I am a Sweetheart to One and a Mommy to Four Loveable Babes, one of which is smiling down on us from Heaven. I am learning to dance in the rain. Come with me on my journey as I make the most out of Life's mud puddles.

Put on your rain boots. Great adventure lies ahead.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Let the Sun Shine In

In the summer of 2000, I had the fortune of studying in Israel for the summer. It was a life changing experience. I could write an entire book about the changes that took place within the chambers of my heart during my months in Israel, Egypt and Jordan. But - for now - a fun and quirky memory will have to suffice.

Summers in the said near eastern countries are stifling, dry and treacherous. They are surely not for the faint of heart. And - in the heat of the desert - we would spend hours on buses taking us from one dry and sandy location to another. To pass the time away, me and my BYU-Jeru buddies would conjure up various activities/games to pass the time away. One of them was singing songs together. One of our favorites became a song that my dear friend Aimee - a ray of Light herself - taught us. It was an expanded version of "You Are My Sunshine" but funked up a bit. I loved it and it soon became our favorite "go to" round song. The lyrics are as follows:

You are my sunshine
My only sunshine
You make me happy
When skies are gray
You'll never know dear
How much I love you
Please don't take my sunshine away.

You are my ever lovin' baby
You are my everything
You make me oh so very happy
When skies are gray, and by the way
You'll never know how much I love you
How much I need you when you're gone
Please don't take my Sunshine away.

So let the sunshine in
Face it with a grin
Smilers never lose
And frowners never win
So let the sun shine in
Face it with a grin
Open up your heart
And let the sun shine in.
Fast forward a decade. I am married, have four children of my own and have experienced MANY adventures since my summer in Jerusalem. But the upbeat tune of yesteryear has been passed down to my sweet children and has become one of our favorite sing along songs. In particular, it has become an endearing tune sung specifically to my toddler - Bennett - whom we call our "Sunshine Boy." Wherever he goes there is Love, Light and Laughter. He is literally Sunshine personified. What a Gift.
Then the unexpected occurs. Amid our blue skies of promise bursting with rays of warmth and light, we experience a turbulent storm. On January 22, 2011, we awoke to learn that our Sweet Sunshine Boy had passed away in his sleep. We were dumbfounded, shocked, heartbroken and numb. How could this be? How could we live our lives without him? How could we go on?
And yet, in the eye of the storm, we experienced a Peace that surpassed ALL understanding. Did we know WHY Bennett passed away? No. Did we know HOW he passed away? Negative. But - in our darkest hours - we DID feel lifted in a way one can only understand if they have experienced it themselves. We knew a loving, tender Father in Heaven was aware of us and that we were not alone. We have felt of his Love and have been warmed by His Light. And it gives us the strength to continue to put one foot in front of the other.
And so, our story continues. We are new on this path but we are on a journey of healing as we strive to Love, Laugh, Learn and Live Amid Life's Storms. Each moment brings with it varied emotions, but as we let each feeling come and go like a passing storm front, somehow it ebbs and flows more gently. And with each ache, we are reminded of how much we adored and cherished each day of his 20 short months here on earth. And we cling to the promise of being with Bennett again. Forever.
So come with me. You may/may not have "lost" a child, but perhaps you've experienced heartache, disappointment and the loss of a dream. In this way, we are the same. Though everyone grieves differently, there are many similarities in the human experience. And if we take this rocky road together - hand in hand - we may not only find companionship, but we will be reminded that we are not alone. Many have walked this path before and many more will follow. The purpose? It is in the muddiest of times that we discover what we are made of and that - even IF we are living our worst case scenerio - we can come out standing, breathing and stronger than ever before. And THAT is the miracle.

So, though I have since learned that not all the words to my beloved "Sunshine" song are accurate ("smilers never lose and frowners never win"), I do celebrate the phrase that has now become one of my mantras:
So let the sun shine in
Face it with a grin . . .
Open up your heart
And let the Sunshine in.
And so I'm opening up my heart with the hopes that - in doing so - healing will come to me, my family and someone else who is in need. And that - maybe as I help others - the Lord will allow me to feel a little more of my SONshine with me.
Welcome, friends. Welcome.


  1. I know that "funked up" version of Sunshine. We love to sing it at our house too.

    That is a special song in my family as well- it was J's favorite song.

    I cannot think of a better metaphor for your Bennett or for the hope of the gospel than sunshine. I'm glad to join you here as you share your journey.

  2. Oh my dear, Amanda. I love you so much.

    After hearing the news of Bennett and seeing your FB status saying "hold your babies close tonight" I couldn't help but take extra special, teary moments with Cash and love on him a little longer than normal.

    I have such happy memories of singing this round on the bus in and out of the hills of Israel. This is my goodnight-I-love-you song to Cash too. It is so beautiful and such an appropriate theme of your journey.

    You must have forgotten the second verse that is sadly too appropriate for your situation:

    The other night dear as I lay sleeping
    I dreamed I held you in my arms.
    When I awoke, dear, I was mistaken
    So I hung my head and cried.

    You are an amazing disciple of Christ. I think Heavenly Father is so proud of you and your family.

    I am looking forward to reading your thoughts, griefs, joys, experiences, emotions, angry feelings, and the whole gamete of what is to come for you. Thank you for sharing. Hope you don't mind me sending your blog to other friends that have had similar experiences with the loss of a child.

  3. Oh Mandy...feeling your sweet spirit through those beautiful words brings tears to my eyes. Your little Bennett left a little trail of sunshine wherever he went here in Earth, and I know he continues to do so :) The lyrics to that song are so sweet! And you're right, that phrase "frowners never win" is not true...because a frown every now and then comes from trials which humble us and bring us to Christ, which then creates an even greater smile than before. I love you sis. Thank you & Dave for being such examples to Adam and I, and so many others. xoxo

  4. I love this! It seriously made my day! I feel like I have a smile on just reading it and it will continue on because I'm going to think of that song. Thanks for sharing so openly. I love your ability to tell a story . . .

  5. Thank you for sharing your story! There are so many lives that you have touch and will touch. Thanks for being an inspiration to all of us!

  6. YES, Let the Sunshine in! ... SO many tears... for you and yours I am ever praying that the Sunshine comes in continually! <3

  7. I'm here from The Idea Room. My heart aches for you and your beautiful family. I wish you strength, love and "sunshine" through this difficult journey. This song (though I've never heard the "funked up" version before) holds a very special meaning to me as well. My mom, who passed away when I was 14, would sing it to me all the time. You are in my prayers!

  8. From the idea room too. Words cannot describe....thank you for sharing your story., and your faith journey. I've already learned so much...experienced so much in reading just a few of your posts. You and your family are in my prayers. Let the Sunshine in!

  9. Thank for opening your heart.

  10. Dear Sunshine Promises,
    What a wonderful way to share your light and faith even in this dark and difficult time.
    We lost a baby in 2006 on New Years Day. We had waited, hoped, and loved this little one so much that when we lost her, we were heartbroken for a little while.
    A wonderful thing happened to me though. I learned how much I loved my children and never wished to take them for granted. Each day, hour and minute became precious as I realized the relatively short time we may have to spend together with these precious little ones sent from a loving Heavenly Father.
    Tonight, we worked as a family to clean up the front yard from the long, dark Winter months. Gray clouds rolled in and rain sent us scurrying inside. From the back window was a marvelous sight. At the foot of a snow covered mountain, if you looked at just the right angle you could see a beautiful rainbow shining down through shafts of sunlight amidst the dark billowy clouds. That is what YOU are. A sliver of a rainbow shining down amidst shafts of sunlight to a dark and dreary world. Thanks for sharing your hope and faith with me. God bless you and yours as you heal and remember your sweet Bennett.

  11. I want to thank you for this. Tonight, at almost 10pm, I sit here holding my little girl who is 8 months old and sleeping very fitfully. I was becoming frustrated by the fact that I can't seem to put her down at all in the past 3 weeks as she has been having night terrors. I have tears in my eyes for you. I've never lost a child, but when I was 5, I lost a baby brother...something that still defines a part of who I am, almost 20 years later.

    But thank you. I am going to snuggle her a little more closely tonight because she is my sunshine, and I cannot understand why, when life is so fragile, I got so frustrated with her for something she cannot control. l

    God bless you and your family. He'll be your Strong Tower as you figure this new life out. I hope that each day brings not a distance, but a peace and a little more ease with letting go and letting God.

  12. Amanda, Aimee passed along your blog, and I am so glad she did. Tyler and I both cried when we heard about your little Sunshine! We continue to pray for you and look to you as an example of strength and courage.

    We love you!

  13. Hi. Sue Laneri was kind enough to give me your blogspot address. I too am mourning the loss of my beautiful Angel Baby boy. He was put down for his afternoon nap and passed away in his sleep. That felt like a stab right in my heart. Hopefully through grieving and coping that knife in my heart will slowly begin to ease its way out. He was 6 months and "Sunshine" is the perfect way to describe his smile. We built a website in his honor. www.kagerowland.com


Thank you for being a part of my journey. I appreciate your supportive and healing comments. Here's to a Promise of Sunshine!