Last Sunday was Lexi's Primary Program at church. For those of you who aren't LDS, primary is basically Sunday school (and a bunch of fun, Gospel based activities) for children ages 3-12. Once a year they have a Sunday service that is "run" by the children. Each child gets a part, either a scripture, sentence, thought, talk, song, etc.
This year Lexi was assigned to give a talk on how Jesus Christ is the Son of God and a God of Miracles. (I'll attach it below for those who are interested in reading it.) The day before we got her topic we received a children's video in the mail about how Jesus Christ raised his friend Lazarus from the dead, so we decided to focus on that miracle. In the end of the talk we (I guess, more me than we) had written a small paragraph about how this miracle was so important to us because Hailey had passed away a year ago and we know that Christ has conquered death and Hailey will rise again one day as Lazarus did.
Well when Lexi was practicing her talk last week she told me that she didn't want to read the part about Hailey. Oh man, that hurt. Of course, I didn't show it to Lexi because it was technically HER talk so it should be how she wanted it. It took me a while to get over the sting of it and then I realized that when we had written her talk I kind of prodded my own agenda into it. So, as much as it kind of hurt, I was proud of her for standing up for what she was comfortable with and making her talk, just that, HER talk. (It's hard for me sometimes to not make "everything" about Hailey.)
I've made a very conscious effort to allow Lexi to grieve as she wants and feels comfortable doing so. There are times that she doesn't like to talk about Hailey to others, such as in her talk or when I wanted to include a photo of her in our family photo on the first day of school. Also, sometimes when I visit Hailey, Lexi will want to stay in the car. I have accepted that and never make her feel guilty about it. However, there are also times when she openly wants to share her sister with others. Yesterday, she told me her teacher was teaching them about The Day Of The Dead that is celebrated in Mexico. Lexi asked her if she could bring a picture of Hailey in to share with the class, and bless her teacher's heart, she was happy to allow Lexi to do so! Inside, I was thrilled that she was remembering her sister.
I guess this is all part of the grieving/learning process. It's hard enough being a parent as it is, but when you have to parent a child who's been through a trauma (a trauma that you're also dealing with), that puts a whole new spin on things. I've made it my mission to help Lexi grieve on her terms and within her own comfort zone. She is a unique individual, as we all are, and needs the freedom to do her own thing, as we all do.
Anyways, back to Sunday's Primary Program. I thought of Hailey and how she would also have been up there with all the other children giving her little part. I thought I'd be okay with it because I still had Lexi to watch and be proud of, but ended up being completely caught off guard at how difficult it really was.
Seeing the class that would have been Hailey's standing along the front (some proudly waving to their parents the whole time) just about ripped my heart right out of my chest. I couldn't help but imagine her up there fidgeting and giggling and waving and then belting out her little part into the microphone as loud and proud as she could. Every time the children started to sing, my stomach did somersaults and the tears started to flow. Luckily, I didn't have any tissues with me so I held back quite a bit as to not make a scene!
Then when Lexi got up to give her talk, the tears started to flow again. This time because I was so proud of her and how brave and strong she is. Hailey would have been in primary with her, yet she goes every week and sees all the other big sisters with their little sisters and she's all alone. She stood up there and nailed her talk. She was beautiful. I can't even put into words how, for a small moment, I so strongly felt Hailey's presence, sitting in the pew right between Sean and me, watching her big sister, with a huge smile of pride on her precious little face, whispering to all her new spirit friends, "That's my big sister!"
When Lexi was finished and came back to meet us she said, excitedly, to me, "Mom, I saw you crying all those tears of joy!" Wow...that almost made them flow again. I would never tell her that most of the tears I cried were full of pain and sorrow for the void of not getting to see both my girls up there together sharing their pure testimonies of Jesus Christ. But as I thought about it for a minute, Lexi was partially right. There were a few tears of joy as I thought of the fact that my little girl already knows everything those children were talking and singing about. She's there! She's there with her Savior, Jesus Christ, experiencing it all first hand. Just as she said to her nursery teacher two days before she died, "Teacher, teacher..." To which her teacher replied, "Yes, Hailey?" And Hailey replied back, "Teacher, me know Jesus." And yes, yes she does.
The front cover of the program had the most beautiful picture of a little blonde girl tucked into Christ's bosom, just gazing up at him. His arm was around her and I instantly thought...there's my Hailey. She is here...she's represented right there on the program. (I wish I took a picture of it to share.) The tender mercies of the Lord are so wonderful!
(Doesn't that totally look like Hailey?)
(Doesn't that totally look like Hailey?)
Lexi's Original Talk
(She excluded the part in italics.)
Last week we got the video Lazarus Lives in the mail. When I found out my talk was on how Jesus is the Son of God and a God of Miracles we decided to watch it for Family Home Evening.
In the video Jesus said that one day everyone who died will rise again from the grave, but we have to have faith. Then Jesus’s friend Lazarus dies. Lazarus’s sister is very sad and tells Jesus that she feels like death is so final and she would never see him again. Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He that believeth in me shall never die.” After Lazarus was dead for 4 days, Jesus came and made him rise from the dead. It was a true miracle!
Jesus said, “I have done this so you can see that I have power over death.”
This miracle is very important to me because my little sister passed away last year and I know that one day she will rise again like Lazarus. I have faith that because Jesus is the Son of God He can perform miracles.
I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.