"Never forget that these little ones are the sons and daughters of God and that yours is a custodial relationship to them, that He was a parent before you were parents and that He has not relinquished His parental rights or interest in these little ones. Now love them, take care of them...welcome them into your homes and nurture and love them with all your hearts."
-President Gordon B. Hinckley
This quote was on the funeral program for Ashley Peterson. She passed away a little over a week ago on March 20, 2008. She was only 5 years old. Her parents, Paul and Emily Peterson, were in our ward when we lived at my parent’s home about 6 years ago. Emily was pregnant with Ashley while I was pregnant with Talon and we were visiting teaching partners. I have always thought highly of her.
The funeral services had a profound impact on me. The funeral was very painful as you can imagine, but uplifting at the same time. I could hardly keep it together, especially when I saw a small piece of her baby blanket that they had on display. It is one of those things no parent ever wants to have to face. So many things were beyond my understanding of pain, but I found myself uplifted and encouraged because of the tremendous faith shown by Paul and Emily and their family. Their trust in God was unwavering. You could not shake their faith.
They both said that they felt a tremendous peace about her passing knowing that it was time for her to go and that she had a great work to do in Heaven. Instead of having this painful experience tear apart their family it has obviously strengthened them. Paul talked about Emily’s positive attitude amidst the difficulty and that when he came home from work, she was always positive. Emily spoke about how Ashley would want all of us to be kinder, more patient, more loving and better people. Ashley is a beautiful, sweet girl with a pure heart.
He said many people asked them how they were getting through it all. He answered that they always try to have an eternal perspective and they look forward with faith. Even though they don’t understand why Ashley had to go through this painful experience they know that God has a plan for her and for them. They are grateful that they will have the opportunity to raise her and be with her again in the future.
They have a journal posted on a website they made for her and I spent a lot of time reading the entries. I found it inspiring and comforting, so here is the link if you would like to read it too.
1. Our Character
2. Our Covenants
3. Our Family
He said, “These two (Paul and Emily) would have to be taken out on a stretcher if it weren't for the atoning sacrifice of our Savior Jesus Christ and for the knowledge of His gospel. We would all be carrying each other out on stretchers. Nobody could handle this pain if it weren't for Jesus Christ.”
My mom and I attended the funeral together and we both came out of that meeting on a spiritual high. We were strengthened and uplifted by Ashley’s life and by her family’s faith. Our experience was not unique. As I read the guestbook on Ashley's website, it seems that everyone has been affected by her and her family for the better. It's amazing how many people have been so uplifted and strengthened by one little girl. My faith has been reaffirmed and my testimony strengthened. I have taken strength from them and hope to endure my trials with more faith in God.