The Bigger Picture

It's hard to believe that in a month and a half, Zoe would have turned two years old.  It can't be!  How has that much time really passed since we welcomed our little angel into this world?  Being a parent took on a whole new meaning.  It wasn't about getting the hang of breast feeding and worrying about my postpartum body... it was about spending each and every possible moment with our child because it could easily be the last.  

About four months after Zoe died, we started attending the Dougy Center, a place for families and especially children dealing with the death of a loved one.  More on that was explained in this post.  It was so difficult at first but it was a relief to be around other grieving adults.  Londyn enjoyed it at first, but after a few months she said she didn't want to go back anymore.  I was concerned but with her sensitive little heart I didn't want to push it.  After about six months, just out of the blue... she asked to go back again.  We were put on a waiting list for a new opening in her age group and were able to go back to our first meeting on Thursday, February 13th.  It was extra special because this time Andrew came too.  Without hesitation, Londyn followed the kids and adult volunteers to the Little's group and Andrew and I went upstairs to the adult group.  Parents sit and have an open discussion about their loss and coping with grief.  In past group sessions I've attended, the other parents were grieving the loss of a spouse and only once was their another parent having lost a child.  With that being said, I couldn't relate as well to the other adults as I hadn't, nor do I ever want to understand that kind of loss.

This time was much different than I've ever experienced before.  A new couple was attending for the first time after losing their adoptive son to multiple congenital heart defects.  My heart ached for them as I could see the raw pain that this mother was enduring.  At one point someone asked how Londyn was doing.  I explained that she has been struggling for a while as she is continuously worrying about her loved ones dying.  I shared that some friends of ours recently lost their baby girl to a terminal illness and then our dear sweet pediatrician suddenly passed away in December with an aggressive cancer, which I shared in this post.  Just then, a man sitting several seats away from us spoke up and said "I think that was my wife."  I looked at him blankly for moment in shock.  All I could think to say was "what?"  He said "I think you are talking about my wife.  She was a pediatrician.  What was her name?"  I drew a blank because I still couldn't believe that this could really be happening.  I finally said, "Mindy Green."  His eyes lit when he said "that's my wife."  Tears welled up in my eyes as I sat there and told him how much we cherished his wife and how amazing she was with Londyn and I after losing Zoe.  I told him that Mindy and I always talked about getting our girls together as they are the same age.  It was beautiful and heartbreaking all at the same time to think that these girls were finally playing together downstairs in their group.  It was truly an act of God that our paths crossed and I know Mindy was smiling at the sight of our girls playing together at the Dougy Center.  After our group was over, he came up to me and said "I feel like I need to give you a hug."  Before we left he invited us to lunch at a nearby burger joint.  It was an amazing day.  

We visited Zoe's grave yesterday.  It had been a few weeks since we last visited.  I love seeing all of the red hearts and flowers that my mom and dad decorated before they left on their mission.  Londyn usually helps with the flowers and then runs off to explore the cemetery grounds.  This used to bother me because I unrealistically expected our young child to sit and talk about Zoe during our visit.  That's not what kids do.  Now when I see Lulu running and talking to herself, I like to think that she is playing with her sister.  This sweet thought always makes me smile.

Heavenly Father see's the bigger picture.  There are days when I wish I could just take a peek.  But how will I learn?  How will I grow?  In this life we are given opportunities to stretch ourselves and exercise our free agency to become the best version of ourselves.  These opportunities come when least expected and test us, pulling our faith in every direction.  Being Zoe's mother is the most painful blessing I will ever know.  The 9 months that I carried her and 4 1/2 months that we had her here on this earth presented so many miracles and tender mercies that give me the strength to endure.  I know that this sorrow is temporary and that one day the bigger picture will be revealed and all joy will be restored.  Families are forever.

THIS is my bigger picture.



Celebrating an early Gotcha Day the night before our favorite new missionaries left for Utah.  We've spent every Gotcha Day at this very Fuddruckers (except one year when I lived in Utah, my parents flew out and took my friends and I to Fuddruckers in Orem).

It only seems appropriate on the eve of my 28th Gotcha Day to blog about the amazing parents that my Heavenly Father chose for me on February 12th, 1987.

This would not have been the case several days ago as I was a blubbering idiot for the entire first week of their absence. It was pretty bad. I was falling apart over the littlest things. Being alone at night didn't help. I got teary over boiling zucchini in a specific pot, just because it reminded me of my dad.  I know. Seriously?!

I think they knew how bad I had it because they called every day last week. I couldn't even hear my dad's voice without turning into a puddle.  I have always joked about my separation anxiety since I couldn't even get through a sleepover as a youth without calling my dad in the middle of the night to come pick me up.  My parents have always pointed the finger at adoption and abandonment.  It doesn't help that these two have never given up on me. They have loved and cheered me on through the best and worst times. They adore Andrew and Londyn more than I could have ever imagined.  They just don't make it easy to let go.

Living in their house doesn't help the situation either. I grew up in this house from the age of 7 and it was just the three of us for most of those years. This week has been much easier thus far and I don't white knuckle my phone at the hint of a text from what could be my mom anymore. Although Skyping with them for the first time last night was pretty awesome!

Londyn has always been very close with my parents.  We have lived in the same house just 5 minutes away from them since the day she was born.  When Zoe was in the hospital, Londyn lived with them off and on for days.  There were times when I had no idea where, what or how she was doing but I always knew she was in good hands because I knew WHO she was with.  She was with the next best thing, my parents.  We rarely go more than two days without seeing Grandma and Grandpa, so this is a huge adjustment for her.  After losing Zoe, Londyn's greatest fears aren't monsters under her bed or being afraid of the dark like a typical 4 year old.  Her fears involve losing loved ones too soon.  As we've prepared her for months about Gma & Gpa's mission, she has repeatedly said "I am not going to miss them."  She frequently says this because saying "goodbye" or missing people makes her sad.  She has already asked me if Grandma and Grandpa are going to die and not come back.  It's so hard to know what to say when the shock of your child's curiosity takes your breath away.  I have learned to take a moment... breathe... say a small prayer and do the best I can in the moment.  The hardest part is that I can't give her any guarantees and our time with Zoe has taught us that very important life lesson.  My parents and especially my mom have always been so sensitive to Londyn's grief.  They were in the front lines with us before, during and after Zoe's journey and know what we went through.  Before she left my Mom hid little surprises around the house with poems to help Lulu find them.  She told Londyn that whenever she was missing her, she could open an envelope to find a special surprise and remember that Grandma loves her.  Needless to say all five surprises were found within the first week!  I couldn't believe that with all the madness and last minute preparation for their mission, my mom made the time to think about Lulu and how much she was going to miss her Grandma.

Family dinner after their mission farewell talks

The younger six grandkids went to John's Incredible Pizza and a sleepover with Gma & Gpa a week before they left for the MTC

My parents have always been a team of spiritual goodness but it's amazing to have a front row seat, watching them finally focus on themselves, simultaneously serving others. It's truly inspiring! 

You want to know what else is inspiring? If you know my mom and dad, the difficult part about serving this mission isn't treating patients in a foreign country and speaking a new language.  It's leaving their children and grandchildren for a year and a half. What a blessing it is to see my parents rely on their faith to go and do the Lord's work. There is nothing my parents could say that could prove their faith and love for our Savior Jesus Christ than this act alone.

My parents spent a few days with my awesome in-laws in Payson before heading into the MTC.  My mom and mom-in-law Brendi are trouble!

Provo Temple and checking in to the MTC

At Sam Hawk (my favorite Korean restaurant) in Provo after their first week in the MTC