Thursday, September 6, 2012


Last night, in my quest for a better understanding of the life beyond this one, I laid in bed and began to read, "The Message" by Lance Richardson, an LDS man from Idaho. Richardson writes about what he learned from his death, brief visit to the spirit world, then subsequent revival. I feel somewhat skeptical about the premise of such experiences when the source isn't too authoritative, but reading through the first few chapters brought about an experience that I share with utmost reverence.

When reading about Richardson's description of his death, I could not help but picture Holden going through a similar experience.

     . . . I was struggling to get enough air and felt that I was suffocating. . . I began to feel panicky. My hands were tingling. Sweat was cascading down my face. . . The room seemed to be spinning. I was getting more and more dizzy and extremely nauseated. All I could do was fight for air and pray to God for help. 
     I had never quite realized how absolutely crucial oxygen is to our survival. And at that moment I would have given anything to be able to calmly expand my lungs and take in their fill. But I could not. . . The sensation was terrifying. 

It may have been the late hour, but my emotions got the best of me as I closed the book, then my eyes, and relived Holden's last earthly hour.

As this is a public forum and those moments are sacred to us, I will spare the details. But the feelings came sweeping over me last night and they haven't felt that fresh since the day it happened. It was an anguish that I could never ever before imagine. I couldn't bear to think of Holden going through it. I began to repeat in my tormented mind the question, "Holden. Did you suffer?" "Did you suffer, Holden?". I posed the question a dozen times before I heard, maybe not in a literal, audible way, but nonetheless heard, my son's first words: "No, Dad." 

Only once before have I had such a distinct and strong impression and that was shortly after hearing of Holden's fate from the surgeon. Had I not experienced it before, I would probably conclude it was my imagination, but I do not doubt the source of the words. 

I told Caitlin of my experience this morning and we both felt so comforted that, not only was his passing peaceful to him, but that his spirit really does live and watch over us.

I believe in a merciful God that loves us and suffers when we suffer. I feel like we got a miniscule taste of how He felt when his son was on the cross. Had I the power, I certainly would have shook the Earth in anguish as well.

I could definitely empathize with those who blame God, doubt his existence, or who let their life go to shambles over things like this, but to do so is to turn your back on the one real source of comfort and lasting peace. I don't know all the answers, but I'm grateful for the ones I do have. I'm grateful that God's plan includes a paradise where my son can dwell without pain or misery. I'm glad that a principal part of the plan includes the restoration of my family, never again to be separated. Caitlin and I simply cannot comprehend how hard all of this would be without the Gospel in our life. It is the oxygen we breathe, without which, we wouldn't survive.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Marker

Things have been getting a little tense for us as we've waited all summer for Holden's grave marker to arrive. We leave Saturday for Hawaii to finish school and we were going to be pretty distraught if we had to leave without being around to see it put in.  With only a couple of days to spare, the marker has arrived and we were able to be there as they put it in. We're way pleased with the way it turned out. Cait and I already bought the plot next to him and we've requested the same granite/bronze/border theme for ours (so everyone knows, in case the good Lord were to take us together). 

We got to keep the vinyl paper from the temporary one as a keepsake. We loved that people were able to read about him and see his picture and so we're kind of sad to take it away. We're wanting to make a similar stand for it that we can put in one of the flower pots.

We love it, and we think he does too. As I sat staring at it from the shade of the maple tree I felt like he was there with us to see it. 

If you're ever in the Bountiful area we'd be happy if you paid him a visit while we are away. Let us know and we'll help you find him.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Special Category

One of the most relevant things I've read over the summer was from Dallin H. Oaks' quasi-autobiography, Life's Lessons Learned. In the chapter on adversity he writes in response to 2 Nephi 2:1-2:

     Adversity is an occasional or even a constant companion for each of us throughout our lives. We cannot avoid it. It is a reality--and indeed one of the purposes--of mortal life. What is important is how we react to it. Will our adversities bear us down, or will we go forward relying on the promise of God, who does not shield us from every adversity but who gives us the guidance and strength that makes it possible for us to endure and progress?

     Some people exploit their adversities to encourage others to look on them with pity and to place them in a special category that excuses nonperformance. Others, as father Lehi taught, accept their adversities and go forward, relying on God's blessing to help them do their best.

I've been trying for the past hour to write about a particular experience with Holden, but have been unable to. For some reason I can't shake the feeling that some might perceive it as an attempt for pity, and I can't stand the idea that someone might think I would exploit my son's suffering that way. Simultaneously, I can't ignore the increasingly nagging feeling that I need to not only record these events, but help others who may be struggling, much like Caitlin and I have been helped by mutual acquaintances of adversity.

So I guess I'm making this post as a disclaimer to put my mind at ease: I may write about personal and sacred experiences that at times will be kind of downers, because there are difficult things I want to write about. I will not do this to garner pity or attention. I will not allow myself to post anything that in any way does not feel genuine to me or fails to accurately reflect how I'm feeling. My aim and hope is that this can be an effective way for me to record important events and recurring sentiments. I, like many of my gender, tend to compartmentalize my emotions, and think this will be a therapeutic outlet for me.

So bear with me. I'm gonna talk about my son a lot. He's on my mind a lot. I love him and miss him. I don't show it most of the day, but it hurts to not have him here.

Monday, August 20, 2012


A couple of days ago I was flipping through some of the pictures of Holden. When I say "flip through" I usually mean study every pixel of them for about 5 minutes each. I spent a good amount of time on this one in particular:

As I studied his face I thought back to this moment and could distinctly remember what this felt like. His warmth, his weight on my chest, all the details of this moment remain clear to me. I never anticipated what it would be like to be a father. When Holden was born the recurring thought of those days was, "I get it." I get why people are obsessed with their kids. Why they would do anything for them to be happy. I thought I understood before, it made sense to me and all, but I didn't have a clue until it happened to me.

As I was mentally transporting myself back to that perfect moment in my life I had a moment of clarity--that's kind of a cheap way to put it--I KNEW in that instant that those exact feelings at that moment will be mine to have again. His warmth. I would feel his warmth again.

That's the bittersweet thing that I believe only those who have had the kinds of trauma that Caitlin and I have had can experience. I thought I had felt the Spirit before. I've had an incrementally growing testimony of the gospel since I was an independent thinker, but now things are much different. Since Holden died there have been occasions that the truth just slaps me across the face with obviousness. The fact that Holden will resurrect. That his spirit will enter again into that little body. That his little hand will wrap around my finger. That I'll be able to hold him and play with him and hear him cry and demand to be held and all those other things that parents get to experience now and take for granted. All those things in that instant became something not to just hope for or believe in, but they were OBVIOUS.

I read this last night in Joseph Fielding Smith's Doctrines of Salvation:
"The resurrection is not a hard thing to believe. There are many things harder than that to believe. Life itself is a mystery. What do we know about it? Where does it come from?  Is there anything more wonderful than the creation of the body? Why, bless your soul, that is more wonderful than to call together the elements that compose the body after death and cause life to come into them again.
"In my judgment that is nothing to be compared as a miracle with the creation of that body in the beginning, putting life into it. Yet we see that every day; that is common. We see it, so we acknowledge it to be a fact. It is no more a miracle, it is no more wonderful, to have some body raised from the dead. They have come back; they have made their appearances; they have given commandments to men."

Seeing Holden again is not wishful thinking, a crossing of fingers, or a matter of imagination. It's patience.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


On May 20, 2012 our lives were changed forever.  Our sweet baby, Holden Archer Lee, was born at 9:15 in the morning.  He weighed 6 pounds, 11 ounces and was 20 inches long.  Jared and I were both so excited to be parents.  We were always talking, planning, and daydreaming about having a son.  We had been counting down the days until we could meet our little boy.  We were already in love with him and could not wait to hold him in our arms.  When he finally came, the feeling of being a parent to this perfect baby far surpassed every hope and dream.  We were absolutely smitten with him.  He immediately became the center of our world.  Simply every little thing about him melted our hearts.  He is absolutely perfect for us.  We love his tiny little knees, soft, wrinkly skin, long fingers and toes, his perfect auburn hair, his skinny arms and legs, the cutest little lips, the way he would snuggle into us, and most especially his big blue eyes that stared straight into ours.  He touched our very souls the moment he came into this world.  Our hearts had never experienced such love.

As our time with Holden went on, we realized more and more just how amazing his spirit is.  His baby body contained a hugely mature, wise, humble, and courageous spirit.  I will never be able to properly express the feelings I had when Holden looked into my eyes.  He truly was so patient and so wise.  I spilled my every fear and worry to my sweet baby and though I am his mother and was holding him in my arms, he is the one who brought peace to my heart.  I strive to be more like my son who patiently endured every pain and humbly obeyed his Heavenly Father's will.  As much as we long to be with our son, we know that Holden has a great purpose in the Spirit World.  We are grateful for the doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints that teaches us that Holden is an elect son of our Heavenly Father, and was so diligent and so righteous that he did not need to be tested.  He has already proven himself and is a Celestial child.  During this time of painful separation, Jared and I find solace in the covenants we have made with God.  We know that we will see Holden again and that we will get to raise our perfect boy in the millennium.  We are working our very hardest to qualify ourselves to be with our son forever.  We know that our bond with Holden is stronger than death and that families are forever.  That is the greatest blessing we could ever ask for. 

We love you so much, Holden.  We could not be more proud to be your parents.  What an honor Heavenly Father has bestowed upon us.  We will never be the same.   


 P.S.  Even though few people were able to meet Holden, he is loved by many.  We wanted a way to help our family and friends get to know our little boy a little bit better.  We wish there was a way to fully express how much we love him and how amazing he is.  We hope this video gives you an idea, and helps you to feel of Holden's strong spirit.  

Holden Archer Lee Memorial from Jared Lee on Vimeo.

Saturday, April 21, 2012


I've been waiting for it to kick in, and the arrival of our stroller and car seat really did it to us.  Jared has already installed the base into the backseat of our car and tested the car seat out with a ten pound dumbbell.  He collapses and re-opens our stroller probably 3 times a day.  We also have our cradle set up and it looks so cute by the window with the perfect little quilt made by my mom in it.  We might be jumping the gun just a bit considering we still have 4 weeks, but we were just too excited to wait any longer.    

Fresh out of the box- our stroller and car seat with cover compliments of Grandma
My 35 week belly!
On a side note:
 I graduated! Jared took me out for a celebration dinner
 and I wanted a picture of myself as a pregnant graduate,
even though I opted out of the cap and gown.

Cradle, quilt, and sleep sheep nestled (squished) next to our bed.

Friday, April 20, 2012


My sweet friend, who is way too talented, put together the most perfect baby shower.   As you can tell from the pictures it was beautiful, and the food was even better than it looks.  I had such a fun time and am so grateful to all of my friends for spoiling this baby and me.  I'm still not used to the fact that I'm pregnant, so attending a baby shower that was for me really felt kind of crazy.  It made me so excited for him to come, it feels way more real now that my house is full of baby things.    

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