January 13, 2014

In the dark of the night

I would not even begin to understand the magnitude of my anger for Rob until long after the trial ended years later. I often wondered if he even knew the things he had put my kids through with his decision to take a gun in a moment when words or even a fist could have made his point. Did he ever think of us? Did he know of the pain that filled my home every moment of every day? Did he wonder how I had told my children that their daddy had died? Did he really understand how many nights I have spent with paranoid children crying in my room at night asking if the man who shot their Daddy would be walking through our front door with his gun to get them?  Did he ever think about the hours I’ve spent trying to explain why they will one day have to forgive this man . . . because holding on to our anger will only take us down? He didn’t hear the prayers of faith offered by a six-year-old praying about the gratitude she felt that her Dad was safe with her Father in Heaven.  He didn’t witness the countless prayers my babies offered for his children.  He didn’t ever see the panic attacks I suffered for three months every time I even stepped up off the couch to go get a drink in the kitchen . . . or the pain my five babies felt any time I had to go to a counseling appointment or meet with detectives.  He didn’t have to answer the questions . . . the never-ending questions: “Mommy what if someone shoots you while you are driving down the street?” or “Mommy what if you die and we have no one to take care of us?” He didn’t get to walk with me and see the looks the whole town gave me. The fishbowl of love. He didn’t have to wonder what the news reporters were looking for the many times they came to my door. What did they want me to say? “Oh your husband was cheating on you . . . and now he is dead . . . how does that feel?” Really? In a moment when all I wanted was to take the time I needed to find my strength and search for peace . . .  everyone was there watching me. But not Rob. He pulled his trigger and walked away. He didn’t have to see any of it. He left me to clean up the mess that was left, and deep down, I hated him for it. 

One night, I woke up to find my oldest daughter standing by my bed. It was two o’clock in the morning. She was shaking, and her voice cracked as she spoke. “Mommy, what if he is still there?” I pretended I didn’t know who she was talking about. “Who, Bailey?” I asked. “The bad guy who killed Daddy? What if he is still there waiting to hurt you?” she answered. “Oh baby . . . I am right here. Everything is okay. We are safe.” “But Mommy . . . I am so scared. I will never forgive him for what he did to me. I hate him Mom. I will hate him forever!” She was trembling and I could see the chills she had all over her body. How was I supposed to explain to her how to battle this fear? What was I supposed to say? How was I supposed to be a foundation for her when I myself felt a crack in my heart? How did I answer that? I had avoided even driving by the scene of the crime for fear he was there waiting for me. I knew he wasn’t there, but somewhere in the back of my mind . . . that panic had grown strong.  

I said a quick prayer to my Heavenly Father that I would know how He needed me to answer this little girl’s cries. The answer came in a second. I was surrounded with peace, and my testimony of all I had ever learned about forgiveness sank deep into my heart.  

We talked through the night about forgiveness and repentance and the commandment given to us to forgive all men. Everything I knew, but had forgotten, filled my soul. My words calmed my child, as the spirit calmed my mind. We talked about the Atonement and that Jesus had died on the cross for us all . . . even for Rob. We talked about mistakes, and that although Rob had made a really bad choice, he could have been a good man who just made the worst decision of his life. With my daughter in my arms, I felt safe in these truths. We sat in my room in the dark, surrounded by light.  
There is no reboot button. Unfortunately, there is no pill to take to take away the sorrows of mortality. Like every mother’s dream, I have wished I could make it all better and fix all the beliefs my children now carry inside of them about this world. I have hoped that every pain they will ever face in life could all be fixed by me. 

I cannot take away their pain. I cannot heal their sorrows. I cannot protect them from all that is ugly in this world. But I can be a facilitator for my Heavenly Father who has that power. He is the way we find peace. He is the strength that can get us through anything. I have been given the words to say when I have been asked questions for which I myself needed answers. The strength in my words has not been my own. I have had a comforter of love in every way and in every moment when fear tried to destroy us. I have been blessed to be the leader of these young children as they have worked through their forgiveness and pain. And as I have watched them find peace, I too have found glimmers of light one day at a time: they have been baby-steps to find our way out of darkness.

Darkness is all around us. It can come in many forms. As we take time to seek light, we will be given strength above our own. He will carry us through the storms and help us find the rainbows at the end of the tunnel.

I know He hears our prayers. I know that even in the simple moments, He cares. Just like my love for my daughter that night, He loves each one of us. We are his sons and daughters. He cannot give us a reboot button, for we are here to learn through our struggles. But, He can and He will give us the strength to press on to a brighter day.  


AFHMOM said...

I want you to know that i think of you and your sweet family often. Thank you for sharing. We see this confident put together woman and wonder how does she do it. Thank you for reminding/letting us know that there is no "Doing it".
The tears continue anytime I pray to Heavenly Father to send comfort to you. I know there are many, many more who think of you and remember your traffic loss. Thank you again for sharing.

Janiece said...

A very healing post. Thank you

Mary said...

Thank you for sharing your testimony with your daughter. thank you for sharing your testimony with us. And thank you for living your testimony when I am sure it was very, very, very difficult.

Anonymous said...

You are a wonderful daughter of the Most High God....He will never leave you or forsake you and your children as you hold His hand...You are so brave to share your most innermost thoughts and feelings with all of us and show us how to walk through what you have been through...God bless you and your family forever...

Kelly Lambert said...

Ashlee, I was a reader of your "PS. I love you!" blog and I was so saddened by what happened to your beautiful family. I have always wondered how you and your children were coping and wished the best for you all. By coincidence I found a link to this blog just last night.

Reading this post touched me deeply. Thank you so much for sharing this journey with us. I was overwhelmed by the power of your comforting words to your daughter. You are an amazing mother and an inspiration.

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