Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Some thoughts about Truman and Sterling

I've been hesitant to write about my children. I feel a true sense of motherhood and wonder if others might not understand the depth of my love, as I did not get to spend their mortal lives with them. I shall not worry about this small point and in stead share some of these feelings. I, after all, did conceive them and bore them. While in the case of Sterling, my time was shorter and less serene to behold his earthly tabernacle, I still envision his body, cutting the umbilical cord myself, having absolutely no idea what to do. Truman's arrival was better prepared for. Loving nurses provided support and comfort through the labor and delivery process. In both cases, Tyler was standing by.

I know Truman's spirit better--he was with me longer. Perhaps I was better prepared to understand his spirit because of my loss of Sterling. Both hold a place in my heart. I anticipate a joyful reunion with each of them one day, and know that they will have opportunities to bless my life while I am still here on earth. No other children will replace them. They are our first and second born.

Elder Russel M. Nelson has written that "mourning is one of the purest expressions of deep love." This definition of mourning is so closely related to charity, the pure love of Christ, that I have found many connections to the Savior's Atonement with the loss of our children. I understand with greater depth and breadth a morsel of what our Father in heaven gave up when "gave His only begotten Son." When Jesus told the Nephites to "thrust [their] hands into [His] side" (3 Nephi 11:14), He was allowing them to feel a piece of His suffering for them--it was brutal. He was slain.

No one I know wants to experience suffering. But how else can I come to love with that purest form of love, the love of Jesus Christ. He knows how to love because of His sufferings. Jesus wept. He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. 

To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. I never thought I would experience both of those seasons on the same day, but both of our children where born after they died. How do I reconcile that? Well, Jacob offers some sound advice:

"Wherefore,. . . be reconciled unto him through the atonement of Christ, his Only Begotten Son, and ye may obtain a resurrection" (Jacob 4:11).

Resurrection. I do believe that the resurrection of Jesus Christ makes life possible after death, just as our children were born to us after they died. But in the resurrection, the restitution of all things will be made available. All of our loses will be made up to us, coupled with eternal glory and joy.

Thus, I can rejoice. I rejoice in my God. While my physical body could only deliver physically deceased children, the Holy One of Israel "delivereth his saints from that awful monster. . . death" (2 Ne 9:19).

There is so much to look forward. I have always feared death. Always. My own and those I love. I never wanted to experience because I knew it would hurt so much. I am learning that the human heart was created to hold hurt, and outgrowing from the hurt shoots out tender branches and leaves of love.  

I'm making Truman a quilt. Maybe I'll call it Tender Branches. "If the root be holy, so are the branches" (Romans 11:16). I'll take a picture when it's finished. Sterling's quilt is here.

Monday, April 2, 2012

April 2nd

Four years ago, on April 2nd, 2008, Tyler told me that he wanted to take me to Ephraim, Utah to show me "the old haunts." At the time, I did not know what "the old haunts" meant--since I have learned that it is a reference old hangouts, places he might have frequented while attending school at Snow College. I took the above picture today, April 2, 2012, because I know that 4 years ago on this day I was wearing the same floral shirt. As it happens, I always ask Tyler why this shirt is special. I've probably asked him at least 8 times if he remembers what happened while I wore this shirt. It was only today that he got the answer right the first time I asked him, with no hint or lifeline from me.

Yes, Ephraim, Utah, is very close to Manti, Utah. And Manti, Utah is were Tyler Anderson asked me if I would do him the honor of being his wife.

The setting was surreal. The day was cloudy, almost rainy. When we pulled up to the Manti temple and Tyler opened my door, I only thought I glanced at his hand going into his pocket, like he was checking to make sure something was still there. I only thought I felt his heart beating through his hand as he walked me up the stairs, through the gate, and to the back "yard" of the temple lawn.

It was only when he was down on his knee, with the velvety black ring box opened and a sparkling light shining from the inside that it registered: Yes, I was in the process of getting engaged; yes, all the best-laid plans of hoping for a proposal at the Burlington Carousel were no longer needed:
All my daydreams departed. I was in the moment. I was kissing my husband-to-be and shocked at the thought that everything could seem so ordinary one moment and so ethereal the next. I was so excited to be kissing my fiance that I almost forgot to put on the brilliant-cut ring:

Once I recovered from the shock, Tyler helped me put the ring on. The sun peaked through the clouds, pouring golden light across the valley:

Little did I know that we would have so many mountains to climb, early in our married life. We basked in the glory of the proposal for only a few seconds, and then walked down the hill, hand in hand, as Tyler told me the story of getting my dad's permission, getting the ring, showing it to his sister, faking out his mom the day before for April Fool's. We called family and then drove to a TRUE old haunt, the Ephraim pizza joint that Tyler used to go for square dancing with his lady friends ;)

We talked about plans and dreams. How many kids? Lots. How soon? As soon as possible. Thinking back to those times of wonder are almost amusing now. But I hold them sacred. Our priorities have always been to be an eternal family. Delivering two premature, deceased children has only increased that desire and priority. Our covenants are real. Our love is real. Our children are real.

I thank my God every night and morning for the blessings in my life, and almost without fail, the first blessing I thank Him for is Tyler. I've needed Tyler. Hi strength, his compassion, his hope.

That blessed floral shirt still fits. That blessed hill and temple will always feel like home to me. This blessed life continues, and my hopes have been renewed. April 2nd, 2008. Life was great. April 2nd, 2012. Life is oh so much more rich and cultured. And still great. Honey, it's my honor to be your wife.

And as for the carousel, maybe we can have a romantic kiss there when we move to Denver in August. . .