February 25, 2016

Nearer to Natalie

Picture a beautiful almost 3 year old little girl with dark blonde curls, dimples and bright blue eyes. Think of her dancing around twirling and singing as she goes. Sparkle and love is spread wherever she touches. She is silly, curious, smart and just simply lovely. That is our Natalie Elizabeth Petersen.

Her sweet spirit joined our family on 11/11/11 at a tiny 5lb. 2oz. After having 2 girls and a boy, we were delighted to have another baby girl again. Instantly she became bonded with her big brother and followed him everywhere. At 19 months old, we welcomed her baby sister and things really felt perfect in that moment.

For the next 15 months we experienced a blissful life with our large family. We spent time as a family on trips to our ranch, Disneyland and Hawaii. That little girl loved her bike and was always looking for any excuse to ride it. Natalie had many nicknames. Natabug was a favorite but as her curiosity got the best of her 2 year-old self, Nautilie became another one we used. She would also introduce herself as Princess Elsa. Her spunky, energetic personality brought giggles and smiles to us all.

One fall day in October as we were packing to take another family trip to Disneyland for fall break everything changed. Our oldest 3 children had gone to school so it was only my husband and I along with Natalie and our baby at home. As my husband was preparing to leave for work, Natalie ran outside to get a quick ride on her bike in. She had taken her pajamas off and had no shame riding outside in just her underwear. My husband and I watched her and laughed as she went around and around our circle. We called to her to come inside and get ready for the day. Quickly she came riding into our garage and sat there watching us as we sorted the last of our vacation plans out. She gave her Daddy a big hug, kiss and said she loved him. He gathered everything he needed so he could leave for work and jumped into his truck as he waived goodbye. He had to hook up to a car trailer to take with him so he turned his back-up sensor off and watched the reverse screen instead. As his truck went slowly into reverse, a sick feeling came over me as I looked in the garage and didn't see Natalie's bike anymore. Instantly, I turned and ran towards the driveway. I heard her scream "Mommy" with such fear in her tiny voice. I slipped and fell as I tried to run screaming for my husband to stop. He saw me fall and stopped. I jumped up and ran to pick her up. As I scooped up my little girl off the ground I noticed she had no tire marks on her body but I could see that she was gone. Blood was everywhere and her injuries to her skull were so severe she died instantly. I was too late. I didn't save her. I performed CPR anyways desperately praying for her to not leave us. My husband ran to find help while he was on the phone with 911. After what seemed like forever, the ambulance arrived and loaded her and I into it and took off with my husband following behind in a cop car. I sat bawling rocking back and forth in the front seat repeating a prayer over and over again "I'm so sorry baby girl, I'm so sorry please don't take our little girl Heavenly Father!" I watched as they worked tirelessly to stabilize her until we were at the hospital. Moments after arriving, a doctor came in and told me what I already knew but wasn't ready to hear, she was gone. I stood there alone and collapsed on the floor in my blood soaked clothes screaming and sobbing uncontrollably as my husband finally got there and picked me up to hold me as we both began to absorb our devastating news. Family and friends poured in to offer prayers and support but it was all such a blur.

We felt such an intense amount of pain that we were numb to anything else. I kept wondering "How could this be reality? How could this happen? How am I supposed to live without my sweet little Natabug?" There are not enough adequate words to describe the pain and despair we felt and still feel from this. The nightmares and replays of that day torment and plague us daily.
We have slowly relearned how to handle the mundane things in this life. With the reassuring knowledge of the gospel and help of family and many friends, we were given the comfort and support to continue on this journey as we grieve the loss of such a marvelously beautiful soul.

We are all here on this earth with the same purpose, to return to our home in Heaven as a valiant child of God. Each of us will experience trials that give us an opportunity to show our Father in Heaven that we will overcome anything and remain faithful so we can one day return to Him. Our family was given a choice as we experienced this intense trial. We made a promise to Natalie that we will all make it back to her. We chose to deepen our testimonies in the gospel and work hard to allow this trial to shape us the way the Lord needed it to. To say this has been the most difficult thing I have ever experienced would be an understatement, but through the grace of God as we have prayed fervently He has provided the most healing and comfort. He is there for us all if we will humble ourselves in our times of need and simply ask in prayer.

Looking back on the past year, our lives are very different now, as they should be. She was special and the pain we still feel and will always feel is a reminder that she is so incredibly loved and will never be forgotten. We have found some peace in serving others. Among many other things, I started doing a drawing on my Instagram @chasingmymonkeys that we hold every Wednesday in her honor. We are a family forever. What a joyous reunion it will be one day to hug our angel Natalie once again. Until then, we strive to be #nearertonatalie.

My name is Jennifer. My baby girl is in heaven. Until we meet again . . . I will stand.

Jen will be presenting at A Reason to Stand October 22nd, St. George Utah. 


A Time To Walk By Faith said...

I love you- always and forever!

Anonymous said...

This story breaks my heart. So glad that you've been able to gain some measure of peace in this excruciating trial.

Unknown said...

Absolutely broke my heart in a million pieces. You are so strong!

glenda said...

Heartbreaking!!! Peace and strength to Nataties family

Unknown said...

You are definitely a fighter and so strong. Absolutely heartbreaking.

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