A Post for Parents

For a while now, I haven’t wanted to talk about any of this.  I want the focus to be on Kimmy’s life, not on her death.  And her life was filled with so many good and happy things, so much beauty and light.

But her life also contained difficult things.  Ups and downs.  Things she didn’t choose.  Other people’s choices.  Genetics.  Chemistry.  Sometimes long days of darkness, and struggling to feel the light again.  None of this was her fault or her choice.  And the last couple of weeks of her life, a medication change that I’m sure impacted her.  I wish that both she and I had been more aware of how much.

I almost titled this post “opposition.”  True – this is more than simple “opposition.”  Just because you are beautiful and brilliant and sweet and kind and creative and energetic and talented and work so hard to be successful and take care of people, to be a good person, to be happy – does not mean that you must therefore be compelled to endure moments of eternal darkness and pain where your brain feels fuzzy and your soul hurts, moments that make no sense from the outside, depths that become so deep you feel you will never see the light of day again – in order to balance the scale.  Nor does it earn you even just a long streak of endlessly dull, gray days even in the middle of everything in the world to feel happy about.

But I also didn’t want to give this post a horrible title.  Depression is what it is.  It is unique for everyone.  So is anxiety.  Sometimes they go together, like they did for Kimberly.  Sometimes they do not.

In the end, I simply called it “A Post for Parents” because I think that is most relevant, although anyone can gain empathy from it, if not understanding.  I have an idea of how this feels, and I hope my daughter felt like I understood better than the “mother”in this clip.  However, I wish that I could go back and understand more, talk to her more deeply and more seriously, stop trying to fix it and just listen, realize how intensely powerfully it held her and how very much she was struggling in some moments, and do whatever it took to hold onto her.

That is why I’m posting this.  There is tremendous awareness in this, and where there is awareness there is empowerment.  If you have children, I hope you watch it.  Now.  While they’re here.

I can’t begrudge my daughter her place in heaven – her peace, her freedom, her healing, her love, her beautiful angel light.  But I certainly do miss her.

 

Sabrina Benaim – "Explaining My Depression to My Mother"

Sabrina Benaim – "Explaining My Depression to My Mother"Get Sabrina's book here: http://bit.ly/sabrinamagicemd

Posted by Button Poetry on Friday, May 19, 2017

 

      

 

January

Another tenth, Kimmy.  I did something I haven’t been able to bring myself to do in a while.  I glanced back through a few of your texts.  Last year on this date, in the morning, there are little bubbles that say:

“Happy Birthday, Mom!”

“Thanks, Boo.  Love you.”

“Love you too.”

You sent me a picture of you and Carl, my newest grandson.  (I had just barely figured out that you weren’t joking about adopting another puppy).

Everyone laughed at your funny words, and told me how beautiful you were.  You are.  One of my favorite pictures is still the one where you look like a new mom, who’s been up all night with her baby.  

Or both of her babies.

I was at Instacare this week with Ryan when some young, new parents brought their baby girl in.  I wasn’t trying to eavesdrop.  I wasn’t really even paying attention.  Until I heard her daddy give the receptionist her birth date – it was in June – and say that she was seven months old.  It suddenly struck me that she had been here less time than my little girl had been gone.  I watched them go sit down, take her out of her carrier, fuss over her . . . It was apparent that she was their whole world.  Funny how in seven short months such a tiny little person can have your whole heart and soul wrapped up and sealed forever.  Of course, I know from experience that it doesn’t take seven months.  It takes less than seven seconds, and really – for a mom anyway, for me – it started before any of you were born.  I couldn’t help but stare at that baby and think about the fact that she was where you were more recently than I was.  Such a strange, surreal feeling.  She was cute and sweet, as most babies are.  But she had less hair at seven months than you did when you were born.  You were such a beautiful, precious, sweet little baby, Kimmy.

          

Today was a happy day at work.  And with your brothers, and Chris, and Grandma and Grandpa – with family.  Everyone did sweet, kind, thoughtful things.  I appreciate tiny moments more.  I am more grateful for blessings, big and small.

I know you’re always there.  But you are always so missed.  I suppose it’s maybe like knowing heaven is there, but that feeling you sometimes get of missing it at the same time.  We feel your presence, your comfort, your help, your love – your soul.  All the time.  But we miss hugging you, hearing you laugh and looking into your beautiful blue eyes.

         

I have so many memories of so many sweet things you did on my birthdays for so many years.  You especially tried so hard during what I thought would be our hardest years (little did I know) to plan fun things, to make me happy.  It’s not that I care about my birthday.  In fact, I wish I could cancel them at this point.  It’s that I wish I could go back and forget everything but you and your brothers, and the thoughtful things you did and just soak up every second – just hug you and love you and tell you what an amazing daughter you are, at every age and stage.  Especially during that difficult time when you were trying so hard for me.  I knew all that mattered was my children.  I tried to tell all of you that.  But I wish I could go back and forget the stress and just relive every moment with you.

I have to remind myself that we have forever.

And now . . . your birthday is right after mine, the beautiful bright spot at the end of what has always been the most depressing month of the year.  (Although that may be arguable now.  Who knows?  It all runs together anymore).  I always told you that I got your birthday out of January – it was pretty close.  February 1st.  Your birthday was always something to look forward to, as the beginning of the end of winter, the hope of spring.  The celebration of my baby girl being born.  Valentine’s Day and hearts and pink were everywhere, which made you happy.  Pretty purple amethyst is your birthstone.  And you were always the light at the end of the tunnel.  That will be a more difficult day than this.  We often celebrated you and Grandpa together, and he is on the 10th again.  The truth is, there’s never going to be an easy month.

There are very few photos of you looking grumpy. This one makes me laugh. It’s how I feel some days without you.

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5)

I don’t even know what else to say, Kimmy.  My heart is too full to talk.  It has become apparent over the past several months that our eloquent mortal words are pathetically inadequate at describing things of the soul.

Good night, baby girl.  Love you.

           

 

 

Little Miracles

We see little miracles all the time, Kimmy.  I see them so often that sometimes I don’t stop to really ponder on them.  They usually make me cry.  They always make me very aware of your presence, and of God’s, in all our lives.  The majority of them I never share with anyone, and those I do share are usually just with one or more of the people closest to you and me.  But this struck me today, profoundly enough to add a side note.

In December we decorated your little spot of earth.  (I hate calling it your grave.  Partly because that sounds so sad, so permanent; and partly because every time I visit there I feel your love and appreciation for everything we do to try to keep it pretty there, but I also hear you say, “Remember, Mom – this isn’t where I am.  I don’t stay here.  I always leave with you.”  I know that’s true).  We put tiny string lights on your little tree, your wreath, and strung them between the two and around your nativity scene.  Ryan and I went over a couple of nights to turn on the lights, and then back to turn them off in the morning.

 

On Christmas Eve day when I went to the cemetery, I knew that Ashley and Amy had been there.  Funny how I can often tell who has been there by what they leave, or even just the feeling that lingers.  I knew they had straightened your little Christmas tree and left sweet things for you. I turned the lights on for you – just tiny battery operated lights.  Told you I loved you and missed you.  Cried.  Listened.  Left you wishes and love and kisses.  And left the lights on.  I have left them on all this time.  I have gone to the cemetery many days and nights between then and now, and the lights have remained on.  All of them. 4 sets.  In freezing cold weather.  I put up a set of lights like that for Halloween (2) with the same kind of batteries.  They lasted 1-2 days before the batteries died and both sets turned off.  Today I went to take down your Christmas decorations, in the quiet stillness at the edge of dusk.  ALL of your lights were still on, blazing brightly.   I felt you so strongly there, and I realized that was you, reminding me that you are still here, still with us.  I took them down reverently and put your heart and your regular things back up.  As I pulled out of the cemetery, the moon was amazing – bright, brilliant, and full of love and light.

 

On Wednesday, December 27th, 2 days after Christmas – I had a very hard day.  I’m not sure why it was so difficult.  I found out later that it was a rough day for some of the other people closest to you as well.  Several times that day I felt an awful, sinking feeling of dread and of missing you.  I started to cry and feel terrible.  Then I had this wave of peace and comfort wash over me and I felt instantly better.  I had that same experience multiple times during the day.  That evening I was standing in my bedroom looking at the Christmas card you gave me when you were little and went through it all again.  Except that time the awareness came to me that along with the feeling of immense comfort, I smelled lilies and roses – your favorite flowers.  As I stopped to think about it, I realized that the fragrance of those flowers had been there every time that day.  It had registered, but not in my full conscious awareness.  That had never happened before.  I’ve heard of it happening to other people who have lost loved ones, but I have not smelled a scent that confirmed your presence to me – until that day.  I’ll be honest – I don’t usually necessarily love the scent of lilies, although I do think they’re beautiful flowers.  But on that day, they smelled beautiful too.  It was just a sweet, comforting, floral scent that reminded me of you.

Two little miracles in a few short days – those are the only ones I’m going to share here.

Actually, perhaps I will share one more.  So many inspired people say just the right thing at just the right time.  Not everyone who reads this sees my facebook posts, and vice versa.  I’m going to paraphrase Chris Wise Wadleigh, my sweet Chris’s dear mom, who reminded me today that I don’t need to “do better” or “be strong” (a phrase I have said myself that I resent being called, but then used to chide myself anyway), that there is no such thing as “being strong” when you lose a child.  True, true, and true.  And that we are getting through because of God’s grace.  Also true.  Entirely true.  Completely true.  His grace is sufficient . . . (2 Corinthians 12:9).

“Jesus doesn’t make up the difference. Jesus makes all the difference. Grace is not about filling gaps. It is about filling us.” Brad Wilcox, 2011.  

His Grace Is Sufficient

Thank goodness for grace.  Grateful for miracles.  Love you, baby girl.

 

    

 

 

 

 

 

New Year’s Eve

I don’t even know how to feel today, Boo. But then I guess that’s becoming my new normal. I don’t know how to feel any day. Christmas Eve was very difficult. Christmas Day was a little easier. It helped both days that we were all together – your brothers and Chris and me, and now Renee. Grandma and Grandpa were with us for a little while on Christmas. It helped that we stayed busy, that there was sunshine, that we opened gifts, ate, laughed, went to see a movie, stayed up and played games. It is impossible to describe the feelings or moments we walk through to someone who does not live in grief. I feel relieved to see my other children laughing and happy, and I of course feel happiness for them in those instances. I also feel as though sometimes I am looking in on still frames of milliseconds of time as they pass by in front of me in silent, slowed down untouchable pieces of art, like something out of The Matrix movie – and I can’t help but notice, even in the most perfect moments, the spaces in between. The emptiness. The holes where you should be.  Even in those perfect moments, I forgot to even take pictures.  I felt so bad afterward.  I just felt frozen, watching.

There were many good and perfect things about the day.  But it was impossible not to think about you and all the shoulds.  Shoulds everyone else hates me for feeling.  I think I am the only one who isn’t in the “anger” stage yet.  Or maybe I am.  Maybe I’m just angry at myself, at life, maybe even at God – instead of at you. Everyone is mad at you and I’m supposed to understand.  I do, mostly.  But they don’t have to understand that I am just in awful grief and I cant help it.  Joy eludes me.  Joy is something I don’t expect to feel again for a long, long time. Until we’re all back together again really. So I settle for snatches of happy moments or contentedness. I have stopped trying to hold onto them, to hold onto anything. Perhaps I have given up on the illusion that I can. Perhaps I lack the strength to do anything right now but just be. I hope that my children will heal enough to still feel joy in this life. But as the shock is beginning to wear off, and the swamp of depression feels more and more difficult to climb out of, I am realizing that some of us are less okay than we have pretended to be for each other.

I remember the kind-hearted funeral director putting an arm around my shoulder after everything and saying, “One thing I’ve learned in all this that is the most difficult thing for parents, and the most destructive – don’t “should” on yourself. I liked that you kept her service so positive and hopeful. Try to find some peace.” I also have heard from God over and over again that if you were supposed to still be here, you would be, Sis – that you’re still with us, and that you can still do everything – to stop telling myself that you didn’t get to do this or that or that you “should” be doing what I think you should instead of what God thinks you should in this moment, and to keep an eternal perspective. I know.   I know that is all true. I feel you with me, with us, still – it keeps me breathing and I am immensely grateful for that gift. I believe in our Savior and I believe in His Atonement and power to heal us. I just wish I wasn’t so human and that it wasn’t so difficult.

 

It feels like there are so many endings right now. This has been probably the worst year ever. Not probably.  It has been.  After so many other things we’ve been through as a family, I never believed I’d say that – but nothing will ever compare to losing you. There can never be another year this bad. We are also realizing we have to let go of some other things. Chris and I are realizing we can’t hold onto everything in your absence, to every particle of you.  We can’t do everything we want to. The money, time, energy, love – there just isn’t enough. We’ve realized we probably need to sell your bike, the harley. That is hard, because we both remember you being excited to get it, and there are photos of you on it that are so beautiful and precious. But we both know you never loved it as much as you loved your old beat up bike – and Chris restored that one for you, so beautifully. He will keep that one. And we need to find a new home for little Po. She’s a baby bird who will live a long time and she needs a happy family who will love her and give her lots of attention. She needs children to grow up with, like our Jack did. And Rascal. I feel so bad that I am somewhere where I can’t have your dogs now. I’ve tried to do everything to help Chris. But 3 dogs, when one can’t get along – and Chris has to work all day – they are unhappy. He will keep Carl and Trevor, your babies. I just pray you help us with all this. I feel like it’s admitting defeat. I feel scared. I want to save everyone and everything. But we’re drowning, treading water with all of it – so are they. I want to be rich. I want a magic wand. But then if I had one – money isn’t what I would ask for. I would bring you back instead. I would give up anything and everything to get you back.

 

Part of me is so relieved that this horrible, awful year is finally coming to a close. And part of me feels this sick, sinking feeling at seeing it end. Because I realize that this is the last year you were with us. Your monument, your obituary, everything says 2017. Kimberly Ann Montoya 1996-2017. How is there a period at the end of my little girl’s life? My beautiful, vibrant daughter. It is still surreal to me. That is when your earthly life ended, Kimmy. That is when you left us. You last rang in a new year in 2017.   You were planning a wedding. You welcomed a litter of puppies and found them homes. You got your puppy, Carl, who is now bigger than a grown man (or a small car maybe). You celebrated your last birthday, smiled your last smile, laughed your last laugh, cried your last tear, signed your last signature, spoke your last words, took your last ride, sent your last text, made your last phone call, your last facebook post, gave your last gifts, woke to your last day, saw your last sunset, and took your last breath . . . in 2017. It was the last time any of us got to see you, to hold you, to hug you, to tell you that we loved you. When it ends, we start a year without you. A year you will not see. 2018 is the first year in 21 years that your beautiful soul will not grace the earth. We still have 4 more months of milestones before we get to the one-year mark.

 

 

We will make it. Because we have no choice. None of us got a say in this. Even as I write that, I know that is probably not true. I know we all knew before we came here what our plan was together and why. I certainly wish that I could remember it now. It will bring me a great deal of peace when I can do your temple work in May. That is something that keeps me going. I know our family is forever, that you are with us, and that in the eternal sense everything is fine. That does bring comfort. Immense comfort. I know you are in heaven, with your loving heavenly parents, and family who loved you on earth as well.

 

Sometimes I have moments when I think that I wish you could have stopped and seen the empty spot that would be left here on earth without you, or the hole in so many hearts, or how much Chris loves you and misses you, or your fur babies watching for you, or your brothers who don’t know what to do without your anchoring influence, how sad your friends are, or that I measure the days by whether I go minutes or hours between breakdowns and how well I manage to hide them, or how we all miss the way you laugh, your guidance, your brilliance. I think that if you could have stopped and just seen for one millisecond the wound your absence would leave, and how very, very much you were loved – that you never would have left and you would still be here. And then I realize that is, of course, true. That you weren’t thinking, or feeling, or seeing anything. That if anything could have been done, it would have been. That God is in charge, not me. Someday, I will have all the answers.

I know you want me to maintain hope, and that I have to hold onto it for everyone else. I know that we have an angel and that the blessings you help to send to all of us continue to be amazing. We see little miracles all the time. I pray constantly that the other people who love you and are hurting so much will feel you as closely as I do, and see all those miracles. I know that I choose to be here, and that I need to be, even though it would be easier not to. I know that there are reasons you are there and I am here. I’m trying to be strong, Sis. I really am. You have always been a great source of strength and joy. Every time I think of any tiny regret I hear you or God tell me to let it go. I know you are in a beautiful, love-filled place and that you are the most incredible, brilliant, beautiful angel. A friend told me a couple of days ago that she knows you want me to try to feel joy, and that she saw you playing with all these baby piglets, laughing and happy, that you were trying to send me a picture of joy. It made me smile.  You still make me laugh. You always have. And I still have other people reach out to me constantly to tell me about experiences with you, either before you left us or after. They are very reaffirming to me.

And I know you haven’t left us. I know you’re still here. I know, Boo. Some days are harder than others. As usual, this is raw, real, and unedited. I have to go to church and avoid talking to people now, so I can try to feel closer to God and to you. Ironic how I just have so little energy for people I don’t know, who don’t know me – or you – I just crave peace. I can do it at work, but not when I don’t have to. And I have no tolerance for drama or pretense or, I don’t know – all the things God tolerates in all of us all the time, I suppose. I need to do better. Love you, Kimmy. I know there is no period at the end of your existence, and I am so grateful to know that you live on. Please stay close. To all of us. We all love you.

                                        

 

 

December

 

I try to post something on, or close to, the tenth of every month, Boo. But this month, I just seem to come up short on words. I’m not sure how a heart can feel so full and so empty at the same time. I don’t have the tree up yet. I will get it put up – for Ryan, and for Alex and Chad and Chris – and you. I haven’t bought one thing for Christmas. None of us really want to celebrate this year. We just miss you. It doesn’t feel like Christmas without you. I can’t imagine that it ever will again.

 

At the same time, memories fill my mind and heart. Memories of all the Christmases with you – sweet, beautiful memories. I loved Christmas when my children were little – loved the excitement, loved doing things with all of you, getting ready for Christmas, the anticipation you all felt, the joy, the love. Even the years when things were hard, when we were poor, when our family was going through hard things. We always had each other – my children and I. I have always been so grateful for all of you. I still am. I always will be. And while I can find little joy in shopping or festivities – my heart is drawn to the deeper meaning of Christmas, the sweet peace of our Savior and what His birth, and life and death and resurrection mean for us. My thoughts are drawn to heaven and things of eternity, and my soul is filled with gratitude for you, for our family, and for the assurance that families are forever.

       

It was a little warmer today. And during daylight hours, when the sun was out, I took a little Christmas tree, a wreath, a stocking, Christmas flowers, and a nativity scene to your little patch of earth. Ryan and I went back later to light it up for you. It was beautiful.  We didn’t take a picture then, just soaked in the peace and felt your presence.  It hurts my heart that I can’t buy you gifts to unwrap for Christmas, my beautiful girl. I will save them all up in my soul and bring you a truckload when I see you again. You always loved gifts – receiving them, but giving them even more. You were so thoughtful and planned things out so carefully for everyone you loved. You made things and worked so hard. When you were older, you saved up and bought things. Grandpa used to laugh at you when you were little and say you were so much like Grandma Checketts (Great Grandma to you) because she loved gifts too, and you were both such gracious receivers of gifts. Once when you were maybe 4 years old you opened something and exclaimed, “Oh, thank you! I love it! It’s just what I always wanted!” I don’t even remember what it was now, but I remember you holding it up for a minute and then asking, “What is it?” Grandpa laughed so hard I thought he was going to cry. But I bet you and Great Grandma will have a lot of fun on Christmas in heaven this year.  More importantly, you get to celebrate Christmas with the Savior Himself. That will be amazing. And I know you will be with us every day until we can hug you again, my sweet angel daughter.

Love you, Kimmy Boo. Always and Forever. We all love you.  So very much.

             

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Synchronicities

I felt a jolt go through me yesterday when I realized that it had been 6 months since Kimmy’s funeral. I got through the date of her passing, but the date of her funeral caught me off guard. Your child’s name and “funeral” should never go together in your head. They can’t. I feel torn. Part of me still wants to lie down and die every day – a very big part of me. The missing her never goes away. I have grown used to coping by compartmentalizing and staying crazy busy. All this down time to think has been both a blessing and a curse.

I have also had the picture placed in my head continually – probably by my angel girl – of my daughter and the way she took on so many challenging times during her short life. Her music play list is still on my computer. While just thinking of the title stabs me, I still keep being reminded that one of her favorite “no one is going to keep me down” songs was What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger by Pink. During some of her most difficult, frustrating, upsetting times – she would blast that song, clean her room ‘til it shone, and dance her heart out. She would reclaim her power that way. Thinking back on it, I’m not sure if she learned that “blast out the radio and clean and dance until you feel better” thing from me, or if I learned it from her – I just know we’ve both always done it for as long as I can remember. While I’m not quite back into my dancing shoes mode – physically or emotionally – I realize that I am still here, still have things to do, and that I need to get stronger for myself, for my children, and for the people around me. I know that Kimmy is doing her part on her side of the veil, and that I have to do my part on my side. I know that I have a reason to make it to the finish line – because she’s waiting there for me.

I have said so many times that we receive constant reminders that she is with us. Most of her family and friends share things with me often as well. Sometimes someone asks me how I know that all these reminders are not just coincidences. I’m not always sure how to answer that really. Even though I can’t hug her or call her on the phone, feeling my daughter close to me now is the same energy I have felt anytime she was around me for the past 21 years. Parents who have more than one child may be able to relate.  If you have your back to the door and one of your children walks in, you can usually feel which child it is, without ever turning around.  It’s still Kimmy when she walks in.  When I hear her voice in my head, it’s her voice – not mine – her words, the way she talks, her personality. And I know my daughter. I know how much she loves Chris and her brothers and her friends. I know she would be reaching out to all of us constantly, in any way she possibly could – just like she did when she was a mortal angel instead of a spirit angel – to help us, to lift us up, to cheer us on, to let us know that she is there and that she cares. I just don’t even question any little reminder that I get from her – so I get them all the time.

And I don’t believe in coincidences. I believe in synchronicities. While I can’t convince anyone against their will, I think you deprive yourself of a whole lot of comfort you could be receiving if you choose to line things up as simply “coincidence” or “confirming things you’re looking for” instead of recognizing the hand of God and angels in your life, in large and small ways. It goes along with faith maybe. Faith in God, in a power bigger than us. Or even if you’re doubting that – just faith in Kimmy. How would she not find a way to make her presence and her love known? How would a God who “knows when a sparrow falls,” “arrays the lilies of the field in glory,” and “numbers the stars and calls them all by name” not ensure that the world and the heavens that He created were in perfect alignment?

 

These are just a few quotes about synchronicity:

Synchronicity is being in alignment with divine time.

http://www.ask-angels.com/spiritual-guidance/synchronicity-awakening-to-the-divine-nature-of-time/

The word “coincidence” is understandable for mortals to use, but coincidence is not an appropriate word to describe the workings of an omniscient God. He does not do things by “coincidence” but . . . by “divine design.”

https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2017/10/by-divine-design?lang=eng

Connections and synchronicities are always there – whether we can spot them in the moment or not. This is a Universe where there are no accidents.

https://www.drwaynedyer.com/blog/tag/synchronicity/

Signs from Heaven

http://www.ask-angels.com/spiritual-guidance/signs-from-heaven/

 

Yesterday, on that so yucky day, I didn’t feel well enough to be out and about much, but I felt stir crazy. I finally started going through some of Kimmy’s pictures and things I have left sitting too long since pulling things out to try to hurry and make her funeral beautiful. I’ve left them sitting for six months, to be exact. I was thinking how much I was dreading the upcoming holidays – I can’t believe we are almost to Thanksgiving, and then we have to get through Christmas, and I need to be a mom and try to pull this off for my other children, but how in the world are we going to get through any of this without Kimmy? I couldn’t help but remember all the other years – shopping for my little girl while she was growing up – how we used to love Christmas, it used to bring so much joy instead of pain and dread. I thought of later years, as a single mom when we didn’t have much money but how sweet and good Kimmy was, how kind and generous she has always been.

My heart nearly broke thinking about how last Thanksgiving Kimmy wanted us to go down to St. George and spend it with her and Chris. She had to work the day before and the day after so they couldn’t come up. I wanted to go – so much. But Ryan had started his first job and had to work on Thanksgiving Day, and I felt too bad leaving him. I knew they would be up for Christmas. If I could only go back and just go spend the day cooking with her, and laughing, and talking, and hugging her and soaking her in – I would give anything. But I didn’t know. I thought we had 40 more years. I thought about this past Christmas, the joy when she finally arrived back home, how she and Chris gave me a beautiful set of pans because I was still using the ones I’d had in college, her telling me about going to get them on Black Friday, how excited she was to give them to me – she wrapped them up beautifully and wanted me to open them early. I thought about always trying to find her the perfect comfy slippers, how I never dreamed when I tried to pick out perfect crystal earrings she would love for Christmas that we would end up burying her in them in May, and just the horrible hole that is going to be so apparent in our family and in our hearts this year – and every year from now on. It felt unbearable. Beyond unbearable.

I simply don’t know how I’m going to get through it. I started talking to her about it, asking her to give me strength, and of course – crying. I came upon a little pillow she made for me when she was probably 9 or 10. She made sure that it was my favorite colors – lavender and pink, crosstitched “MOM” on it in beautiful careful stitches, and sewed it all herself. I kept it on my writing desk for years and we displayed it at her funeral, with some of the other things she had made. This is my sweet, thoughtful, tender little girl. That was enough to make me bawl, of course, and know that she had heard me. She used to work so hard to make gifts for everyone every year.

 

But then I found something I didn’t remember seeing when I had gone through her things in May. It was tucked in between two picture frames – an envelope that said, “To: Mom, Love: Boo.” A Christmas card, also from when she was a little girl. She had stamped it, and written in it, and colored it, and signed it, and told me that I was the best mom in the world.  And I knew that it was her way of telling me that she is here, that she is with us, that she knows Christmas is going to be hard, but she’s right here and she loves all of us. I know she meant the message now as much as she did then, and she knew I needed to read it.  On the outside it said, Wishing you A Joyous Christmas and a New Year of Peace and Happiness.  And on the inside, in her precious handwriting, it said, Dear Mom, Merry Christmas!  I love you!  You’re the best mom in the world, that’s a fact!  I know it.  Hope you have a wonderful Christmas!  Love, Boo  How did she know I needed to hear those words even more today than I did 13 years ago?  Because she’s my daughter, and she’s an angel, and she’s still with me.  It gave me a huge dose of strength and reassurance and felt almost like a hug from her. And it was not a coincidence. It was a gift. From my beautiful angel girl. Who I am so, so immensely thankful for. I will get through Thanksgiving because of all that I have to be thankful for.  And we will get through Christmas, because it is when we celebrate the birth of our Savior, and we will remember what I said in my last post – that because He lives, we know Kimmy lives and is ours forever.  So Merry Christmas To: Boo  Love: Mom  So much love, Kimmy.

            

 

 

Faith 2

I have been trying to edit this for 2 hours because I inserted the wrong photo at the end of your post, Kimmy Boo.  I’ve never had it not let me edit.  This is important enough to me to add a P.S.

For the first time, these past few days, I have been too ill to get to the cemetery every day – or very close to it.  Sweet Chris took such good care of your earthly garden for you.  I am so grateful.  Tonight is the first night I was well enough to get out of the car and bring you flowers again.  I was again, so grateful.  My phone – your phone – would not work to take photos, even when I prayed, even when I asked you for help.  So I stayed longer, waited in my car trying to charge it.

And then Chris pulled up and I knew why.  His phone takes far better photos.  But more importantly, we needed to be there together, to miss you and love you on this very difficult day.  And we both brought you yellow roses, Sis.  You love yellow roses.  I think that made you happy.

I accidentally inserted into your post the photo taken before all the flowers were there, and it will not let me edit.  Maybe someone needs to hear this added tidbit too.  So here are ALL of your yellow roses.  You are so very, very loved.

 

Faith

*I have stated before that I am LDS (Mormon) and that Kimmy was raised LDS. Both she and I have many family members and friends of our faith, and many not of our faith. Through most of my adult life, but especially since she left us, I seek truth, comfort and peace wherever I can find it. My personal belief is that all truth and light comes from God. That being said, my purpose here is not to offend or ostracize anyone, but to share where I have found some degree of peace today, and to offer it to those who Kimmy loves and who love her. I hope that all of you may find some peace and comfort here as well. May you feel the warmth of angel light in your hearts today, and every day.

*     *     *

Today has been just about the hardest day since the beginning, Sis. Halfway to a year. I find comfort that in this much time again I can go do your temple work. That will bring me an added measure of peace, even though I already feel you with me every time I’m there. I was blessed to have enough strength to get there today, for just a little bit. I saw a beautiful picture in my mind and heart of everyone I can think of in heaven that we know and love, surrounding you, hugging you and kissing you, and pouring out love on you, and on everyone here on earth who is missing you so much. I saw your beautiful shining, smiling face – just like in so many of your pictures where your friends or Chris are kissing your pretty cheeks – and your magic blue eyes, and felt your love and light and joy. It helped a little to know that you are surrounded in love, and that heaven celebrates while we mourn. I know that as happy as Jesus is to have you there with Him, He also cries with us today.

Faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore, if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true. (Book of Mormon, Alma 32:21). (A similar scripture is found in Hebrews 11:1). That scripture has carried me through many difficult times in my life. When I start to question why, I remind myself to have faith, to trust in God and His plan, that He can see further than I possibly ever could. And that I don’t have to know everything or understand everything in order to have faith. Even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words (Alma 32:27). There have been low points in my life when I had to hold on to simply a desire to believe, a “particle of faith” as the ancient prophet Alma also says.

If I have faith, then I can have hope. If there must be faith there must also be hope; and if there be hope, there must also be charity (Moroni 10:20-22). (Also in Romans 5:2; Psalm 131:3; Jeremiah 7, 13, 17; Acts 24:15, 26; and a whole lot of other places in the Bible). And what is it that ye shall hope for? Behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be raised unto life eternal, and this because of your faith in him according to the promise (Moroni 7:41). Or Titus 1:2 – In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began.

And so, my precious daughter, on this most difficult of days – halfway to a year since you slipped through the veil to heaven – I keep going because I have faith and hope that I will be with you again, that we will all be together again. To be received into the kingdom of the father, to go no more out, but to dwell with God eternally in the heavens. (3 Nephi 28:40). I know it is beyond our mortal comprehension, but just the beginning of the thought of “to go no more out,” that not one of us will ever have to leave again – no more fear of loss – inspires thoughts of unimaginable peace and joy. I remember the day I first held you in my arms, your perfect shining soul in a perfect tiny body, and I wonder what the shock of that felt like – knowing you had just left your heavenly home for this human experience, feeling angels all around you, looking up at me with big blue eyes. Somehow I feel that both of our souls knew your stay here would be brief. But I know you were excited to come, to learn, to grow, to be part of our family, to love the people you came to love, even to face the challenges you would face. I imagine that when I finally leave here and go back home, you will be the one waiting to greet me, and I can feel the joy of just squeezing you as tight as I possibly can again, and to finally see the whole picture of how everything was planned out, to understand it. For now – I hold onto faith while I can’t hold onto you.

I have wondered about writing this. I want this blog to be about you, Kimmy. It isn’t about me. But then you are a part of me, you continue to impact the lives of the people you love every single day, and if I don’t share that . . . well, I want to keep you here with us, for everyone. That’s all. Almost 2 weeks ago now I had emergency surgery for a ruptured appendix. I went to the hospital with what I’m sure now was also appendicitis a month earlier, but they said it was the flu and sent me home. So this time I waited until I was literally near death before finally giving in and going back. The only other time I can even remotely recall being in similar pain was the time I went through emergency childbirth with no medication. Having your appendix taken out is no big deal in this day and age, but then if you wait until you’re completely septic, it can be a big deal. Not so smart of me. I have zero fear of death at this point and I just wanted OUT of the pain, but I felt you right next to me at the hospital saying, “Are you sure, Mom?” I had to clear my foggy head and think about Ryan and I knew I couldn’t leave yet. As much as part of me would like to be, I know I’m not done yet.

I saw you – not with my eyes, but in my mind – and felt you so strongly, the entire time I was in the hospital, all week. I had so much time to think, to ponder, to pray, to talk to God and to you. The day I finally got out I just saw you in my room in your beautiful bright yellow shirt, dancing. Laughing and dancing. I have so many memories of watching you dance, and crying because you were so beautiful, so graceful and gifted. You danced from your soul. In the days since I’ve been home, still recovering, I have continued to think and ponder – I can’t do a lot else. I suppose in some ways it has been a blessing, all this forced down time. In other ways it has felt very difficult. I’ve made some difficult decisions. You have helped to give me strength. In thinking about my own life, I think, “Would I want this for my daughter? Would this be good enough for Kimmy?” I can see you, in your full light, so aware of your divine worth and who you truly are now – healed. Although my heart aches every single day because I miss you so much, I also feel so much peace to feel that for you, my beautiful girl. I so want you to be here, with us. I want you to be with Chris, living your happy married life, with your dogs in your little house. I want it so much for you that it hurts. I’d give anything. I’d trade you places in a heartbeat. But somehow my soul knows that you are where you are supposed to be, even though it makes no sense in my head. When I see your beautiful angel self in heaven, and I feel the joy around you and see your influence in all our lives every day, part of me just can’t wish you out of that. I know that would be selfish. So I instead pray for comfort for sweet, sweet Chris, for your brothers, for me, and for everyone who loves you, that we can make it to the end and get back to you. And I pray that all those boys I love who love you will still find joy in that journey, because I know you want them to. So I try to find some too, even when it’s very hard.

I have thought so much these past few days about the many things that I am grateful for. I am grateful for parents, and siblings and a family that loved me. I do have a lot of happy childhood memories. I had 4 amazing grandparents. I didn’t realize growing up that not everyone is so blessed. It brings my heart immeasurable comfort now to know that those 4 amazing grandparents are with you, hugging you, laughing with you, kissing your sweet face, taking care of you while I cannot. I also knew 4 of my great grandparents, and Great Grandma Clayson I was blessed to have in my life until I was 21 – as long as you were with us. I know she was your guardian angel in St. George. She had a whole lot of family history there, and when I dropped you off there I felt her promise me that she would watch over you. You never met her in this life, but I’m pretty sure she saw you on your way out and also back into heaven. I know she adores you, and I’m sure you adore her. I missed Grandma Checketts so much after she left. We were especially close my whole life. When she died you were 3 years old and I was expecting Ryan. A little while ago Ryan just out of the blue said, “Mom, I bet Grandma Checketts just LOVES Kimmy.” It made me cry, but it also just comforted my heart, to think of you laughing and playing games with her, and doing your nails, and eating ice cream, talking late into the night (if they have night in heaven) – and then Grandpa teasing you and telling you you’re being silly – just like we used to be. I think Ryan was inspired to tell me that.

I am grateful for the incredible extended family I have on both sides – so many aunts and uncles and cousins I love and would do anything for even today, even though we don’t see each other like we did all the time when we were younger. I am grateful for the pets I had, for vacations and holidays, for so many happy childhood memories.

I am grateful for so many wonderful friends. I have been blessed with lifelong amazing, incredible people in my life. Some I’ve been friends with since childhood, some are very recent, but so many friends who would do anything for me and who I would do anything for, who I think the world of. I’m grateful for friends who make me laugh, friends I can talk to, friends who are there when I need them, friends who I just feel complete loyalty and affinity with even when we haven’t seen or talked with each other in a long, long time. I am grateful for the many prayers of friends and family. I am grateful for a job that I love, for the people I work with – many of whom are also dear friends. It is a blessing to see the joy of children and growth and hope when I go to work every day, and to feel like I can make a difference somewhere. I am grateful for my job this year especially, so that I can finally take care of my family. There is immense relief in that.

I am especially grateful for my children. I remember feeling almost terrified that I could love tiny little beings so much, because then I had something to lose that could break my heart. But I can’t regret it. It was worth having my heart broken. I have millions of moments engraved forever in my heart from raising those four beautiful children – the greatest gift God ever gave me. The joy they have brought to my life is indescribable. I wasn’t able to give them the perfect childhood I wanted to. Things didn’t work out the way I thought they would. I know I didn’t do everything right. But I tried to always put them first and do what I thought was best for them. And God has always blessed me to be able to take care of them. He has blessed us, immensely. I remember singing in the car, dancing in the kitchen, stories, museums, playing in the yard and at the park, birthday parties, Christmases, making playdough, blowing bubbles, watching basketball games and dance recitals and crying because they were so amazing to watch. I remember being the only mom crying at the bus stop when the other moms were jumping for joy. I could write a book just with a list of memories, but I’ll stop. The point is, these are gifts. And I get to keep them as comfort until we’re all together again. I also get to keep making memories with your brothers, and with your fiancé, and I know you’re with us. We feel you, even though we miss you.

I adored my little boys, loved them to pieces, would not have traded them for anything in the world. Still wouldn’t. But I also have the unique joy of having a daughter. Not every mother gets to have a daughter. Not every woman gets to be a mother. And out of all the women in forever, I got these four kids. Wow. I got to do bows, and nail polish and curls and dance recitals and proms and wedding plans. I remember how fun it was to dress you up when you were tiny, Kimmy, the fun of taking my little girl into the princess shop at Disneyland, the way you loved on your stuffed animals and baby dolls and cuddled up to me and how you were so different from your brothers. I remember late night talks, and going to Twilight movies. I remember sharing clothes, all my cute things going missing, and the adventure of dating again the same time my daughter was. I remember the time I felt like I should stay home from my dance after seeing you off to yours, and then getting a phone call, “Mom?! Are you home? I have an emergency! My dress broke!” And your date running you home so I could sew your dress back up – so funny. We laughed. Even you laughed. I was so grateful that I was home for that tiny moment in time. And somehow we happened to have the exact right shade of shiny mint green thread. I remember all the friends and all the boys and all the homework, the ache of watching you leave for college, the joy every time you came home, watching you fall in love, and when you brought back the man you planned to marry. I am grateful for the people my children have loved who I also love. I count Chris and Renee as mine too, and they bless my life every day. They help keep me going.

        

I am grateful for a Heavenly Father and a Savior, and to know that even though this crazy earth life hurts and confuses and feels dark some days – that there is a heaven and that there is hope. I am so, so grateful for that. I remember the peace of knowing that all four of my children were home safe, in their own beds at night, going to kiss each one of them on the cheek and telling them that I loved them. I did that every single night, no matter how old they got. I am grateful to know that one day I can have the peace of knowing we are all back in heaven. I am grateful there is hope for joy here. I pray my heart out that my children will feel joy. I feel your joy, my sweet Kimmy, and I know you don’t want us to hurt. I know how much you love Chris. I am so proud of him. I know that you are so proud of him. He works so hard. He takes such good care of your dog babies. I am so proud of your brothers. I see the progress they are making. I see you trying to reach all of them, to help them, to comfort them. I wish I had a way to close the gap between their pain and heaven’s joy. I wish I understood everything and could give them all the answers.

What I do know is that the only thing that matters is love. Faith, hope, love. We try to love. The way God loves us. The way Kimmy loves us. When we were going through her things and I held up her blankie, Chris said, “Well, one thing’s for sure – Kimmy loved her blankie.” It is worn to shreds. She loved that thing to pieces. I held it up at her funeral and told everyone that if you are blessed enough to be loved by Kimmy, that’s how she loves you – to pieces. She loves deeply, loyally and truly. She gives amazing hugs. She serves. She takes care of people. She makes you laugh until you cry. She’s probably the smartest person I ever met. She’s creative, artistic. She loves to surprise people, to give gifts. She has always been an angel. As a baby, she would just kiss all over your face if she loved you. To become an angel, one must become love . . . Being an angel is what Kimberly does best.

 

       

If you miss her, try to feel that love from her, and then try to share it somewhere in the world, with someone or something else. And with yourself. We forget how much we are worth. Kimmy forgot for just a little while how much she was worth. Please remember your divinity – do it for her. Every single person reading this is a piece of God. And no matter how alone you feel, you are not. The way Wayne Dyer describes it, imagine dipping a cup of water into the ocean – you have a cup of ocean, which is part of the ocean and contains everything within its molecules that the ocean water contains. You are capable of incredible, amazing things – and you have things to do here, because you woke up today.

I heard the other day that “fear not” appears in the Bible 365 times – once for every day of the year. Interesting, whether or not it’s true. It is in there a lot. And fear is the opposite of faith. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid (John 14:27). And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7). I pray for that peace for all of you, for the peace that can come through the Savior and His atonement. I know that he is real.

And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives! For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father – that by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God (Doctrine & Covenants 76: 22-24). Because He lives, I know that Kimmy lives on in heaven, and that we will live there with her again someday. Even if the rest of this life is hard, that is a small price to pay for forever. Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men . . . if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life (2 Nephi 31:20).  

I read an article recently, where someone had asked Elder Richard G. Scott, one of the general authorities of the church, about losing his wife to cancer. He replied, “First of all . . . I didn’t lose her. She’s on the other side of the veil . . . We’ll be together forever.” I know that Christ, our Savior, has “descended below all things” and “taken upon him (our) infirmities,” that he understands our pain and has the power to help comfort and heal us. Even Christ, in the garden of Gethsemane, asked God to “remove this cup from me,” but he also said, “not as I will but as thou wilt.” And I have thought of his mother. While I am not comparing my daughter to the Savior, I can only imagine the pain that Mary felt, how she must have begged God to spare her child as well, to bring him back, to let her trade him places. Can you imagine how it would have upset God’s plan if He had complied with that request? As much as it must have broken His own heart to sacrifice His son? We just don’t know what He knows. I am reminded of this over and over again.

I am also reminded that I would not trade being Kimmy’s mom for 21 years on earth to be another daughter’s mom for 80 – because that is the only girl I want to spend forever with. I want to see that smiling, shining gorgeous face come running to greet me when I get there, with Misty and Thunder, and whatever other hundred dogs she’s collected since she got there. I want to squeeze that girl, kiss those cheeks, and hear that laugh, and then hear all about her adventures while we were apart. I will hold it in my heart until I get there. I pray so hard for the peace and light of heaven and angels to rest on Chris, on my boys, on Renee, and on all of you. I wish I could hug each one of you for Kimmy. Thank you for loving her.

Good night, my beautiful, amazing, funny, brilliant, wonderful angel girl. My daughter. My Kimmy. Good night, Boo. I love you to heaven and back, and all through forever.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

 

 

 

 

Treasure

I can’t even remember now if I said this here, or on facebook.  When Kimberly was little, I used to tell her, “My little girl is the most beautiful little girl in the whole entire world!” She would clap her little hands with delight and laugh and hug me. So interesting how she just believed that so easily when she was tiny . . . and then it gets harder as you get older and the world tells you otherwise. It wasn’t about comparisons. It was just about her beautiful, shining soul. To me, she will always be the most beautiful girl – anywhere. On earth, or in heaven.

I am so grateful they got her monument in the week before it turned cold. I didn’t want the snow to come and wipe out the tiny marker and have nothing to prove where she was. Ryan and I went to the cemetery tonight, as at least I do every Monday night, to clear off her grave. Then I go back on Tuesday night, after the city has finished its clean-up day – sometimes alone, sometimes with her brothers or her fiance – to put everything back, with fresh new flowers. It was so cold tonight. One night in June I met another mother at the cemetery who asked me about my daughter and when I had lost her. She told me how difficult the first winter had been for her, worrying about leaving her little girl out there in the cold. Of course, this makes no rational sense. Unless your child is at the cemetery. Then, sadly, it makes perfect sense. I keep closing my eyes and reminding myself that her body is at the cemetery; she is in heaven. Where it’s warm. And sunny. And beautiful.  Just before we drove away tonight, her angel lit up.  Call it coincidence if you will.  I choose to accept these little miracles as constant signs from her, to choose faith over fear, hope over doubt.  

I think she would be happy with the monument that Chris and I designed for her – pretty quickly, actually, the week after her funeral. It just took a long time to get here. We both picked the same stone, so we know that was her. Now that it’s in, I’m sure she loves the way it sparkles in the sun. I traced my fingers over the letters in her name and remembered teaching her how to write it when she was three years old. Her name – Kimberly – had twice as many letters as any of her brothers, so we set it to music so she would remember it. Then she would ask me to sing the “Kimberly” song, and she would dance and laugh. She was always so incredibly smart.

On the back side of her monument we had a picture of a dancer engraved, a list of the many roles she played, a sweet thought on angels and love, and the words, “See you in heaven, Boo.” I don’t even know how she became “Boo.” It’s just who she was, from a tiny baby. The nickname stuck, and she loved it. She would sign things to me that way all the time . . . “Love, Boo.” Kimmy Boo. I have so many pictures and cards that are signed, “Boo.”

These things are treasures. They are priceless. Anything from her is worth more than diamonds or rubies or gold. Things she held, things she wore, things she touched, things she made, things she loved . . . things that look like her or feel like her or sound like her or smell like her. Photos of her. Mementos of her. But the most cherished things are the things I hold in my heart – memories, soulful, intangible bits of spirit – pieces of her that are just part of me.

Tomorrow is five months. The glittering silver scales of time wind in and out of days and weeks and moments with a quality that has become surreal, fleeting, dreadful and impossible to quantify. I feel like my heart shattered and stopped beating only half a horrible, gut-wrenching second ago, and yet I also feel as if I’ve been wandering in this barren wasteland of never-ending nothingness for millennia.

I have come to a point in the vastness where I feel weary of having my daughter’s life be defined by her death. When I first lost her, and realized I could not protect her, my next thought was to spare other families from this pain – at any expense. But now I selfishly wish to quit endlessly prancing on the soapbox of “anything awareness” and simply mourn for and honor my daughter’s life. I seem to have offended other parents and families in this wish, for which I do feel deeply sorry. But we can’t bring our children back. And so many of the well-intentioned “awareness” platforms seem frankly pathetic or even ludicrous when you’re watching from this end of things. You can’t possibly truly understand unless you’ve chosen suicide – or it has chosen you – or you are left behind in the aftermath. In the case of the former, any efforts are clearly too late. In the case of the latter – anything we say to those who assume they know what they’re talking about is ridiculed rather than taken for what it is. If only I could be so filled with self-righteous unfounded wisdom . . . I feel very, very tired.

I do feel grateful for good friends. For a career I love that I feel makes a difference. And most of all, for my children. I drive by the pumpkin patch we always went to, and cry. I see the posts of my friends taking their daughter’s children there now, and I know that is something I will never know in this lifetime. I will never look into the eyes of my daughter’s little girl, and see her sweet little innocent face looking back at me. I won’t hold her hand, or read her stories, or make cookies with her. I won’t play dolls or dress-up, or show her pictures, or tell her stories about when her mommy was a little girl. I try not to focus on the loss of that here, but instead on the hope of having that in heaven. And I hope I may look into the faces of my boys’ little ones here someday.

 

Either way, I think of pumpkins carved, and stories read, gifts wrapped and opened, trees decorated, smiles and giggles, trips to the park and the museum, painting and making cookies, birthday parties, dancing in the living room, singing in the car, making presents for people, playing games, and a million other memories that shine like jewels in my heart. I see who my children are now, who they’ve grown to be, and how many incredible, wonderful things await them both here and in eternity. I see the people they love who I also love and who are part of our family. I feel so immensely grateful for a Savior and a loving Heavenly Father who know and understand this entire eternal plan. Transformation into Spirit is part of the plan for all of us, not an ending. My sweet, beautiful girl just went first – because that’s who she is. I cannot remotely claim to have done everything perfectly in my life. I have made a million mistakes. But one thing I do know, is where – and who – my treasure is . . .

    

But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven . . . For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Matthew 6:20-21.

Beyond Words

I simply do not know how to describe, even to my best friend or my mother, what it feels like to be suddenly yanked from the only world you can ever remember knowing and held in suspension – in another realm entirely – drowning in a mixture of confusion, agony and despair. I don’t know how to make people see why I can’t just open the door to this crystal globe prison, take a gasp of air and rejoin the world that I am doomed to still reside in, but never really feel a part of again. I will never be the same. It doesn’t go away. Cliche’ advice is more painful than helpful. When in doubt, say nothing. Many of you do.  Many of you try.  As odd as it sounds, the best way you can help me or my boys is by continuing to love and honor my daughter – whatever dimension she may be in.  Angels need love too.

A friend sent this poem to me. The author has done a beautifully, painfully, poignantly horrific job of describing the massive earthquake of losing a child and what it feels like to be left standing on the opposite side of a giant chasm from nearly everyone and everything else – including who you yourself were before this unprecedented disaster.  Perhaps it might offer a bit of understanding for those of you who seek it.

I looked up the original poem, and I am re-typing it and re-posting it myself. I haven’t been able to find too much information, other than to give the author credit – Michael Crelinsten of Victoria, B.C. – a bereaved father of a gone-too-soon daughter. He describes life after the loss of a child in a way that I have not yet been able to. His situation is, of course, different from mine. His daughter was younger, left in a different way and he has a loving spouse beside him – another parent, who also loved and grieves for this child. I don’t know which is worse – going through it alone, or going through it with someone equally broken by it. I do have my boys, Kimmy’s fiancé, good friends, and extended family who love her. But it isn’t the same. Either way, Mr. Crelinsten and I have much more in common than I’m certain either of us would like to. I can only say, Amen, my broken-hearted brother. May God bless you and yours.

 

 

His Preview: Our daughter, Alexis, died six months ago, at the age of nine. A rare medical anomaly, in a heart-rending wrench of our innermost spirit, stole her from us in barely more than a moment. Recently, I was at the beach near our home with what remains of my soul – my son, Ethan. Our new puppy romped with us. Beautiful weather, fresh salt air, gentle clear water and sea lions barking in the distance. Perfect. Walking back, I saw a sharp, rusted metal rod and thought to get it out of the way. As I tossed it aside, it caught my thumb and cut me. Perfect. Every moment of peace we have, cuts. Everything that is, hones what is not.

 

The Gap

The gap between those who have lost children and those who have not is profoundly difficult to bridge.

No one, whose children are well and intact can be expected to understand what parents who have lost children have absorbed, what they bear.

Our daughter now comes to us through every blade of grass, every crack in the sidewalk, every bowl of breakfast cereal, every kid on a scooter.

We seek contact with her atoms – her hairbrush, her toothbrush, her clothing.

We reach for what was integrally woven into the fabric of our lives, now torn and shredded.

What we had wanted, when she so suddenly took ill, was for her to be treated.

We wanted her to be annoyed that her head had been shaved for surgery.

We would have shaved ours and then watched her smile as we recovered together, whatever the nature of that recovery.

“Recover” is no longer a part of our vocabulary. Now we simply walk through the noise and debris of our personal ground zero.

A black hole has been blown through our souls and, indeed, it often does not allow the light to escape.

It is a difficult place.

For us to enter there is to be cut deeply, and torn anew, each time we go there, by the jagged edges of our loss.

Yet we return, again and again, for that is where she now resides.

This will be so for years to come and it will change us, profoundly.

At some point in the distant future the edges of that hole will have tempered and softened but the empty space will remain – a life sentence.

It is not unlike a dog who, suddenly hit by a car, survives.

The impact is devastating and leaves the animal in shock, confusion and despair.

In time the animal recovers adequately to spend the remainder of its life on three legs.

It is not that he is unable, eventually, to function or even to laugh and play.

The reality, however, is that on three legs from here on, every step he takes, every action, virtually every breath, reminds him of what he has lost.

We are that animal.

Our community of friends will change through this. There is no avoiding it.

We grieve for our daughter, in part, through talking about her and our feelings for having lost her.

Some go there with us, others cannot and through their denial add a further measure, however unwittingly, to an already heavy burden.

This was not a sprained ankle or major surgery that we suffered.

Assuming that we may be feeling “better” six months later is simply “to not get it.”

The excruciating and isolating reality that bereaved parents feel is hermetically sealed from the nature of any other human experience.

Thus it is a trap – those whose compassion and insight we most need are those for whom we abhor the experience that would allow them that sensitivity and capacity.

And yet, somehow, there are those, each in their own fashion, who have found a way to reach us and stay, to our immeasurable comfort.

They have understood, again each in their own way, that Alexis remains our daughter through our memory of her.

Her memory is sustained through speaking about her and our feelings about her death.

Deny her life and you have no place in ours. That’s the equation.

How different people have responded to our loss, or not, transcends a range of attitudes and personal histories.

It is teaching us about human capacity and experience, albeit at a searing price.

Parents’ memories of a lost child sustain that life.

It should be the other way around.

We recognize that we have removed to an emotional place where it is often very difficult to reach us.

Our attempts to be normal are painful and the day to day carries a silent, screaming anguish that accompanies us, sometimes from moment to moment.

Were we to give it its own voice we fear we would become truly unreachable, and so we remain “strong” for a host of reasons even as the strength saps our energy and drains our will.

Were we to act out our true feelings we would be impossible to be with.

We resent having to act normal, yet we dare not do otherwise.

People who understand this dynamic are our gold standard.

Working our way through this over the years will change us as does every experience – and extreme experience changes one extremely.

We know we will have recovered when, as we read, it is no longer so painful to be normal.

We do not know who we will be at that point or who will still be with us.

There will come a time, quite some number of years down the road, when the balance between the desperate awareness of what we have lost when our daughter died will be somewhat balanced by the warm and joyful memories of what we had with her when she lived.

I neither long for nor cringe from that time.

It will simply come.

We will recognize it – though now it is beyond us.

So yes, our beloved daughter is gone – a light in our lives gone out leaving blackness for us, left behind, to stumble through.

And, while we understand and deeply feel the meaning of our phrase, “Now we are lit by her only from within,” we hope, desperately, that she is wherever the light is.

We are trying to understand what this means, as we seek our own way, for the remainder of our lives, to some kind of light.

We love our son and are trying to breathe.

We have read that the gap is so difficult that, often, bereaved parents must attempt to reach out to friends and relatives or risk losing them.

This is our attempt.

For those untarnished by such events, who wish to know in some way what they, thankfully, do not know, read this.

It may provide a window that is helpful for both sides of the gap.

 

 

 

Wake Me Up When September Ends . . . or Don’t

This has been the hardest week yet, Sis. When people said it would get easier, they lied.

I have prayed my guts out, trying not to be consumed with regret and grief. Kimmy herself has sent me some reminders of things – premonitions I had in earlier years, gentle reminders that I knew. I knew she would be leaving early. This was part of her plan. How and why can suicide be part of my daughter’s plan? Part of anyone’s plan? I have no idea. (And don’t do it – don’t use this as an excuse.) I have deeply spiritual moments when I feel comfort and peace. But I also feel a whole lot of emptiness and turmoil.

People have told me it’s a blessing she didn’t die in a horrific accident. Yes. But then we would have known it was an accident. Or it’s a blessing that she didn’t suffer from some awful disease and waste away from cancer. Yes. Of course I didn’t want her to go through that. Except then I could have had the privilege of taking care of her, and said everything I wanted to say, and made sure she knew that I loved her. She could have said what she wanted to say to her brothers and her fiancé and everyone who loved her – so no one had questions running through their minds and hearts after she was gone. We could have said our good-byes and made sure that love was certain and hope was real. We could have had a plan – Kimmy and I both always make lists, always have a plan . . . shock and bleakness and uncertainty and unanswered questions are all so terrifyingly out of our control. Not the way we roll.

I remember my kids listening to the “When September Ends” song. I always hated it. I’ve always hated the fall – when everlasting warmth and sunlight start to fade and everything turns brown and dead, hope dies, and you know that bleak awful endless winter is fast approaching. I’ve never seen the beauty in the thrill of fall. And now, at the end of the worst summer of my life, a summer far worse than anything I ever imagined – Halloween decorations are everywhere, the stores even have Thanksgiving and Christmas decorations up. My little girl left almost 4 months ago. That much time again and we’ll be at the end of the holiday season. How in the world will we even survive that? This year – or any year – ever again? I walk into a store and I start to bawl. I remember how excited I used to get when my children were little – the excitement of Christmas on the horizon and how fun that would be for them. All the joy and magic of the holiday season. I loved having little children and being a mom. That is forever gone and dead and buried. Even the last few years the holidays have been harder – money has always been stressful, there has been pain, someone who should have loved them always cast a dark shadow on everything even when I tried my best to keep the sun shining – even during their magical younger years. And now it just doesn’t matter. Nothing matters.

Part of me knows that I should be happy for Kimmy. She has escaped the dark awful coldness of this place – where people so often are not who they pretend to be, where things are so hard and lonely and dull. Days get so gray and monotonous and meaningless. It all feels so pointless. I don’t blame her for not wanting to be here. I want to believe that where she is now there is all light and love and happiness – that you can trust what you see and hear and feel, that things are as they appear, that people are genuine, that love is real. I want my little girl to be happy and feel cherished and loved and safe. I want her to have clarity and meaning and purpose and know who she is, love herself and be courageous, be able to reach people and make a difference in the things she does. And I really, really, really just want to be there with her. Some days I just feel tired. So very tired.

I’ve tried to post mostly hopeful and uplifting things. But I’ve also said that I am committed to authenticity or there’s no point. And I just feel awful lately. Losing someone you love feels like crap. Watching your family fall apart because of it feels like crap. Suicide is a nightmare. Maybe I’m trying to convince myself as much as any of you. I’m still here because I know what it does to your family when you leave.

I don’t know why this week has been so difficult. Maybe it’s that Chris has moved up here with my granddogs, and as happy as I am to see all of them and know they are settled here close to us and to Kimmy – the reality is sinking in that she is not with them. I helped him look for a place where he could have their dogs, and everywhere we looked I would stop and just try to feel Kimmy, see if I could feel her there, if she liked it, if she approved. I know she loves this place. I know she will be there often with Chris and their boys (and their noisy little girl bird). I’m trying to help him get it looking nice for him, but also for her. He has worked very hard, I know. That makes me happy and brings me some comfort.

I was just in shock for a long time. Maybe I was able to be in denial and pretend she was still in St. George all these weeks. Maybe it’s that the new school year has officially started and that brings up all kinds of Kimmy memories – Ryan goes to the same high school. I work at the school she went to kindergarten through third grade at. I see her in the halls, and have flashbacks of bringing her things or watching her perform, or coming to volunteer. I have those with my boys too, and they are also sad because they grew up – but they aren’t gone. I don’t know. Maybe it just takes 4 months to hit like a freight train.

Maybe it is the increasing awareness that her medication change had so much to do with this, and I feel angry. Really angry. I thought maybe I was going to skip that stage. I’m not. Yes, I think we need depression/anxiety medication. It can make a drastic positive difference. And sometimes you hear that it can cause “suicidal thoughts or tendencies” but we all dismiss that along with the list of 500 other possible side effects. It’s real. It is a real and lasting and awful and legitimate and VERY permanent possible side effect.

I had another friend lose a family member to the same thing the week after Kimmy. In that case, they did an autopsy and said he had had a reaction to his new meds and basically confirmed medically that they had caused it. Why isn’t this information out there? Why aren’t we watching our kids more closely? Or educating our young adult children who think they are invincible and don’t understand that it isn’t something wrong with them when they have a poor reaction to medication? Why aren’t they monitored more closely when they switch meds, or called and checked up on? Why aren’t parents made more aware of the serious risks/side effects so they can take that on if doctors won’t?

I wonder how often, really, a change in medication is directly responsible, or at least is a major factor, in suicide – especially in young people. I’ve even experienced it personally. It took 2 weeks to register for me, as a 40-year-old mom, who has dealt with kids with mood disorders, read all about it, and been on depression medication myself for a long time. I can see how a college student would just think it was them – that the new medication wasn’t working, they felt even more depressed, life is hopeless . . . Instead of realizing it’s the meds and they need to call their doctor STAT and get off – quickly or right away, however they are medically advised.

I didn’t recognize in Kimmy that her new medication was having such an impact on her personality and her increased depression. She started looking up suicide chat rooms and forums, and ways to commit suicide, within a few days of starting the new meds – we found out after she was gone. It was on her tablet – no one thought to check it until after. Why would we go through her things? The timing is not coincidental – she never did that before. I also had no idea such horrible dark places existed or that our kids could find them so easily. I so wish that she had talked to me, or that I had seen it. So does Chris. So does everyone who loved her. We can’t go back. But if it’s your child, or fiancé, or friend, and they seem off – check their tablet. And their phone. And their computer. If they have changed their medication, WATCH them, TALK to them, LISTEN. Maybe my mistake can help someone else.

I left this article and went to church. Found a tiny bit of hope in a dad talking about his son – how he knew before he was born that his son was so happy to be coming to earth, filled with joy, and that it has brought him comfort since, after he realized all the struggles his now-adult, severely handicapped son has had to go through in life. He said, “Who am I to say there is something wrong with his plan? It’s his plan. I’m just along for the ride as his dad.” That brought me a great deal of comfort actually. Until I suppose well meaning people started grabbing me and telling me all the things I should do, like stay at church longer. Really?

No one gets this. No one. I think the person I most wanted to hit was someone who said a few weeks ago, “I know exactly how you feel.” No. No, you don’t. Even worse, this was someone who doesn’t know me, doesn’t know my daughter, and has only made either of our lives harder through secondary contacts.

And then there are the people who say, “You just need to get out – you should go do something.” “You should go for a walk.” “You need to exercise more.” “You should eat better.” “You’d feel better if you quit feeling sorry for yourself and did something for somebody else.” (Most of my life is doing things for “somebody else.”) Or the opposite – “You need to get away and go on a vacation all by yourself, or with your girlfriends. You should do something just for you.” (My brain doesn’t even work that way. Guilt would just consume me and I would miss my children and my daughter even more). “Maybe you just need a project.” “You should focus on work.” Or my favorite – “It’s been almost 4 months. Aren’t you over this yet? I’m getting concerned. I think there’s something wrong with you.” (There is. There most definitely is. And it isn’t going away any time soon). I really just want everyone to go away and leave me alone. No wonder my daughter left. There is such a profound feeling of, “I simply do not belong here.” And, “I think I’ve just had enough.”

No one needs to call someone to come and take me away. I’m not going anywhere. Someone has to pay the bills and take care of my kids, and I don’t want to leave anyone feeling more of the way we all feel now. I’m just to the depleted point, where I don’t want to look for the good and try to uplift everyone left behind. I’m a lowly human full of flaws and screw-ups and I don’t care. I just want my daughter back. I want my boys to be okay and my family to be whole. I want them to love each other and help each other and feel hopeful and joyful and have futures to look forward to. I resent that their lives have been so hard, no matter how hard I’ve tried to make it otherwise, and that it doesn’t matter any more. I miss my Kimmy. Love you, Boo. I’m sorry. I hope you feel happiness and not all this garbage. I try to trudge through the days and hold onto hope of heaven . . .

 

 

 

Dreaming

I had an interesting dream about Kimmy last night. Most of the dreams or experiences I’ve had since she transitioned have been too sacred to share, except maybe with those closest to me, or with someone she gave me a specific message for. This one was very different from others I’ve had. It is still sacred to me, but I feel that it needs to be shared. I’m sharing it mainly because I feel like it might be somewhat comforting to her close family and friends, as some of these posts are. Take it as you will, and feel free to ask God or Spirit for your own confirmation. My goal is never to convince anyone of anything – except maybe to convince them of their own worth. My goal is simply to share the meaning and purpose in my daughter’s life that might somehow help someone else. And to convey the message that everyone is a gift from God and has a reason to be here.

I’m not going to include every detail of my dream, but the parts I feel are most relevant. As I’ve actually written it down and gone back through it, it does feel pretty incredible. Part of me feels hesitant to share it, but I keep feeling like Kimmy would want me to. I feel like this was meant to be shared with people she loves. So I am sharing it. I realize people not as close may also read this post – maybe it will help some of them as well. If not, anyone is free to dismiss it. But please don’t read it with an attitude of anything other than care and respect. Part of raising awareness about suicide and self-worth, for me at least, means raising awareness of a bigger plan and a larger purpose – that there is life before and after our human experience, and we receive confirmations of that more often than we know or sometimes will admit. Sometimes it is not appropriate to share those things. But sometimes proof of heaven is needed to offer hope and understanding. Sometimes we need to share. Here goes:

 

I was walking down a path – a dark path – and then I met Kimmy in a busy, open area like an outdoor shopping center. The sky was overcast. She was wearing her red flannel shirt and sunglasses. She hugged me and said, “Hi, Mom!” Obviously, I was thrilled to see her, hugged her tightly, said hi back, and wanted to ask her a million questions. I was wondering where we were, what we were doing, why we were there, and trying to soak in every possible detail. She was wearing a white T-shirt under her red flannel shirt, jeans, her black high-top tennis shoes, and carrying her tan cross-body bag (yes, I have to use the correct terminology – if you know her, you know). She was wearing her hair pulled up in a messy bun with silver hoop earrings. Her fingernails were painted blue. Every detail was Kimmy – she looked just like herself. Felt like her, smelled like her, sounded like her, laughed like her – she was entirely real.

I paid far less attention to the surroundings as I tried to keep up with her. I was following her in and out of crowds of people, trying to soak in all the details of her and not lose sight of her, while still piling up lists of very important things I wanted to ask her, things I needed to know – I had no idea how long I had with her.  The weather felt cooler, slightly humid, but not unpleasant. The sky was gray. I saw mountains with lots of pine trees in the not-too-far distance, and water. It was not anywhere that either of us had been before, but the closest place I can compare it to where I have been is Seattle – shopping on the pier in Seattle.  I wasn’t sure if we were on earth, or in heaven, or somewhere in between. It didn’t feel like any of the images of heaven I’ve felt before, but I didn’t know why she would be on earth, or why we would be in a strange place. It almost felt like an in-between sort of place.

I wanted to ask her if I was dreaming or if this was real. When I have seen her before I have been very sure that it was real. This time felt hazier, unsure, on the edge of two worlds – I just don’t know how to describe it.

She grabbed my arm and began pulling me into shops or stopping at vendors and just started chattering about daily things – and we were suddenly just shopping. It was like any other time we had gone shopping together – on the surface. We were walking and talking about everyday, silly little things, and laughing, walking in and out of stores, looking at things, touching things, admiring things. I could see every detail of her, but I have no recollection of what I was wearing or carrying with me, or what my hair looked like, or anything – which is strange, now that I think of it. And the entire time in the back of my mind I kept thinking that I didn’t want to ruin it – I didn’t want to interrupt her happy chatter or miss something she had to say, or a thought she had, or a look on her face, or watching her smile and be happy or anything – but I kept waiting desperately for a pause, or for her to stop and tell me why we were there, or why she was there, or for a serious moment to ask her if she was real, or if the entire experience was real, or how I was supposed to get through the rest of my life without her, or a million other horrible, daunting questions . . .

It felt like the dream went on for a long time, and the longer it went on, the more tortured I felt, realizing that it wasn’t real, knowing that it was going to end, and feeling more and more desperate to ask her if she was okay, or if she knew how much I loved her, or when I would see her again, or what I’m supposed to do, or how to help her brothers and her fiancé, and her friends, or so many, many overwhelming things. I started to wonder if she was testing me, or if she just didn’t know somehow in that space that she had transitioned to spirit and I had not and that this wasn’t real, or if I had just finally lost it completely and was hallucinating.

I was feeling increasingly stuck in my brain, more tormented, and starting to feel less aware of the things around me when I heard Kimmy say, “Mom? Mom? I said, Do you like it?”

“Do I like what?”

We had stopped at a make-up cart – Kimmy loves make-up. It’s funny how she is a bargain shopper on so many things but she loves expensive make-up. I was thinking about her telling me in one of our last earthly conversations how she asked Chris to go in the make-up store to get her some foundation, and how then she had to go to the gun store with him to even things out – it made me laugh at the time and I said, “See? You guys have it figured out.”

I snapped out of my reverie and looked at her. “It’s the coolest foundation ever,” she said. She had just completely redone her make-up in like thirty seconds, so I knew that was either dream-state time or heaven time. Funny – I was this aware during all of this and can recall all of these details now. So there was more to this than a nonsensical dream.

Her face looked like porcelain. “Wow. That is cool,” I told her. But then I looked at the price tag and almost had a heart attack. “Kimmy, it’s eighty dollars! I can’t pay eighty dollars for a bottle of foundation, no matter how cool it is . . . and I don’t think I would pay that much even if I were rich.”

She shook her head and put the bottle down. “You’ve got it all wrong, Mom.” She looked at me and I thought how beautiful she was. I realized the porcelain skin wasn’t the foundation – it was just her. She looked just like my daughter, but even more beautiful and perfect than I’ve ever seen her. She had taken off her sunglasses when she redid her make-up. Her skin was flawless; her cheeks were just tinged with pink, like when she was a baby. She was wearing her shiny lip gloss and I realized how long and dark her eyelashes are and how blue and mesmerizing and wise her eyes are, how full of light her entire being is – and I just stood in awe, looking at her. I didn’t feel confused anymore. There were still people moving all around us, but it was like none of them could see us.

Kimberly said, “You can have anything you want. All you have to do is believe that you can have it.” What she did not know – or maybe she did – was that I had been stressing out about money and how to handle things and what to do about some things the night before.

She kept talking. “Money is an earthly thing that we build all this stress around. It’s just energy – that’s all it is. And we’re in charge of it. It obeys us. Pay your tithing – that’s a rule for you, Mom. You know it is, and you know you get blessed if you do it. But things don’t have to be hard. All we have to do is remember who we are, and everything works. You kept telling me that. It’s true, Mom. Remember who you are, and everything you need will come to you. There is nothing to worry about.” I do have to say that my daughter has always been a brilliant manifester. She created anything she decided to.

I was still staring at her. I’m sure she sensed what I was thinking, because she picked up the bottle of foundation and said, “You’re worth eighty-dollar foundation, Mom.” Then she smiled and said, “Just like me.” I can’t tell you how healing it is to my heart to feel my daughter feel her worth. There is no arrogance anywhere. Arrogance is putting yourself above another, and really comes from a core of low self-worth. Kimmy recognizes her divinity again, remembers who she is and where she came from, has absolute confidence in herself, and only desires to share that same confidence and love with others – my little girl is the woman she was born to be, and I love it. It is difficult to accept that she is in heaven and not here, but I am so grateful for the many gifts of spirit that I receive from her and from God.

She told me, “Things are so different here. We just have everything we need and it’s all peace. There’s nothing wrong with having something wonderful or beautiful. As long as your focus is on God and the Savior. Everything here is beautiful.” She waved her arm around.

I was still confused about exactly where we were, although I could tell that she was talking about heaven, but she told me it was time for her to go. I felt panicked. I said, “Wait! But I have so many things to ask you! We just spent all this time . . . Kimmy, I’m confused. Why did we just spend all this time shopping?”

She gave me her pouty look, on purpose. “You didn’t want to go shopping with me?”

“Well . . . of course I wanted to go shopping with you! I want to do everything with you. I miss everything, Sis.” That’s when I started to cry. I told her, “But I can’t. I can’t, Boo. You’re gone. I can’t do anything I want to do with you. So if I only got to see you now, it just seems like we should have talked about some important things . . . or something. I have so much to ask you.”

Kimberly’s sweet face looked sympathetic and she said, “What do you need to ask me?”

When she said that, I had so many urgent questions in my head that my mind drew a blank. Where would I even start? I finally blurted out the most important ones, the ones that run through my head and heart constantly and keep me up at night, even though I’ve heard her confirm the answers for me repeatedly. “Are you okay . . ?  Do you know that I love you?”

This was funny. I could see her human side want to burst out laughing and her angel side filled with empathy that made her want to cry. The mixture in her face and eyes was both amusing and heart wrenching. “Mom,” she said in the same tone she would have said Seriously? in as a teenager. “Do I look okay?”

I started to laugh and cry and hugged her close to me and felt her hair on my face and her arms around me and her heartbeat. I felt her beating heart. I don’t know how that works, but I felt it. And then an even more amazing thing happened. In a single moment, I saw and felt a million moments from her life flash through my mind and heart – through my eyes and hers at the same time. I don’t even know how to describe the experience. It wasn’t earthly. From the moment she was born through the moment she transitioned – I saw memories I had long since forgotten. I saw and felt myself holding my baby girl in my arms through my eyes – this tiny little angel I knew and had waited for so long, but I also saw it through her eyes, her looking up at me and her memories of heaven and wonder and recognizing me and how much she loved me. It was like a movie played through her entire life like that – moments big and small, but I saw and felt it from both viewpoints, and even at the end I was with her – she felt it and I felt it. Even though I wasn’t physically there, my energy was. I was with her in spirit – she felt me with her. Angels were with her. She didn’t die alone.

Kimmy said, “I always knew you loved me, Mom. I knew you loved me more than anything and that you would do anything for me. But after I came back here, and saw my whole life and felt all those moments through your eyes – that was when I really, truly felt how much you loved me, and how much I loved you too . . . Yes. I know how much you love me. Thank you. I’m so glad you’re my mom.”

I can’t even say what it meant to hear those words from her, dream or no dream.  I feel so grateful that she is my daughter, but I have felt so afraid that I failed as a mother.  My children have been through difficult things – things children should not have to go through.  But I tried very hard to make their lives good and happy, to be a good mom, to give them what they needed.  There is a peaceful reassurance in being reminded that there is a plan – that we chose each other, that we all knew what we were signing up for and why.  I have said many times that as horrible as it is to lose her, if this is what I have to go through to be Kimberly’s mom, then I will do it – because she is the daughter I want, the one I want to be with forever, and I will do whatever I have to do in order to be part of her story and her plan.  There is one particular photo of her as a baby that comes to me over and over again – she is looking at me with such a serious expression, like she understands everything.  I remember taking it, and watching her look at me, like she was trying to drink me in and had so much to tell me.  In most of her baby photos she is laughing and smiling.  I think she knew her journey on earth would be brief.

After that amazing gift of seeing and feeling all that, hugging and holding her, finishing crying and then just standing there looking at her, Kimmy said, “What else did you still want to ask?”

I said, “Well, don’t you have some advice about life, or what I should do, or how to help –“

She said, “I answered the question you were worried about yesterday. Heavenly Father sent me with that answer for you. I can’t tell you everything, Mom. Just remember it’s about love. That’s all that matters.”

After another minute of silence she said, “You’re still wondering why we spent time shopping, aren’t you?”

I said, “With as little time as I have with you and how precious it is, it seems like shopping wouldn’t matter much anymore.”

She said, “But we’ve always loved shopping together. Why would that change?”

I’m not going to lie – I was feeling pretty confused again.

My sweet girl just said, “Mom, the material things don’t matter – you’re right. People matter. Love matters. Jesus matters. But God is right here for you – for everyone. He will answer any little thing for you, any time. Because He loves you. I am still right here, for all of you. We have more time, Mom. Not less. We were together in heaven before, and we will be together in heaven again. We will still do everything we love to do, and find new things to do. We’ll still go shopping, and decorate, and go on hikes, and play with the dogs, and try on clothes and find make-up, and play games and ride motorcycles – along with helping people and learning new things and taking time to appreciate nature and do whatever Heavenly Father asks us to do . . . and this won’t be the only time you see me. I’m with you all the time. Just relax and appreciate small things. I’m right here.”

I realized then that I should have just relaxed and enjoyed every moment shopping with her instead of worrying about questions that suddenly didn’t seem so important, or that I already knew the answers to. I also hadn’t paid attention to how pretty everything around me was. That just a little way away from the bustle of people there was a beautiful island with stately fir trees, and birds flying above and calling. What looked like a serene ocean was dark and deep. I could feel all the animals and plants on the island, even though I couldn’t see them. I thought of my family and just the peace of all of us being together again soon, the peaceful reassurance that we have eternity. Kimmy smiled at me and I realized that was the lesson I was supposed to get from this experience. “I got it,” I told her.”

“I know,” she said. She waited for a minute and then said, “Are you okay?”

I just nodded my head.

“Okay. It’s time for you to go. Okay? You need to go back the way you came. Tell everyone I love them and I’m right here. And to just be happy.”

I hugged her again and told her how much I loved her. I saw the sun shining behind her when she waved good-bye and I started back down the path I had entered through. She put her sunglasses back on and made a funny face. I love that girl. And my boys. And the many people I have in my life to be grateful for.

As I’ve thought more about that dream and read back through this I recognize more and more symbolism.  I won’t share it all, but I realize I chose our meeting place, not her.  I walked down a dark path to get to her – because I feel lost in darkness right now.  We were surrounded by people in my dream who we never acknowledged, looked at, or spoke to.  I am surrounded by people every day, but I feel completely alone.  I prefer to be.  I want to be left alone.  The sky was gray and overcast, there was a chill in the air – the way my world feels.  (It’s interesting though, that Kimmy was wearing sunglasses – she is in the light now, even if I am not).  It was not a place either of us has been and probably not somewhere either of us would choose to go.  It definitely wasn’t heaven.  I know what heaven looks and feels like.  Even so, I missed a lot of the hidden beauty that was there.  And I was so focused on all my worries about Kimmy that even when I was with her again I didn’t soak it in and enjoy it – so crazy.  There’s more, but that’s a little bit.  It is continually overwhelming to me how aware God is of each of us individually, and also how much we create our own experiences.

I slept much longer than I usually do last night, and woke up feeling more rested. I felt calmer and more peaceful, and comforted. And I feel like this was a little sign to me that my dream was real: When I was looking through my closet this morning I saw Kimberly’s blessing dress hanging in the back in its little blue bag. I haven’t taken it out to look at it for quite awhile. I felt drawn to pull it out and look at it. I was thinking of Kimmy, my dream and how I needed to get ready and get to her grave to water her flowers. And it ran through my mind how we planted flowers outside her window in May five years ago, and how she picked out all these beautiful colorful flowers – so many lilies, and that her favorite flowers were lilies.

When I pulled out her little blessing gown to look at it I of course started to cry as I ran my fingers over it, looked at the subtle pattern in the smooth satin and touched the little bow. And then I noticed something I never had before. In the lace on the tiny little collar of her beautiful dress there is an embroidered pattern of flowers – lilies. I picked out a dress for her to wear when she was one month old that had her favorite flowers in the pattern. Part of why I loved the dress then was that it was unique for a baby blessing gown. Different. Beautiful and feminine, but a little more sophisticated, more like something Kimmy would pick out now, really. I flashed back to my dream when I shared Kimmy’s life memories and how connected our souls were. I know that her dress was not an accident, nor was my finding it this morning. I could almost feel her looking at it with me and laughing, clapping her hands with delight over my discovery and saying, “You’re welcome, Mom. See? Still here!”

Forever doesn’t end.

Love you all.

The Three-Month Mark

I keep trying to write more posts, but they become too long and too personal – and so none have made the cut for a while. But I feel a need to check in and just say that Kimmy and I are still here. Today marks three months since Kimberly transitioned to Spirit. I’ve decided I prefer that terminology over died, which seems erroneously permanent. Jesus promised us, I am the resurrection and the life: he [or she] that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. (John 11:25.)  Death is a temporary separation of spirit and body, not a permanent end to the existence of someone we love. I try to remember that and keep breathing.

I think I have finally stopped counting weeks. One of the bereaved fathers I spoke with told me that he thought it was about the one-year mark when he realized one day that he had just gone an entire hour without thinking about his daughter. I wonder what that’s like? But then I also don’t want to forget anything – not the sound of her voice, or her laughter. Not her beautiful smile or the mischievous look in her eyes when she’s teasing. Not her incredible wit or the way she always worries about everyone else. Not her sweet “pouty” expression, or how much she loves her dogs. I don’t want to forget how it feels to hug her or see the guilty look on her face when she tiptoes out of my closet. I don’t want to forget the smell of her hair or the joy of watching her dance or hearing her call, “Mom?!” through the house. Or the feel of laughing at her changing her nail polish every day or missing my clothes but then feeling a twinge of sweet tenderness that they’re hanging in her closet and maybe she’ll remember I love her every time she wears something that started out as mine. I don’t want to ever stop picking up the phone to call her out of habit or miss hearing, “Guess what, Mom? I have an idea!” I don’t want to forget what it feels like to dream with her about all the things we’re going to do. I don’t want to forget any little detail of what she looks like or sounds like or smells like or feels like or the essence of her beautiful, shining soul. I am so afraid that I might lose some tiny bit of her . . .

  

I have read more books than I can count over the past three months – everything I can get my hands on regarding death & dying, the afterlife, heaven, near-death experiences, the Second Coming, etc. etc. I don’t know why it somehow makes me feel better to confirm over and over again in print things that I already know, or could simply ask God or my daughter about for myself. But it does. It helps to read about the experiences of others who unfortunately understand what it feels like to walk this road. One of my favorite recent books is Never Say Goodbye, by Patrick Mathews. I love the title, and I love the reminder that our loved ones in Spirit continue to be with us. I’ve said it before – I know Kimmy has much to do in heaven, including learning and even having fun. I also know that she continues to be very busy helping the people she loves on the earth. I am so grateful to the many people who have reached out to share stories with me of dreams and other experiences they’ve had with her, or ways in which she has helped them or comforted them, since she has returned to Spirit. I have heard from people I know well to people I didn’t know at all – but their experiences are all reminders of the important work my daughter is doing, of her continued existence and love for her friends and family, and of how incredibly aware a loving Heavenly Father is of every single one of us as individuals. Your worth is immense. Beyond your comprehension. Stop to consider that for just a moment.

I have had many people ask me what they can do to help others who are struggling with depression – friends or family. Or how they can help their children – from educating them and building resilience and awareness in them when they are small to supporting them as young adults who may or may not be having a difficult time. I have taken these questions so seriously – and had already started researching how to help other families avoid this tragedy – that I don’t want to answer until I have a valid response put together that is reasonably thorough and helpful. This will be coming shortly, along with a list of resources.

In the meantime – please just be aware and talk. Talk to your children of all ages, small or grown. Ask questions. Listen to them. Offer help and support where needed. Be a friend. If you are concerned about someone, have the courage to ask – no awkward question is worse than the regret of loss.

Educate yourself on the various forms of depression medications, be aware of what you and any loved ones are taking, and be especially aware of how they impact your thoughts and feelings or those of anyone in your care or close circle during medication changes or readjustments. Discuss any concerns with a medical professional immediately.

If you are struggling with depression yourself, please keep going. Just choose to stay today. Know that you are loved and that you make the world better just by being here today. You don’t have to do anything. Nothing. You are the offspring of deity. Yes, you. I don’t care what you do or don’t believe in, if you close your eyes and pray – ask God or the Universe or whomever you choose to look to for strength, it will be given to you. Call someone who loves you. Be honest. Tell them how discouraged you feel. If you can’t call anyone you love, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at: 1-800-273-8255. It is confidential and free.

 

And if you are struggling with depression – think of your family and the people who love you.  It doesn’t go away.  I still cry every day. I feel numb darkness when I wake up. I try not to cry when I’m getting ready for work in the morning. I stop at the cemetery on the way to work to water her flowers and watch the sunrise with her. I don’t say any of this for pity – I hate that.  I prefer to go unnoticed.  I say it for a reality check for anyone contemplating suicide as an option.  I love my job. I love the people I work with. I make a difference in the lives of children. I love my family. I love my friends. I try to stay upbeat and positive as much as I can. I laugh. I know what really matters. But I also have moments where I have to go into my office, or my bedroom, or for a drive, and just cry for a minute – every day. I rarely go places I don’t need to go right now – except with or for those people who I am closest to. The world is just not the bright, happy place it once was. I miss my little girl. So many people miss her. I often have to be strong while I hug someone else who is crying because they hurt so much. I know this part is very difficult for her. I know she is sad to see so much sadness.  I know that Kimmy would tell you to choose to stay.

 

 

As much as I dislike the backwardness of this, I know my sweet daughter is where she should be – somehow we worked this out as a family before we came. I have no idea why. I do hear myself being reminded often, Let not your heart be troubled . . . In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you . . . I will come again . . . that where I am, there may ye be also. (St. John 14: 1-3.)

It is a comfort to know that Kimmy is “preparing a place for us.”  I’m sure she’s having a whole lot of fun decorating our family mansion.  I can’t wait to see what she does with it.  Love you, Boo.

Yongsung Kim, “A Dream!!”

 

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. 🙂