found something that can connect you to her and make you feel like she's still a part of your everyday. That's really important. Now I want you to talk about something else that you do regularly and how that also helps you to continue to celebrate. Jessica. Why do you volunteer with hearts? Unite the global? And how does that help you bring her back into your everyday life.
Well, it started out when I was asked to be the first guest on your program, and I had been on and the door skis heart to heart with Anna a couple of times, and I had done a little bit of artwork for her. So first I was a guest and then more artwork. And then pretty soon I was the producer. So I have really enjoyed meaning a lot of these other people and it just helping people with something that came natural to Jessica and for me. And, you know, for a long time I was a CHD mom, and now I'm also an angel. Mom and helping others is really a great way of honoring her life and helping her feel close to me. And there have been just so many times that I have felt her clothes when listening to one of our podcaster interviewing one of these guests, and I feel like she's going way to go. Mom, I'm so happy.
I'm glad you said that, because when one of the things that we talked about when we were planning these programs was that we wanted to bring help to people who wanted to let them know they weren't alone. I want to bring them information. I went to the Advocate all of these no high ideals. But it's hard to know if you're reaching somebody when you're sitting here. And I remember talking about this with with you and with others and said, If we help only one person, we've done our job and I'm that person,
Absolutely. I am to
you definitely feel that when you're when you're working on this all the time, it's It's more than just something to do. It's not just that you like to do it to mission. You're going out there and you want people to listen and you want to know that. You know, we know how hard things are. We know how tough things can really be, but we're doing what we're doing, and we've in some sense recovered or were recovering. But we feel okay with ourselves, and we want other people to get that. We hope that it radiates from these programs, and I think it does, and I think you're a really good example of that.
Well, thank you. So were you. And I have spoken to other people who have listened to the podcast and you have gotten e mails and such was saying how much that listening to our podcasts helps them and so that that makes it all worthwhile. Even like you said, Just my
watch. We've been getting mail here from people who are not bereaved, who just think it's nice to hear something hopeful because sometimes you're not buried. But you have other things that are heavy, as he's drawing lessons from people who have been through very heavy situations and can really, you know, draw from them. And I think that's really nice. We didn't expect to do that. And I think we have it
well, you know, there are all different forms of grieving. You don't have to have lost a child or a parent or somebody. I mean, you could have lost a marriage, a divorce, you could have lost a job. I mean, there are so many different things to grieve, and I think that listening to us and how we still have hope and joy in our lives can help them to relate and give them hope as well.
Remembering their loved ones is something that is so important. All of us in the brief community. So give us a couple of lessons that you've learned from living in loving with Jessica because, you know, we are the products of what we have done.
Absolutely. Oh, I learned so much from her. I learned from her not to give up. She was the little baby who was going through all these different, difficult things. And she looked me like Mommy, Help me, I can't breathe things. And after her strokes, even though she lost the use of her left side, she was bound and determined that she was going to learn how to use it again. When she wasn't able to learn to talk, we did sign language. She still was so eager to communicate that I worked with her day and night. You know, whenever she was awake on on forming words out of the assumes that she could make and she got toe where you couldn't shut her up, talked non stop. And I'd say, Jessica, why don't you take a breath you're getting? You're getting blue and she's like Mommy, it's what I do best.
You know what I think? I think I must have said this the last time you want. But the day I was able to tell my hardest autistic daughter just shut up. Was it a moment of sheer joy?
Because this is
good. Really? Duck.
Oh, what was funny is when she was in her car seat in the back seat and signing to me and then getting mad because I wasn't answering her because I was driving. So talking, actually really? Help s a lot. She had to face so many things. And when she got older, she was told, Well, Jessica, you have to have a Kartik capitalization. Um, your coffee nut blood. We need to find out where it's from and you're gonna have to have the tube in your throat. Which was what she was horrified off.
You're a man, and
she sucked it up and she said, OK, but don't let me wake up with it in my mouth. And she had had experience after her last surgery that she was awake enough when the excavator that she remembered that and she absolutely I was terrified of it. So I learned how
brave and just, you know, suck it up when your face something and have the courage. You're not alone. That's something I always told her. You don't have to do it alone. I'll be here with you. And so to be brave and to find joy in the little things. Like I said, we still do. The Jessica isn't. Oh, Dad, you're so stealing little things like that and to find joy in the little things. Because her life, not one day of it, was easy. But she was the most joyful person. Anyone. Whatever meats
would you say just to wrap this up that you were when she was with you, You were there for her. Now that she's gone, she's kind of here for you, isn't she?
She absolutely is. She is. You know, there have been some times when I have, you know, I'm not always cheerful and there are times
I find that hard to believe. Stop. Just I don't want to say, you know, to have true through alternate truths or on truth. But you're just not That's just not right.
Well, okay, this is what I do. I suck it up like Jessica did. I find joy in the little things, and every once in a while, I break down and I let it out and she told me one time and I will quote her. I'll say some. A wise person once told me Sometimes the tears just have to come out right, Mommy, And they
dio why? You know that it's better Street because we're here celebrating and and still those moments they touch me so hard. Yeah,
people they did, and it will always probably be that way. However they are with us. And I know you feel the l with you.
Oh, for sure. Yeah, Anta. And that concludes this episode of heart to heart with Michael. I want to thank Nancy Jensen for sharing Jessica with us, and I hope her
story has brought some joint of
those who are listening. Please join us at the beginning of the month for a brand new
podcast. I'll talk with you soon. Until then, remember, our loved ones are still with us as long as we keep their memories alive.
Thank you again for joining us. We hope you have gained strength from listening to our program. Heart to heart with Michael can be heard every Thursday at noon Eastern time. We'll talk again next time when we'll share your stories