As we hit our 4 year anniversary today…my emotions run a little high. Not high with sadness but with gratitude. Gratitude for how far we have come…for ALL that we have learned…and for the blessing of having a literal angel in my home to love on, learn from, and enjoy!
I recently read this quote and it has become one of favorites…maybe because it is by one of my favorite people too! ;) "You will come to KNOW that what appears today to be a SACRIFICE will prove instead to be the greatest INVESTMENT that you will ever make." Gordon B. Hinckley
4 years ago I wouldn’t have believed this…heck even 2 years ago! I felt like my world was falling apart and that I would never be able to move on! I felt I was being asked to sacrifice too much and I didn’t think it was fair. I was STILL learning to cope with the physical and emotional struggles of Zach losing his sight and now this!! I was in a dark place!!
As 4 years have passed and as I have SACRIFICED DAILY for my little Dakota man…I have SLOWLY come to realize every tear, every sleepless night, every painful cry for help, every fear of the future, EVERY physical and emotional sacrifice I have made and will continue to make has become THE GREATEST INVESTMENT I have ever made and continue to make. And although some days are still hard as heck, some days I’m still learning patience and all kinds of hard lessons, some days I still tear up and just wish my life was “normal” (especially the other day when I flew by myleslf with these 2 kids to AZ), and some days I still fear and wonder about the future…I can see now that it is ALL worth it!! There IS a purpose behind all of this madness!!
They say time heals and I’m here to say it doesn’t! The only healer through ANY struggle or trial is Christ! Time just ALLOWS us to come to know and lean upon our Savior so that HE can teach us, show us the way, and HEAL us…because that takes time. It doesn’t happen overnight. To REALLY come to know and rely upon our Savior we have to dig deep. We have to yearn for and TRULY work for it (praying, studying, pondering, and listening)…and often times it takes sacrifice, pain, and trials that force us to our knees to get there!
Because of the help and strength of my Savior, I have learned some of the most powerful lessons in these 4 years. He has allowed me to see and focus on the bigger picture…to see Dakota for who he really is…a VERY brave soul! A little boy that has a GREAT purpose here on this earth…to light up the lives of everyone he meets…especially his mom and dad’s!! To teach others how to LOVE sincerely and to give others a tiny glimpse into heaven!! ;) And it is MY job as his mom to HELP him fulfill it!
Zach has decided that Dakota’s sweet smile is titled a “Welcome to Heaven” smile! The first time he told me that I laughed because it was so random but as he described his feelings it made complete sense. He just said that when you see Dakota’s smile it made him feel like that is the kind of smile you will get when you go to heaven. When you get there, there will be someone with a sweet angelic face and smile welcoming you…without words just a smile saying… “Welcome to Heaven!” I love it!!
I have come to accept Dakota’s new plan in life. I have come to accept the fact that he may never walk, talk, use a toilet, run into my arms and give me a great big hug, tell me with words that he loves me or hear the word mom, eat a meal, take a shower by himself, climb out of bed on his own, play hide and go seek with his sister, be the best player on the team, graduate high school or college, go on a date, get married, give me grandkids, or EVER leave home!
I accept this and am willing and ready for ALL the SACRIFICES that Zach and I and he will have to make because of it, because I KNOW with ALL my heart that Heavenly Father’s plan for Him was ALWAYS intended to look different than others…it just took the time and help from my Savior to help me see, learn, and accept it!!
On days that I struggle to remember this, all I have to do is reread the poem that my dear friend Jenell gave me (thank you Jenell)…and because we mark the anniversary I will share it again!! It puts Dakota's little life so perfectly into perspective!!
Not too long ago in Heaven there was a little soul who took wonder in observing the world. He especially enjoyed the love he saw there and often expressed this joy with God. One day however the little soul was sad, for on this day he saw suffering in the world. He approached God and sadly asked, "Why do bad things happen; why is there suffering in the world?" God paused for a moment and replied, "Little soul, do not be sad, for the suffering you see, unlocks the love in people's hearts." The little soul was confused. "What do you mean," he asked. God replied, "Have you not noticed the goodness and love that is the offspring of that suffering? Look at how people come together, drop their differences and show their love and compassion for those who suffer. All their other motivations disappear and they become motivated by love alone." The little soul began to understand and listened attentively as God continued, "The suffering soul unlocks the love in people's hearts much like the sun and the rain unlock the flower within the seed. I created everyone with endless love in their heart, but unfortunately most people keep it locked up and hardly share it with anyone. They are afraid to let their love shine freely, because they are afraid of being hurt. But a suffering soul unlocks that love. I tell you this - it is the greatest miracle of all. Many souls have bravely chosen to go into the world and suffer - to unlock this love - to create this miracle for the good of all humanity."
Just then the little soul got a wonderful idea and could hardly contain himself. With his wings fluttering, bouncing up and down, the little soul excitedly replied. "I am brave; let me go! I would like to go into the world and suffer so that I can unlock the goodness and love in people's hearts! I want to create that miracle!" God smiled and said, "You are a brave soul I know, and thus I will grant your request. But even though you are very brave you will not be able to do this alone. I have known since the beginning of time that you would ask for this and so I have carefully selected many souls to care for you on your journey. Those souls will help you create your miracle; however they will also share in your suffering. Two of these souls are most special and will care for you, help you and suffer along with you, far beyond the others. They have already chosen a name for you". God and the brave soul shared a smile, and then embraced.
In parting, God said, "Do not forget little soul that I will be with you always. Although you have agreed to bear the pain, you will do so through my strength. And if the time should come when you feel that you have suffered enough, just say the word, think the thought, and you will be healed." Thus at that moment the brave little soul was born into the world, and through his suffering and God's strength, he unlocked the goodness and love in people's hearts. For so many people dropped their differences and came together to show their love. Priorities became properly aligned. People gave from their hearts. Those that were always too busy found time. Many began new spiritual journeys, some regained lost faith - many came back to God. Parents hugged their children tighter. Friends and family grew closer. Old friends got together and new friendships were made. Distant family reunited, and every family spent more time together. Everyone prayed. Peace and love reigned. Lives changed forever. It was good. The world was a better place. The miracle had happened. God was pleased.
Thank you Dakota for sacrificing for me, your dad, your sister, and SO many others to help unlock the love inside of our hearts!! Instead of marking 4 years of sadness…this day marks 4 years of greatness!! (The day you graduated to become an angel here on earth!) I am SO proud to call you MY son! I love you with EVERY piece of my heart!!!