I first noticed it in the way she ate. It was as if the the food was trying to escape from her fork and she had to bite it before it leapt away. She pounced on it. She would bite the fork so hard that I was afraid that she was going to break her teeth. At first I just thought it was a bad habit. I would say to her, “You sure did bite your fork hard.”
“I did?” she would ask.
I was more frustrated by her obliviousness than by her horse habit.
“How can you not hear that? How can you not feel that?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m just eating. Did you have a bad day?”
I used to hate when she did that. It was true, people irritate me more when I’ve had a long day. I heard some stupid saying when I was younger, “Withdraw from people when one of these things is happening. HALT.” It was an acronym for reasons to not be a jerk. When you’re Hungry, Angry, L-something and Tired. It was stupid. I hated when she would remind me that it was time to HALT. How about I is for Irritating, why don’t I go watch baseball by myself when you’re being Irritating.
But then she would smile. Some days it made me mad, some days it melted away every ounce of contention. There was a levity in her smile that couldn’t hide her innocence. Her eyes and ears surrendered to her mouth and paid homage by sliding back just right toward the back of her head. It was the most pure emotion indicator that she had. It was jarring the day that she told me that she had a hard time smiling.
“What do you mean?”
“Watch, I can’t smile anymore.”
“You mean you just don’t feel like being happy?”
“No, my face won’t smile.” And she tried.
How do you tell someone the truth when you hate it as much as they do? How do you tell someone, “You know you’re right. Your face isn’t smiling? This disease is encroaching on every area of your life?”
So I lied. “What are you talking about? You have just as beautiful of a smile as you ever have.” But it wasn’t true. The corners of her eyes didn’t budge, instead they simply became a fulcrum for a squint.
I met Tiffanni at summer camp. I was a camper and she was a counselor which was odd because I was older than she was. I gladly obeyed her, but only partially. My schoolboy attempt at keeping her attention.
The first day, she went over the rules at the lake. “To ride in a paddle boat, you must always wear a life jacket. To swim in the lake, you must always wear a life jacket. To ride the zipline across the lake, you must always wear a life jacket.”
So I wore a life jacket. I just didn’t wear it the way it was supposed to be worn. The first day she whistled at me because it looked like I was swimming without a jacket. “Hey you,” WHISTLE, “You without the life jacket,” WHISTLE. I played dumb. “HEY, you without a jacket,” WHISTLE. I finally looked at her to see what all of the commotion was about. She was staring right at me.
I looked behind me, playing dumb. With my eyebrows raised I mouthed, “You mean me?”
“Yes you! You can’t swim without a life jacket.”
“I’m not. I have a life jacket on.” I then turned upside down in the water to reveal the life jacket upside down, legs through the arm holes like a diaper. A sumo surprise.
“You have to wear it right,” she screamed.
“Oh…sorry.” And then she broke. The smile. She didn’t smile with her mouth, but her eyes and ears betrayed her. I had won. She noticed me and I would make sure that she noticed me all week at camp. We played the game of counselor and ignorant camper. She constantly correcting my half attempts at following the rules. My ploy, her yielding. My scheme, her give-in. Our first dance.
I debated for several days if I would ask her or not. It felt weird. When I was younger, the entire goal of camp was to ask a girl to the banquet on the last night. Of course, the banquet required dressing up and smelling good. It was the final year that I would ever be a camper. I had just graduated high school and felt the formality of a banquet would define this blossoming relationship in a way that I wouldn’t like. The back and forth of the schoolboy romance was so much more fun. It was light, simple and nonchalant. It was giddy. Banquets don’t have the ability to be giddy. They require thoughtfulness, but not the stay up all night talking on the phone constantly reassuring that you slept plenty the night before kind of thoughtfulness. Banquets require definition and posturing- a barrage of thought, distracted by thought, “Am I being a gentleman? Is my shirt still tucked in? Is she bored? Should I carry her tray?”- full of thought, just not thoughtful. So I debated. Or maybe I was just nervous.
I didn’t ask her to go to the banquet with me. I didn’t dress up. I found out later that Tiff was on a break with her long-time boyfriend. I think if I would have asked, the need for definition would have necessitated the conversation and I wasn’t confident enough to handle that love triangle.
We exchanged glances all night. Mine held expectation and heat. Hers seemed to hold whimsy and carefree. Thoughtfully, I was falling in love.
“You look comfortable,” the server said. I hadn’t even noticed that my legs were criss-cross applesauce. However odd it is for a grown man to sit so comfortably in a restaurant booth, it had been lost on me. I had kicked off my flip-flops and sat leaning forward. My shins had been kicked so many times over the last two years since her diagnosis that I had to figure out a new way to sit.
I’ve found that the body will adjust to comfortable once it realizes that this is going to be a trend. When I was sixteen years old, I thought that driving with both hands at two and ten was lame, so I learned to drive with one hand at 12 o’clock. I usually propped the other arm out the window. For the first week my entire right side was sore, but my body adjusted. It became easy and even comfortable to drive lean-cocked with one shoulder floating in mid air in order to portray cool while the other shoulder sat against the backrest. So, after being kicked in the shins and accidentally grimacing every time, I had to come up with another plan. Tiffanni apologized each time. It was painful, not the kick, but that she couldn’t control it and yet felt the need to apologize after each infraction. Why did she have to apologize? I hate that feeling.
“I’m so sorry.”
“I kicked you. I saw your face.”
“No you didn’t. What are you talking about?”
“I hate this. Why don’t we just go home. You didn’t have to take me out. I’m embarrassed to be out anyway. Let’s just go.”
“No, you’re doing great. It didn’t even hurt. You know that I have no pain tolerance. You’re the one who had all of the babies. I think I would have just had Addyson and given up.”
“No you wouldn’t, you love our kids!”
“Of course I love our kids… because you had them.” We laughed. It was always my sense of humor that she was attracted to anyway. If you ask ten girls what they want most in a man, nine of them will say a good sense of humor. She had to like my sense of humor. What else would she have done with that perfect smile?
We stayed and we laughed and I sat criss-cross applesauce and she was none the wiser.
We sat across from our friends. This was our very first double date and Brad and Leslie had asked us to go out. “You two have so much fun. Come show us how to have fun,” Leslie had asked Tiffanni. Coincidentally, Brad and Leslie had been dating the same amount of time that Tiffanni and I had- one year.
When Tiffanni told me, I said to her, “How in the world are we supposed to train that boring couple how to do anything?” Leslie was as bland as a communion wafer and Brad a sex fiend. Either they had a secret life of raucous religion or this wasn’t going to last anyway. I agreed.
Chili’s is a place for lovers. It was mine and Tiffanni’s first date ever and our first double date one year later. Something about the guacamole. Brad and Leslie stared at us while Tiffanni controlled the conversation. She was brilliant at any party. I’ve always found it odd that she, an introvert, could be so mesmerizing in a social setting. Maybe it was the Mango Iced Tea. Leslie finally inserted, “Tell us how to be fun. You two are so fun. Tell us.”
There are moments when you know that you’ve made a great decision about your future and then there are these moments. They stand sublime in a trophy case of the mind. Markers that one can recall and use as energy and determination in harder moments. Rarely are they planned or expected, but they present themselves with such clarity that even in the very same instant, the significance is obvious. Tiffanni looked at me and I at her. I saw her eyebrow raise the very slightest and then her nose flared. It was too much for me and we both laughed at each other. She laughed open mouthed that started with a muffled “Ha”. It sounded like a Wynton Marsalis muted trumpet. It got me so tickled that I blew out a laugh between my lips. They flapped, with the fully air-loaded cheeks, just like I could have played her trumpet. Somehow I spit in her face and she laughed even more. The question, the moment, the laugh, the spit- Wynton would be hard pressed to create a more beautiful song.
We sit across from her neurologist. Our general practitioner recommended him when Tiffanni finally said, “Something has to be wrong. I can’t keep my balance. I shake at weird times and keep forgetting things.” He talks in a language that he somehow expects us to both understand. At this point, we only understand shock. There are words that are impossible to explain without an experiential frame of reference. This is one of those words- surreal. A surreal moment is a moment that plays back the same way that it is experienced, in slow motion. Behind the doctor is a bookshelf filled with periodicals. There is at least one hundred Journal of Neurological Sciences. Today they are as useful as giving a starving man a picture of food. There are six certificates on his wall and a picture of what seems to be the doctor forty years younger. It is in black and white. He is a handsome man and smiles as if he has accomplished a lot in the picture. He poses as he shakes the hand of someone in pristine regalia, yet he can’t even get Tiffanni’s hand to stop shaking. All of the letters and all of the certificates, all of the Journals and the fancy office at the end of the hall- crap.
He wishes us well as we follow him down the hall. He hands us five prescriptions and three starter sample packs. We leave the office, hands filled with a concoction of hope. “We’ll try different combinations of these until we get it right,” he says.
I want to scream at him, “She’s not a lab rat. This is our life that we’re trying to ‘get right!’” But nothing comes out. I smile in response and shake his feckless hand with my own. A duo of death. We will accompany her to the end with little more to help than our smiles.
We lay in bed that first night. Not the first night of our lives together, the first night of the rest of our life together.
“I’m gonna die.”
“No you’re not, don’t say that.”
“I am going to die.”
“Stop saying that.”
“I can’t play games with you tonight. I’m going to die and I need you to say it back to me.”
“I won’t say it because it’s not going to happen. I mean it. Don’t say it again.”
“I’m not scared. Don’t be scared.”
I don’t know how to respond to this. Does she need me to be strong or does she need to be strong for me?
She’s so kind to everyone. We can’t go anywhere that she doesn’t say something nice to someone. I hate that it embarasses me. I used to pray for a miracle, but what’s the point? The truth is that I’ve seen a miracle. This disease not only affects movement but it also affects mood, yet somehow, she is as bright and positive as I have ever experienced her. It doesn’t make sense.
“You sure look pretty today,” she says to the lady wiping the table next to us. I look over my shoulder and see her nametag that reads, “Betsy”.
Betsy turns around and then realizes that Tiffanni is staring right at her, her face brightens with curiosity. “Thank you baby, you look pretty yourself.”
“You’re doing such a great job. Thank you for working so hard.” Tiffanni’s broken speech dismisses any interpretation of insincerity and I can tell that Betsy is warming. Faces are undeniable. Words, actions, and even tone have this chameleon quality of control. But faces, they give away the lot. Betsy seems to have that look of being on candid camera, but Tiffanni’s erratic movements are surprisingly disarming. Betsy’s closed-mouth smile now reveals her teeth and I now know that Tiffanni has melted suspicion.
The darkest thing this disease has determined to do, to be, is eradicated by a gentle exchange between two humans. It’s funny what being stripped of dignity does to a person. It would seem that there is a finite amount of dignity in the world. The more Tiffanni loses, the more she discovers in others.
“Wait, I can’t breathe, you’re going too fast.” She brings her hands to her face and cups around her nose.
“I’m so sorry, I got caught up daydreaming.” I chuckle and she smiles.
“No big deal, you’re just going to drown me.” I finger through her hair to see if all of the shampoo has been rinsed. When it’s been a long day, I don’t allow this time together to be special. I hurry through. The routine never varies, just my timing. Shampoo in the hair, I let it sit to do its work, although, I’m not sure what it’s doing. I then squeeze body wash onto the loufa, the washcloth we first used would never lather enough to feel like she was getting clean. I begin to wash her back, then her arms. For some reason, everytime that I begin to wash her arm, it flies into the air. It is an unforced reflex. It reminds me of a baby being awakened from a nap and throwing his hands into the air. Balance, disorientation, I don’t know, but Tiffanni’s hands always fly when I wash her arms. I sometimes think that her body believes that it has to constantly remind me of its lack of control. “Wait, we’ll do your armpits next.” And she looks at her arm like it is detached from her body. “I didn’t do that on purpose.”
“I know sweetie.” The soapy water runs down her back.
“Ok, now your armpits,” and I run the blade down her underarms. My knees usually begin to hurt about this time. My legs cramp and I hurry the process. “Close your eyes.” I rinse out her hair and skin and now her body matches her soul.
Dressing is always interesting. I towel her off and she stands exposed. There was a time this was a sensual moment. I never noticed the transition from companion to caretaker, it just happened one day. Her beautiful body, once exciting and erotic now feels like the other parts that are exposed throughout the day.
Because I didn’t register the biting the fork as anything more than a bad habit, I wasn’t looking for her coordination to fail either. She had always been clumsy. Those legs had marks all over them. I used to ask her if she shaved with a machete. Now I towel them off. On my knees, she stares down at me as I dry off the bruises on her legs. Too many to remember the how. The light from the ceiling fixture behind her casts a silhouette. I look up at her and from the light beyond her I see a prism made up of the colors of beauty and pain, loss and grief, helplessness and love, hope and death. And she smiles.
124 Comments for “Stained Glass”
Thank you so much for being so open. This was done so well it feels like we are ( your readers) literally there with you in each part of the story.
My deep love and respect for the both of you just somehow managed to grow even more.
Thank you for setting the bar high. Her heart gets me and your commitment to your family just grips my heart.
You are living out in front of us the very heart of Jesus.
Well done Jerm.
I feel honored to be counted as a friend to you both.
Can’t wait to read the next post!😁
Thanks Beck! You’ve always been one of my greatest encouragers.
Stacy (Walls) Richeysays:
Oh Jeremy. You are such a wonderful man! She is lucky to have you by her side. Your both lucky to have each other.
Too kind- honestly.
Thank you for sharing your story. It is beautiful, honest, heartwarming, and heartbreaking at the same time. I look forward to reading more of your blog. You and Tiffiny are both an inspiration. God bless you both on this journey. Please share with us how to react with Tiffiny. Do we talk to her as normal? Sometimes we stay away not of rudeness, but because we don’t know if Tiff can understand what we’re saying. We want to help both of you any way we can.
Great question Susan. The truth is that some days she is as lucid as ever and then other days are much more challenging. She’s in there, some days a little more hidden than others, but she’s still Tiffanni. Talk, hug, laugh, joke, smile and once in awhile you’ll strike gold and she’ll give it right back.
Friend, hero, we all need your strength. You find beauty in places never seen, love in places the heart has never been to. It’s probably hard to believe that your life has touched someone, but all these things are significant. Your strength inspires me. You can see the beauty in life despite all the horrible clouding it. What you possess is a rare and beautiful gift. Keep it coming, and publish a book.
Thank you Charity.
Honest and beautiful.
Thank you Sachiko- long time no see!
Speechless; thanks for sharing!!!
Ashley Kate Dicussays:
love love love! The truth is we went through a very similar battle with my grandmother until she passed of the disease. But what always made us giggle, even to this day, is her concern with where my father was. She eventually forgot us all but she always remembered Paul and where was Paul. Our family loves you and your family. This is beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing!
Beautiful .. Love Love.. Miss you guys
Can’t stop crying! Love you guys so much. Beautifully written. You both have made such a huge impact on my life. Thank you.
Jeremy, Thank you so much for writing this. You and Tiffanni have poured so much into my life personally and hundreds of others. I can’t wait to see how many more are touched through your openness and honesty in your writing.
Your even more amazing than I thought you were. Fantastic story, fantastic husband. Truly amazing!
So many tears and smiles during this! ❤ I really love the honesty of everything. It’s beautiful!
Jeremy, this is so beautifully written i could see every word. I could read your love with every word. Thank you fir being such an example.
This was beautiful.. I am always telling our students about how amazing my youth pastors were when I was in youth! You guys have always been my role models and will continue to impact my life forever! I love y’all!
Cari Cook Riverasays:
Whoa Jerm. This is incredibly real and honest and beautiful and heartbreaking and lovely and inspiring and just a part of the story that is being written. Your story will impact many. I’m sure of it. Keep on writing! So much love for you guys!
Through tears I read a chapter of your life, unabridged and open for whosoever will. I, like Scott Burke said, have the most respect and love for you and Tiff. Thank you for sharing Jeremy.
Jeremy, I’ve always been moved deeply by words penned by phenomenal writers and this transcended much of that, so much so that my heart rate went from 73 to 115 while reading this (so my Fitbit told me). It is a sincere honor to know someone so raw, genuine, and willing to share the depths of their soul. This was so beautiful and heart wrenching. It gives me a glimpse of the Tiffanni I wish I could’ve met. Thank you for all you are; you’re truly a hero to me.
Shannon Hall Chislersays:
Sixteen years ago, you both entered my life and changed it forever. Thank you for continuing to share your story and lives with us all. I love and appreciate you both more than my words could ever express.
I’ll second that. From the moment you two chose to sit down with an 11 year old boy who was sitting alone and away from the youth group one Sunday night at a Burger King you changed his sense of worth, forever. I’m 28 now and I work with preteens at a middle school as a life coach. I get to do what you guys did for me all those years ago and that is to notice the little guy. Thanks, Jerm, for sharing this.
Thank you for being so vulnerable Jeremy. It was beautifully written. You both are amazing people and we are blessed to know you.
I am in awe and humbled. Too many times I get caught up in all I have to do for my son that sometimes I miss the special moments. Thank you for your honesty and sharing.
Jeremy, although I have only known you a short time at KW, I have learned quickly just how great of a person, man, husband, and friend you are to so many people. I never had the privilege to know Tiffanni before her medical situation grabbed hold of her, but I can tell that she is a fantastic person with so much to offer then and now. I have the utmost respect for you and Tiffanni and all of your family.
We are praying for you, Tiffanni, and your family as you continue your life journey. You both are teaching us so much about how we should react and support you and Tiffanni in life.
GOD BLESS YOU BOTH.
Absolutely beautiful! You are an amazing man with a beautiful wife and family.
Sweet Buddy………Your beautiful way with words just wraps this powerful love story around my heart so that I can hardly breathe. I hate this for you and so bad. I watched Ron and Glenda live thru this and how Sweet Tiff and Stacey struggled while they were little. I LOVE you Jeremy!
Beautiful. Heart wrenching. BOTH of you inspire me.
Amazing jerm. I’m honored to know you and your family. Love yall.
Jeremy, friend! Wow, I’m just weeping here with such affirmation of God’s work through you. What an unspeakable joy you both are to all who see and know you. To have you both in our lives is a blessing and to have you esp in my children’s view, to have your hand in such an impressionable window of time in my son’s journey of life, is something I’m so thankful for. We are with you every step of the way. The stained glass and light references are incredible friend. Wow
Wow Jer… So raw. So real. So honored to know you both. Knowing Tiff since she was a teenager and knowing her family history… We all wondered, prayed and hoped this devil of a disease would pass her over. I love you both. I watch how you both are with each other. I have Tiffanni’s name on a sticky note on my computer. It reminds me to pray and I do. Thank you for sharing your story. Love and prayers. D
I know a little of your story because of Susanne sharing her testimony. I see her posts of days out with the girls. Your family is incredible!! You write with such honesty and passion. Please know we pray for all of you.
You are right. Tiff has always been good at making others feel special and welcome. You are the butter and jam for one another, perfect together and for each other. I’m thankful to know you both.
I am impressed, astounded , but not even a little surprised at your writing talent and style. Thank you for taking the time and courage to share openly.
Jennifer Angles Espanasays:
Laughed then cried…then laughed more…then cried again (i don’t cry…so thanks for that;). I consider myself blessed to have met you and Tiff as a teenager and am so glad our paths have managed to cross every few years since. I’m so happy you found each other ans are doing life together! Pray for you often. This truly blessed me!!! Love you both
Our families grew up together at Kingwood and Tiffanni always kept us laughing! I have great Tiffanni stories!!!
Thank you for sharing.
You always made me laugh in college. This made me cry. Thanks for the beautiful transparency, Jeremy.
It’s hard to articulate the emotions I feel after reading such a wonderfully transparent glimpse into you and Tiffanni s life. Thank you for your honesty , that to me is so refreshing sometimes as Christians we tell everyone we are fine when we are clearly not fine and in reading your piece you show the UPS and downs and the miracles that God performs on the daily basis even when we have to walk through an illness or tough time in our lives . I care so much for you both I pray and think of you both often more than you know! ( Your family too ) God has used both of you in so many ways to bless me and Rob . I will be transparent myself for a moment if that’s OK this blog touchedme in a really deep and personal way I have been going through a battle myself (not near the battle Tiffanni is ) but I have lost mobility and other things I used to do. It has been hard for me and being newly married .when you describe being a caregiver it struck me hard my husband has had to help me in so many ways and does so without complaint but it breaks my heart ,even as I write this the tears are flowing. I also try not to show how bad it is ( I use a walker etc) my husband encourages me to not worry about that stuff . This blog has ministered to me I have a lot coming out that I have stuffed down . Thank you for sharing I’m here for you both and praying always God bless
Love this and both of you so so much! Your openness is seriously inspiring.
I have grown up knowing you two so well and this was difficult to read, especially through tear filled eyes. I love you both so much. Thank you for baring your soul to the world and giving us just a glimpse into your loves because I know there is no way we could ever know the entire story. God’s still writing it.
Ashley Roberts Espinozasays:
So happy to have known you and Tiff. I miss her and her loud ice chewing during Wednesday night services 🙂
Please tell her I said hi!
Growing up with Tiff at Kingwood & calling her friend as a kid. Singing on the praise team with her are memories that I cherish. And when I see her now, I still see that young beauty, full of life with a bold rich voice that could sing “Mercy Seat” like no other. I also loved her Mom, Queen Bee! She would sit on the front row & I would always go sit & chat with her before church. She loved gum & she knew that I always kept a stockpile in my backpack. I would have to give her a piece & she would chew it until the sugar was gone. She made me laugh. She was so witty.
Jeremy, there really are not enough words in the our human vocabulary to write the emotions that I felt reading this. I’m sitting in bawling my eyes out as I type. You my dear friend are a hero. Thank you for being so honest. So transparent. So vulnerable. You are a uniquely special person. One that God hand picked for this. As cruel as it may seem. He knew you could do it. You are living out the Love of Christ daily. In those quiet intimate moments that no one sees & in the ones everyone is focused on. Love you both to bits! I’m so glad that you decided to start this blog. Can’t wait to read more, Jerm. Can’t wait to read more.
I love your honesty. Thanks to you both for sharing so transparently the details of your day-to-day in this journey. May hearts be encouraged, may the name of Jesus be exalted and may many souls be drawn to truth and may salvation be theirs. By the way, you are an incredibly gifted writer. I hope there are books in the works.
You are probably the most real and transparent person I know right now…. I have watched your family from afar for 25 years… Coming home from the mission field and visiting Kingwood.. My son going to beach freak while we were on furlough.. Knowing Ron and all he walked through with Glenda. I have worked at the Daycare and have been awestruck by Tiffani’s beauty as she came to get the children..I’ve admired you both from afar.. Such a beautiful family.. My heart has grieved in such a painful way as I have again watched from across the sanctuary over the past 2 years.. I have breathed so many heart wrenching prayers as I have struggled to understand something that is inconceivable much less understandable.. You are a tower of strength.. Not within yourself, I know..but an obvious work and gift of God ..
I always loved hearing you talk about Tiffanni during the weddings you performed. Your messages were very inspiring and moving just as this is. You are an amazing man. Thank you for sharing this act of love.
Two special people. God knew what He was doing. Keep making her laugh.
Jermy, I absolutely understand the concept of sitting in the doctors office and feeling numb at a diagnosis of death when he told Craig he had cancer. That there was no promise they could surgically remove it and that he would only be here for six more months. God alone has healed him!
Thank you for allowing us into the most intimate pain and love you share. We love you both.
Thank you for loving her so well. When I come home to visit, I love getting a sweet hug and catching up with her. In the midst of it all, she’s still our sweet and witty Tiff. I pray for you guys daily and admire your dedication to Him and her. She is blessed to have you Jeremy, but I know you feel the same about her. Blessings, Rach
Monta & Phyl Kingsays:
Jeremy, thank you for sharing your and Tiffanni’s love story. Such a deep and committed love that has endured all the more through the challenges you each are faced with every day. You both are not only an inspiration but also a reflection of strong faith despite extreme circumstances. Your tender love and care of your beautiful Tiffanni is her “best medicine.”
Prayers for you and your beautiful family. This is a Beautiful story of love and devotion, thank you for sharing.
Beautiful, my friend. So glad to be a bit more present to your journey.
Such a bittersweet picture of the reality you and Tiffani are facing. I remember when you met Tiffani at camp! And those camp banquets! Prayers continue for your precious family as you both continue on this journey. (And, it seems trivial in light of the context, but I really enjoy your writing style. I hope you’ll keep on writing.)
incrrdible. Thank you for sharing this.
This is simply amazing, beautiful, and breathtaking. Lewis and I love you two so very much.
Jeremy this story is pure! My heart breaks for you both. I’m also encouraged by your words of honesty. This also reminds me of Bryant and I. Although I am the mom and caregiver of him, he is aware and apologetic when he thinks he troubles me. But when in a social setting, he lights up the room!
It was so good to see this . To look into the real story .I have wondered many times how you could be so adapted to this life you are living.what I came away with is this .To be able to take whatever our portion in life is and present it to the Lord daily without any excuses or explanations from us ,and release it to the one who already knows the beginning and the end of the story.Jeremy , I would say you are truly making these days that you have to show love in all and every way you know how.To welcome the opportunity to serve Him in whatever way it’s presented to you. We love to see you out and about ,smiling and keeping your balance thru it all.It is what it is sweet man.Love you Jeremy Sims
Wow. Tears. Raw emotion for you both is overflowing me right now. Beautifully written. Thank you for sharing…may your obedience to share and your love for Tiffanni be a beacon of hope for others. We love you and your family.
This isn’t suppose to happen to young people. Caretaker and patient at such a young age. Truly defined as pure love.
I clearly remember the day you and Tiffani moved to Atmore. Our new neighbors on 6th Avenue and youth pastors at 1st Assembly. David and I had the privilege of being the “dog taker outer”=)) when you went out of town. We loved you both then and today! Two special people. Thank you for taking us inside your world! Please continue to share more!
Seldom does anyone aspire to be an inspiration. More often, it’s thrust upon those who demonstrate it best. The same might be said for courage. Your words are an outlet for both, although your lives are more so.
Such a courageous and talented writer. Love has many faces doesn’t it. So much beauty trapped within the experiences of our daily struggles. May joy encompass all that you do in life. My best to your lovely family.
Thank you for sharing your journey. There is something about being authentic, genuine and real. I am sure as others read through this, they will be inspiried and recognize that God walks with us. He is our strength and help.
Praying for you, Tiff and your children.
Amanda Minchew Thompsonsays:
Beautiful, heart-wrenching, reminding us of true love. Tiffanni and you both, have and continue, to touch lives in ways you cannot imagine. Continued prayers for her and your family.
Joe "Cowboy" Hallsays:
Reading this I know how hard it can be to write real life. Especially when it is about someone you love and the hurt of that love. I did once before. When I wrote about a battle I had in Vietnam some 40 years later. Putting on paper what you feel and what scares you. You are afraid if it is written down what is true or what is false. Having to relive something you just want to shut out. Then you realize that others are just like you and are going through the same or similar ordeals in their lives. Then you realize you are telling of yourself to help you and the reader at the same time. Giving someone comfort as well as giving yourself comfort. Again thanks for sharing part of you life and giving comfort to others that have a hard time dealing with the question, “Why me Lord? Why give me this”.
Thank You for sharing your Love. It is an inspiration and example for all. In my mind, I could hear Tiffany sing as I read the words, the heart, you shared. Be encouraged and strengthened, while we are not physically there with you our hearts are standing with you together. Love ya!
Jeremy, I think about you and Tiffanni (& your kiddos that I’ve never met but I’m sure are amazing!) often, wonder how life is, and pray for your hearts, strength, and healing. I appreciate you allowing us this inside peak. I feel like I can stop wondering and pray more specifically. I am inspired by you and Tiff’s humility and grace, and even more so by your continued hope and trust in God. I know He is more than worthy of it (from us all), but sometimes it’s so dang hard for our human mind to grasp. Know that Allen and I stand with you and Tiffanni, and the host of people who love you guys, trusting and praying for healing. Of course healing for your hearts, etc and I know she’ll be healed in heaven, but I mean supernaturally healed in the natural world. We love you both
You are taller than me and a better singer. You aren’t allowed to be a great writer too! Your honesty remains one of your best qualities.
Tears. Beautiful souls. Thank you so much for sharing.
Thank you for sharing, Jeremy. You guys are truly beautiful people. Thank you for setting such a beautiful example of love and commitment. Love you guys tons.
Hi all, I was going to try to respond to everyone, but you’ve overwhelmed me with love and kindness. Thank you all. I can’t keep up…
My heart breaks for you both and for your family. I shared this with my family. We have committed you guys to prayer. Every night. Please give Tiff a kiss for me.
Love you guys!
This a beautiful picture of true love. You and Tiffani have my greatest respect.
Maggie Decker Polksays:
Oh, Jeremy. I knew you were a fantastic writer, but wow. I’m so glad you’re sharing this. I can’t imagine how difficult it is for you, but praise God for His hope and faithfulness. Praying without ceasing for you, Tiffanni and your family.
Can’t talk Crying very tender and honest
Thank you, Jeremy – beautifully said! Praying for y’all and love you very much!
Thank you for sharing your story, your life, your words and your heart.
Tragically beautiful; filled with great loss and greater love.
I’m so glad you finally got your butt in gear and decided to start sharing with the rest of us. 🙂
You’re a phenomenal writer, that much we can all see. I can’t wait til the book comes out. I want the first copy!
But this isn’t about a skilled storyteller, this is about a boy and a girl and a love that is deep and wide. You’ve blessed, taught, and challenged us all with your words. I hope I can love Lindsey just half as much as you obviously love Tiff.
You’re the man. I’m glad you’re my friend.
Love you buddy,
Wow….no words brother. Love you guys and there is no end to the respect and admiration I have for you.
John and I were so exited to hear about your blog. We are excited to be apart of this journey with you. Thank you for becoming vulnerable and sharing your story with us. It was so beautiful and well written. John and I always thought a lot of you guys in college. In fact, our first date was Chili’s too. Looking forward to the next post.
Jeremy – Thank you for sharing your story. I read through tears. Such a beautiful picture of real, raw love. Sean and I are praying for you.
I love Tiff deeply.
Knowing the love you have for each other – and continue to share, for all to see – I am in awe. Not only is this a legacy of God’s love, it is a great legacy of yours. There is much we know and see from your everyday life, and through social media. Nevertheless, there is so much more we’ll never know, nor understand. This raw love that is expressed in these words…amazing!
Please know that there is a wonderful host of people bombarding heaven on behalf of you and Tiff. We believe that God is doing miraculous things in and through your family every day. We will also continue to pray with, and for you both.
Wow. Heartbreaking & inspiring at the same time. Thank you for sharing & being so transparent. God bless both of you & your family! 🙏
Adam and Jennifer McGheesays:
Thank you for sharing the inside scoop of what’s going on with open sincerity. We are and will be praying for your strength as you work through and endure this severe blow. Know that we love you all and are proud to call you friends, even though we haven’t seen y’all in a while!
I have known Tiff since she was a very little girl. Through all of the adversities life has presented, she has always risen above like a champ! Her love for you, your children – gosh, with everyone she comes in contact is overwhelmingly obvious.
As you know, none of this came as a surprise to God. I believe he crafted you to be just the mate to walk with her through this. I still pray for total and complete healing. Your words are also healing. They are real, unpretentious and gut wrenchingly honest. Thank you for allowing us to walk beside you in this journey. Love y’all big!
Wow! What an incredible begining to a beautiful journey! Both of you are so very inspiring, as your love never wavers. Continued prayers for you all!!!
Nicole Tidmore Griffinsays:
Oh wow, Jeremy! I had no idea Tiffanni was sick! I will definitely be praying for you guys. ((Hugs))
Thank you for sharing your heart Jeremy. Love you guys!
Tiffany has been such a blessing to me in my life and I am thankful that you have created this blog so that others can share in what you and your family are going through. It breaks my heart reading this but it also shows what real love is. I still have the book Tiffany face me with note cards she created just for me with scriptures and encouraging words when I was going through a really hard time as a teenager.
You are a wonderful father and husband!
Lauren Colston (Alexander)says:
I’m sending you both the most love. My mother is almost through her battle with Huntington’s. I never considered a spouse’s role in this situation until I married my sweet husband. Never forget yourself, never discount the feelings you will have. Being a caregiver is not easy by far. I wish you the best, even through the worst.
Jeremy, thank you for sharing such gut-level honesty from your heart. I know it probably wasn’t easy to write. I know some of your story from Susanne sharing at a ladies retreat. My heart was immediately drawn to your wife as she shared. I have been praying for her ever since.
I feel some what a “Kindred Spirit” to her. I have suffered from an autoimmune disease called Myasthenia Gravis(a severe case) that has left me bed ridden on more than one occasion and for seasons longer than I have liked. I had to solely depend on my husband for all of my basic needs. It was very humbling and heartbreaking all in one breath.
I have lots of ups and downs with this disease… good days and bad. Good seasons and remissions. Every day is different. Reading your story reminded me SO much of what my husband must have felt taking care of me. It made me tear up. His actions spoke volumes to me when words wouldn’t or couldn’t come out. I was still inside thinking and feeling even when I couldn’t talk at times… and your wife is too!
Your words are so powerful, raw, and real. They speak life to others whether you feel it or not. I determined a long time ago to write “in the midst” of being sick and it has been so refreshing for me. It has felt like medicine to the soul. I started a blog to record me journey. Keep writing as you are able… “in the valley” and God will minister to you all along the way. He is there to sustain you day by day. My favorite verse that pushes me through when I am facing seasons of struggle is this… “I can do everything through Christ who gives me STRENGTH.” Phil. 4:13
Thank you for trusting us with your heart. I will be praying for you guys.
Jeremy, you are such a man of honor and integrity. The things you say, the sermons you preach and songs you sing crack me up, and challenge me to grow in my walk with God. The greatest sermon and expression of your life and who you really are at the core of your being come from the example you display daily in the way you honor your wife, and the love for your children. I love you bro and I am a better man for being able to call you friend
Your heart, your words, and your love is so beautiful. Praying for you daily, Jerm.
From the first time I saw you at Cannon Beach I knew you were a special kind of character and so your wife must be as well. Your story proves it indeed. God be with you. I pray that your telling of your story accomplishes God’s best for you and your family.
Your vulnerability is beautiful. Thank you for sharing your story. What a gift. Much love and great respect for you both.
Overwhelmingly honest and transparent! You my friend, are a great man, father and husband! Thank you for sharing your beautiful marriage with us!
Wow, this is beautiful. What a beautiful love story. Blessings to you and your family.
Jeremy, Wow…such a transparent and raw view into your memories and daily private life. Emotional to read. Makes you think, ” would I be able to do this”? Strength to you my friend.
Jeremy Sims, that is Dr. Jeremy Sims, this reads so beautifully! I’m looking forward to the next blog, don’t let me down, lol. j/k. I remember meeting Tiffanni last year, she was very sweet, warm and welcoming. Great job!
What a lovely and encouraging story! I am now the caretaker for my sweet husband! I can identify with what you feel & go through! I love him so much, and that gets me through each day.
Jeremy- Thank you so much for being courageous enough to share this journey with the world. As a young girl I watched Ms Glenda play the piano at church and missed her terribly when she could no longer play. My thoughts and prayers are with you, Tiff and the whole family. Much love you to you all.
Wow. Tears. I remember sleeping in a hammoc between bunks during that summer camp. Love you bro. Praying for you. Awesome read.
Thank you for a reminder of what is good and true. This is so rich.
Beautifully written. A true example of unconditional love. Love you guys and your precious family. Thank you for sharing.
Touching story of love and commitment.
Love you both!
Mark H. Patesays:
Thank you for sharing your heart and life. Praying for you all. Tiffanni and I were in All-State Youth Choir.
Thank you Jeremy for sharing so beautifully what it means to love. Your testimony has touched me and left an indelible mark. Praying for your family!
Oh Jeremy, this was beautiful! I think of you and Tiff often. I remember looking at you two many times coveting the relationship you had dating and then married. You were and obviously still are that perfect that is only found on a very rare occasion which is why there is so much beauty in it! You are a true hero. You have always been such a comedian and made me laughs especially that first summer I moved to Alabama. I think you were my first friend that summer. Ni w the life you have been dealt you live so gracefully taking care of your bride still keeping your humor that she and the rest of us have always loved so very much! Neither of you ever seem bitter although I’m sure there are days of frustration that only those living close to you truly see, that is most admirable. You are a true example of how Christ talks about a husband loving his wife as He Himself loves the church. Your children are seeing a father who lives and cherishes their mother just like Tiff saw all those years from her father. You are leaving a wonderful legacy for your babies. Your parents must be so proud of the son they raised and this I know because I see it in Mrs. Pat’s eyes as they light up anytime she talks about you. How rewarding that must be for a mother. Your entire family is a tribute to the selflessness that real families being to the table when they deny themselves and rally up around each other and take care of the needs of their loved ones though it may be at times the hardest thing mentally and emotionally they have ever done, but they do it out of a true, selfless love just like their heavenly father did and still does simply because he loves his children so much! You all are heros in my book and I’m proud to call you friends though we don’t get to see y’all much. We would love to get together and laugh and act crazy again. Jeff thinks the world of you as well!!
Wow. My heart is doing strange things in my chest. This is gorgeous and humbling and haunting. This is real and holy love, if I ever saw it. Thank you for sharing this.
Such a testimony of true love and devotion. The kind of love God intended for a man and woman. As always, you are remembered in prayer as you go through this journey together. Miss you neighbor 🙂
We miss you too! We’ve come by a couple of times, but no cars in the driveway. I hope it’s you empty nesters vacationing across the world!
Well written and so transparent and vulnerable. My prayers are with you guys both.
Thank you Jeremy for the beauty and honesty of your words. This makes me wish I had the opportunity to know Tiffanni better. You show us that she is a beautiful woman inside and out. You are her perfect match. You all remain in our prayers.
Wow! Jeremy Sims, your creative talent is just incredible. This moved me to tears. It’s beautiful and you are perfectly exhibiting the heart of God… Taking pain and making it beautiful. Thank you for allowing the world to come inside and share the journey with you.
Such an amazing love story!
I remember the years we spent at Beach Freak-the way you and Tiffanni touched so many young people’s lives in a powerful way.
You continue to touch people’s lives by sharing your lives with us all!
We love you and Tiffanni!
I love you PJ💛
I can’t even……………….