Hi Everyone! I took a few months off from doing the “Mighty Mom” posts when I had my baby, but I’m ready to start them back up again. I stumbled across Ashlee’s story and felt very strongly that she should be our Mighty Mom this month. I hope you all are as inspired as I have been.
When Emmett left that night I knew that this time was different. He left just as he had for many nights. Saying he was going to go run an errand and be right back….but not come home for 7 or 8 hours. I knew in my heart that just as the previous weeks had shown me…he wasn’t coming back any time soon. My 6 week old baby began to cry the minute the garage door shut, just as he had done every night. This time his cry seemed to be a panic, that I not only felt in his screams, but in my heart. I called Emmett to beg him to come back…no answer. I said a prayer…. I begged that Emmett would be given a chance to find peace and come home to us, that he would be released from this torment that was plaguing his mind and his choices. I could feel his internal battle of something being wrong. I never heard it from his mouth, but could see it all over his face. I pleaded that this feeling of panic I had would be calmed tonight, that whatever it took for him to come home and be the father I needed him to be…would happen.
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After my prayer I held my screaming baby in one hand…I held my scriptures in the other hand and bounced. For two hours I bounced. My phone sat near by…silent. Bouncing….Screaming….tears rolling down my cheeks. Something was so wrong. About 10:00 I was overcome by sheer panic. I called and text him many times….no response….but how was this different than the hundreds of times he had ignored my pleas? 2 more hours ….bouncing….waiting….crying…..panic….. reading….singing to my hysterical infant. Would he ever stop crying? Midnight. Baby stopped crying and fell asleep. Now what? Now I was really alone and the pain sunk even deeper in my empty heart. I went to reach for my phone….who could I call? Emmett wouldn’t answer….what would I say to my Mom, or my sisters? Would any one believe me….something was wrong…I had been saying it for months. No one really seemed to believe me. I finally decided to lie down and try to sleep. My head hit my pillow, but the tears just slid down my face. I guess I kind of knew in my heart that some one was on their way to tell me he had been in a wreck and I could go see him….or he had been in a fight and I could go bail him out….at least he would be forced to need me. At least I could look him in the eye and tell him I was here for him…and maybe for once in all these crazy months he would hear me. Maybe this time, he would be in a place to feel our love pouring out all over him.
A Knock at the Door
The blankets were amazing. She laid them out in front of us and gave each blanket a name. She had felt impressed that each individual blanket was made for the specific person in our family. We sat admiring them in my living room. My brothers and sisters and parents were all sitting around when the kids came in to see their new “Daddy blankets”. Each kid was so excited to see them and instantly fell in love. All of the kids…until I got to Kaleeya. I held up her blanket and started to explain what it was. She got an angry look on her face and ran over and punched it a few times….she said, “Daddy?…I don’t want it.” I kneeled down beside her, “Kaleeya this is a blanket made out of Daddy’s clothes. Kim made this one just for you.” She repeated herself, “I don’t want it…Daddy gone…. Mommy cries. Mommy sad. I don’t want it.” I tried for a few minutes to get her to see how precious this blanket was going to be to her. She didn’t want anything to do with it. I didn’t understand. She wasn’t even 2 years old. It didn’t make sense that she could be angry at him or even understand that he was gone.
I thought back to the weeks before he died. The times that Emmett would get angry with me and then leave. I would go to my closet to try to calm myself down, away from the kids. While all the others would carry on playing…Kaleeya would come and find me. She would come and wipe my tears. She would ask me what was wrong. She would hold me as I cried. I never had any clue that she could understand my pain enough to be upset at Emmett. She saw me cry because of him… And now all I did was cry, and he was gone. In her mind, it seemed, she was mad at him for making me sad. I assumed that she figured that my tears were all his fault.For a few nights I kept trying to push the blanket on her, almost begging her to sleep with it. She always said she didn’t want it and Mommy cries. Each night was the same. I would tell her how special it was, and she would push it away.After putting kids to bed one night I went down stairs. I was sitting on the couch and within a few minutes could hear quiet sobbing. I wasn’t sure which room it was coming from so I tip toed up the stairs and listened quietly at each door. At Kaleeya’s room I found that she was the owner of the cries. I opened her door and walked my way toward her. I couldn’t see her face until I got closer. She was reaching her arms out and sobbing, “Daddy…I sorry. Hold me Daddy. Hold me Daddy. I sorry Daddy… I happy now…Please come back…I hold you..I need you hold me Daddy.” I looked over in the direction to where she was extending out her hands. There on her dresser was a picture of her and Emmett. It was an oversized photo that my friend Gaby had blown up for the funeral. I picked up the picture and grabbed her Daddy blanket from the side of her crib. I scooped her up and sat down with all three in my lap. For the first time, I noticed that the shirt he was wearing in the picture had been sewn into her Daddy blanket.
She was still sobbing to the picture, “Daddy died. He gone.”. I said, “I know baby. I am so sorry. Mommy is here.” “My Daddy in heaven and I want him to hold me Mommy. I need him to come and hold me.” Now she was almost begging the picture to come to life. With a lump in my throat I told her about how much her Daddy loved her and how he wasn’t here. He wasn’t going to be coming back. Then I held up the Daddy blanket. “Your Daddy isn’t going to hold you tonight, but your Daddy blanket was sewn by Angels so he can be wrapped all around you.” I wrapped my baby girl in her Daddy’s clothes and rocked her. We rocked and we cried together, wishing we could understand why a blanket was all that was left of the smile that stared back at us in the picture.Our little ones are holding their hands out to us… begging for us to hold them and to see them as the little precious jewels that they are. Every where around us people are reaching out for something. Waiting to be forgiven. Waiting to feel love. Our wives are silently waiting for us to look them in the eye and tell them they are enough. Our husbands need to hear how grateful we are for them. In one way or another we are holding our hands out for someone to hear our cries… waiting to feel complete by the love we need from someone else. Well sometimes, those words and that love we seek is not ever going to come. Whether from death, or pure selfishness, we may never hear or feel that love that we need.I wasn’t what Kaleeya wanted that night, but I got to give her what she needed. She needed to feel like she was safe and important to him. She craved to feel the love she had lost. I was a poor replacement for the man she needed to hold her, but Heavenly Father sent me in his place. Emmett wasn’t going to ever come back to fill that void…. but I was lucky enough to have the chance to try.
Thank YOU Ashlee Birk!
Thank you for inspiring us and being willing to share your story! If you’d like to get an update on Ashlee’s life currently, you can read here: Mighty Mom Award: Ashlee Birk. If you’d like to read more about her experiences, you can check out Ashlee’s blog, The Moments We Stand, Watch her murder trial testimony, The Dateline episode, or get updates on her experiences and insight through Facebook.
And as a special thank-you, Your Free Tree would like to honor you:
“We just want to say congrats for facing overwhelming adversity and moving on, inspiring others along the way. We recognize having 5 young children is a ton of work and we want to treat you and your current husband to a night out on us. One of our merchants Christopher’s Prime Steak House in Salt Lake City has invited you to be guests. We hope you enjoy your night and appreciate the example you set in moving forward.”
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