Sunday, September 11, 2011

Angel Watch Memorial

Angel Watch is an organization that reaches out and supports families who are given a prenatal lethal diagnosis. We didn't have their support with Jacob. We did with Josiah and Jonah and it was a completely different experience.

They held a Memorial for the many families they have served over the years. We gathered at the Pioneer Infant Cemetery at 'This is the Place' Heritage Park in Salt Lake City.

There was beautiful music written and sung by Angel Watch fathers, accompanied by an Angel Watch mother on the violin. It was perfect. We were all invited to say our baby's name and birthday. A simple request, but as I listened to each family and then named my three Angels I struggled. They each represent so much love, so much loss. It seemed like too many.

And then because grief can be turned into something beautiful, we planted 300 daffodil bulbs along the fence to the cemetery.

I have plans to return when the daffodils are in full bloom.

Primary Children's Hospital is just a few miles up the street from the park. It has the same beautiful view of the valley. This is the view I came to love as I left the hospital in all seasons. I loved leaving the building and having the summer heat hit me-even in the middle of the night-and seeing the whole valley lit up with lights. I loved leaving the building in the middle of a blizzard and seeing only the white blanket of snow covering everything. No matter how stressful the day had been, every time I left the hospital and saw the valley sprawled out before me, I was reminded how God is over all. It was a constant for me. It was comforting.

And now, from the cemetery, it was another reminder that life goes on. The valley is still thriving and growing oblivious to the heartache of a few gathered on the hill. Oblivious to the triumph of a few gathered on the hill. Until you have had to live it, no one can understand the journey to recovering from the loss of a child.

I don't readily admit this, but it almost broke me when we lost Jacob seven and a half years ago. I had to fight the bitterness for a long time. It was tempting to stay bitter forever. I was completely unaware of my kids' grieving because I was so wrapped up in my own. Then one day I saw my bitterness come out and bite my younger brother in a conversation we had-and I realized it just wouldn't do. My kid brother deserved better than that-my kids deserved better than that. So for my children I began the long trip out of the darkness and back into the light. As painful as it was to start that journey because I was still angry and bitter and wasn't ready to let it all go, I learned that it is also the only way for the pain to be lifted. Each step towards the Savior eased my suffering and softened the anger and hurt. It took many hours on my knees. I had to let go of my pride. But once I did, I became free. Free is a good place to be. He picked up all my broken pieces and put me back together in a much better and stronger way.

People have asked how we can continue to have children. Once you have had to give a child back to God, what is there left to fear? If He can heal me from that, I can trust Him in all things.

"Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me... my cup runneth over." Psalms 23:4

As I remember, I do sometimes choose to remember the pain. I allow myself to feel it, deep all the way down to my soul. To pretend that pain doesn't exist would be unhuman (not sure its a word, should be). My boys are gone. I won't see them again all my life. All I have is pictures on the wall and memories that fade. But I refuse to wallow. As I remember the pain, I remember the healing, all the way to my soul, which gives way to the joy, and I am left with an extra large portion of gratitude for the Savior. My cup truly runneth over.

For all of us remembering today, whether it be 9/11 or some other real personal tragedy in our lives, may our hearts be turned to the Savior and be healed.