As I wrote a few weeks ago, my husband and I were able to be the parents of a beautiful baby for just 3 wonderful days.
We miss him and we miss his mom and her incredible family. I did look at pictures of him last week and smiled. No pain, no pricks to the heart, just a sweet, sweet baby that I don’t even really recognize any more. He is blossoming with his mother and looks so happy. It makes me so happy. I hope that she is enjoying motherhood even more than she thought she would. She deserves to. It is our wish for her everyday.
We miss him, yes. But we are healing.
I think healing is different for everyone as is how you personally grieve.
My grief for this experience has been different than almost every other situation in my life. The only thing I can compare it to was being diagnosed with infertility.
There was the initial outburst of pain.
Then little bursts of anger.
Then this numbness that kind of took over.
When we were diagnosed, I disengaged emotionally from everyone except my husband, parents and in-laws. This time I have been numb and disengaged from everyone except the 3 boys that live in this house. I just didn’t care about anyone or anything other than those 3 guys.
I disengaged from God for a time. I wasn’t (and I still am not) upset or angry with Him. I was just so tired of being sad. I am not a sad person and being sad just sucks the life out of me. I didn’t understand how I felt, but I knew that He understood how I felt and I thought that as soon as I knelt down to talk to Him, I would burst into uncontrollable sobs. So, I avoided Him.
Here’s the thing about our Father, He does not avoid us.
In retrospect, I see how spiritual events were lined up for me to experience–temple open houses, temple dedications, baptisms, broadcasts, general conference, stake conference, concerts, music, becoming aware of certain movies. All of these things poked at my numb heart, reminding me that my Father was there for me regardless. Although I pushed him away, I could see him beckoning me home and I could feel him protecting me.
I have to tell you about the Relief Society Broadcast. It changed my life. I was a different person when I came out of the Conference Center in Salt Lake. I left awakened with the power of the gospel more fully written on my heart.
Walking in, I had a chip on my shoulder. I was so numb it was as if I was daring heaven to touch my heart, although I did bring my journal to take notes. Jaded, a little bitter and not ready to emote, I took my seat sandwiched between my sisters-in-law and my mother-in-law who arranged for us all to attend the meeting together.
She powerfully declared from the pulpit,
“All that is unfair about life can be made right through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.”
I melted. Tears filled my eyes, my heart pounded, my spirit recognized this as truth.
I think so often we try with our mortal minds to explain away events like losing a child in any way shape or form. (The comments of this post are full of them.) We try to reason it out in our minds. But some things in life just aren’t fair. While I don’t believe that “everything happens for a reason”, I do believe that everything that happens can have a purpose if we let it. I don’t need to know WHY this happened to our family. I just need to know that we will be okay. And we will. We are.
Teenage Mary Lois Walker walked from Missouri to the Salt Lake Valley in 1853. She lost her only child and her husband within 20 days of each other.
“A deep depression settled upon me, for the enemy knows when to attack us, but our [Savior, Jesus Christ,] is mighty to save. Through … the help given of the Father, I was able to battle with all the force which seemed to be arrayed against me at this time.”
Just hearing it again at this certain time and place in my life, my belief that “the Savior is might to save” had never come with more force into my heart.
Although not exactly the parable that Sister Burton shared, the story ignited my mind and I wrote the following in my journal while she was speaking:
A story was told of a woman who was in a pit. It was too steep for her to climb out of. (This felt like my numbness.) The Savior lowered a ladder to help her climb out, but in my case I feel like He climbed down that ladder into the pit with me. He patiently encouraged me to put my hands on that ladder and climb out. He waited until I was ready to do it and He held the ladder for me as I slowly came out of the darkness and into the sunlight. September was a dark month for us, but October has been brilliant.
Sister Burton, thank you. You have no idea how much I needed you.
“Let us begin where we are. Let us begin today.”
She started off with a story about a woman that she was concerned about named Mollie. I am not exactly sure why, but this 70 year-old Australian Mollie reminded me of that little boy in Ohio that we had the privilege of loving. As Sister Reeves was concerned for Mollie, I was concerned for this baby. Is he safe? Is he happy? Is he okay? Will he be safe? Will be he happy? Will he be okay? I have similar concerns for my own children when I watch them walk through the door at school or go to a friend’s house. Although I am not that little boy’s mother any longer, I don’t know if I will ever stop worrying about him. With these thoughts running through my mind, I heard sister Reeves share what heaven shared with her,
“Mollie is not alone! Mollie is my daughter! I am her Father! She is a very important daughter in my family, and she is never alone!”
Oh and my heart pounded. Again, this is truth.
She then shared something so personal and raw. It was as though everyone else in the Conference Center disappeared and it was just Sister Reeves and me chatting.
Many years ago my husband became very ill with a rare disease. As the weeks went by and the sicker he became, the more I became convinced that he was dying. I told no one of my fears. We had a large, young family and a loving, eternal marriage, and the thought of losing my husband and raising my children by myself filled me with loneliness, despair, and even anger. I am ashamed to say that I pulled away from my Heavenly Father. For days I quit praying; I quit planning; I cried. I finally came to the realization that I could not do this alone.
For the first time in many days, I knelt down and poured out my heart to my Father in Heaven, pleading for forgiveness for turning away from Him, telling Him all of my deepest feelings, and finally crying out that if this was what He really wanted me to do, I would do it. I knew He must have a plan for our lives.
As I continued on my knees to pour out my heart, the sweetest, most peaceful, loving feeling came over me. It was as if a blanket of love was flowing over me. It was as if I could feel Heavenly Father saying, “That was all I needed to know.” I determined never to turn away from Him again. Gradually and amazingly, my husband began to get better until he made a full recovery.
Years later my husband and I knelt by the side of our 17-year-old daughter and pleaded for her life. This time the answer was no, but that same feeling of love and peace that our Savior has promised was just as powerful, and we knew that even though Heavenly Father was calling her back home, everything would be all right. We have come to know what it means to cast our burdens upon the Lord, to know that He loves us and feels compassion for us in our sorrows and pain.
I recounted the story in my journal and ended with, “Um …WOW.”
This is what I needed to hear. It was time. Time for me to make the journey back to my knees.
The sisters make that possible by being slow to judge those going through trials. Most people carrying heavy loads begin to doubt themselves and their own worth. We lighten their loads as we are patient with their weaknesses and celebrate whatever goodness we can see in them. The Lord does that. And we could follow His example—He the greatest nurturer of all.
Several days after this powerful meeting, I noticed that most of the numbness was gone although there was a little still lingering around the edges of my heart. Mr. R and I needed to make an important decision in a short amount of time and we needed heaven’s help. I told Mr. R that we couldn’t put off the decision any longer and that I would be ready to pray about it. He knew what that meant as I confided in him about my distance from Father. All day long I psyched myself up for prayer that night. Ready for whatever was going to happen and ready to listen to whatever answer was given, I knelt down beside my husband and prayed with him and then on my own.
Just like Sister Reeves had promised, I was flooded with warmth and love. There were no tears or uncontrollable sobs. I was filled with forgiveness and felt Father beg me to come to Him more often. “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
Laying in the dark on my bed, I basked in the goodness of God. His mercy. I felt like my heart was healed although I would never forget the experience or that little boy and his mother. I felt that life would go on and continue to be sweet. The sweetness promised was powerful and I just laid there smiling until I drifted off to sleep.
“Sometimes the Lord brings us low before he can lift us higher.”
― Joseph Smith Jr
I feel like I have been awakened. I feel sanctified. I feel like I can do anything. I feel like a Daughter of God.
This, my friends, is the power of the Atonement.
The healing power.