January 17, 2014

Please Hold Me



Kaleeya was twenty months old when her daddy died. She was just a little thing. She had always been really advanced for her age—except for walking—and was wise beyond her years. We always said she had an old soul. It seemed like she knew things we didn’t know, but she just hadn’t quite learned how to communicate them all yet. She and Emmett had a sweet relationship. She was a bit of a daddy’s girl.

My friend Kim called the day after Emmett died asking for some of his clothing. She is an amazing seamstress, and she explained to me that she wanted to make a blanket from his clothes. It was a perfect idea. I carefully went through each drawer and closet and picked only clothes that had good memories tied to them: the shirt he wore when he proposed, his favorite summer shorts he always wore at Bear Lake, and some of the kids favorite t-shirts. Every piece of clothing put into the pile to go to Kim had some sort of special memory or meaning for us.

Amazingly, Kim showed up a day later with a stack of blankets, one for me, and one for each of the kids. She shared with me how she had gone to the store to buy some fabric before she picked up the clothes. She got some odds and ends to sew together the pieces of his shirts. She had planned on making just one, big blanket. She said that as she laid it all out on her floor that night, it was as if everything just fell into place. She had exactly what she needed for six blankets, and the pieces of clothing all matched up with the pieces of fabric she had purchased. She said she had never worked so efficiently in her life, and that she was given power beyond her abilities to put together everyone’s blankets.

The blankets were amazing. She laid them out in front of us and identified which blanket was for each one of us. She had felt impressed that each individual blanket was made for a specific person in our family. We sat admiring them in my living room. My brothers and sisters and parents were all sitting around when the kids came in to see their new “Daddy Blankets.” Each child was so excited to see them and instantly fell in love with his or her blanket—all the kids, that is . . . until I got to Kaleeya. I held up her blanket and started to explain what it was. She got an angry look on her face and ran over and punched it a few times. “Daddy?” she said. “I don’t want it!” I knelt down beside her. “Kaleeya, this is a blanket made out of Daddy’s clothes. Kim made this one just for you.” She repeated herself, “I don’t want it . . . Daddy gone . . . Mommy cries. Mommy sad. I don’t want it.” I tried for a few minutes to get her to see how precious this blanket would be for her, but she didn’t want anything to do with it. I didn’t understand. She wasn’t even two years old. It didn’t make sense that she would be angry at him or even understand that he was gone.

I thought back to the weeks before he died, back to the times when Emmett would get angry at me and then leave. I would go to my closet to try to calm myself down—away from the kids. While all the others would carry on playing . . . Kaleeya would come and find me. She would come and wipe my tears. She would ask me what was wrong. She would hold me as I cried. I never had any clue that she could understand my pain enough to be upset at Emmett. She saw me cry because of him . . . and now all I did was cry because he was gone. In her mind, it seems, she was mad at him for making me sad. I assumed that she had figured out that my tears were all his fault.

For a few nights, I kept trying to push the blanket on her, almost begging her to sleep with it. She always said she didn’t want it and added, “Mommy cries.” Each night was the same. I would tell her how special it was, and she would push it away.

After putting the kids to bed one night I went downstairs. I was sitting on the couch and within a few minutes, I heard quiet sobbing. I wasn’t sure which room it was coming from so I tiptoed up the stairs and listened quietly at each door. At Kaleeya’s door, I discovered that she was the source of those tears. I opened her door and walked in the room towards her. I couldn’t see her face until I got closer. She was reaching her arms out and sobbing, “Daddy . . . I sorry. Hold me Daddy. Hold me Daddy. I sorry Daddy . . . I happy now . . . Please come back . . . I hold you . . . I need you hold me, Daddy.” I looked in the direction that her hands were extended, and there on her dresser was a picture of her and Emmett. It was an oversized photo that my friend Gaby had blown up for the funeral. I picked up the picture and grabbed her Daddy Blanket from the side of her crib, then I scooped her up and sat down with all three on my lap. For the first time, I noticed that the shirt he was wearing in the picture was the same piece of clothing that was sewn into her Daddy Blanket.

She was still sobbing to the picture. “Daddy died. He gone.” I said, “I know baby. I am so sorry. Mommy is here.” “My daddy in heaven and I want him to hold me, Mommy. I need him to come and hold me.” Now she was almost begging the picture to come to life. With a lump in my throat, I told her how much her daddy loved her, but that he wasn’t here and he wasn’t going to be coming back. Then I held up the Daddy Blanket. “Daddy isn’t going to hold you tonight, but your Daddy Blanket was sewn by Angels so he can be wrapped all around you.” I wrapped my baby girl in her daddy’s clothes, and rocked her. We rocked and we cried together, wishing we could understand why a blanket was all that was left of the smile that stared back at us from the photograph.


Our little ones are holding their hands out to us . . . begging for us to hold them and to see them as the precious little jewels they are. All around us, people are reaching out for something. Waiting to be forgiven. Waiting to feel love. Our wives are silently waiting for us to look them in the eyes and tell them they are enough. Our husbands need to hear how grateful we are for them. In one way or another, we are holding our hands out for someone to hear our cries . . . waiting to feel complete from the love we need someone else to show us. But sometimes, those words and that love we seek, is not ever going to come. Whether from death, or pure selfishness, we may never hear or feel that love we need so desperately.

I wasn’t what Kaleeya wanted that night, but I got to give her what she needed. She needed to feel like she was safe and important to him. She craved to feel the love she had lost. I was a poor replacement for the man she needed to hold her, but Heavenly Father sent me in his place. Emmett wasn’t ever going to come back to fill that void . . .  but that night, I was lucky enough to have the chance to try.

As you look around . . . watch for the hands reaching out for you. Put down your phones and enjoy the pure excitement of sliding down the slide at the park. Put your computers away and build a block tower . . . just so you can hear them giggle when they knock it over. Next time your husband walks in that door . . . throw your arms around him and let him know how grateful you are for all that he does do for you. When your woman walks in asking if her outfit looks ugly . . . let her know how stunning she is. Look into the eyes of everyone who speaks to you . . . and less into the screens that consume your thoughts. Search for the hearts that need your time. Seek for the souls who are literally begging for someone to notice them. Like our Savior, find the one who is lost . . . and lead that person back to where he or she feels safe and loved.

We are all reaching out for someone to hold us. Every human on earth has a basic need to be loved. In those dark days when you have spent all night crying and reaching . . . and you feel like no one has heard your pleas . . . remember that Heavenly Father is there. Sometimes, we have to find our feelings of worth through only ourselves and God. Reach your hands out to him. Extend your arms toward Heaven and seek the light from God. Ask Him to shed His love upon you, to help you see your own worth. He loves you. He wants to wrap you up in His love and rock you while you cry. Let Him. Ask Him to send you His Angels. And then when they come . . . let them sing you the lullabies you aren’t hearing anywhere else. Let their songs whisper to your heart. You are not alone. They are closer than you know.


Kim's story of making the blankets






36 comments:

Steph said...

What amazing blankets! A special gift!

Noelle said...

You truly are a remarkable person, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing your story.

Tracie said...

What a special sweet spirit she has, indeed an old spirit. Those blankets are absolutely beautiful.

georgeandmarie said...

This was the hardest post for me to get through and read so far. Imagining your pain just did me in!! My husband walked in thinking something terrible had happened and something was horribly wrong (I'm days/weeks from having a baby so he assumed that) I just admire you sweet girl...you are the toughest cookie I know! You continue to be in my thoughts, heart, and prayers!

The Bartons said...

Ashlee,
I don't know if you remember me, we went to high school together. Randi (Strasburg) Barton. I was talking to Brandi Cutler yesterday and she told me about your blog, I read it last night, and the same thing happened with my husband that happened with Marie, he thought something had happened because my eyes were so red and swollen from crying... I lost my dad 7 years ago and my mom did the same thing with his shirts for me and my siblings, my oldest is the only one that kind of remembers my dad (she was 2 when he died) so it is nice to have those pieces of him, so i can share with them some of my stories that I remember of him from those pieces of cloth. I really didn't know you in high school...I think we kind of hung out with some of the same people, but I think you are so amazing and so strong, please continue to post, your words are inspiring.

CoreyTina Mitchell said...

That is a powerful story. You are all so amazing. Heavenly Father sure knows how to show us he is there and knows us.

CoreyTina Mitchell said...

same here, hardest to get through...anything with the kids kills me.

Ashlee and Shawn said...

Man I am sorry about your Dad. Thanks for sharing that with me. The blankets are amazing. Glad yours has brought you comfort too. Please keep in touch! Thanks for the support.

Ashlee and Shawn said...

Your poor hubby. Love you lady.

Chandy Colton said...

I saw a link to your blog on Facebook through a mutual friend we have on there, I believe her ex-husband served a mission with Emmett. I'm so glad I found you, you are an amazing person and truly an inspiration. Your words are so powerful, I hope you continue to write on here. Thanks for being such an inspiration to so many.

Chandy

Chandy Colton said...

Chandycolt@msn.com

Melissa Bartschi said...

This so makes my heart swell. That little girl has a special gift. Thank u for sharing your family story.

Ashley Sullenger said...

Reading about Kaleeya reminded me about my own 18 month old little girl who passed away; She had these same traits, characteristics. She was always aware of our feelings and emotions. She was my only child at the time, so I didn't realize how rare it was until after she was gone. There are definitely some children with older souls, and you've been so blessed to call her yours.

Ashlee and Shawn said...

Wow Ashley. I can't imagine losing a child. That is so true. We are blessed to have the people in our lives.

jamie said...

I wish desperately that there was something I could do or say that would help. There just are not words. I am so sorry. Thank you for sharing. Thank you for your insight. Thank you for your perspective. Thank you for your hope.

John and Anna said...

I have three "old soul" children too, and I completely understand how baffling it is to try to talk to them about certain things and have them try and see it your way, when they somehow KNOW otherwise. I was so surprised with my first one at how in-tune he was/is to everything going on around him. My heart hurts for your sweet children. Because mine are that way too, as I read I'm picturing how all of this would have affected them if they were having to go through it all. I too just bawl for you all, and can't stop thinking about you and them, I couldn't after all this happened for you either, and I've prayed for you every time you'd come to mind. I know I'm not alone in those thoughts and prayers. So many people just absolutely love you and your family, and I love hearing about all the blessings that come your way right when you need them most. It shows that all those prayers we are still praying for you are being answered. :-) I'm so so glad.

Erika Huff said...

Ashlee, My friend posted your blog on Facebook saying that it really impacted her, so I started reading, only to realize that I know you! We had some classes at Utah State, I remember when you and Emmett got engaged and even visited you in the hospital when your twins were born. Obviously we have lost touch over the years. As I read your story I sit here with tears in my eyes and a heavy heart for you. You are and have always been a beautiful amazing woman. I am so sorry you have been through so much pain. It is crazy the journey this life takes us. I hope we can reconnect. My prayers and love are with you!

Anonymous said...

I have spent the afternoon reading your words and they truly have touched my soul. May the Lord bless you and your sweet little ones. Thank you for reminding us all what life is truly about

Anonymous said...

This post touched me so deeply. You are so brave to tell your story as a way of sharing your amazing testimony. Thanks you for teaching us all more of our Heavenly Father's love.

Chelsey said...

You are such a strong mama. I can't even imagine.

Anonymous said...

I found your blog through a mutual friend and I have been so impressed by your incredible testimony and strength. As a father of 5 young children, this entry had particular emotional meaning to me. The story of your sweet daughter touched my heart so much I found myself sobbing. Your experience and advice have encouraged me to renew my efforts to make more time for my wife and kids. It’s so true that they need our time and attention; they truly are gifts from our Heavenly Father. Thanks for your words; your family will be in our prayers.

JohnandGisel said...

Ashlee, my friend told me about your blog a few weeks ago. She somehow knows you and your older sister and mom. I have been truly touched by each of your posts but specially this one as it has been the case with others here, it has been the toughest one to get through. I have a 21 month old girl and another one on the way and I just cannot imagine what you have all gone through but I thank you and your children for your wonderful example and faith. You are such a strong woman and an inspiration to the world. Much love to you and your family!

JohnandGisel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
CJ Jackson said...

Ashlee- I don't even know how I found your blog. But you are so inspiring to me. Tears are in my eyes as I read your words. ESPECIALLY this post about your little girl. But then- how you ended it- amazed me. Using that experience as a learning experience. Not dwelling on the pain, but dwelling on the service we can give to others. And learn how to love as Jesus Christ would love. It's beautiful. The things you have gone through, and what powerful spiritual experiences you have had. Even better- they are written down- so that others can draw strength from them. I truly am impressed by you. Your words have influenced me to start telling my husband more often how grateful I am for him. I will start including you and your children in my daily prayers. I know you already have angels watching over you and protecting you. But I will pray that your children will be able to draw strength from you, and truly learn to understand about how they can find peace in their hearts through the Savior- even during such a hard time. I don't even know you, but I feel such an overwhelming love for you and your children. You will be in my prayers. <3 <3

Anonymous said...

What do you mean by "old soul"? That they have been reincarnated?

Rachael said...

I am a stranger to you but stumbled on your blog and trying to catch up. I think I have had tears in my eyes on every post! What an amazing gift your friend did you for all! I am impressed!

Anonymous said...

I found your story in a newspaper in Utah earlier this week with a link to this blog. I was instantly overwhelmed with a love for you and your family. You have an amazing spirit and testimony! I have cried at each of your posts but this one especially. I know you are surrounded by angels and I am SO grateful for your inspired words you are sharing with us!

Anonymous said...

I cannot thank you enough for these things you are sharing. They are life changing. Your words are just incredible and I know they're true and I needed to hear them.

Jaime said...

Holy Smokes. That post will stay with me for forever. Break my heart and build me up all at the same time.

Kathleen said...

What a beautiful post and message. Your friend was certainly inspired and what a blessing that she listened. Blessings to you and your family.

Lisa at Mabey She Made It said...

I love it when a friend's inspiration is an answer to prayers. Beautifully written, and I hope your family is continuing to heal!

AMBER EDWARDS said...

This brought tears to my eyes. Death is hard as it is. Harder when in a situation like yours. And immensely hard for kids to process. This is such a treasured message to always keep close. A great lesson for us all to learn through you. What you are learning and sharing will be such an inspiration for so many people. And you will be blessed for being so brave as to help others with your own story.

McKenzie @ Girl Loves Glam said...

Holy cow! Beautiful post. What a neat thing to have for your kids. You are such an incredible example!

Anonymous said...

I have no idea how I stumbled onto your blog, but I think heavenly father has a hand in everything, especially at this time in my life. Your words give me hope and comfort as I'm going through one of the hardest trials of my life. Thank you so much.

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Hilarie said...

So beautiful, so powerful. Thank you for sharing your stories... you are a light and inspiration!!

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