Creating athletic socks with colorful silhouettes of LDS temples is WHAT we do. WHY we do it goes a little deeper.
Eight years later, the pain of losing our son is different than it was in the beginning. The ache is still so lonely but is not as sharp and hits less frequently. In those early days after losing him, sleep would come so easily and with such relief. It was the waking up that was the nightmare, waking up to remember my little guy was gone.
In June of 2009, I was almost 8 months along. We were excited to know that our 5th boy would soon join our family. But when it came time for the doctor to listen to his heartbeat, there was none. Our son had died.
No mother should have to hold a dead babe in her arms, wondering what color his eyes would’ve been. Eyes rimmed with long lashes that never fluttered in this life. No father should have to pace a grassy field and decide the final resting place for his son. Irrigated or non-irrigated, half-plot or full, street side or nestled among trees. No mother should have to walk away from the grave of her baby boy to the sound of dirt chunks being shoveled over his casket.
No mother should, but this mother has.
It is not a matter of if the “mighty winds, hail and storms” will descend upon your family. It is a matter of when. It is not a matter of if death will take someone you love, it’s a matter of when. (Helaman 5:12)
During Eli’s burial, I reminded my boys that our family strives to “build our house upon the Rock”, that when I look at the rock marking Eli’s grave, I will think of the Rock, my Savior, and how He alone has the power to open up the grave.
I am not always this hopeful and optimistic. On the days when death, destruction and depression seem to settle upon my very being, I have little strength to “press forward” and have not a “perfect brightness of hope”. But I do have a Savior. I always have a Savior. I may not always be able to see Him, hear Him or feel Him, but as long as I keep looking, He will be there. (2 Ne 31:20)
Looking takes little energy or movement. It is an action of faith, to keep your eyes open until the light comes. If only the children of Israel had looked upon Moses’ staff, they would have been healed. It was not the looking that brought the healing, it was the particle of faith that healing was possible.
My greatest hope is to live with my baby Eli again. The sealing power is not something I merely believe in, it is something I feel. It is a tangible tether linking me to my son. What is required of me to receive this blessing?
What am I willing to do, to go through, to live with God again?
Death, for me, was not the ultimate trial. It is the living with death, enduring this pain and loss for the rest of my life. The real test is in allowing joy and happiness to exist where such pain has occurred. Believing that Jesus Christ can heal is only step one. Waiting, hoping, and looking forward to that day of healing requires strength that only the Lord can give me.
My hope is as “exquisite as is my pain.” The whirlwind, the hail and mighty storms that beat upon me have no power to keep me in the “gulf of misery.” Gratitude for what I do have buffers me against the vicious reminders of what I don’t. ( Alma 36:21, Helaman 5:12)
In my journal, one week after Eli’s death, I wrote, “I have found that my prayers have changed over the last week. It seems that gratitude can calm an aching heart. I simply pray in gratitude for my favorite blessings. This helps me calm down, feel the love of the Lord, and rest.”
Be in the habit of looking for tender mercies. The softness of a baby’s cheek, the sweetness of a child in prayer, the rustling of leaves outside like the whispering of angels…the mercies of a loving Heavenly Father who knows what it means to lose a son.
Building upon the Rock is our safety, our defense against destruction. His power is the only element, the only agent and force that has power to shine where no light exists. It is His voice that breaks through the darkness to the Nephites who are mourning, the loss of their loved ones. It is the mere thought of Jesus Christ that frees Alma the Younger from the torment of his soul, “Behold when I thought of (Jesus Christ), I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more. And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea my soul was filed with joy as exceeding as was my pain!…There could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains…Yea, on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy” (Alma 36:19-21)
It was so agonizing to choose the granite and the font and the colors and the final wording that would be carved to create Eli’s headstone. There was nothing to say, yet everything to say on that little piece of stone that carried his name. I settled on a simple testimony, “Eternally Ours,” because looking to Jesus Christ brings a sweetness and a joy that nothing else can.
This is where True Crew Socks come back into the story. WHY do we create and sell temple socks?
Living without my son is really, really, hard. I need reminders that everything is going to be ok. I look for tender mercies to bring comfort to my heart. Every pair of temple socks we create reminds me that Eli lives, and will live again, that he is “Eternally Ours.” Every time I see a pair of #truecrewsocks tagged on social media, on your kids, athletes or missionaries, it brings a smile to my face for which I am incredibly grateful. It is a reminder to look to Jesus Christ for healing in all things.
Thank you for reminding me that everything is going to be ok.
Next time I’ll share Part 2 of “The WHY Behind True Crew Socks.” You won’t want to miss it!