Thursday, January 30, 2014

8 Months...

Monday morning I was home with Hilary.  I had a few minutes and so we decided to sit down and play a little Memory.  Bad choice for me.   Hilary rocks at this game and she did not disappoint.  The version she has is the My Little Pony version and I am not kidding, all of the pictures look the same to me!  She killed me, 20-4 matches.  She cleared the last 7 matches consecutively.  It was unreal.  No way to start off your Monday morning.
 20 to 4?  Seriously?!
Even she was proud of herself.  She kind of taunted me a little afterwards.

Later on Monday night we went to the Chinese Festival at the High School.  Hilary was not sure about standing next to the horse, Mr. Chips.

Tuesday night Halea and I went with one of our friends up to the state Capital for a meeting about protecting the family.  I don't love to get into politics, but I am starting to feel like I can't stay silent anymore.  There are too many bad things happening all around us and I feel like I have to stand up for what I know is right.  It is really alarming to see where our country is heading on a lot of issues.  I think that if we studied a little more of our history and understood better how our country started and why, then we could answer a lot of questions about what direction we are supposed to be heading.  We could also crack open the Bible, that every judge and President in this country is sworn in upon, and learn a lot of what is expected of us.  While we were at the capital they had a group of Veterans that were presenting the colors, then we said the pledge and sang the national anthem and had an opening prayer.   During these activities, instead of showing respect to God and Country, the opposing side stood and saluted their ridiculous flag and heckled us throughout.  Heckled the very men that defended their flag and their country, so that they could even have the freedom to have an opinion about such an issue!  I have never felt so appalled.  It was truly embarrassing the lack of respect that they showed.  Halea and I were very teary.  It really made us sad.   All I can say is that I can't be silent anymore, for my children and my country.  Enough said.
Wednesday morning I took Hilary out in the stroller for part of our workout because it was warm enough.  At one point she said "one of my grandpas is dead".  Then she asked "Why do we have to die?"  I told her that we all get to die, and our spirits go to heaven, then we get to be back in our body after the Resurrection. She said "Oh, is that when our bones get to be back together?"  Sure.  Then she asked, "when is the Resurrection?"   I told her when Jesus comes again.  "When?"  I told her I didn't know.  Judging from this awesome world, my guess would be sooner than later!  These are the funny conversations we have, daily.  This morning she was asking me about the "Tatum pillow" that is on our bed.  She asked why it was a Tatum pillow, so i explained to her that my friend made it out of the same material that she made Tates dress out of and that it had Tatum's name stitched at the bottom.  She put her head in her hands and looked at the pillow for a minute and sighed and said "Tatum doesn't get to lay on her pillow".  Ouch.  Nope she doesn't.  This sweet big sister still prays for Tatum and Trevin to gain weight every time she prays, which is usually at least twice a day.  She is valiant and loyal in her love for them.

About a month after Tates got sick a few of my friends encouraged us to sign up for a program that we have here for families of kids with terminal illness or disabilities.  They have events a few times a week, like free movies at the movie theaters, amusement park days, museums for free, etc.  They host all of these free events for the entire family of the affected child, allowing you to do activities with your sick kids, surrounded by people that understand the beeping of machinery, loud noises, grunts, seizures, etc.  Well, good news we got accepted about 2 weeks ago!  You have to send off an application through the Internet.   Maybe ours got hung up somewhere in the system?  Kind of funny and typical.

Tomorrow is 8 months.  How is that even possible.  The longest, fastest 8 months of my life.  I miss Tatum's soft skin and how she smelled and how she felt in my arms.  The imprint she has left on our family and in my heart is tangible and never ending.  Changed forever.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Dirty Laundry..

Well, hopefully everyone knows by now that the Walker household is far from perfect.  Most of that imperfection, at least according to my kids, stems from me.  Friday was one of those days that the kids were right and I was glad there were no cameras rolling in our house.  Friday morning I packed lunches and tried to get all of the kids where they needed to be on time.  At 8:00 I arrived back at home after driving the High school and Mountainville carpools.  Halea was still asleep because it was her day that she has no first period.  I slumped down on the couch trying to ignore my exhaustion from not sleeping the night before and trying to postpone my run on the treadmill (because it was still 17 degrees, too cold to take Hilary out in her stroller).  I realized about 8:30 that I hadn't heard Halea get out of bed yet.  I went to her room and told her what time it was.  She had to be to class at 9:07, so she darted out of bed and started frantically getting ready.  I decided that I would postpone my run a few minutes longer until she was out the door, in case she needed me to help her with anything before she left.  When she was finally ready she came and asked me if I would take her to school so she wouldn't have to find parking.  All I could see was 20 more minutes that I was losing and the list of things that I needed to get done that morning.  I was not happy to take her, but I did, grumbling the entire way.  I was curt and not very nice about it.  As soon as I got home I sent her a text telling her that I was sorry that I was grumpy.
I got Hilary some breakfast and told her that I was going downstairs to run on the treadmill, to come and get me if she needed me.  Once I was on the treadmill, I felt better.  I was down there for almost an hour when I heard Hilary crying.  I went upstairs to see what was wrong.  When I got upstairs there was Hilary standing in a puddle, holding paper towels in her hand, sobbing.  I immediately knew that she had peed her pants!  She could see that I was not happy, especially when I realized that she had walked all through the kitchen to get to the paper towels to try and clean it up.  I picked her up and put her in the sink to wash her up.  I told her that she was a big girl and knew how to go to the potty all by herself and that I was not happy that she had peed on the floor.  I raised my voice at her.  All that I could see was that I was going to have to clean the entire floor now.  Add that to my list.  Ugh.  After I got her cleaned up and dressed, I quickly mopped up the floor.  then I went and sat on the couch with Hilary and told her how very sorry I was that I had raised my voice and that I had been mad at her.  I told her that she was the most important thing in my life and that I was wrong to be mad.  We all make mistakes.  Her feelings were so hurt.  Her little tears were so real.  How could I have not dealt with that better?  After all that I know, after all of these years?  Good grief.  Not my most shining mother moment.  For the next little bit I sat there with her and we snuggled and talked.  Maybe it needed to happen for me to slow down and just take those special moments with her.   She is it.  This is going to be our last little person.  I love her and everything that she says and does, how could I have so little self control?  Thank goodness for repentance and the forgiving heart of a 3 year old.   Halea keeps saying that we need to record every word that she says because she is at such a fun and funny age.  I am so grateful to be her mom.  She has literally saved me these past 8 months.  My life would be so different had we not had her.
Luckily I had a lunch date with a good friend that day.  It was nice to get out of the house and try to start fresh.  That night my friend and I went to a work dinner that was really fun.  We work with really fun and amazing people.
At the dinner they gave us suckers and little bubble gums that looked like babies.  Hilary is giving a thumbs up to the blue bubble gum.  You can  see the blue stains on her thumb and mouth.  Hopefully that was a good peace offering for the day.

Saturday morning was our Stake Women's Conference.  This is a meeting that is always uplifting and enlightening.  I always feel excited when I go.  This was no different.  Our keynote speaker was our neighbors daughter who is an LDS author and all around amazing person.  I have heard her speak several times and she never disappoints.  Her knowledge of the scriptures and good ideas are always inspiring.  She gave some constructive thoughts on scripture study and some great thoughts about coming to Christ.  Then there were three classes that we got to attend.   Each hour we got to choose from three classes.  It was really hard to choose.  The first one I went to was about the Priesthood.  It was fabulous and very enlightening.   The next one I chose was "A Little More Forgiving in our Families", I guess hoping that my family would some how forgive me for being such a grump!  The last one was "Powerful Parenting Principles".  The last lady was really funny and insightful.  Then we had a nice lunch.  It was really a great morning, spent where I knew I needed to be.  Trying to learn how to be a better me, and better parent.

Sunday morning Halea was giving a talk in Sacrament meeting, Lance was participating in a sharing time for Primary in another ward, I was teaching a Sunday school lesson, Lance was giving a talk in another wards sacrament meeting and Heidi was giving a talk at our New Beginnings Program tonight.  It felt like the Walker show.  Our Sacrament meeting was amazing.  Halea's talk was on obedience and it was wonderful.  As I was listening to her I was thinking that maybe she should write my talks from now on.  She is so spiritually mature.  She was the "youth" speaker, but you would have never known that.  So very proud of her.  Then our cute neighbor boy got up to give his missionary farewell.  It was truly by far the best talk I have heard in a very long time.  Really, the best missionary farewell talk I have ever heard.  This young man expressed with such enthusiasm his excitement and deep understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  It was inspiring.  The spirit was so strong.  I will never forget it.  So proud of him, and the choices that he has made to go and share the good news with his brothers and sisters in Chile.

My Sunday school lesson was interesting.  I had planned a few activities for the kids to do to help them be active in the lesson.  As I was walking to the class I had a few different ideas come to my mind of what I needed to talk to them about.  The lesson went really different than what I had planned, but I think that I followed the spirit of what they needed to hear.  I worry so much about their generation with all of the distractions that they face.  I can see that the feelings of the gospel are sometimes foreign to them.  It makes me so nervous for my kids.  I hope that I am led in how to teach them and love them in a way that will foster their ability to absorb the teachings of the gospel and to help them to have a desire to have a relationship with their Savior.
After church we ran home and got a bite to eat and then ran over to the church where Lance was speaking.  Halea and Heidi came with me.  When we got there the man that was speaking right before Lance was just finishing up his talk.  When he sat down, Lance had about 35 minutes to kill!  The most that the last speaker usually has is about 20 minutes.  I knew Lance had prepared a lot of information, but all weekend I kept telling him that he always prepared too much and that he was probably going to have to cut out half of his talk!  I was really hoping that he had not heeded my advice.  Luckily he didn't.  He had plenty of funny stories and info to easily fill the time and leave a great message about the importance of tithing.  He is a great speaker and always interesting, so it was fun to hear him.

Tonight we had our New Beginnings night for the Young Women of our ward.  I knew that it was going to be sort of weird for me to not be involved, but I was trying to be OK with it.  I just miss those girls and the amazing time that I was able to spend with them.  The leaders and the girls did an amazing job.  It was really a nice program.  We really do get to live among amazing people.  When we got home from the church, there were these crazy cardboard things sitting on the counter.  Holden had fashioned "jet packs" for he and Hilary, out of cardboard!  He is so super creative.  He absolutely drives me crazy with it, but I love that part of him.
Here are he and Hilary wearing their jet packs.
  It seems like everywhere I go these days there are little two year olds.  I just can't help but wonder and miss what we are missing.  Every cute thing that Hilary does I keep thinking, we will never see Tatum do that.  I just can't stop missing her.  Not that I really want to, but I just wish it didn't come with such pain.  I had an epiphany the other day.  All of the data of people that grieve show that there is often times a severe dip, or depression or relapse of some sort around the six month mark after a loss.  I have seen it professionally time and time again.  People feel like they are making progress and then some unseen thing triggers them into a tail spin.  I have always wondered why that happens.  The other day when I was driving home I was thinking about it, because I am right in that time frame.  I was evaluating how I have been feeling.  I feel, better.  More emotionally in control.  I don't cry as much, as long, or as hard.  I still cry almost every day, but it is much more manageable.  I feel happy more than I feel sad.  I am able to function a little better.  Sometimes I feel almost "normal", and I feel glimmers of the good parts of my old self coming through.  I laugh a little easier and harder like I used to.   All of these things are seemingly good, unless you are grieving the loss of a major person in your life.  As I started thinking about all of this it made me feel uneasy and sad.  The thoughts of "am I forgetting Tatum" and "how could I imagine feeling joy again" came to my mind and my heart.  It feels like a battle inside of me, of trying to carry on, move forward as a better person for having known her, but wanting to freeze time because the further I move through time the further I feel away from her.  That is an awful, dark, sad feeling. It is the acceptance that she is truly gone.  And I hate it.  
In our Relief Society class that we are studying the Saviors life, we talked about the miracle where a man with palsy was brought before the Savior.  His friends had brought him, carrying him on his couch.  When they got there the room where the Savior was teaching was too crowded for them to push through with their friend on the couch,  and so they decided to carry him to the roof and lower him down through a hole in the ceiling so that he could be healed by Jesus Christ.  They had great faith that the Savior could heal their friend.  In Luke 5:18-28 this story is told.  Jesus tells the man that he is healed and commands him to arise and take his couch and go into his own house.  Not only does Christ heal him, he heals him enough so that he has the strength to carry his own couch home with him!  For some reason this struck me.  I know that He has the power to heal my broken heart.  Not only can He heal it, but make it better and stronger than it was before.  I know that with every fiber of my being.  I feel that happening within me.  I just wish that I could reconcile my feelings of missing Tatum and wanting her to be here with me.  I am so grateful for the changes within me, it just hurts right now.   I am feeling myself emerge from the ashes of this past year.  I am so grateful for the good friends and family that I have had that have carried me on my couch and have waited patiently with me as I allow the healing power of the Atonement to work on me.  

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Beauty for Ashes..

It has been a crazy, very busy few days.  Halea has continued to do so well with her wisdom teeth, but she ended up with this horrible "cold" thing that everyone is getting.  I think that no one will escape it.  It seems to have an incredibly loooong incubation period.  Hayden had it in the beginning of December.  None of us ended up with it until about two weeks ago when Hilary ended up with it.  She has been better for over a week, and now Halea has it??  Crazy.
There were a few interesting things that happened on Friday that made me think a little.  On Friday when I was in the ER helping a family who had tragically lost their sweet 4 month old little girl the grandmother told me something really interesting.  She was telling me that her little granddaughter was always so sweet.  In fact at this very young age she said that she would often put both of her hands on either side of your face and just look at you and smile.  That was something that Tatum did often when she was very little until she got sick and could no longer move her arms.  It always struck me when she would do it.  I always thought that Tates knew that she wouldn't be here long and so she was soaking us all in as much as she could.  One particular time that she did this thing where she looked right at me it was like a bolt of warmth went through me.  Like she was looking deep into my soul.  It was so purposeful on her part.  As if our spirits were connecting and communicating on a different level than I could understand as a "human" of flesh.  It makes me wonder, hearing this grandmothers story, how many of these little ones that leave us too early get to know.  How valiant they must be.  How lucky we are to be in their presence and to be counted among those that they came to reach.  
That night my friend and I stopped to get Halea some KFC mashed potatoes and mac and cheese because that sounded good to her, and I'm that kind of mom!  After the lady took my order she asked for my name and I said Heather, and she repeated, "Heaven".  My friend and I started laughing.  I said, "well sort of".  The girl chuckled, and probably thought I was crazy.  Truly I feel like I do walk around with a few little pieces of heaven that are close.  It made me think about how I want and need to portray that to people that I come in contact with.  I want them to see that Heaven inside of me.  I have a friend that has two kids with special needs, one of them has already graduated to her place in Heaven.  When people meet this friend, they can feel that around her.  It oozes out of her pores.  You truly can almost see it.  I hope that I can achieve that some day.  That without asking or knowing that people will feel that special testimony inside of me oozing out of my pores.
On Saturday we went to clean the church, again!  The kids don't think that anyone else in our neighborhood helps to clean the church.  Needless to say they were all super excited to go.  The kids don't realize that if they wouldn't protest so hard that we wouldn't feel such an urgent need to teach them to serve:)  Some day they will learn.  We were almost done and Heidi and Lance were cleaning the outside glass on the doors.  Every time they would spray the windows with the cleaner, it would freeze before they could wipe it!  It was pretty funny.  They finally just had to leave the doors unfinished.
The rest of Saturday was not the very best.  I had a lot of running around that I ended up having to do and it seemed that every time I stopped at home, someone was complaining to me or whining about something.  I wasn't all that sad that I wasn't home for a lot of the afternoon.  That made me feel pretty sad by the end of the day.  As I was driving home I kept having these fears about something bad happening to one of the kids.  It is pretty common to have a heightened fear of someone dying when you have lost someone close to you.  I know that it isn't strange per say, but the thoughts are always unsettling for me.  It made me want to get home and be with my family.   I had announced on Friday night that we were only having leftovers on Saturday and that I wasn't cooking.  When I got home I decided that I needed to do something for my family, a service if you will.  What is the best way to learn to love someone, or to renew and deepen love?  Service.  Halea was still eating soft foods mostly so I decided to make Chicken Pot Pies for dinner.  Nothing can turn a frown upside down like a yummy pot pie.  Usually my pies are not really "pretty", but this one turned out so pretty I had to take a picture of it!
I really felt better after I did something nice for the day.  Lesson learned, again!

Sunday was a fun day.  Lance and I taught a Sunday school class for the youth.  He is such a great teacher.  It was fun to watch him and learn from him.  Holden gave a talk, and he did a good job. When he gets embarrassed or nervous his smile is so sweet and his dimples so deep, I could just squeeze him.   Apparently Hilary gave the prayer in her class and according to her she blessed Tatum and Trevin to gain weight.  Hopefully her teachers don't think we are crazy!  Our niece and her husband came down for dinner and we watched the last NFL playoff game.  It was a fun day filled with the spirit and fun times with family.

Monday Lance got to stay home from work.  I had a few work things to do and the rest of the day we just relaxed and hung out.  We watched a MLK video (Walker tradition for such holidays)  to remember how far we have come.  It is sad to watch how awful we humans can treat one another.

For the past few weeks I have anxiously been anticipating tonight.  Tonight we were starting our monthly Relief Society gospel class.  To be taught by the same neighbor that taught it last year, the same neighbor that painted us the amazing oil painting of Christ's tomb.  As the evening approached I started to feel a little heavy and maybe apprehensive.  It was this month last year that things were starting to come to a head with Tatum.  It was after that first class, as I was walking home, that I felt a spiritual confirmation that Tates was sick.  I felt inspired to begin praying for things that could help us all survive what was coming, not for Tater bug to be cured.  I was given the assurance and the peace that I we were going to be OK.  I had never experienced a spiritual experience quite like this.  I was so grateful for it, but as I approached the class tonight it all came flooding back to me.  The reality that has taken place, in such a short amount of time, since that night is unbelievable to me.    As I sat down with about 50 other people, who were there anxiously seeking to feel the spirit and to learn more about our Savior, I was overwhelmed with emotion.  I love all of these people and I am so grateful to be surrounded by people that seek these things.  The discussion and "lesson" were amazing.  My good friend did not disappoint.  I will probably reference some of what I learned until next month, because there is so much that we covered in just over an hour.  My favorite part of our discussion was talking about the scripture where Isaiah explains what the Lord hopes for us and what we give in exchange for these gifts. It is in Isaiah 61 v. 1-3, and my favorite part is in verse 3 when he says we will receive "beauty for ashes".   There is a lot of symbolism in those words.  Throughout the scriptures it says that we must face the  "refiners fire" so that we can become what the Master knows we can and should be.  When something burns, there are ashes left behind, but underneath is the beauty.  From our hardships and challenges comes such change and beauty.  My neighbor gave the analogy of the Provo Tabernacle that burned and gutted the inside, and is now becoming a Temple.  Beauty risen from the ashes.  Or the Yellowstone fire that burned a huge area of that beautiful park over 20 years ago.  That area of the park has become, with time, even more gorgeous than it  was.  Beauty from ashes.  I have felt this fire within me this past year.  I know that I can rise a better, more beautiful person because of it, if I allow it and seek that change.  We all have this potential, and our Savior sees that in each of us.
.  This is what "beauty for ashes" looks like.  Sweet, peaceful, submissive to His will, understanding, loving, patient, teachable, no malice or guile, content, wise.   Forever grateful for this sweet influence in my life.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Wisdom Teeth...

It has been an eventful week.  Tuesday Halea had a banquet that UVU puts on for all of the Sterling Scholars in the state of Utah.  Lance and I got to attend with her.  They seated us at a long table next to a few families.  One family was from Orem and the rest of the families that were right next to us were from Richfield (a smaller town a few hours south of us).  I immediately liked the Richfield peeps.  They were down to earth and cute.  The family from Orem, well let's just say they weren't as down to earth.  The mom immediately started grilling Halea with questions about her Sterling Scholar application/interview.  She was saying to win State you HAVE to have a lot of service.  Her daughter (who oozed of snobbery) had just participated in a benefit concert the night before, and their neighbors had started a foundation that helps build villages in Africa.  So if Halea wanted their information she could get that for her so in the next two weeks before State she could beef up her resume!  Oh yeah, well we started a foundation when her sister died to help people right here in the United of States pay for funeral costs!!  This lady also had to slip in their that her two older children had also been Sterling Scholars.  Wow.  I wanted to tell her that Halea had actually done all of this on her own, I hadn't even helped her with one thing regarding this "application".  I sense a helicopter mom, and I am the complete opposite.  Luckily the presenter started before we had to get in a fist fight:)!  The dinner was great and the keynote speaker was pretty good.  He used some great quotes and dropped some book titles that I think I am going to try and read.  (It sounded like they would fit into my tragedy genre)  As we were leaving we were Halea made the comment that she really liked to do service just to do service, not to "beef" up her resume.  That's right!!
It's going to be a good night when you start with a yummy spinach salad and a peanut butter bar:)
Halea enjoying the night.

The three of us leaving the banquet.  Thanks UVU.

Wednesday I got to go to lunch with a few friends.  We were in Young Women's together and so it was fun to catch up with them.  I really miss the awesome ladies that I got to work with for those few years.  I just don't get to see them or communicate with them like I did when we were serving together.  They were both so kind and supportive while Tates was little and then sick.  Friends for life.
That night I went to a "cottage meeting" to get information about some of the legislation that is coming up.  It is frightening to think what is happening all around us.  Good to get informed and try and understand the ramifications of some of the legislation.  Very enlightening.
Thursday I was supposed to go out to a friends house because she was doing a "training" on how to take care of her sweet daughter that just recently had a G-tube placed.  I was totally planning on going.  I am pretty familiar with all of the accessories that come with a special needs kiddo, but they are all a little different so I wanted to go to support my friend and to get to visit.  I started getting really anxious throughout the day. I wasn't really going to know anyone out there which is still pretty uncomfortable for me.  Then I started thinking about all of the memories of Tatum and her "accessories".  I just wasn't sure if I could handle hearing about all of those special things.  That sounds so silly, but that was such a part of her life and I knew that it would spark feelings of missing her terribly.  I texted my friend and explained what I was feeling.  She was super understanding and said that I could have my own private training.  It is so unlike me to run from something that should be so simple.  I don't like these silly feelings.  

Yesterday (Friday) was Halea's next big day.  Wisdom teeth removal!  She was pretty nervous for the whole thing.  Quite frankly I was too.  I was nervous about the general anesthesia.  What if she had some freak reaction.  Totally possible with our luck!  She woke up not feeling well and with a big headache.  We arrived at 11:45.  They brought us back to her room where they started the IV and prep work.  Hilary did not like all of the things they were doing.  She was asking lots of questions.  She did like when they put the cute blue hat on Halea!
They started administering the meds and she was out in seconds.  They finished super quick.  I think less than half an hour.  I barely had time to fill out some paperwork and read a page in my book!  They brought us back to sit with her while she was coming too.  A lot of her friends have posted funny videos of them coming out of the anesthesia, so I was poised and ready to capture it.  She didn't say one funny thing.  The funniest part was how stunned she seemed, very unaware of where she was.  She was very with it, though.  I tried asking her funny questions, nothing.  Her eyes were red and blood shot and I told her that she looked like Zoe (our dog who has a lot of red around her eyes).  She didn't think that was funny, but I did.  After about a half hour we were able to get her to the car with the help of a wheel chair.  She was not feeling super good at first.  As we were driving home I could hear Hilary in the back talking to herself.  She was saying (to herself) "Is my sister going to be OK?" over and over.  My poor little warped girl.  She probably saw all of the equipment that they were using for Halea and thought of Tates.  The beeping of the Sat machine, the oxygen, the IV.  Poor girl.  Didn't even cross my mind.  I started talking to her and telling her that Halea was doing really good and that she wasn't sick.  Traumatized for life.  
We got Halea an Oreo shake from Chick fil A and she was able to eat the entire thing.  A few hours later she was able to eat soup and fries and  then potatoes and mac and cheese.  She hardly seemed swollen and she wasn't feeling a lot of pain.  She did so well.  I hope it continues for today.  
Later that afternoon I was called to a hospital to go help a family that had their 5 month old daughter died suddenly.  A reminder of how quickly life changes.  Never to be the same again.  One of my patients was asking me yesterday if you ever feel joy again after losing a baby.  I didn't even hesitate, absolutely.  In fact I think that you not only feel joy again but you learn to appreciate its presence a lot more because you have been to the depths where it does not reside.  Grateful for that appreciation.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Sleep, Why Dost Thou Betray Me?..

Truly I haven't really slept consistently well since I was pregnant with Hilary over 4 years ago.  The lack of sleep intensified when Tates was born because neither she or Hilary slept at that point.  Some nights I would just get Tatum to sleep and Hilary would walk down the stairs or vice versa.  Then it really hit the fan when Tatum got sick.  When I would sleep, it was never sound due to worry that I would not hear one of her alarms or she would need me and I wouldn't hear her, even though I slept right next to her her entire life.  Luckily I have never required a lot of sleep, but the past few years have brought it to an extreme level that no person should have to function under.
The past several months, since Tatum died, when I could finally allow myself to sleep, enter insomnia and nightmares (oh and a snoring husband! I wish he would just lose some weight and stop all that snoring, hee hee).  I have always been a vivid dreamer and I still remember some of my most memorable, even from when I was a little kid.  The dreams I have been experiencing lately are different.  I don't usually remember the details, I just know that Trevin or Tatum, or both were the central theme.  I often talk or yell in my sleep.   A few weeks ago I woke myself up yelling Trevins name.  Needless to say, my sleep has been less than restful.
So, I have been maybe a little more emotional than normal.  I think that can be attributed to a few things, lack of sleep being a huge contributor.  We have had a few members of our extended family struggling with some spiritual issues and so that has added some extra emotions.  I feel like I have been forgetting things about Tatum and that is so very hard.  Then came Friday.  It seemed like all of the things had combined to create the perfect storm.  I don't know what it was, but I was just really sad all day.  I have just been missing Tates terribly.  When I see other babies it is so hard.  I miss that warm feeling of being around her and snuggling her and kissing her.  Hilary is also getting so big and I just feel that phase of my life closing.  I know that most people are happy to move on, but when it is premature to when you thought it would be, it is a struggle.  I miss changing diapers and needing to be home to feed her and sit with her and talk to her.  I miss taking pictures of her.  I miss it all.  I know I keep saying these same things.  I guess I feel like I can't say it enough to record these tender feelings properly.  The anguish of it all is indescribable.
Luckily that morning a friend stopped by to visit for a minute, and so it allowed me to think of some other things.  I am so grateful for good friends who not only add support and love that I so desperately need, but also fun distractions.   True angels on earth.
In the middle of the day I had a phone call from a lady that I work with that is my superior for one part of my job at the hospital.  It was not a good call.  She and I are not seeing eye to eye on an issue and so it is really frustrating to me.  Why that day?  A real cherry on top.
By the evening I was really ready to end the day.  Luckily another friend came to my rescue and went with me to the High School basketball game that I wanted to go to.  Lance has never cared to go, and he had a meeting that night, so I didn't feel too bad leaving.  It was a really good night to end a crummy day.

I had a hard time getting to sleep that night and so I woke up a little later on Saturday than I wanted to.  We did a few things around the house and then Lance and I went snow shoeing for a few hours before the kids were all up and about.  When we first go there the skies were a little grey and I was worried that it might be really cold.  A man that Lance works with told him about some trails to take.  They were in the same place that we had gone before, just different trails.  I was a little hesitant, but I went along with the idea.  I am so glad.  It was a beautiful trail.  There was a lot of fresh snow and it went by a little creek then up into some beautiful trees.  It was such good therapy for my sad heart.  The sun came out half way through our trek.  A great Saturday.  It is always amazing to go into the mountains and remember that God is all knowing and all powerful and that all is going to be well.
There was probably a foot and a half of fresh snow on the picnic tables.  Not a good day for a picnic!

Such a beautiful day and a beautiful place.  I am loving my new addiction.
Some other events of the past few day:

We went to pack meeting
Heidi helped me sew some backing on our new curtains for about 4 hours.  What a girl!
Lance saved a man's life on Thursday, literally.
Heidi finished reading the Book of Mormon, on her own, for the first time.  Huge accomplishment.
Hilary went to Sun Beams for the first time today.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Challenge of Being Different..

When someone dies, especially in your immediate family, there is a reorganization of sorts of your identity and how you explain who you are and your family.  This is a really hard process and it is one of the most asked questions of the families that I work with at the hospital, how do you answer the questions.  How many kids do you have, how old are your kids, how many boys or girls do you have, etc.?  They are forever hard questions.  Over the past 19 years that I have dealt with it I have a lot of funny and uncomfortable stories.
My favorite funny story was when I was pregnant with Holden I was working at the Church cannery.  You go there and volunteer with other people that you usually don't know.  Which was the case.  So as we were sweeping and cleaning I was talking with a lady.  Naturally she asked how many kids I had.  I said that I this baby would make 5.  She asked their ages.  I told her Heidi was almost 3, Hayden was almost 6, Halea was 7 and Trevin I think would have been 9.  She then asked what school my kids went to.  I told her Freedom Elementary.  She giggled and said mine too.   Then followed up with a harder question, what grade are your kids in.  Then I had to think.  I said that Hayden was in kindergarten, Halea was in 2nd grade and that Trevin was in 5th grade.  I wasn't even sure if that was the grade he would be in!  Then my heart really started beating when she gasped and said, I have a 5th grader too.  Who is your sons teacher?  Then began the confessional.  She was super sweet about it.  I explained to her that I was trying to avoid making her feel uncomfortable by telling her that our oldest son had died when he was 18 months old because people usually feel bad to make me talk about it.  I followed up by telling her that it didn't bother me to talk about him.  As we continued talking (surprised that she continued to talk to me after such a huge lie!) she shared her experience with infertility and adoption.  It turned out to be a really fun experience, and one I will never forget.
This past week several of us have had experiences with telling Tatum's story.  Halea had a scholarship interview that was based on facing hardships in your life.  She said that she only cried a little bit, but it went well.  She is usually so poised and controlled in her responses and she has a very deep spiritual understanding and that really comes through when she talks about her love for Tates.

 Then Lance was at work giving a satellite presentation to a group in Salt Lake city and his group in Orem.  His screen save is his favorite picture of Tatum.  As he was trying to present his powerpoint, for some reason his screen saver came on.  Everyone ooed and awwed and he quickly fixed it.  The next day one of the guys that is new to the company since Tatum died came over to his desk and commented again on how pretty Tatum was.  Lance told him that it was a picture of his youngest daughter that died last year.  The man asked him what had happened and so he got to share her story.  Not bad for two guys!

Heidi came home from school yesterday with a "funny" story.  She has a little friend at school who is one of those girls that has her volume control to the max and there is no turning it down or adjusting it.  She is just LOUD.  She has always been a really sweet girl, but for the past year or so they haven't been quite as close of friends.  So when Tates died she hadn't been around much.  When Heidi returned to school in September there was an uncomfortable incident with this girl where she really embarrassed Heidi by asking her how Tatum was doing.  Heidi then had to tell her that Tatum had died.  All of this while this girl is literally yelling the questions and answers in the lunchroom, not meaning to but it is just the volume that her voice is at.  So yesterday they were all at lunch and this girl yells across the table to Heidi, "how's Tatum?"  Heidi just looked at her and then the girl gasped and proceeded to tell her table about Tatum.  Poor Heidi.  She was a little embarrassed.  Luckily one of the virtues that Heidi has chosen to work on for the past few weeks for one of her Young Women projects is "patience"!  What a blessing.  Heidi smiled as she was telling me the story and said that it was the perfect opportunity to really practice patience.  Adorable.

This is such a good memory for me.  This was one of Tatum's happier days after she got sick.  She was able to get outside and she loved the bubbles.  What great sisters.

Me.  I always have a story about talking about Tatum and embracing my different self.  The first experience was running into a neighbor from our old Lehi neighborhood.  Luckily she had heard about Tates, but we haven't seen each other since.  She has taken our family pictures before, and is really a sweet friend.  I ran into her in Costco, my home away from home.  She came right up and asked how we were doing.  I was so grateful that she didn't avoid the elephant in the room.  It is nice when people ask and ask about the kids and ask about Tatum.  We miss her sooooo much, it is nice to say her name and think about her and talk about her.  We had a nice visit and got caught up.   We talked about our kids and other struggles.  We all have trials and hard things in differing degrees.  It was so fun to catch up with her.  My second experience was calling a lady who was my visiting teacher in our old Provo ward over 20 years ago!  We have always exchanged cards and kept in touch somewhat.  When  she got our Christmas letter she called and left a message.  I finally got back to calling her on Tuesday.  It was so fun to catch up with her and share a little about Tatum and our family.  Her youngest daughter and her family were living with this friend when we lived  in Provo and so they were both my Visiting teachers when Trevin died.  My friend was telling me that her daughters husband had filed for divorce about 2 weeks before Christmas.  They have 8 kids and have been married for 25 years!!  What in the world. Not in a million years would I have guessed.  Ever.  So we had a long talk and I am going to visit with her on Monday.  Crazy.

I have had a lot of thoughts this week about my testimony and the things that I have had witnessed to me in the past year.   I am so grateful for the things that I know.  I am grateful that I know that we will see Tatum and Trevin again.  It would crush me to not know that.  I am so grateful that I have the gift of the Holy Ghost to help me navigate this crazy world.  I am grateful that I am able to use that gift to help me prioritize my time and to try and make good choices.  Forever grateful for the sacrifices that Tatum and Trevin made so that our family could learn the really hard lessons that we did.  They are priceless gifts that will help us throughout all of our lives.   I am grateful for the love that I feel from my Heavenly Father and my Savior Jesus Christ.  I am a better person for it.
I miss terribly my daily interactions with my sweet Tatum and Trevin.  I would give anything to have them back, taking care of them and basking in the spirit that they brought into our lives.   My heart is still so broken, but these little interactions with other people in some weird way help me to feel them near.  I hope that I can live a life that honors them and their memory every day.

Sunday, January 5, 2014


Let me just say that I am not a big reader.  I wish that I was, but reading has always been hard and slow for me.  When I was nursing my first few babies I would read books late at night, but as we had more kids, I mostly dosed off or watched infomercials while I was nursing in the middle of the night.  Yes, I was one of the few people that bought the flat hose.  Correction, I bought two.  It probably would have been cheaper for Lance to buy formula for the babies.   Anyway, in 2013 (and the first few days of 2014) I read 4 books!!   I am close to finishing the Book of Mormon again and I read Stephanie Nielsen's book (the lady burned in the plane crash with her husband) Elizabeth Smart's book and a man that lives here in Salt Lake City whose wife (who was 4 months pregnant) and two of their four kids were killed by a drunk driver.  Are you seeing a theme?  All horrific tragedies.  For some reason I am drawn to these stories.  Really I lived through all of them from afar because I watched them all on the news as they were happening.  I have really loved all of their messages.  All of them speak and testify of the resilience of the human spirit, and that through the Atonement and grace and mercy of our Savior that we can survive anything.   Not just survive, THRIVE.  All of these people have gone on to really live life to its fullest.  Despite the tragedy of their situations.

I have thought a lot about this idea.  Not just surviving, but thriving.  It is an expectation  I have of our family and I think it is fair to say that is what Heavenly Father and Tatum and Trevin hope for us too.  I think that this is the really hard part of grieving.  Learning to truly live again.  Not just exist, but live and be productive.  I feel myself heading in that direction.  The hard part about this decision, choice, expectation is that you can't dedicate so much time to the memory, you have to look to and pay attention to the future, and start focusing on where you want to end up.  Now I know that our future includes Tatum and that her memory moves forward with me.  It is just a hard concept to wrap your brain and heart around because so much energy is put into grieving such a loss of light in your life.  To redirect that energy is hard.  Especially when every day there are things that are a constant reminder.  I love the reminders, but it can sometimes send me into sadness and my heart hurts.  I have been cleaning out cupboards and rearranging things and every cupboard has something that reminds me of her.  Tonight I was wiping a shelf where one of her medicines is (I haven't thrown them all away because I just can't) and it has stained the shelf, permanently (I can't imagine what that was doing to her insides).  I tried wiping it off, but then I decided it was OK to just stay there.  Then we were hanging her calendar tonight and so we took down our old calendar and the kids were reading through the things that Lance had written on the days.  He writes our various activities so it is like a mini family journal, because I am sure the kids will not want to read this novel!  Of course there were all of the dates for Tatum, the day she got sick (a big black sad face and X) the day that she died with the time of her last breath, her and Trevin's birthday, etc.  The good thing is that we know that Tatum and Trevin are a part of our future and our eternity.  Somehow that helps.

I have made some resolutions that I hope will help me in this journey.  I am never going to be perfect at the things that I am trying to better in my self, but I am certainly not a quitter.  So I hope that by making simple goals I will be able to perfect the lessons that I have learned this past year and really knit them into my heart and who I am.
A few of my goals are to improve my prayers, read some sort of scripture every day, listen more closely to promptings and act upon them, spend my time more wisely (with family and serving others) speak kinder and be more positive and appreciative to my immediate family. These are just a few things that I think if I keep them in the forefront of my mind and act on them I will see miracles in my life.  These are all things that I have been working on in my life for decades.  However, I think that I come at them this year with a renewed vigor and desire.  I know these things will improve my life and fortify my testimony.

I started another book tonight about a family that lost their little boy in a sledding accident several years ago here in Utah (continuing with my trend).  I was out of town or gone and so my friend that works with me at the hospital went and helped with this amazing family.  This friend gave me the book that the mom wrote about her grief journey.  I haven't read very far yet, but what i have read so resonates with me.  I know that Tatum has helped to remind me of the tender feelings of grief that I had with Trevin and her so that I can better relate with the families that I get to work with at the hospital.  With Trevin I feel like sometimes I can only remember the good feelings that I have had, not the hard ones.  The hard ones are still very fresh with Tates and so I feel like I can empathize better with families that are in the thick of things right now.

We all need reminders to help us stay on track, help us get to where we want to go, and to remember what is important, or at least I do.  Life is full of reminders, some gentle, some not so gentle, some from people we know some from strangers.  All needed and helpful.  I am grateful for my hard ones and my not so hard ones, from friends and from strangers.

Family Snow Shoeing.  Awesome.
Hayden pulled and carried Hilary for most of our adventure.  

 Halea pulling Hayden?  Not as cute, but still cute nonetheless.
 Nailed it!
Can you tell he is not as excited as everyone else?  Hopefully he will be more fun next time.
Isn't that adorable.  Total daddies girl.


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Ugh, A New Year...

I come into this year kicking and screaming, being dragged a bit, against my will.  I remembered that when Trevin died New Years was harder than Christmas day.  The turning of that calendar year, a year where he wasn't going to be, was nearly unbearable.  I was completely taken off guard by it 19 years ago, so I was trying really hard to prepare myself this time.  (I mean thank goodness I had another chance to see if I could do it better, are you sensing the sarcasm?)  For Christmas I did small calendars for our kids and grandparents dawning pictures of Tatum and for Lance I did a bigger one that has scripture references and more pictures on it.  Securing, that for at least one more year she will be ever present in our lives.  I know that she will be forever a part of all of our lives, but it just feels nice to know for sure.
I started asking the older kids what their plans were for New Year's Eve. because now I am not really in charge of their entire lives.  Go figure.  Halea and her friends hadn't made a plan, Hayden hadn't either, but I had a feeling it wasn't going to be with us.  I told Halea that she could invite her friends to come over to our house.  I love her friends and I thought it would be a great distraction for me.  She sent the text and voila, a party was started.
We made a list and went shopping.  Heidi, Halea and I walked into Costco and you'll never guess who was there.  Yep, Hilary Weeks.  Unbelievable.  I couldn't muster the nerve to go and say anything to her, I was afraid that I would cry.  I have been composing a letter to her for the past 4 or so weeks but I haven't written it quite yet.  It was just a funny little gift to start the new year off.  At least that's what I think.  She doesn't even know that she made a dream come true, that's the hilarious part.  We were able to carry on even after the excitement and got everything on our list and went home and got busy.  
Heidi also invited a few friends over.  I was grateful to all of the parents that shared their kids with us, because it really was a good distraction for me.  I think that everyone had a good time.  Hilary made it to midnight and well past.  Poor little thing, she is going to be a real treat today.
No pictures of Hayden on New Years Eve 2013.  Sad...
Blowing her horn at midnight.  She thought this was great.
Halea and all of her friends, and Holden!
 She also burned through about 10 sparklers.  She loved those.
Heidi and her buds.  
Outside at midnight with dad doing fireworks in the background.

I was able to hold it together all night, until I went inside.  I went to my room and had a little cry.  Then I brushed myself off and pulled it back together.  That seems to be how I have to grieve right now.  I have to still function for my family, even though I feel like I need to just be sitting in my PJ's eating chocolate crying.  I won't let this overwhelming grief consume me that way.  I know that is what the adversary would have me do.   I choose to try and be happy and to function because I know that is what I am supposed to do and that is what Tatum and Trevin would want.  So I do.  It's not always easy, and I don't always do it very well, but I try.

2013: has been surreal.  I can't believe all of the things that have transpired so very quickly.  I felt like I was crawling to the end, wishing to get out without one more hard thing happening, and yet wanting it to never end.
I am so very grateful for the beautiful months in 2013 that we were able to have with Tates.  Bonus months, given as a gift from her and our Heavenly Father, I am sure.
Grateful for the amazing beautiful lessons that we have learned in such a tender way, never to be forgotten.
I am amazed at all of the growth in our family.   We know things that are forever.
Humbled by the bazillion acts of service that have been performed for us.  We can never begin to repay.
Grateful for perspective, and the great plan of happiness and the Atonement of our Savior that makes it all possible.
2013: has been a year of growth, and despite the difficulties, I am so very grateful to have lived it.

My hope for 2014 is to carry on Tatum's legacy that she has left us of :
Service, pure love, courage, strength in difficult times, a concrete knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ, humility, submission, kindness, a love for our Heavenly Father, acceptance of His will, a desire to grow spiritually, acknowledgement of His hand in our lives, we can do hard things, slowing life down and choosing the better part, and perspective beyond this life.
One of my favorite songs that Hilary Weeks sings is "I Will".  She talks about being strong and brave and choosing His way even when it's hard and others don't, because it is who we are meant to be.  It has become my anthem for the past seven months.   (Seven months, it's hard to even say that.)  I know that this past year has been, in part, meant to change my heart and help me to become the person that my Heavenly Father knows that I can be.  He sees the potential in me, that no one else does.  It hurts like crazy, but growth hurts when you truly open yourself up and allow it.  That is my goal, to allow these experiences to strengthen me and to change my heart for good.

A few other things that we did leading up to the end of this year:
Lance and I did some snow shoeing, which might be my new obsession.
The girls and I went up to Music and the Spoken Word on the last Sunday of the year.  So beautiful.  How do some people get so much talent?
We took Zoe out for a snowshoeing excursion.  She loved it.  She really loves the snow, not the car ride as much!

We finished a puzzle.
We went and saw Frozen.  There is a quiet part in the movie when one of the sisters freezes into a statue.  The other sister comes and hugs her.  The theater was super quiet.  I was really afraid that Hilary was going to blurt out that the sister was dead, and follow it up with, " like my sister Tatum".  You just never know what she is thinking and she has no filter.  Luckily she didn't.  There is a lot of music in the show.  When we got home she was twirling around and singing everything that she was saying.  She sang "My sister Tatum died and then I went to school"  Huh?  She doesn't even go to school.  She keeps packing her backpack and acting like she is going to school and talking about it constantly.  I am not real excited for that idea.  I am going to have to brush off my crafting, ABC, 123 and singing skills and trick her into thinking that she is in school.  Great!  It's going to be an interesting 2014.