Thursday, January 18, 2018

Service Heals

Edith will be four years old soon! She's so much fun, very talkative, very inquisitive, and very adventurous. She's entering a new stage of understanding and asks a lot (a lot!) of questions, and has asked a lot about her twin brother Owen over the years. We've tried to be open and positive about our relationship with him and where he is. She's cute about it, knows she has a twin brother, and isn't hesitant to tell others about him. We overheard her telling a visitor once that "he's in heaven, but we still love him". It's hard to believe sometimes that it's been four years since we had sweet Owen in our arms. Sometimes, sadly, it feels like it's been forever, like it was a distant dream. But it was not a dream. We lived through too many hours of tears and sorrow and we've grown too much through the experience to ever forget the reality of losing a baby.

I was waiting in the doctor's office a couple of weeks ago, to hear the heartbeat of our newest little girl coming soon, when all of a sudden the woman next door cried out in pure despair and started sobbing uncontrollably. The walls were not thick enough to keep me from witnessing her very raw grief, and I couldn't keep from crying with her as I ached for her sorrow from what I can only guess was the news no parent wants to hear when listening for a heartbeat. I felt uncomfortable witnessing such personal and real anguish, feeling like I could almost hear my own grief and sorrow 4 years ago when I heard the diagnosis of our baby we already loved so much. I didn't like reliving through someone else the feelings again of what I felt on that day, and so many days after.

We tried to be open about our faith throughout our experience, and we have tried to be open ever since when we talk about Owen, that we know we have a kind and loving God who has watched over us and helped us through it, but not only that, open about our faith that because we turned to a loving Savior and the power of His Atonement, we have grown from this experience and become happier because of it. Our understanding of the importance of families has been strengthened, families that live eternally, not just in this life. And we have felt the strength Owen has offered our family, knowing we have a son waiting for us, our guardian angel.

Matt made a suggestion after Owen was born that has become a great blessing to our family, a suggestion that has become a way to heal and grow. He suggested that every year around Owen's birthday we should have a service day, to remember him, and also to think of others who are still in the middle of their own personal despair. It has been something I look forward to more and more every year, because it has been such a good thing for our family. Edith loves it too and we talk about it often. She is growing to love serving others, something we want for her because we know the happiness it brings to our own lives.

One of the best men that has ever lived said:
“To find real happiness, we must seek for it in a focus outside ourselves… No one has learned the meaning of living until he has surrendered his ego to the service of his fellow man. Service to others is akin to duty, the fulfillment of which brings true joy.

“We do not live alone—in our city, our nation, or our world. There is no dividing line between our prosperity and our neighbor’s wretchedness.  ‘Love thy neighbor’ is more than a divine truth. It is a pattern for perfection. This truth inspires the familiar charge, ‘Go forth to serve.’  Try as some of us may, we cannot escape the influence our lives have upon the lives of others. Ours is the opportunity to build, to lift, to inspire... The New Testament teaches that it is impossible to take a right attitude toward Christ without taking an unselfish attitude toward men.” -President Thomas S. Monson

So, here's to another year of attempting to love others as unselfishly and angel-like as we were loved and cared for four years ago by so many family members and friends, angels who carried us through one of our darkest times, and helped point us towards heavenly Light that brought us the only peace that could ever heal that sorrow.


Last year we had several caring friends say they would have loved to participate with us somehow. So this year we wanted to include friends and family near and far in our service project! We are working with Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County to sponsor a family by providing the household items needed to get them started. 

Here is the list of items they are in need of when furnishing a home for a newly resettled refugee family.

And here is the Amazon wish list I created to make it easy for those living far away who want to join in with us to furnish a home! Items purchased through this list can be shipped directly to our address. It doesn't need to be these exact items, but our address is found through the wish list as "Matthew Cragun's Gift Registry Address". If you need our address for something from another site let me know in the comments.

As a family, we will collect, organize, and donate the items together.  


Laurel C. said...

The title of this blog post is spot on. And I'm so glad that you're letting friends and family join in, too. What a great idea to find a way for family far away to help. Count me in. I'm heading over to Amazon right now...

Carolyn said...

I love this. What a wonderful way for all of us to remember Owen and his sweet influence on our family. What a blessing the Atonement of Jesus Christ is! Thanks for sharing who you are! Love you!!

Jeni said...

I just saw that we are mutual friends with Karen Bybee. She is my cousin! I love this service you are giving and sent a few items through the Amazon wishlist. Hopefully it will show them as "purchased" so you do not receive repeats. Thank you for organizing this!