A lot has changed since then.
Three years ago, my daughter left.
By left, I mean that she left without a word. And except for one short email to tell me that she was nowhere near the massive flooding that was happening where we thought she was living, I haven’t heard from her since.
No explanation. No goodbye. Just gone.
It’s mind-boggling, really. Was I a perfect mother? Of course not. The only perfect person who ever walked the earth was Jesus Christ. But I am sure that I did nothing to warrant this loss, and that I did the best I could for her.
I gave her opportunities to develop her talents…
I traveled with her all over Canada and the eastern United States…
went on a tour of Newfoundland…
I encouraged her to have friends from all over, to care about her family, to savor special occasions….
And yet, she’s gone.
But that is not all I lost on the day she left.
I lost my godmother, who is one of my aunts, as well as her husband, her two sons, their spouses, and three children. Some of them not only knew what she was planning, but along with her biological father, encouraged it, and helped her to do it in secret. Some of them say they didn’t know. I don’t know who to believe. And even if relations are ever restored, how does one learn to trust again in people who had a hand in such as this?
I lost the close rapport I had with some of my own extended family. Some because they didn’t and still don’t know what to say; others because they pretend she never existed; still others who blame me for her leaving.
I lost a whole slew of people that were supposed to be friends, but had no kind words to say after she left.
But I have also gained some things as well.
I finally realized one of the reasons why the little girl I was so close to when I lived in Pond Inlet died – so helpful to us in life, she has also helped me in death by giving me a taste of that sense of loss long before I felt the loss of my daughter. Though she is not dead, her absence in our lives is felt every day.
I finally am able to pray as I should, something that was denied to me for many years as a result of my first marriage. After it ended, I would become physically ill whenever I prayed, and had resorted to cursory and perfunctory prayers much of the time. Now I can pray again – every day is a constant prayer that she is safe, making good choices, happy.
I finally have realized – or at least have some small inkling – of just what it means when the scriptures say that Heavenly Father lost a third of His children. Why should I exempt myself from what He has experienced?
I finally know that healing of all kinds comes through the Atonement of Christ. “The Savior’s atonement in the garden and on the cross is intimate as well as infinite. Infinite in that it spans the eternities. Intimate in that the Savior felt each person’s pains, sufferings, and sicknesses. Consequently, he knows how to carry our sorrows and relieve our burdens that we might be healed from within, made whole persons, and receive everlasting joy in his kingdom.”
I hope one day she will return to us. If she does, she will be welcomed with open arms, a prodigal daughter to a mother who misses her.
This was me five years ago.
And this is me today.