Thursday, August 25, 2011

Things you did

Dear Mikkie,

The other day we were watching your cute little cousin over here. I think about you a lot when I see her. Maybe because, first of all she was born 2 days after you died. I don't think I was able to show my proper excitement because of my grief. It was special to me though because she is my sister's baby, and I know that you and her were able to see each other right before she came to Earth. When she pointed at your pictures, I knew that she knows you and that she remembers. Darn it all, if only she could talk!! I'm highly convinced that babies can't talk for a reason. They would tell us everything. By the time they can talk, it's all faded from their memories. That's my honest opinion anyways.
You had this cute little car that you would ride on and push. I leave it out in the toy room, but I don't let Faith's friends play with it, because it's too special to me. Kelsey was drawn to it and wanted me to carry it downstairs for her while Faith rode on her toy car. As I saw her push it around and play on it, I saw you. It made me smile, it made me cry. I knew I hadn't gotten a picture of you playing on it, which still makes me so mad. So I took one of her on it.

Remember how mischievous you were? Cute, but mischievous. :) You would always get into our pantry, get into the bucket of oats and throw it all over the floor. I feel silly for getting upset about it then. If I wasn't so focused on acting so stupid, I could've gotten a picture of you doing it. Another thing chalked up to regret. Well, Kelsey did the same thing. Too funny. She was too quick for me to get her picture, but I did get one of the mess.

It instantly made me smile and laugh. This little girl was a non-stop reminder to me of the things you used to do. I loved it! Made me feel like those times actually did happen and I'm not just dreaming the whole thing up.
I'm thinking you put her up to all of this. :) If you did, thank you! I love these sweet little reminders of you. It hurts a little, but the happiness exceeds it. I don't mind the pain, it makes it feel more real because I'm missing something I remember and that I truly cherish.

I love my sweet, sweet Mikayla! You are indeed in my thoughts, my hopes, my dreams.

Love me always,


Being real

Sweet Mikkie,

I had a good experience on Sunday. A friend came up to tell me how they saw the thing I wrote about Forgiveness Day. She started crying saying how hard it is and began explaining how she felt. I told her that it's not something that just happens overnight, it takes time. She kept crying saying she doesn't have any friends to talk to about it and we just stood there hugging. It was a touching example to me. An example of the power of caring, listening, taking time for others, of being real with someone. Let me explain by what I mean by that.

For a while now it has really bugged me how the phrase "how are you?" seems so meaningless. I wonder why sometimes the only thing I can think of to say is 'how are you?' and question the sincerity of the question as someone says it in passing, not waiting for the answer. It's just been something that's always been eating at me. Until last week when daddy and I went to listen to a local speaker who is very knowledgeable in relationships. He gave some examples of some personal experiences at funerals, which hit home with me as he was talking, although I couldn't believe some of the things that he heard. An example of being real he gave was people would come in the line, asking how they were doing, when it's obvious that they had just lost a loved one so they're not doing all that dandy. When another person, instead of asking how they are doing because it was apparent they were grieving, stated, "I can't believe how you must feel" or "You seem so strong". One simply said they didn't know what to say to which the father stated "there's nothing to say" and they all just hugged and cried together.
Another example of being real is some people were asking what they could do to help and to let them know if they need anything. A lady back in the line was being real and took notice that the family was parched; she ran to get some cups, filled them with water and took it to them stating, "you look like you could use a drink".

Back to my experience, I realized I could've just asked my friend how she was, like most times, going : "how are you?" "good. how are you?" "good." It just seems so artificial to me. Instead of asking that question, I thanked her for her kind comment, leading to the rest of the story. It just hit me, when that happened, thoughts of what I learned a few days prior flooding my mind, I need to be real with people. I then told myself I'm not going to ask that question unless I really want to know and am going to stick around to listen, otherwise it has just as much meaning as not saying anything. I still wondered why I say it. It's a habit, I think, for people to ask. We don't want to be rude and not say anything but can't think of anything else to say, so the backup question is that. Some I talk with agree and say we're trying to fill gaps so there's no "awkward pauses" when really silent pauses are ok! A simple smile, hug or "Hi!" will suffice in most circumstances. I don't know if anyone besides me has felt like most the time people expect you to answer with "good". Obviously there are times where things shouldn't be shared, but I think more times than not we all just need someone who cares and will take time to listen.

Just something that's been on my mind. I've had lots of time to think about it. :)

I don't know if it's because my body is recuperating from the overwhelming emotional day on the 14th, but this past week has felt so surreal to me. It's so weird, it's the best I can explain it. Besides yesterday, I've felt little to no emotion since then. Maybe one of our bodies coping mechanisms? This happens off and on. Weirdest feeling.

Well, I sure love you sweet girl of mine.


Monday, August 15, 2011

One year mark, in pictures

On our way to church, we saw this beautiful view over the lake; the rays of sunshine beaming through the dark clouds. I loved it.
Faith said, "Mikkie come!"
"Jesus come get Mikkie!"
I wasn't sure exactly what she was talking about, but it made me feel happy cuz she related it with you. :) Isn't it beautiful!
Your headstone, fit for the sweet angel you are!
Your loving sister who loves to visit your grave and bring you flowers!
White balloon tradition for national "Forgiveness Day"
Thanks to Lisa, we have these pictures of the balloons! My camera died (just like on your birthday...sigh, but by the time it was butterfly and bubbles time, I remembered my iPod :)
Ready for take off......
Up, up and away! Awesome, huh! Did you get all 25 of them? :)

Bubble time!

Faith loved the butterflies the most. I could just see you trying to pick them up by their wings and giggling. :)

Forever Family!

One year mark, in words

My dear Mikkie,

We made it through! Thanks to the incredible amount of love and support from everyone, and being blessed with strength from Heavenly Father, we made it through the day, the week, the whole year!
As much as I wanted to fast forward time, I'm glad I couldn't because yesterday was necessary. It was very emotionally exhausting, yes, but therapeutic also. I was glad to have that time dedicated to honoring your memory. Wouldn't say it was a good or fun time, but it was a beautiful experience.

One year ago:
Woke up quickly, started getting ready while daddy got you and Faith up. In the bathroom mirror I see two pairs of blue eyes smiling at me, I turn around and smile at you and Faith. You come running up to me giving me that Mikkie hug I love and miss so much. That's as far as I dare bring up to memory, but I do remember that was the last hug I gave to you alive.

One year mark, yesterday:
The night before, Faith was sleeping on our floor, I came in to go to bed and when I saw her I knelt down by her, stroking her face and hair, while whispering to her how very much I love her and how beautiful she is and how much she reminds me of you, Mikkie. I soaked in that moment of peace and sweetness. I gave her a tender kiss on the cheek and reluctantly went to bed with thoughts of my sweet angel girls in mind. I woke up slowly just laying there in bed remembering what day it is. I saw Faith still on our floor and that's when the tears first came that day. We were so exhausted from the day before, so we slept in. I had the thought that it's ok if I stayed home because of how yucky I felt inside and out, and I know that people would've understood, but I would've rather been at church bawling with loving and supportive friends than staying home grieving alone. I couldn't justify not going to church, so I finally got up and started getting ready. I heard Faith wake up and in the mirror I saw a pair of blue eyes smiling at me, though I could picture yours next to hers as well. I turned around and gave her a big hug.

The difference between the two? The first one I was in a hurry, kind of all happened in a blur. Yesterday I slowed down a bit, soaking in these precious moments. I try to do that more often. Life's always crazy, will always be stacked up with to-do's and schedules, but taking the time for those times and people that matter most is what it's all about.

I made it to church, not without tears, but there were friends there to comfort and hug me. Some had left some balloons and hearts all over our front yard that morning saying they were thinking of us, it really touched me.
We headed over to Gramma and Grampa's house after with other immediate family members. At your gravesite we had a little program of sorts where Grampa and daddy shared their testimonies, words of hope and sweet memories of you. It was nice weather, not too hot, then the sun came out, the heat turned on full blown. At first I thought how miserable it was going to be sitting out in that heat, being pregnant. It didn't take long for the part of my song to come into my mind, "everytime I feel the sun shine through the clouds, I'll think of you, letting me feel the warmth of your love". I immediately felt your love, bringing on another flood of tears. The sun shined brilliantly on us the remainder of the time.

We then sung primary songs including your favorite, I am Like a Star. I still remember singing that to you when putting you to bed, seeing a huge grin on your face. Following, daddy sung his song that he has been working on so hard for a while. It was a perfect tribute to his little girl. I always cry when I hear it, this time was no exception, the pain was quadrupled.

Aunt Tammy had bought some butterflies that came in some envelopes so we could release them and watch them all fly up in the sky. It didn't happen that way, but I liked it better the way it turned out. The butterflies slowly wobbled their way out and struggled to flap their wings. We had that time to take pictures and hold them and just watch. They did eventually fly away. Tammy explained the reason for the butterflies, it represents change and how we have all been changed for the better because of your sweet life and the memories you left. They were beautiful, and it was everything I hoped it to be. I brought out the white balloons after, giving everybody one, reiterating my plan of Forgiveness Day. We all thought of a name of who we were going to forgive/seek forgiveness from and let them up in the sky all at once. The white was a striking contrast against the clear blue sky, it was incredible.

One last thing I brought out, bubbles. Gave one to all the kids and watched as they all had fun blowing and chasing the bubbles. You loved bubbles. I loved blowing them for you while you giggled as you popped them. I hope you loved everything we did in honor of you. We all love you so much. Daddy and I were talking after how much it meant to us for those who were able to come, to take time out of their schedules and dedicate that time to you. Also for those who were unable to come but still took time to remember and honor you. You are so very loved and remembered by so many, Mikkie!

Later on that night, we turned on your dvd, home videos all of you! Those who were still there watched with us as we laughed and cried. I tried to cry, but I couldn't. I was physically unable to cry anymore, I was that exhausted. But I was ok with that, I had time to cry and to mourn, now was the time to feel at peace. As daddy and I were driving back home we both commented how we felt at complete peace. There's a time for everything, a time for mourning, a time for laughter, a time for peace and tranquility. I'm grateful for being able to feel all of those.

It took me a matter of minutes to fall asleep, only to be woken up an hour later by Faith. There was a crazy, wicked storm outside, thundering, lightning, ferocious wind and rain. I don't blame her for coming in, it kind of scared me too. It was unlike any storm we've ever seen before, extremely powerful. Faith climbed into bed with me and we fell asleep as I patted her back and told her that everything is going to be alright.

I'm still exhausted today and am glad to have this time to relax and recuperate :) I still feel you with me, just as I did yesterday. Thank you for that. I love you, my little girl.

Love me,

Saturday, August 13, 2011

In Memory of....

Sweet baby of mine,

It's inevitable, your one year mark is upon us. There's no more denying, I might as well face it as best I can.
I have been thinking and pondering much over the last several months of how to make this day a little more bearable, a little more meaningful. There's so many days on the calendar that are declared 'national pancake day', 'national eat soup day', 'national cow day', etc; I figure if all those seemingly ridiculous "national days" can be made, I can declare my own, but not ridiculous, something meaningful. I want everyone to remember you, even if they don't know you, to remember what we learned and how we were affected from your life and death. After much, much thought and even prayer, the idea came.

To anyone who may be reading this blog and everyone else:

I've had many people say that they want to do something for us but they don't know what. If you would like to do something for not just us and in memory of our sweet girl, Mikayla, but for yourselves also, I invite you to such an opportunity.

I declare August 14th, national Forgiveness day. We don't know how much time we have and you don't want to live or leave with any regrets.

I know there are many things that I could’ve asked Mikkie for forgiveness for before she left so suddenly. I think that’s what made her death even harder, I didn’t get to apologize to her face, instead I had to do it to her lifeless body in her casket. Trust me, you do not want to have that experience…. Losing a loved one and not being able to ask forgiveness or right any wrongs. I know that doing this in Mikkie’s memory would make her happy. It's actually a domino effect, it makes everyone happy. I want her memory to continue to live on, I want everyone to remember her and the precious things we have learned through all this heartache and pain.

Throughout my reading and studying over the course of this year, I’ve come across these gems of quotes:

  • Grudges sour your mood and ruin your day. Carrying a grudge for so long wastes a lot of energy that could be used for living life to the fullest.
  • When we hate our enemies we're giving them power over us, in our sleep, appetites, blood pressure, health, and happiness. Our hate is not hurting them but is turning our days and nights into a hellish turmoil.
  • We should be too big to take offense, and too noble to give it. Abraham Lincoln.
  • You can't hold onto happiness unless you let go of grudges.
All of this is so true! What are we trying to prove by holding grudges? What good does it do us? Absolutely nothing. Forgiveness and letting go of those grudges sets you free and you are no longer prisoner of your hatred.

D&C 64:9 'Wherefore, I say unto you, that ye ought to aforgive one another; for he thatbforgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin.'

I for one, do not want to be held accountable for that sin of not forgiving, whether it be my fault or not, it does not matter, unless I make things right, I will be held accountable. If I do my part and sincerely forgive but the other person does not accept it…it is no longer my sin, and they will be the ones that will have to answer for it. So to me, who cares who caused the offense, I would much rather be clean of that condemnation than to prove who’s right.

Thomas S. Monson said in talk “Love at Home”:

“Give your child a compliment and a hug; say, ‘I love you’ more; always express your thanks. Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved. Friends move away, children grow up, loved ones pass on. It’s so easy to take others for granted, until that day when they’re gone from our lives and we are left with feelings of ‘what if’ and ‘if only.’ …

“Let us relish life as we live it, find joy in the journey and share our love with friends and family. One day, each of us will run out of tomorrows. Let us not put off what is most important.”

“What is most important almost always involves the people around us.”

"We will never regret the kind words spoken or the affection shown. Rather, our regrets will come if such things are omitted from our relationships with those who mean the most to us.

I invite anyone to take advantage of this time and in memory of our Mikayla, make a commitment to either ask for forgiveness or forgive another. It may be someone close to you, it may be someone you don't even know but are harboring ill feelings towards for something, it may even be yourself. As you think of someone, remember this, "One day, each of us will run out of tomorrows. Let us not put off what is most important.

Take that name and either write it on a white balloon and let it off into the sky, or just think of that name as you let the balloon go. If you would rather not participate in that, but still want to do something special in memory of Mikayla, let some white balloons off into the sky. Why white? Because White symbolizes purity, cleanliness, truth..... I also think of heaven and angels, reminding me of Mikkie.


Sweet Mikkie, I love you so much. "We will be together again soon.....I'll see you soon."

Love me always,


Friday, August 12, 2011

Service Week

Dearest Mikkie,

Just the week before last, my family did a service week. Most of us all read the book that I have mentioned before, "The Message" and were all deeply touched and inspired by it and especially the part where he talked about doing a 'service vacation'. Well we all couldn't go anywhere, so we decided on having each family do their own service thing each day of the week and then on the following Saturday the whole family got together for a big combined service project. It was a great week, I was excited. It helped me to focus on serving each day. Most of them were simple things, but most of the time that's all it takes is a simple act of kindness. For the big project, we all went to a city building who needed help with the yard. 3 hours we all worked hard, weeding, digging, chopping, shoveling, sweeping, and laying mulch. After, we met at one's house for a big lunch feast. We were all exhausted, tired and hungry and also felt invigorated and so good for helping out. I believe it was a great experience and I want to make it a recurring tradition.

A few things that stood out to me in the book about service were:

"When you truly love someone, you seek to serve them. If the people of this nation would go out and begin serving-first the members of their families more fully, then their neighbors and community, and then extended family (rest of the world)- it would do more good than any other thing that could be done."

"As we serve our spouses and children, we will love them more, and we will become closer. Our very hearts will be changed. If we will serve our neighbors and communities, we will break down the barriers which divide us and cause a peace and love to permeate our cities. And if we will serve our brothers and sisters of this nation, we can cause a day of Zion, a day of complete peace, to come. Such a day this world has never seen. This love will become contagious."

"I recognized that this message can indeed be a poignant reminder to others of the surety of the prophecies which have been given concerning our day, and the need to strengthen ourselves and our families for that which certainly must be. Also it can be a reminder of the incredible power of service and its ability to transform us as a people. Service is the answer to reclaiming our society and changing the hearts of us, as a people."

"The word Service has lost its impact and meaning, and importance. It has become a word that it almost trite. After all, everyone knows that service helps people. Everyone knows that service is good. It is such an old idea that no one takes it very seriously anymore. But it is a principle of truth which has existed forever."

"With service, unity replaces selfishness as each person becomes deeply committed to the good of the whole rather than their own self interests."

"If you love one another, Serve one another."

I can completely agree that service isn't really taken seriously. Sadly, I feel I've been just an example.
It was very touching to read about their 'Service Vacation' they went on and doing simple, yet powerful acts of service. Most of the family started out thinking it was stupid, including the teenagers (shocker), but after a while it was contagious and they were the ones who ended up handing out most of the "caring coupons" to people.

We don't have to go out and travel to do something similar though, we can have that same impact right here in our very homes and communities. We did and I'm very grateful for that experience.
Though I know my service shouldn't stop there at that opportunity. I know Mikkie, I've just felt like the more service I do the more I will be able to feel your sweet spirit. Service shouldn't be just a thing we do whenever it's convenient, we should be using every day to serve with all our heart, might, mind and strength. I know that as I strive to always serve others, I will be more able to truly feel Christlike love for others....and myself.

I pray that we may all be blessed to see every opportunity to serve, no matter how big or small, and act upon it.

I love you with all my heart sweet girl. Two more days...... be with us, baby girl.

Love always,

Sunday, August 7, 2011

A testimony

My dear Mikayla,

I didn't get to bear my testimony in church today, partly because I was feeling light headed and did not want to trip in my high heels, and partly because I'm pretty emotionally unstable. They might've thought I was quite the nut case. :)

My heart is very heavy. Full of pain and full of gratitude at the same time. I wonder how am I going to get through this next week? I was awakened with a realization that the answer is right in front of me and has been happening. I will make it through this next week and your one year mark because of family and friends (even complete strangers have played a role in giving me great comfort-but hey, they're family too, right, we're all one big family:) . I may sound like a broken record when I say this, but I am so very grateful for their love and support! As I have been getting emails, texts, messages, phone calls, packages, visits, etc.. from people lately I've been touched over and over again. I believe compassion to be a gift, a great gift at that, probably the greatest gift one can be blessed with. There are those who it comes naturally to and others who learn it as they go from other great examples, and some just don't ever learn it at all.
All I can say is I've never seen so much compassion and such love and concern poured out than through this past year. People are more aware than I think and it shows through their loving words and actions. I was alone at church because daddy didn't feel well, and this whole week all I could think of was that blasted place you left us at. It was overwhelming. Someone next to me whispered asking when the 1 year mark is, knowing it was coming up soon. Tears immediately filled my eyes. She asked how we were doing. More tears came. I think that answered her question. Someone else remembered. I was so grateful for that simple yet powerful example that we can have a HUGE impact and effect on others when we show some compassion and show that we genuinely care. I felt like she really wanted to know how I was doing and it made all the difference to me.
Besides that, the first and foremost reason of our getting through these tough times is our Savior Jesus Christ. I think many times, people just have no clue! No clue at all, unless they themselves experience it. It's incredibly comforting to me to know that there is and always will be Someone who knows exactly what I'm going through and knows exactly how I feel; that I can call on Him for help at anytime or just to vent my frustrations, aching, concerns, etc. To know that He is listening, and He does hear and answer our pleas. I've seen it made manifest by all those who have helped comfort me recently (and all along the way), I know each one has been inspired/prompted and I know God blesses them for doing so.
I know that God is aware of us, He loves each one of us, He loves me, Laura Harper, faults and all.

My Mikkie, I think of you so much, you never really leave my mind. I think this week will be the hardest time, next to the time you died. But good things can happen even at the worst of times. I love you so very much. I just watched a video of you and hearing your precious little laugh sent tears to my eyes and a huge smile to my lips. I miss your sweet face!

Love me,