This blog is an uncensored look into my soul. I am writing this as part of my healing process, but am leaving it public so others can follow me through my journey.

If you'd like to start from the beginning, click on the beautiful, adorable picture of Hailey on the right hand column.

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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Mormon Helping Hands

As most of you already know, I am LDS (or Mormon).  In our church everyone has a "calling," which is basically an unpaid, volunteer assignment carried out for a period of time ranging from a couple months to several years.  Callings can be anything from the Bishop, to a Sunday School teacher, Youth Leader, Librarian, Greeter, etc.  I have had many different callings in the fifteen years I've been a member of the church: Relief Society (Women's Organization) Secretary, Sunbeam (3 yr olds) Teacher, Sunday School Teacher to 13 and 14 year olds, Young Women's Leader, Primary Teacher (8 yr olds), and many more. 

So why am I sharing this with you?  Well, my current calling is our Ward Public Affairs Rep, meaning that I handle all the things our ward (which is similar to a parish or branch of a church) does within the public realm.  One of these events is called Mormon Helping Hands.  This actually is a yearly event, scheduled this year to take place throughout California and Hawaii on this Saturday, April 28th.  

A quick fact about Mormon Helping Hands: The worldwide Mormon Helping Hands program was officially established in 1998 and since then hundreds of thousands of volunteers have donated millions of hours of service to their communities throughout the world.  

Since my calling has to do with all the public stuff within the church, my "job" was to plan this event.  As I sat in a meeting brainstorming with some representatives from other wards about where to do our volunteer project, I kept hearing this little voice saying, "Hailey's Place, Hailey's Place."  Everyone there knows about Hailey, so I was actually a little scared to suggest it out of concern that either they wouldn't like the idea or they would feel obligated to accept it so my feelings wouldn't be hurt.  But after about 10 minutes of throwing ideas out there and nothing really being agreed upon, I spoke up.  My heart was racing with vulnerability because Hailey's Place is a very special and tender place in my heart.  I was so nervous about how I would feel if it wasn't accepted among everyone.  

As soon as I mentioned El Toro Memorial Park (aka: Hailey's Place), several of the faces in the room lit up.  One of the men stated that they have never volunteered there before and his grandfather is buried there.  (I thought it would be a good place for that very reason.  Many people in our area also have family or friends buried there, which would mean it was probably a special place to them as well.)

Well, I guess my little Hailey was pulling for it too because the idea got a unanimous yes and I was put in charge of planning the event!!!  There will be between 150-200 volunteers there as well as The Orange County Register.  They'll be posting an article about it in the weekend paper!!!

 So, for those of you who would like to come join us and help out (You do not have to be LDS.) it will be this Saturday, April 28th, from 8-12 at El Toro Memorial Park in Lake Forest. Below is a list of the things we will be doing.  If you can make it, I would LOVE to see you, so please find me and say hi! 

I'm so excited for this project!  I've never planned something of such a magnitude, especially at a place so special to me.  I want people to come see Hailey's Place and how beautiful it is there.  Cemeteries are often considered "creepy," but not this one!  El Toro Memorial Park is so peaceful and beautiful.  I hope that the volunteers who come to help out will see that and feel the sacredness of those who are resting there.

For those of you who can't make it, I'll be sure to write an update about how it went and attach the article from the paper!

The Projects

1.  Repainting the wrought iron fences that are peeling or rusting.

2.  Landscape clean-up.

3.  Cleaning off markers and benches.   (This is a great one for children to help out with.)


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Too Much Compassion?

Sometimes I wonder if there's such a thing as too much compassion.  Ever since Hailey passed away my compassion for others who are grieving has increased about a million fold.  For a while I thought maybe I was obsessed with other's grief, but now I tell myself that its just a new found compassion from one griever to another.  

Prior to Hailey dying I always felt a certain level of compassion and empathy for those who lost loved ones, however after a couple days it would slowly fade away from memory as my life continued on.  Now its a whole different story.  Those emotions never seem to fade away even when my life does continue on.  I literally have a data bank in my brain of all the tragic deaths that have occurred since Hailey passed away, most of them people I have never even met.  Not only are they filed away there, I refer back to them often.  For example, I remember a couple years ago seeing a story on the news of a high speed chase where the man ran a red light and killed a husband and wife who were driving home from dinner.  The newscaster was interviewing their children, who were in their 30's, and I remember my stomach just turning for them and their great loss. I still think of them often, two years later, after only seeing a 5-minute story about it on the news. 

That's one of a long list of stories I think about often.  I become enthralled with them.  I think about them everyday, pray for them, follow their stories and even cry for them.  It's a little much and Sean often asks me why I do that to myself, to which I can honestly say, I have no idea.  I'm just somewhat obsessed.  (I hate to use that word because it sounds creepy and I'm not a creepy kind of person.)  I just feel a connection with others who are grieving.  I feel their pain and loss.  I know what Day One, Week One, Month One, Year One and so on is like.  I've been there...and still am.

Months and years later I still think of the people and stories I've read about or watched on TV and wonder how they are doing.  Did they find some kind of peace and hope or are they still suffering in agony?  I want to reach out to every one of them and tell them that I understand.  I am them.  This is my reality, as well.  (Although, everyone's loss and grieving process has just as many differences as similarities.)  

There are times that I feel surrounded by death.  Every death I hear of hits me hard and sticks with me indefinitely.  It's that club that no one wants to be a part of, including myself, but now I am and there's no getting out of it.  (However, it is a special club full of people who have love, compassion, and empathy like no other.)  

These feelings and concerns are consuming and overwhelming, yet it's in some ways addictive.  I guess I feel a kinship with others who are grieving.  We have a mutual understanding, even if nothing is ever said between us.  

So I'm still trying to determine if there is a thing as too much compassion and if so, do I have it?  Or am I just a crazy freak obsessed with death?  I sure hope its the former!!