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Tuesday, April 12, 2011


I'm taking a break from my trip posts. I'll continue with them in a few days.


It's not a name I know. Yet, this weekend, I can't stop saying it in my head. Over and over again, "Sensanbaugher . . . ". To those who saw me this weekend, if I seemed distracted, it's because I was. I hope the family will forgive my indulgence for posting about this.

Growing up, church life and school life were separate: hardly any members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at school, and hardly any students from Southwestern at church. Church friends, school friends, and never the twain did meet. Try as I might, my worlds simply would not collide.

I left that town in the summer of 1996, and each time I've gone back for a visit, I've seen fewer and fewer school friends. Some have stayed local, but it's not like there were many opportunities for social visiting opportunities. Church friends remained the same, and attending those Sunday meetings in Jamestown brought mini-reunions with the addition of faces I didn't know. As years went by, during my visits I was introduced as a visitor instead of just acknowledged as 'being home' (which is fine by me, after all, Jamestown is no longer, and hasn't been for many years, My Home).

I've kept in contact with school friends the same way many people have, through facebook. It's interesting for me to see which of my classmates have children the same ages as others', and it gives me insight into small town operation: two kids meet and become friends at school, only to find out that their parents also knew each other in elementary school. I like making connections like that, I find it almost fascinating to think about the development and evolution of relationships in those terms.

Early Saturday morning, I received a text message from my sister:

The Jamestown Ward's Bishop's son passed away last night. He was only 7.

I mentioned this to my sister-in-law on Skype shortly after I received the text message, and she filled me in on what she knew of the situation. After learning more from friends' facebook updates and spending some time on the Sensanbaughers's CaringBridge site, I learned the abbreviated version: this young boy, Gavin, had a cough on Saturday, flu-like symptoms on Sunday & Monday, and vomiting on Monday which continued into Tuesday, which is the day he went into cardiac arrest. After 20 minutes, a blessing, and shocking, Gavin's heart was beating again; tests confirmed swelling in his brain, and by Saturday many tests confirmed that the damage to his brain was irreversible, and no brain activity was present. His parents made the decision to take him off of life-support. Sunday brought a transplant wherein five people became recipients of Gavin's healthy and strong organs.

Tragedy has a way of pulling people together. I know this from being part of the community which rallies, as well as being the recipient of the ralliers, finding myself buoyed up by a force I didn't even know existed until after I realized that I had depended on it for survival.

As I read the comments on the CaringBridge site, my heart swelled as I looked at the names: Georgia Ognibene, Pete Conley, Barb Colgrove, Eric Clark, John Ling, Jessie (Johnson) Certo, Ryan Hurley, Ginny Swanson, Annette Alexander, Marrilee (Fairbank) Perry, Theresa DiMaio, Jen (Swan) Froah, Penny Tracy, Jean Fairbank . . . the list goes on. I couldn't believe it.

The worlds had collided.
Dear, dear Sensanbaugher Family,

You are in my family's prayers. You must have scores of people whose hearts are directed your way, and I can tell you that for where you live . . . locally, you have the best of people rooting for you. You will be with your son again. Families are forever.


You can view Gavin Sensanbaugher's CaringBridge site here.


Kristina P. said...

Wow, what a sweet little boy. And the fact that he was an organ donor is amazing.

So sorry, Jenny. No wonder you were so distracted!

Jan Hanken said...

I found your posting because I googled Gavin's name. I am Gavin's aunt. Ken is my brother. What a blessing it was to have Gavin in our lives. Ken, Julie, Joshua, Caleb and Gavin are an eternal family and I know that they will all be together someday. Gavin was such a special little boy. He and his brothers loved playing with my children, their "older" cousins. My middle son, Kevin, who is 22, had this special bond with Gavin. From the time Gavin was a baby he and Kevin were inseparable everytime we were together. Some bonds can not be broken. I know that Gavin is looking over us and how joyous the day when we are reunited with him. He will be missed so very, very much. Our world has lost a very special little boy.

We love you Gavin!

Love, Aunt Jan, David, Kevin & Jennifer

Vern said...

Kids dying is not awesome.