Preslee died and grief consumed me. It hijacked my thoughts, emotions, and almost every aspect of my life. That first year following her death, I found myself in a dark place and the grief was unbearable. Then our sweet Ledger was born and he brought sunshine back into our lives. I learned very quickly that my grief had entailed two separate things that I had lumped into one. I had not only been grieving the death of my daughter, but I was also grieving the actions of being a mom. Ledger’s birth instantly softened my grief and he lightened my heavy load.
July 2011- Ledger
Five years have passed since Ledger’s arrival, and though each year the intensity of grief seems to soften with time, anniversaries, major holidays, and birthdays always tend to open the door and grief comes rushing back in at full force. Until recently, I assumed this is how grief works, and it will continue at this intensity for the rest of my life.
This past December, we celebrated Preslee’s 8th Birthday. Yes, her 8th. It’s a little hard to believe, isn’t it? We planned our annual trip to Temple Square and as I was looking at the Temple surrounded by twinkling Christmas lights, I realized something was different this year. Though I drastically missed our little girl, and tears had come earlier that day, something was different, my grief was reasonably lighter. Recognizing my piano must have shifted again, (Read piano explanation here) I knew there was more to it. I could feel it. As I walked down the sidewalk looking at the millions of lights, I looked down at the stroller I was pushing, and at my one month old bundled up in it. That’s when it dawned on me, the difference was Oaklee.
Instead of grieving over every little detail of Preslee’s Birthday, wondering what it would be like to celebrate with girly decorations, or what an eight year old little girl’s Birthday party would be like, I realized one day I’ll be able to experience it, with Oaklee.
Standing there in the middle of hundreds of people at Temple Square, I realized I’ve been grieving two different things, Preslee’s death, and raising a daughter. As I stared at Oaklee, I realized my load was lighter, and it was freeing. Without worrying about every little detail related to raising a girl, I could now can solely focus on missing Preslee, which makes my grief seem a little more sacred and not so overwhelming.
Though Oaklee will never take Preslee’s place, I’m extremely grateful for Oaklee’s arrival and the future that lies ahead of us. Because of her, dance classes, girls nights, and buying a baptism dress are now in reach, and it’s nearly impossible to convey what that means.
Once again, I’m thankful for an infant who has softened my grief and lightened my heavy load. For a loving Heavenly father who has trusted me to be a mom to five special kids. They have and will continue to do far more for Pat and I, than we will ever do for them.