Today Sean surprised me with a day at the spa so I could relax before our new little guy arrives. As you could probably tell from the majority of my posts over the past few months I’ve been quite emotional lately, so this was a very much needed and exciting surprise! As I sat there in the quiet, peacefulness of the spa I felt like I was experiencing a little piece of Heaven and wondered if that is what its like for Hailey everyday. If it is anything like that, I have to admit that I can’t totally blame her for wanted to check out of this crazy place we call Earth!
Anyways, while I was getting my facial I started thinking about how great my life really is and how much I have to be grateful for. I mean, aside from losing Hailey, which is a HUGE negative thing, everything else in my life is pretty much wonderful. So as I laid there I started going through the list of things I was so grateful for and realizing how much I still take for granted and how life changing real gratitude can be.
Topping my list is definitely my faith. I was baptized into the LDS church 16 years ago and I have to admit that I still consider it the best decision I’ve ever made in my life. I hate to think where I’d be today, after such a difficult trial as losing my child, without the incredible knowledge of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and what it really means for little ol’ me. I am so grateful knowing that we have a Father in Heaven who loves us more than we could ever begin to imagine or comprehend. That’s why I don’t just call him "God," but also my Heavenly Father. He is so much more than just "God." He is a living being who created each and every one of us and knows us by name. That gives me so much comfort when it comes to Hailey. Seeing how much my father (here) loves me and what he does or would do for me and seeing the same in Sean for our children puts me at great ease with where Hailey is now. I know she’s with her true Father, the one who dwells in Heaven, who created her perfect little spirit and loves her more than I can imagine. I know she remembers Him and He is loving her and taking better care of her than anyone here on Earth could. She is truly home. I am so grateful to know that she’s in no way scared or lonely there. She was His daughter first and will always be His daughter (as well as mine in the flesh) and He would never take that away from me.
This leads me to my extreme gratitude for the knowledge of eternal families. It’s so wonderful and comforting to know that our Father in Heaven would never separate us from our family members. We will have the opportunity to be with Hailey forever when all is said and done and right now it’s just a waiting game until that day. But I know that He allows her to be around us all the time and He allows us to feel her spirit and the peace she brings with her. What an amazing blessing that is! Those tender moments when I feel her near keep me going every day.
Along these same lines is my gratitude for a Savior who has willingly gone through and felt every single thing each of us feel. Although He didn’t physically have every experience we’ve ever had here on the Earth (especially us women!) He did experience every single pain, heartache, and emotion that each of us have ever individually felt. This is what the atonement was all about and why He bled from every pore (That was probably when he was experiencing the pains of childbirth!) when in the Garden of Gethsemane. This is also why He is so non-judgmental of anyone and loves us all unconditionally for who we are, faults and all. I didn’t fully understand this until after Hailey died. There were several times when I felt more alone than I could ever have imagined possible, even with family and friends around me, and yet all of a sudden in those darkest moments I could feel Him! I could feel His love and compassion and pure understanding as His invisible arms wrapped around me and comforted me. I’m not sure I would have ever experienced something like that or had the ability to truly understand His love and compassion without the life changing, difficult experience of losing a child. So in some ways, I’m very grateful for that. I now actually understand what it means to have Him as my best friend.
I’m also so very grateful for such a wonderful family. My family is everything to me and I seriously got the best of the best! Starting with my amazing husband, whom I couldn’t be more grateful for. He is my eternal companion who I will be with forever…even after death (another thing I’m grateful for the knowledge of!). He has been my rock through this trial and I’m so grateful for his faith and commitment, which has helped us to keep our marriage strong and intact after such a horrible heartache. I am grateful for my beautiful children and this new little guy on his way (any darn day now!). I always hear people who are pregnant say they don’t care what gender the baby is as long as it’s healthy… and let me tell you, until you’ve had one that isn’t totally healthy you have no idea what that really means! I am so grateful that all my other children are so healthy and happy. They are such a joy and an even greater blessing to have.
On the other hand, having Hailey, who wasn’t totally healthy was an entirely different but just as big of a blessing. I couldn’t be more grateful to have had her in my life. Knowing that our Heavenly Father trusted me, of everyone else in the world, to be her mother and raise her for those 3 years she was here is such an honor! The lessons I learned from her are beyond words. She taught me so much about life, unconditional love, sacrifice, and faith. And now as I reflect on her and the “beau’ful” life she lived, I realize that she continues to teach me every single day. I am so grateful that the Lord allows her to be around me and send me signs and give me comfort when I need it.
I’m grateful for my parents and sister. My parents raised me as a God loving and respecting person and that knowledge is the best knowledge I believe any parent can give their child. It has made my life significantly easier and more blessed. My mother taught me so much about unselfishness and how to put others first, which I’m still not the best at, but which definitely helps me when it comes to taking care of and raising my children. She has given me more unconditional love and support that I could ever be worthy of. My father has been a rock to me as well. He was there beside me since the day Hailey was born, taking days off work to go with me to the hospital and visit, calling and texting me constant messages of love and encouragement, and always being able to make me laugh! And my sister has been the best friend I could ever ask for going through this. I am so grateful that she moved in with us for the first year and half that Hailey was gone. Her presence and help was priceless. She was always there as a shoulder to cry on or to watch the girls when I needed to get away for a bit or to encourage me when I was going through my days of sadness and anger. Even though she has since moved out, I am so grateful that she still lives so close and continues to support me in any way she can.
(My facial was 50 minutes long so I had a lot of gratitude to think about!)
I’m also so grateful for such wonderful extended family, wonderful in-laws, and friends. The love and support I’ve been given over the past 2 years, and still continue to receive on a daily basis is absolutely overwhelming (in a good way!). I never knew how much I was and am loved until this occurred and what a blessing that is. I am so grateful for the immense compassion and goodness of people. Every comment, message, text, hug, smile, thought, quote, prayer, etc, that comes my way is so appreciated and treasured. People are inherently so good and I am extremely grateful to have been able to experience that goodness firsthand.
I am grateful for how much I’ve learned and who I’ve become over the last couple years. I still have so very much to learn and so very far to go, but I’m grateful to be going through that “refiner’s fire” with the knowledge that I will one day come out on the other side a much, much better person than I was going in.
I still have so much more I could write that I’m grateful for…the beautiful place I live, my lovely home, my health, my therapist who has literally changed my life, manicures and pedicures, massages and facials, beautiful days, prayer, blessings, tender mercies from the Lord, the list goes on and on.
So even on my worst days, and there have been quite a few lately, I am still deep down grateful for the immense blessings in my life. Although losing Hailey is a trial that I wish I never had to go through in this lifetime or ever, I am grateful to my Father in Heaven who has made it as easy as possible for me. I’ve experienced His pure, infinite, unconditional love first hand. He has literally carried me or held my hand every single step of the way and still continues to do so. That’s why I LOVE that poem Footprints in the Sand…it is so true!
Wow…I need spa days more often!!! Maybe the Lord will see how great they are for me and bless me with at least one a month so I can keep up on all my gratitude!!!