Thursday, March 31, 2016

Did Christ Suffer This Pain Too?

There is a scripture that has always resonated with me in Isaiah because of its graphic imagery: "Behold I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me." I loved that. I couldn't always explain why. It connected me with my Savior in a tangible way. It is beautiful to me.

The scripture just before that says, "Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee." Now when I read this scripture, it is as much condemnation as comfort. I feel like Peter, who loved Jesus so much and promised he would never betray him, but then he did betray him, three times that same day, just as Jesus said he would. He was horrified and repentant, but he did it and he didn't understand the consequences and he couldn't take it back. Just so with me. I would give my life to have my Eleanor on this earth again, but I don't have that choice now. And in the moment I did have that choice, I was impotent.

So many things I would change about that day. It is two years ago now exactly, but I can close my eyes and see it all again. I couldn't know that the fire would consume my house in minutes. I couldn't put that angry inferno out. I can forgive myself for these things. But, oh, why couldn't I have thought to get her from her crib before it was too late? That awful moment, when I looked around, grabbing at the air and realizing that her bedroom was collapsing before my eyes and she wasn't with me. . . When I ran towards the house and dropped to the ground and pounded it with my fists over and over, screaming. When Gigi asked if we could please move back because the fire was so hot. . . I will relive those moments forever. And although I anxiously await and faithfully believe in our reunion someday, how will I face that perfect daughter who would be sharing her light with this imperfect world had she only had a mother who remembered a few minutes earlier that she was sleeping alone upstairs? Of course she was upstairs! She was helpless and depended on me for everything and in a moment of chaos and panic, I forgot her and she died alone and terrified.

I still get quiet when I watch an action sequence in a movie. Because it isn't like that. You don't find that you have super human strength when the situation calls for it. Or anyway, I didn't. Nothing worked right. Everything moved in slow motion. The basement door was locked, so I broke the window, wasting precious seconds, only to find the smoke was overwhelming. I only vaguely knew where the water shutoff was anyway. Everything happened in slow motion and my brain couldn't seem too solve the problems I was faced with. I was helpless and useless and unable to do anything about the awful scene unfolding before me. I kept hoping for someone, anyone, to come and help me fight this fire that was moving at an unbelievable pace, but I was the only adult person there, and the only one who would be there for twenty minutes. I was the one who was supposed to swoop in and save the day. I was supposed to be the hero to those three children. Those twenty minutes are now my eternity. They are on an endless loop in my brain and anything else I do throughout the day or night is done alongside those twenty minutes. They are my waking and my dreaming.

There are no words for my pain, and if not for these other four, I would not be a functioning person anymore. I know it. But I look at their sweet faces and I will not, I cannot, leave them to this world's inferno like I left her. I will be their mother, for as long as I am allowed to be, and then I don't care what happens to me.

I remember putting her down for her nap that day. She was wearing white leggings and a green/blue top that I just loved her in, with a white bow on her head that I took off for her nap. I laid her down on her back, all wrapped up in her blue and green blanket, in the nursery whose walls I had hand stenciled and whose furniture I had built or bought or refinished in the weeks before her birth. I put my right hand on her head and brought it down the side of her face until it cupped her chin and I said, "Night, night, Baby Girl. Mommy loves you!" And she smiled really big at me, with her giant open mouth. Just like always. And just like always, I closed her door behind me with a tired sigh and thought of what I was going to do during her nap time that I couldn't do when she was awake.

I have always learned that the point of the Atonement was not just Christ suffering for our sins, but for every pain and sin that we could possibly know. So he suffered this agony too. Her physical pain and my broken heart.I have learned that we need only lay our burdens at his feet. But I don't know how to do that. I just can't imagine letting this burden go.