Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Shazam Just Saved My Soul

Here I am sitting at the computer editing a newborn shoot from this week and I can't stop thinking about the evens and circumstances of this past week concerning my Grandpa. It is that feeling where your heart is so full you know you have to let it out or it will explode. And I can't focus on the work I need to do. So now I have taken a break from photoshop in an effort to ease the pounding in my chest.

Several years ago something happened that broke my spirit. I want to be careful to say that I still had my testimony of the Church, but I lost any will that I had to strive to be the person I wanted to be. I was discouraged with my chances of attaining any type of "spiritual" success in this life. And in an incredibly apathetic move decided that it would be better to quit trying all together.

The cause of all this disdain with life was a feeling that the Lord had abandoned me when I felt I really, TRULY needed him. I was going through a really rough patch. I went to my Bishop and prayed for help and all there was were crickets. A few good friends noticed my struggle and tried to help me through. But I felt like a fillie who had just had her spirit broken. I felt like the Lord and my Bishop had totally left me all alone. I sat through a Sunday school lesson recently where the teacher was discussing why people fall off the path. She emphasized that sadly these people leave the church because of actions of other people. Not the actions of the Lord. I sat there in that class thinking I was the opposite of that. I felt like the Lord had let me down. It has been a wound in my heart for so many years now it hurts just to write about it.

A few months ago I sat in Sacrament meeting and had this overwhelming feeling that my Grandpa who I really loved with all my heart didn't have much time left on this earth. It was strange at the time. Though he was frequenting the hospital more than usual and had surely lost a great deal of health and spunk he was still hanging around being a wonderful influence in my life and the lives of my children. But just that thought that he would leave soon made me all teary. Dave noticed and asked what was wrong, I shook it off. The strange thing was that it had nothing to do with the talks being given. I came home from our meetings that day and decided we would step up our love and care of Grandpa. We stated sending more regular correspondence and I started calling him on the phone more frequently. Several Sundays later I had that same feeling. Now I look back and KNOW that Heavenly Father was preparing me for what would happen in the next few months. He was preparing my heart for the loss I was about to experience.

Last week I got a message from my cousin Missy telling me that Grandpa was yet again in the hospital. He had a stroke. That morning I told the kids that Grandpa had a serious health accident and that he was sick in the hospital. We all cried together. By that afternoon my sister Nicole had been to see Grandpa in the hospital and had sent a reassuring message that the stroke was small and Grandpa was doing really well and that aside from possibly loosing some of his mobility he would be fine. In spite of this good news I was overcome with a weighty feeling. I struggled with the discussion to travel to Utah to help my Aunt and Cousins care for him while he mended or to sit tight at home. Money was the biggest concern. Things are tight and especially this month. Our renters are preparing to leave and we don't have new ones. So with the thought of having a double mortgage to pay and a family reunion at the end of the month where Dave would be taking a week off of work and so therefor our paycheck would suffer considerably, it just didn't make finical since to make that trip. There was a battle raging between my mind and my heart. My heart was telling me this was more than it seemed and that I needed to be in Utah. My mind was saying it was a small stroke and that the expense of the trip made it unwise. All day I stayed in bed thinking how I could get to Utah.

Then I remembered I had money sitting in my account. I hadn't thought of it at first because it was my "business" money and I keep those funds separate. That money was slated to help me purchase some more product samples and then perhaps pay for portraits to display in doctor's offices. I had $400 from a session I had done literally three days earlier. I added up the cost of gas. It would cost me about $360 to travel to Utah if I drove, instead of the $570 it would have cost to fly. Knowing I had the money to cover the trip without asking Dave to add that financial burden to our family's funds settled the debate for me.

Plans were made and the next day I was on my way.

Once I arrived in Utah I had two beautiful days with my Grandpa. We talked about smuggling in his cat, sneaking in chocolate and of course some more serious issues. It was so good to see him perfectly aware and totally himself. My emails to family were full of hope and reassurances. Then Sunday Grandpa suffered a debilitating stroke that in the end took his life.

It was a horribly hard week with lots of pain and suffering for everyone at his side. I was overcome with grief not only for the person I was about loose but how the loss of this Great man would weigh on my children who were so totally in love with their Papo.

I felt alone too. Not that my Aunt and Uncle and cousins were totally there for me emotionally. But I really just wanted my husband to hold me in the evenings when I came home tired and bedraggled and totally drained emotionally.

Grandpa struggled for two days and then left this life and since then I can't help but add up all the tender mercies that the Lord blessed me with. I have thought for days now that I needed to write them all down before I forget them. So here goes.

-being silently prepared for the loss of Grandpa by impressions that he would be leaving us soon
-being inspired to send him a package and make a phone call the week before he became ill
-having the money in my account to cover the costs of my trip
-on the way to Utah scheduling another session to replenish the funds I had used on the trip
-feeling that Grandpa really needed a priesthood blessing and there was no one around to offer it at the time. As I lifted my head from that prayer a young man in a white shirt and tie was standing in the doorway to Grandpa's room. Turns out he was the hospital Chaplain. He offered a blessing for Grandpa and stayed with me for an hour. The minute I said that prayer the Lord had someone there waiting to answer it.
-the opportunity my kids had to all say good bye to Papo on the phone and for Grandpa's temporary gift of clear speech when listening to Kate to say the words, "My Sweet Kate"
-that Grandpa was able to leave this earth relatively quickly and without prolonged suffering
-that a good friend had recently moved to the Provo area and took me in and loved me
-that other friends responded to my families needs and cared for the ones I left behind in Washington
-having a wonderful sister in law to leave my two youngsters with. Never once did I worry about their care or needs. I knew they were in the best of hands.
-that Dave was inspired with a beautiful analogy to help the children cope with grandpa's loss. He compared Grandpa to a caterpillar that had made a cocoon and soon would emerge as a beautiful butterfly
-when Emily called me from the church during mutual night crying and feeling horribly alone I tried to comfort her. I then tried calling a friend's cell phone who I knew would be a mutual and the Bishop's office to ask someone to locate her and love her. I couldn't get a hold of anyone. I Tearfully said a prayer asking the Lord to help her. Later she recounted to me that she had gone outside to cry in the rain and then a beautiful rainbow came and she was comforted (that is our sign to remember Great Grandma).
-that Sara the night Papo died had a dream that he came to her and gave her a big hug, she relayed the dream to my sister in law before anyone had ever shared the news with them
-That my aunt Kathy was blessed with a soft heart and took the needs of my family to heart. She changed the funeral plans that Grandpa had prepared to allow for Dave and Chase to be Pal Bearers and I know it meant a great deal to especially Chase. And that she was generous in inviting us to take something home of Grandpa's
-that I had two days to visit with grandpa before the Lord started the process of bringing him home, that smaller stroke provided so many of Grandpa's loved ones an opportunity to have one last visit and hug. That first stroke was a tender mercy for sure.

I am sure that as things become more clear I will remember more and add to the list. I had all these little moments swimming around in my head and I really did feel like there were so many blessings to see me through this last week.

Then on my way home from Utah I had the girls in the car with me and we were traveling in silence feeling awfully bruised and broken. Dave called me on the phone from his car and told me to tune the radio to a certain station. I did. We laughed that only in Utah could there be a "Sunday Sounds" station. Then I started listening. The song that was playing was"Blessings" by Laura Story. I am a lyrics girls. While Dave listens more to the music and the interplay between instruments I listen to the words and poetry of the song. I was only into the song a few lines and tears were streaming down my face. Her song was for me. Listening to the words I realized the Lord had been there for me all along this last week. I don't know why it was necessary for me to feel so abandoned this last few years but this week he was there by my side and blessing me all along the way. And the final blessing was that I felt healed through my tears of the past week. It took a horrible loss for me to feel close to my savior again. A deep wound was somehow bandaged with another wound. I wish with all my heart that it hadn't taken the loss of my Grandpa to feel His love and to feel like trying again to become the person I want to be. But it is what it is and I am grateful.

This week I was made whole again minus a hole in my heart that Grandpa left.

Here are the words to the song:
We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your
healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near

What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom
Your voice to hear
And we cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
All the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we'd have faith to believe

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
And what if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know the pain reminds this heart
That this is not, this is not our home
It's not our home

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
And what if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise


The Seaquist Family said...

I love you Jen! Hope you know you have filled a hole in my heart.

RCurtis said...

Jennifer - Thanks so much for sharing such personal, tender thoughts about your struggle and about your grandfather. Elder Holland came to our Stake Conference recently and touched so many lives. His words and actions still feel strong. When I read this post, I was reminded that he told us the Lord loves "broken things" -- broken hearts, broken lives, etc. -- because only He can fix us. Sounds as if He has done that for you. You have my deepest sympathy. I do hope you'll continue to record your thoughts and impressions of your grandfather. Love, Ranelle

Sara said...

I am so sorry for all that you have had to go through these past couple of years but especially this recent sadness with your sweet Grandpa. I am so grateful that you were able to feel the closeness of the Savior through countless blessings. How great to write them down to always remember that He is there for you. I love you Jen!

Photographer: Rebecca Pierce said...

A great post about your spiritual journey, Jen. I feel you have seen many little miracles and I'm so glad to read about them.

Anonymous said...

Quite a special post, I am happy that the spirit has been there for you, Alot of growing up in one short time, love you,

Anonymous said...

Words can't express how you have touched my heart. Isn't it assume how someone who is gone can impact us all so greatly. My last "Utah" experience, even with the bitter pill of losing my Dad, became a pearl because of our special time together.
My most difficult moment came finally at the funeral as I watched my two oldest grandchildren deal with their difficult loss. I love you all so very much and am proud of how you all were able to listen to the Spirit.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful example and thank you for sharing it. It is these times that make you grow and will help you as an example to the kids. This written note will mean even more in the future. As someone said continue to write down memories and lessons.

Nicole said...

And there is no way to express how those "more frequent" care packages lifted his soul. He couldn't stop talking about them.