Sunday, July 27, 2014

Missing My Innocence...

This has been a hard few weeks.  Sometimes time helps you to heal, but it also brings great anxiety and sadness of the reality.  To think that I have not seen Tatum for over a year now makes my heart just so heavy, it is hard to bare.  The other day Hilary was walking up the stairs with two of our neighbors and she just casually said, "Tatum died and it was a long time ago."  From the mouths of babes.  It seems like an eternity.
I am grateful for Hilary and her willingness to say it like it is.  When we were in our doctors office she told the cute young nurses that Tatum and Trevin liked Yo Gabba Gabba, but they died.  They were a little stunned.  I told them that she had two siblings that died and so that is her reality.  I tried not to do it apologetically, because that is her reality and I don't want her to ever feel embarrassed to talk about them.  I was really just trying to make them not feel so uncomfortable.  It was kind of funny.
Then the other day Halea and I were talking and she said that she thinks about dieing in a car accident all of the time and it scares her.  She said that it would be so strange to one day be here and in a split second not be here.  What teenager ever thinks about their own mortality?  Most of them think that they are invincible.  Again, this is her reality.  She knows that anything is possible and that people die.  Even young people.  Well that just broke my heart.  I think about all of my kids dieing.  I try really hard to not, but it is always there.  I didn't have a lot of days where I didn't know that this was a reality.  My sister died when I was 7 so I have always known that even young people die.  As the years went by and we started our own family my sisters death was such a long time ago that I don't remember having anxious feelings about Trevin.  Luckily he fixed that all up for me and brought all of that reality back to the surface for me!  Stinker.  I only had a little time when I didn't know that this could be a reality.  Sometimes I miss not knowing.

I have so been missing having a baby.  I know that Tatum would have been two, and not a baby.  But when she died she was still essentially totally dependant on us for everything.  I just miss her, and taking care of her.  It seems as though everywhere I go I see babies.  It's like I live in Utah County, baby capital of the world, or something.  I can't seem to escape it and if I don't see the baby, Hilary is quick to point them out for me.  Every one!!  Which, again , is pretty heart wrenching.  Today we went to a different church and she was pointing out all of these adorable babies, all of which I had already noticed.  One of the families had three older boys and then this sweet little newborn girl.  They were taking turns holding her.  I saw Hayden look in their direction a few times.  I wondered if he was thinking what I was thinking.  Oh the aching.
On Friday night Lance and I went to dinner.  While we were standing in line there was a cute little baby girl in front of us.  He said something about how cute she was and I wondered about what he thinks.  Is he having these hard thoughts and feelings like I do.  I have had a hard time talking to him about it sometimes.  He is such a positive person.  Never can he see the negative.  I don't want him to think that I am crazy, and I don't want him to put a positive spin on some of the feelings I have.  I don't want them to be "fixed" right now and that is sometimes a mans tendency.   My thoughts are just too tender right now.
The other night I was out visiting with a family from the hospital.  They are pregnant with a baby that has a chromosomal disorder that is usually a fatal condition.  We had an amazing conversation with them.  I was so impressed with where they already are in their acceptance of this challenge in their life.  They have done a lot of hard work to start dealing with a lot of their emotions and grief.  As we were ending our visit the mom said something that struck me.  She said, " I don't just want to survive this.  I want to learn and grow from this experience.  I want to be changed.  I want to be better.  I want something good to come from it all.  I want my kids to know this baby and the impact he has had on our lives".  (paraphrased).  Those are my sentiments exactly.  I have been thinking a lot about her thoughts.
Then today in Sunday school we were reading in 1 Kings about Elijah and the widow.  He goes to the widow and in a nutshell gives her last bit of food to him, and he promises her that if she feeds him first that her flour will never run out again.  She has the faith to accept his words and this promise.  Then when her son dies, she has the faith and belief that he can bring her son back, and he does.  We still speak and study this woman's faith.  She shone in the face of adversity.  She demonstrated immeasurable faith.  In our Relief Society class that followed, we talked about our own legacy that we are leaving for our families.  What is the legacy that I want to leave?  I hope that it is just this.  I want my family to know that we can do hard things, and still be happy and live and love life.  Because we don't get the exact answer or miracle in life that we were hoping for does not shake our faith in the knowledge and truth that is knit in our hearts.  I hope that decades from now, we are still feeling the ripple effect that these experiences with Tatum and Trevin have had in our lives.  I want us to all be better for what we have learned.

We found out on Friday that my grandma died.  My grandma was not your typical grandma.  She wasn't always the nicest person when she was younger.  I didn't have great memories of her growing up.  As I got into adulthood, I was able to form my own relationship with her.  Although she and I didn't see eye to eye on all issues, we did on a lot.   She was a devout Republican and stayed up on politics until she died.  She was a proud American and she always voted early.  As she got older, she got a little softer and a lot nicer.  This was a fun transformation to see.  She was definitely one that got better with age, like cheese!  It is weird when someone reaches the age of 94 and they have been around your entire life, to all of a sudden have them gone.  I will miss our funny little conversations.  I know that she was met by lots of relatives that have been waiting for her arrival on the other side.  I am sure there is a great celebration going on.  She never got to meet Tatum, so I am happy that they are getting reacquainted.

It was Lances  birthday this month..

Pioneer day our entire family went to Provo and ran a 5k, from the Provo temple to the new Provo Center street temple that is under construction.  Such a fun course...
Then we went to "Lehi city Foam day".  They bring in these big machines that spray foam out on the grass for two hours.  You can go out and slide around int the foam and then go spray off in the fire hoses that they have set up.  It was a great activity for a really hot day...
This is what the teenagers did at foam day..

And this was Hilary's favorite part of foam day.. cotton candy.  Eating it like an apple!  That's my girl..
And then to Halea's favorite pass time.... snow cones.
Saturday morning we went to the Salt Lake farmers market with my niece and her husband.    it was really fun.   We found some unique things and people there.  
Then we went to get some school shoes.  Found these cutest shoes for Hilary.  She thinks they are tap shoes, so she will wear them.  Whatever it takes.  (Her addition to top off the entire look...Hello Kitty socks of course!)  Again, whatever it takes to get her to wear them.
And finally, we have been celebrating ice cream MONTH with these little numbers.  Thanks Costco...Simply amazing.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

What About the Answer I Want?....

Do you ever feel like you never get the answer that you want.  It seems to be a theme that has run throughout my life.  When I was young, I wanted my sister to live.  That was not the answer I got.  I wanted to live with two parents, didn't happen.  I wanted to be able to keep my old friends after I joined the church, but most couldn't accept the changes in my life.  I wanted Trevin to live, desperately.  I was so happy to take care of him for the rest of my life if he needed me to.  It was not to be.  The list goes on, culminating with Tatum.  I just wanted her to not be sick, I knew the outcome of Alpers already.  But, again, I knew it was not to be my answer.  Now, don't get me wrong.   I am not complaining, just making observation.  I also recognize that there are many more times that my answer has been what I was looking for.  It just seems like a lot of my big questions, pleadings if you will , have not been answered the way I wanted.  This has taught me a lot of things along the road.   It has made me pretty flexible and I hope that it has made me more faithful.  It has helped me to understand that I am really not in charge of my life, there is definitely a higher power that is guiding and directing things to help me become who I should become.  Sometimes it is just a little frustrating.

A few years before we had Hilary and Tatum, I researched foster parenting.  I felt like we could offer a good , fairly stable home to kids in need.  Lance was a little hesitant, not really on the same page.  Then we decided to try and have these last two babies, and the idea got put on the back burner.  A few months after Tates died I started revisiting this idea.  I really wanted to try fostering kids with disabilities.  Again, Lance was not as excited as me.  This was a real disappointment to me.  I really wanted to at least investigate the opportunity.  But I knew that I could not do it without Lance's full support.  Then a few months later some changes in my work led me to start thinking about school.  I got on line and did some research and coincidentally, or not, the program that I have always wanted to go back and complete had just opened up  for an extra  period of time to apply for fall 2014.  When I brought this idea to Lance he was more than supportive.   He doesn't always take to change, but he didn't even hesitate  a little bit.   So that was my answer.  Again, not what I wanted.  I wanted to hang out at the house and take care of foster babies.  Instead I have started back to school to earn my Bachelor degree in Social Work.  Maybe I can fix myself in the process:)  I have already started taking a summer class that is a prerequisite for entering the program, which I will do in the fall.  I am really excited, but really scared and overwhelmed.  Which is always the emotions that seem to come with the answers that I get.
I have been working feverishly this summer to get some things around the house done so that I will be able to really concentrate on the things that I have to when fall comes.  Our guest room has always bugged me.  It was done in all neutral colors and it was just depressing every time I walked by it.  One of my friends consulted with me on what changes I could make to cheer it up a little and I am so happy with it!
 There is a really cute orange table that the TV sits on that is my favorite part.  It is amazing what a few little changes can do to brighten things up.
 This was us on our way to our big 4th of July celebration.  Halea's plane got cancelled from the night before so she missed all of our traditional celebrations until fireworks that night.  It was sad to not have her with us.
 Hilary was being her usual independent self, getting her plate and cup out of the cupboard and she fell right off of the counter on to her elbow.   She learned the word "Fractured" now.  She was in a splint for a week then she got this awesome pink cast the day before we left for our trip to Coeur d Alene for my cousins wedding.  She is holding up her sticker and sucker that she also scored from the doctor.
We arrived in beautiful Coeur d Alene on Thursday.
We hung out at the lake and rented a few paddle boards for the kids to try.  So fun.
 Hilary got a pretty good scrape on her foot and was really crying, until Halea saved the day and ran down the ice cream man in her swimsuit and flip flops!  Crying cured.
Teenagers enjoying the boat.
Heidi is on the tube in the back of the boat.
We may have outgrown having one hotel room.  Teenage waste land.
Hayden being a good big brother.
Perfecting the drip castles at Hayden lake.  Hilary's favorite pass time.
This was the boat cruise to the wedding ceremony.  Beautiful girls
 Arrived at the ceremony, Lake Coeur d Alene in the background.  What a stunning place.
 Hilary enjoying her beverage.
boys being boys..
Sisters being sisters...
Hilary scored the best gift bag for the boat ride reception.  Complete with 5 different play doughs!!
Good night sun...
Boys lighting fireworks, girl not realizing that there was ash on her hand and touching her face.  She looked like a chimney sweep!

We had a great family trip to Idaho.  It felt nice to all be together.  The feeling of missing people in the family is just never going to go away.  It is hard to enjoy myself sometimes when I think about how hard  or impossible this would have been if Tatum were here.  She could not have tolerated this trip, at all.  She was way too fragile.  I would trade it all to have her here.  
I have had several bouts of flash backs lately.  When I had to bring Hilary in for her splint I felt super emotional pulling into the parking lot of my doctors office.  It just seems so surreal how it all happened with Tatum.  That day seems like an out of body experience.  How did I know to take her in?  I know the answer to that, but really?  What a miracle.  How did it all happen so fast?  How have I survived it all?  Why am I still breathing, how is my heart still beating being so broken?  Both times that we went to the office we ended up in the "treatment" room, which is directly where they brought us when I brought Tates in to the office on that February day.  
Then the other night I was walking through Walmart and I passed by the toddler clothing section.  I hate to admit it, but that is where I got a lot of Tates clothes.  I usually only had time to go out late at night once everyone was settled for the night and Lance was home.  So I found a lot of cute things for her there.  When I pass by the clothes I try not to glance over and wonder what I might have bought her.  That sounds so superficial and weird, but I think about it and it makes me sad.
We have family that came in for one of Lance's sisters 50th wedding anniversary.  All five of their kids and their families came,  from all over the world.  Some we have only seen a few times in our married life, but because of social media we feel like we all know each other.  It was really fun to get together with them and hang out and talk.  Obviously some of them had questions about and wanted to talk about Tatum.  Lance's sister had a baby that died two days after birth, and one of their sons and his wife have never been able to have kids.  So we had a nice talk catching up.  I just feel like I have been so much more emotional about things lately.  I wish I could have a little more control over when and where things happen.  I just never know when the conversation is going to come up, or how it is going to affect me. 
 I was listening to a conference talk a few days ago that was really comforting.   It was called "Fear Not; I am with Thee" from the April Conference.  Some of the talk was about prayers being answered and how close our Heavenly Father is to us, and how aware He is of us and our worries.  I know this.  Sometimes I forget, though.  So it was good to listen and be reminded.  It got me thinking about all of the prayers that have been heard and answered in my own life.  Some quicker than others, and not always how I think they should be , answered none the less.  I am so grateful for the evidences that I have seen in my life of this power we call prayer.  I loved the C.S. Lewis quote that she stated in her talk:  "I pray because I can't help myself....I pray because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping.  It doesn't change God.  It changes me."  No more profound statement.  We are changed as we pray and receive and see answers.  I am changed, even if I don't always get the answer I think I want.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

We All Have Our Cross to Bare....

This seems to have been a reoccurring theme for the past week or so, and it all came to a head this weekend.  The weekend started off with a nice run in the morning.  As I was watering plants and doing some quick weeding I hear this weird noise coming from behind me, over my neighbors house.  I turned around to see this enormous hot air balloon floating just above our houses.  We see them often on the weekends during the summer, but I have never seen one this close.  It was fascinating.  When I went to the back of the house the balloon followed and it flew really low right over our back yard.  All of a sudden I heard Heidi talking to Hilary.  They had their window open in their bedroom.  Heidi had seen it and so she woke Hilary up to show her the balloon.  It was so cute.  So it ended up landing right past our back yard in this big field.  I have never seen one land there.  I was so fascinated with the entire thing.  It was just a cool thing to get the day started.
The weekend continued with a funeral on Saturday morning.  Funerals are always a reminder of the fragile state of life that we are all in, this family now has their own new cross to bare.  The funeral was for one of our patients  from the hospital that unexpectedly lost their baby.  It was a very sad and tender service.
 Then Heidi and I went up to Salt Lake to get pedicures with my niece.  Sunday was Lance's sisters birthday.  She died almost two years ago, so we got pedicures because that is what we did on her last birthday here on earth.  It was fun to reminisce and think about what a great influence she has had on all of our lives.  We sure miss her.  The world just isn't as pretty without her.  It gives me comfort to know that she is taking care of Trevin and Tatum for us.  I am sure it is a real party with her there. (side note, these were the best pedicures ever!! I have only had a handful, but these ladies knew how to do it right.  They massaged our legs and did such a good job on our toes.  It was fantastic.  Heidi was so cute and appreciative and happy to be there).

Sunday morning Hayden and I went to one of Halea's friends missionary farewells.   He and two of his siblings that are the same age as Hayden and Heidi all went to the charter school together.  They are an awesome family and our kids have been friends with each other since the beginning at Mountainville when Halea and their son were in 5th grade.  They too have had their cross to bare.  Their oldest son has had issues for several years.  He got into a rough crowd of friends and stopped going to church and began his struggles with drugs.  When we got to the church I noticed that he was not there.  I was sad to think that he would miss his brother speaking.  Just as he stood up to give his talk, his brother walked in and slid in to the bench, sitting next to his family.  That started all of my emotions.  Then this young man gave the most heart felt talk about love.  He started off his talk with an analogy about why he feels like he needs to serve a mission.  He said (and I will butcher this, so bare with me) that he imagines himself on a ship holding a life preserver and Christ is at the helm.  Their are people all over in the water around them that are swimming toward the ship, and many who are swimming away from the ship.  How can he stay on the ship, holding on to his life preserver?   The life preserver is the gospel of Jesus Christ and we must share it.  We can't force people to get on the ship, but we have to at least offer our life preserver.   About half way through his talk he recited a poem that he had written.  It was only about 6 or 7 lines.  It talked about how he would take his brothers cross to bare, he knew that he could make better choices for him, but he knew that was not how it was supposed to be.  His brother needed to learn to make his own choices.  But let him walk next to him and help him carry his burden, to be there and love him and help him.  It was so so sweet.  By this time I am completely sobbing.  I am pretty sure I snorted at some point.  I just couldn't get over how mature he was.  I am sure that watching his brother struggle the way he has, has helped him really understand what is truly important in life.  You could just feel his love for his brother and for his Heavenly Father.  Then there was a musical number.  This kid and his brother walked up to the stand.  The older brother sat down at the piano and the younger brother stood with his violin.  Hayden leaned over and said that the younger kid is Heidi's age and he used to go to Mountainville.  They proceeded to play the most amazing, beautiful rendition of I Know That My Redeemer Lives that I have ever heard.  The water was flowing out of my eyes down my face.  I am sure I looked like I was in a cartoon or something.  You know how the tears spout out of the cartoon characters faces.  I could NOT compose myself.  I know that I snorted during that.  Hayden looked over at one point and said, "Oh, touching".  I am sure he was horrified to see what I looked like.  I wish I had taken a picture of myself so you could get the whole effect.  Luckily I had NO tissue.  Fortunately I had long sleeves!  It was one of the most amazing sacraments I have been to in awhile.  These missionaries that are going out these days are so prepared.  Many because they have had their own crosses to bare.

We went back to our own ward after their sacrament meeting.  Our Relief Society class was on Baptism.  The poor teacher didn't get the message that she would be teaching that week, so she was not as prepared as she would have liked, so she begged for any comments that we might have to add to the class.  She started talking about our baptisms and what we remembered and then we talked about our own children's baptisms, and how that was different.  Then she started talking about why we baptize at the age of 8.  How we believe that children shouldn't be baptized until they understand the difference between right and wrong, etc.  Then she made the comment, "wouldn't it be great if all of our kids could die before the age of 8, then we wouldn't have to worry about them sinning, and making mistakes".  I felt every ones eyes focus on me.  I giggled a little and leaned next to the person sitting next to me and whispered "it's not as great as it seems", or something to that affect.  She then giggled.  The teacher, (who moved in right during or just after Tatum died), saw us and asked why we were giggling.  So I told her that it isn't as great as it seems.  At one point in the lesson I had shared a thought and I had said that we had an older son that had died before Halea.  So the teacher caught herself and said, "Oh yes, you had a son who died.  How old was he?"  I said that he was 18 months, and we had lost another daughter not too long ago that was just over a year old.  She apologized for her flippant comment.  I assured her that I was not offended, and I wasn't.  Everyone in that room has  had their own cross to bare.  The teacher herself was living in our neighborhood because she and her husband had moved in with their son because his wife had died just a few months after giving birth to their 10th baby!  So, we ALL have our trials.  I am so aware of this fact.
I was so grateful for this weekend.  It was such a good reminder that Heavenly Father is mindful of all of us.  He is there helping us all along the way, if we will just allow Him in to our hearts.  If we look, we will not be able to deny His hand in our lives.   We just have to look.