It's been seven months today since the nightmare began. I was hesitant to go. I could sense something was wrong but had no idea just how bad it was. Larry encouraged me to head to the airport and fly out to CA. I really wanted to see my sister and hear family. I was coming up on 2 1/2 years since I had last seen them.
I can think about it now and talk about it without shaking and my blood pressure spiking. It's still hard tho. I think when we find ourselves in a situation where we just have to survive, our body goes into shock but our mind has a way of dealing with the memory of it by fogging it over most of the time so that it seems more like a dream. It's not possible to have been that bad... I must have been exaggerating... Right? No. The fog clears for a few moments from time to time. It was real. Horrific.
There have been a lot of challenges for our family this year. It hasn't been a year for the faint hearted, that's for sure. But at the same time (though I wouldn't ever want to do this all again) it has been one of the best years we've ever had. I'll tell you why but first I want to give you a little background. Coming up on 10 years ago, we lost our first baby. A boy. He would be turning 9 this November. We then lost 2 more babies. It was a very dark year for me. I was confused and hurt and I didn't know how to ask for or receive help. There isn't a lot of light in my minds eye when I allow myself to ponder upon those memories. Almost exactly a year an a half after the loss of our first baby, I gave birth to our oldest daughter. I still remember walking into our tiny apartment, sitting down in the rocking chair and cradling our fragile (but strong) 5 pound 1 ounce miracle on a pillow on my lap. It was Thanksgiving Day. I've never been so thankful in my entire life. I looked up at the art that I had hanging on the wall of our bedroom. A painting of Mary holding baby Jesus. I wept. My heart overflowed with love and gratitude that I actually got to hold and keep my baby. The walls I had thrown up to protect my broken heart from ever being torn apart again began to crumble. Piece by piece they came down and my heart began to heal.
Over the ensuing years, I was able to comfort other women as they faced similar loss and suffering. Some I was able to up-lift, some lifted me. I recognized the difference between the mourning and suffering of some of these women as compared to mine in that first year. The light I mentioned before... the light that is missing from my memories seemed ever so bright in the lives of some of these dear women. Even amidst their suffering. It is the light that comes from our Savior. He can shine through the darkest night. It was years after the loss of my first baby when I recognized that the reason I had been in such a dark despair was because I had turned away from my Savior in my time of need. I felt so alone and abandoned at the time, but now, looking back, I can see His tender mercies. I didn't recognize them at the time. I rejected them and allowed myself to be consumed by the darkness. He never forsook me though. My husband never gave up on me through the countless times I pushed him away. He stood by my side and loved me unconditionally. I am forever grateful that he never gave up on me.
This year has been the first time I have truly been tried and tested again in a different experience but similar intensity. This time I turned to my Savior. I don't want to imply that it was a simple change of heart and focus. It was a daily, hourly, minute to minute struggle to keep my mind and heart centered on my Savior. The adversary worked hard on me. He hit me while I was weakest and most vulnerable in unbearable pain and did not let up. But I didn't let up either. I held to the rod. I prayed. I sang hymns over and over in my mind. I read the scriptures. Answers came in the scriptures I would open to. Blessings came through the Priesthood, through family, through friends, through the Spirit. I found "strength beyond my own." Nights were tortuously long and dark but in my memories... LIGHT. This entire year is filled with light. Some of the hardest trials I have ever faced and yet... I'm grateful. It has been a wonderful year. I am alive. I've been given a second chance at life. My children and husband are alive and well. Though far apart in miles, we have grown closer and stronger in spirit. We have learned to pull together. I'll never take a day for granted. My heart has been changed. I'll never be the same.
So I learned the difference between turning to the Lord in our tribulations, our suffering and affliction and turning away from Him. On the one hand we allow the trial to move through us while we stand firmly on the rock of Christ. He mends up our broken hearts and comforts us in our suffering. He molds us into who He knows we can become. On the other hand, we succumb to the darkness. Despair overcomes us and we fall captive to the suffering and anguish of the Adversary. The one is full of light, the other is complete, hopeless darkness.
This is the GOOD NEWS of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that there is HOPE. As we choose Faith in Jesus Christ, we put our trust in Him and allow His atonement to bind up our broken hearts. He knows our suffering and His light can shine through our darkest hour.
How grateful I am that even with a year as hard as this one has been and continues to be, I have chosen to walk in His light.