October 13, 1997. Seems like just yesterday. Until I think back at all that has happened in those 16 years, then it can seem like an eternity. When Hayden was born Lance and I still had such apprehension about the health of our kids because the doctors had no diagnosis for what had happened to Trevin. Since Halea seemed to be healthy we thought that maybe it was a disease that would only affect our boys, because the doctors had brought that up as a possibility. So we were excited for Hayden to come, but also very nervous. What if we had to endure the pain of watching another one of our sweet babies be sick like Trevin. We tried really hard to not think about it and just enjoy. As Hayden started meeting his mile stones and seemed "healthy" we felt a huge weight lifted. Hayden was a crazy little toddler, but fun. He didn't cry nearly as much as Halea. He always had a smile. He has always been active and fun. It is crazy to think that he is 16. He can date and had we been on schedule he would have been able to drive a car. Luckily neither of us has been very motivated to get the steps done for a drivers license. I don't think that he is ready, and we certainly don't want to pay for insurance for him. So it is a win win situation. He is becoming such an awesome young man. He was always so sweet with Tatum, and still is very tender when he speaks of her. I know that part of her purpose was specific for him. I love them both for that.'
This week was a fall break for our kids so we had planned to go to California for a few days, stopping in St. George on the way down to visit with our good friends. It was hard for me to get too excited about going because I feel like I just don't want to do anything big that Tatum is not going to be a part of. I don't want to make new memories. I know that I have to, though.
We were going to leave on Wednesday, but we ended up staying in town until Thursday afternoon so that we could attend the funeral of our sweet neighbor. I am really glad that we did. I actually really like funerals. I think that it is where I receive the most spiritual feelings sometimes. The veil is so thin. I imagine that lots of angels are allowed to attend such events. If you go in the right spirit you I know you can be taught. It was a really great celebration of her life. Not a perfect life, but one that was filled with good things and three sweet girls that her and her husband were able to raise to adulthood. There were so many people that came to pay respect it was a true reflection of the love that people had for her and her family. All of the family that spoke did a really good job. The closing song was sung by the UVU choir and Alex Boye. A song called "I Will Rise". Seriously one of the most spiritual songs I have ever heard. I was so grateful that we stayed, even just to hear that. There is a professional video on youtube. If you have a second I highly recommend watching it. The choir came into the chapel and lined the aisles and Alex Boye and the two other soloists were up front. It was so amazing to have them right in the audience singing. After they were done singing, most of the audience was sniffling and crying. As I watched the choir leaving, many of them were crying too. I am sure that none of them knew my neighbor, it was just such a sweet spiritual song. Through the Savior, we can accomplish all, including conquering death. Watch it!
As soon as the funeral was over we packed up and headed out. The weather was a little sketchy on the way down, but we made it safe and sound without incident. We had a quick fun visit with our friends and when we woke up the next morning we headed out. When we pulled into California I thought to myself, How did I ever leave this? I always feel so calm and peaceful when I am at the beach. When I was in high school it was where I used to escape to think and be calm. It still has that same affect on me. As soon as we got to our hotel we changed and went right to the beach. I really could have sat there for the next 3 days. Hilary was loving it, the older kids were loving it. It was pure peace. I am sure that I would get nothing done in my real life if I still lived here. I am sure that is why I ended up in Utah. As I sat there it made me a little sad that we had never made it here with Tates. It just got so busy after she was born and then before we knew it she was sick. Everything went so fast.
Friday evening Halea and I went running on the boardwalk. This is my very favorite thing to do and now I have someone to go with me. Well, kind of. She is not the funnest running partner. I thought we were just out for a casual run, so I would try and run next to her and she would speed up. Then I would get next to her again and then she would speed up again. Brat! She just has too much competitiveness in her, she has to be in front. Too much of her mother in her. And her dad. I still enjoyed it anyway because I ran faster than I usually am right now and I really didn't end up that far behind her. Not bad for the person who birthed you, ya little stinker.
When we got home Lance and I walked to a little whole in the wall Mexican food place and got a big platter of taquitos and nachos and quesadillas. It wouldn't be a real trip down memory lane without some cheap greasy Mexican food.
The next day we went to my moms to visit with my side of the family. My mom had put together a party for Hayden. Most of my family was there and two of my moms friends were there. One of them was a lady that I used to stay with when I was little. It was fun to see her because she was like a second mom growing up. As I sat there at the table I was looking around at everyone and contemplating all of the hard things that each of them had been through and many are still experiencing really hard things. None of us escape. Nor do we want to really. Otherwise we would be pretty shallow, untested people. It is how we react to such things that creates our character. Darn it, I wish there was an easier way. Being with my family brought up some fun memories of growing up. As a young teenager who could have guessed where we would all be at today. As I looked around the table, I feel like my life turned out really good. I am one of the lucky ones if you can believe that. I guess its all in your perspective, but I feel lucky to have my beautiful family a good husband and a knowledge of the gospel that gives me hope and purpose everyday. I thought a lot about this when I would walk on the boardwalk and see the funny people that have obviously lost their knowledge of who they are. Or the party people that were all out on Friday and Saturday night being crazy and drinking and swearing like sailors. I just felt sad for them. That could have been me. My path of losing our sweet children has been so hard, but the path that those people are on seems so hopeless and unfulfilled. It made me really grateful for my life.
Saturday night we went and met Lance's family at the Bay and had a bonfire. It was really fun to see all of their little kids running around and playing together. There are 9 kids 7 and under. Lances sister has 4 boys, three of which have had kids. My kids really missed out on the experience of growing up with cousins and so they think it is so fun to watch all of them interact. They are so funny with each other and they love each other. Two of the brothers have little babies that are just about a year. It is so hard to see them and watch them and know that Tatum should be right there with them. At one point one of the babies got handed to Halea. I was wondering how she would handle it, if it would make her sad. She seemed to do fine. Through the night I had the chance to hold each of them too. It was nice to fill my arms for a second. It's never the same as holding the one you miss, but it is nice for a bit. I was so grateful for all of them taking the time to come and be with us and to organize all of it. It is amazing to see them all as dads. They were always so fun with our kids when they were little, I knew that they would be good dads. They have all grown up to have cute families, and they hang out together and their kids all know each other. It is how family should be. It was just fun. My kids found a million stinky shells to haul home, so I think that the night was a success for everyone. As we were packing up to leave one of my nephews asked if Hayden could go to a movie with him and then he would drive him back to the hotel. Hayden had fun doing that, lucky.
Sunday we woke up and got ready for church. Hilary and I took a little walk on the boardwalk and then we packed up and went to church. There were a few people that had moved into Lance's sisters ward since we had been there last, that Lance had grown up with one of them, and I had grown up with another. Weird. After sacrament meeting Hilary went right into nursery. You never know how she is going to react, so that was nice. The last hour I went into YW with the girls. There were about 7 girls there. A little different than our 40 ish girls. Always nice for our girls to realize how lucky they are. Some times we take things for granted.
After church we decided to take a drive to a few places where Lance and I had grown up so we could show the kids where we had come from. They had seen it before but it has been several years, so we thought it would be fun now that they are older. We went to my first house in California and where I attended K, 1st grade and 4th grade. ( there was a break when we lived in Tennessee for a few years) Then we went to where I lived when I was in 5-12th grade. They had really cleaned up the apartment complex I used to live in. It looked much nicer than the last time we saw it. Then we went inside the Catholic church that I used to go to. I think I went mostly because on Saturdays they had yummy homemade donuts. It looked just like I remembered it. Then we went to Lances old house. He lived there literally all of his life, until he went to college after his mission. We looked around for a few minutes but we were too scared to ask the people if we could come inside. We decided to go and knock on the next door neighbors house. It was one of Lance's best friends growing up. just as we were entering the gate, she pulled up. Perfect timing. She insisted on walking us over to Lance's old house and asking the neighbors for a tour because she knows them. Sure enough the nice lady let us in. Lance had a good time walking around inside and then walking around outside on the property. As he was talking to the lady that lived there I was talking to his friends mom. I told her about Tatum because she knew that we had another little girl after Hilary and then I told her that Lance's sister had died last year. I was so glad that we were able to tell her about Tates in person rather than through our Christmas letter. She has always been so sweet to send us something with each of our babies so I would have felt bad for her to find out that way. Again, she also has her struggles. Her son that Lance was good friends with lives on the streets and is addicted to drugs and alcohol. Such a tragedy what has happened to him. She says she never gives up hope but she is very scared for him. Worst nightmare as a parent. It was so fun to visit and walk down memory lane. Some of it just feels like yesterday that we were there. It was a really fun day.
We went back to Lance's sisters house for some dinner and the cousins came over again. What a mad house with all of those little kids. Hilary was not sure what to think. Then they started playing music and all of the little kids got out on the floor and had a little dance party. It was so funny. On the way home we stopped at my moms for a bit and visited. Hilary slept through the entire visit because she was so exhausted from the dance party.
I think that Hayden had a good birthday. We have all had a good visit to California. It is our last morning here. It was so hard to leave the safety of my bubble at home of people who know what has happened in our life. So hard to be here without Tatum, but I am so grateful for the time that I have had here to feel the calmness in my soul. There is something about this place that reminds me of where I have come from. It gives me strength. It has been good for me. I am, however, ready to get home and not live out of a suitcase, have sand in all of my stuff, sleep in the same room with all of our kids (especially since Hilary wet the bed last night, what do you do about that in a hotel? oops sorry, oh boy) live off Bugals and crackers and candy, be able to walk barefoot on our floor and snuggle up to the sheets cause I know they are clean (I have watched way too many Dateline specials on the cleanliness of hotels! ) And we miss our dog, I really hope she is still alive:)
I am going to repost some fun pictures when I get home to my regular computer because I cannot figure out how to get pictures to where I can access them. Somehow I go this one to work. It is a random picture of the boardwalk. Go figure?