Tuesday, October 16, 2012

"She is not here now, but they still are"

The days following Laila’s death were filled with business.  I wasn’t home a lot to see the boys and when I was, I was being bombarded with questions that needed answers—-what color casket, where to bury her, details to iron out with the insurance.  The boys were taken care of by aunts, friends, neighbors, and my mother-in-law, who stepped in to fill their needs when I was unavailable. 

When Mike rushed to the room to administer CPR my mind was alert enough to know two things, I did not want them in that room seeing their baby sister the way she was and that we needed to pray.  But after that, I rushed out the door to the ambulance, not even looking back.  I knew my sister-in-law and brother were there with the boys, taking care of them.  The way in which they cared and protected them in our absence has created such gratitude in my heart that I feel a deep, unbreakable bond for my brother and his wife.  
I may not have been able to physically be there with the boys during those few critical hours where their lives were changing forever, but my heart never left them.  I had a distinct, clear thought come to my mind as I held Laila’s lifeless body.  I imagine it was Laila speaking to me—and I heard it and repeated the words to Mike, “She is not here now, but they still are and we cannot allow our grief to consume us.  We have to be present for them.  They still need us.”  I understood at that moment that my sweet Laila no longer needed me.  She was instructing me to let go—rise above the grief, and focus on her brothers—her very best friends. 

It was then that I made a clear choice to choose joy over sadness.  To say that I didn’t cry or feel grief would be inaccurate.  I felt all the emotions someone feels after losing a loved one—I still do.  But I knew that Laila did not need my tears or grief, she needed my attention to be on her brothers.  They needed my attention to be on them.  And I needed them as much as they needed me. 

My heart felt ripped apart, focused on two different places, the Spirit World with my Laila and home with my boys.  Those days after Laila’s death that were filled with business were difficult for me, obviously.  All I wanted to do was be with my boys and instead I watched others gather them around and make them meals, take them school shopping, get them ready for bed.  I did not feel jealous because I knew I could not do it and I was grateful for those women in my life that were willing and able to step in and do what I could not.  But I longed to ignore the business and just be with my boys. 

The day following Laila’s death, my brother and sister-in-law approached me saying they were taking their girls and son to the park.  I knew they were intuitively allowing Mike and me to be alone with the boys.  When they left we gathered our boys around us and spent precious time talking to them, answering questions, teaching them Gospel principles, telling them we loved them, and crying with them.  That time alone with them was essential to me. I will never forget the sweet feelings that engulfed us in the living room that day.  Mike and I were able to express our deep testimonies of our Savior and Heavenly Father, His love for us despite this tragedy, and make commitments to the boys that we would do all in our power to return to live with Him and them, and beg them to try and do the same.  We made commitments as a family to work our hardest together so we could ALL make it back to our Heavenly Father and our sweet Laila.

Soon after this private moment with the boys our home became inundated with people.  Cousins arrived allowing the boys to have a diversion and Mike and I had to finalize the funeral arrangements (with the help of my mother and father-in-law).  But my mind felt out of focus.  When Mike or the boys were out of my sight I felt almost frantic.  I needed them near me at all times.  After the session at the temple various family members decided to go out to eat; I had no desire to join them.  I had just spent time at the temple to remind myself and Mike that we were a family forever and that through obedience to the covenants we had made, we could be a complete family once again.  And now, I needed to be home with my boys—to be under the same roof as them, to gather the children I had remaining on this earth around me. 

We hurried home and my heart longed to arrive home in time to put the boys to bed.  It was a ritual I had done almost every night of their lives but had not been able to do that week.  I was disappointed to arrive home to find that the babysitters had been super-efficient and had taken care of that task already.  I hurried up the stairs to their room to find them asleep already.  In the darkness of their room I laid myself on their floor and quietly listened to their breathing.  I was tempted to make myself a bed in their room that night so that I did not have to be separated from them.
These days marked a distinct change in my heart.  I had always loved and appreciated my boys.  But now, things were different.  Now, their presence in my life became my life line.  I am convinced that Laila was not just telling me that they needed me but that I needed them.  As the days and months following the funeral passed it became so clear to me that they were saving me.  Each day I got out of bed because of them.  Every morning I’d get in the shower and sob my heart out and pray and ask God to help me find a way to make it through the day.  He answered my prayer, almost without fail, by prompting Eli to come to my room.  He would be waiting for me outside the bathroom door.  Sometimes he’d hide in my bed and pop out and make a funny face or he’d say out loud, “Hmmm, let’s see.  How can I make you happy?  Oh, I know!” and then he’d do something that would immediately brighten my mind and heart.
My love and appreciation for my boys, while strong before, grew in a way that I never thought possible.  I understood that while the tears and sorrow would come, my head had to rise and my eyes had to glow with happiness.  I saw clearly that if I spent all my time grieving the loss of Laila, I would miss the sweet, precious moments I had with my boys that still remained here on earth.  And I made a commitment to choose the present. 

A few months after Laila passed away I stood in the kitchen and looked around me to find my entire family laughing about something.  I laughed with them and the laughter came easily and naturally.  I felt Laila’s presence and a sweet spirit engulfed me.  I realized that I was indeed doing what she had whispered in my ear that horrible night.  I was rising above the sadness and focusing my heart on my husband and boys and I knew Laila, as well as my Heavenly Father was pleased.  I recognized that Heavenly Father had given me the key to getting through my sadness by instructing me to focus on the family still here. 

Now, not a day goes by that I don’t fill my prayers with gratitude to my Heavenly Father for allowing me to have these boys here with me.  They mean everything to me.  My days are filled with thoughts of them and how I can make them the happiest boys in existence.  My hope is to fill their ears with ‘I love you’s and warm their bodies with hugs.  I want to create a home where safety is found and contention doesn’t exist.  I want to give them the best of me.  I had these goals before, but now, they seem essential.  


Jess and Jen said...

Thanks for sharing, Adrianne! I feel the need to go give my kids a hug! -Jen

Sheri said...

OH, this is so beautiful. I am crying and now I'm going to go read to Hunter. Thank you for sharing those feelings. I needed to hear them. LOVE to you all.

Lokodi said...

I'm right there with Jen. This post has given me a great desire to hug my kids tonight. Thanks for reminding me how precious it is to have my beautiful children on this earth with me.

Love you,


Aleasha said...

Your strength is inspiring!! It makes me want to make sure I treasure every day I have with my little girl. It took us a lot of years, miracles and prayers to get her here and I never want to forget my gratitude for her sweet spirit in our home. ~Aleasha

Gillian Mohlman said...

cried all the way through this.. It makes me truly grateful for the things I have here on earth- most importantly my family. I admire your strength. i miss that little girl!

Love you lots