In the face of the recent family tragedy we've experienced, it's got me to thinking a lot about prayers, and how my life (and spirituality) has evolved since A's birth.
Growing up, as I've mentioned before, I was raised Mormon. Not abstain-from-caffeine, go-to-church-regularly Mormon, but when we did go to church, it was an LDS church. I "studied" the Book of Mormon and was baptized at 8, known as the "age of reason" at the church. Whoever decided that did not spend a lot of time with 8-year-olds.
I prayed as a little girl, though intermittently the way that most children embrace things. I was also on the receiving end of a blessing the summer after my baptism, having gotten pretty sick. I recovered, and still to this day, though I've left the Mormon faith and am now a baptized and practicing Episcopalian (along with Ava), I am thankful and believe in the blessing that I received.
As I grew into a teenager, I prayed slightly less, my main focus in life boys or drill team or getting new clothes - the normal teenage stuff.
I wish I could say that as I went off to college and learned more and more about philosophy, religion, and who I really am that I reconnected with God more, but I continued to feel unhappy in my faith (I only recently became Episcopalian, having finally found comfort and happiness in another faith, though I had been unhappy as a Mormon for the great majority of my life.), and therefore did not find the spiritual comfort I so needed there. There were times in college and after, while I was in NYC, where I would sporadically attend church and try to find that connection, but I never was able to.
Despite this, I have always felt close to God, and always felt a close, personal relationship with Him. I've never felt abandoned by Him, even when I've felt lost generally, and so it was about two weeks prior to becoming pregnant that I went on a journey of faith. I started my journey at the library - a fantastic place to start any journey in my mind - and I checked out all types of books on religion, studying them intensely. From those texts, I was able to narrow my search down to three religions/churches that interested me and coincided with my belief system. I wrote down the address of three churches: one Episcopalian, one Church of Christ, and one Methodist, and after visiting the three on several occasions, the rest is history.
It has never stopped being ironic to me that it was two days after my first visit to one of these churches that I found out I was pregnant. The entire journey of faith was in part so that I would know what I believed and where I belonged prior to having a child, so that I could comfortably pass along my faith and beliefs to my child, with the hope of giving them a strong foundation in God, if not a church. If A is ever in trouble, I want her to feel comfortable turning to Him, and a background in the church is a good place to start in establishing that.
Anyhow, I've gotten off track. It was at this same time, just days prior to learning the news of A's impending arrival, that I really started to give thought to praying on a regular basis. Though I have left the Mormon faith, my prayers always start out the way that LDS members are taught to pray, with "Our Heavenly Father..." The roots run deep, at least in prayer.
While as a child, and even a young adult, I frequently spent the majority of my prayers asking for things. Could you help with this, could you change that. Those types of things.
But last night, as I snuggled next to my sweet-smelling baby, it occured to me. I have prayed every single night without fail since Ava was born, and while I continue to ask for her to live through the night, to continue to breathe, to be helped to be strong and not succumb to SIDS, my prayers are overwhelmingly thankful now. Even in the midst of recent unfortunate events and tragedies, I am SO blessed and SO thankful.
Thankful, more than anything in the world, for A, thankful for D, thankful for my little 3-person family, our home, our cars, our jobs, our successes (as well as the lessons learned from failures). Just so thankful.
Thank you, God, for Ava.