Photo courtesy of Kelly Duke
One year. That is how long it has been since we lost our daughter. My little girl. My young adult daughter just ready to move into the rest of her life. To say that this last year has been the hardest of my life is an understatement. How I have missed so many things about Laney. Nothing has been the same without her here. That is probably pretty obvious, but you have to understand that she was such a rock. Such a piece of the glue holding our family together. I miss her so incredibly much.
But this year has also been one of learning big lessons, feeling the love my Heavenly Father has for me and seeing the tender mercies poured out upon my family. I don’t think I will ever say that I am grateful for this trial. This experience. I know that all of the things we go through will be for our experience and for our good, but I am just not seeing it yet.
Laney’s friends painted the wall on the freeway
What I am grateful for are the people who have stepped into our lives in a greater role. Who have been there when we needed someone the most. Who have not left us alone to try and cope. If we just keep holding on, the light will come. I know that.
Oh, I know there is a plan for our lives. I just sometimes wish I could just see a little snippet of how it all plays out. Elder Quentin L. Cook has said that all of the wrongs and unfairness of life will be made right. Oh, how I long for the day when I can see that come about. Because, to be honest, this all seems a little unfair to me. But I will trust in the plan my Heavenly Father has for me as I wait for the light to come.
I have been thinking about Jens for the last couple of weeks as we come upon the year mark. I know it is such a hard time for him, too. But I have mostly been thinking about what he did for us, what he did for Laney.
I am going to put it out there that Jens is the guy every mother wishes their daughter would marry. While we know that will have to wait a little while, we still have him in our lives, and still love him as though her were our son. We all used to laugh that she would say that we loved him more than she did. She was too nervous to tell him she loved him, so she painted her nails, hoping he would know it was for him. Here is the picture:
But it was really Jens who loved her the most. At a time when we, as her parents could not be there for our daughter, he was. He knew exactly what to do for her, what power to call upon first. We will forever be grateful to him for that. For everything he did on the mountain that day. And what he still does for our family, everyday since. For remembering. For bringing peace into our lives. For loving Laney so much that he wanted her to be his for eternity. For knowing that Heavenly Father will work it all out in the end. For knowing that she will still be his. Never forget how much she loves you. Still.
This picture reminds me of how happy you guys were, and will be again someday. Thank you for making her so incredibly happy. We loved you then, and love you still. We always have, and always will.
Laney has always had very good taste in friends. She seemed to find the cream of the crop. Brynna hung out with Laney and her friends, so it was only natural that Laney’s friends would keep being there for Brynna. So it has been with one of Laney’s friends named Kurtis.
Kurtis is a great guy who has been there for Brynna through so many rough things. Just this last week he held her in the hospital half the night while she cried in pain-until she fell asleep. Then yesterday he took her to the temple to do baptisms, out to lunch, and over to spend the day with his family.
Did I mention that Kurtis is leaving on his mission next week? He is making time for Brynna because he knows how much she needs him right now. But he has been there for our family, too. He has come over just to visit. We love it because it helps bring us peace.
But this post is for Kurtis. I want him to know how amazingly proud I am of him for choosing to help others learn that they can have their families forever, just like we can. He is going to be a great missionary. I want him to know that I love him, too, for helping Brynna. For being her friend. For coming to my house, flopping in the chair, grabbing the guitar and being part of the family. The chair will be here waiting for you to get back. But in the meantime, never forget how incredibly proud Laney is of you, too. She will be there when you need her encouragement, I am sure. Just like she would have been anyway. Don’t forget to write!