“…all children are alike unto me; wherefore, I love little children with a perfect love; and they are all alike and partakers of salvation.” 

Moroni 8:17

Turning around after putting the dishes in the dishwasher, suddenly off to my left, I saw Lindsay. At first, it startled me because I had not felt her spirit since meeting Drake so I didn’t expect to ever see her. He had a photo of her face on his phone, but that was all I knew about what she looked like. She looked very similar to the photo, including the smirk on her face and soft curly shoulder-length hair. She was standing just about a foot or two behind Drake off his right shoulder. She had something in her hands that I thought was a white cloth or blanket with something in it. Both hands were under whatever it was that she was holding. I believe she was dressed in white, but mostly I remember that she was holding something white.

At first, she was looking at me intently with that smirk, like, “Hey there, Charlotte. I need your attention, please.” She would also look over at Drake, smile a sweet smile, and shake her head, like he was saying something funny to her. 

There was a man on her right, just a few feet behind her. He was tall with dark hair, a sharp jawline, and dark eyes. He was wearing a white shirt, black vest, and black pants. They looked like clothes back from the late 40s or 50s. He had a very memorable face, and I knew if I ever saw a picture of him, which was unlikely, I would recognize him.

The wall of my kitchen behind Lindsay and the man seemed to fade away. Instead, I could see far past where they were standing. It was covered by a flowing veil, so I couldn’t see anything perfectly. There were a few people and I could hear a hum of chatter and feel a rushing of emotions. A few adults and children in white were hurrying around while others appeared to be waiting and watching, curious about what was happening in my kitchen. 

I stood there looking into Drake’s eyes and yet seeing this scene simultaneously. Seeing and hearing Lindsay with my spirit, she was very clearly giving me a message. As quickly as someone switched on a light in the darkness, her message filled my mind. I understood it all completely as it was a very pure form of communication. 

“Here we go!” I thought. He will freak out when I tell him what is happening and what I am experiencing. He will think I am trying to manipulate him or that I am lying, and he will leave. But, the message was so intriguing that I had to tell him and find out the answers to the questions. 

At that time, I had still been wondering if my gift was real, but I knew without a doubt that this experience was happening right then. So, why not just tell him? I mean, I was just going to tell him that he was a great guy and all, but I didn’t think it was going to work out anyway. So, what did I have to lose? Quickly pondering if I should tell him, my curiosity got the better of me.

“Was Lindsay taller than you?” I asked. (Since he was sitting I couldn’t tell for sure, but she seemed very tall to me.) Drake said that she was almost exactly his same height, but she had scoliosis, so she was just a little shorter than he was. He said that with a perfect spirit, she would most likely be slightly taller or even his same height.

Taking a deep breath, I said, “Lindsay’s here now, and she is about your same height or a little taller. She wants me to tell you something.” He said okay, so I plowed forward. “She says to stop asking her if I’m the one. She says she won’t answer that for you. Lindsay said that she told you she trusted you to make your own decision, and she would leave it up to you to choose.” 

Drake Journal Entry: “She stops and tells me that Lindsay was there and she was trying to communicate with me. It didn’t feel weird at all. In fact, I started to cry.”

He looked down and got a little teary-eyed. He didn’t reply for a bit while he got his emotions under control. So, I asked, “Does that make sense?” 

Looking up at me from his chair he asked, “She did? She said those exact words?” When I confirmed again that she had, he said, “Yes, it does make sense. I was just asking her that exact question. She told me those exact words many times before she passed. That she wouldn’t tell me who to marry. That she trusted me to make my own decision, and she would leave it up to me.” 

So I asked him, in as light of a tone as possible, “What the heck? Why are you asking if I’m the one on our second date? You don’t even know me!” and I laughed nervously, waiting to hear the answer.

The surprising thing was that he didn’t get up and run out of the house. He just sat there staring at me. He believed me, and I had confirmation that what I had heard and seen was real. This really was Lindsay. 

Drake Journal Entry: “Lindsay told her that she was happy and that when I was ready, I was to continue forward.”

It was so crazy! I hadn’t been imagined things! Also, it explained why she had not shown up before then. Lindsay knew that she wanted Drake to decide on his own and she had told him she wouldn’t interfere. 

I asked Drake about the man with her and described him. He said he didn’t know who it could be. For a good long while, I couldn’t get that man out of my mind. 

Then something even more extraordinary happened! Lindsay shared something with me that would change my perspective of a relationship with Drake, and the possibilities of a future that I could never have imagined. It gave me understanding and changed my heart completely. 

In one split second, I learned a lifetime of knowledge. It was a kind of unearthly clarity of expression that I cannot explain. There were no physical words that could have expressed what I suddenly knew and saw from the past, present, and future… all simultaneously. I knew it was true, and I knew I could never forget or deny it. 

This “knowing,” as I like to call it, was only for me right at that moment. Lindsay told me not to tell Drake any of this yet, which I didn’t, but that I would know when to share it with him at a later time. Plus, I needed time to digest such a powerful message. A tiny seed of hope, peace, and joy was planted inside of me all at once and it stopped me from telling Drake goodbye that day. It was almost as if I had left my body for that one split second. My spirit was filled to the brim with incredible loving knowledge.

Lindsay showed me what it was like to be loved by Drake. She showed me a speed version of their life. I instantly knew what his love felt like from her perspective, starting from the day they fell in love until now and going into eternity. There was a perfect understanding of how she felt as he carefully and tenderly protected her and took care of her and their children. She loved him with her whole heart. He was the man of her dreams. She missed him, and she knew it was only a short time before they would be together again for eternity. There was an everlasting feeling in her heart of love, security, and safety from him that filled her soul, even now. Her love for each of her children was also expressed in such a way that words cannot describe. It was real, complete, and continued growing every day. She showed me how she watches over them, and how she is there for them when they need her.

Drake Journal Entry: “Could I be so lucky to be married to Lindsay and have an amazing love for 30 years and then find another wonderful woman that likes to do all things that I do!?”

It was a surreal experience when she next showed me Drake’s heart and how he felt about her right at that moment. Yes, he was sad that she was gone. But, he knew certainty beyond worldly description why she had to leave, where she was now, and the work she had to do on the other side of the veil. He knew what she wanted because he knew her so well and they had talked about it so many times; she didn’t want him to be alone for the rest of his earthly life. 

Drake knew without hesitation that his love for Lindsay was eternal, and he was at peace with her life and death. There were no words that could have explained the pure feelings I felt in his heart right then. He knew she had done all she needed to do here on earth, and she didn’t need to prove anything else. He still felt her love for him and knew without a doubt that their love would continue to grow forever.

Then she showed me the love he was developing for me. She showed me what it would be like in the future, and how it would grow and develop into the eternal, loving peace that I had always wanted. The true joy that she had experienced with him was very different, and yet the same, as the joy I could feel with him. It was a love that would never end and would continue to expand every moment of every day forever into eternity, just as theirs would.

The love he was beginning to develop for me was surprising, to say the least! He had only known me for less than 24 hours, yet he seemed to have known me for much longer than that. What I saw in his heart was familiarity. How could that be? How did he have such strong feelings for me so early? I felt behind in my feelings. Had he known me before yesterday? Why was he asking if I was the one? Why did I feel such peace and calm in his heart surrounding his growing feelings for me…. a stranger? It made no sense.

It was incredible to then feel overpowering love from Lindsay’s spirit to mine! It was pure, and there was no jealousy. No envy. No hesitation. She loved me deeply as a sister. Yet, it felt even more profound than the love of a sister somehow. It was different from anything I had experienced. 

She loved me for how much I loved her before we came to earth, which was an ethereal feeling! I could tell that she knew me…. everything there was to know. She loved me for the trials I had lived through that had brought me to this point in my life and for all I had learned because of them. There was love there for… what I had done for her! That made no sense to me. Had I known her before? How did she know me so well? Could she see my heart as I could see hers? These questions, and many more, flowed through my mind while everything was being shown to me.

Going even deeper into her own heart, I felt her love for me expand because of the love I would develop for Drake. She loved me for how I would care for him for the rest of my life, and together with her into eternity. She loved me for my acceptance of the ability, that she had just given me, to encourage Drake to continue growing his love for her, even as my love for him grew.

She loved me with an eternal love that cannot be expressed here on earth. She loved me for how I would help her children, and my own, come together to make a tremendous, eternal family. She loved me for the experiences in my past that would help me help her children find their way in the world. She loved me for how her children would eventually come to be my friends and allow me to take part in their lives. She loved me for how I would care for her grandchildren. It was all so incredible!

Drake and Lindsay’s life together was something to be envied and written about in a fairytale. But, having seen the full scope of their experience, I knew there would never be a fairytale good enough to match their true love story…. Until she showed me that mine and Drake’s real-life story would be a fairytale too. Knowing that Drake was supposed to be here for me now, she supported us and encouraged us to build a relationship together. The plan had been decided before we even came to earth. Drake, Lindsay, and I would have something special, and many people needed to know that what we would have is possible and wonderful.

Their life had been easier and more simple than mine for many eternal reasons, some of which she showed me. She knew that what she showed me gave me a glimpse of something incredible and that it would be impossible for me to continue without this perfect knowledge. At that moment I knew what was possible with Drake…. if I let him, and Lindsay, into my heart and life.

Journal Entry: “I have felt her and her love for him. I feel his love for her. Wow! It’s amazing to me that such strong love exists. I see it in my parents, so I know it is possible, but to feel it like I do with them… to be in the middle of it but not feel any jealousy.”

Lindsay went one step further to show me the day Drake and I would be sealed in the temple for time and all eternity. We were kneeling across the altar, all dressed in white. I could only see Drake, the sealer, two witnesses.… and Lindsay. The chairs behind Drake were all empty. I remember thinking that it would be possible that no one would be at our sealing due to COVID, so that made sense. She was standing to the left of Drake in front of the sealer and witnesses. She had her right hand on his shoulder. 

Seeing this scene, I wondered if he would ever be able to see her, at least on that day in the temple. As I thought that, she instantly told me that he wouldn’t ever see her because it would be too hard for him. It would break him and take him into a deep depression from which he may never come out. Even though he is strong and is dealing with things very well, it would make his life almost unbearable if he were to see her again on this earth. However, she would be with him when he needed her.

This complete knowledge was planted in my heart and spirit so entirely that it still feels like it happened just yesterday. Feeling it perfectly through my soul, I was changed forever. They are very different kinds of love. The love Lindsay has for Drake. Drake’s love for Lindsay. His love for me (if I allowed myself to be loved by him). The love I could develop for Drake. The love she has for me. And the love I’ve always had for her that had been in my spirit from the beginning. They are individual, yet perfectly intertwined. 

Even after having this experience, I could still feel overwhelming fear and terror at ever getting into another relationship, much less a marriage. Not just because of what I had been through, but also what it had put my children through. Perfect knowledge of the past, present, and future still may not be enough to overcome the deepest ruts of fear left in my soul.

* * * * * * * * * *

I had been told when I was 14 that I could never have children, but I had always hoped they were wrong. After a miscarriage and a few years of taking fertility pills, I finally got pregnant with my first child. I went into early labor at about 20 weeks, halfway through. Then I spent the rest of the pregnancy in and out of the hospital and on bed rest. At 32 weeks, I had spent a week in the hospital when they said the baby was in distress and they needed to take me for a c-section. Born at 3 lbs 2 oz and 17 inches long, my son wasn’t breathing at first. Luckily I was asleep while they revived him. Watching the video of that day still makes me hold my breath! 

It wasn’t easy, but I managed to have five exceptional children. They became my world! Getting them here was challenging for me in many ways. I spent months on bed rest and in a lot of pain from a broken pubic bone, early labor, back pain, and/or morning sickness that lasted well into my 2nd trimester. By the time they allowed me to deliver my children, they came super fast. They were anxious to get here, I guess! They are such a sweet blessing to me, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything! I am so proud of each of them. My children make me want to be better every day. 

Journal Entry: “I have to find a way to give all of my children what they need. I will always be their constant. I will never leave.”

I love them unconditionally. What does that mean to me? It means I love them totally and completely without reservation. They have been a constant in my life, and I pray they always will be. Unconditional love doesn’t mean that I love their decisions, some of the choices they make, or the things they do. Those are separate things from loving them.

Even though they had different fathers, my children were treated and acted like full siblings. No one can tell that they have different fathers when they are together. There were never any steps or half in our home. This was something I was adamant about. The sound of “half-sister” or “step-brother” seemed to me like half of a relationship. It was important to me that my children, and any siblings they may have from either parent, know they were loved completely in our home. Even Cooper’s children from a different marriage were considered full siblings to my children. They were all welcome in my home no matter who their parents were. 

I hate seeing what divorce did to my children! Each time I went through a divorce or marriage, they had to go through it too. And it changed their lives. Protecting them as much as I could became a mission for me from the very start. Not getting married a fourth time seemed the best way at the time to protect them. They had to grow up really fast, being the children of not just one, but three divorces. The good thing was that it brought them closer together as siblings and as a family.

The best advice I was ever given was never to criticize Cooper in front of my children, never use the children to try to hurt Cooper, and always support their relationship with their father. This advice was given to me very early in my first divorce. I will always be grateful to the neighbor who suggested this and told me about her experience. Her parent’s divorce made her life extremely challenging, even as an adult.  Because of her parents fighting and putting her in the middle of their battle, she had no relationship with either parent. I did not want that to happen to me or my children! 

Her experience taught me to allow my children to decide their relationship with both their father and me, separately and on their own terms. Even when parents are married, children need to have a separate relationship with each parent. It only makes sense that children of divorce do the same thing. 

My children lived with me and had visitation with their father. None of us are perfect, but I sincerely did my very best not to interfere or talk badly about their father. I saw no reason to put them in the middle of our problems. It wasn’t their business to know or understand why their father and I got divorced. But, it was extremely important for them to know that it was not, in any way, their fault. Encouraging and supporting their relationship with their father, I believe helped them know that was true.

Children are smart! They know what is going on even though we try to protect them. They figure out all on their own, without being told, the true nature of the people in their lives. It’s part of growing up for everyone. 

Even now that my children are adults, I encourage them to stay in touch with their father, especially on holidays and when special things happen in their lives. They know he loves them in his own way. When it comes to their father, they know they don’t have to respect or agree with his choices, but they always need to respect him as their father. This is important in any relationship they are in, including with me, each other, and anyone else significant in their lives.

While I was remarried the children had to live with my husband, who was not their father. It was vital during these times for them to understand that my husband was to be respected as my husband and that he did not, nor ever would, replace their father. Their father’s love didn’t change for them when we got divorced, nor did mine. 

Visitation was an ongoing struggle. Cooper often wanted to change the schedule, and when possible, I accommodated him. However, it became a regular request which caused issues for us both. Sometimes, he would just show up at the door and ask to take the children. When the children were very young, I felt it was best to stick to the regular schedule and not change it unless it was for something really important. It was also the best thing for the children to be on a routine. Plus, I planned family events around the visitation schedule. Cooper didn’t seem to understand these things were best for the children. He thought it was me trying to keep the children from seeing him, which wasn’t true. 

Journal Entry: “As a parent, there should be some things that I know and do to help my children. It is up to Cooper and me to teach them about the gospel, all things spiritual, and about being a child of God. We are also supposed to teach them everything they need to know to live in this world safely and with joy. There are others involved too, but parents are mainly responsible along with our Heavenly Father’s help. 

I love my children! I want them to be obedient, kind, loving, and responsible. I want them to always feel loved. 

Our Father in Heaven loves us. He doesn’t yell, scream, or spank. He is humble, patient, and forgiving. He is always merciful. Why can’t I be? I know God wants me to be. He expects it of me and has told me I am capable. 

It will show in my behavior when I am failing miserably.”

When the children were young, they had to take everything with them. At first, I would pack everything they needed, expecting Cooper to bring it all back when he brought the children home. That didn’t work out. So then we tried having some things at Coopers and some stuff at my home. I thought this would also help the kids feel more at home in both places and make it so they didn’t have to pack as much. That didn’t work out either when Cooper would keep anything extra they brought with them and never return anything after being asked several times. This was very frustrating because I didn’t have much money, and replacing things was expensive. Having things get lost between both homes was very hard on the children.

It was Cooper’s and my responsibility to make this as easy on the kids as possible. We both could and should have done better! I think all parents can look back and see that they could have done things better. We aren’t perfect, and children don’t come with manuals. However, we can learn from the experiences of others and make an effort to improve.

The older the children got, especially in their teenage years, the more they wanted to choose to go with Cooper or not. Being responsible for their own stuff at both houses made things a little easier. But, as they got older projects, church activities, school activities, homework, friends, attitudes, and other things became an issue. Finding a balance between encouraging them to go and feeling like I shouldn’t force them, was the new challenge. 

In my opinion, once a child is old enough to decide, they should be allowed to choose, and parents should respect that without bringing their own baggage into the discussion. Don’t parents that are married try to do that? It’s my belief that divorced parents should too. For me, the children were more important than mine and Cooper’s frustration with each other. I feel that a child should not be a legal issue caused by their parents’ problems! Allowing children to determine how to spend their time, when possible, should be a parent’s priority. Especially in divorce! Children of divorce need more of our time and attention, especially when they feel vulnerable or lost. 

Journal Entry: “I am trying so hard to be a good mother. Being a mother is much harder than I ever dreamt it would be. I am amazed at how much I learn each day I spend with my children. Am I here to teach them or vice versa? 

Liam was walking from school in a snowstorm the other day. He said, ‘I heard you calling me telling me to walk a different way.’ As it turns out, I had gone down the wrong street by accident, and there he was! 

If Liam had not listened and walked the way he usually did, we would have missed each other. Who knows what kind of panic that would have caused us both! I’m so grateful to have a child who listens when it’s important!”

Cooper and I agreed before our divorce that we would both raise our children the same way we had been raising them while we were married. Meaning we would talk to each other about the children, not let the children play us against each other, and have the same rules at both houses that we had in our home before the divorce. That was a pipe dream I guess because it didn’t happen. Cooper had his own rules at his house. They even went to different churches each week for a while until they stopped going altogether. I never allowed alcohol in my home before or after the divorce, but there was alcohol in Cooper’s house. The kids quickly realized they could get away with just about anything when they were there. Sometimes they would go just because they had restrictions at home like bedtimes, movies, chores, internet use, phone restrictions, and especially consequences for actions, etc.

When dealing with children and divorce, there are many things to be concerned about. There are so many legal rules that have to be followed. Differences in opinion make rules harder to live by. The priority should always be on what the children need. We have to follow the rules set forth by law in a visitation schedule and divorce decree. However, if parents can put their own issues aside and do what’s best for the children, wouldn’t that be better? The problem… it takes two! Both parents must have the children’s interests forefront of their minds always. They must be willing to do whatever it takes to help the children…. in all the ways!

Life with me was totally different than life with Cooper. Through all three divorces, I tried to keep things constant in my home. I moved a few times, but Cooper moved a lot which was very difficult on the children. He even moved out of state or out of the country, making it harder for the children. While living with me, our religion and house rules remained constant from the first divorce. Children need some kind of structure, especially when they are young. When parents are divorced, structure often goes out the window, at least for one parent, if not both.

Journal Entry: “Cooper asked what kind of turkey I wanted for Thanksgiving. I explained not to worry about it; I would cook it. He then said, ‘You!? You haven’t graduated from chicken 101 yet! This is a $17 turkey. If you mess it up, that wouldn’t be good. After you spend $20 on spices and things, we will have lost $40 and still not have a turkey.”

Cooper would criticize me, manipulate the children, or even talk about parenting things the children didn’t need to hear. Even married parents talk about issues regarding the care and concerns of their children, finances, scheduling, certainly relationship things, etc. in private.  As I said, children are smart and they learned as they got older what was true and what was manipulation. 

Manipulating a spouse, children, or anyone for that matter, is never okay! Saying something like, “Well, I bought you that birthday gift you wanted, so don’t you think you should do something for me?” This is emotional abuse. Period. 

When this happened, the children would ask me what to do because they felt hurt and confused. Trying to explain manipulation without putting Cooper down was hard, but it got easier the more times I did it. I would say things like, “Your father loves you and wants to spend time with you. That’s all he’s trying to say. It’s up to you whether you chose to do something even though a gift was purchased.” Sometimes I wonder if I did the right thing, but I wanted to learn not to be manipulated to protect them. Children learn from their parents and I didn’t want them to learn to become manipulators themselves.

The children wanted to tell Cooper about their schedules or reasons for doing something different than what he wanted, but he wouldn’t believe them. This caused contention not just between Cooper and myself but also between him and the children too. They would often ask me why Cooper did certain things, and I did my best to explain without putting him down. “Your father just does things differently than I do, but he does love you. He’s doing the best he can. Talk to him and let him know how you feel.” This was a go-to for me many times when the children were frustrated. 

I did my best not to come between the children and their father, even when they asked me to call him and tell them how they felt about something. When they were older I would encourage them to talk to him first, and then if they needed help I would be there for them. We talked about ways they could discuss things with their father which helped them become better communicators as adults. 

Journal Entry: “I love them all so much! It breaks my heart to see them having such a hard time.”

My children know they can talk to me about anything, and I will do my very best not to get mad. They have told me many things that I thought was too much information, but I am glad they know they could talk to me about anything. When I did stupid things in the past, and even now, they call me out and talk to me about it. Before the children (now as adults especially) start to tell me something, I ask them if they just want me to listen or if they want my advice. If they just want me to listen, I bite my tongue until it bleeds if I have to. 

The most important thing for me has always been to protect my children the best I could from my choices and decisions. Now that they are older and living their own lives, we talk about things that happened, and I regularly ask their forgiveness because I was far from perfect. I’m grateful for their patience with me through some of the darkest times in my life!

We worked through a lot of difficulties but we also had a lot of fun, and still do. My main desire throughout everything was to keep my children together. We are very blessed that we accomplished that together.

 

MORE TO COME!

Start at the beginning of the story

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