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A Daily Affirmation

I still vividly remember the night that I found out. I can tell you where I was, what I was doing, what I was wearing.
(New apartment, on the living room couch, old EFY T-shirt and pink cotton pants. I had just finished saying a prayer.)

I vividly remember the looks on my "mission parents'" faces. When I think about President's tight hug, I remember how crushing it felt, him not wanting to let me go, not wanting to be the one to tell me that my parents and brothers were gone. I remember it took him a little while to say it, and how it crushed him, and his wife. I remember my companion and the Hermanas were also in the living room sitting on the floor in their pajamas, shocked, speechless, not knowing if they should say anything. I remember that the only light in the room was the bright light coming from the open kitchen.

I remember saying, "Give me a minute," and running into my room, falling on my knees at my bed, crying, saying "Why, God? What did I do wrong?" My companion came into my room, knelt beside me, and called me by my real name.

Jensen, you didn't do anything wrong. 

Everything after that is a blur to me. I have flashbulb memories, like how the next morning, the other two ASL sisters, one of which is my best friend, came to the mission home and hugged me so tight, I couldn't breathe. I remember my mission "baby" (who I trained) bought my a pillow pet to have and to hold and to cuddle, because she didn't know what else she could do.

I still have that pillow, by the way. It's a brown puppy. I cuddled and held that pillow for months afterwards.

I remember FaceBook had photos and images of my parents and brothers messages galore, FaceBook posts galore, emails galore.

One email was from Mom from the week before. I had missed it before I signed off.
That hurt the most.

I remember seeing Ian at the airport, for the first time in 18 months. I remember sitting on the plane, and all the eyes that glanced at us, some of them knowing exactly who we were, some of them thinking that they knew. The woman sitting behind us asked, "Are you the missionaries who..." then started to cry and couldn't finish. Some people looked at us from time to time all the way back to Pocatello.

And when I say all the way back, it was only 45 minutes; the longest 45 minutes of my life.

I remember landing. I remember my brother putting his arm around me. No words were needed. We stood up, arm around each other, and walked side by side off the plane. I remember seeing my extended family, all who were close. I remember seeing my bishop, my stake president. And tears.

Not Mom, or Dad, or Keegan or Liam.

I remember.
But most of all, I remember feeling
So small.
So scared.

I remember thinking...
I can't do this. 
I just can't.

It's been 20 months.

Overtime, I've learned a truth.  Seeing them when I got home is not the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. Shutting the caskets is not the hardest thing I've done in my life. Even burying them is not the hardest thing I've done in my life.

The hardest thing I've ever had to do even up until now, and quite possibly will be for the rest of my life is living without them. That is the hard part.
The hardest part isn't necessarily that I don't see them everyday. Even if they were still here, I probably wouldn't. The hardest part is that I can't see them here, and oh, how I want to see them.
The hardest part is not knowing. Even if I could have a time frame, like Heavenly Father saying, "Hey Jens, I need them now, I have a work for them to do. But when you are 83 years old, your time will come and it will all be ok." Even that would be better than not knowing.
The hardest part is learning to accept things exactly as they are. The hardest part is still feeling even slightly out of place at family "get togethers." The hardest part is dealing with the anxiety and nervous breakdowns, and retraining my brain to be happy. The hardest part... is subconscious mourning.

I'm not talking about just mourning as in wearing black all the time and crying out loud and publicly. I think mourning is deeper than that.
Mourning is hurting.
Mourning is feeling.

To all of you that are fighting your battles, whatever they are...
To all of you hurting...
To all of you struggling, not knowing what to do, where to go, who to trust...

You are strong. You are created to do hard things. And you strengthen me everyday.
Look how far you've come. You're still here, aren't you? You're still breathing, aren't you? You're still standing, aren't you? You're still trying, aren't you?
You are a fighter. A conqueror. No matter how low you feel or how insecure you are.
You conquer by being a mother, a father, a friend, a teacher. You conquer mourning by loving, accepting, trying. You conquer by standing along with someone, anyone.
Just by stepping forward, you conquer.

Keep going. Don't quit.

I remember thinking I can't do this. I just can't.
But I did, and I'm still doing it. Still learning, still growing. And there has been help along the way.

I'm absolutely am not perfect. I hope this doesn't come across that way. I have days when I am just plain mad, or sad, or lazy, or forgetful, or ignorant.
And then, sometimes I become overwhelmed, wanting to be progressing, comparing myself to others, wishing I was as patient, or caring, or selfless as them.

But I'm stepping forward.
During my mission, one of my leaders once said, "I may not be perfect, and I may not know exactly where I stand, but I'm moving up. And that's all that really matters."
It's so true.
Keep it up.


  1. Thank you for letting me know I'm not weak. I lost my husband 6 years ago, then my mother, then my house and my world as I knew it. I'm still here...Thank you!!!!

  2. Thank you for letting me know I'm not weak. I lost my husband 6 years ago, then my mother, then my house and my world as I knew it. I'm still here...Thank you!!!!

  3. Today is the first day that I've ever heard of you and your family and the struggles you have experienced. This post has been a comfort. Thankyou for be willing to share your personal journey! Prayers for you and your family!

  4. Today is the first day that I've ever heard of you and your family and the struggles you have experienced. This post has been a comfort. Thankyou for be willing to share your personal journey! Prayers for you and your family!

  5. I just wanted to say thank you for sharing. I was reading your post in LDS living, I am so heartbroken for you. I know the pain of losing my Dad at 19 and my Mom ten years later. Mourning is indeed a life altering experience for sure. But it us so true that we find our new normal. I am so thankful for the knowledge of the gospel. My prayers and ((hugs)) to you. One of the mantras I adopted from President Monson is Find Joy in the Journey. Thank you as you share yours ((hugs))

  6. Sister Parrish,
    You're a very brave young woman. Your story has touched my heart.
    I love missionary work, and right now we have two Elders who are both from Idaho. Elder Bakes and Simpson. They are serving, along side local members, on the Muckleshoot Indian Reservation, and are a priceless blessing to our efforts to teach the children of Israel here in Auburn, Washington.
    Soon after my mother died I could feel her presence and knew she could now see straight through me. She was a life saving angel to me while she lived on earth, and now she is able to do that much more as an angel of heaven.
    My God bless and be with you always.

  7. I can't tell you how much your words mean to me. Life is the craziest thing-- everyone has something. And while it all seems so hard and terrible to bear at times, I see glimpses of indescribable joy. And that's what keeps me going... Watching for the joy. Thank you so much for writing and opening your heart to perfect strangers. You are helping more than you could ever know.

  8. Dear Sister... My sister as daughters of our Father and Mother in Heaven. You are an inspiration and you are truly being a missionary as you find courage and strength to write on this blog. I'm much older than you, but I feel way to young to have been given challenges of close loved ones who have stepped through the veil into the next phase of their journey. It has been 16 months since My best Friend, Soulmate, and greatest blessing, my Eternal Sweetheart was called home. You are a very strong Daughter of God! I'm still trying to find my new normal and I'm grateful for the restored gospel, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints and the eternal covenants and priesthood blessings that bind us together Forever if we continue to fight and to work toward our progression and mission here in mortality, till our journey is complete. I too know that Jesus Christ and his atoning sacrifice was also done freely so that He could truly comfort us all during hard times, as we do choose to keep working and moving forward to find our new normals. He experienced all so he could know how to succor each of us for he has felt our pains, our trials, each so different... He does know us and He does love us! You keep writing in your blog... You are making a difference!! You inspire me and I'm sure so many others! May we each hold onto each other and help by fighting and making decisions to press forward! YOU ARE A TRUE PIONEER! Thankful today for you, my sister! May you continue in faith... Thank you for blessing my life! Love from one sister to another... Crystal

  9. I somehow stumbled upon your article on LDS LIVING dot com, and subsequently, found your blog and have just spent at least, 30 wonderful minutes poring over it. And I remember seeing the article in Utah's news when everything with your family unraveled and happened; I will never forget feeling the weight of grief as I read that two of the surviving children were on missions. I felt such a deep love and concern for you, and am feeling selfishly elated that today I was able to find your blog:). I love you so much!:) There's some stories in the news that really effect you and your family was one of those.... I've wondered every now and again how you were doing!

    18 years ago my dad suddenly died when I was 14 (just gave away my age for ya:)). And although that pales in comparison to what you have lost, I can at least somewhat empathize with you on the road ahead. Something I learned recently, and wish I had realized this way back when, is that you can continue to strengthen your relationship with these dear family members. Keep them alive in your home, in your conversations, in your heart. Speak of them to other people, frame pictures of them, when you have kids- let them know often of their grandparents and uncles who love them. I have found all of that to be so healing. I feel like God wants us to do that. He doesn't want a split in mortality to be a sever in eternity. Family relations are forever, so even with the temporary separation, bonds can still be nurtured.

    I also firmly and without resolve feel so strongly that death has no victory (Abinadi quote there for ya). The resurrection is SO real. I'm sure you have felt that testimony burn within your heart since this all happened.

    I think you are a solid rock star and a force for good-- these extraordinary paths that people like you are called to walk are destined for those who can handle it and shine from it. You just keep doing what you're doing and this will all come together for your good. Cry, mourn, grieve... and go through it a thousand times more. And remember that you are given this amazing life to still live and that others need to benefit from YOU and what YOU have to offer. Wish I could give you a giant HUG and slosh you with my admiration and how heroic I think you are. So, consider this an e-hug and I send you my big loves, big big fat loves from southern Cali to you, dear girl. Rock on.

  10. I don't know what to say, except that I know that they do watch over us. I lost my dad when I was 11. It's awful, it is strange....and yes, you absolutely have to find your new normal. But the grief becomes a blessing because somehow, in the middle of this maelstrom, you have become able to carry more light to everyone. There are treasures to be found and tears to cry.

    I found that being at the temple helped me to not feel so far away from my loved ones on the other side. It's calming and reassuring to know that, and to have a place to wash the doubts away.

    I'm in this grief boat with you, even though my experience was not the same. And I hope you have many hugs that find you. And I pray that you do have quiet moments that tell you that they're not very far away.

    Love to you. <3


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