March 1, 2014

P.S....I love you!

 I remember a day when there was a really bad feeling in our house. The kids were having a hard time, and Tiffanie and I were struggling to figure out how to get everyone to calm down. At one point, Kaleeya kicked Tiffanie in the face. I grabbed her and took her up to her room. While I was upstairs, Teage punched Bostyn in the stomach. By the time I made it downstairs to try to put out yet another fire, I became overwhelmed by the crazy feeling swirling around in the air. I just stared at my children; I didn’t even know where to begin to respond to them anymore. We were like a bunch of pathetic wild animals . . . we didn’t seem to know what to do with our anger and the whirlwind of our emotions. I looked at Tiffanie and burst into tears, and then left the room and stumbled into my quiet spot in my closet.

I sat there silently sobbing, trying to think of how to make this dark feeling leave our home. I was rehearsing the events of the day— trying to understand why everyone seemed to be taking their emotions out on each other—when my sister, Ali, came walking in and plopped down next to me. She was crying as well. Apparently negative emotions were in the air for her too. She said, “I broke up with Will. … He doesn’t deserve to have a broken girlfriend who has no idea how to love him back.” She threw her arms around me and we both cried like little babies.  

I thought about what she had just said because it rang true to my own heart. I was broken . . . there was no doubt about it. I couldn’t imagine being where she was and trying to love a man at that time in her life. We sat there for a while, just sobbing and feeling sorry for ourselves, and for each other. Our lives were stuck! She had been there right along side of me through it all . . . and the aftermath of our tragedy was not leaving us feeling much hope for our futures. Our roles in the story were not the same . . . but the pain in our hearts was intertwined. I could feel her pain as she laid her head on my shoulder, and I could almost feel her lift some of my pain from off my back.  
Thank goodness for Tiffanie on days like this. She had been the one that just got kicked in the face, and yet she was out there taking care of the kids while I sat in my closet crying with my sister . . . another one of those sweet moments I will never forget. We felt as if our despair was so deep that we would never be able to rise above it, and our pain felt as though we were the only ones in the world who had ever hurt like this. There were not many times when I shared my safe haven spot in my closet . . . but that day, I had a shoulder to cry on and I got to provide a shoulder for my sister to cry on as well. Without my family, I don’t know where I would be today. They have brought me much of the beauty that I’ve found again in this world. They have been the rock I have relied on . . . when my foundation was crumbling. We had many good times shared with Emmett, but they they have also made many new memories with me, which I will never forget. 

Well, that day, the kids kept talking about how excited they were not to have school on Monday because it was Memorial Day. I had decided to just pretend that Memorial Day didn’t matter to me this year. There was no way I was going to take that drive again to Emmett’s grave. I hadn’t recovered from the trauma of the first time we had been there, and I was determined to just have a little memorial service at home with the kids. It didn’t make any sense to drive all that way . . . and it wasn’t like he would even know of all the effort it would take. Our house felt broken. There was so much contention stirring around in it that its atmosphere felt thick and dark. The last thing we needed was to drag all of our broken selves far away to put flowers on Emmett’s grave. 
Tiff and I sat silently folding laundry, while the kids were spread throughout the house. All of the sudden, an impression came to my mind. I looked at Tiffanie and said, “We have to go. I need you to put all these outfits in a suitcase and find swimming suits for all the kids. I’m calling Heather and Frank (some of Emmett’s and my best friends) to find us a hotel. We have to go put something on Emmett’s grave this weekend. The kids need to be there again . . . and I need to see it. That’s the answer to the darkness in the house today. We need to leave as soon as our bags are packed.”
Within one hour, our bags were loaded into the car and we were on our way to Logan. It was interesting to be making the trek we had made just a few short months before. I still don’t have much of a recollection of that day. I had been in such a daze, and I still have no idea of how my car and all the babies inside it ever made it . . . knowing we were driving there to put Emmett’s body into the ground.
This time was different. We had come out of our state of shock, but the thought of visiting the gravesite still left a bad taste in my mouth. The heaviness I thought would leave me as we drove away from home, seemed to linger. The reality of going to see Emmett’s grave made my heart hurt. I tried to deny the fact that he was dead . . . and the thought that Memorial Day would always be a day when I had to think of him being gone, was a difficult one. I wasn’t okay with the idea that we would have to stand there alone, putting flowers on his grave. It just didn’t seem right . . . but for some reason, I longed to be there. Somewhere inside of me, I thought maybe he would be there waiting for us . . . or I would at least feel his presence.

We talked about life the whole way there; what life was like before, what it had become, and what I really wanted it to be again someday. I talked a lot about the memories I had of Logan and what a great time it had been for us there. I thought of all our barbecues with our friends. I reminisced about the summers spent at our apartment complex with everyone laughing and watching our kids have the time of their lives on a cheap playground set. Everything had been so simple, so wholesome, and so good.  Every memory seemed bright and uplifting, and almost perfect in my mind. 
I was excited to be in that little town again, and somewhere inside of me, I began to think that maybe we should move there. Looking back now, I know that I was just trying to run away from everything at home. I truly believed that by moving back to Logan, it would somehow bring me back to life. I felt that if I lived there, I would be filled with all of the good memories of the fun years Emmett and I had shared there. As we drove, I actually started making plans to find a home and move the kids to the town where Emmett and I first fell in love and began our family.

In the movie Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, there is a part where the main character, Flint, sprays his invention called ‘Spray on Shoes’ onto his feet and then realizes he’s never going to be able to take it off again. He describes his frustration, “I wanted to run away that day . . .  but you can’t run away from your own feet!”
I would have to say there have been many moments in the last few years, when I have felt that same feeling of being trapped like Flint describes. Driving to Logan that day was one of those moments. I felt that if I moved to another city, back to a town that had brought me a lot of joy . . . maybe my circumstances would change, maybe all my pain would disappear. What I know now—but didn’t realize then—is that you cannot run away from your own feet! Changing your environment might make a difference for a time, but, if you don’t fix what’s wrong inside, eventually it will all feel the same.
When we got to the hotel that night, I realized that the next day was Sunday. We wouldn’t have time to buy any flowers, go to church and then get up to Bear Lake to the grave in the timeframe we had planned. So, after the kids were all in bed, I decided to run to Walmart to pick up some flowers. Easy, right?

However, as I stood near the Walmart entrance staring at all the flower arrangements—as if they were covered in spider webs—I couldn’t even bring myself to touch them. I knew if I actually picked one out, it would mean that all of this was real . . .  and that I would actually have to drive my children to their father’s grave and decorate it. If I picked out a flower wreath that said ‘DADDY’ on it . . . it really meant their dad was gone. I wasn’t ready to face that reality . . . so I just stood there and didn’t move.

I have no idea how long I had remained frozen there, with subtle tears flowing down my cheeks, when a young man walked over to me and grabbed my arm. “Hey,” he said, “I couldn’t help noticing how beautiful you are and I was wondering what you’re doing just standing here?” I glanced my eyes his way without moving my body . . . thinking, ‘this poor shmuck has no idea what he just got himself into.’ I wiped my face and said, “Well actually, I am trying to talk myself into picking out a flower wreath so my kids can go decorate their dad’s grave tomorrow for Memorial Day.” He half smiled, and said . . . “Ha ha, that’s funny . . . you got me. … Wait, are you serious? … I am so sorry . . . how did he die?” Another deep breath. Poor kid, he was asking for it! “Well, actually, he was murdered . . . so, we done yet?”
I guess this guy had no filter . . . or maybe he actually liked being in this awkward situation with me, because he persisted. “Like, why, how . . . what happened? Did you know the other person? … Do they know why? Do you mind talking about it . . . I just . . . I don’t know what to say . . . ” Apparently, in his mind, not knowing what to say meant to keep right on talking. Since I could tell I wasn’t going to get rid of him easily, I just spilled out the entire sordid story. For a few minutes, I just let it all out! It felt good to get it out of my head, but weird to be telling it to a complete stranger.
He stared at me as if I were a ghost. “Wait, are you really serious? Are you making this up or . . . is there something wrong with you?... This isn’t a funny joke.” I didn’t know whether to laugh and tell him he’d just been punked, or to continue talking. “I am sorry to say I am serious . . . and it sucks . . . and I am scared . . . and I don’t want to do any of it. Now, will you PLEASE leave so I can finish what I’m doing here?” He started to walk away. Finally I could go back to feeling sorry for myself and wondering how to physically pick up a bouquet . . . or any other arrangement . . . off the shelf.  
Again, I just stood there staring, when all of the sudden, he was back. “Hey . . . I believe you and I am so, so sorry . . . but I can’t walk away from you without knowing if I could see you again. … Can I have your phone number?”
I think it took me about two minutes to comprehend what he had just asked, and to really know what to do. I blankly glared his way. “After all that . . . really? Why the heck would you want my number? I just told you about my crazy life . . . and that I have five kids and that I’m widow of someone who was murdered! He was shot because he was cheating on me. … I have a murder trial to go to in the next year or so . . . so why on earth would you want to ever talk to me again? What the HELL would you do with my phone number?” He waited a minute and smiled and said very softly, “Well, you seem like an amazing person, an awesome mom, and like I said before I heard your story, I think you are beautiful.”
So without a second thought, I gave him my number! After he left, I grabbed a flower wreath and went through the checkout without any more hesitation . . . not another minute of wallowing in my pain, or wondering how I’d get through tomorrow’s events.
I don’t know why I gave him my number, but it actually felt good to think that someone could see any beauty in me after hearing the truth about my past. I walked out of the store, a little wigged out that I had just told my story and given my phone number to a complete stranger . . . while picking out flowers for my dead husband’s grave! I felt almost ashamed that I had allowed myself to say those numbers out loud . . . and that for a moment, I had stopped thinking about Emmett.

I had parked in the middle of nowhere, so the walk back to my car was like being on a rollercoaster of excited panic and pathetic panic . . . alternating mode. One second, I felt like a giddy little high school girl who had just been asked out to prom . . . and the next second, I felt like I had just walked into my house at three a.m. and gotten caught by my Mom when I was way past curfew. I was overwhelmed with the excitement and the fear that I had done something wrong. I finally reached the car and opened up the back to lay down the flower wreath. I hadn’t paid much attention to which wreath I had actually grabbed. It was beautiful, but it was also ugly. I almost felt as if it were looking down on me for what I had just done. I slammed the trunk shut, so as not to see it any longer, then opened the door on the driver’s side and plunked down into the seat. My head fell onto the steering wheel, and the tears fell onto my lap.
I felt ashamed that instead of focusing on choosing the perfect flowers for Emmett’s grave, I had been distracted by this man asking questions about my tragedy and asking for my phone number. I couldn’t move—I was just as frozen as I had been while first looking at the flowers. Despair set into my mind. Then as plain as day, I heard Emmett’s voice—as real as if he were sitting in the passenger seat—saying: “I just wanted you to know that you’re beautiful.”  
I lifted my head and turned toward his voice. No, it was just me in the car. I could feel him, but I couldn’t see anyone sitting next to me. I sat there in the silence, trying to soak in the moment. I knew it wouldn’t last long . . . but it was perfect. I could feel him pleading with me, “You can do this, you have to do this for them. You are an incredible mother and you are going to make an amazing wife for someone else one day.” Instantly, I felt free from the torment I had allowed to creep into my mind.

In that moment, I knew Emmett wanted me to give that boy my number. He was not ashamed that I had felt reassurance from the admiration of another man. In fact, he had sent him there to help me see that I was lovable. Emmett knew I wasn’t going to snap out of my pain as I stood there—all alone—picking out flowers. No, I needed help! The flowers didn’t mean anything to Emmett, they were not important. What he cared about in that moment, was ME. … He wanted me to let go of the pain and move forward in that moment when I had been frozen in time.

I needed that day more than I will ever know. It was a humbling conversation that made me realize that I still had value; and even though Emmett had not used his last days to see my value . . . I was still me. I was still desirable, and someday I was going to be capable of loving again. I may have felt broken on every level of the word . . . but I was beautiful and I was lovable just the way I was . . . crazy past and all. I could be adored, and desired, and I could make someone happy again. I deserved to know that I was good enough. The role I played in my past life was one I could be proud of.  It was a role I played with patience, love and strength. It was a role I played with power. It was a role I played with humility. I was not perfect, but I had given it my all. I was all I had . . . and it was enough. I was so grateful to know that Emmett could see that in me now . . . and he was able to remind me that I needed to find it in myself again.
That was a tender mercy for me. It was the day I realized that I not only could love again . . . but that I was lovable. I could be enough. And even though I was feeling like a broken shell of a person, I was still desirable and capable of someday learning how to be me again.
Every single person who has ever lived needs to know that he or she has value. Even those of us who spend months, or years, pretending that our feelings of inadequacy don’t affect us need to feel that we have value . . . because those feelings of inadequacy do impact us. None of us want to question our value and worth; we all want to feel special and important. We all want to feel loved. Sometimes, others are sent to remind us of how great we are . . . but sometimes, there are moments when we have to stand alone and seek it within ourselves.

Don’t ever let a moment pass when you see someone’s beauty and you don’t take the chance to tell them. If you feel someone’s worth . . . let them know how it has impacted you. They may be frozen . . . trying to remember what it is inside of them that makes life worth living. Even if you never hear it about yourself, take time to show those whom you love that you believe in them. You might just save a soul; you might just be the gift of love sent from God to remind them of His love for them.

In those moments when you feel like you are trapped in your own shoes . . . remember that no matter how hard you try to run, you will still be you. Embrace the fact that you don’t have to change everything about yourself to live the life you have always wanted. You will never abandon your own skin . . . so learn to see its worth. We all have good inside of us and all around us; Heavenly Father wants us to not only see it, but feel it. He wants us to remember to love ourselves. 
There are reminders of His love and mercy all around you: the tiny voices that call out your name, the arms that reach for you, the questions asked that only you can answer, the tears shed that only you can wipe, the smiles that are smiled, the heads lying on your shoulder, the dog waiting at the door for you, the neighbor who waves every time you pass by, the old man at the restaurant who always comes to ask how your day is going and refills your drink, a breathtaking sunset, a little humming bird at your window, a gentle kiss, or a hand to hold. Even the tiniest flower is sent to beautify your environment.  
Beautiful things surround you . . . but you might be missing them because all you see is the darkness trying to destroy beauty. In all the beauties of the earth are tiny little messages of love hidden inside. God created earth’s beauty just for you. He sent you to the family you are in . . . because mortality will be hard and you will need each other . . . but also because He wants you to experience the joy that only the members of your family have to offer. He has blessed you with the body you have, because only it could house your perfect spirit . . . no other body ever created could do that job for you. He has sent you to earth to live in every moment, and to magnify your days. He wants you to see your worth and the role you were sent to play amidst the beauty that surrounds you every minute of every day.
Look for the wonders of the earth; seek for the goodness of the land. Climb to the top of a mountain just to hear the silence; sail out in the waters just to see their splendor. Fly through the air and enjoy the view; watch for the majestic scenery when you drive through a mountain pass. There is grand magnificence waiting for you.
But . . . don’t express gratitude just for the majestic beauty He has created for you . . . because most often, the more subtle beauties in front of you right now are often overlooked. Don’t miss your baby’s first smile because you are out seeking to climb Mount Everest. Don’t sail away your days seeking for the grand magnificence of the earth . . . while the beautiful relationships you possess wait at home for you to see THEM. Let the little things be enough . . . and express gratitude for them every minute of every hour, for they are the beauty with which God has blessed you. Hold dear the wonders that surround you right now. If you have come to a place where others’ love for you seems to have disappeared . . . show them a little more love, while you patiently wait for theirs to shine through once again. Just because you are in a place where you cannot see or feel love doesn’t mean it is not there waiting for you. Pray for the gift to feel . . . beg for the gift to see. 
Heavenly Father knows your heart; He sees your pain. It is through Him that we can find peace, even in our loneliest times when we stare out at beautiful flowers but are surrounded by darkness. When the darkness surrounds you . . . and screams to you over and over that you are not enough . . . don’t give up on yourself. Don’t let the darkness win. Watch for the tender mercies that God is trying to send just for you. Sometimes Christ doesn’t have anything more for us than a shoulder in our closet to cry on, or a boy at Walmart to distract us from our pain and remind us that we are enough. Maybe in some moments, it won’t be another person sent to express His love. Maybe it will come through a feeling deep inside your soul, a tender calmness to let you know that He believes in you. He loves you, and you are enough for HIM.

There are reminders everywhere . . . little messages that reassure you . . .  that Christ is whispering just for you: 

“P.S . . . I love you!” 


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post. No words can express how it touched my heart tonight, I needed to read those words tonight. You are an amazing woman!

Regan said...

P.S....I love you! The name of your old blog. Wow, this post was so great. Thank you for being open and honest and perfect with your words. You are an admirably woman, Ashlee. (:

Anonymous said...

As i drove home tonight I couldn't help but feel lonely and hurt from everything going on in my life. I turned the radio off and asked for His help asking for some sort of boost to get me through the pain. THIS post, was part of my answer. Thank you, thank you!! You are simply amazing.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to have to reread all of these posts over and over....I've buried some things and they need to slowly come up. Because of each post though I take a stand a little quicker...i remember the blog, I'm improving.

Anonymous said...

Thank you. I wish I was as good with words as you are in explaining how much this blog has helped me to feel love, peace, and gratitude again in my life. Thank you for sharing your strength.

glenda said...

Wow! Beautiful post. Beautiful words. Peace, strength & much love to you & yours! You ARE enough!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this. I really needed to hear these words today.

Sara said...

I love reading your posts! Thanks for sharing your story;-)

Gina said...

As I sit here reading your last two blogs, with tears streaming down my face, I am grateful for you and your beautiful words. I look at them as a tender mercy sent my way. Thank you for writing the things I needed to hear.

Heather Maile said...

P.S. I love you too ;)

Anonymous said...

I hope you include some kind of update in a follow-up post about if he ever called you. Laughed so hard! Thanks for all your great messages.

Anonymous said...

I just have to say that the heartache you write of is debilitating and I am so saddened that THIS is your reality. And I read and read and read even though it pains me to hear how hard your biggest life trials have been…it is AMAZING to me to see how you have overcome them…and helped your children to overcome them. And I am just holding every ounce of HOPE that as you write and get to stories of your current life, there is PEACE and JOY and LOVE in it for you now. I pray with everything that you and your sweet children have some goodness in your lives after all you have been through. I hope you will write of those things too! Every time I read I hope to know how you are feeling today…to know if you've been able to repair some of the pain of the past for a little bit of normalcy.

I strongly believe that through writing you find healing, and I hope that you sharing your story is helping to heal your heart. No doubt your children will be able to see what a truly remarkable woman you are when they are old enough to read and understand all of this. THANK YOU for sharing your COURAGE and WISDOM and FAITH with the world. And please know that you are so beautiful. As a woman, a mother, a daughter of God. And your spirit, as broken as it has been (or maybe still is), your spirit is amazing. You have so much grace that can most definitely win over all of that hurt and pain. I hope you really KNOW in your heart that YOU ARE ENOUGH…I can only imagine how proud your husband must be of the mother that is raising those sweet babies. May your life be blessed for your endurance through these incredibly difficult trials! Love from a reader in AZ.

Anonymous said...

Grazie! Per la speranza che condividi e che conforta un po' il mio cuore spezzato. God bless you and your family!

Unknown said...

Just love you Ashlee!

Anonymous said...

Ashlee, you are truly an inspiration to me. I don't know you but I am so grateful for your strength. It gives me strength to carry on when I feel insecure and down. But to be reminded that we are all children of a loving Heavenly Father who wants us to do, learn and be all that we can. Thank you for your story, it has brought humility, hope and gratitude to my soul. You were meant to make a difference in others lives. And bring a shining glimmer of hope to many out there. Thank you for being true to yourself and overcoming your hardships and in turn believing and encouraging others to find the light in the dark times. This was meant to be your mission in life. Thank you for your strength and testimony!

Anonymous said...

I will love to share my testimony with all my viewers because i never thought i would have another chance with my boyfriend, the man i wanted to marry left me for another woman, and when i called him, he never picked my calls,he deleted me on his Facebook account and then set the status to having a girlfriend with the other chick. I was devastated. I went to three spell casters before doctor and i had really lost hope. i lost a lot of money with them and got no results. so when i came to doctor i was really leery of him and didn’t think he could help me. i though it is too good to be true, because all the other spell casters were supposedly good and none of them helped me. i saw the testimonials and read the other testimonials and decided to get the consultation. he said he could help me, but my chances of getting my ex were very low and he didn’t recommend it at all. But i insisted that he at least give me the chance to work with him and try and if it didn’t work, i wouldn’t be upset and i would move on with my life. He agreed. Since he is in jersey and im in nyc, i decided i would go in person to have my spells cast. he is a really sweet and gentle man, when i met him i was really surprised. he looks very young, and i had my doubts whether or not he would be able to help me. But i figured i came all that way and i said i would try so i tried it. He called a spirit to talk with me and do the work, it was a woman spirit and when it came it totally transformed hector’s face. that is when i thought to myself that it might just work. the spirit gave me some advice and did the spells. i had a separation spell and a reunion spell done. the spirit said it would take a while for my ex to leave his new girl but once he did, he would come to me very quickly. She gave me some things to take home and do. I did them, but i was really nervous. i think i messed up a few times and i told t and she said just keep going and i would be fine. so i did. it was like 6 or 7 weeks later and i saw that my ex unblocked me from Facebook. I saw he had changed his status again to single. so i was super excited because i took this to mean that he had split up with the other girl. about 10 days after that my ex called me. At first, it was weird between us. he wanted to see me. so i went to meet up with him. he didn’t ask me back then. i got very anxious and told t, and she said to stay calm and everything would turn out okay. So i did the best i could although i was still worried. We met up a few more times after that, and still he didn’t ask me back out. so i got a consultation with hector and he said to expect my ex to ask me back out within two weeks from the consultation. i listened, but i wasn’t sure it would happen. then it was almost 2 weeks later, and i though, damn, hector was wrong. But the next day (there was like 2 days left from it being 2 weeks) my ex called and we got together. He asked me if i would be willing to try our relationship again, which of course i said yes. that was about 3 weeks ago, and so far we have been doing okay, we still have a lot of things to work out, but i am very happy. hector is the real deal and i am so glad that i found him and i recommend him to anyone who needs help. thank you so much doctor you saved my life!
Reply ?you can as we contact her email

Anonymous said...

Ashlee, I have been quietly reading your blog since I saw your episode of dateline on id earlier this week. This post hit home hard. I have struggled with some mental health challenges for about two years now. Over the past few months I have been in a pretty dark place and with the help of a few people but mostly a counselor and a really good friend I'm in a much better spot. My friend has been the person reminding me I'm a beautiful daughter of a loving Heavenly Father. She has made me feel loved and needed in this world. Thank you for every post. They are all beautiful testimonies.

Emma said...

Ashlee, I have been quietly reading your blog since I saw your episode of dateline on id earlier this week. This post hit home hard. I have struggled with some mental health challenges for about two years now. Over the past few months I have been in a pretty dark place and with the help of a few people but mostly a counselor and a really good friend I'm in a much better spot. My friend has been the person reminding me I'm a beautiful daughter of a loving Heavenly Father. She has made me feel loved and needed in this world. Thank you for every post. They are all beautiful testimonies.

Unknown said...

Every single person who has ever lived needs to know that he or she has value. Even those of us who spend months, or years, pretending that our feelings of inadequacy don’t affect us need to feel that we have value . . . because those feelings of inadequacy do impact us. None of us want to question our value and worth; we all want to feel special and important. We all want to feel loved. Sometimes, others are sent to remind us of how great we are . . . but sometimes, there are moments when we have to stand alone and seek it within ourselves.

I think that Heavenly Father has been trying to tell me that I need to stand alone and seek it within myself for the past 8 years. Thank you for posting this. I have been reading your blog (which I found tonight) for 5 hours. I really needed this. Thank you.

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