As I've reflected on this past year, I've realized that I have literally been in the depths of despair. I have felt pain beyond what I could have EVER imagined possible. My whole body has literally ached to hold my precious child once again. I have sobbed so hard my nose bled and I almost passed out. I've felt complete sadness, disappointment and unfairness at what life had dealt me. I've felt so weak I couldn't stand or get out of bed. My heart has burned in agony. I've been brought to my knees in sorrow and disbelief. I've had to beg for the slightest moment of mercy and comfort. I've thought, at times, I would not be able to go on anymore. Yet, amongst all those excruciating emotions, I have been lifted out of those depths higher than I could have previously comprehended. I have been comforted and blessed, served and supported, cared for and loved, thought of and prayed for. I have been given opportunities to help others and change lives that were beyond my own abilities. I have felt peace and hope. I've seen the light at the end of the tunnel. I have experienced miracles and blessings that I've felt so unworthy of. My faith and testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and of a loving Father in Heaven have been increased immeasurably and cemented into who I am. I have even smiled and laughed and felt joy at what the future holds and what the past has given me. I've come to realize that I am okay. I am going to survive. I am changed...a new person...a much better person.
This past year has been such a roller coaster of emotions and experiences, larger than any amusement park could ever offer. And, I've come to realize that as with any roller coaster, there's always a high right after the low and a low right after the high. Life whizzes by so fast with ups and downs, twists and turns...and, it's okay to be scared sometimes, but, more importantly, it's also okay to have fun and laugh too!!! That is what I plan on continually doing. I LOVE to laugh...more than anything! Therefore, I plan to embrace those highs and live them to the fullest, so when the lows do creep in, they won't be able to grab a hold of me and pull me down.
It's absolutely amazing, and sometimes terrifying, what a difference a year can make. I've learned so much over this past year. I would like to say I've learned more this year than any other year I've been alive, but I'm not totally sure that's accurate. I've had quite a few different years full of major learning curves, but I will confidently say, is that this year I've definitely learned the most important lessons of my entire life.
Now, I wish I had something majorly profound and life changing to tell you all, but honestly, I really don't. All I have are a year's worth of life's lessons to report. These lessons have definitely changed my life and who I am as a person, however I don't know that they'll have the same effect on all of you. But, I'll share then anyways, and tell you from very personal experience that they are all 100% true.
So here goes: (In no particular order)
- I am much stronger than I ever thought. I actually think that's true for everyone. I believe we're all stronger than we realize or give ourselves credit for, but when necessary, we can bear burdens we never thought possible.
- People are inherently good. Not that I didn't think people were good before, but I now know that most people are not even just good, but amazing. They will rise to the occasion when given a chance. They will come out of the woodwork when needed. Some will knock the socks right off you with how much the truly care and what they're willing to do for someone in need.
- It really is the little things that matter. Throughout this last year it's the little things that have picked me up and carried me along. Things like a text message, email, handwritten note, some cute flowers on my doorstep, little knick knack left at Hailey's Place, dime story, prayer, etc., etc., etc. Those are the things that MATTER! They all add up and give that little spark needed some days to continue on. So please don't stop doing them, not even just for me, but for anyone who may need a little pick-me-up. You'll never know the power of your kind gesture...even if it does seem tiny!
- Service is one of the main keys to happiness. I have been served in ways I'd never even thought of and by people I would have never expected. Also, on the other end, even in my darkest hours, being able to serve someone else always brings a smile to my face and a little cheer to my heart.
- Do NOT take life for granted. It can and will literally change in an instant. You NEVER know what lies ahead of you and the last thing you want is regrets. Seriously, don't sweat the small stuff...as trite as that sounds, when something like this happens, you quickly realize that most of it is truly small stuff.
- Trials are a necessary part of life. Although they sometimes seem unbearable, they do make us stronger. Everyone has trials. They may not be known outwardly, but they are there. Ours may seem bigger or more unfair than others, but it's not for us to make that determination. We don't always know the whole picture. Embrace your trials. Don't give up. When trials are dealt with in the proper perspective they can make us much better people in the end.
- Our Father in Heaven is so very merciful. He absolutely adores each and every one of us and will do whatever He can to make our trials as easy as possible. We just need to ask and have faith.
- Jesus Christ absolutely knows exactly how we feel at every moment: the joy, excitement, happiness, pain, sorrow, sickness, etc. (Even the girly feelings!) That is what the atonement was all about. When He bled from every pore it's because He was experiencing EVERY single one of our personal emotions. He can be your best friend if you just allow it!
- Miracles are absolutely real. I've now personally seen and experienced many miracles I would have been skeptical about before, but now KNOW without a shadow of a doubt that they are real.
- Hailey lives! Her body may no longer be "alive," but her spirit is just as alive now as it was when she was physically here. She visits us often, sending little signs to say hi! She also watches over us everyday. She is our angel.
These are only some of the things that I can think of right now that I have fully LEARNED throughout this experience...things that I may not have truly understood or believed before losing Hailey.
Unfortunately, I still cannot honestly say that I'm at the point in my life that I wouldn't give back everything I've learned for having Hailey home with me. Maybe, one day, that will come. But in the meantime, I will say that being able to help others through my blog or Hailey's Foundation has been the next best thing to having her back. It has been such an honor for us to help others in Hailey's name! I hate to hear of people in need, especially children, but I do absolutely LOVE to help them!
So with ALL that being said, I'm still going to continue my blog, however probably not as often. I am well aware that my journey through this thing called life (and now, grief) is not even close to being over, so I know I'll always have new things to report. I hope you'll all stick with me and continue reading...I love your comments and still need your support desperately!
I now have to focus even more on my life's new mission: To have Hailey tell me how proud she is that I'm her mother when I see her once again!
P.S. We also FINALLY got Hailey's headstone in. It was placed on her one year Heavenly Birthday. I'll post pictures in a few days!