You know how there are those people you just click with. You don’t see them all the time, but they just make your day a little brighter when you do. Jenny Cianci is one of those for me. She knows my deepest secrets because she is my hair stylist. In fact, even if she made my hair really ugly, I would still go to her just so we could talk.
We go way back – about 20 years back. We have cried together and have laughed so hard it hurts. We have traveled this journey of parenthood together. Jenny and her husband, Scott, are the most involved and wonderful parents you will ever meet. They are with it. They raised their children to be leaders, to be strong and amazing.
Three years ago this last April, Jenny was folding laundry and looking out the window at her family. Her heart was full and she was thanking God for all He had blessed her with and all He was to her. She and Scott had been married several years, and they had a beautiful 17 year old daughter, Chandler, and a vivacious 15 year old son, Cooper.
As Jenny stood there, thanking God for what He had done, it was clearly impressed on her that it would not always be that way. She heard, “There is a storm coming.” She tried to put that out of her mind, and this verse was made clear to her, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
On May 4th, Scott and Cooper were working on a project. They had run out of glue, so Scott ran to the store to get more. Jenny was rushing around because she was getting ready to leave for a hair show. As she was getting ready, she was also trying to get her family situated for the weekend. You know exactly how it is.
While Scott was gone, Jenny was trying to coax Cooper into getting his uniform washed and ready for baseball. He was already playing varsity as a freshman. Not only was he a fierce and competitive athlete, he was smart and hilarious. If ever I got a chance to see Cooper at Jenny’s shop in her house I was absolutely entertained. You never knew what he was going to say or do. He was a perfect gentleman and had obviously been raised by incredible parents.
Cooper was having nothing to do with getting that uniform washed. In fact, he hadn’t been acting like his typical self all morning. Jenny was growing understandably impatient. She was running out of time for herself to get ready and before she got into the shower, her husband had called. She told him what had been happening and that he would need to talk with Cooper when he got home.
Jenny had gotten out of the shower and was getting ready. The next thing she knew, Scott was running down the hall screaming that Cooper had shot himself. They had lost their sweet Cooper.
No one knows why. No one understands. He had everything going for him. He had it all.
After his death, Jenny was in her room praying and begging for help. The verse was given to her again, “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” She felt His presence. She knew she wasn’t alone. He would give her the strength to face her greatest fear.
The night of Cooper’s visitation, people were waiting outside First Baptist Diamond to get into the church to encourage and support Cooper’s incredible family. That’s not what happened. I watched stunned as Jenny, Scott, Chandler and their family inspired the visitors. They stood and greeted everyone that came through as Cooper’s momentos, awards and trophies were positioned at the front of the sanctuary.
The funeral that followed the next day was unbearable and unbelievable. Many stood and shared stories and memories that made everyone laugh and cry all at the same time.
Cooper’s dad actually walked on stage and was able to deliver a message about his son and share the love of Christ.
I don’t get it. It’s one of those times that people can say, “Why would a loving God allow that?” Jenny wondered. She will tell you that. I can’t imagine her pain. But, she amazes me. I get chills thinking about the way she talks. She is so genuine and honest. Her story alone would make me believe in Christ. She says she gets through with His strength and His grace.
In her own words, if she could share anything, “Don’t try to figure it out. Because, in our case, we don’t understand it. But instead, trust God and believe what His Word says about those who believe in Him. Keeping our eyes focused on God and His truth are the only way we have made it through this.”
Jenny tells stories of how Christ has given her mercy and shown her love in the darkest hours of her life. His presence, kind acts of people and even a dream have been given to her.
Their family receives letters, texts and Bible verses on days they need them most.
Jenny is consoled by the fact that at least 20 people have come to know Christ since Cooper’s death.
After Copper passed away, Jenny had a dream. It was so real for her. Cooper was sobbing. She couldn’t console him. She went over to the couch where he was sitting and said, “Bubs, what is the matter? What is wrong?” Sobbing uncontrollably, he said, “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”
She desperately needed that dream at that time. She had been angry with Cooper. She was mad that he had done that. I remember smiling as Jenny told me she didn’t know if she was going to hug him or spank him first when she saw him again. The dream was a gift for her. She knew he was terribly remorseful.
Unbelievably, during this storm, another arose. Chandler had eye surgery and it was causing her intense pain. Jenny was by her bed constantly trying to ease her pain. Again she was desperately begging God for help. He spoke to her clearly, “Pain always comes before healing.” He impressed on her that was true physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Jenny and her family will be in the healing process until they are reunited with Cooper. Life will never be the same. But Jenny faithfully gets out of bed every morning, goes to work, shares the love of Christ, serves at Bible Study Fellowship, teaches the high school girls at her church and loves her family.
The Cianci family is proof that God will give peace, strength and courage when we face our greatest fears.