Jessica Latshaw

musician. writer. dancer.

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the payoff.

Posted By on January 8, 2013 in I Lift My Eyes Up, Thoughts and Feelings | 10 comments

I sat down with a dear friend last night. We were at a diner near Union Square, and it had been entirely too long since I’d had the chance to slide into a booth across from her.

We drank hot cocoa and talked; there were piles of questions to ask, many stories to share.

But one stood out in particular.

It’s so beautiful and sweet. A proof of life, so to speak. Or at least proof that the life we desire–the kind where love wins and redemption is a rule rather than just a nice idea–exists.

“Where did you spend Christmas?” I asked my friend.

“With my uncle, and, Jess–the craziest thing happened. Crazy and amazing.”

“What happened?”

“My uncle got married when he was 20, to a girl who was just 18. They had two boys and then a little girl–the little girl died when she was just five months old. My uncle found her in her crib and I think something died in him, too, when he found her just gone like that.”

“That’s so tragic…”

“I know. And he never really recovered–I mean, he just closed off and shut down and the girl he had married, well, they stopped getting along.”

“That happens a lot, I’ve read,” I told her. “Marriages rarely sustain the death of a child.”

“Well, theirs didn’t. And my uncle–he just became bitter and lost touch even with his boys; I guess he couldn’t find it in him to father anyone after his daughter died.”

“That’s so sad for everyone.”

“It is. Anyway, he remarried someone, had another baby–a girl–and I guess things kind of went back to normal, but that marriage wasn’t so good. There were problems. The woman he married was not kind or a good mom at all…so, eventually, that marriage ended, too, and he raised his daughter alone.”

(I know this doesn’t sound like a nice story, but just bare with me; the best stories generally have a turning point, which means there’s somewhere to turn from–you know, that it’s not just all smooth sailing–we’re getting there, promise)

“Then my uncle was diagnosed with cancer about ten years ago.”

(I know. I promised you a GOOD story. It’s coming; trust me)

“Oh my gosh,” I said, “This is all just so, so sad..”

“But it’s actually not that sad!” my friend disagreed. “The doctors only gave him two years to live, and he’s been proving them wrong for eight years going strong now.”

“Oh, great.”

“And then, a few months ago, my uncle was at the hospital for something routine. While there, he walked by a room and heard someone call his name. He turned and saw it was his first wife. They hadn’t seen each other for close to fifty years!”

“Oh my gosh–how crazy!”

“I know! They reconnected and talked and one thing led to another…”

“Wait–are they both single?”

“Yes. His first wife–well, she had remarried, but her husband passed away a few years ago–”

“So they’re both single, and they’ve reconnected–”



“Yes! They’re so in love, Jess! I met her over Christmas and they’re so open with each other now; it’s a beautiful thing. My uncle even talked about how closed off he had become after the death of their daughter–but my soon-to-be-aunt cut him off, saying that is all in the past now, that it doesn’t matter now, and she’s so glad God has brought them together again. And then–get this!–my self-proclaimed atheist uncle just nodded his head and agreed that it was God who brought them together!”

“And what about the boys–the older brothers of the little girl who died?”

‘They’ve reconciled with my uncle–their dad–too!”

“Oh my gosh. This is a lifetime move, or something. I love it. When are they getting married?” I asked.

“I’m not sure.”

“What are they waiting for?! I mean, no time like the present!”

“I know,” my friend agreed.

See? The payoff. It’s great. Worth wading through all the tragedy.

Just like life.

Yours and mine.

All the painful stuff becomes worth it when we see what’s waiting on the other side.


  1. Mara January 9, 2013

    Jess, you’re a BEAUTIFUL soul!

    • Jessica January 9, 2013

      Thanks, Mara–you’re so kind. I REALLY appreciate how sweet you are:)

  2. Mom January 9, 2013

    This is an incredibly beautiful story. Beauty out of ashes. God is honestly the best, most creative, author there is. This story sounds like it could be written by Nicholas Sparks!

    • Jessica January 9, 2013

      I knew you would like this story, mom! I was so glad when my friend gave me permission to share it–this is the kind of encouraging stuff we ALL need to hear! 🙂

  3. Cynthia January 9, 2013

    I don’t know you, just stumbled here once from somewhere I no longer remember. I’ve enjoyed your beautiful writing, though, and love for the beauty all around. Your friend’s story is such a needed reminder of the bigger picture we rarely get to glimpse. Timely, too, since just last night a friend was sharing another beautiful, made for the movies story. I’m sharing here in hopes that it can even more reaffirm for you the wonderful orchestration of events God has at work.

    My friend’s father-in-law has been able to be a part of a very small bible school overseas (25 students or so), and one of the students is currently living here in the states with them and was at my friend’s house for Christmas. He lost his mother to AIDS at 3 and his father at 5. His grandmother did her best to care for he and his identical twin brother, but eventually put them out when she could no longer feed them. They lived on the streets and when he was about 10 he realized it had been a while since he had seen his brother. Around 13 he was taken to a children’s home who took care of him and gave him access to education. Years later he was able to attend the small bible college. On opening night he was meeting other students and one in particular acted as if they had met before, confusing him. When the other student insisted they had talked just minutes before, the truth came to light – he and his twin brother were both there, attending a tiny school hours from where they had spent their childhood.

    And my friend was sitting there listening to his story, her sweet foster son sitting on the man’s shoulders. She and her husband have had the privilege of taking care of 2 foster siblings for the last 6 months. And now it looks as if the two will probably be separated, and that breaks my friend’s heart for her ‘children’. But here was a man, from the other side of the world, and God-through-him saying “I’ve got this, I can do it, just let me take care of them.” And you’re right, the payoff is worth it, even when it’s hard to see that far ahead.

  4. Jessica January 9, 2013

    Hi Cynthia!

    It’s so kind of you to share that story–how beautiful! I don’t really believe in coincidences and your story just proves that point:) I am so sorry for your friend, too; but it’s true-God takes better care of the people we love than we do, even.

    I appreciate you coming by here, too–thanks for the kind words and I hope you have a fantastic day!

  5. Sare January 9, 2013

    Jess!!! I LOVE this!!! I am so glad you know this story and I am SO glad how God does bring beauty out of amazes me whenever I think of my uncle and all that he has been through!!! Love you and loved reading this!!!!

    • jessica January 10, 2013

      Aww Sarah, you have SUCH a special family:) I am so happy for your uncle and your soon-to-be-aunt! What a beautiful story:) And I hope it didn’t freak you out too much to read about your family here–I did ask your sister if I could write about the story, after she told it to me:)

  6. Sare January 10, 2013

    Jess! It didn’t freak me out at all;) It was a beautiful surprise to read here! Miss you!!!!

  7. Robert January 11, 2013

    That was Amazing! Thank you for sharing that. Cynthia’s story too. I love reading things like this! Totally brightens my day 🙂 (or night, as it were)

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