A couple of days ago a dear friend of mine and I were chatting and he asked how the family was doing. It had been a few weeks since we had chatted so I instantly started typing out all of the great things that were happening in our lives. I found myself excited to share the great things! Over the last few months my responses haven’t been as happy due to feeling so sad about losing my dad and life challenges. I loved his response - it reminded me of how much he’s helped me see the good in life over the last couple of years.
Later that evening I was sitting in my family room, watching Hallmark Movies, lights off except for the Christmas Tree lights and I caught the glow of the lights shining on my dad’s pictures. I started crying. At first it was a level of sadness that my dad wouldn’t be here for the holidays and how could I go through the holidays without my dad. Then the tears came stronger and it was why did you have to go dad? Why? I sat and looked at all of the pictures and all of the great memories and thought why can’t I have more time with my dad? The sadness turned to a great feeling of loss. A loss that was painful, a reminder of the pain of losing my dad.
I find myself finding much more joy in each day, but there’s also feelings of sudden sadness, loss. Yesterday was a fantastic day! A day of laughter, counting many blessings and enjoying time together as a family.
Then, a couple of things happened last night and here came the spiral. This is a spiral I’ve felt many times over the last couple of years. A spiral that has come since I’ve slowed down, faced my real feelings and taken a deeper look at myself and worked at being healthier. I’m feeling more. Learning more. The tears come in ways I’ve not allowed for so many years of my life. It’s all good, but a learning process. Learning to find the middle ground instead of the extremes.
As the spiral came last night I thought to myself. . .this has been a year of losses, so many losses. Not only the actual losses, but near losses. Where are the blessings in all of the losses?
I posted a picture of the temple and some thoughts last night on Instagram and on my Facebook story, but at 5:00 a.m. I was pondering things and found myself feeling that the short write up didn’t explain my feelings, didn’t explain really what I felt so I deleted it.
As I pondered all of these things this morning, here’s the flood of my thoughts:
Yes, it’s been a year of losses
Started the year off with shoulder surgery, loss of oxygen that put me in the emergency room, loss of use of my arm and being super dependent on everyone and even after being completely healed there’s still loss to the point that I can’t get ready by myself for the day. I’m reliant on help each day.
Loss of use of my back in certain ways. Back procedures and physical therapy that have helped, but still loss of use of my back. Reliant on people to help me pick things up off the ground - can’t just naturally bend over and pick things up.
Near loss of my marriage. After 25 years of working so well together, task oriented marriage we’ve had to focus on digging deeper and connecting in ways that we’ve not connected before. A level of trust, friendship and love that I’ve not allowed for 25 years in protection from my past.
Loss of a full time missionary. Yes, my son served most of his mission as a service missionary, but regardless of how they are serving, a full time missionary spirit is felt in each of our lives and was felt strongly in our home. Due to experiences, people’s opinions, feelings, etc there was also a loss of friendships and relationships.
As mentioned above, loss of friendships. Not only associations, but close friendships. People who I thought would be a part of my life forever. That I thought would be a part of our family. That I miss greatly. People who I learned much from. There are definitely days and often that I wish I could take things back, change how I did things, how I trusted, what I did, how I allowed myself to trust and feel.
Loss of a son. . .to marriage. The volume went down in my home. The bounding in the home of excitement, sitting on the couch and just visiting and talking to me daily. . .gone. The hugs that I could count on every single morning and night. . .gone. The very late night talks - him climbing in our bed when we were pretty much asleep and him wanting to talk. . .gone.
Loss of my dad. I can’t even write this one. . .super duper awful painful. The loss of his hugs and hearing him say I love you sweetheart. The loss of playing Acquire every Sunday night. The loss of our visits. Loss of his deep testimony and all of his deeper conversations that I often didn’t want to participate in. The loss of seeing him sitting in his chair and working on family history. The boys spending time with my dad so often. The list goes on. Why did he have to go? The loss of future conversations. The loss of having him here for the holidays. Why??? Why did he have to go? We needed him here with us so much more.
Through this loss of my dad, I’m not going to lie, the loss of my faith. Not a loss of my testimony, but loss of faith for a short time. The pain was too deep. Taking a deeper look at my knowledge and understanding of the gospel. Why pray? The pain wouldn’t go away. How could anyone understand my pain, including my Heavenly Father and Savior? Do I believe I’ll see my dad again? Is there life after death? I’ve always feared death. My dad didn’t.
Loss of myself. Loss of desire for connections, friendships, people in my life. Everyone would leave. If my dad could leave my life, everyone would leave my life. The abandonment in my life was real. I wasn’t sure if I could love, if I could trust, could handle any additional pain in my life.
As I thought through these losses this year I found myself reflecting on 2 years ago today. Two years ago today is the day Brayden made his final decision to come home. The day he told his mission president he was coming home. He hoped to get home before Thanksgiving, but I hoped he would stay through Thanksgiving in England and have one more week of experiences in Cardiff. This was the beginning of a massive spiral. What I would say was possibly one of the worst weeks of my life, but on the other hand one of the most blessed weeks of my life.
Brayden decided to come home, call with his mission president, feelings from our local leaders that didn’t support that decision, a letter from a trusted close friend that was extremely painful, a broken water heater, a toilet that didn’t quit running and flooded our entire bedroom, hallway and dripping outside in front of our garage. A visit with our bishop on November 26th that caused a lot of uncertainty of Brayden’s future as a missionary. Not because of our bishop, but because of others. Our loving bishop stood in our entryway for 3 hours lovingly supporting us and trying to comfort me as I had a nervous breakdown. Telling our families on Thanksgiving that Brayden was coming home. Coordinating with all of his doctors and getting things figured out and scheduled for him as soon as he got home. Praying Brayden could emotionally handle everything that was coming at him and trying to shield him from the stresses at home. My dad being super sick and ending up having surgery the week Brayden came home. That’s just the start of the list of that week. . .it was HELL!!!!
BUT, looking back at that week, that’s when I saw people with great love come through for me and my family. I didn’t have the strength or brain power to put something together to welcome Brayden home, but a loving neighbor did. She was amazing. Friends and bishop who came over frequently and loved us through this very difficult time. A bishop that saw that I needed counseling and got me into an amazing counselor that has blessed our whole family over the last 2 years. Doctors who blessed Brayden’s life in ways that we couldn’t have ever imagined. Brayden having the opportunity to serve with my dad and mom at the Storehouse and experiences that have blessed his life forever that wouldn’t have happened if he stayed in England. Time with my dad before he passed away - Brayden wouldn’t have been home if he stayed. Two years later the list goes on and on and on of the blessings of seeing the Lord’s hand in the details of our lives and Brayden’s mission.
So, thinking through the losses of this year. . .there have been so many great blessings through the losses.
Due to the losses and needing help each day Rick and I have had so much quality time together. Amazing conversations. I’ve been humbled and been able to feel of Rick’s unconditional love for me as he’s served me daily. We’ve had so many special conversations together. Our love has grown in ways I could have never imagined. The Lord knew that we needed this time together.
I’ve been able to better understand friendships. I’ve come to understand how friendships look differently. There don’t have to be extremes - all or nothing. I don’t have to fear loss of friendships. It hurts to lose friends. It hurts deeply and I’m still working on processing these feelings, but I’ve also learned that all is not lost. A friendship that ended 27 years ago, because of circumstances that we were both in, she chose to walk away. I’ve felt bad for all of these years for how I treated her and a few weeks ago I reached out to her and come to find out she had felt bad all these years how she treated me. There was healing and an instant friendship back. I felt the same love I had for her 27 years ago and am so grateful for the healing and our friendship.
I’ve had the opportunity to have hard conversations and heal relationships this year. To let go of hard feelings and clear the air. I’ve learned that it’s not worth holding onto hard feelings. I’ve also learned that there’s only so much I can do for people I love so much. I’ve had constant reminders that Heavenly Father knows those I love so well and at times all I can do is pray for them and turn it over to the Lord. Sometimes people leave my life, not because of me, but because of what they are going through. I’ve learned that sometimes there aren’t enough apologies I can make or not enough I can do to heal some friendships - this breaks my heart so much, but I have to trust the Lord has me and those I love and pray that maybe someday those friendships can be healed. I’m not perfect. I make many mistakes. I’ve also learned that it’s alright to love deeply.
With Brayden getting married, yes, there’s so much I miss, but I’ve also gained such an amazing daughter in law who I love as much as my boys. I wouldn’t want it any differently. I’m so grateful she is a part of our eternal family. And, Brayden still comes bounding in our home, comes and has the conversations with me, we chat often, I get his hugs whenever he comes around and there is a new kind of love and relationship that I wouldn’t trade.
My loss of faith. . .wow, has my testimony been strengthened through this trial and journey. The power of Priesthood Blessings is real. I’m grateful for the strength of my testimony and the answers I’ve gained and the peace that I can find through the gospel. I know my dad has been in the details of our lives. I know he’s been in the details of Brayden and Sarah being sealed for eternity and Zach going through the temple for his own endowments. I know that my dad was able to be on the first flight with Tanner as he went to Texas. Where Tanner would have normally felt anxious, he wasn’t. I know my dad is with us. I know he loves us. I’ve felt his love and healing in ways that might not have happened. I’m so grateful for the last hug I had with my dad - I wrote it down. I was so excited at how much love I felt from my dad. There was something different that time. I’m so grateful for the relationship and time I had with my dad here. I’m grateful for his example and for all he taught me and my family about the gospel and how he lived his life that I have no doubt we can be an eternal family. I’ll be with him again.
So often in life losses help us recognize the greater blessings! Losses bring us to our knees, break our hearts and humble us. Through those experiences we find our strength. We find ourselves. We dig deep. We see and find a greater understanding of who really is there for us. We come to understand a deeper kind of love. Through the gospel we are able to find peace through the storms. Doesn’t mean the storms go away, in fact, this year I’ve felt like I’ve been in a constant storm, but I’ve found so much love, peace and happiness and deeper relationships. The happiness and laughter in our home is something we’ve never felt or had before. The relationships I have with each of my boys - I wouldn’t trade anything we’ve been through to have what we have now.
The greatest thing that has come from all of this. . .I love myself. I see my value. I understand who I am. I really understand that I am a daughter of a loving Heavenly Father and Father who are both in Heaven watching over me and holding my hand, guiding me and in the details of my life. I’m worth being loved. I have so many in my life that do love me. I can focus on those that love me as I continue to heal and get stronger and get through the this thing we call life. . .something we cheered about to have this experience.
A wife and mother of 4 boys and 2 daughter-in-law, I have spent my entire adult life devoted to my family. I have been busy in their schools, supporting them in all of their school work, sporting events, activities, etc. I spent years heavily involved in the PTA, church callings, etc Life for me has always been overwhelmingly busy. While I thought this was my sanity, the truth is it masked issues - real issues - that I needed to work on to gain true sanity. I am sharing my story in this blog. I do this so that I might be able to help other women find their true sanity