When Josie died, I can remember feeling a great sadness and sense of loss over the notion that she no longer needed me. She was now in a realm of what many consider a place of paradise—where worries cease to exist. My sense of identity as her protector and nurturer was shaken to the core. She was now in the hands of an Almighty, Loving God who is far superior in His care of her than I could ever even hope to be. She simply did not need me any more. I had played my part, and she had moved on.
Though this sounds like such a silly notion, it was indeed what I felt. I fought through these ideas for many months, it seems. The tears would flow every time I bought some sort of treat or gift for my other children, because I could not spoil her with the same. Of course, I generally found something for her as well, to be placed at her gravesite—but it was not the same.
Because I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I have always carried an abiding faith in the eternal nature of families. My own mother would reassure me, in these moments of despair, that I would always be Josie’s mother. I clung to that thought as though it were my lifeline… Always a great source of strength, it helped to carry me past those initial painful moments that seemed all-consuming and even engulfing.
When we completed a special work for Josie in the Monticello Temple (In my religion, we do sacred work in temples that we believe essential to a person’s eternal salvation. If they have died before having an opportunity to make these covenants themselves, they can be made by the living on their behalf.), I truly believed I had given her my one last service. It was a tender moment for me, but at the same time the previous thoughts that she no longer “needed” me lurked in the shadows of my suppressed and unspeakable thoughts.
Since the very night my daughter died, I have continually felt her presence, and often understand her thoughts and emotions. Perhaps this is a special gift I was given—another of Father’s tender mercies. Whatever the case, I was awoken one night only to sense her near, but something was different this time. Unlike previous times, when she would bring me comfort and cheer, this time she had clearly come because it was she that was missing me…!!! It nearly broke my already broken heart, because I could feel her pain and longing just as profound as was my own. Oh, how I love that girl. I am so glad that she is mine, and that I am forever her “little mommy.”