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THE PRINCESS DRESS I NEVER SAW

Ashley Sullenger

August 15, 2012


Not long after my daughter died, I remember expressing to my mom how painful it was to watch everyone else reach different milestones with their children. I wanted so desperately to celebrate a second birthday, experience potty training, or just feel like a mom again. It felt like salt rubbed into a big open wound, being forced to watch other people's children accomplish what I longed to do with my own daughter.

My mom answered in a very loving way, expressing that she felt the milestones I longed to experience with Preslee weren't of great importance to her right now. Dressing up in a Halloween costume wasn't on the top of her list, because she was busy accomplishing much greater things on the other side. As different events and holidays rolled around, I tried to focus on my mom's words instead of the pain I felt.

Now, two years later, I realize my daughter Preslee and I are still reaching different milestones together, just in a different way than I would have ever expected. Our roles are now reversed, and she is the one cheering and guiding me on as I reach different milestones in my adult life.

She's helped me learn the importance of forgiveness, love at a deeper level than I knew existed, and recognize promptings from the Spirit—something I wasn't always too sure about before.

She’s helped me understand the importance of temple work and the fact that there are very few things more important than enabling others to have the same blessing I do—being with their family forever.

She’s helped me realize that a big part of having faith is having faith in the Lord's timing. 

And she’s helped me, her prideful mama, learn that it’s impossible to overcome difficult trials without Christ. In order to receive help, I need to step into Christ's yoke, and allow Him to lift the majority of my heavy burdens (Matthew 11:28-30).

Though I don't know what it’s like to listen to my child speak in sentences, attend dance class, or sleep in a toddler bed, I'm beginning to understand what my mom really meant. I don't think dressing up in a princess costume is as important to Preslee as it is me. She's too busy cheering on her parents and little brother, rejoicing as we reach each milestone together.

I now pray that the milestones I have reached, and the many more that lay ahead of me, will prepare me to be able to step back into the role my daughter and I both knew for a short eighteen months—letting me be the one to encourage and cheer her on. The day Preslee is placed back into my arms, and I'm able to teach her whatever is left for her to learn at that point, will mean more to me than you know.



Because with all the work she's put in during my life time, I'm going to have a lot to repay.


Ashley and her husband met during their first semester of college. A year later, they were married and shortly after were expecting their first child, a little girl whom they named Preslee. They were blessed with 18 wonderful months with their daughter, when she unexpectedly fell into a canal. She was airlifted to Primary Children's Medical Center, where she later passed away. Eleven months after burying their daughter, they welcomed a little boy into their family. Ashley recently graduated from BYU-Idaho with a major in Elementary Education. She currently is a stay at home mom and cherishes every minute she gets being a mother again.  Ashley blogs at: