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.