Friday, October 1, 2010

Emily Jones, Widow Of Nutty Putty Cave Victim John Edward Jones, Rebuilds Her Life In Salem, Virginia

Remember the story of John Edward Jones? He's the one who got stuck in the Nutty Putty Cave in Utah County back on November 25th, 2009, was nearly rescued, but then fell back into the hole and ultimately passed on. He left behind his wife, Emily, who was carrying their unborn son, and a daughter, Elizabeth. The State of Utah elected to leave his remains in place and seal up that part of the cave; a permanent memorial marks the spot. You can read the original post HERE.

On October 1st, 2010, the Roanoke Times has published a story about the family John Jones left behind. Emily, Elizabeth, and the boy she gave birth to on June 15th, John Edward Jones II, are now living with Emily's parents in Salem, Virginia. Despite being unemployed, she's lifted by her Mormon faith, which teaches her that her marriage is forever, and knowing that John is with her and she and the kids will be with him again is a comfort. But she and John had dreamed of having six kids: first a girl, then a boy, two girls, a boy and finally a girl.

The Times article provides a picture of what Emily had to contend with upon her return to Virginia. She had long made lists for everything, complete with little boxes to check off when tasks were done. The couple lived in student housing at the University of Virginia. How long could she stay? John had student loans. How would she repay them? He had left no will, (what 26-year-old does?) so how would she get a title to the car? What about that speeding ticket he hadn't paid? "I had pages and pages of little things ... Everyone needed something from me. Everyone needed paperwork from me that I didn't have," she said. "It was so hard just to get a death certificate."

In February, she and Lizzie moved back into her parents' house in Salem. She worked with a friend to convert some storage space in the basement into a room for Lizzie and the baby, due in June. In May, with most of her checklist complete and no longer in the University, her grief overtook her. And then on June 15th, the baby came. It was a boy, just like in her dream. She named him John.

What now? Graduate school seems a certainty. For what, she's not sure. It was psychology, then social work. Lately, it's photojournalism. She's done side work shooting photo portraits for a while. "I kind of was learning to define myself as a mother and the wife of a med student," she said. "My whole perception of myself is changing."

According to the Nutty Putty Cave website, Dan Petersen(Emily Jones’ brother), Jonathan Miller (Emily’s cousin), and Eric Maughan (Family friend) are cycling across America to raise money and awareness for a special charity that is helping widows. They plan to travel along the eastern coast to Florida and then head west through the southern states and arrive in San Diego, California on December 10th. You can follow their progress HERE.

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