My kids are some of the greatest examples. Hilary is always available to keep it real and remind me that I still have a job to do here on earth, and that is fantastic. As hard as it is to find the energy or desire to get up each day, I am so grateful for her. She is truly a gift from above. Today I actually took a nap! I know, right? While I was sort of dozing in and out of consciousness I heard Hilary coming towards me and then I heard Heidi right behind her quieting her and taking her upstairs to play. She also emptied garbages without me asking! She is a tender soul and she is very service oriented. She is such a great big sister. I love her example that she sets for me everyday. Halea, too, is so aware when I am sad. She can see it in my face immediately. She comes and rubs my back and tells me it's going to be OK. I think that I feel really bad for our kids that they have had this experience, but in reality it will be such an amazing life lesson for them. I cannot deny the blessings that have and will continue to come from having Tatum and Trevin as part of our family.
The only bad thing about ministering Relief Society sisters is that we often do it with food, and I am all about food. Especially cake! Unfortunately cake is my vice. (along with really any other pastry or dessert) Yesterday someone brought over the yummiest lemon pudding bunt cake! Simply sinful. Well, by the mid morning I had eaten almost the entire thing by myself! Heaven help me.
I hope this isn't weird but I had a few people ask me for a copy of my talk from Tatum's funeral and so I thought I would post it here so if you were unable to attend and you wanted to, now you can read it. Not quite the same cause I added a few little funny commentaries along the way (naturally) but you can get the gist.
Tatums Life Sketch:
I have been thinking about this day for several months, and yet it has still been so very hard for me to organize my thoughts. I was sure that I had several more months to prepare. I was thinking about telling the entire story of how Tatum even got to be in our family because there was such spiritual confirmation that she was supposed to come and be with our family, but I want to focus more on things that she has taught us while she has been here with us. I know that Heavenly Father knew that I would need the spiritual witness that she was supposed to be here so that I could understand and focus on her purpose and I am forever grateful for that witness.
Indulge me for a few minutes as I tell you a few things about this sweet angel that has graced our home for 1 year and 8 days. Tatum’s pregnancy was not my easiest. I was exhausted. However, I was not sick a day with her. When I was almost 8 months pregnant she allowed me to participate in our Temple to Temple walk. We walked from the Draper Temple to the Salt Lake City Temple which is about 22 miles. I was very involved in the planning of this activity and I so desperately wanted to walk. I had been having such a terrible couple of weeks physically that I was sure that I was going to have to ride in the support vehicles. The night before we were to walk, I was so exhausted at the end of the day and I remember thinking that there was no way I could walk the next day. When I woke up that next morning I felt so amazing. I told myself that I would try to walk and then I would get in a car if I needed to. That was my first experience with Tatum’s angels. I know that Angel’s carried my belly that morning because they knew it was so important for me to be out there with the Young Women. Big burly men were dropping like flies, but Tatum and I just seemed to sail, however slowly, to the finish.
The day that I went into labor with Tatum, we had a Young Women activity that I really wanted to be able to attend. It was a mother daughter activity that we tie died shirts. She allowed me to go to that and as soon as I got home I started watching my contractions that had been pretty steady all night. About 9:30 we loaded into the car got to the hospital got all checked in and just two and a half hours later she was here. She cried more than I remember any of my other babies, but she settled down quickly. I felt such relief that our family was complete. Five days later she hiked Y mount in my front pack as part of our tradition to honor her oldest brother Trevin. She tolerated her crazy family, especially me her mother, quite well. With all of the other kids and their activities it just always seemed like we were always running somewhere, dragging her along. She was ever so sweet and patient.
All of our other babies I had moved to their crib upstairs usually by the time they were 2 weeks old. For some reason I had a real soft spot for Miss Tatum. I could never make myself move her far away from me. I was sure I would never hear her because her cry was so delicate and sweet. She slept for her first 8 months in her car seat next to me in the living room and the rest of her life in a makeshift bed on our couch next to me.
By the time Tatum was 10 weeks old she had participated in the Pioneer Trek and girls camp. I felt very impressed that the girls needed to be around her and so she became our honorary mascot for Young Womens. She had a special way of drawing the girls to her. There was never a time that someone wasn’t asking to hold her. I knew that she was probably bending the rules a little going on Trek and camp, but I felt more strongly that she was fulfilling her purpose and mission being around the youth and I think it proved true. She had a certain way of softening hearts and teaching in simple ways and reaching those that needed to be reached.
When Tatum was about 4 or 5 months old she used to put her delicate sweet little hands on either side of your face and draw you in and look directly into your eyes. I always thought this was so unusual and I loved it. It gave me chills because I felt like I could see into her soul, and vice versa. Tatum always has had such a sweet disposition. She had her moments of fussiness, but for the most part she was a gentle, sweet and patient baby. Almost as if she knew that there were others that needed my attention and she was OK to wait.
From the time that Tates was first born practically we were fighting her battle to gain weight. When she got to be about 5 -6 months I started getting a little more worried about the origin of this problem. I started noticing some developmental delays that worried me. Finally in December I decided to sit down with my pediatrician, who had also been our son Trevin’s pediatrician, to see what his thoughts were. I knew what my heart was telling me, I wanted to see what was in his heart because I trust him and his opinion . As we started that very difficult discussion, he agreed with me that there were some things that felt concerning and very similar to Trevin. We made a few appointments to start investigating if this in fact could be the same disease that Trevin had. Through all of this we tried to remain optimistic. We still weren’t even certain that the diagnosis that we had found on Trevin’s autopsy report a few years prior was even correct. Lance was a lot more optimistic and certain that everything was going to be OK than I was. I had a pit in my stomach.
A few weeks later I was walking home from a Relief Society class where I had been overwhelmed by the spirit. As I was walking through our neighborhood I was thinking about our sweet Tatum and praying about her and my awful pit in my stomach. I had a flood of emotion come over me and the spirit bore witness to me that she really was sick and that I needed to change my prayers. I had a clear feeling that I was going to be OK, and I felt a deep peace. I knew that day in January that things were not going to turn out the way that I hoped, but I knew that I was not going to be asked to do this alone. I knew that the Savior had already born this burden for me, and that he would provide, through the workings of the Holy Ghost the support that our family would need to survive the upcoming heartache.
From that day forward I began to change my prayers. I became very specific in what I was asking for. I knew that I needed certain things to be different than they were with Trevin. I knew that the outcome would be the same, but I was hopeful that Heavenly Father could ease some of the other hard circumstances that I knew were coming. With the exception of Tatum not having the disease, Heavenly Father answered every prayer that I had offered. On that faitful February 12th I was able to recognize the beginning of the seizure and get Tatum to the doctor before she was in complete crisis. Our doctor was able to be present, it happened in the day time while the kids were at school, there were nurses in the trauma room that knew Trevin, they were able to get IV access immediately, we never had to intubate her, and Lance was able to get there quickly. Until January Lance had been working mostly in Salt Lake and he took the bus. With the cancellation of the bus and the switch to the train Lance had almost stopped going up there entirely. That would have been horrible if he had been in Salt Lake with no car, instead he was in Orem just 10 minutes away. I have never felt such a complete confirmation that prayers are answered than I did standing in that trauma room with Tatum. That sounds so strange, but it is true. I was so so grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who could not fix everything, but was trying to let us know that He was there and that He cared and that for the past several weeks He had heard my plees. We were not alone.
Telling our kids their new horrible reality was the next mountain. Tatum was the light of our home. To have to explain to them that she was not going to get to stay for long was heart wrenching. They handled it like the champs that they are. We were so lucky to get to take Tates home a few days later and begin this new chapter in our lives. Those first few days I sat on the couch and held her and visited with people and just tried to adjust to our new life. I think that I felt a little paralyzed for those first few days. But then I started to call upon and utilize the grace and power of the Atonement. I knew that I was not doing this alone. The human spirit can withstand immense stress and pressure, couple that with the strength offered to each of us from our Savior and we are invincible. I knew this would not change the outcome of what this disease would do to our sweet baby, but I knew that it would absolutely change who we were at the end of this journey. It was my honor as Tatum’s mother to help her fulfill her mission and to be her voice. It was also my responsibility as a mother to bear witness of the goodness that was still ours even in these hard times and to set the example for our other kids that Heavenly Father loves us and this was not a punishment, but a huge blessing in our lives.
Luckily for two months we had been studying the Atonement for our Relief Society class and so it was at the very forefront of my mind. I am sure this was no coincidence, that this was inspired timing from our Relief Society Presidency. At one point in that month of February I had read Alma 7:12 in my preparation for the class. It says :……..this scripture really spoke to me because I had never really thought about the fact that our Savior had not only suffered for our sins, but He had gone the extra mile and had suffered our infirimites our sadness our sickness so that He could understand and know better how to succor us, or care for and support us during our trials. I have felt that complete love and understanding through these past few months. Through people acting on the promptings of the Holy Ghost we have been cared for and supported and loved in a way that I will never forget. We have been overwhelmed daily by the absolute goodness of people. We thank you for listening to the still small voice, you have all truly been instruments and examples for our Heavenly Father.
As I was trying to organize my thoughts I asked my kids what lessons they learned from Tatum. I wanted to share those with you to help you understand a little more of Tatum’s mission and purpose. They said that she had taught them to endure to the end, that she had strengthened their testimony, that you can do hard things, That even when things are the worst you can still smile, That when you think that things are the worst they can still get worse, This experience has made the scriptures more real, they understand the plan of salvation better, they have learned to recognize the spirit more, and how happy a simple smile can make you. Sometimes we had to work hard for a Tatum smile because it took a lot of energy, but when we got one it was priceless. Nothing better. What parent wouldn’t give anything for their kids to learn these lessons before they reach adult hood, or ever, much less at our kids young ages.
I echo all of the things that my kids listed and I might add a few of my own that I have learned in a much deeper way in this past year. I know that angels are near. I know that Heavenly Father hears and answers prayers. I know that families are eternal and that the Temple is the gateway to the eternities. I know that we will be reunited with those that we love. I know that our Savior lives and that He loves me and my family and our sweet Tatum. I see and recognize the tender mercies that are mine every day. Tatum allowed me to slow down enough to recognize the real priorities in life. I know that even though Tatum could not speak or stand or move that she touched people simply through her powerful spirit and the Light of Christ that was within her and is within all of us.
I don’t know if we will ever stop missing the presence of this sweet angel that has been in our home for the past year. I will never stop yearning for that feeling that she brought . I will miss her for the rest of my life. It has been the greatest honor of my life to be her mother and to take care of her. These past few months as I have taken care of her I have felt so strongly that she was wise and old and that she understood perfectly that this was how her mortal experience was going to be and she was happy with it. I hope that I have done her justice and celebrated her sweet life in these last few minutes. I hope she has felt the love and appreciation that we have for her as an elect daughter of our Heavenly Father. I hope she knows that we feel honored and privelaged to have had her here with us for this past year and that we acknowledge how hard she fought to give that to us. I pray that she has felt our celebration of her valiant life.
Now it is our challenge to take the things that she has taught us and to never forget her example. I know that when she slipped to the other side there were cheers of Well done Tatum, well done. As her mother I echo that, Well done Tatum, well done. In the name of our Savior Jesus Christ, amen.
Halea is going to play an arrangement of If you Could Hie to Kolob. It is hymn 284. As we were discussing what she would play we read through the words of this hymn and we loved it because it is just a pure celebration of the things that we know about our Father in Heaven and the hereafter. Read along in your books if you are near one because I think that it makes the music that much more powerful.