Monday, March 31, 2014

10 Months...

Today as I was running home with Hilary in the stroller the song "One More Day" by Diamond Rio came on.  I used to hear that song every day on the radio while Tates was sick.  It must have been scheduled on the play list right around the time I was getting ready every morning.  At first it made me sad because it was a constant reminder that Tatum's time was ticking away and one day I would be singing this song, thinking of her because, like Trevin, she would be gone.  Soon I learned to use it as a reminder to slow down and enjoy her time here with us.  I really fell in love with the lyrics for that reason.  The lyrics talk about all of the things that you would never do if you knew that it was your last day with someone.  No TV, no telephone, just hugs and kisses and telling them you love them.   They nailed it.
 I first heard the song years ago when another mom used it in the video that they did of their sweet baby girl that had died just a few days after birth.  I have always loved it.  I haven't heard it on the radio for awhile, and so it was appropriate that I would hear it today while I was contemplating the passage of time, and what I wouldn't give for just one more day.
Hilary heard them go into the chorus, "One more day, one more time, etc."  and she said "One more day, what?"  I said, "yeah, they wish they could have one more day together, don't you wish you could have one more day to spend with Tatum?"  She was quiet for a minute and then she said, "Yeah but she is gone".  I said "I know, but what would you do if you could see her again?  I would like to sit out in the sunshine and blow bubbles with her because I think that she liked both of those things, sunshine and bubbles."  Hilary was quiet for a second and then she said, "I want to blow bubbles with her!", kind of in an agitated voice.  This kind of snapped me out of my conversation.  I sometimes forget that she is 3!  Why did I talk to her about these things?  She doesn't have a concept of time, so she just knows that Tatum was here, and now she is gone.  Why is mom talking about her coming back!  Yikes.  Bad mom move.  I stopped for a second and told her that we couldn't blow bubbles with Tatum because she was right that she is gone.  But I could blow bubbles with her (Hilary) and I am so happy that I can do that.  She laughed and agreed.  What a great reminder for me.  I still have Hilary, and that makes me so very lucky.
Nothing much to say today.  I just miss our sweet Tatum.  I can't even comprehend that it has been 10 months since I last saw her beautiful, blue, knowing eyes.  Ten months since I got to hold her and kiss her and change her diaper and give her a bath and stroke her sweet head, and carry her out of our house for the last time.  Load her into the back of the morticians van onto the stretcher and cover her with a blanket.  How can it be? I hope she sees that we are trying so hard to be brave and honor her by trying to be better people.  I love her so much.  My heart is so heavy.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

My Own March Madness....

I feel like March has been the looongest month.  I don't know why.  Maybe because we are waiting for Halea's trip?  It has been crazy busy the past two weeks, so usually that will make the month seem faster.  This time it has not.  I couldn't even tell you what exactly I have been doing for the past few weeks, but it has been really busy.  I think this past week I was averaging about 3 hours of sleep every night.   Either I can't sleep or the hospital calls.  Luckily I have a little of my dad in me and I can usually function pretty good off of that amount.  I know that it isn't good for my overall health, so I am hoping that my schedule is improved a little this week.
The hospital has been quite crazy this week.  I have had several calls to the hospital then we had our support group meeting that my friend and I run and then we had an all day training in Salt Lake.  Our support group was pretty good this month.  Some months are definitely better than others.  We had a few people come that haven't ever come before.  There were a few things shared that I wanted to record so I will remember them.  There is always a question that bereaved parents hate to answer, "how many kids do you have?"  I have a lot of really funny stories about this.  One time I was in Walmart getting some last minute Kindergarten items for Halea.  The lady in front of me started a conversation.  She asked Halea if she was getting ready for Kindergarten, etc.  Then she asked me if Halea was my oldest.  Well I didn't really want to explain to the Walmart lady my life story, so I said "yes".  Halea turned around, looked up at me and said, "I'm not your oldest".  I then proceeded to tell the Walmart lady my life story.  When people used to ask her if she was the oldest in her family, she would almost always reply "I'm the oldest still alive!" The kids usually don't let you get off easy.  I used to evaluate people when they would ask me this question.  1. am I going to see them ever again? then I would sometimes answer with only my kids that were alive 2. is there an opportunity for them to ask more questions, my answer would usually be only the kids alive. 3.  I am going to see them again, then I would include Trevin because they would eventually find out so I had better tell them and get all of the awkwardness out of the way now.  I got pretty quick at assessing what I would say.  Sometimes if Lance and I were together I would not say anything so he would have to answer.  I always wanted to hear what he would say.  He would usually look at me, pause, and not include Trevin, to avoid further questions.   Several times we got some really weird glances because I know people were thinking, "do they not remember how many kids they have?  Seems like a pretty straight forward question".
 This night at group there was a couple there that had lost their first baby, so they had no other kids.  She wanted everyone to tell her how they answer that question.  Everyone had a little different way of doing it.  One lady says I have one son who is (age) and our youngest son died on the day he was born.  I felt so bad for this sweet family that has no other children.  I remember that feeling of being completely lost.  She said you don't feel like a mother, but you are.  I so remember that.  It was so heart breaking to listen to some of her feelings.  I can't believe that our human hearts don't just break from the anguish you feel when you lose a sweet baby.
Then there is the phrase that people use that we don't know exactly how to respond, "I'm so sorry".  Now, we would much rather people say that than something silly like, "you are the parent of an angel, how lucky", "she was too good for this world", "he's in a better place", "he's better off".  The list could go on and on.  When people say that they are sorry for our loss, I usually just say thank you and move on, because what else should I say, "you should be sorry".  If you say that, they might report you to the crazy police.  A lady at our group shared what she says in response to all of the "I'm sorry's".  She says "It is a privilege to be his mom and I am grateful for the time I was able to spend with him."  I just thought that was so sweet.  I think that is how all of us feel.  It is a privilege and an honor to be a parent for any length of time.
The last thing was from a sweet dad.  The first time dad that had a full term sweet baby.  The wife was relating a story.  She said that they were talking about their feelings or something and he said, "I want to live my life so that she can visit us and want to be around us everyday."  When there are bad feelings or you create a poor spiritual atmosphere around you these sweet perfect little beings can not really be in our presence.  What an amazing goal to set.  It could fix a lot of things in all of our lives I bet.   I am really lucky that I get to work with and see such amazing little miracles.  I see people survive and thrive and change through some pretty tragic circumstances.  The human spirit is resilient, and through the Atonement it can actually learn to thrive again and become better!  That is a miracle.

Tonight was the General Women's meeting for our church.  It was amazing and had great counsel for all of us.  things I know, but it is always good to hear them again.  As I sat there listening, I was so grateful for all of my beautiful daughters.  Each one has come with their own special mission for themselves and for me and our family.  Halea has come to pave the way for the others, and set the example.  She has done such a fabulous job at both.  Heidi came to be our calming influence.  She rarely causes contention.  She is our forever peace maker.   I thought Hilary came to slow us down as a family and to take care of us with Tatum, and to be Tates big sister.  Now I know that she came to save us.  The other day Lance said, "Having Hilary has been vital to all of our healing because we still have someone small, and funny and someone to take care of".  I agree.   I would have gone crazy this past year were it not for her.  I am freaking out that she is turning 4!  She won't be small much longer, but she too has done her job up to now.  Then there is our sweet Tatum.  Her mission is much more far reaching than I am sure we know at this point.  I know that we will see the ripple effects of her life for the rest of ours.  I know that she came to soften all of our hearts and remind us of our bond as a family, and that life does not end here.  She taught us strength, and humor and pure pure love.  Joy.  And how to find Hope when it feels like there is none.  All of our daughters are amazing.  I feel so lucky to be their mother.  What a gift.
Here are some of the Walker happenings this week:

 Hilary working on her computer.  The other day I took her for a walk.  At one point we passed by a farm that had donkeys fenced in.  She asked "why aren't those donkeys Hee Honking?"  I laughed all the way home.  She keeps us in stitches.
 Halea gave blood for the first (and maybe the last) time!  She also competed in another school activity and her team won state so they are going to nationals in Kansas City in the summer!!  She will go to Kansas City at the end of June, come back for one day and then go to her other competition in Nashville!  She is going to be a busy girl this summer.  She may not have time for work:)
Heidi has been learning to water color in her art class.  I think that she might have some of the Walker talent. This is one of the cards that we received when Tates died (on the left).  i had it sitting out on the counter and so she just sat down and sketched it and then water colored it.  Budding artist.
This was the view from our service time out at the church farm this morning.  Couldn't ask for a better scene.
 When we go to the church farm we help clear rocks out of the fields to get them ready for planting.  Quote of the day from Halea "This might be one of the reasons that people think we (LDS folk) are weird".  She might be on to something.  I think it is fun.   I treat it like a weight workout, and family time all rolled in to one.
There are usually donuts at the end, so Holden was the first in line for those.
 Halea got asked to prom today with this amazing bouquet!!!
Hayden was gone all weekend in St. George with his tennis team.  It was super quiet here without him, not in a good way.  I really missed him.   We had been told to send him with about 100 dollars.  This needed to cover his food for three and a half days.  They also needed to pay for golf,  and the tennis fee for the tournament all of which was about 45 dollars.  He begged me to send him with a little extra because his friends were all bringing more money.  I scrounged through all of our cash and ended up giving  him 125 dollars in the end and I told him to please be wise with it and bring me any change.  I was sure he would not have a dime when he got back.  (he might have a little of his mother when it comes to spending!)  Well he came back with about 27 dollars.  I was shocked and so proud. 

 It is nice to have us all home tonight.  We all watched the movie Gravity with our niece and her husband after women's conference.  It was pretty intense.  Two actors!  Who would have thought you could make a movie with two actors.    

Friday, March 21, 2014

Overwhelming Goodness...

For several years I have used a cupboard that is just above our ovens to put things that the kids bring home from school, pictures, cards, etc.  I put them there until I can go back and file them where they need to go.  Each of the kids has a big tub that holds all of their special things from growing up, their loved blankets, some of my favorite outfits, school work, etc.  One day they will each take that tub with them and do with it what they want.  For the last few years I have put all of the cards, hospital bracelets, hospital bills, etc. for Tatum in this cupboard.  It has been a daunting and frightening thought for me to think about going through and organizing it all.  If you have any sort of OCD in your personality, however, you will understand that it has been driving me crazy that it is not organized:)  There was also an address that I wrote down of one of the sweet nurses from Primary Childrens Hospital that I wanted to find so I could send her a thank you note.  I knew once I got it all out it was going to be a several hour project.  
Several weeks ago I was shopping with a friend and I found a really cute box that I thought would work perfect.  It has sat in my room waiting for me to find the mental energy to attack.  Well, yesterday was the day.  I don't even know exactly how I decided, but I just started.    The first several piles weren't too difficult because they were mostly things from the other kids or things that I needed to throw away, which is always a high for me.  I LOVE decluttering.  
Then I started delving into the hard stuff.  It was exactly as hard as I thought it was going to be.  I was a little surprised at the different emotions that surfaced.  I was obviously sad, and my heart ached to hold and kiss my sweet Tater bug.  I missed the feeling I had just being around her.  I missed my former life with her.  But as I read almost every card, the foremost emotion that I was feeling was one of deep deep gratitude and overwhelming humility.  All of the cards, and kind little things that people did for us brought back the remembrance of how blessed we were by all that surrounded us.   I had never experienced such love and devotion from friends and family.  I was overcome as I remembered.  I could not believe how many people followed the promptings of the spirit. 

I was about half way through the process when there was a knock at my door.  I didn't really want to answer, because I was pretty emotional, but I did.  There at my door stood one of my good friends with a delicious caramel chocolate cupcake in hand!   What in the world.  These little gifts have not stopped.  They obviously are not as frequent, but ALWAYS right when they are needed most.  I know that my Heavenly Father has not forgotten us in our grief.  In fact I see His gracious hand every day, blessing me through others.  The goodness is simply overwhelming. 
In our Relief Society class on Wednesday night we talked about how the Savior knows each one of us.   He knows and understands both the universe, and the one.   When He was going to heal Jairus's daughter in Matthew 9, Jesus is stopped by the "unclean" woman who touched his garment in faith, knowing that if she could just touch the hem of His garment she could be healed.  He stopped, delaying His departure to heal Jairus's daughter, to not only heal but to listen to this desperate yet faithful woman.  This woman had waited and prayed for 12 years to be cured.  In that time she had lost everything and was both physically and spiritually injured. He stopped because He cares, and because He knows and remembers each one of us.  I will never understand how He can do the things that He does, much like I don't understand how an airplane flies in the air.  That will never make sense to me.  But I know that airplanes can fly, I have seen it.  Just like I have seen the power of the spirit guide and direct people to do things that they would not normally do, just to help me know that everything is going to be OK.  Instruments in the hands of the Lord.  He loves me.  He loves us.  
Not to mention, by accident I remembered that it was March, which means SHAMROCK SHAKES at McDonald's.  I almost forgot!! Coincidence, I think NOT.
I was so excited that I forgot to take a picture before I had eaten half of it.  Last year Lance went and got a huge one for me while we were in the hospital with Tates.  I think that day I hadn't eaten much, except that shake, so I was zooming on a sugar high the rest of the night.  Love me a Shamrock Shake.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


This has been sort of a trying week and a half.  I kept wracking my brain, trying to figure out what could have triggered all of my emotions to be so crazy.  Then I remembered that, Oh yeah my daughter died less than a year ago!  I am always telling other people that there is no time frame for grief, or be kind to yourself, and this is going to take a long time, and you never really "get over this".  It is really hard to take your own advice. 
 I have been psychoanalyzing myself trying to figure out my struggle, and I think that I am on to something.  I have felt like this time around with Tatum, has been a lot harder than with Trevin.  Here are some thoughts that I have had.  When Trevin died there was no official diagnosis, that we were aware of.  Which sounds horrible, but it really was a blessing.  We didn't know that we, Lance and I, had "caused" the sickness. (I know that we can't help our genetic make up, but you still feel a little sad when you realize that it is actually something that you gave to your child)  When Trevin died, Lance and I had already made the decision to try and have more children.  We had that to look forward to.  I knew that I would have another baby, even though Halea sure took her sweet time getting here!  I had that hope.  I also didn't know with Trevin how long, the rest of my life without him would be.  I know how long 19 years is.  That is how long it has been since I have seen him or held him or smelled him, and it is awful.  I have forgotten, and I know that I will forget certain things of Tatum.  It is tearing my heart out.  I don't want to face all of those years.  In two months I will cross off ONE.  I also didn't know, because I hadn't been a parent before, all of the amazing joy that comes from raising a child.   Now I know all that I am missing with Tates.  I look at my kids and I know that I will never see her walk, talk,sing,  go to a dance, curl her hair, tell me about her first crush, win an award, go to college, get married, have her own family, the list goes on and on.  Don't get me wrong, the fact that I don't have to teach two more children how to drive or pay for their insurance is not probably going to hurt my feelings completely.  But all of the other things are gut wrenching, now that I know about them. 
 The other day Hilary was watching this little boy, who is a little over one, walk.  She looked at me and said "Look at that baby walk.  I didn't know babies could walk".  She was really impressed and I could just see the wheels turning in her head.  Tatum didn't walk and she was his age and size.  It was interesting.  Today I was at lunch with my good friend and at the end of our lunch a family came and sat down close to our table.  They had a little girl in a high chair that was so cute and smiley and laughing.  My friend and I were talking and I noticed Hilary was quiet and just staring at this little girl.  She sat there for several minutes, staring.  We both got a little teary because we could read what Hilary was thinking.  You can see it on her face how she misses her baby.  Why does everyone else get to have a baby, but not her.  It was kind of hard to compose ourselves.  Especially because we were already on the verge, talking about headstone designs.  Just another normal day in the life of me.  

About a week and a half ago I had a thought come to my mind.  What will I say when someone asks me if Hilary is my youngest?  I have done pretty well avoiding a lot of situations where there are new people who don't know me.  I have had a few occasions to tell people about Tatum and Trevin over the past several months, but there has always been a reason.  It hasn't been just an accidental, awkward social situation.  So I had this thought, and my response in my mind was, "I don't know, I guess it depends".  About two days later, IT HAPPENED!  I was at my workout class and this poor, unsuspecting lady asked me if Hilary was my youngest.  I said "well, technically. But not really.  I had a younger daughter that died last May".  Of course she was flabbergasted.  I felt really bad for her.  I was proud that i was able to say it without really getting teary, trying not to make her feel worse.  Then I told her it was OK, I liked when people asked about her.  We were in the middle of sprints and so after we finished the sprinting part of the class she asked more questions and I was able to tell her the rest of the story.  She was really sweet about it.  I just couldn't believe that I had that weird feeling that it was going to happen.  These are hard social situations that you just want to prepare for and handle gracefully.  Generally I don't come off very graceful because I fumble over my words trying to make them feel more comfortable.  

So that incident happened on Monday.  On Tuesday I went to the high school to take Hilary to a puppet show that the special needs kids were putting on.  When we arrived, there were several classes that were going to the auditorium to attend the show.  Two of Halea's friends ended up in line next to me.  We said hello to each other and then one of the boys said "Hi Tatum", to Hilary.  Luckily she didn't hear him or else she would have corrected him and made him feel awful.  After he said it, he looked at me horrified and started fumbling a little bit.  He said something like, "oh her name is...".  I smiled and said, "Hilary".  He apologized and I could feel how sad he was that he had said Tatum's name.  I smiled and assured him that I love to hear Tatum's name and that I thought it was sweet that he remembered her name.  Poor guy.  He'll probably never say any of our names again! 

The rest of that week was just emotional.  I have to force myself to go into social situations where there are going to be a lot of people.  So unlike me.  We had a ward function, that was fantastic, but it was really hard to get myself to it.  I just wanted to stay home so I didn't have to make small talk with people.  
 Lance and I went cruising the cemetery, for our Saturday night date, looking at headstone designs.   This has been weighing so heavy on my mind.  I just want the headstone to be perfect,and represent who they were and what they meant to us and that is too much pressure so I am avoiding making decisions about it.  I went and talked to a monument place and they were super nice.  It helped a lot to go and look at headstones in the cemetery.  (again, another weird day in my life)  

After the cemetery tour a few of my friends and I went out to get dessert.  We all three had really weird Saturdays, so it was fun to drown our sorrows in some pastries.
Besides my emotions, my brain has been a little more foggy than normal.  Yesterday i went to the school and picked up carpool and it was not my day!!  Who does that?  It's not like I drive a mile, and only have a few minutes to figure this out.  I drive for a good 10-15 minutes.  You would think that it would have dawned on me at some point that it was a MONDAY.  wow.  Brain fog and absolute loss of energy have been high the past few weeks, so look out.  I never know what I'm going to do next.
I am usually really good at keeping myself pretty together, but today I got a little teary even at my workout class.  For no reason.  
My emotions are just high right now.  I think all of the above things created the perfect storm in the past few weeks.  So I couldn't have been happier when on Sunday we came home from church to find one little bunch of daffodils in full bloom in our yard.  A few of my friends came and planted them last fall, knowing that winter would be hard and that spring would be harder.  I have been watching the greens peak out of the ground and then grow taller and taller for the past several weeks.   I have just been waiting for those cheerful yellow flowers to bloom.  Voila, they did.  
It did snow today, but I think they will survive!

Today one of my friends posted this quote.  I love this analogy of perspective.   I am constantly trying to have my kids step back and take a look at the bigger picture.  Sometimes when I am in the trenches, I also loose perspective.  I know that all of these hard things are pebbles in my life.  Maybe Trevin and Tatum are more like medium sized rocks.  But I still know that I can make it through all things if I but depend on the Lord.  I also know that I am not done with hard trials, and that there will possibly be harder things ahead.  I also know that I have a deep abiding faith that I can do hard things, again, with the help of and only through our Savior.  Tonight for scripture study we read Ether 12.  A great chapter on faith.  Read it if you haven't lately, it is full of good things.  
So grateful for perspective in all things, and for a loving Heavenly Father who sent us here with a plan.  


Friday, March 14, 2014

Angels Abide...

I just returned from a really emotional event, so I hope that any of this makes sense.  Not to mention it is 1:30am.  These past few weeks I have had a lot of bad dreams and trouble sleeping.  Add that to the two previous disclaimers and we are set for a fun ride!

I just had the opportunity to go and do some hand molds for a sweet little girl who had a disease that sounded similar to Trevin and Tatum's, but we had the super fast accelerated version and their daughter had the slow slow degenerative disease.  The family was told a week ago that she probably only had weeks to a month to live they started getting some things in order.  One of those things to get done was hand molds of their little girl.  Someone else had tried but they didn't turn out, so a friend of mine called me to see if I would go and do them.  I talked with the mom and we decided that I would go the next morning, but then something came up and we rescheduled to Friday.  Thursday she called me crying and said that Hospice had told her that she probably only had hours left.  They had family coming to say their good byes and then she called me to tell me I could come.  I gathered my things and I headed up to Salt Lake where they live.  I was glad I had a bit of a drive.  I sobbed the entire way there.  I wanted to get it all out so I could hold it together with them.  They were all gathered in the living room holding their sweet little daughter, sister, granddaughter.  We talked as we were doing the molds.  They asked questions about Tatum and Trevin and I in turn asked them questions about their beautiful little girl.  This little girl had suffered long and hard and had put up a valiant fight.  No matter the suffering, it is still so impossible to fathom your life without these sweet children.  I would have taken care of Tates and Trev forever, as this mom would have.  Their suffering does allow me to be happy for them, that they are relieved from their broken bodies, but that never takes away the missing. Their home looked a little like ours did, with machinery and medical supplies all around.  It made me long for and relive those last few months with Tatum.  I miss every aspect of her, the good and the hard.  As I said goodbye to this family, I knew what they would be facing for the next few hours, days, weeks, and months and my heart broke for them.
As I drove home tonight I sobbed like I haven't for several weeks.   I relived those last few days and weeks with Tatum.  The decisions we had to make, the time spent holding her, the way it felt in our home, the things I felt, the prayers I offered, the miracles we witnessed, the love I felt, the immense sadness and panic at handing her over to the mortuary.  Just the other night I had told Lance how I regretted getting her the pic line.  I know that it was either try to get her that permanent IV line or eventually the nurses wouldn't be able to get IV access and she would die like Trevin did.  I just thought that all of the things we were doing to try and make her more comfortable with the pic line, the g-tube that all of that would also buy us more time with her.  I was so certain of that, and so I am so heart broken to have to wonder if that all took her away faster. These thoughts are unbearable.  I just miss her so much.
As I was driving to the family's home tonight I was also thinking about how lucky we are.  This family has two older children and their sweet angel who is six.  They were able to diagnose what their little girl has and it is genetic.  So unless they are feeling really lucky and are willing to take their chances, they are done having children.  It makes me feel overwhelmed with gratitude for the kids that we have.  About a week after Trevin died I had a dream that the doctors had called me and they had figured out what Trevin had and they all wanted to come over and discuss it with Lance and I.  I called Lance and told him to come home right away. to meet with the doctors.  When I got off the phone in my dream, I woke up!  Have you ever tried to go back to sleep after a dream to see if you could resume it?  I tried really hard, with no luck!  Unbelievable.  For a minute I was really agitated and frustrated.  Then like a warm blanket, I had this overwhelming peace and comfort that it was OK for me to not know what Trevin had.  It was really strange, and I have never felt or thought anything like it since.  I really never thought about Trevins diagnosis much after that.  I never followed up with our doctors in Salt Lake or with my Pediatrician.  When I got the autopsy report, I read it, but not in a searching way, more of a motherly way.  I know that if I hadn't had that dream I would have been much more aggressive in my search for answers.  I felt like I had the answers that I needed and that was that we may never know and I was OK with that.  I always felt like this not knowing was a blessing to me for the work that I would later do at the hospital, because a lot of the patients that I work with will never know what happened to their babies, especially the ones that are still born.  A lot of parents have to deal with that scenario.  I felt like it made me more compassionate to their plight.  Little did I know that it was because of this lack of knowledge that would allow us to be blessed with five beautiful, healthy children.  We would have never been able to play those odds had we known what they were.  What a divine plan .  Not everyone is so lucky as us.
Right before I left this families home tonight the mom was expressing her feelings that the veil is thin, and that angels are near and coming to help her daughter to the other side.  Then she said that she wouldn't be surprised if my kids were here.  I wouldn't doubt that one bit.  It is a tender work I get to do and I know that I have heavenly assistance constantly.  I hope that they are the ones that help me.

The past several weeks I have especially loved this pictures.  It captures the sweetness of Tatum soul.  She is calm, and tender and her eyes are so wise.  I wish so much that I could look into her eyes again.  This picture helps me imagine.
I am so grateful, especially for the angels that abide, and guide, and help.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Strange Life Of Heather Walker...

Do you sometimes wonder how you got to where you are?  I am sure we all do at some point in our life.  Every one of us has a story and a journey of how we got to where we are.  I find that aspect of life so interesting.  I love this show on KBYU called The Story Trek for that reason.  This guy just goes to a city, picks a door, knocks and interviews the person that lives there.  They always have an interesting story, always.  I find it so intriguing to think of the trials, joys, obstacles and people that had to be in peoples paths to make them who they are.  Maybe I'm weird.
My life started on its strange journey when I was 4 and my sister was diagnosed with cancer.  There were, obviously, other events and circumstances that were also pivotal in my journey up to that point, but I think my sisters illness and death truly began the change in my heart that was necessary to make me who I am today. It helped me to be receptive to situations that I might not otherwise have been.  I know that it left me searching for the meaning of life, which I found through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  It allowed me to somehow be really comfortable around sadness and death, which has lead me to a very (as my kids put it) strange "career".  I think that I am really lucky and a little "strange".
On Friday my friend that works with me at the hospital and I attended the big fund raiser that the hospital puts on to raise money for the NICU and Pediatrics and for our Common Bonds and Angel Watch programs.  The food and entertainment are always really amazing, and this night was no exception.  It is fun to get to witness really generous people donate large amounts of money for people they will never even meet.  Amazing.  There are people there that have been patients, there are nurses and doctors, people from the community.  While my friend and I were eating and people watching, we both agreed that we are really lucky to get to do what we do.  It is a unique opportunity to be with families as they help usher spirits to the other side of the veil.  It is always tender and special, and sad.  It is a really "strange" life, but it is where I feel I was destined to be.  I get to meet amazing people and experience special sacred things.  I would not be able to understand or appreciate it if it had not been for Trevin and Tatum.  For them I will be forever grateful.  They have given me a meaning and depth to my life that would have been a lot harder to discover were it not for them.  They are such an important part of my journey and my families journey.  We are forever better.

Friday night Halea came home from her FBLA (future business leaders of America) competition that she had been at for three days.  She got a 5th place, 2nd place, 3rd place and a 1st place out of the entire state.  There were 87 schools competing.  Lehi only had three girls competing.  A lot of the other schools had more than one team competing.  So there were a lot of kids.  Halea and her friend competed as a team and won 1st place in sports and entertainment marketing and now they get to go to Nationals which is in Nashville.  I guess in the end of June I will be going to Nashville!  She is so crazy.  So proud of her hard work.

Saturday was a beautiful day.  I was able to get outside for a lot of the day.  I got some much needed Vitamin D.  When I got home the girls helped me paint some memory boxes that I use at the hospital.

Even Hilary got in on the action!  Hilary's boxes were a little globby, but it was so kind of them to help.

Hilary is such a crack up right now.  She is in full 4 year old mode.  She says the funniest things.  She sings constantly.  I don't remember any of the other kids singing like she does.  Saturday morning I also came around the corner to find this!
Never had much of a climber, til her.  I had some friends that when their kids were little they would find them in the kitchen making a sandwich, or getting things out of the refrigerator, or climbing in the pantry.  I could never understand that, til now.  Hilary beats to her own drum and thinks she can do everything and anything. "All by herself".  I am trying to not squelch that in her, but keep her alive at the same time.  It is a tricky balance.

Saturday night Lance and I went and grabbed some dinner.  It seemed like it had been awhile since we had been able to go out, so it was nice to just sit and talk with him.  He is speaking this next Sunday in a meeting and they have asked him to speak about "Enduring Trials".  I think that he is worried to talk too much about his own trials.  In his words, "I don't want to be that guy who had the two babies die".  It is hard, but sometimes we become defined by our trials.  We are put in categories.  I guess I am more used to that because it is the reason that I do my job at the hospital, and so I am used to being that person that had her kids die.   Sometimes I would like to not be the poster child for the cause, but if I can help even one person navigate in a more meaningful way through a difficult time, then it is worth it to me.
As we were getting ready to leave the restaurant I saw a lady that lives in our Stake.   I said hello and then she approached me to ask me some questions about a family that lives in her neighborhood.  As she started describing the family and the issues she was concerned about I realized that she was talking about a family that I knew.  Well, I knew the mother of the family before she died a few months ago.  We talked for awhile about how I might be able to maybe help them navigate through this very difficult trial of losing their mom.  There are three young girls and a dad that have been devastated by this loss.  I am not sure what I can do for them but I am so anxious to help because I loved their mom.  I have thought of them so often, and so this was an answer to a prayer to know how I can help.   Again, my strange life serves me and might allow me an opportunity that I otherwise might not have had.
Sunday was interesting.  I was doing OK until I got to the last meeting.  I got really teary during the opening song.  A song I have never been emotional about.  The words talked about the Second Coming and I guess that is a tender topic for me.  Most days I am so ready for it to be here.  I just miss Trevin and Tatum and I want to know what they are doing, and who they have become.
When we got home from Church, Hayden was up to his antics.  I asked him to not tease Hilary because I had a headache and her screaming at him was not helping.  He proceeded to ask me "why do you always have a headache?"  I just looked at him in disbelief.  I thought to myself, "I'll give you one guess!"  Out loud I said, "Hmmm".  Then he said real smarty pants like "because of us?"  I thought to myself, "getting warmer, maybe narrow  it down a little".  When Lance came home a little while later I asked him if he would sit down with Hayden and talk to him.  I don't like when our family feels contentious.  It makes me worry that we are forgetting Tates mission.  I know that she came partly to teach all of us what is really important in life, what matters.  And that is family.  Her life can't have been in vein.  Lance had a good talk with him, and shortly there after  we all walked to the cemetery because the weather was gorgeous.
As we were getting ready to leave for the cemetery Hilary started packing her back pack full of toys.  She said that she was going to bring all of Tatum's favorite toys.  I said that was nice.  Lance sort of explained that we were going to the cemetery but that Tatum wasn't going to be there.  On the way to the cemetery Hayden and I had a good talk.  He really is a great kid, he just needs a little more direction than  Halea has ever needed so I am trying to figure out how to help him.  I am not always good at it.  We brought some new pinwheels and wind socks to put out at the cemetery.  
Hilary was sure she needed her blanket in the 60 degree weather.  She looked like a little pioneer.
Even the dog got to come.

As we were getting ready to leave the cemetery, Hilary told Lance that we couldn't leave because we didn't get to see Tatum yet.  She was pretty upset.  It has been a little while since we all walked down to the cemetery like that so I think that she just got confused where we were going.  It was really sad.  I don't know what she must think.  She probably wonders what we have done with her sister.  It absolutely broke my heart.  I can deal with the pain that this temporary separation causes me, but to see her suffer and not understand.  Truly heartbreaking.  
Monday the kids were home from school.  Halea and I went to a workout class in the morning.  Then we had lunch.  I had a funeral, the usual.  After the funeral I had a lengthy conversation with the funeral director about some issues that they are having with a hospital policy.  Another normal thing in my strange life, hanging out with the morticians:)!  Then I decided to go and check out the monument place to get some initial information on headstones.  Yuk!  I just have to get it done.  It is absolutely driving me crazy that there is no marker for our sweet kids.  I really liked the place that our mortuary recommended.  They were upfront and very helpful.  I felt relieved when I left.  Like I had actually made some headway.  The rest of the day felt like a wash.  I think by the end I was emotionally drained.  Another normal occurrence in my strange life.

For scripture study we read through some possible scriptures that we are considering putting on the kids headstone.  Halea was joking that we would pick whichever one made mom cry.  We read through several, including Mosiah 3:19 and the scripture that was on Tatum's funeral program Alma 7:12.  I really like that one.  The one that brought me to tears last night was, Alma 7:23-24 "And now I would that ye should be humble, and be submissive and gentle; easy to be entreated; full of patience and long-suffering; being temperate in all things; being diligent in keeping the commandments of God at all times; asking for whatsoever things ye stand in need, both spiritual and temporal; always returning thanks unto God for whatsoever things ye do receive. And see that ye have faith, hope, and charity, and then ye will always abound in good works."  This scripture lists all of the qualities that Trevin and Tatum possess and remind me of all that I am trying to achieve.  Finalizing this headstone has been a really hard thing for me.  I want it done so desperately, but it is almost impossible for me to feel committed to a design.  I know that a great weight will be lifted as soon as I get this done.  I'm just not sure how to get it to be perfect.  I told the man at the monument place that when people read it I want it to express how these two have changed our lives, and I want people to walk away feeling joy and a desire to be better because of the love that we have for Tatum and Trevin.  Not sure how we are going to accomplish that in a 30 inch space.  No pressure.

This is just a sampling of the strange happenings in my life.  I have always felt like my life is different.  Not in a bad way.   I think that we all feel different to some degree.  It's all of these things that make our journeys unique and custom to us.  I am grateful for the many changes that come from trials and triumphs.  I hope to always be changing and progressing, in my own strange and unique way!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

My String of Continuous Irrational Fears..Or Are They?..

Can I just say that it is nearly impossible for me to get "computer time" in my own house?  I not only need the computer itself, but I also need it to be somewhat quiet for me to be able to think clearly as I try to put my thoughts into words that make any sense.  Thus my posts are getting further and further apart, which unfortunately means they are lengthy.  These teenagers are killing me.  It seems like the only time I can have to "myself" is any time after midnight that's convenient for me.  Currently I have one said teenager still packing up her stuff to bring upstairs!  Ugh.  So, I really apologize if my spelling and grammar are horrid.  I blame it on them.

So last Friday I went to lunch with my good friend.  (do I go to lunch too much?, anyway)  She asked me if I had thought of how I wanted to celebrate Tater bugs birthday.  I had been thinking about it, but I really had no concise thoughts come to mind.  I do really want to get their headstone placed, but I just don't know if it will make it in time now, seeing as I can't make any decisions on what we want it to say!  We talked a little bit about some ideas that she had, which I loved.  She is really thoughtful, especially when it comes to little Tates.  She suggested that we hand out little pink nail polishes to the parents at the hospital, with a cute little card attached in memory of Tatum.  Of course the idea grew a little from there.  It had to involve a chocolate, right?  And if we can swing it, her super fantastic lip balm.  We are going to try and hit a few places up for donations because I would probably need a lot of these little gifts to cover the places in the hospital that I think it would be appropriate.  I knew that her birthday would be coming, but I can't believe that it is less than three months away.  I don't know how that is possible.  On Sunday Halea and Heidi and I were looking through pictures on my iPad and there were a ton of Hilary at about 18 months.  We couldn't believe that was what Tatum would look like and be doing.  She would be walking and talking and doing such funny cute things.

Then I told my friend that I wasn't sure what to do with the May 31st day.  Luckily Trevin's death day is far away from his birthday.  So his birthday feels like a sweet time and then his death day has always just been a quiet, tender day.  We don't usually do anything, really, but maybe go to the cemetery.  I just kept feeling like we needed to do something on that day, to remember and honor that day because it is a really special day too.

Friday night I told myself that if I woke up early, on my own, I would try and go to the temple.  Well, if you know me, you know that my body almost never needs an alarm clock.  I have a weird mechanism inside of me that if I tell myself I am waking up at a certain time, it is almost guaranteed I will automatically wake up.  Weird.  Sure enough at about 5:00am I woke up.  I thought, "that is too early, one more hour".  Sure enough, 6am I woke right up.  So off I went to the temple.  I am always happy to start my day on a good note, especially a Saturday.  As I was leaving the Temple  I had a thought.  I really want to go to the Temple on May 31st.  Our home on that day, felt like the Temple.  Sacred, reverent, pure, thick with angels all around, ministering to our broken hearts.  What better way to spend at least a part of that beautiful day.  So I invite anyone who can and wants to attend the Mt. Timpanogos Temple on Saturday May 31st with us (probably a morning session, I will post the time as we get closer) we would love it.  If you live far and want to attend a Temple closer to your own home that would be awesome too.  If you are of a different faith, go to a service at your own church on that day, or simply say an extra prayer for those you love on that day.   I really just want it to be about showing people love and service on that day.

I came home and decided to start some pancakes before everyone got going.  After breakfast I started just puttering around the house doing things.  Around 12:30 I got a call from the hospital.  They needed me to come in and help with a family that was having to make the difficult choice to take their young adult daughter off of life support.  I pulled it together and ran down to help them do some hand molds.  The room was reverent and sad, yet peaceful and calm.  I talked to the mom for a few minutes before I left.  Her daughter was just a year older than what Trevin would be.  I could only imagine the whole that her absence was going to leave in their family.
After I left the hospital I delivered some pictures that I had for another family from the hospital.  When i got to their home I realized that they were just up the street from the Provo cemetery.  Begin irrational fear #1.  I decided to do a drive by Trevin's old plot to make sure that they hadn't put anyone else in it!  I really just felt like I needed to make sure that it was still empty.  Weird, I know.  Luckily it was still empty, or I am not sure what I would have done?  It still feels sort of weird that he isn't there any more, but I love him being closer to us.  It feels right.
I left the cemetery and went to quickly drop some things off to a patient who had a baby that was about 9 days old and not expected to live.   When she delivered her baby I went and did hand and foot molds for her and took some cute pictures, and so I needed to deliver them to her.  When I knocked on the door her younger teenage sister answered the door and she had tears in her eyes!!!  Oh know, I thought.  Most of this family only speaks spanish, so the sister just motioned for me to head up the stairs to the bedroom where the parents and the baby were.  As soon as I saw and heard the baby I knew that she was getting close to dying.  They were pretty upset, obviously.  This is their first baby and they are young so I felt soo sorry for them.  I sat and talked to them for a minute and explained to them some things about when someones life is ending.  It is really strange that this would happen.  When I was at the hospital visiting with this mom she was talking to the man from hospice and asking all sorts of questions about when the baby would die.  She was so nervous and scared, again obviously.  As I was leaving I thought to myself, "I wish I could just go live with her until the baby dies, so I could help walk her through, so maybe it wouldn't be so scary for them"  Then I thought, "that would be a cool job".  Well, prayer answered!   I decided to stay until the hospice nurse arrived so they would not be without someone from the hospital.  Their home was full of friends and relatives coming and going.  I went downstairs so they could be alone with their sweet baby.  There I sat surrounded by about 5 or 6 people all speaking Spanish.  I wished that I had paid more attention in Spanish class!!  After about 30 minutes the hospice nurse arrived, and I knew her!  She used to work on Labor and Delivery at one of the hospitals I work at.  I ended up staying for another hour or so.  As I left that sweet environment I wondered why this has been my lot in life.  Why have I been chosen to experience these very sweet, sacred times over and over again?   I don't know why, but I know that it has softened my heart and changed who I am and so I am grateful.  I get to feel and witness the tender love that can be tangibly felt when someone is passing from this life to the next.  A lovely reminder of how thin the veil really is.
Needless to say i was completely drained after all of this.  Oddly enough, life must continue on.  I wish sometimes that I had a little debriefing period after this kind of day, but unfortunately the laundry was still waiting for me and I still had some things I needed to do at the house.  So, I snapped out of it and carried on.
I knew that this week was going to be a little bit crazy.  Heidi was heading off on an overnight leadership field trip with her seventh grade class, then the next day Halea was going to a two day school competition in Salt Lake.  Enter several more irrational fears.  We have never allowed our kids to have sleep overs.  I never did super good with them when I was young, and I just don't love the idea of going to sleep without us all under the same roof.   So we have just always had it a rule, no sleepovers.  With some school and church events the older kids have all slept away from home a few times, and I am always freaked out!  So Heidi left this morning and I have been trying to shut off my irrational thoughts that something will happen while she is driving on the bus, or she'll choke on her food, or die in her sleep.  Really, these are the things I worry about.
Then Halea tells me on Monday night that since she didn't have school on Tuesday (some weird Juniors only testing day) that her and several friends were going to drive to the Manti temple.  Well, that is about 2 hours away and you have to drive on Scary roads, and when we woke up this morning, yup RAIN.  Which usually means snow on the roads to Manti.  So when she left this morning I just kept thinking about how I wouldn't be mad at her cute friend that was driving if only Halea died in the car crash.  How I would have to forgive her and that she would always be a special part of our family.  Or how I would care for Halea because she survived the crash and is now a paraplegic.  I kid you not, these are the thoughts that run through my mind.

I still had to carry on with the daily tasks even though my brain was spitting out all of these very irrational thoughts, so I took the boys and Hilary to the orthodontist.  The people who work there are always so sweet to us.  Even though Halea has to come in and have new retainers made because she hasn't worn them and so now they won't fit, imagine.  Hayden lost his retainer and now one of his teeth has moved:)  It's like these sweet kids have forgotten that their beautiful teeth cost us a small fortune!  As I was making appointments the office lady asked how we were all doing.  They are always so nice to ask, and remember.  I know that it must be awkward for people to ask, so I am always so impressed when they approach the elephant in the room head on.

Today as I was leaving to run a few errands I was worried because I left some cut up pears for Holden and Hilary to eat.  What if Hilary choked?  Would Holden know what to do?  He was going to be alone with Hilary for about 20 minutes until Halea got home.  What if something horrible happened?  

Tonight Halea has been getting ready for her trip that she leaves on tomorrow afternoon.  Let the worry begin.   While we were wrapping things up tonight Heidi called.  When I heard her voice my heart skipped a beat.  I asked if everything was alright.  She said yes, she just missed us.  Cute, but don't do that ever again! I almost had a heart attack.  Then she proceeded to tell me that their bus broke down on the way up to the camp.  Irrational fears confirmed!!
Then tonight, Lance got Hilary to sleep about 9:30.  Not too long after he came down we heard her crying.   He went to check on her, called me up to her room (never a good sign)  She had thrown up everywhere.  She was just laying there on the bed and she looked really weird, almost like she could go into a seizure.  I kept asking her if she was OK.  Definite flash backs to Trevin.  The night that he had his big seizure he had thrown up in his bed just a few hours before.  It was an inhuman amount too, and so was Hilary's.  Tates also had a big throw up episode a few days before her big seizure.  We got Hilary all cleaned up tonight, changed all of her bedding and got her all tucked back into bed.  Lance stayed up there with her and within a half hour she threw up again!  Poor little thing.  Re do on the bath and the bedding, and tucked back into bed.  Lance stayed up there with her, and I think that I will be hitting the couch tonight so I can hear her in case she needs me.  

When your child dies you lose a certain part of innocence in life.  My brain now knows that kind of devastation is a possibility and so sometimes it is hard to shut those thoughts down.  I think that it is part of self preservation. A preparation if you will.  My brain just plays out scenario after scenario so that my heart is prepared to handle what comes.  Hopefully it is all just that, preparation for something that will never happen again.  That just would not even be funny.  Today I went and visited with a family that lost a 20 year old daughter a few days ago.  As I was talking to them I just couldn't imagine the immense whole that is now in their family. Trevin had lived with us for 18 months and Tatum for just 12 months and their absence will be felt forever in our family.  I started thinking about what if one of our older kids was just suddenly gone.  It's all so hard.
Let's end this on a happier note:
 This was the beautiful double rainbow that came on Saturday afternoon after watching two families say goodbye to their loved ones.  The beauty of the earth.
This was cute Hilary at my exercise class.  She is such a good sport

Yep, summer is coming.  these were the yummiest strawberries I have had in a long time.  That can turn any day around!!
Hilary being camera shy while on our Cub Scout field trip to the fire station.

Life is good, just sometimes a little irrational.