My name is Travis Ashby from Salt Lake City, Utah. I had an idyllic childhood, my mom and dad were both outgoing, happy and healthy parents who loved me and had fun with me and my two sisters or many relatives and friends would gather at our house for dinner game nights and holidays. They both had to work full time jobs to afford our modest home in a safe middle class neighborhood that was full of kids our age. And we had way too much freedom to do whatever we wanted to do.
I have fond memories of tipping over the couches to create force for Sakura’s and just generally running amuck in the neighborhood. I enjoyed my time alone in my room, creating epic battles with my full set of human guys or something as high as I could on the big backyard trees that we had. I remember just leaning way back and my eyes closed and just feeling the butterflies in my stomach and the wind on my face. I can’t imagine a happier childhood and these memories are sacred to me.
Then the world flipped upside down. My parents sat down in the front room one day with a serious look on their faces and shocked us with the news that they were getting divorced. My sisters and I never saw this coming. Devastated, we said goodbye to an amazing home, the neighborhood friends and life, and we moved into an apartment in a different city with my mom. Up to that point, I had been as close to my mother as anybody ever had.
When she was home, I was by her side and my favorite memories were taking naps with her while she watched old Westerns and she took up my arm. She was the most beautiful person in the world and she walked on water to me. When her boyfriend showed up, our relationship changed and I realized he was the reason that my mom left my dad and I was very upset. I felt betrayed, abandoned and angry. My natural happy disposition was not only gone, but replaced by the most amazing display of constant vitriol that an 11 year old has ever had the capacity and creativity to conjure up.
When he was around, I’d fling hateful words, toys and clothes hangers, anything else I could find, you know, to throw at them. And my goal was just to get him to be angry or get her to cry. And I was purposely trying to hurt the woman I loved most in the world. Six months into living with my mom, she informed me that she had a singing competition in Denver and would need to fly out on April 27, 1990, the day before my 12th birthday, accompanied by her pilot, boyfriend and four other people.
She asked me what I wanted for my birthday and I said for her my dad to go with me to buy my first church suit together. So for the first time since they separated, just the three of us went hung out for a few hours. And the amazing thing was they were smiling and happy the whole time and I felt hope. And on April 28th, I would celebrate my birthday with my friends and family when suddenly my dad got a call.
He was visibly upset and told me and my sisters we needed to leave right away and go to Grandma’s house. She had been in bad health and I assumed that she had passed away. But when we asked our dad what was wrong, he wouldn’t answer. And I distinctly remember. Praying, please let it be my grandma and not my mom, and when I walked through my grandmother’s four door and saw her sitting on the couch, I knew and my dad turned on the news.
And the first story was about a plane that crashed in the mountains of Colorado with all six passengers presumed dead. I can’t describe the feeling of despair, but I remember I remember thinking like it was yesterday. How am I going to tell her I’m sorry? The next day, I remember vividly seeing a table full of presence that were meaningless to me. I remember walking outside of this apartment complex and finding myself sitting on this green electrical box. And as I sat there trying to wrap my head around the fact that she was gone, I remember simply asking myself, how am I supposed to live the rest of my life knowing how badly treated her before she died, who was a burden that was too heavy for me to bear and it was crushing my soul.
And so I prayed to heavenly my father to forgive me for treating her so badly before she died and to please tell her that I’m sorry. I remember the distinct thought that came to my mind. Take out your wallet. You know, I was startled, confused, and I felt my pocket. And there was a wallet inside that she had got me for my birthday and I pulled it out and I remember looking at it, holding in my hand and just waiting for further instructions.
And then the thought came to my mind, open it up. So I did. And immediately I noticed a picture of my mom inside of a protective plastic casing. And then the thought came, take it out. And I pulled the picture out and room was clearing my eyes and looking at this picture. And as I looked at it, I then have the thought to turn the picture over. And when I turn the picture over, I recognize her handwriting immediately and read the following words.
Remember the good times signed Kathy in her beautiful cursive signature. The sort of power that went through my body as I read those words were indescribable and unmistakable. I felt like I was being encompassed in love for my heavenly father and I felt my mother’s presence. And I not only felt this consuming lot, but I also felt her forgiveness and the burden of guilt was miraculously lifted. And for the rest of my life, I had never I’ve never had to worry about how I’ve treated her, how I treated her before she died.
I then took her advice to her and I kept a journal to lock in my mind every good memory I’d ever had of her. And I thought so often of those memories that even thirty years later, they have the fate of a time. I learned that we can find happiness regardless of circumstance when we understand that no one heavenly father loves and hears his children. And that day my faith in him was secured. I would never could never doubt that he’s real and that he loves me, and that I can pray to him in faith and be comforted to the power of forgiveness is real and seemingly impossible.
Burdens can be lifted through prayers of faith because of Jesus Christ, our savior. And the third thing I think that I learned is just that happiness is a choice and that my mom was no help. He realized that, you know, that there’s a switch in our brains and we can focus on remembering the good times and set ourselves on a path of hope, healing, happiness. Or we can choose to actively focus and dwell on tragedy and negativity and regret the what ifs, allowing our spirit to slowly die.
My hope is that prayers of faith will increase in the role and that people will humbly seek the father of their spirits and feel his encompassing love throughout their lives. That day he heard my prayer as just a random 11 year old kid who is praying in faith, and that I was able to learn that his not only real, but they loved me. And I know that I’ve always known that I can pray to him in faith and that he’s going to answer my prayers and knowing that has made all the difference in my life.