Hi! My name is Abigail. I finished my mortal mission in a little spec of eternity you call July 2013.
Now I'm in the Spirit World and can help my family and friends (that's everyone) from this side of the veil. Some people get a little uneasy talking about "talking spirits" or "ghosts" but I'm here to tell you we're not scary. My body died, but I'm still alive. My body was destroyed and really needed a break, but I'll have it again soon. You'll have to trust me on the issue of timing. It won't be long, promise.
A month before I came here, my mommy was holding me and I told her "I will keep you forever." It took her by surprise that I came up with that on my own, but I knew what I was saying. I reinforced it later a few times by telling her, "I will keep you forever in my world, " and "I will keep you forever in my life". I meant exactly what I said.
This little piece of world wide web is a place my mom can continue to write and record her feelings--her progress, I like to call it. I know it's helping a few of you, too.
Remember who you are--really are--and that many of us are excited to see you all again, too. Eternity is a very long time and I have to keep reminding my mom "I will keep you forever".

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Perspective from Four Years!



July 15, 2017. Today we observe that it's been four years since Abigail went Home. Happy Heavenly Birthday, Abigail! Four years. Next month will bring the day that marks that she will have been gone longer from us than she was with us! That is hard to comprehend in my mind.

I also can't believe it's been so long since I've posted here on this blog. Writing has been so therapeutic for me, and I would feel an urge to write as part of my healing. And then I guess one day I just didn't think of writing. Nor the next, nor the next. And I basically didn't think of the blog anymore for a long time!

Last night I told Aaron that, as of right then, I didn't have any feelings of sadness for today. And so far, that continues. This morning I read John chapter 11 and 12 where Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. What an incredibly, miraculous story!! I love when Jesus tells Martha that HE is the resurrection and the life. But she didn't quite understand Him, because shortly thereafter she cautions Him that Lazarus will stink if they remove the stone from his grave.

Sometimes we don't get it. I pondered this morning that there are many events in life that we don't understand until enough time has expired where it gives us a broader perspective on the event's purpose. And even then, we likely don't understand it fully. My mind recalled Abigail as a baby, and the fact that she was so clingy to me. She was so very, very attached to me, from birth on. As a four-DAY old, she refused to let Aaron comfort her, and that pattern continued. I was the only one, for many, many months, who could calm her. That was tiring and frustrating at the time! I was exhausted.


June 27, 2009 -  15 days old


 But I look back now and marvel. I truly believe that her spirit knew she wouldn't be here in mortality long. I don't know the doctrine of how much we know of our own individual mortal experiences prior to our mortal birth, but I truly believe Abigail knew something of her short stay and possibly of her disease, and she expressed that by demanding that I spend a lot of time with her. From her first week of life onward! I rocked her to sleep for every nap she took, and as a 6-month old, I questioned to myself if it was time to teach her to nap on her own. The answer was no. That repeated several months later. Rocking a toddler to bed for each nap is a major commitment, and I did NOT do that with my other children. But I felt prompted to do so with Abigail. And how grateful I am now, knowing I held her and loved on her without knowing what it would mean to my heart later.

Knowing that our perspective is finitely limited, but trusting in God that He will guide us through paths we couldn't imagine and will ultimately be blessings to our lives, brings an incredible sense of peace during our sufferings and sorrows and afterwards as well.

Today I am at peace. Today I am full of internal joy and contentment. I know that Abigail is exactly where she's supposed to be. I know that Father is using her talents and capabilities there as much as He would have here. I have been specifically blessed to know of one missionary experience she's had, and it thrills me. Yes, I miss her. And if I try to type more than that, I cry. But crying is fine, too. :)

I testify that Christ binds up broken hearts. He IS the Resurrection and the Life. "His way is the path that leads to happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come."(1) He tells us that we must exercise faith and action---"LET your hearts be comforted."(2) "COME unto me, all ye that are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."(3) I testify that through revelation to our day, we know more about this life and life hereafter. I know Abigail is doing the Lord's will, as Jesus said in what we call The Lord's Prayer: "Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven."(4) God has a Plan, (5..great talk) and Abigail is helping further His kingdom there.

I find comfort and happiness in these words of Elder Neal A. Maxwell:


"On the other side of the veil, there are perhaps seventy billion people. They need the same gospel, and releases occur here to aid the Lord's work there. Each release of a righteous individual from this life is also a call to new labors. Those who have true hope understand this.
Therefore, though we miss the departed righteous so much here, hundreds may feel their touch there. One day, those hundreds will thank the bereaved for gracefully forgoing the extended association with choice individuals here, in order that they could help hundreds there. In God's ecology, talent and love are never wasted. The hopeful understand this, too" (Notwithstanding My Weakness, p.55).


So Happy Heavenly Birthday/Mission Call Abigail! We love you forever, and are so grateful you will keep us forever!

FAITH.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Trust

On Saturday my family did a deep clean of our sunroom, and my daughter brought something in to me asking if we should keep it or toss it. I'm keeping it.

It is a handmade stack of quotes, laminated and tied together. Wow, what memories it brought up. It's from when I was struggling to find peace, to feel God, to make decisions I didn't know a thing about with Abigail's life. I had a handful of quotes that brought me comfort, and I asked a friend to compile them into a flashcard-style stack so I could carry them with me. She did a lovely job, and I was grateful then and am still grateful.

As I read through them again tonight, it hit me how almost-desperate sounding they are. They aren't desperate, but they sure are focused in theme: be grateful, trust God, look to God, this is what to do to be grateful, trust God, He's there, be grateful. As I read through them again tonight, it reminded me of the 'Annabeth I was' during that time. The side of me that was constantly searching for peace amidst the storm-tossed chaos of pediatric cancer. Never have I struggled so hard as I did then. I didn't struggle to find my testimony, or to find my faith; they were there. It was simply a struggle to live that life. It was a very hard life.

One of the cards has the lyrics on it from a song, "He Is." I haven't heard the song or read the lyrics for years....since Abigail was still fighting cancer. But when I read them again tonight, the tune came back easily, along with the remembrance of how often I repeated it. "He is, He was, He always will be; He lives, He Loves, He's always near me. Even when it feels like there is no one holding me, be still, my soul; He is." My favorite part of that chorus was the 'holding me' part. Sometimes in our struggles we feel so alone...so isolated. But deep in my heart I knew then, and sang it fervently, that even when it felt like there was no one holding me, He was.

I just needed to type out these feelings tonight. Heavenly Father, my loving, ever-mindful, perfect Father, pulled us through that dark time. And it turned out just the way it should. Yep. A separated daughter and mother. Not what the world would say is the right way, but I know it is. I know it is, because I trust God. With life, with death, and with everything in between.

That makes everything a whole lot clearer. Trust brings peace, because I don't have to know the details. The whys or hows. I am flooded with gratitude as I look at these cards and realize--now that I'm in a different dimension in life--how trusting Him then, kept me alive. I cannot see the end or the beginning; He can. Why wouldn't I trust that?! I just am so grateful, so deeply grateful, to Him.

Faith. Always, always, always, Faith.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

"I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee"...not 2 years later, nor ever.

I have been at conflict with myself on whether or not to post. I don't feel like I have anything to say. I don't have the energy to try to describe emotions of happiness or sadness or what we've learned and are still learning.

Two years. My little missionary who was called to serve at such a young age....still serving at 24 months. But of course time is of this world, not of hers.

One of the reasons I'm hesitant to post about today is because of how agonizing and anguishing today, and the days leading up to it, was. How much INSANE amounts of morphine she was going through to try to keep her pain under control, and still she would cry out if I moved my legs or body under her. "The messicine isn't working, mommy." One of the few coherent sentences I could understand. So we moved to dilaudid. Within 24 hours she had had over 300 mg. For those who've used that drug, you know that's a lot. An hourly dose of 10 mg with 5 mg boluses allowed every 10 minutes on her Patient Controlled Pump. And she used them.


And then the nurse telling you that with that much drug in her system, it was going to start causing muscle spasms and contractions. There were many, many, many difficult things we watched Abigail go through in her life, but this ranked high up there. To hold her as her neck muscles would strain and tighten and because she had not eaten much for almost 3 weeks and didn't have any fat stores, you could see her bones and tendons as her muscles would stretch and spasm and jerk. Her whole body did this. It was absolutely horrid. The nurse on duty in our home was in the process of requesting another drug; meanwhile they put on another patch to try to help relax her uncontrollable muscles. It didn't help much. And a new drug didn't matter; I think it arrived an hour before or after her death. Maybe it never arrived; I can't remember.

One of the last physical things I did for her while she was alive, no, I guess technically she was dead, was to have to reach up and close her eyes for her. These are only a couple of multiple things we experienced on this day 2 years ago. I can't write them all. Her death was not peaceful. The Spirit was in our home, and with us in full force, but her death wasn't pretty.

I learned on a deeper level than I already knew that Christ's Atonement goes beyond any pain we will ever experience. Even when it gets harder, and harder, and harder still. Even when you don't understand why someone so innocent had to suffer so much. His ways are not our ways, and His ways are certainly higher than our ways.

Three months later we had the blessing of attending General Conference, a biannual conference in which the Prophet for our day and age speaks, along with the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and other church leaders. I sat and listened to President Monson as he told us that his wife had died 5 months earlier and how much pain that caused. If the prophet of God, who certainly has a clear understanding of God's purpose and plan for life and eternity, felt pain and publicly acknowledged it, then of course it was right and proper for me to feel pain. I didn't need permission to mourn, but it was a validation that I was "doing it right." His talk will always remain one of the "classics" that I refer to repeatedly.

Our Heavenly Father, who gives us so much to delight in, also knows that we learn and grow and become stronger as we face and survive the trials through which we must pass. We know that there are times when we will experience heartbreaking sorrow, when we will grieve, and when we may be tested to our limits. However, such difficulties allow us to change for the better, to rebuild our lives in the way our Heavenly Father teaches us, and to become something different from what we were—better than we were, more understanding than we were, more empathetic than we were, with stronger testimonies than we had before.

This should be our purpose—to persevere and endure, yes, but also to become more spiritually refined as we make our way through sunshine and sorrow. Were it not for challenges to overcome and problems to solve, we would remain much as we are, with little or no progress toward our goal of eternal life. The poet expressed much the same thought in these words:

Good timber does not grow with ease,
The stronger wind, the stronger trees.
The further sky, the greater length.
The more the storm, the more the strength.
By sun and cold, by rain and snow,
In trees and men good timbers grow.8

Only the Master knows the depths of our trials, our pain, and our suffering. He alone offers us eternal peace in times of adversity. He alone touches our tortured souls with His comforting words:
 “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
“Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

“For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”9

Whether it is the best of times or the worst of times, He is with us. He has promised that this will never change.
How I love our prophet! If you feel so inclined to do or say something for me today, what I would choose and ask of you is to read his talk {here}. No matter your age, religion, or choices in life, I believe you will be inspired by it.

My children have memorized the above poem. What a powerful reminder that adversity, if you choose, can strengthen you. It can also break you. Difficult experiences can be either faith-building
or faith-breaking. How deeply our Father in Heaven wants us to turn to him at all times, and especially hard times.



Two years. How incredibly we miss her. How we long to hear her voice, or dream of her. But these aren't in our control. Heavenly Father is in control. If He wanted her Home, then we want her Home. It is surely a purifying process to live without her.

And although it was one of the worst days of my mortality, I know it was a beautiful day for her. Her Heavenly Birthday. That brings peace. As I think about it, it was probably one of the more glorious days of her eternity. Mortal birth and being sealed to our family through covenants would be another. She kept her second estate 1 and someday will receive thrones, principalities, kingdoms, and more. 2

Happy Heavenly Birthday, Abigail. We love you and are so glad you will keep us forever.

As always,

FAITH.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

June 24th



I didn't try to remember this day. It just popped in my head last night as I prayed. Some memories are just burned so deeply that they appear without any effort.
June 24th, two years ago, was the day I stopped trying to keep my little girl alive. It was the day she had an emergency scan done to see what was happening inside. She was scheduled for an MRI, but her vital stats kept crashing so the anesthesiologist and radiologist called the oncologist and got permission to do a CT scan instead. A 15 minute scan instead of 60.

It was the day we officially started hospice, although it had been discussed before and the process had slowly begun. Twenty-two incredibly-lengthy days of watching her die, after her six months of prolonged deterioration after her two year battle.

June 24th was the day my already shattered heart clung tightly to the Lord's promise that He would bind up the broken-hearted.

There is an acronym I came across frequently in the cancer world: NEGU. Never, ever give up. I never really liked that statement. Not saying it's wrong, it just wasn't for me or us. We never gave up on Abigail, because we never gave up on the Heavenly Father. But there came a time, June 24th to be exact, where we had to choose to stop doing something and instead start doing something else. That is not giving up.

On June 24th, I stopped looking at the 2 page chart that listed the 40-50 supplements, pills, and drops that I gave Abigail daily. Her regimen simplified really, really fast. Pain medication and stool softener. Setting her chart aside and abruptly realizing "I'm not trying to keep her alive anymore" would have killed me if not for the support, peace, and strength God himself was providing us.


 Instead, on June 24th, we started the last part of her mortal journey with acceptance. I have pictures during those 22 forever days, and I'm smiling in them. When I first looked at them, a couple weeks after her death, I was appalled that I was smiling. It hurt so badly that I was smiling. I didn't understand. And then He gave me understanding. I was smiling because I was at peace and because Abigail needed me to smile. I would do anything for her, and that was the last thing she needed from me. Ironic that it's probably the same thing she still wants from me. And here I sit crying while I remember June 24th.
June 24

June 25
 
June 28

There are many absolutely agonizing decisions to be made when you fight for your child's life. The decision to let them die ranks up there in pain. Actually, the decision to let her die was easy---her body desperately needed to die. But the physical separation we knew would happen…that was the killer. Is it really time to start saying goodbye? Aiyaiyai. And it couldn't happen that she was spared more pain once that decision was made. I don't know in detail what cancer molecullarly does inside the body, but whatever it does, it is painful. I was hurt time and time again each time Abigail's strong--very strong--pain medication wasn't covering her pain. Every day was a day my faith in God was tested and purified. What an unwelcome finale to an unwanted journey.

June 30th; To help prepare the children, Aaron took them to see the casket Grandpa had made for Abigail.

I remember writing in Abigail's Carepage many comments such as "Thank you all so much for your prayers; they are sustaining us." Combined faith truly does bless lives. To this day I still cannot express my gratitude with adequate words for the love, prayers, fasting, and faith that was given on our behalf. I remember Elder Bednar's comment "Do you have the faith to not be healed?" Yes, faith. No wonder that it is one of the first principles of the gospel. 

Faith, for whatever comes.

Faith.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Happy Mortal Birthday, Abigail

Abigail, I love you! I miss you so much. This morning I have been remembering what your birth was like. We went in to Banner Gateway hospital in Gilbert and Dr. Tutt broke my water. He thought you were 2 weeks overdue, but you were really one 1 week late. And honestly not late at all. Babies come when they are ready, most of the time. But we jumpstarted your entry.

The labor was fairly straightforward. Contractions which I tried to handle with hypnobirthing. Margo Johnson was my doula and there for support and encouragement. I leaned on Daddy a lot. At the end it seemed like it was going on forever and I just couldn't handle more contractions like that--and then you were born shortly thereafter. The doctor wasn't there. I had been standing up leaning heavily on Daddy, who was sitting on my bed, but  with the intensity and strength of the pressure of the contraction, it drove me to my knee. Sounds a lot like life now...

We later joked that because he was the first one to hold you, you refused to let him hold and comfort you as a newborn. You were so very particular and demanded that I was the one and only one to comfort you as a baby. You were getting out all of your mortal demands early. :)

In about a month we will celebrate--if that's the right word--your other very important birthday. Your heavenly birthday. I wonder which one you celebrate more. They both are simultaneously so full of joy and pain for us. Nothing like a birthday to highlight your absence. Both birthdays.

We love you, Abigail. Thank you for keeping us forever.

Eternally in faith,
Mommy

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Reflections

I am in New York right now. Two days in Manhattan. My memories seem more vivid than the actuality of being here now.

A few of my dearest friends are here for cancer treatment, so naturally I came to see them. The last time I was here was July 2012 with Abigail for her last round of 3F8 monoclonal antibody therapy.

It has been a joy to see Brooke and her parents. I wish we would have met originally in a place other than the Ronald McDonald House of NYC, and I wish our visit now were somewhere other than that same place. But rather than wish for what didn't happen, I am grateful and honored to have met them and become friends. Forever friends.

Yesterday I sat in a little shop waiting for our afternoon get together. The cafĂ© wall where I sat was floor to ceiling glass and it wrapped around in front of me too. Because of the position of the sun, I could see three things very distinctly. I could see the street and sidewalk in front of me, through the glass. And I could see the  reflection of the people outside on the sidewalk behind me! And the third thing I could see was my own reflection staring back at me. It was like seeing the past, present, and future simultaneously.

The reflection of ‘what was behind me’ was truly almost as clear as what was in front of me. I could see colors and detail. But because my range of view was limited, I couldn't see it for long. People kept walking constantly and the scene kept changing. Similar to memories, some have barely faded but come and go quickly. For the painful ones, I am grateful they go quickly. I wish I could beg the happy memories to stay….linger….let me turn around and embrace you as I once did. But it's not possible.

My own reflection was distinct, but the most difficult to see. I wonder sometimes if I will be thoroughly and gratefully shocked to find in the next life just how MUCH I am being lifted and supported now. I don't doubt it. Sometimes we think we can see the present more clearly than we really can.

Finally, the view in front of me was most clear and unhindered. I think that's what Heaven was reminding me of—when we look forward with the Light He’s provided, the path is clear. I don't have to blaze a new trail. I haven't been trying to, thankfully! But it was a reminder that the basics of faith in Christ, hope, trust, love, obedience, and gratitude have always been and will always continue to be His way to peace.

I love His reminders.

I miss my bald-headed girl. I miss that she refused to sit in a forward-facing stroller because that was entirely too far away from me. I miss her laugh, her “mommy, I love you’s” and her eyes. The reflection of the past. I don't miss giving her 40-50 pills and drops of medication and supplements a DAY. I don't  miss the insane amount of doctor visits and hours spent waiting for things to happen. I don't miss the extreme pain she felt. She's gone and this is a reflection of my present. I look forward to learning what I'm supposed to learn now. I look forward to desperately trying to keep the purification in my life that her life and death instilled in me. I look forward, with intensity-filled tears on my cheeks, to no more tears. I look forward to the Law of Compensation and to one day holding Abigail again….not in NYC! I look forward to falling on my face in humility and gratitude for Christ’s love and sacrifice and for Heavenly Father’s great plan of redemption. This is my future. I know it.

Faith.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

April flowers, April pain


I don't remember experiencing these feelings last April. Probably because April 2014 was our first April here in Virginia, and the newness of actually having a Spring overshadowed emotions. Or possibly because it was a gift from heaven to be protected that month from these emotions.

But this year, April has been emotional. All of a sudden, the white daffodils popping up everywhere weren't just beautiful, they were reminders of a raw, poignant time with Abigail on her painful journey.

This picture was taken May 2, 2013, five months after her cancer relapsed and I knew she would die. She and I had flown to Michigan for her monthly scans. Unknown to us, this would be our last medical trip to Michigan. In fact, the flight back home to AZ would be her 33rd and final airplane flight. Her scan a few days before this picture showed new cancer all over; the radioactive isotope lit up the new cancer along her entire spine like a Christmas tree. It didn't surprise me, but was such unwelcome, unwanted, horrible news.

Pain medications--strong opioids--reduced the message getting to her brain that she was experiencing pain. And so we went for a little walk outside of the hospital. We found a small grassy area to enjoy, and just down the hill from the grass, were these beautiful flowers! Now, being from Arizona, these flowers were nothing short of amazing! Abigail sat in them so I could take her picture, being careful to keep her arms tucked in so the daffodil blades didn't poke her. She made these flowers look even more beautiful.

I didn't know then that because I took those pictures, daffodils would later be painful to look at.

A dear friend told me that the second year of grieving can be harder than the first. I find in many ways this is true, and in other ways, nothing ever compares to the first year. So it's fun all around!

Today marks 21 months without her.

Thankfully, with April also comes Easter and General Conference. There is nothing that compares to the peace Jesus brings into life. Even amidst heartache. They are not exclusive.
The clamor that reverberates across the earth because of worldly wickedness creates feelings of vulnerability. With modern communication the impact of iniquity, inequality, and injustice leaves many feeling that life is inherently unfair. As significant as these trials can be, they must not distract us from rejoicing in and celebrating Christ’s supernal intercession in our behalf. The Savior literally “gained the victory over death.” With mercy and compassion He took upon Himself our iniquity and transgressions, thus redeeming us and satisfying the demands of justice for all who would repent and believe on His name.
His magnificent atoning sacrifice is of transcendent significance beyond mortal comprehension. This act of grace provides the peace that surpasses understanding. The Lord is My Light
My heart overflows with gratitude at the same time that my pain vessels overflow from the wound of her physical separation. I love the eloquent words of Jeffrey R. Holland, who said,
So today we celebrate the gift of victory over every fall we have ever experienced, every sorrow we have ever known, every discouragement we have ever had, every fear we have ever faced—to say nothing of our resurrection from death and forgiveness for our sins. That victory is available to us because of events that transpired on a weekend precisely like this nearly two millennia ago in Jerusalem
That first Easter sequence of Atonement and Resurrection constitutes the most consequential moment, the most generous gift, the most excruciating pain, and the most majestic manifestation of pure love ever to be demonstrated in the history of this world. Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, suffered, died, and rose from death in order that He could, like lightning in a summer storm, grasp us as we fall, hold us with His might, and through our obedience to His commandments, lift us to eternal life.
Where Justice, Love, and Mercy Meet

To quote myself from "Abigail's Story" on her carepage:
Eternally grateful we are sealed together for eternity. The pain of physical separation is more immense than I ever imagined. We continue on, living each day with faith.

FAITH.