November 21, 2016
On the nightstand next to my bed, is a wooden carving Dallin made for me before he left on his LDS mission to Pennsylvania. I cherished it then, not only, because he made it with his hands, but because it symbolized the love he had for me. Today I cherish it because I imagine him carrying my heart with him, on his new heavenly mission. I can hardly believe it has been two years since his passing. In many ways it feels like yesterday, the pain still raw, throbbing and unrelenting, and yet it also feels like it was forever ago in a different universe . . . hazy, surreal, numb. I see evidences of my son all around me and like long-parched earth, I soak in every precious drop of his life. I am profoundly grateful for each and every memory and realize just how blessed I am for the life he lived. They are beautiful, happy, good memories because he was a beautiful, happy, good person. These memories sustain me especially on this day, a day full of countless clashing emotions. Thoughts from completely opposite ends of the spectrum both haunt and comfort me. Excruciating endings and boundless beginnings. Two years have come and gone and I still vividly remember his ragged and irregular breathing contrasted by the steady hum and beeps of monitors. I see the dimly lit and confining hospital room, as it became the gateway to his limitless, bright new existence. I hear our muffled sobs as we recognized and accepted the Lord’s will even when it meant letting go of everything we held tightly to and desperately wanted. His last breath . . . the last beat of his heart . . . a door quietly closing and a new door opening to eternal promise, a place where pain and suffering are swallowed up in the welcoming arms of the Savior. I knew his body was broken but his spirit was being set free and soaring! The next few weeks were both gratefully busy and a blur. Then like most experiences where hope and heartache collide, the reality of our new world came crashing down and the what-if questions, doubts and fears came pouring in. In all honesty my faith had been challenged in a way I never thought possible. Could this have been prevented? Could we have done more? Did we give up too soon? These most painful and disturbing doubts were usually followed by the even more unsettling fears of wondering if God was really there and “IF” He was, how could He have let this happen? How could someone as good and as loved as Dallin be called home so soon? His whole life was ahead of him. He was married to the girl of his dreams; he had a little baby boy on the way! Why now, why like this?! How could we go on? How could we go back to a life without him in it? Each day brought a new battle between fear and faith. I tried to keep positive while searching for the answers I desperately sought, but all too often, loss overshadowed light and my faith wavered. Even after receiving comfort, peace and insights and publicly sharing them with my family and friends, I would soon find myself doubting again. Making matters worse were the self-depreciating thoughts of shame and hypocrisy. How could I profess all of these uplifting beliefs one day and question everything the next? Where was the strong and faithful woman everyone thought I was? Where was the woman who sincerely and anxiously wanted to be there for her husband, children, grandchildren, siblings, nieces, nephews and friends? How could I give the ones who meant the most to me, the answers to the questions I, myself, was struggling with? I became discouraged and depressed with my lot in life. I found myself thinking, “if I could just go back and change that day” but then I realized the tempest wasn’t the event or my current circumstances; it was the storm ranging within. My doubts were winning the battle. Unfortunately the very places where I could find answers and peace, I avoided. I convinced myself that sincere heartfelt prayer, regular temple attendance and personal scripture study were simply too painful; my emotions were just too close to the surface; I was tired of crying in public and private. While there was some truth to my excuses, the sobering reality was I avoided these places, because I felt afraid to trust my Father in Heaven. I felt somehow betrayed. I did not want to give my will over to His and feel that degree of hurt ever again. So I put on a happy smile, told everyone I was fine, tried to hide my heart from God and was miserable! Thankfully Heavenly Father knows exactly where you are, even when you think you’ve found the perfect hiding spot. He stands there, patiently waiting for you to stop running away; He is ready, arms wide open, to immediately embrace you in His healing love, the moment you turn around and reach for Him. I’m not sure when or where that moment was for me. I think it was an accumulation of tender mercies, gently nudging me back to the truths I had pushed away. Remarkably the Lord in the most compassionate and caring way answered all of my questions with one single question. “Have you forgotten?” Gradually, like gentle rain, my mind was filled with moment after moment when my prayers had been answered. From seemingly insignificant matters to monumental life changing petitions. Then it was as if the heavens opened and sent a cloudburst of memories, each one an answered prayer, a testament of my Father in Heaven’s awareness and love for me . . . even . . . in . . . the . . . midst . . . of . . . losing . . . Dallin. The Lord had never betrayed me; He had never abandoned me. He had been there the entire time. He is still there. I may not have a perfect knowledge of things but I do have faith, “ . . . faith in things which are hoped for and not seen; therefore I will dispute not, because I see not, for I will receive no witness until after the trial of my faith.” –Ether 12:6 (personalized) This is my trial but I am not alone. I have a devoted husband, who loves the Lord. He carries me when I cannot take another step. He helps me see eternity when I am blinded by mortality. I am surrounded by beautiful children and grandchildren who fill my life with joy, happiness and purpose. I draw strength from the most amazing and supportive extended family and friends who continually bind my wounds and love me unconditionally. And of course I have my personal angel on the other side . . . Dallin.
Dallin I am so honored to be your mother. I love you with all that I am. Please know I will not give up, I will fight like a dragon. I will humble myself and place my trust in the Lord. I will allow my will to be swallowed up in His. Please do your mama a favor . . . carry my heart back to Him.