Saturday, February 7, 2009

Mom Remembered


Today marks eight years since my mother died. I have been asked to speak in Young Women's tomorrow about experiences I have had which made me draw closer to my Heavenly Father and I felt VERY strongly to share the story of my mom. I am not one to share my deep personal feelings but after writing my talk I realized I never wrote my experience in a journal and that I needed to. Don't feel obligated to read it, but if you do, I hope it touches you somehow. We all have pain in this life, but through that pain we find joy. Here goes.....

After knowing each other just a couple of months, Mike and I were engaged. I picked out a dress, we had pictures taken, and set the date for March 10th, 2001. We went about our lives, working, going to school, sharing our joyous plans with friends and family. One day, while meeting at my car at the U for a quick “hello” between classes one September afternoon, I suddenly had a very deep, strong burning in my heart. I told Mike I felt we should move up the Wedding date. Being a man, he had NO problem with that. He even suggested we get married in October. We told our families and in the beginning they were hesitant. My mom thought it was because we were spending too much time alone together. ;) We moved the photographer, the Temple, and all other arrangements to January 3rd. I didn’t know why I felt this need to move up the Wedding- especially because I hate snow and cold and the last thing I wanted was a winter wedding. But, I felt at peace about my decision and knew it was the right thing to do.

That November, my mother was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. From the day of her diagnosis she went downhill very quickly. Rather than shop for bridesmaid dresses with her daughter, my mother went to chemotherapy and took medicine that made her ill. My mom never let on that she was sick. She hid it from friends and neighbors for as long as she could. She went on taking care of her family, upholding her church responsibilities and trying to appear happy. No matter how sick doctors told her she was, she kept up the hope that she would overcome her illness.

Mike and I were married as planned in January. It was a beautiful winter day at the Bountiful Temple and I remember as I was in the ceiling room thinking “this must be what heaven is like”. Our family and friends all joined together celebrating and smiling. We had the luncheon and the reception and it was simply a perfect day. My mom was by my side and got to have all her closest friends see her looking radiant and proud.

One month later, on February 7th, I was by her side as she left this life. It was one of the most spiritual experiences I have ever had. It was strangely beautiful and peaceful. I felt surrounded by love and I knew we were not alone. The next few days I was carried by the Lord. I never thought that soon after I had planned the happiest day of my life I would be planning a funeral for my mother. I was afforded great strength and was even able to sing at her funeral. At the grave site I remember turning to two of my best girlfriends and saying, “is it weird that I feel happy?” I wasn’t happy that my mom was gone, but I knew she was okay and that I would be okay. I knew this because I have a testimony. I know I will be with her again. What a comfort it is to have the knowledge of an eternal family.

At her viewing a man came up to me and introduced himself as our new Bishop. Mike and I had only been married for a few weeks and had spent our Sundays taking the sacrament in the hospital with my mother. I still don’t know how he knew about my mother’s passing. That night there were cupcakes on our front steps from my new visiting teachers. I felt such an overwhelming sense of love and comfort. The Lord had touched me through the kindness of a bishop and sisters I had never before met. You never know the meaning of even the smallest gestures we make to someone in need. The memory of those cupcakes on my porch still fills me with love.

It has been exactly eight years since my mother died and I still miss her. I am so grateful that I was able to know her for 20 years, that I was able to learn from her example and that the Lord prompted me to move up our wedding date. If we had waited until March my mother wouldn’t have been there to help my put on my white dress and watch her daughter married in the Temple. I am grateful that I was living the Gospel so that I could hear the promptings of the spirit telling me to move up the date. I am grateful I heeded to the promptings because I am stubborn and most often do things my own way. No matter how sad I feel and how much I miss her, I am grateful the Lord waited a month to call her home.

At the cemetery visiting Grandma with Mike and Melody. I am sad my mom will never know my children in this life and that I cannot lean on her for advice. I KNOW I will see her again and I KNOW she is near. I have felt her presence and know she watches over my babies. I think she also gave them pointers in heaven as to how to drive me insane. Some of the things they do are a little too similar to things I did in my childhood.....




Okay, so I just read through to look for typos and realized when I said we met for a quick "hello" it sounds like we met for a booty call. I will have to revise it for my talk but I will leave it for y'all to imagine any way you choose. ;)

17 comments:

Lamb Fam said...

This was so sweet, Leesa. You have amazing strength and I know so many people out there rely on that.
I can't imagine what it must be like going through life without your mom. Something I take for granted.
Thankyou for sharing this... and thanks for being such a great friend!
*Good luck on your talk!

Nik said...

wow...

JLang said...

What a beautiful tribute to your mom, and a great way to begin my Sabbath.

My daughter's mother-in-law died of breast cancer nine months ago. She was in our Stake, and yesterday as I attended a Stake RS event I remembered that she was always at every Stake event, regardless of how she was feeling. Bald, wearing a scarf or hat, whatever, she was always there. I felt there was a huge hole in that meeting because she was missing.

Thank you for sharing your testimony. I'm sure the YW will feel your strength and spirit.

Brady + Marsha said...

Thank you so much for sharing that Leesa. I am so grateful that you were living your life in a way that you could hear the promptings of the spirit. I'm so glad that your mom got to see you married. What a special day that must have been. Thanks again for today.

Carrie said...

Thanks for sharing your testimony today. I enjoyed learning more about you and feeling the Spirit while you talked of your experiences.

Lady of Perpetual Chaos said...

Beautiful

Teresa Stevenson said...

I love and miss you Mom greatly. I have very fond memories of Pam and she will always hold a special place in my heart. Sorry I missed the day. I didn't send the card before I left for Vegas. I guess I had Vegas and Zoe getting the Croup on my mind. Love and miss you.

Amber Burt said...

I can't believe it has been eight years. I too think that we take loved ones in our life for granted. I am so glad that your mom was able to be there for your very special day. I remember how she looked at your reception. Even though the sickness had taken hold, you could tell that she was just so grateful to be there for her daughters wedding.
Thank you for sharing your memories.

Charity said...

I have always wanted to write something like this for my mom but it is soooo hard to do it. You are such an amazing person and a wonderful mom, i know your mom is so proud of you! I love u lees!!

Chandie said...

That was so sweet Leesa. You have amazing strength. Knowing you - I know your mom must have been an amazing woman. She raised you to be so strong and confident and beautiful inside and out. I'm glad you shared your story.

kristi and family said...

you are so sweet.... i love your strength.... you are amazing....

Brandt & Kriste said...

You are an amazing person. What a trial you have had to deal with in your life. You have handled it so well and are so lucky to have such a wonderful family. Your mom is so proud and what a joy it will be for everyone to unite again.

The Bollinger Family said...

In part of my talk I discussed the importance of having great women with whom you can rely on for strength and support. I know I am blessed to have all of you ladies and I appreciate all of your comments. It was a difficult weekend but I never feel alone because my chicas never fail me. LOVE YOU ALL!
MMMMWWWWWWWOOOOOOOCHCHCHCH.(KISS)

kanaboke said...

thank you so much for sharing something so special and sacred to you! You will touch those Young Women in ways you may never know...you are amazing!

Trish the Dish said...

I'm holding Livi and reading that just put me over the edge. You are so strong. Thank you for sharing your story and reminding me how special the relationship is between a mother and daughter.

Patti said...

Thank you for sharing... It was a beautiful tribute.

Anonymous said...

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Cheers
Christian, iwspo.net