Friday, February 25, 2011

nearer to God

Amanda and Bennett

I wasn't going to write about something so personal to another person, but because this has touched me to my core, I have to share what I'm feeling.  Everyone experiences loss in one way or another.
I have dealt with loss before in my life.  Grandparents have aged and drifted away, a childhood friend passed too soon from health complications,  I miscarried at ten weeks between Landon and Oliver, and of course one of the most painful losses though not of mortal death, the divorce of my parents when I was sixteen.  There are other extended members of our tree who have died too soon leaving families behind, and I don't mean to state these events in a casual list, but rather to point out that loss comes in many forms.  I have also watched others as they experience and endure their own losses.  Some are very private, others reach out for comfort.  Some feel guilty feeling joy again, and others search for the meaning in life and answers for what is to come in the afterlife.

In late January Amanda awoke to find her twenty month old son Bennett had passed away in his sleep.  Reading this was so abrupt and unreal, and I cannot imagine how out of this world it must have been for her and her family.  Immediately following in the days as she had to make preparations for his funeral and recreate her life without her son, she shared her strength and made me admire her even more.  She openly wrote about her feelings of desperation and sorrow, but also of hope and faith.  Every day since then I have thought of her and looked at my children differently.  Every heartbreaking realization of her new life tugs at my heart and I feel like we are all on this journey alongside her.

"Courage is not simply one of the virtues but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means at the point of highest reality." - C.S. Lewis from A Grief Observed

Amanda is an inspiration to me because through her loss she shows that we can be found, and like the definition says, "provision for continuing existence..." our existence goes on forever and she knows Bennett will be in her arms again someday, and she knows that God will help her put one foot in front of the other.

In contrast, last year there was a piece in the New York Times about a project by photographer Darcy Padilla who followed a young woman throughout her desperate lifetime as she lived in poverty with AIDS.  The pictures and story of Julie shook me deeply.  I think in some ways I recognized myself in her at times.  The exhaustion and disorder that I sometimes feel in my life I saw in snapshots of hers, except that my low times are brief with the knowledge I have to be lifted with a power greater than myself.  I guess this is what touches me so about Julie;  how differently her life would have turned out if she had just KNOWN the truth... if she had just been FOUND.  She wouldn't have gotten sick, she wouldn't have had her children taken away from her, she wouldn't have struggled with addiction and abusive relationships because she would have made a different choice.  How can she be held accountable for her life before the light entered it... I pray as she wanders the spirit world presently, that she and all others who haven't had the chance to know the plan of happiness will be given it.

So with life in our own shoes, or through observation of others, we are to MAKE RESOLUTION when we are touched by a story.  Amanda and Julie, both mothers, both daughters of our Heavenly Father, perhaps will have different endings.  Amanda shared... "As this is my first walk through profound grief, I am learning how random triggers can be. Sometimes the hardest things are the events you don't even anticipate. Like returning to the daycare at the gym with only one child, changing your childcare payment plan and checking only one child in. I haven't been able to do it yet but I need to get back. I can do it, I can do it . . . while experiencing my own heartache and loss, I want to shout from the rooftops that there IS a plan. There is HOPE! A loving, tender Father in Heaven IS in charge and is caring for our babies until we can be with them again. And that - someday - our aching arms will be filled with more Joy then we can now imagine."

Elder Holland, one of the twelve apostles living today says, "We are not alone in our little prisons here. When suffering, we may in fact be nearer to God than we’ve ever been in our entire lives. That knowledge can turn every such situation into a would-be temple. Regarding our earthly journey, the Lord has promised: “I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up” (D&C 84:88). That is an everlasting declaration of God’s love and care for us, including—and perhaps especially—in times of trouble." (Lessons from Liberty Jail, CES Fireside, Sept 2008)

I have a hope that Amanda is able to share her graceful faith with others than just those that know her because she could touch so many lives.  Here is the link to The Julie Project, but please be aware that some of the pictures are graphic and not for children...

Julie, taken by Darcy Padilla


bri said...

i just love you.

Liza said...

One day, in my next life, I will be like you.

Cheri said...

Okay, this post made me cry and feel guilty for being upset that I am still pregnant and soooo uncomfortable. Thank you for the reminder to count my blessings and realize that others are suffering through so much more.