He Cocked His Head To The Side

And asked me, “How are you doing, Sara?” I look at him confused. “I’m doing fine, why do you ask?” He looks at me straight in the eye and says, “No really, how are you doing? With life, with the diagnosis of diabetes, thyroid issues and fibromyalgia?” I look at him wondering what he wants from me. So I say “No, I’m really ok. I take each day at a time. I’m reading my scriptures each day, praying, doing what I’m supposed to be doing and just keep smiling.” Well, he says “Most teenagers wouldn’t be fine. They’d hate life and want something different. They’d want to be able to go to high school, go to dances. I just think you’re maybe taking this too well.” I’m confused. How does he want me to respond to what’s going on in my life? Am I supposed to not be happy? I have a very loving family who supports me in all that I do. I’m cherished at home. I know all of these things will be with me the rest of my life, but I’ve been given tools, to help me overcome everything that is thrown my way. And not in a million years as I sat in my bishop’s office that day, would I have imagined….

That he would be speaking at my daughter’s funeral almost 15 years later.

And if he was still my bishop at the time of her death, and he asked me how I was doing. I would say that I’m not fine. Life is not OK. I still have the tools to help me. My family, the support I get from them. Prayer. Scripture. My patriarchal blessing. But none of those things seem to help. I’d look at him in absolute despair. Somehow when I’d been given those other trials in my life… my health… the years of being sick, even the trying years of my first marriage and the horrors of going through a divorce, could never compare to the horror and bitterness that I felt when Amy Lynne died. 

I don’t remember much from my daughter’s funeral. There are a few key things… I’m not too sure why they’re key, but I remember Melinda sitting next to me and just crying about Amy Lynne,  Matthew giving the most awesome prayer as the family closed her casket for the last time, before we wheeled her into the chapel. I remember sitting in the front row and Lauren crying like the world was going to end. And I imagine that to her, her world was ending. I couldn’t cry, I just sat there numb. I remember Andy, my former bishop speaking at her funeral. I thought he’d be a great addition, not only for his gospel knowledge but because he’d lost a daughter too. And it doesn’t matter how long ago you lost your child, the feelings never go away. We’d have a lot of non members there. He’d be able to give a great talk for those non members. I remember LeeAnne singing at her funeral. She sang “I lived in Heaven” from the Children’s song book. She sang all the verses of the song and in the very last sentence of the song, she changed the words and used Amy Lynne’s name. I remember being surprised. I remember going to the grave sight. Thinking I was going to fall off of the chairs because we were on a hill side. I remember back at the church when we had the dinner that there was this woman who had this pixie hair cut. Before it really came into style and turning to my mother and asking her who she was. She replied “Oh, that’s Sister Coberly. She’s the relief society president in my ward. She’s the best RS president I’ve ever had. She works full time and she took the day off to come and help out here.” I felt so thankful. I didn’t know her. I’d learn later that is just who she is. And then I remember the weather. It was so windy and cold. It was trying to snow. Her body would be so cold. Can I stand the thought of her body being cold? When I just so recently held her in my arms and she was warm?

We took Lily to Amy Lynne’s grave for the first time today. Maybe I’m a terrible parent for never taking her before now. Lily was so excited to go and see her sister! I kept telling her that we wouldn’t really see her. Just her head stone. Lily asked me why we wouldn’t be able to see her. I told her that her spirit had left her body and that we had buried her in the ground.

She got the most horrified look on her face. She was absolutely appalled that I’d put Amy Lynne in the ground! She then in the most quiet voice ever asked me “Are you going to put me in the ground and bury me?” Oh my sweet baby. No!

She loved looking at all the head stones there. She wanted to know all the names of the children who were near Amy Lynne. She was jumping around and having a great time. Lauren, not so much. We talked about cleaning all the head stones and making sure all the grass was off of them for a young women’s project to go towards her medallion. She thought that was a great idea. So we’re going to do that. As we’re leaving the cemetery, Lauren is crying again. I think  she misses Amy Lynne as much as the rest of us do. Lily is very concerned however. “Why are you crying, Lauren?” Benjamin answered that she was sad that Amy Lynne was in the cemetery instead of with us. Lily gets all excited and says

“Lauren, Amy Lynne will come out when she’s ready! And then she’ll never die again!”

And it brings me back to Andy’s talk. He held up a metal bracelet. He showed it to all of us. He says, “This is a circle. It’s never ending. That is how life is.” He then takes a piece of paper and places it on the bottom portion of the bracelet. “Now, it looks like there is a beginning and an end. When there really isn’t. We just can’t see the full circle.” And it is true. Lily then went on to say all excitedly…

“MOM, Amy Lynne is the other baby that’s supposed to come to our home!”

(we’d been talking about adoption and wanting to prepare her if we were lucky enough to have a younger sibling come into the home) I assured her that yes, Amy Lynne was definitely supposed to be in our family and that one day she would come out when she’s ready, however Lily would be an adult. She then was very curious and wanted to know if Amy was an adult now or a baby. Really? I have no clue where that came from.

I’m glad we went. Lauren and I will be back to take care of all the babies’ head stones. I’ll also take Lily back again. She had a good time. I know all of those children wouldn’t mind her playing around their graves.

6 years. It’s been 6 years.

And when I look into my rear view mirror when I’m driving, I still imagine that I have 4 heads in the back. The way it should be.

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