Alissa Parker | May 9, 2018
I still remember the first time my daughter Emilie road her bicycle without training wheels. It was late in the fall and our family had been riding bikes in our cul-de-sac on what felt like would be the last nice day before winter.
Emilie had always been a very cautious child and for the longest time I had tried and failed to convince her to ride her bike without her training wheels on. That day, however, Emilie saw her younger sister Madeline take off her training wheels and go for a ride. Madeline’s excitement was contagious and after everyone else went into the house, Emilie lingered with me outside. I could see the struggle between her caution and desire to ride without training wheels work back and forth in her mind until she finally asked me to take the training wheels off. She mounted the bike, found her balance, placed her small princess sneaker on the pedal and pushed it off!
To my amazement, my 6-year-old Emilie took off riding the bike smooth and confident like she had been doing it for years. Her smile beamed a light of achievement that burst through the waning fall twilight. I yelled for my husband, Robbie, to rush outside and bring the girls who were equally as excited and amazed as I was. Afterward, I gave Emilie a huge hug and then hung her bike up in the garage, never knowing it would be the last time she would ever ride it.
A few weeks later, Emilie was killed when a gunman walked into her classroom at Sandy Hook Elementary School and took the lives of twenty children and six educators. Picking up the pieces after Emilie’s death was incredibly difficult, but I focused on understanding what Emilie’s “new life” entailed on the other side.
A few months ago, our youngest daughter Samantha rode her bicycle for the first time without training wheels. Samantha, like Emilie, had put this moment off for a long time. As I watched her force apprehension aside and finally push confidence down to the pedals beneath her and begin a wobbly ride down the sidewalk, a familiar warmth rushed through my body.
It was Emilie.
I was able to recognize the feeling because I have been blessed many times since her death to feel her presence in some way. Most of these experiences may seem small, but always they have significance to something important happening with our family, in particular when it involves her sisters, like the childhood achievement of riding a two-wheel bike for the first time.
In a talk by Elder Jeffery R. Holland titled "The Ministry of Angels" he says, “From the beginning down through the dispensations, God has used angels as His emissaries in conveying love and concern for His children. . . . Usually, such beings are not seen. Sometimes they are. But seen or unseen they are always near.”
As I have searched for what Emilie’s “new life” entails I have realized it’s very similar to the one she had when she was alive. She continues to be a very significant part of our family and remains with us. In times of celebration, triumph, and sorrow my sweet angel is always near. But the one connection that I treasure the most is when I, too, can “convey love and concern” for those in my life that I am prompted to help.
Sister Reyna I. Aburto from the Relief Society General Presidency said, “Miracles happen when the children of God work together guided by the Spirit to reach out to others in need.” Just like Emilie, we too can be a ministering angel here on earth and follow the promptings of the spirit to serve those in need. The Lord’s work is indeed a beautiful thing to witness from both sides of the veil.