I write to you after spending three very magical and tiring days in Disneyland. We’ve done princesses and rollercoasters and traumatized our children (the older ones on Tower of Terror, the youngest one on the ladybugs in the Bug’s Life area).  Hopefully, the happy memories stand out more than the few minutes they spent in tears. Sorry, kids! (as a funny side note, my cousins Mike and Paul Barker traumatized me at Disneyland when I was two by taking my brother and I on Pinocchio.)

As I was thinking about my blog post while in The Happiest Place on Earth, I contemplated on the fairytale that life, and especially life within Mormonism, seems to be. You go to church and everyone seems happy and are constantly talking about all the good we can be blessed with, even when life is hard.  We talk about how happy the gospel makes us and how it completes our life. We get married in buildings that look and feel like castles and even tell our youth to wait for a prince who will take them to the temple. After that,  you’re simply supposed to live “happily every after”.  The end!

We seem to forget about the villains and danger and peril that happen along the way. Or we minimize them because “we have the spirit to help us. ” And while that can certainly help bring us peace in our hardest moments, I’m not sure it’s going to win a battle for us. To do so requires more personal action than just prayer.
I think that there are a lot of people who believe that as long as they are being righteous, they get their ride into the sunset. The unfortunate reality check is that there is a lot of bad stuff that happens to people. Does this mean their fairytale is ruined?

No. It’s just part of their story, or, their fairytale.

While watching the newest Cinderella film a few weeks ago, I (along with millions of others, I hope) was struck with the message that Cinderella’s mother left with her. “Have courage and be kind”.

While we want to say that life isn’t a fairytale, nor characters are not facing modern day/real problems, under it all we still have villains to face and the knowledge that love conquers all. All the while, “have courage and be kind” is an amazing take home message.
When we lost our twin boys four years ago, the fairytale felt like it was over. I remember blogging through tears about how it felt like we were all in this car driving toward the sunset while singing and laughing together. Our world was complete and we had everything. The perfect family I’d always dreamed of with the twinner bonus, great kids, good marriage, and on and on.

And then suddenly the brakes were forcefully slammed on and everything went dark around us. As quickly as we stopped, we were zooming backwards, seeing the sunset we were driving toward get further and further away so quickly. And then our car was redirected to a dark and dreary forest. I felt so sad and helpless. Goodbye happiness. Hello depression forest.

Looking back at the four years of driving on our new road, I’ve been able to more clearly understand, though not perfectly, that it can’t be rainbows and unicorns and sunsets all of the time. And it’s likely that those happy things are more of an occasional mix in, to give us some relief from the hard stuff and get us through what is coming.
BUT, the good news is that we can still have rainbows and unicorns and even riding into the sunset, it will just be mixed in with many battles and villains.

The loss of our sons was a years-long near-constant battle with a gigantic dragon. For now, four years later, it is a dragon that sleeps for long periods and then returns for yet another battle. I’ve come to accept that it is an unslayable dragon that occasionally demands a fight, and I’ve gotten used to fighting. Yet, it still takes a tremendous amount of courage to step out onto that battlefield.

Many us have unslayable dragons. We know these dragons well and the energy it takes to fight even a little battle.

I hope that all of us can remember to have courage in our hardest battles and, beyond that, that we will be kind, as all around us are fighting battles as well.

Life certainly is a fairytale.
Whatever the ever after may be.

Carrie is a memorial artist and mom to 3 young children, and is being watched over by twin boys. When she isn't working, you can usually find her spending time with her family. If there is, by some miracle, extra time when she doesn't want to fall into her bed and sleep, she likes to indulge her creative side, where she dabbles in a bit of everything. She has been married to her husband, Jon, for over 10 years and they enjoy watching shows together, vacationing (who doesn't?!), and going on adventures.

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