Angels In Heaven and On Earth

*I must preface this by saying that 1. this post is a little graphic and 2. I believe in angels. Very firmly. Many of my friends and family share my religious beliefs and/or personal beliefs, and many do not.  I love you all – it makes no difference to me.  If you find any of this difficult to take in, this may not be the post for you – that’s all. But I am committed to absolute authenticity here, or there is no point.  I think most of you believe in God, or at least in a higher power.  If I didn’t have faith in something, I don’t know how I would escape the darkness.  So I hope that all of you at least feel the flicker of the light inside of you that is your infinite and eternal worth.  It is my greatest wish that Kimmy’s legacy might help to spark that flame in hearts where it has gone dim.

I make it through the day because I hear my daughter, often. I don’t mean I hear voices in my head – I mean that I hear her, talking to me in her voice. It may sound crazy and you can take it or leave it – I have nothing to prove to anyone and frankly don’t really have an investment in whether or not anyone believes me – but this voice has been familiar to me for a very long time, long before she came to earth and learned to talk. I don’t know why Kimmy was different from her brothers. I love my boys just as much as I love her. Being a guardian angel is somehow just her role in our family.

I can’t recall when it was exactly that I first recognized her as who she is – I know at least by the time I was ten years old I knew she was my daughter. I knew her name. I knew that she had dark blond hair and blue eyes. I knew her smile, her personality, her face, her way of being, recognized her shining spirit, loved her, and heard her voice in my heart and head often. She was always with me. So much so that I was stunned when my first child wasn’t a girl. I absolutely adored Chad – loved him to pieces and wouldn’t have traded him for anything. I felt the same way when Alex came along. I finally realized that this was just Kimberly’s soul, her part in eternity and in our family. It didn’t have anything to do with her birth order. I just had a different sort of connection with her. Maybe it was partly a gift to help me now. I don’t know.

Only then, she was on the other side of the veil with her brothers and I was here with my grandparents. Now she is there with her great grandparents, and I am left on this side with my boys. I was supposed to go first, and take a turn being her guardian angel. But I guess that’s not the way we all planned it out together in heaven before we came – my children, and me, and a loving Heavenly Father, and I’m sure even sweet Chris who is so much a part of Kimmy. I’m sure Kimmy knows why now, and I’m sure the rest of us will all remember why again someday too. I just wish we could remember right now.

For awhile after she left us, I stayed busy. And then I just couldn’t. I finally had to open my eyes and look at the scene of devastation left in the wake of the catastrophic nuclear explosion of my daughter’s death, and acknowledge that life will never be the same again. The grass, the trees, the mountains, the birds, the dreams . . . everything is gone. There is nothing but charred black remains of broken nothingness and a poisonous vapor so thick that it hurts to breathe. I just lay down on the ground and didn’t want to move. I still got out of bed every day, and got dressed and wandered like a zombie through life, but the depression felt like wading through toxic sludge at midnight.

Then I heard Kimmy’s voice. “Mom . . . Mom, you’ve got to get up. You need to break out of this. Come on, Mom.” And somehow I found the strength to write about her. And bawl. And bleed. And be angry. And feel regret. And mourn. For me, for Kimmy, for her fiancé, for my boys, for her friends, for everyone who loves her. And to miss her.  Oh, how I miss her!  And to want her back. And somehow it started to help, just a little. It might seem like fingers flying over a keyboard isn’t much. But I may as well be writing every word out longhand in blood.

Each raw, horrible, naked truth revealed is making me feel just a little more determined to somehow make it across this wasteland, through this dark night of the soul. Because I know it’s the only way to get back to Kimmy. And I suppose some little particle of me still has the faith that my children (who include my daughter and her fiancé) can heal, through the Savior and the Atonement. And if I believe they can heal, I have to show them that I believe I can heal too. Which means I have to drag myself out of hell, even if it’s on my stomach with bloody knuckles the entire way. Sounds like a ridiculous bunch of drama, doesn’t it? I know. It even sounds pathetic to me. I’d give myself a terrible grade if this were an English paper. But it doesn’t come close to describing how bad it feels.  As I said in an earlier post, I’ve lost my faith even in the usefulness of words as an accurate tool to define something so otherworldly awful.  But they’re all I have.

I suppose there is some sort of sick, caustic relief at feeling like I have absolutely hit rock bottom – everything I told God I couldn’t handle, I have now faced. The thing which I greatly feared is come upon me . . . (Job 3:25). I no longer fear anything. What can anyone do to me? I may still be human enough to fear dying, but I certainly don’t fear death – I can’t wait to be back with my daughter. I thought other things I’ve been through in life were hard. Nothing else even remotely comes close to losing a child. I’d go through everything else a million times over to have my daughter back. It was all nothing now. Anything else that could ever happen to me from here on out – nothing.

This is the last photo taken of me with my children, except that our sweet Chad is missing. We are at breakfast together, and a bit scruffy, and I don’t care. These are the people I love most in the world, and this is now one of my most treasured possessions. This was a happy, beautiful day.

My angel girl has suddenly flooded everything with heavenlight. It’s almost as though everything else in the world went abruptly dark and that light has brought an immense laser focus onto the golden treasure sitting in the center of everything. Anything that I ever thought mattered before, doesn’t matter. The only things that really matter are the people I love, and being with them forever. That’s it. That’s all there is.

Which brings me to today, and the title of this post. I’ve done a lot of trudging through poison, blood-and-guts awfulness the past couple of days in an effort to finally get started moving through it. I have also focused a lot on Kimmy and how much I love her. But this afternoon in the car I heard her whisper, “Remember gratitude, Mom. You need to go home and write about all the angels, for both of us – okay? Love you, Mom.” In that moment, I felt her immense gratitude. Literally. I felt just filled up with it, completely real and tangible. She is so grateful for all of the things that so many angels have done for her, and for the people she loves. I felt so full of the love that she has for so many. Because that is who Kimmy is.

This girl keeps me going. She truly does. If I didn’t feel her love all around me, every day, I don’t think I’d still be here.   I do have my boys, who I am so grateful for as well.  I remind myself of that every day and they keep me going too.  I would do anything for my children. So, here I am, writing about gratitude and angels.

I don’t even know where to begin. I could write a book just on this, as she is reminding me. In the days immediately following Kimberly’s passing, I cannot even list the number of tender mercies that we were blessed with. I was trying to take care of things here, at home in Herriman. Chris, her fiancé, was trying to take care of things at their home, in Hurricane. We were working together, and had so many miracles. Several times I said, “If it is important to Kimmy, then we will get angel help. And if we don’t get help, then we won’t worry about it, because we will know it isn’t that important.” We wanted her to have her engagement ring and couldn’t find it.

Chris was blessed to find it almost immediately as soon as we asked for her help. We were trying to get her phone back from the medical examiner so that we could retrieve her precious photos – they told us it was locked up in “evidence” and impossible to get to. Short story – we got it. I had just moved and all of our photos and things I’d saved from Kimmy’s childhood were buried in a storage unit – we were so blessed to find nearly everything I wanted to find. I was blessed to find a beautiful painting to display at her funeral that brought a whole lot of comfort. The florist who had just taken Kimberly’s order for wedding flowers was kind enough to do her funeral flowers instead. We placed her bridal bouquet on her casket – heartbreaking, and yet tenderly, poignantly beautiful. Those were her flowers.  She had picked them out herself, and this sweet, kind lady put them together exquisitely for her.

I felt Kimmy with me everywhere I went as I searched for the sacred final outfit that I would ever buy for her in mortality, and felt her help in finding what she would want, as well as some precious extra things of sweet significance. I felt guided to the right funeral home – the people there were such a blessing to us in so many ways. One thing that was terrible for me was choosing a casket to put my little girl in. I was falling apart over that and finally had it narrowed down to 3 choices. I whispered, “Kimmy, I can’t do this one. You’ve got to help me, Boo.” I suddenly felt drawn to one in particular, and then realized the model name was “Kimberly.”

I could go on and on and on with tender mercies and large miracles. Some of you may dismiss these things as “coincidences” or silly. Even if I were only operating intellectually, I far prefer Albert Einstein’s view on life: There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle; the other is as if everything is. But Kimberly’s presence and help was too bright and overwhelming to ignore. These things went far beyond intellectual.

And then there were the angels. I am certain that she had numerous angels with her to help her from her side of the veil – I know my grandparents, all four of them, were with her. I’m sure many others were too.

And the angels in human form were too many to even begin to list, which is why I won’t try. I’m afraid I would accidentally leave someone out. You all know who you are. Thank you, thank you, and thank you. May you be blessed for everything you’ve done, and feel Kimmy’s love until the day she can thank you herself in person.

Some of our longest and dearest friends stepped in to help with things for her viewing and funeral, helped me, helped my boys, and helped Chris. Chris’s family was there for him and for us. My family was. My parents and siblings were there. Nearly every single one of my aunts and uncles came, some from several states away, as well as many cousins. Kimmy’s aunts and uncles and cousins came. So many friends of Kimmy’s, Chris’s, her brothers, mine, and our family’s came to be at the viewing or the funeral or both. Some of Kimmy’s dear friends came from far away, or at great inconvenience, to be there for her. Her friends were all so willing to do anything we asked any of them to do for her, and when we ran out of things to do her friends were just here – which was more than enough.  Members of our church stepped up to help, and provided lunch for family and friends who had traveled. My employer and supervisors were very kind and gave me time off to deal with everything I needed to, both practically and emotionally. I really am still in awe at how many truly amazing, wonderful people both Kimmy and I have been blessed to have in our lives.

So many people gave us sweet and thoughtful gifts to comfort us and remind us of Kimmy, or quietly and generously donated money to help with her funeral costs. People just appeared when we needed them. We received cards, and hugs, and piles of food – and most of all, love. There were more flowers than you would see bursting out of a flower shop. If one can feel joy in the midst of such grief, I did at knowing that my baby girl was surrounded by so many gorgeous flowers that I know she loved, and beautiful people whom she loved even more.

Chris came up here as quickly as he could to help with funeral arrangements. He was probably the biggest angel of all. It was immensely comforting to have him here, along with my boys, and my son’s girlfriend – all of us who loved Kimmy most, just for all of us to be together during those first most difficult days. Chris, my boys, and my brother, helped me go through the storage unit and bring piles of pictures and keepsakes home to sift through. Chris and Kimmy’s dear friend, Amy, put together a beautiful DVD honoring her. We showed it at her viewing and in the hallway at the church before the funeral. They put hours into that DVD. The 3 of us stayed up nearly all night one night, going through pictures, laughing and remembering Kimmy – so healing. Sweet Chris put so much of his time and his heart into that DVD for his girl. She adores him for that. So do I.

 

He had roses delivered to me for Mother’s Day that first most difficult weekend, and wrote on the card, “Love your girl and your girl’s boy.” He said, “Kimmy would have wanted me to do that.” I know she would have. That’s who she is. And who Chris is. But so immensely sweet, and soothing to a mother’s broken heart. Alex and Renee gave me a beautiful necklace with an angel wing, and a heart that says, “Love” and has a “K” on it. I wear it every day.

Chris went to the funeral home with me to help finish dressing our girl. So difficult for him, I know, but he wouldn’t have missed it. He helped me zip up her white dress, and put on her angel necklace – I bent down and touched it to my angel wing and kissed my little girl. We will both always have our angel necklaces to help keep each other close. We put white slippers on her feet. He picked out her earrings and her favorite nail polish. He wrapped the sweet little rhinestone doggie paw bracelet around her wrist, and put her engagement ring on her finger. I did her nails, and touched up her makeup and made sure she looked perfect – all the things I always told her she was supposed to do for me at my funeral. How ironically, horribly, heart-wrenchingly backwards.

Chris stood by me while I curled my little girl’s hair for the last time, and ran my fingers through it, and remembered all the thousands of times that I had done her hair for her. I cried, thinking how her hair is the same color, the same texture, the same feel as mine. Only young and beautiful – not brittle or streaked with gray. I wanted to trade her places so badly. Even then, knowing that it was far too late, I asked God to please, please, let me trade her places. She had so much left to live for.

I remembered her sweet little two-year-old self saying, “Thank you, Mommy” after I’d finished her hair, her three-year-old little self telling me she wanted a “princess bun,” her five-year-old little self declaring she wanted to cut off all those beautiful thick curls – and me crying as I did it, but honoring her choice. All the dance recital hair and prom hair . . . and how we’d stood in front of the mirror and tried to decide whether she should wear it up or down for her wedding only a few weeks before. I don’t know if I would have made it through doing all those things for her without Chris. Although her brothers and her grandparents are a close second, we are probably the two people in the world who miss her most.

Chris, Ryan, Alex, and his girlfriend Renee, and some of our sweet friends helped us set up for Kimmy’s viewing. We put out pictures of her, mementos of her, memories of her entire life – we tried to turn it into a loving tribute to her, and make it as happy and bright and positive as we could, a celebration of Kimmy and her beautiful life. I feel like we succeeded. I think she liked it. We hung up the wedding dress that she will never walk down the aisle in during this lifetime, put out her engagement photos with her love, her baby pictures, photos of her with her brothers and her family, dance trophies, things she had crocheted or sewn or painted, her honors awards from high school, her doggie mom portraits, her motorcycle gear, the sweet angel wing motorcycle stickers that Chris and his friend had designed in her honor, and as much of her as we could cram into that building.

Chris spoke at Kimmy’s funeral. So did her brother, Alex. They, and her other brothers – Chad and Ryan – were pallbearers, along with some of her good friends. Kimmy’s brothers have also been angels. They keep me going. And Renee, my adopted and only daughter now.

After the funeral was all over and things slowed down and people went back to life, I went home with Chris to go through Kimmy’s things, pack them up, and bring them home. Ouch. I knew if I didn’t do it fast, while I was still numb, I’d never be able to. I also knew it would be just too painful for Chris to live with her all around him, but not. I love that boy for loving her, for still getting up in the morning every day, for taking care of their dogs and being the best, most devoted dog dad on the planet, even when things are so hard.

We saved the room for last that Kimmy died in.  I had a sick, horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach, picturing her lying there on the floor, alone – I felt like I might throw up or collapse in hysterics when I entered that room. I didn’t know how Chris could be so brave and my heart hurt that he had to find her.

Instead, before I even stepped into the room I felt light spilling out. From the moment I entered I felt like I was on hallowed ground. I was filled with reverent awe, an overpowering feeling of peace and light. The room was absolutely flooded.  I don’t even know how to begin to describe it.  This feels almost too sacred to share, and yet I am – I don’t know why.  Maybe it will help another mother who reads this.  I saw my daughter resting peacefully in the chair, with angels all around her, saw her leaving in light brighter than my human mind could comprehend, and felt that wound of terror in my heart simply healed instantly and completely. My most gripping trepidation was that she had died in darkness, in terrible pain or suffering, in horrific fear, alone. Although I had been reassured repeatedly by multiple professionals, in that moment I knew for myself that she really had left quickly, peacefully, painlessly, surrounded by angels, love and light, and that she was in heaven and just fine. I was so thankful for that gift of grace. Chris couldn’t talk about it then, but I didn’t need him to. When I told him later what I had seen, he confirmed that he had found her in the chair. Again, I was so grateful. For angels. In heaven, and on earth. And for a loving Heavenly Father who loves my daughter even more than I do, as difficult as that is for me to comprehend, and who also loves me enough to give me that gift of grace in reassuring me that my beautiful girl is well taken care of, and in putting my worst fears to rest. (*Please get help if you feel depressed or hopeless. I feel nothing but compassion and love for my daughter and I am also saying that suicide is NOT the answer. Please stay. Talk to your family, or a friend. Don’t leave the arms of your loved ones empty. I so wish that Kimmy could have read a post like this and found hope, or realized that it was okay to ask for help and say how despairing she truly felt, or just felt her own incredible worth and come to the awareness that all she needed to do to make the world a better place was to keep breathing. I hope that her story might help save someone else). 

I have been blessed to talk with mothers and fathers of other angel children, which has brought me a great deal of hope and consolation. Some of these children left as my daughter did – far too many of our children are leaving in this way, which is a large part of the reason that I’m trying to make this a more open and honest and real point of awareness; and some left in another way. Most were within a few years of her age. In at least a couple of these instances, the parents have shared my beliefs and have said something akin to, “Now that we have talked, my child will seek out your child to help her; or because you and I our friends, I imagine our children are also friends in heaven.” It has brought immense peace to feel reassured that not only does my daughter have family in heaven who love her, but she also has friends, including beautiful young women her own age who understand how she feels right now and can progress with her – and that they can help each other.

I have had angel friends reach out to help my boys, or offer to help. Angels who have listened to me, or offered to. Many angels who pray for us. New angels who have recently lost people with whom I have made friends, some of them Kimmy’s friends as well. Many of Kimmy’s angel friends have sent me pictures or messages or shared stories or memories of Kimmy, or dreams or experiences they’ve had since she’s been in heaven. These are so precious to me, and to her. While I know that she is still here, it is a huge blessing to be reminded that others know as well.

At the end of Kimmy’s DVD Chris posted a quote that we are also having engraved on her monument. I believe it is a fitting reminder here of who she is, and who so many of you are as well.

To become an angel, one needs to become love.

They are one and the same, and love is all there is. So much love and gratitude to all of you.

Love,

Candie and Kimmy

(This post is definitely from both of us)

This is happening again in heaven right now – Kimmy and Thunder reunion. SO happy to know that! Take good care of her, boy. 🙂

 

 

A Letter To My Daughter

I read this, for the most part, at Kimberly’s funeral.  But I’ve had many comments on it, so decided to post it here as well.

May 12, 2017

 

My Dearest Kimmy,

 

            The day I first held you in my arms I felt like my heart would burst with joy. I finally had my little daughter, the one I had waited for so long. You were perfect in every way imaginable – perfect cheeks, perfect eyes, perfect fingers, perfect toes, perfect little curls, perfect smile . . . perfect, beautiful shining spirit sent straight from your Heavenly parents’ arms to mine. Just like your brothers, I knew you were a treasure entrusted to me to teach, to love, to nurture, to protect, to encourage. I tried to take that responsibility very seriously. The only thing I ever really wanted to be was a mother. Unlike your brothers, however, I knew you before you came. I knew what you looked like, I knew your name, I knew your personality, I knew your sweet spirit.

            You were such a happy baby, Kimmy. You gurgled and cooed and laughed and smiled. Even teenage boys would stop and look at you and tell me you were a beautiful baby. You made everyone smile. You glowed. When I took you to get your 3-month photos taken, the photographer just kept snapping and snapping and said, “I’ve been doing this a long time, but I think this is the happiest baby I’ve ever seen.” We didn’t have money. We were dirt poor. But you were so loved. Your big brothers adored you. For the first time, I actually got to be home with my children and I was so happy. Chad and Alex would run around playing and every once in awhile one or both of them would stop and run over to kiss your cheeks and whisper to you. “Hi, baby.” “Love you, Kimmy.” When you got old enough to play they loved to make you laugh. Your laughter was like music.

          When we lived in Cheyenne and you were crawling, I would put your brothers in bed but you wouldn’t stay away. You would crawl down the hall to their room. Chad would dangle his blanket over the top bunk and you would bounce up and down on your little baby knees trying to catch it while Alex laughed at you from the bottom bunk. You would giggle so hard I thought you might stop breathing, and the boys would laugh and laugh. I would listen in amusement for a minute and then go get you and bring you out to the living room. As soon as I put you down you crawled back down the hall as fast as you could.

          You had so much hair, and you always sat so still and were so good while I did it for you every day. You loved to look pretty. Even as a tiny girl you would often say, “Thank you, Mommy,” after I did your hair for you while you watched in the mirror. When you were 1½ you got a big girl bed. When you woke up from your nap you would call, “Mommy! I’m ‘wake!” and wait for me to come and get you, even though you could have crawled out yourself. You thought you were supposed to stay in bed. You were such a good girl, always. You always tried to do the right thing. I walked into your bedroom once and saw you sitting on the bed. We had just moved in and there was a picture of Jesus on the wall that you hadn’t seen before. You were sitting on the bed with your head tilted, just staring at it. I asked what you were looking at and you pointed and said, “Jesus.” I picked you up and took you to the picture. You touched it very gently and smiled and then proceeded to tell me about sitting on his knee and the conversation you had had with Him. It felt so reverent that I had no doubt you remembered heaven and were telling me the absolute truth. This was from a baby, Kimmy. My little baby girl. You remembered Jesus. You loved him. You knew he loved you.

          Growing up, you would try anything. You were fearless. I remember thinking you were like me, only better. You were good at everything I was good at, only better. And you were good at everything I wasn’t good at. I loved that you believed you could do anything. You had so much power inside of you. If you decided to do something, you did it. You were so fun to be around. You always had friends around you. I loved all your friends. You always went to church and all the activities. You were such a good girl. I remember when you got baptized, how beautiful you were.

          I loved all the things we did together – shopping, decorating, hair and makeup, clothes, talking, reading, baking, walking dogs, dreaming about things we’d like to do, just everything.

          You are so giving. So loving and giving. You always found things to do for your family and the people you loved – little things and big things. You helped me get Ryan a suit, and sent him another one. You gave him your car. You got a birthday cake for Alex and took it to him. You gave him a washer and dryer. You encouraged him to start his business. You took Chad to the concert with you and worried about him all the time. You saved up to buy me a beautiful handbag. You came and made me Mother’s Day dinner – best surprise ever. You were always looking for things to do for Chris.

          I watched you grow into a beautiful young woman. You were amazing in every way. You worked so hard, Kimmy. You worked too hard in high school and college. It hurt my heart so much to see you hurting sometimes. It filled my heart with joy to see you happy. I loved having you come see us, bringing the dogs. I loved going to see you. I loved going wedding dress shopping with you, and planning over the phone. I loved talking with you, and laughing and crying, and hugging you. I was looking forward to your beautiful summer wedding, to helping you with finding your little house for you and Chris and the dogs, to helping you decorate it, to watching you start your business. I was looking forward to watching your dreams come true and to loving and supporting you and being there, being your mom for many, many years to come. I never dreamed you would be leaving us so soon. But maybe a tiny part of me did.

          The last time I talked to you I said at the end, “Love you.” And you said, “Love you” back. The night before you left us, I knew I needed to send you a text that said I loved you. I did.

          I had been praying so hard for you. Praying and praying and praying. Praying for all my children. And trusting in a Heavenly Father who loves you and who works miracles all the time.

          When I was praying for you in the morning, on the day you left us, praying for miracles, I heard a loving Heavenly Father ask, “What do you really want for your daughter?”

          I answered Him with all the power that was in me, and while I answered Him, I closed my eyes and pictured you, my beautiful Kimmy, feeling all the love and light that I could possibly send you, feeling the message I was sending to Heavenly Father for you radiating out to you so that you could feel it:

“I want her to be filled up with love and light. I want her to be full of peace and joy. I want her to feel with everything in her how much I love her, how much Chris loves her, how much her family loves her, how much her Heavenly Father and her Savior love her, how very much she is loved by so many people here, and by angels in heaven who surround her all the time. I want her to be filled with all the power, all the hope, all the light, all the memory of heaven that she had when she was little. I want my daughter to KNOW that she is a daughter of God, that she is of infinite worth. I want her to FEEL her worth, her immense, incredible worth. I want her to know absolutely who she is, and never to doubt again. Please surround her with love and light and angels, fill her up with love, and let her feel her absolute divinity.”

          He did. Just not in the way that I wanted or expected.

          I have never felt so much pain or heartache. I have also never felt so much comfort from heaven. Although there are a million questions I cannot answer I have felt the peaceful reassurance that your time on earth was complete. I don’t understand it all. I don’t think God calls people home in this way, but I do think He knows what will happen, what our choices will be, and how everything was designed in the first place.

          This does not take away the pain of missing you. Nor does it stop the ache, or the feelings of guilt, or the empty awfulness when I wake up alive and remember that my daughter isn’t. I would do anything to bring you back, Kimmy. Anything. With the exception of your brothers who I love just as much as you, there is nothing I would not give up, there is nothing I would not do, there is no sacrifice I would not make. I would give up my life in a heartbeat for yours. But I know that you have gone ahead to prepare a place for us. I know you’re doing what you’ve always done. You have always been the glue who tries to hold everyone together, the light. I would do anything for you, so I will do my best to live in a way that brings our family closer, helps us feel you near us, and brings us back to you.  

          My heart breaks that we just moved and you have not yet been to our new home, that you never got to see it. That I had to leave our house, where your dogs could run, where I could go to your room to feel you all around, where there were so many memories of you. But memories aren’t in a house. They are in a heart. And you have been to this house. You’re here now. I know you’re here. So close that I could touch you.

          This is the longest I have ever gone without talking to you. I’m used to phone calls and text messages and facebook tags from you all the time – there is a very empty place where you should be. But I know you are still here, all around and with us, and that you will continue to be. I keep talking to you and I know you hear me.

          I have heard many mentions of how horrible that this happened so close to Mother’s Day. Kimmy, you have given me so many beautiful Mother’s Days. You always made sure I had gifts, or dinner, or cake, or all of them. Even as a little girl you made things for me. You were supposed to be here this Mother’s Day. You planned to be. But the best thing was just having you, your presence. I am so sad that you will not get to be a mother in this life. I love Chris. I love my granddogs. I will continue to love them. I wanted to hold your daughter one day. I wanted you to feel what I have felt with you. But I am so, SO grateful to be your mother. And nothing and no one can take that away from me, not even death. I am so grateful to be a mother to my four beautiful children, and to the man you love who I have adopted as my own. I will always be your mother. You will always be my daughter. That’s the beautiful thing about forever. And I know you remember it now, that there is a forever, and a heaven, and a plan. Your spirit never forgot. We have been through a lot of pain and a lot of growth, but we also have a lot of love. And our family is forever, Kimberly. I promise you. We will all be together again in heaven.   

          Kimmy, you are precious to me. More precious than anything I could possibly describe or compare you to. I love you with my whole heart and soul. I am so grateful for you. You are a light to your family and your loved ones, and you will continue to be. You are a beautiful, sweet, brave, valiant young woman. Thank you for being my daughter. Thank you for being part of our family. You are so loved, sweet girl. Please stay close to us, and just know how very much you are loved, my beautiful angel girl.

                                                                   All My Love,

                                                                  Mom

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flowers

 

 

Kimmy and I always shared a love of flowers. When we lived in our Copper Creek house we had huge flowerbeds that I filled with flowers every year. She loved to smell them and touch them and look at them, and put them in her hair when she was little. She loved looking at flowers anywhere we went, and would pick wildflowers if she could. The spring after we moved to our Herriman Towne Center house was a tough time for my children and me, but we were happy to be out of an apartment and back into our own home. Kimberly had just turned sixteen. Alex worked very hard piling up dirt and we built one little flowerbed in front of our house. I remember the day Kimmy and I went to pick out flowers in the spring, in May. May was always my favorite month. Until now. Now I will dread it for the rest of my life.

We went to the nursery and walked up and down rows and rows of flowers – she wanted lilies. Lots of lilies. She was so excited to buy flowers. Her bedroom window looked out onto our only flowerbed. We filled it up with 5 tiny shrubs, and as many colorful flowers as we could. We painted her desk silver and she put it in front of the window so she could look at the flowers when she sat at her desk. They made her happy.  They symbolized hope.

Now my little girl is planted in the ground with the flowers. She received so many, many beautiful flowers for her funeral.  As sad as it was, I know she loved all those flowers.  It made my broken heart just a little bit happy to see her so surrounded by flowers and to know that she would love that.  In recent weeks, my priorities and the schedule of my life have shifted in ways I never imagined. Tuesday is cleanup day at the cemetery. They will throw away anything that’s left so they can mow the lawn and keep things looking nice. So I go early Tuesday morning if I can, or late Monday evening if I can’t, to clear away everything from her grave. I throw away the flowers that have wilted. I put the shepherd’s hook with the metal heart hanging from it, and the crystal solar angel that lights up at night and watches over her, and anything else I need to save that week, in my car. On Tuesday evening I come back and set it all back up again, and bring her new flowers. I go every day and water them. I talk to my daughter and tell her that I love her, and run my fingers over her name on a plaque in the ground, and cry.

When a horrible windstorm comes up, I hurry to the cemetery and collect the glass jar that sweet Chris made for her filled with, “Reasons Why I Fell in Love With You,” and anything else that might break. That jar is precious to me and I know it fills Kimmy’s heart up even more than it does mine. I can’t let anything happen to it. If it’s a bad weather week, I don’t leave breakable things there at all.

I’ve only heard a few comments because it’s only been a few weeks. Other mothers at the cemetery have told me they hear many because it’s been a few months, or even into years for them. Why do you keep going to the cemetery? Why do you do that to yourself? Don’t you think it’s time for you to move on? Do you really think that’s healthy? Why do you want to be in that dark, depressing place?

Move on.  I wonder if anyone who says that really stops to consider what they’re saying.  I didn’t “move on” when she went to kindergarten, or middle school, or high school, or college.  I would not have “moved on” after she got married.  I very much planned on being here for her, and for all of my children, for their entire lives.  “Mom” is a forever calling.  It doesn’t end.  So because she left for heaven instead of college or a new phase of life with her husband, I should forget she ever existed?  Really? At what point, exactly, do you think that I will no longer miss her?  I am still Kimberly’s mom, and she is still my daughter, no matter where either one of us may be.  Not only do I need to hold onto her for me, I feel very strongly that she still needs us to hold onto her for her.  She needs to feel our love and an earthly connection to us – to me, to her fiancé, to her brothers, to her friends, to the people she loves and who love her.  While I’m sure she has things to do in heaven, I am also sure that she is with us a whole lot of the time, and that much of what she is doing is still helping and taking care of the people she loves here on earth. What else would angels be doing?  What would be more important?  Where do you think all the heavenly help we get comes from?  How do you think miracles show up?  While hopefully the grief will lessen to some degree over time, I will not be moving on from, or forgetting about my daughter, ever.

As for the cemetery, I no longer view it as a dark, depressing place. It feels peaceful and full of light there. There is a calm, a stillness. I listen to the birds in the trees and feel the sun on my face and sit with my daughter. Often, she makes little signs appear for me there, signs of comfort to reassure me that she is close by. How could I leave her there if it were dark and scary? I know she isn’t really there. I know when I leave, she leaves with me. But I don’t know where else to go to find her, to serve her. Except that I try to do what I can for her fiancé and her dogs.

Believe me, I would far prefer to go visit my daughter anywhere else. I would love to jump in the car and drive four hours to visit her in her little townhouse in Hurricane – to go laugh with her, play with the dogs, make dinner and play games. I would love to go see her at her work and take her lunch. I would love to have her throw open the door and hear her call, “Mom?!” because she’s home for the weekend. I would love to drive across the country for her. I would be thrilled to go watch a dance recital again, or attend her college graduation. I would give anything to go house hunting, wedding shopping or watch her walk down the aisle. Right now, I think I would even be happy to go visit her in the hospital. But I can’t.

I would love to put a card in the mail for her, or a book or a treat, or buy her a pair of earrings or shoes, or clothes, or something for her wedding or her house. I can’t do any of those things either. I would love to go sit quietly in her bedroom, clean something, breathe in her presence . . . but I had to sell our house and move in February. I felt like she was for sure never coming home, that she was taken care of, and that selling my house was the best thing – I would be able to help pay for her wedding and help her get a little house where her dogs could run and she could build her dream kennel. So I no longer have her treasured room to go feel her presence in. That is a horrible heartbreak as well. But if I hadn’t sold my house, I would not have been able to pay for her funeral. I suppose God sees things that we do not.

The only thing I can do for her is to go to her little spot of earth and try to keep it beautiful for her. I can go water her flowers, and make sure her angel is still standing watch over her, and change out decorations that say, “Watch out for doggie kisses,” or “Beautiful girl, you can do amazing things,” or, “Love you every day.”

The most epic fail of parenthood is to let your child die, right? I was supposed to protect her and keep her safe and love her more than anything in the world even if she felt that no one else did, and in her very darkest moment I wasn’t there to save her. It is the most absolutely, utterlessly powerless feeling to know that your child slipped through the veil in a moment when you were looking away – and you can’t fix it. I can do absolutely nothing for my daughter. Nothing. I can’t call her, can’t hug her, can’t drive down to see her, can’t bake her a birthday cake or buy her a Christmas present, can’t listen to her, can’t write her a note, can’t text her, can’t tag her in a funny facebook post, can’t tell her everything will be okay . . . So I take her flowers, and tell her that I’m sorry, and I love her. And I try to stand watch over her the best that I can.  I have no idea what I will do when winter comes.

 

 

 

The Wrong Question

Kimmy was blessed with many wonderful friends. She truly was. So am I. We have been the beneficiaries of countless acts of generosity in the weeks since she left us. I am very grateful for all of the kindnesses, and all the people – whether I’ve acknowledged them or not.

The thing that has been the most difficult for me, for my daughter’s fiancé, and for my boys, is the questions. So many people. So many questions. Most of these people are well meaning, empathetic and kind. The majority honestly care for Kimmy and for us. Occasionally I answer. Most often, I don’t. And answering one question usually leads to many more.

I believe most people honestly want to understand and be helpful. A few would cast judgment. Some seek to protect their own children, which is both honorable and ironic. A handful are just overcome with base human curiosity that compels them to disregard everything but their own gripping need to know.

And then there is the reason that I’ve discussed with other mothers of angel children. We – all of us – want to believe that we are somehow immune to this, that such a tragedy could never touch our own lives. We watch with a surreal kind of sympathetic horror when other people’s children die, remind ourselves how grateful we are that it isn’t us, and then go back to our daily lives virtually unaffected. Yes, I know. I used to be one of you. But now I’m not. Now I’m one of them. I have been initiated into the horror of all horrors, “Parents Who Have Lost a Child” club. The club that no one ever wants to belong to.

People want to know, to have their questions answered, so they can make sure that there is a dividing line, a category box, something that separates “us” from “them.” So they can reassure themselves that their children are safe. The real satire in this is from the moment you hold that beautiful baby in your arms, you know that God has given you a precious gift, and that it can be taken away in an instant – far more quickly and easily than it was given. You know in the back of your mind and heart from the second you become a parent, that you risk having your heart be broken in a myriad of ways – but that worst of all, you are not guaranteed any number of hours or days or years with that precious child. We silly creatures spend all this time trying to assure ourselves that we are safe from death, when we know with absolute certainty that it will come to every single one of us, as a simple condition of our humanity. And we all share it in common – no matter who we are. We will all die. All of our children will die. We just want it to be after we do, not before.

Still, I am bombarded with questions:  How did she die? Why? How did this happen? I don’t understand . . ? But I just saw her a few days before . . ? She’s so young. She had so much to live for. She was so happy . . . on and on and on . . .

I have taken nothing so seriously in my life as I have taken the role of mother. I even chose college degrees that would help me to be a better parent. I can’t say I’ve been perfect; I’ve made many mistakes. But I can say that I have honestly tried to do my best, and that I have always tried to do what I thought was best for my children. You will understand then, why I feel fiercely defensive of my daughter. No one who truly knows her could help but love her. Kimberly is in heaven, sees the whole picture, remembers absolutely who she is, and is completely at peace. She is unaffected by anyone’s unkind or ignorant human judgments. But I feel fiercely defensive of her all the same. My vulnerability is one thing, but I feel immensely hesitant to make my daughter vulnerable. I also hesitate to possibly cause more grief to her fiancé and brothers rather than less.

However, having pondered a great deal on this, I also don’t want my daughter’s death to be for nothing, or to appear shameful in any way. So I will answer some questions. And no more. If I don’t say it here, don’t ask. There are reasons for this. More than one.

Kimberly died from depression. There. I said it. My daughter died from depression. Which is no different from dying of heart disease. She took her own life. I am not going to give specifics, because I don’t want to encourage anyone else to try it, because I don’t feel that it’s necessary, and because I frankly don’t feel that it’s anyone’s business who wasn’t extremely close to her. She passed away quickly, peacefully, without pain, and surrounded by angels. (*Please note – while I absolutely am not condemning my daughter in any way, I am also NOT condoning suicide. The pain to those of us left behind is unbearable and I would do ANYTHING to have her back. If you are struggling with depression, please, PLEASE keep trying. Keep going for one more day. The sun might be back tomorrow. Please ask for help from those who love you. Please SHARE with them how hopeless you are feeling and GET HELP).

Yes, I knew she struggled with depression. No, I never dreamed in a million years that she would even consider suicide for a moment. I can beat myself up over and over again for all the things I should have or could have done. So could everyone else who loves her. None of this serves us, or her. I talked to her nearly every day.

I talked to her the day before she died. I told her I loved her. She said she loved me. We were planning her wedding for July. She and I had just met with the florist and ordered her flowers. I had agreed to cosign with her so she and her fiancé could buy a little house with a yard and room for their dogs to run. She had a mortgage loan pre-approval. She had looked at houses in St. George with a realtor down there. She was coming up here to stay with me in Salt Lake for the weekend for Mother’s Day, and we had an appointment with a realtor to go look at homes up here – they hadn’t decided for certain where to live.

She was a successful loan officer at a credit union with a promising career there if she wanted to stay. She didn’t. Not forever. She had recently decided that she didn’t want to finish a business degree or a finance degree, or even the law degree she had originally planned on. She wanted peace and calm. She wanted to do something more meaningful to her. She wanted to go to dog training school and eventually open her own kennel and work with dogs. She had just started making dog shampoo and paw balm, ordered bottles, had labels made, perfected and written down the recipes, started a company, and was taking orders. She was so excited. I was excited to help her with it. So was her fiancé. We wanted to help her with all of it. She was right in the middle of working toward so many dreams . . .

Her fiancé was very supportive of all her dreams. They sat up talking for two hours the night before she died. He hugged her and kissed her in the morning. They texted during the day. He came home and found her . . . gone. Does it make sense? No. None at all. Someone suggested he had something to do with it. Absolutely, unequivocally, no. Not possible, even if there had been any possibility of question in the situation, which there was not. He loved her. He took care of her, during good days and bad. No one could believe this could happen. Believe me, no one was more shocked or horrified or heartbroken than her fiancé or I was.

Do I believe God calls people home in this way? No. But I do believe that a loving Heavenly Father knows us, knows what our choices will be, is very aware of who we are, what our individual and family plans are, what agreements we have made, and how things will play out. Although it makes no sense at all to my frail mortal mind, I have felt a peaceful reassurance that it was my daughter’s time to go. I don’t know why she went this way. Maybe she can stop another person from making this choice. She had recently changed depression medications – I simply don’t believe that enough is done to educate or monitor people with regard to depression meds. I think they are necessary and helpful, but particularly with college students and young adults, I think they just don’t know the effects to watch for. I believe the medication change had a whole lot to do with this.

I know Kimmy was in a fog and was simply not thinking at all. If she had stopped to think, she would not have done it. Period. It was not an act of selfishness. It was a moment of complete despair and fog that took her before she had time to think clearly and make another choice. But if not this way, I believe she would have shortly gone another way. Were there signs we should have, could have seen? Maybe. I don’t know. Could we have done anything to stop it? I believe if it could have been stopped, it would have been. That being said, watch your loved ones closely. Parents, watch your children. Talk to them. Talk to your young adult children. Talk to them about depression, ask the tough questions, be aware of their medication changes, warn them of possible side effects, talk openly about them. And love them for who they are so you can say you have no regrets if they are taken earlier than you expected.

That is the end of questions answered. However, those are the wrong questions. Are they relevant? Perhaps. If they can save another life. And if people can realize that depression is real, and suicide is not a shameful horrible thing that sends your loved ones to hell and puts them in a dark place, or if someone who is struggling with depression can seek help and realize how very much they are valued by God and their loved ones simply for being who they are – you don’t need to do anything. Just be. You are perfect. Just the way you are. My little girl was perfect. She is perfect. Did she make mistakes? Absolutely. But she is beautiful and wonderful and amazing and perfect – a divine being of light, a daughter of God, an angel.

The more important questions are: How did she live? Why? What did you learn from her? Where is she now? She is so happy, yes. She has so much to live for, yes.

Kimmy lived with passion and love and exuberance and purpose. She was light. She was such a joyful baby and little girl. Everything she touched lit up. She excelled at everything she tried. We all wanted to get behind Kimberly’s dreams. (I said those things at her funeral). Kimmy was fearless. She believed she could do anything, be anything – if she decided to do something, she did it. She danced, she rode motorcycles, she loved dogs and the peace of nature. She loved Chris. She loved her mom and her brothers and her grandparents, and her aunts and uncles and cousins. She loved her family. Kimmy sewed, she played the piano, she cooked. She loved decorating, and shopping. We dreamed of starting an interior decorating business together, or decorating a Parade of Homes home. She loved fashion and well-dressed men 🙂 – she worked at Old Navy, the Gap, Michael Kors, and Men’s Wearhouse.

She loved ice cream and cinnamon rolls and pasta. She made the best tortillas on the planet. She was recently diagnosed with Celiac Disease, which was tough for her. All of Kimberly’s favorite foods are full of gluten. We were trying to help her adjust. She loved hair and makeup and shoes and handbags. She always looked beautiful. She often told me that I had no fashion sense while she was on her way into my closet to get dressed for the day. I cried and cried when she left for college – I missed her so much.

She was such a good girl when she was little. She always tried to do the right thing. She was so obedient. She wrote stories all the time. She was so happy and had so many friends. She was a cuddle bug. She left me sweet notes and made me things. She made things for everyone. She loved her baby brother and took such good care of him. She loved her big brothers and laughed and played with them.

Kimmy absolutely adored her fiancé, Chris. He was so good for her. They had so much fun together, and she was so happy. I remember how ecstatic she was the night she got engaged, and when she found her wedding dress. She was so excited about her wedding and about being married to Chris. She looked for sweet things to do for him, and he did so many sweet things for her. They were a perfect couple. She was looking forward to building a beautiful life with him, to forever with him. Forever can still happen.

Kimberly took care of everyone – her brothers, her fiancé, her beloved dogs and little bird, her mom, her grandparents, her friends. She was a loyal friend. She was the person I talked to about everything. I could go on forever, but the three words that really describe Kimmy best are love, light and angel. That is who she is, who she has always been.

And that explains why she couldn’t stay. And why things seemed so heavy and dark here sometimes.

I can tell you with absolute assurance that Kimmy isn’t gone and I will never say good-bye. Never. She is still right here, with the people she loves. She is full of love, light, happiness and peace. She is still helping everyone, and can do that even better from where she is. She knows that it was her time to go. She is sad that we are sad, but she is where she is supposed to be. I am so sad that she won’t have her wedding, but she knows that she will have her wedding – it will just be in heaven, on a date that seems too far away to us, and only a moment away to her. She is continuing to learn and grow and to help others – both in heaven and on earth. She is making rapid progress and lighting up everything she touches, just like she always has.

My daughter made me a better person. I am kinder because of her. I am smarter and sweeter and more creative and gentler – because of her. I am more aware of the people and animals and things around me. I see more of the beauty. I love dogs. I hear birds. I am more grateful. She has taught me that there is nothing that matters more than your family. There is nothing I want more than to be with her again. So I make a choice in every moment to try to do whatever will bring me closer to that ultimate objective – to hold my sweet little girl in my arms again, to hear her laugh, to see her smile, to listen to her dreams . . . and to make sure that my boys and her precious Chris, and the other people we love are with us too. It won’t be heaven if we aren’t together. And we will be.

If you are someone who truly loved Kimmy – if you tune into awareness, you will feel her and see her all around. I miss her terribly. I want her back. But I am so grateful to know that I can still feel her and hear her and that families are forever, that we will get her back. I hope forever comes soon.

If God had said to me – and He probably did at some time that I’ve forgotten – “I’m going to give you the most beautiful angel in heaven to be your little girl, to raise as your daughter, to love and cherish and laugh with and adore . . . but you only get to keep her for 21 short years. And then I’m going to take her back, in one of the most difficult ways imaginable. Her death will come suddenly in the prime of her life. You won’t have any warning. Your heart will break into a million pieces and you will want to die with her, but you will have to stay behind for what seems like a very, very long time. You will watch your other children suffer because of this. You will watch the man she loves suffer even more. But I promise at the end you will all be together and it will all be worth it . . . Do you still want her?” I would have said yes. A thousand times yes. I would have suffered whatever pain I had to bear, and taken whatever sweet and precious time He was willing to give me for the blessing of having Kimmy as my daughter.

I love you, Kimmy. My precious, beautiful girl. You are the most wonderful, amazing, perfect daughter any mother could ever ask for. Do you know that?

That is the right question.

 

 

I Am Not Strong

On May 10th, 2017 the worst nightmare a mother could possibly ever have came true for me. I lost my daughter. My little girl. My best friend. My princess. My angel. The light in our family. Someone whose hopes and dreams I was doing everything I could to help come true, and had long since placed before my own. I couldn’t wait to see what she did, to watch all those dreams come true . . .

Once a near-connoisseur of the written word, I can now say that words are completely inadequate – pathetic even – in attempting to describe the depth of such a loss. I feel as though my heart has been ripped from my chest and torn to shreds. I have lost the capacity to think or reason with any degree of intelligence. My brain short-circuits on a regular basis. I can’t eat. I am exhausted through my bones, but even when I sleep it’s never restful. Every morning I am hit afresh with the reality, “Kimmy is gone. Kimberly died. She died. She’s dead.” What a horrible, awful word. Filled with such dread. Such permanence. My daughter is dead. The void is all consuming.

I am so sick of hearing how strong I am that I want to throw up or hit someone. I have 3 boys, and her fiancé and I have to keep going. I have to get out of bed and take care of everything, and go to work and pay the bills. I had to deal with the funeral arrangements, and write her obituary and go through her things, and put my little girl in the ground. I continually have to remind myself to keep breathing and restrain myself from driving off a cliff.

I know that no one knows what to say. And I keep everyone at a distance. So did she. I suppose that I appear strong because someone has to do it, right? Someone has to keep going and take care of things and of course I can handle something like this because I’m so strong. God wouldn’t ask anyone weak to go through this. They can’t see that there’s nothing even left on the inside. Or that I told God I’d take all the other crap He’s dished out, but just to please never take one of my children. This is really just kind of the end of anything left of me or my reason for being. I do NOT want to be strong. I want someone else to buck up and deal with everything for a change while I fall apart. Strong sucks. I wish I had the capacity to let others actually see what’s inside of me at this point, but I fear that “weaker” people would disintegrate in the face of such awfulness. I feel like my very soul has been shattered and that if a butterfly so much as whispered in my direction I would turn to dust . . . Bring on the butterflies.