Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A burden lifted

I have been meaning to write this post for weeks now, but haven't really known how to say what I am about to say.

Before I get to that, the above pictures are of the bench in our backyard by our waterfall. We built the waterfall in remembrance of Angelina--to have the symbolism of "Living Water" near her and a place to memorialize her. Taylor then gave me the bench for Mother's Day last year and ever since we have wanted to get a plaque for it, but haven't gotten it until this year. The plaque reads, "In Loving Memory of Our Angel, Angelina Joyce Housley, April 1, 2009" It's beautiful and we love it.

Alright, on to the purpose of this post. April 2010 was a big month for us. It was the year mark of Angelina and I approached it with a lot of hesitation and apprehension--I had no idea what to expect and didn't really know how to feel. It's obviously a day that holds a lot of meaning to us as we reflect on what happened a year ago, but at the same time, I didn't want to be "down" and "wallow in self-pity" and have a "woe is me day" just because 'that's what I was supposed to do' or because 'that's what people thought I would do.' ...hopefully that makes sense.

Well, April 1 arrived and it coincidentally was our "Day in Heaven" for our church. That essentially means that all the members in our church who live in a certain area around us spend the day--or whatever time they have--at the temple. For more information on temples, go to www.lds.org .

Well, for days leading up to this "Day in Heaven" I really felt a very strong desire and urge to be at the temple. I knew that that was the closest I could get to our Angelina while on this earth. So perhaps my prior hesitation turned into an anticipation to get to the temple. Sure enough, April 1 came and my experience at the temple was absolutely amazing. It was a very spiritual experience for me--one that cannot be expressed in words on this blog. As I sat in the temple, I remember telling Angelina in my mind that I loved her and that I knew she was in a good place and that Heavenly Father was with her. It was an absolutely amazing experience--the temple was definitely a place I needed to be that day.

Well, everything remained the same after April 1, but what was about to come, was not expected.

Without many details, I came in contact with a girl who had previously gone through an almost identical experience as us--she learned her baby had Turner's Syndrome and she had to deliver the baby right before 20 weeks. We emailed each other several times and I was (and am) so grateful to meet someone who knew almost exactly what I was going through.

Well, after several emails, she wrote something that I didn't really allow to sink in. I read over it and that was about it--I was pretty taken back at the words in the email so I didn't allow myself to spend much time thinking about it. I guess I just brushed it off.

Well, a few days later, a very close family friend was having a conversation with my mom. She was aware of our situation and then told my mom that she too had had a stillborn several years prior. She then told my mom the exact same thing that the girl in the email wrote. My mom was inspired to tell me of her conversation with our family friend and it was then that I put the two comments--from two completely different people--together. And, quite honestly, had these two people not had stillborn births of their own, I probably wouldn't have listened or put much weight to their words. But they knew what it was like to have a baby inside of them and to be told that there is no longer a heartbeat and to then proceed through all the steps of delivery and labor and post-delivery....so I knew I should give merit to what they were saying.

And what they both said, at two separate times through two different mediums, was this: that I needed to let go and essentially move on.

This was so extremely different than what I had thought the entire year prior. It was a full 180 from my way of thinking. What I went through with Angelina was definitely something that shaped and molded me--and really, changed me. But my way of thinking was like I had a huge sign on my forehead that said "I have had a stillborn" or "Guess what happened to me last year?" or "I had a life changing event last year" ...any of these phrases would be equivalent to having a huge blinking light above my head, at least that's how I felt. I felt like when people looked at me, they thought about my stillborn, and perhaps I felt that way because that is how I felt. I felt like every person I met I had to tell them my story. Angelina's experience was just a huge, huge, huge part of me.

So hearing the words "I need to let it go" ... was really a new thought and concept to me.

And then the amazing thing happened. I realized I did need to let go. Now, "letting go" does not mean that I forget, or pretend it didn't happen--but I realized I put way too much thought and energy into the past--that I was almost stuck in a rut and I couldn't--and didn't want--to get out.

I will NEVER forget the experience we went through, because like I said earlier, we truly have grown and have learned many valuable things. One of which is how much I need to rely on my Savior Jesus Christ and put my faith and trust in him. And truly, Angelina's story is a part of who we are. But I recognized that I was letting the situation become me, instead of letting the experience help me grow to become a better Christlike person. And the amazing thing was, when I realized this, an incredible weight was lifted from me. And the thing is, I didn't realize how big of a weight or burden I was carrying until it was lifted. I know the Lord lifted the burden for me and that He is currently carrying it for me. I cannot tell you how amazing it felt to have that lifted. I recognize that the burden is probably termed "grieving" but I didn't realize it for the entire year. I am the type of person that goes through something, I cry, I have my hard days, but I pick up and keep moving forward. I felt like I had grieved, I didn't see that I was still grieving.

I am grateful to these two people who were inspired to tell me that I needed to reach a point where I was ready to move on. These two separate statements came relatively close together, but they came very differently. And again, had they not gone through it themselves, it's sad to say--but in all honestly, I probably wouldn't have believed them.

I am grateful that I have a Savior who loves me enough to carry the burden for me. I am grateful for the knowledge the gospel gives me that I can turn to my Savior, for He has felt the pain I have felt.

So, while I will never forget our angel, Angelina, I have recognized that I can think about her now without pain or burden. I can carry on and be freed from the weight I carried. ...and how remarkable that is!!!

So, while I plan to leave this blog up to share our story, this will be my last post on this blog. Thank you for reading and allowing me to share what we have gone through and what we have learned. I have learned so much and we have been so blessed to have this experience....I will never forget what we have learned, and more importantly, what we have gained--a greater understanding and appreciation for our Savior, Jesus Christ.

If you have suffered or feel pain from something that you or someone you know have gone through, please click on the above link to find hope, peace and comfort. I know you will find it there--I did.


  1. Thanks for sharing Val! I know that I have told you a million times that I think you are an incredible person. But I want you to know that I believe it in and out, and I am grateful that you have taken time to put this blog up and share your thoughts and feelings. And I am proud of you (even if it sounds cheesy) for all that you have done with this, and shared and gone through. I know that Angelina is watching down on you and that she is serving a great mission in heaven. You are an incredible example to me of sharing your testimony, and I have learned that I need to not hold it in. And I appreciate that you have blessed so many lives and given so much comfort by sharing this testimony. The church is true and we ought not to be afraid. thanks so much! and god bless you! we hope to see you sometime in the near future (if we can get out there).

  2. What a beautiful post. Thank you so much for sharing your story, your thoughts and feelings, and your inspiration. I have and always will look up to you. Thank you for sharing your testimony.

  3. Hi, it is Jessee Stewart--I followed you back to your own blog. I can relate to so many things that you said...the feeling like you SHOULD feel a certain way cause that is what people expect from you, and the need to move on. Not move on in forgetfulness, but living your life with grateful rememberance. I love that God is always there to whisper to us those things we need to do to feel more peace and love in our lives. Thanks for finding me, and thanks for sharing. I feel like I wont ever be the same person (and thank goodness! :) ) that I was before I had my precious baby girl, and it sounds like you feel the same.

  4. Cathy Oppelt SmithJune 16, 2010 at 9:35 PM

    Valerie, your poignant writing has been inspirational for me. Though my situation was somewhat different, we both know what it feels like to lose a baby you are carrying in your own womb. Thank you for sharing all these posts and I will continue to keep you and your family in my prayers as you learn to let go. It's a hard lesson to learn for some of us, but the strength you have in yourself and in your faith will undoubtedly get you through the next transition.