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".

Monday, March 31, 2014

Pain and Peace

Most nights I fall asleep because I'm tired and eager to put my mind 'to sleep.' Last night I cried myself to sleep, fiercely missing my little girl and wishing to hold her once more.

This morning when I woke up, she was first on my mind again. But I was blessed to have a more peaceful feeling. I could imagine Abigail telling me "I don't want to be there." And it reminded me of "she wasn't supposed to stay," a feeling I had last October that resulted in a poem. If she wasn't supposed to stay here, and she wouldn't want to be here now, who am I to argue?! The tricky business becomes merging the two concepts together: happiness that she is healed, that she is happy, and that she is where she's supposed to be, with how hard it is to live without her physically. Both are very strong. But faith is stronger. I know that His ways are higher than our ways.

Elder Sterling W. Sill said, "...the most important event in life is death. We live to die and then we die to live. Death is a kind of graduation day for life. It is our only means of entrance to our eternal lives. And it seems to me to be a very helpful procedure to spend a little time pre-living our death. That is, what kind of person would you like to be when the last hour of your life arrives?"

Another author has written described it as two births in this way:

When God sends forth a tiny soul
To learn the ways of earth,
A mother's love is waiting here--
We call this wonder -- birth.

When God calls home a tired soul
And stills a fleeting breath,
A Father's love is waiting there
This too is birth -- not death.

Author Unknown

Truly, I am happy for Abigial. She will never die again. Because of Christ, she is happy, joyful, and at peace. She is busy serving others and learning all she can. I'd better follow suit.

Destiny
by Annabeth Goss

She wasn't supposed to stay.
She'd finished her mortal mission...
Ah, but 4-years-old is so young.
No one expects their baby to get
stage-4 cancer.
Cancer, I don't hate you.
You are ugly, vicious, destructive, and
lengthy.
But she could have died by water, or food, or gun, or car...
Cancer, you were a trial custom-tailored for me
Custom-made to a razor-sharp point.
But you were just a tool
to teach us lessons we couldn't have learned elsewhere
And a tool to get her Home.
Abigail beat you, cancer. You did not win.

Abigail, my dear precious love,
I honor and revere you.
You could have and maybe should have died
much sooner
but you chose to stay for us as long as you could.
Thank you for staying, for suffering,
and suffer you did...
So that we could learn our lessons deeply.
I cannot wait
To hold you again
And let you play with my hair.
Thank you for teaching me about love and God.

Heavenly Father,
All glory goes to You.
I know Abigail is in Your light and love.
My heart overflows
with gratitude
that You still speak to mankind;
That modern-day, living prophets receive revelation
even about
death
and
child death
and
the world of spirits here on this earth.
That anyone can learn of Your plan,
And the purpose
Behind such sorrow.
And with that knowledge comes peace.

Peace, how I cling to you.
It is gut-wrenching
and heart-breaking
and soul-purifying
and faith-refining
to know
that
she wasn't supposed to stay.

FAITH.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Abigail as a Baby

I'm still unpacking a few boxes from our move. Today it was my old journals. I opened one from 2009 and read about Abigail. Here are some excerpts:

Sunday, June 14, 2009
Abigail has been a very good girl today. She is 2 days old. I love our baby. She is beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. The kids (especially E and M) can NOT get enough of her. They are constantly asking to hold her.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Abigail is precious. It's still kind of surreal to me to have a 5th child. She's so new, that it hasn't quite sunk in, I guess. Sometimes I blank on what her name is! Abigail doesn't like Daddy trying to calm her in the middle of the night. Last night he said she threw a major tantrum because he wasn't me.

Thursday, June 18, 2009
Well, Abigail is whining because I'm not holding her, but I wanted to write in my journal before bed. Ha ha, what is bed?

Sunday, June 21, 2009
I am so tired. Aaron and the kids are at church right now. I haven't done a stitch of anything toward a nice Father's Day. I'm feeling kind of emotional, and I'm sure it's just because I'm tired. I don't know if I mentioned this or not, but she REALLY knows the difference between Aaron and I. She throws little crying fits when she's tired and he's holding her. But she calms right down for me. So, I'm in high demand, haha. She's crying now, gotta go.

Sunday, June 28, 2009
Abigail is absolutely precious. She loves me!! I am so glad that I have the capability to calm and soothe her, because it would be miserable if I couldn't. Poor Aaron--Abigail doesn't calm down for him, so it's not easy for him.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009
I slept 20 minutes at 11 pm, one hour from 2:30-3:30 am, and then 3 hours from 5-8 am. All the rest of the night I spent nursing her, endlessly burping her, putting her back to sleep over and over again and being awake with her. It was a very rough night. Aaron had her for the hour I slept, but even when he has her I can't sleep well, because I can hear her crying. This morning I just cried. I sat in the rocking chair holding her and just cried. I think to myself, 2 more weeks. 2 more weeks and I will feel better with her age and getting her more on a schedule."

Which we did. For her one-month mark she slept 5 hours, and it got semi-better from there. :)

If I kept reading, I'm sure I would find many, many more entries like that. Keeping in mind that I'd already had 4 children and knew enough about typical "Mommy's girl" or "Daddy's girl," Abigail's attachment to me was extreme. Aaron could calm our other kids, even when they preferred me. Not her. And although these entries come from only the first 2 weeks of her life, her attachment continued.

How grateful I am for the love we shared then and share now. How grateful I am she showed me from (at least) Day 4 of her life how much I meant to her. I love you, Abigail. How little I knew then that sleepless nights at home were a joyous thing compared to sleepless nights in a cold hospital with constant beeping machines and wires and tubes and interruptions for "vitals" and tears of pain. Perspective...

Going through the box, I found a funeral program from another family who lost their daughter. On the back was this poem....I kept the program just for this poem, and this happened all before Abigail was even born.

"A Child Lent by God"
Author Unknown

I'll lend you for a little while
A child of mine, He said.
For you to love the while she lives,
And mourn when she is dead.
It may be six or seven years,
Or twenty-two or three,
But will you, till I call her back,
Take care of her for me?

She'll bring her charms to gladden you,
And shall her stay be brief,
You'll have her lovely memories
For solace in your grief.

I cannot promise she will stay
Since all from earth return,
But there are lessons taught down there
I want this child to learn.

I've looked the wide world over
In my search for teachers true,
And from the throng that crowd life's loves
I have selected you.
Now will you give her all your love,
Nor think the labor vain,
Nor hate me when I come to call
To take her back again?

I fancied that I heard them say
Dear Lord, Thy will be done.
For all the joy thy children bring
The risk of grief we'll run.
We'll shelter her with tenderness,
We'll love her while we may,
And for happiness we've known
Forever grateful stay.

And shall the angels call for her
Much sooner than we've planned,
We'll brave the bitter grief that comes,
And try to understand."

Faith.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Not much to say

You are so kind to keep coming back and reading Abigail's carepage. Usually I try to say something productive.

Last night I felt the pressure building up and realized I needed my therapeutic outlet of writing here, but I don't really have anything to say, except to once again share what is becoming one of my favorite scriptures.

Revelation 21: 3-4
"And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
"And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away."

(This is why I chose WipeAwayAllTears.blogspot.com.)

That is such a tender thought! I see such gentleness radiated from God in those verses.

Until then, it is my responsibility to help wipe away tears from others, to help with their pain, to help bear their burdens. There is no shortage of that in this life.

Thankfully He gives us the strength to carry on, and to help others along the way.

Faith.

My tutorial: Faith and Grief

(Originally Posted Oct 12, 2013) 
 
Thoughts have been tumbling around in my head for some time now. Even now, I still don't know how to put them into words very well. This may be a longer-than-normal post, but I will try to make it clear and concise.
I want to write my thoughts, to show to myself that what I am feeling is not only okay, but it is right. I also want to write them in hopes that it may help anyone else through whatever grief they are experiencing. And finally, I want to write them to help educate others who may think grief can and should be overcome by faith....like I used to think.

For me, the reason for my grief is obvious. My 4-year-old daughter was very sick and died. For others, it may not be so obvious. But I think---and I don't have anything to back this up---but I think that anyone who is going through adversity, or trials, or a "hardship" in life, is also going through grief. They are grieving, and I think when it's realized, there is more compassion for themselves and for others.

For "trials", we know we need to endure well and to keep forging ahead and to be positive, etc. etc. etc. And when it's obvious that someone like me is going through "grief", those same concepts apply, but with a heavy dose of 'walk softly, speak kindly, give extra love and compassion.' That is pretty-much universally recognized for grief, but not so much for trials. And since I think those who have trials are ALSO experiencing grief of some sort, those 'extra' concepts should also be applied.

On now to how faith plays into all of this, for ANYONE who is grieving. I won't write how I used to feel, because honestly I can't exactly remember. :)

But some of the questions I've had are "Why do I hurt so much, when I clearly know everything will be alright? Why doesn't my testimony and my faith overcome this sorrow?" Now I need to say right here, that I am not in continual hurt. We are very, very blessed in our lives. There is SO MUCH GOOD around us. Abigail's life and being our daughter is a blessing beyond measure. At this point, we have many good days. But it is on the days that seem unbearable that I search for answers, and sometimes I just need the same answer over and over. And so, if you are grieving--in any manner--, I hope the following will be of some help to you.

 Book Quotes
I highly recommend the book "The Birth We Call Death" for those grieving a death. But in order to keep this post on track, I will focus on the sorrow/faith aspect.

In the beginning of the book, a new widow says to the author, "Don't try to fight the sorrow you feel. The only way to take sorrow out of death is to take love out of life." (I would even add, The only way to take sorrow out of LIFE, is to take love out of life.)

"Thou shalt live together in love, insomuch that thou shalt weep for the loss of them that die..." Doctrine and Covenants 42:45

This author, like myself, had thought to combat sorrow, to somehow overcome it with faith in God's wisdom and in the hereafter. But as he searched, and as I have searched, a great truth is found; "...that real comfort was in the combination of sorrow and faith; that these two qualities were not mutually exclusive but compatible."

Henry Ward Beecher said, "There are many trials in life which do not seem to come from unwisdom or folly; they are silver arrows shot from the bow of God, and fixed inextricably in the quivering heart--they are meant to be borne--they were not meant, like snow or water, to melt as soon as they strike; but the moment an ill can be patiently borne it is disarmed of its poison, though not of its pain."

President Monson's comments
As I sat in the Conference Center on Sunday, October 6, 2013, and listened to our prophet speak, my soul was touched again with the power of grief. Last May, his wife of almost 65 years passed away. He said, "To say that I miss her does not begin to convey the depth of my feelings." The prophet of God grieves. I cannot imagine anyone on earth who has more faith than does he, and yet he grieves. It is natural, it is right.

"From the bed of pain, from the pillow wet with tears, we are lifted heavenward by that divine assurance and precious promise: 'I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.' Such comfort is priceless." (Joshua 1:5)

I believe his talk will be a "classic" in my life and one I refer to often. I could cut and paste his entire talk right here, but I will only share one paragraph before moving on:

"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." President Thomas S. Monson

And that leads perfectly into my next aspect of the grief/faith concept:

Weakness turned to Strength
In the Book of Mormon, the Lord says, "I give unto men weakness that they may be humble, and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them." Ether 12:27

I'm not sure if I would classify grief as a weakness, but it can sure feel like it. I think it can be if we let it become so. But what I see here, is that it can become a strength! Notice: not taken away, not eliminated, but changed. My sorrow can be a strength to me to remind me to be merciful, compassionate, to rely heavily on God. Sorrow can be a strength to renew my dedication to live righteously, even as I cry in pain. Through humility and faith in Jesus Christ, my sorrow (just as love) won't be overcome, but it will become. Become a strength.

God recognizes heartache and grief
Finally, I'd like to share something that was powerful to me. In the book of Revelation, John had a vision. (Awesome, right?!) He saw a new heaven and a new earth! He saw the new Jerusalem, and he heard a great voice saying that God will dwell with them! And right here--look at it's placement---as soon as God is on this new earth and we are his people, what does he do? Does he preach new doctrine? Does he prophesy? Out of all the things God could do, this is what John sees:

3. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
And here it is...4. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are passed away.

And then the scriptures continue with more goodness. But there! God knows how much sorrow is on this earth--I never doubted that He knew, but I was surprised at how much our suffering means to Him. He knows what His children are experiencing. And it is for our good, so we can BECOME like Him.

And so, as I said at the beginning, why can't faith overcome grief? I think that is, as Abigail would say, "da wrong words." I think it is better worded 'faith enables grief to make our faith stronger.' Why should we shun that which will purify us? Grief is hard, it is oh, so hard, but it is necessary and good.

Having a daughter die at 4-years-old from a nasty cancer may not be universal (thankfully), but sorrow is universal. And thus, so is grief. So be kind, to others, and to myself. Watch, and pray always, so that Satan doesn't manipulate my grief and drag me down into misery from which I feel I can't escape. Look to Him, the giver of peace and hope, and give gratitude for the goodness which surely exists in my life. And when pain strikes with fierceness and feels to drown me, hold on. Hold on to those who love me, on both sides of the veil; hold on to the faith I do have; hold on to the sweet and tender promises from the Lord; hold on to hope.
There is always hope.

And faith.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Eight Months....late

For two months in a row now, I haven't been 'captive' to the 15th of each month. I thought about the anniversary a few days before it happened, and on the day after. "Dat's good." It reminds me of the first Monday that I lived through where I didn't count "Today is the 11th week...or 24th week..." or whatever week it was. Time helps. It's not adequate on it's own, not by a long shot. But it helps. I am grateful for anything that helps; I'm grateful for time.

In a couple weeks we get to listen to the prophets of the Lord teach us and enlighten us. I love general conference. I am almost done reading the conference from last October, and want to share a quote from Elder Russell M. Nelson.

"The aging process is also a gift from God, as is death. The eventual death of your mortal body is essential to God's great plan of happiness. Why? Because death will allow your spirit to return home to Him. From an eternal perspective, death is only premature for those who are not prepared to meet God."

Everyday I pray to keep an eternal perspective. Getting mired down in the thick of thin things is not at all conducive to an eternal perspective, and yet every day we have to deal with thin things. But I have found that keeping my eyes on my eventual goal helps me recognize what is thin and what is important.

"It is a great source of spiritual power to live lives of integrity and righteousness and to keep our eyes on where we want to be in the eternities. Even if we can see this divine destination only with the eye of faith, it will help us to stay the course." (Pres. Dieter F. Uchtdorf)

Eight months is nothing. And yet it has been oh, so long. And it will continue to be oh, so long. And yet eternally, not long at all. Perspective.

"Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints." Psalm 116:15. For saints, death is a homecoming. A welcome home. A party, I'm sure.

Faith.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Happiness......

I am going to attempt the impossible: clearly describe my unclear feelings. :) Many of you continue to read because you know us personally; there are also a good portion of you that probably read Abigail's CarePage to get a glimpse into the mind of how one mother feels and copes after the death of her child.

To maintain the honesty that I've always tried to write with, I'll tell you that I'm a mess. The good news is, I could always be worse. So I guess I'm a semi-mess. We're approaching the 8-month mark, and I think the shock has about worn off. So I think my feelings are fine, they're natural, and I'm not going to freak out about them. I know I won't always feel like this. But it has hurt a lot lately.

Remember my description about "me" being a blue sphere? I have more to add to that analogy. I've learned that the painful scoop out of me isn't the only red, aching part. There is a network of red threads that circumference my entire blue-ness, like the elaborate blood vessel system in the body. I can be happy and in pain, all at once. That's messy.

Why does it hurt so bad? Is this what the first year is supposed to be like? Well then, I suppose I'm doing okay. I've heard the second year is worse. But I guess I should explain....it's not just thinking of her being gone that hurts. LIFE hurts. There is a pain always inside, sometimes deep, sometimes just right under the skin. I'll smile, but I hurt. I understand the Plan of Salvation and I am so grateful for it; and I hurt. As President Monson said, "From the bed of pain, from the pillow wet with tears, we are lifted heavenward by that divine assurance and precious promise: “I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” Such comfort is priceless."

I told Aaron that it's ironic to me that often times (read: not always) the people who go through life and death situations understand a little deeper about the importance of appreciating the moments, of living the days to the fullest, and yet the pain they have to go through is almost in direct opposition to being able to do that. It is a challenge, and one that can bring guilt if you let it. Yet another challenge!

I have been thinking.....

Someday, I want to be happy again.

Oh, I'm "happy" now. There is so much to be grateful and happy about. We laugh with our kids and have joy in our hearts as they are growing up righteously. We love to serve others and bring happiness to them. Life is good.

But the other day I realized that because someone so close and dear and an actual part of me is gone, I could technically go through the rest of my entire mortality thinking that my happiness won't ever be complete here on earth.

And I don't believe that. I don't want to believe that. So I've been thinking about it. The thought that came to me this morning is that someday--years from now, in all honesty--this won't hurt so much. Today I'm using happiness and joy and peace interchangeably. I know there are differences, but it's the big picture I'm talking about.

Originally I thought that someday a little statue of me that is sitting now on the "pain" side of a scale, will one day move over to the other side of the scale where "peace" resides. And then I realized how silly that is. That's just the line graph all over again.

More accurately, my life is represented by a coin. One, solid piece. On one side is pain and sorrow and tears, and on the other side is happiness and joy and peace. But my coin doesn't just lay flat on the table; rather, it's in a perpetual state of motion. Right now, the "pain side" is predominantly on top, and occasionally as it rotates (like it would coming out of a "spin") the sides come up and let a little happiness slip out from underneath.

Someday, the happiness side will be on top and only small amounts of pain will slip out occasionally. But they are both always there.

How long will this process take for the coin to flip over? I don't know. Years, likely. Will it be an easy transition? Likely not. And how does it work, this process of having joy dominate in my life? Only through the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I cannot do it myself. The mortal woman in me would choose to grieve over Abigail indefinitely. But He has so much more planned for me, if I will work with Him. I think this is what He means by bearing our pains (that come from no fault of our own). It's not an immediate event. And for growth purposes, I don't think he takes away *all* the pain. But eventually, He can turn it into joy.

President Henry B. Eyring recently spoke on the miracle of a husband and wife becoming unified. Although I'm not discussing marriage here, the concept spoke volumes to me: "The miracle of becoming one requires the help of heaven, and it takes time."

Miracles require the help of heaven, and take time. Pain turning to joy will be a miracle.

And so I will keep on doing the things that I know I should be doing:
I will keep smiling.
I will keep serving others with full purpose of heart.
I will keep praying and studying my scriptures and fasting.
I will try to sing more.
I will keep working on being ever more grateful, knowing that I can become a better instrument for Him by enduring well.
I will keep serving others. I will try to write less "I"s in my updates, haha.

And I will look forward to the day when the joy is more than the pain, knowing that it will take a miracle and "the help of heaven and time." What a wonderful thing to look forward to!!!!!

"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." (President Thomas S. Monson, Ensign, November 2013)

Amidst all the emotions I may have going through me, this principle remains firm:

Faith.
Hello! If you'd like to know more about Abigail's story, you can find it on www.carepages.com and you need to search "familiesforever" without a space (make sure auto-correct doesn't put one in automatically).

From this date on, the information here will be the same as on CarePages; but there is a lot of history over there.

As always,
Faith.