I remember at a very early age struggling to understand how to deal with all the evil I saw around me. Murders, beatings and anger seemed to be everywhere I turned. I remember one time in particular when I was around the age of ten feeling really overwhelmed by it all, and it began to take a physical toll on me. I sort of drifted into a mild form of depression, a hole, and not quite understanding why. I remember my cousin Lora had come to my house for a sleepover one night. Sleepovers for me with my cousins were usually filled with endless games, late nights and lots of laughter. But, I didn’t want to play. I didn’t want to watch movies. I didn’t even want to talk (which we normally did for hours). I just felt down. My mom, being observant as she was, pulled me aside and asked what was wrong. I remember a wave of emotions came poring out of me as I sobbed in her arms. I explained how I didn’t like how dirty and evil the world around me made me feel. That I didn’t understand why people would do such bad things to one another. My mom listened, gave me a great pep talk and told me to go and make this sleepover fun for my cousin. A few days later, my mom came to my room with a present for me. She had framed a picture she had drawn of three balloons floating together in the sky. Underneath the balloons, she wrote in calligraphy “Rise above it”. There were many times in my life that I looked towards that picture for comfort. I envisioned myself literally flying above all the things of this world that bothered me, that made me sick. This picture gave me a feeling of strength, that I didn’t have to let those things effect me. I could simply let it go and rise above it.
On December 14th I fell into a hole. This was the deepest hole I had ever been in. I tried to look up and see a way out, but I could barley see any light. I felt this enormous pain inside as I realized a piece of me had been taken away forever all by one person’s evil act. I couldn’t concentrate. I couldn’t breath. This one person’s choice, this one act, tore my perfect life and the lives for many many others apart. As the days went by I found myself still in this hole unable to climb out. I have realized the pain I felt then, and still do now, will always be a part of me. But I had to find a way to rise above this and as I searched for something to hold on to, something to help me out, my hands were empty.
I was downstairs in my basement gathering things we were going to be taking with us on our trip to Utah, when I heard an odd noise. I asked my mom, who was with me, if she could hear it too. As we searched around the basement trying to locate where the sound was coming from, I realized in was coming from my oil tank. Perplexed I watched our oil tank meter quickly rise from 1/4 of a tank to completely full. I ran up the stairs and looked out our front window to see our hometown oil truck parked in our driveway, filling up our tank. Knowing I hadn’t called them for a fill, I watched with wide eyes as this compassionate man offered me a my first balloon. He was giving me a chance to choose to hold onto his kindness and let it give me strength. To focus on all the things around me that offered me hope. Hope that there is so much good in this world if we choose to see it. And that somehow, I could use his kindness to help lift me, to lighten my burden, to help me get out of that hole.
Each day for me seems to hold a set of new challenges that I can never seem to anticipate. The emotions of grief are intense and hard. But everyday, I feel the compassion from a loving God who sees me in my moments of need. The blessings He sends to me everyday have been able to carry me through what seem like the hardest moments of my life. And everyday when I get up I think about all the balloons that have been offered to my family to help carry our burden. I think of thousands of peoples’ prayers of comfort. I think of all the amazing acts of kindness I have witnessed. I think of the dear friends of ours that started a facebook page to take away some of our burden. I think of all the hands that tied pink ribbons in their yards to help bring comfort to my family during our time of grief. I think of moments when my girls smile at me and giggle, or last week when my daughter blew out the candles on her birthday cake. I have a choice. I can choose to use the atonement of our Savior to help me in my time of pain. I can choose to see these moments that offer to lift me or I can choose to be consumed by other’s bad choices. I know I have not been abandoned. I know my prayers are heard. It is now up to me to choose to rise instead of fall.