February 19, 2014

Love


I remember one day being so ‘checked out’ that I hardly talked to my kids. I was frazzled and running. I was avoiding anything that had to do with real life and my reality. I don’t remember what we even did that day, because my mind was so far removed. I do remember, however, that all day long the twins kept asking me to give them some time. They are the reserved, calm types and don’t really demand my time like my other children do. So on that particular day, it was easy to let their tender needs be swept under the rug. I kept putting them off. Each time they asked me to come and talk with them, I was busy with the younger kids. I didn’t think much of it, and I just kept doing other tasks every time they came to me.

I put all of the kids to bed without giving another thought to the fact that I hadn’t taken the time to talk with my girls. I drew myself a hot bath and relaxed. It was nice to soak in the water and not think. The security alarm was on, and everyone was in bed. It was just me and the quiet. I was so out of it on this particular day that even the silence didn’t threaten to stir up my emotions. I just sat there and didn’t think at all.

I must have been in there for a good half-hour or more before I started to turn into a prune. I reached for my towel. As I looked up into the fogged-up mirror I could see some writing on the glass. I got closer. My heart skipped a beat. I read the words out loud, “I love you!” I stood there dripping wet, staring at those words on that mirror without taking a breath. They were words I had written.

My mind went back in time. A few days before Emmett died, I had written ‘I love you!’ on the mirror with my finger when he was in the shower, hoping that when he got out, he would see my message and feel it. I prayed with all of my heart that that he would see it  and that it would touch him. I don’t know if he did. He never mentioned anything about it . . . but I doubt he could have missed it. However, it didn’t change anything . . . or soften him.

I hated the thought that my efforts hadn’t had the hoped-for results. Tears fell down my face as I stood there reviewing the events of that morning, not so long before, when I had been begging him to love me. I hadn’t just written those words up on the mirror to help him feel loved. No, the message was a warning sign to him as well. I had been pleading with him as I wrote . . . that I needed him. I needed him to love ME.

I couldn’t believe the message hadn’t faded or been washed away. How was it that I hadn’t seen it before? I have no idea. That night, the words of a message, which I had written with so much hope before my husband’s death, took on a new meaning to me. The words were not just a reminder of all the things that hadn’t changed. No, that night, I felt they were a message to me. Those words were a reminder to me that I was loved. Not only by Emmett, but by Heavenly Father. This time, both of them were begging ME to step outside of myself . . . and love. I had to learn to love myself. I had to learn to love my babies. And one day, I had to learn to fall in love again. Love—the very emotion which had been drained from me during the weeks that followed my writing that message on the mirror—all of the sudden seemed to fill my soul.

I went into my closet and put on one of Emmett’s old sweatshirts. It was a sweatshirt with good memories, which I had saved for a moment just like this. It was a navy blue hoody I had seen him wear so many times. It still smelled like him. If I closed my eyes, that scent seemed so real. I wrapped my arms around myself. It was warm and I felt so cozy being snuggled inside it. I lay down on my closet floor, dreaming of the first time I had seen Emmett wearing it . . .

I was working in the school gym at college. Adam, one of my co-worker’s, came downstairs, winked at me, and said “I need you to bring this stack of towels up to me in five minutes.” I said, “Oh dear . . . what are you up to, Adam?” He answered, “Well, a buddy of mine just moved up here this week and he’s been talking about this girl he keeps seeing at the gym. Once we figured out it was you, I told him I would introduce you guys.”

Adam drew me right in! Five minutes later, I carried the towels up the stairs, feeling just like a fifteen-year-old girl. I set them down and looked up. Over walked this navy blue sweatshirt, with the cutest thing I had ever seen wrapped inside it. I had also noticed him around the gym that week. In fact, just the day before, he had been running on the treadmill while I was cleaning the equipment. I couldn’t help but stare at him as he ran. I finally got to the machine, next to him. It took me a good five minutes longer to clean it than the others before it. I just sat there wiping, and wondering how to start up a conversation with him. I never did think of anything good to say! Years later, we still laughed about my extensive and thorough cleaning of that treadmill . . . while we both tried to figure out what to say to each other.

But on that day, as I set the towels down, there was someone else there making sure we did say something to each. Emmett and I chatted for a while. We found we had a common link to Boise because both of our fathers lived there, so we talked about that and other things. I thought he was adorable.

All that week, my roommates had been begging me to find a date for a “roommate date.” I hadn’t found anyone I wanted to ask, so I got brave with Emmett. “Hey,” I said. “So, I have a favor to ask of you. All of my roommates have made dates for a movie, and I was wondering if you would come and be my date?” He said, “Yeah, sure. When is it?” “Well,” I said sheepishly, “in an hour. You want to go?”

One hour later, I picked him up. He had changed out of that navy blue sweatshirt. He cleaned up well! We went on the roommate date to the movie and then afterwards, the two of us went out to dinner. Then he took me to his apartment and we talked and listened to music for hours. He was my dream boy . . . and I had only known him for a few hours! I was smitten.

After that, we never spent a second apart. We were glued at the hip. Every second I was with him, I fell more and more in love with him. When he asked me to marry him around Christmastime . . . there was not a doubt in my mind what my answer would be. I loved him, and I wanted to start a family with him. I wanted to spend my life loving him and taking care of his babies . . .

As I lay there in the closet, my mind snapped out of the daydream I was having, and I remembered that my twins had begged for my love all day long, and I had completely ignored them. I ran out of my closet and bedroom, and stumbled up the stairs. Wiping the tears off my face, I cracked open their door and peeked inside. “Girls . . . hey . . . are you still awake?” Bostyn answered from her side of the room. “Hey Mom . . .” I tip-toed over to her, and then sat down the edge of her bed. Then Bailey’s eyes opened and she hopped out of bed and came over and sat next to me, putting her arms around me.

“Girls . . . I am so sorry. I was a horrible mom today. You guys asked me a million times to come and talk and I never did . . . and I want you to know that I am sorry. I am sorry I can’t do what I should be doing lately . . . It’s like I don’t remember how to do anything . . . . and I know I’m not there for you . . . and I get more frustrated than usual with everything. I am so sorry that I . . . ”

Bostyn cut me off. “Mom . . . everything is going to be okay. Bailey and I were up here crying and crying and wishing you would come up and talk to us. We felt lonely . . . and scared. We were getting really upset and mad at you for ignoring us all day. We didn’t know what to do . . . and so we said a prayer. After our prayer, Daddy was standing right over there and he told us that everything is going to be okay. He said he loves us and he is proud of us all . . . especially you. He said he misses us and he wants us to help you learn how to love again.”

That night, I cried buckets of tears . . . but not just for the love I had lost. I cried tears for all the love I was blessed to find. My tears were for the love I needed to remember . . . for all of the people who were still standing and waiting for me to love them.

Heavenly Father hears our prayers. He sends us signs to let us know He loves us. Heavenly Father loves you no matter how hard you push Him away or ignore Him. He loves you no matter how many signs you have already missed. Sometimes, He sends them in little “I love you”s on our mirrors . . . and other times He sends a miracle to help us do the jobs we are failing to do.

Love is a gift we all possess. Don’t hide it. Wear it proudly. Live it freely . . . and let its power guide you to all the little souls who are crying up in their rooms all alone . . . waiting for you . . . wondering how they can teach you how to love them back. Show them that you hear them. Listen the first time. My fears had stopped me in my tracks. It was as if I couldn’t feel or give love to those left behind with me. Emmett wasn’t here to read my messages, but my little babies still needed me to write them.

Watch for all the signs on your mirrors—flashing in your face—from those who are begging to receive your love. Listen for the tender pleadings that they need you. They want you. Don’t let the message get wiped off the mirrors before you act.

Don’t be afraid when love has left mud on your face to wash it off and find a way to trust in it all over again. Take a chance, even when you don’t feel like you have any space for love left inside of you. Pray for room in your heart to allow love to fill it with all the joy it can bring. Listen to all of the little reminders. You are capable of loving . . . you are worthy of it . . . and you deserve it. Sometimes, it won’t come to you until you find it in yourself. Believe in the you that He sees. He loves you and wants you to LOVE yourself. Be true to the you inside, and learn to trust that it is enough.

In all of your relationships—no matter what they are—let love bring you closer together. Sometimes it will hurt, sometimes it will fail, and sometimes you will feel like it is gone forever. Love . . . and do it like you have never lost it. Don’t let your fear of losing someone stop you from loving them with all of your heart.

34 comments:

Jamie and Ryan said...

Thank you for sharing this. It was very powerful and definitely gave me something to think about! You are an amazingly strong woman!

Natalie♥ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I cannot express how much your blog has helped me! I look for a new post everyday. If there isn't one I read an old one over again. I feel like you are speaking to me and I realize that so many others feel the same way! I went through a very painful divorce 13 years ago. I have 5 children, like you, and it was so very painful for them as well. Learning to know that Heavenly Father loves you and to love yourself and others is so difficult but important! You expressed it so beautifully! God bless you for your willingness to share your thoughts and feelings with us! You have such a special gift!

Anonymous said...

I can't even begin to tell you how much your blog has helped me. It is amazes me how you can speak right to the feelings of emotions that I am having that day. You are truly an inspired woman. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I needed to hear these words today "that we are loves by our Heavenly Father" there are many days that I feel that I am not. Thank you for your many inspirational thoughts!! You & your family have been in my prayers!!

Stefani said...

oh that picture of your sweet girls and their dad breaks my heart. I too look forward to your blog posts every day. Thank you for your inspiring words and reminders of what this life is all about.

Jenelle said...

Oh sweet one! I am thankful for your blog! So nice to find those who can relate! I became a young widow at 22. I wanted to tell you about this conference...http://www.ldswidowsconference.com/#2753. I have been able to participate the first two years and am sad I won't be able to attend again this year, as I have truly benefited from being in the presence of angels! Cherished eternal friends! I know you will find others that have become widows in the same way:( It is a wonderful experience! I hope you'll consider attending...kinda short notice, but thought I'd share! Loves to you, my new widow friend!
Jenelle

Lisa said...

What a sweet experience your girls had. Oh my that gave me chills and brought tears to my eyes.

Red headed left handed Bishops said...

I need to stop reading your blog at work, I always end up in tears! Thank you so much for sharing your testimony through your blog, I always look forward to reading it!

Ashlee said...

Inspiring! I just love your posts! You are amazing woman! You children are so fortunate to have such a wonderful mother. You are surely changing lives!

Anonymous said...

Ashley, as someone who was married to a cheater, I need to know how you fell in love again. How did you open your heart to someone to trust again? These are things I have not seen in your blog, but heard on TV you were remarried. My husband was killed in an auto accident, and I have not dated since. I didn't know till after the accident he had been cheating...how could I have been so blind. Please tell me how you meet someone, date again, and most of all learn how to trust. I truly need some help. I also live near Boise, but I no longer have any children at home. It's now just me and my little dog, and my fear of any commitment, and the fear of trusting again.

princess jen said...

Thank you for sharing your heart, your fears, your hopes with such a wide audience. I, too, am a victim of infidelity and have worked hard in my life to move past it. I spent four years trying to fix my marriage when my husband was not invested in it. I'm finally starting to date again after making the painful decision to divorce. Thanks for your words of encouragement. I needed to be reminded that I'm still a lovable person.

Anonymous said...

I'm a young father of 5. Its crazy....but I want to be a better father and husband after reading your blog. I'm touched. Thank You

Dana Hamilton said...

Your last sentence is something I need to hear. "Don't let your fear of losing something stop you from loving it with all of your heart. "Thank you so much for sharing such personal and raw thoughts and feelings with us. Touches me every time.

Anonymous said...

You have helped me. I feel more at peace. I have had issues with anger and revenge. I could have been Rob. After my wife confessed to me of infidelity, the thought crossed my mind to confront him. I had played out scenarios in my mind what I would say how I would react. One of the scenarios was not unlike how yours played out. I quickly decided that I would never confront him. He too was a father. I would not be happy to be like Rob. I am glad we had a loving branch and stake president to help us heal and love. For some reason, not a coincidence, I came upon your blog and read every entry. I have been feeling mad at my wife recently , which is unfair to her. I said I forgave her so why do I feel I have the right to have these thoughts? Reading through your items has helped me tonight. I have a reading list of items from your writings. Thank you for helping my prayers be answered.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for being so brave to put yourself out there...to help at least one of us. Your story is close to my heart... "Just a mom" with quite a few similarities. I have been reading your blog for hours and it is almost 4am...bawled my eyes out...& cant seem to click off your blog & just go to bed. Thank you for helping me tonight. I have held it in for so long...there are so many things you say that many of us need to hear. I know the Spirit will heal your heart as you try & help heal ours...(by sharing the same doubts, insecurities, worries, craziness, etc. that we all feel...and then bearing testimony that we are not alone, that we have value & that we need to Get up & Stand when we are on our face) You put words to all my thoughts and worries & it is so comforting to be validated...to know someone else out there does understand the heartache & pain. You are wise beyond your years. Wish I lived in your ward... maybe we will cross paths someday...it's a small town! I am almost certain I met you at the Boise Temple beginning of this year... waiting to change in the same changing room & a girl came to see how you were--she was very worried about you because she said you looked very sad in the Celestial room. I know "crazy-psycho"--It probably wasn't you...it could have been any other sister going through some trial. Either way I felt a huge connection to that lady...very similar to a connection I feel to you. Thank you for putting yourself out there. I think there are so many sisters whose hearts are breaking, who the spirit speaks to & warns, who want to be loved & accepted, who need each others nonjudgmental love. Glad I can come here to get it because I have no where else to turn. Thank you...you have a special gift & are helping so many people.

Ashlee and Shawn said...

That's where I was when I felt inspired to start this blog. The first of the year crying my eyes out in the Celestial room. That is crazy!

Ashlee and Shawn said...

I got up early by a little 3 year old alarm clock this morning and finally took a chance to read these sweet comments. I appreciate everyone's love and support. I wish I could sit here and answer you all individually! For all of the questions that have been posed on here about loving again and the lives that are taken with no reason of anything they did.... I have a blog post for each of you coming very soon. I have been trying to go in order, but it hasn't always been happening that way. I have many thoughts on both of those topics that I can't wait to share. Thanks for listening and encouraging me.

Cashelle said...

I love this blog. Like so many from before, I check at least once a day for a new post. Everything you write is so uplifting and edifying. Thanks for sharing so many of your private and spiritual moments with us. You are helping to strengthen testimonies and bring people to Christ.

Becca said...

You Are beyond amazing ! I keep checking as well hoping for more. I have loved every single post. You are super women! Have you ever thought about writing a book? I laugh as I wrote that because I have five kids like you- with all your extra time ;). Love and prayers to you. ��

Jennifer Moeller said...

Another question for when/if you're able: Is there anything in your courtship that looking back, now seems like a warning that you missed? As the mother of two teenagers and three more coming up, I'd like any insight you could offer on things to look out for.

princess jen said...

I don't think it's unfair of you at all. Forgiveness is a process and it takes a long time. I found out Christmas Eve 2008 that my (then) husband was having an affair. In that moment, I was able to forgive him but overcoming the hurt of it has taken much longer. I spent hours in reflection, and prayer, and temple worship, and scripture reading. Most days I'm good but I still get sad and mournful once in a while about the consequences of his choices. A book that I felt helped me was "The Peace Giver" by James Ferrell. I've read it several times now and it was instrumental in helping me.

gradmaleslie@blogspot.com said...

Truly in awe of the strength you found. Instead of becoming bitter and dark you opened yourself to faith, light and forgiveness.

Anonymous said...

I found this blog yesterday and couldn't stop reading until I read every last post and comment. You are amazing. The way you take your experiences and then teach a profound lesson is inspiring. Your love for Emmett is beautiful. Your family is beautiful. You are beautiful. I hope to see many more posts from you. I am sad I devoured them all and am left with no more to read. My heart aches for you and the pain you have suffered, but then I feel great joy because our Savior lives and your blog testifies of him. You reached for him in your sorrow and He was there.

Anonymous said...

I cannot wait to read about how you met your now husband and falling in love again.

Summer Gunn said...

Ashlee, my friend told me about you blog and I have been reading it all night. You have put so well into words so many things I have felt in the last few years. Our stories are different, but in reading your stories I feel a kinship with you. I also met my husband in 2003 at USU. We were married in the temple and started our family. Eventually he started running 10 hour 'errands' and our marriage began to deteriorate. He died when I was 28 and I had to explain to my babies why they wouldn't be seeing daddy anymore. I stood by his casket at a funeral looking at him and thinking, 'I hate you! How could you have done this to us.' and grieving over the lose of the marriage I had desired in the years before and the husband he had been and could have been. I remember feeling alone and in tears pleading to my heavenly father for comfort and then recognizing the angels, seen and unseen, that he sent to strengthen me and my little ones. Thank you for your story. It has given me pause tonight to reflect on my own and all the beautiful things I have learned through my experience. I used to feel despaired when I sat through those relief society lessons where the instructor points out that if you family is like this or that then your children will be lost. Despite my faith my children still had this and that. But what I have come to realize through the spirit is that we were sent down here not to have a perfect experience, but instead to become perfect through our imperfect experiences. You share the hope of that through your words.

glenda said...

You are an inspiration. Your love & strength shines through. Open heart...open arms... I'm so happy for you and your children that you have found love again. Thank you for sharing with all of us.

Anonymous said...

I love the name of your blog. :) It is perfect.

Shauna said...

I was sitting here feeling guilty for not giving my kids the attention they needed today. Thank you for encouraging all of us mothers on those hard days. They are getting lots of extra love from me tomorrow! !!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your post. I keep asking myself lately a lot why in my early life so many things were rougher than for others in my age. And the thought of loving others is a healing thought and often sets me free.
Thanks for your example. I hope you keep seening the blessings in your life and the blessing you are to others. You are truely precious. And I guess no one can imagine the reward you'll receive once you stand at the gates of heaven.

Thanks for your example.
Jeannine

Rob & Sarah said...

Your words carry such deep truths, they are truly touching. I couldn't help but think of this post I read last night as I listened to the Ingrid Michaelson song "Everybody" this morning, especially the line that says "Happy is the heart that still feels pain." You are a shining example to those within the gospel, and those yet to find it. Thank you for sharing your very personal story.

emmyhaurt said...

Wow! Just had to add my thank you to a long list. It is interesting that though we all have our own trials we can learn so much from you sharing yours and what it takes to continue to stand. That's what I am dedicated to doing, thank you for being an inspiration in the process!! May God bless you!!

Corine Moore said...

I am new to your blog. I can't stop reading and getting your story off my mind... POWERFUL! Amazing story! Beautiful! I'm so INSPIRED by you, for remembering the good, and learning to step outside your own pain and give to others the one thing you needed most at the time you needed to feel it most - LOVE. - I have not gone through what you have experienced, and would never attempt to compare our experiences. But my heart has ached. One thing I will never forget learning is that when Christ says to "do unto others as you would have others do unto you" - it isn't just about being a good person who will make others happy and not make them hurt like others have hurt you. IT'S also ABOUT HEALING YOURSELF – it’s about EXPERIENCING what YOU NEED, by forgetting about your self and giving it to another… Ashee, I imagine you have had many times of feeling low, and crying, and not feeling like you can take care of the people who depend upon you. I can imagine pleadings with the lord to help you go on… But you DID plead. And you DID stand back up. You are STRONG. You are BEAUTIFUL. Way to stand tall. This is a beautiful example of not letting what you can’t change or do… stop you from changing or doing what you can! Thank you so much for this reminder! :) Hugs from a fellow sister in Christ,
Corine :D

Jodi Coleman said...

Thank you for your words. Your stories have helped give me the courage to have the important conversations I've been neglecting in my marriage (which have been wonderful! Things are getting better!) The last few days, I have been reading your blog and am blown away by your strength, courage, but most of all- your love.
Thank you

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