How has it been 11 weeks? I just can't believe it. My chest still feels empty and full of aching. It is such a real physical feeling. I wish that I knew when that would go away. Although that helps me to still feel something, so it isn't all bad. There are two things that I have been dreading: Family Pictures and Family Vacations, among a million other things, but these are two biggies. Luckily we had family pictures right before Tatum died, so that can wait for a few years right? As for family vacations, ugh. I guess those have to continue. We decided to start out small and take this quick weekend trip to Bryce Canyon.
Everything went pretty smooth on Friday morning. Everyone was excited to get out of town for a few days and to get to see Grandma and Grandpa and Bryce Canyon. Over the past few years it has become a favorite spot of ours. It is so beautiful there, truly one of God's creations. The people that work with our grandparents at the ice cream shop have also become friends and have been so kind to us all. They always dote on the kids and are just genuinely kind and sweet. Last time we were there we had our sweet Tatum with us. She was just a few months old, so naturally everyone fell in love with her. The entire drive down I just kept thinking that the last time we were there she was with us, and now she wasn't. Just like that, our family is different. I hate that. I don't like that when people see us, they only see us that are here. I want them to see all of us. I want them to see Trevin and Tatum too, because they have helped make us the family and who we are. They have confirmed all of the truths that we know about the gospel and have changed each of us as individuals, so it seems so unfair for people to not know that. It just seems so surreal. It is hard for people to not know them. This is what I was thinking about all the way down. I was dreading that I might also have the opportunity to meet new people. There are so many tourists, and sometimes when you are at the pool or in a line conversations come up about your family or where you are from, etc. I used to love this. Lance and the kids would just roll their eyes because I always make small talk with people when we are in those situations because I love to know what brings people places and I love to talk to them and know about their lives. I am just interested. (the kids would probably say I am nosey!, I call it interested) Despite all of this anxiety, I was trying to be excited about spending time together and getting away for a bit.
After our visit we headed out to the canyon to do a hike. I wanted to do a long hike, but by the time we got our lunch packed got to the canyon and found parking it was almost 12:30, so we decided that we would do a much shorter version. The weather was really nice for the hike. There had been some cloud cover and so that made it a little cooler. For the most part the hike was fun. There was the typical bickering here and there, but it was nice to be outdoors doing things together. How could you not have fun and just marvel at this beautiful place?
When we were getting to the end of our hike there were some ominous clouds forming, then the thunder started and then the lightning. Hilary was getting very nervous and scared. I wasn't to keen on the idea of getting caught in a thunderstorm either, so we started to pick up the pace a bit. Before we could get to the car it started to rain really hard, and then it started to hail! We were passing through a part of the lodge that had some cabins with porches. We took refuge under one of the porches. Once the rain let up a little Lance ran and got the car and pulled it around to pick us up. We all thought it was pretty funny that we got caught in the storm. We stopped back at the ice cream shop to visit and then back to the hotel. We rested for a bit while the storm just raged outside. It looked a little bit like I would imagine a hurricane would look like. After an hour or so it let up enough for us to go to the pool. For a short while we had the pool to ourselves. It was really fun. After the pool we got ready and went to dinner. We stopped by the ice cream shop to visit for a bit before we headed back to Lehi. While we were there some of the workers from the last few years came in to visit too. They all asked how we were doing and offered their condolences. Sweet people. We had decided that we would drive home Saturday night rather than Sunday morning because no one slept the night before and we thought it would be better if everyone could sleep in their own bed. That seemed like a fine idea on paper. We started off at 8pm. Which meant we would have to take the canyon part in the dark. Yikes. I am nervous driving at night period. Add a canyon, and then some rain. I was a nervous wreck. When we got to the freeway I thought I would feel better, but it was raining so hard I thought for sure that we were going to crash. I just kept thinking, if we die in tonight, let us all go together. These are the dumb kinds of things I think now. Luckily we all made it home safe and sound thanks to Lance. I do not know how he stayed awake. I am the worst driving companion ever.
When we got home there was a package waiting. My niece that lives in Nebraska found several "Don't Bug Me" jammies so we can make more care packages for families at the hospital! Woo hoo. Tomorrow night we are going to Walmart to get the remaining supplies to finish the rest of the packages. I am so excited. Service is one of the things that makes me feel a little more normal and like myself.
Today was the farewell of one of my friends sons. He is leaving on his mission for our church on Tuesday morning. He will be gone for two years and will be serving in Belize. There is such anxiety and trepedation and joy that comes with this. As LDS parents we want our kids to choose this path. Yet any separation from your child is so hard. Two years seems so long and yet I have made it 18 1/2 years and now 11 weeks with Tatum. I remember when Trevin was first sick I used to promise Heavenly Father that i would make sure that Trevin went on his mission, and I wouldn't even complain or cry about it, if only he could get better. I knew that would be hard to let him go for two years, but if there was a chance that he could come back at the end of the two years it was worth it. Ahh perspective. As is tradition, this young man gave a talk in church today (and my friend and her sisters and mother sang. I am not sure how she did that!). His topic was about adversity and coming closer to Christ. He referenced a talk given in the October 2012 general conference by Elder Bowen. Elder Bowen had lost a child and was very candid about the feeling that he had during that time. It is a great talk. My friends son talked about having faith and hope during hard times and growing closer to the Savior and trying to be more like him. He did a fantastic job. I felt a little bit like he was talking right to me. These are all things that I know, and I have tried to live. You can never hear these advices too much. It is no cooincidence, I think, that Tatum's middle name is Hope. In a weird way she gives us Hope. Hope that our family can be forever, hope that we can make it through all of the hard things in life with even an ounce of the grace and strength that she and Trevin demonstrated. Hope that we can make good choices and do good things with the rest of our lives until we meet them again. My friends son did a great job with a pretty difficult topic for an 18 year old.
Afterward I went to our sacrament meeting. I was going to just go to the luncheon at my friends, but for some reason I really felt like I should go to our sacrament meeting. I was so glad that I did. One of my friends was speaking on families. She did such a fabulous job. Something that she said that really struck me because I have been having this very thought. She said that out of all of the things that she had studied in preparation for her talk that would strengthen our families, the one thing that it boiled down to was to teach our kids about the Atonement. If our kids have a strong relationship with the Savior and know how to apply the Atonement in their lives, and understand what it means, they will make the choices that they need to make, they will have the esteem that they need to endure the wickedness of the world, they will know how to repent and change bad habits, etc. I have been thinking a lot about this exact thing with my own kids. I don't know how good of a job I have done. I think that Halea has done pretty good at developing her relationship with the Savior. It shows in her countenance and how she conducts herself. She is also very self motivated in this area of her life. I was just thinking the other day that I have 3 and a half years to help Hayden develop that understanding a little more. Those years are going to fly by. We cannot waist our time that we have been given with our kids. (I am speaking to myself here, not preaching to anyone else). After my neighbor spoke, our old High Councilmen spoke. He did a fabulous job also speaking about the family. I was so grateful that I had listened to the promptings and made the effort to go back for our sacrament.
After all was done we took a walk to the cemetery with Heidi and Hilary and put out the new metal pinwheels that Grandma had found at the ice cream shop. These will hopefully withstand the weedwacking that destroyed our others. They each have a little bug on them. She thought it was appropriate because we call Tatum "Tater Bug". I was excited to put them out. We got to the cemetery a little late so the picture isn't that great, but they look adorable.