Thursday, July 26, 2012


Sometimes Jordan and I just end up at Costco.  I can't explain exactly how it happens.  One thing leads to another and we find ourselves strolling up and down the wide cemented aisles, stalking the free samples, and wondering what item we could possibly need in bulk. 

We originally got our Costco membership to buy things like diapers and formula for Jonah.  Now we usually leave the store with a something like a year-supply of batteries, a 10-pack of Oreo's, and a gut-wrenching reminder that we are now just two...and not three.  We don't go out of necessity, but out of ritual. 

As we left Costco last week, with nothing but a paper cup of hummus and a pita chip in hand, I watched a woman rush past me down the aisle.  At first she just jogged behind her giant shopping cart and sternly yelled out her daughter's name.  "Maria!"  When Maria didn't come she suddenly became less self-conscious, less stern.  She began running and crying out. "Maria!"  She ran like a contestant on Supermarket Sweep, up and down the aisles, and we watched as the panic of the possible engulfed her.  Her daughter was gone.  Lost.  Maybe wandering.  Maybe stolen.  Her husband's panic followed suit as he sprinted to the other end of the store.

I watched them and was frozen in place by their urgency, because it reminded me of my own.  I stopped walking and my heart raced.  I remembered the moment that I realized Jonah was in trouble;  the feeling of trying to save him, sweeping his mouth, and pounding his back.  I remembered reaching for my phone as his body became limp.  I could see myself running with him in my arms to the front yard, crying for help.

As I relived my own panic I found that I could not help these worried parents or continue shopping.  I just prayed.  I prayed that Maria would find her mother. 

The staff at Costco quickly mobilized and found the little girl.  We heard a scratchy Walkie-Talkie report that she was located by the giant teddy bears.  She was fine.  But the panic stayed with me in a profound way.  As we made our way out to the parking lot my chin quivered, and I told Jordan, "that moment...that mom's panic...hit me so hard." 

Before Jonah died I would have felt sympathy or mild concern for the mother of a lost child, but after losing Jonah I felt her panic as if it was my own.  I have never felt so deeply for a total stranger.

We are often taught that Christ died for us, that he suffered for our sins, and that he felt our joys and sorrows.  We testify that he truly understands us.  We talk about His Infinite Atonement.  I have always believed and testified of these things.  But when I stood in Costco and felt the deep and heart wrenching panic of a worried mother, I understood more deeply how Christ feels our sorrows.  He knows our heartache, because His heart has been broken.  He knows our pain, because He endured incredible pain.  He feels our panic, our frustration, our anger, and our disappointment, because He experienced those emotions.  I don't claim to comprehend fully Christ's ability to succor us, but my unexpected moment of empathetic panic taught me that deep empathy is truly borne of experience.

Jesus' perfect empathy was ensured when, along with His Atonement for our sins, He took upon Himself our sicknesses, sorrows, griefs, and infirmities and came to know these "according to the flesh" (Alma 7:11-12). He did this in order that He might be filled with perfect, personal mercy and empathy and thereby know how to succor us in our infirmities. He thus fully comprehends human suffering.  Neal A. Maxwell

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Thank You!

I am not feeling eloquent today.  I have sacrificed my brain and my writing to the worship of summer in all its light and glory.  I have been spending my energy in my garden and in the mountains and I have found a new kind of healing there.  I'm sure that when the cold and dark of autumn come I will return to my computer and this blog more often. 

Even though I don't feel like writing I want to say thank you.  Thank you for making Jonah's birthday so beautiful for me.  I was amazed by the unexpected response I got to my request for simple acts of kindness.  Thank you for sharing my request with others.  Thank you for doing small acts of service, and thank you for telling me about it.  I felt my dread turn to anxious anticipation as Jonah's birthday approached.  I felt so excited to hear about your adventures in kindness.  As I sat on the fence about whether to mourn or celebrate, your messages pulled me towards celebration.  I am so grateful.

As a family we began our day early with a race through lavender fields.  Then we gathered together in the evening to eat lots of comfort food and cake.  We even blew out candles and sang "happy birthday."  Our focus was not on what we lost, but on how blessed we all felt to have Jonah in our family.

My day was filled with lovely messages coming arriving via the mail, facebook, my phone, and at my front door.  I shared them with Jordan and cried as I read them aloud.  Here are some of the simple and beautiful things people did.

I just sat with Maggie and watched her favorite movie, Alvin and the Chipmunks, for the 500th time, because I know that you would have done the same thing with Jonah.

I tried to be patient when someone cut me off in the parking lot and it made such a difference

We took the time to help a couple visiting Beijing at the airport to catch the train between terminals...remembering how overwhelmed we were when we arrived here. Big and small, love is what it is all about.
In special memory of Jonah, my kids and I gathered a bunch of children's books and donated them to The House of Hope where mothers come with their children when they are trying to overcome addictions

We took some cookies to some neighbors we had not met yet.

Watched my sister's kids for a couple of hours so she could help her in-laws move into their new house 

Wrote a thank you letter to the person living at a house that I pass often that has a beautiful yard I really enjoy seeing. 

Thought of you today and bought my Mom chocolate! 

We donated to, a nonprofit that took beautiful pictures of my friends' baby who lived 58 hours. 

I was hand-washing my lunch dishes and started to grumble about the many other dirty dishes in the sink that didn't belong to me (the joys of living with young college roommates), and then I remembered, good deeds for Jonah today! So I washed everyone's dishes and ended up talking about him to one of the girls 

We were at breakfast at the beach this weekend and gave our extremely overworked waitress a tip that was the same amount as our meal.

I read an ABC book 4 times to Drew then thought of you and read it again.

I have been working over 70 hours a week between my two jobs, (doctor's hours without the pay) and my sacrifice is picking up hours for someone who desperately needed to trade hours,no one would respond to her pleas. 

We made cupcakes and passed them out to our neighbors at the campground.

my brother and sister-in-law are currently enjoying an evening out while their four kids are with me and my husband 

I took two of my friends who are mentally challenged (but living in a group home and employed) to the Springville Museum of Art for the annual Quilt Show.

I clicked on the Donate Life button on your blog and donated some money in Jonah's name.   

I spent the morning with an elderly friend of ours. He is 83 and has no family to speak of. We have become his family.

My friend Katie was on a pioneer handcart trek (totally a Mormon thing) with the youth of her congregation on Jonah's birthday, she told them about Jonah and asked them to do an act of service while they hiked.  They each wrote me a note explaining their service.  My favorite is from a teenage boy named Tucker.  He said,

I carried somebody across the Sweetwater [river], just as I would have done for you.

These are only a few of the messages I received.  I loved that so many people just took time to listen to someone in need, to express love, or to play with their children.  Those are the moments that have the most impact.

It is an amazing feeling to know that my little boy, who only lived on this earth for 14 short months could be the catalyst for such kindness.  It is overwhelming and incredibly healing.  Being his mother and experiencing such loss has taught me how to love more deeply than I thought possible.  Thank you for turning my simple request into such a beautiful ripple of love. 

We miss you Jonah and love you so much!

Master, which is the great commandment in the law?  Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 
Matthew 22:36-40

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


I haven't cleaned my bathroom mirror for nine months.  The other day my eyes were finally opened to it's filth; layers of toothpaste, dust, and water stains speckled its surface.  I was in the throes of a manic Saturday, in which I felt compelled to clean everything.  I vacuumed every room, dusted floorboards, wiped grimy fingerprints from door jams, and freed the ceiling fan from dust bunnies.  I was thorough and efficient until I saw the bathroom mirror.  My eyes scanned it's surface and I wondered if I was brave enough to wipe it clean.

My angelic sister-in-law, Leah, was the last person to clean my mirror.  She appeared the day after Jonah's funeral to "help" me clean my house.  The whirlwind of visitors, and meals, and grief turned my home upside-down and I desperately needed order.  I needed the peace of clean house.  Without hesitation she scrubbed my toilet, and mopped my floors.  She organized and sanitized while I wandered around aimlessly, occasionally picking up Jonah's things.  The emotional weight of each item eventually anchored me to the comfort of my couch, where I spent the rest of the afternoon staring at the ceiling.  I wasn't much help.  But at the end of the day, the material realm of my home seemed right again, even though everything else seemed wrong. 

The next morning I dragged myself out of bed and took a hot shower.  I forgot, as usual, to turn the fan on, and the bathroom filled with a thick and heavy steam.  I followed my mindless routine: dried my arms and legs, wrapped a towel around me, twisted my hair into a turban, and looked into the bathroom mirror.  I was shocked.  Five or six perfect little hand prints were scattered across the  my newly cleaned yet clouded mirror.  My immediate thought was of Jonah.  I felt like they were his.  My heart accepted them without reservation as a lovely sign from my sweet boy.  I stood without moving, and my breathing slowed.  I hesitated to open the door, knowing the cool air would destroy the humid sanctuary of my bathroom. 

Then my brain started churning.  I recognized that I was in the depth of grief, and wondered about my mental state.  I began thinking of all the possible explanations.  Perhaps my niece and nephew wandered into the bathroom after Leah cleaned.  Then I contemplated forensic testing...  I thought about measuring the prints and comparing them to the prints we took the day Jonah died.  I tried to eyeball their size and shape and to make a mental match.  I contemplated how I could know for sure how the prints appeared before me, and who they represented.

And then I stopped.  My heart and mind collided and I realized that it didn't matter.  Those little hand prints made me think of Jonah.  They made me feel him for a moment, and I loved them.  

The next time I took a shower I placed my own hand print next to his.  And each day that followed, as I have prepared myself to face a world of grief, I have been greeted by five little fingers hovering over my heart in my reflection.  I have felt strengthened by the symbol.  Those perfect prints remind me of love, and that is why I haven't cleaned my mirror.  I haven't felt capable of erasing them. 

But Saturday I felt strong.  Not strong in a pretend way, or as a way of overcompensating for sorrow.  I just felt like I had finally internalized the strength, and hope, and faith that those hand prints represented to me for nine months.  I felt like I could let go of the outward symbol and still feel all the love and peace that is represented in his sweet little hands.  As I contemplated letting go of this source of strength, I felt confident and peaceful.  To me those emotions felt like healing, so I sprayed some Windex, wiped the surface, and gazed at a newer brighter reflection of myself. 

The Japanese say that when the spirit departs, it will return once more to the home and leave a message for the person in greatest need.  Chieko Okazaki

Thursday, July 5, 2012

A Gift

Jonah enjoying his birthday cake!
I have a request.

I am trying to figure out how to get through the next week intact.  Jonah's second birthday is quickly approaching and I don't know how it will feel to experience July 14th without him in my arms.  It scares me.  I don't want to descend into sadness, but I know it will be a difficult day.  How could it not be?  I can already feel the heartache swirling inside of me.  I don't know if I want to be with people, or if I would rather be alone.  Should I have a party, or slip away with Jordan into the wilderness?  I've never done this before, and Pinterest is no help for this kind of thing.  

As I've thought about what I want, one idea has surfaced again and again.

I want friends, my family, people I've never met who read my rambling words, to do something good on Jonah's birthday. 

I want you to give him, and our little heartbroken family, a gift.  On Saturday, July 14th, do something kind. Reach out to someone in need. Tell someone you love them.  Buy your mom flowers.  Pay for someone's groceries.  Whatever you feel moved to do.  Keep it simple, and be generous with your heart and spirit.  Think about people who need to feel loved and then act accordingly.  You can work anonymously or share Jonah's story.  Tell those you serve about Jonah's beautiful and giving spirit. 

I'm giving you some time to think about this, but it doesn't need to be planned.  Act on those quiet generous feelings that you have within you.  I would love to hear what you do!  I think hearing about pure love being multiplied across the world in Jonah's memory will carry light into a difficult day.  So send me a message, or call me, or let me know on Facebook.

I too will try to think of an adequate gift I can give my sweet boy on his special day. 

For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethern, ye have done it unto me.  Matthew 25:35-40