Sunday, August 24, 2014

Ever So Grateful for Our Weird Perspective...

Well, we did it.  We got Halea off to college.  That sounds so strange.  I feel like I was able to hold my emotions together pretty well.  It came in little waves of sadness, but I was able to suppress them for most of the day.  Packing went pretty smooth and the ride up was fun.  All of the kids came, one rather reluctantly because after all it was "the last day of summer".  When they all came out to load in the van wearing their USU shirts, it made me smile.
We carried all of her belongings from home to her room and helped her get settled.  We got to meet her roommate and she was really cute and nice.
Her cute room....

 After we got her all settled we went and got something to eat and then we took her grocery shopping for a few more essentials, since she doesn't have a car.

 I kept having severe waves of sadness, thinking about just leaving her there.  We went and checked on a few last things and then we helped her bring in her groceries.  She walked out to the front of her building with us to say our good byes.  While she was holding Hilary, Hilary asked, "Can you take a picture of us (meaning her and Halea) so you don't forget me when I leave".  Well, that got the water works rolling.  It made me wonder if Hilary could understand that this leaving, this goodbye, this separation was not permanent like her separation with Tatum.  (at least for the rest of our stay here on earth)  It made me pretty sad for her because she is so little and doesn't quite understand everything having to do with time.   Halea took a minute to say goodbye to each of her sibs.  All of us were really crying by now.  I think even Lance and Hayden cried.  Unfathomable!  It was so hard to just leave.  I know that she will do fine.  It is just weird to not know where she is and what she is doing at all times.  Thanks to social media, we are still able to hear from her every day.  She is great at sending me silly snap chats and we text back and forth several times a day.  The other night I called her and everyone took a minute to talk to her.  Thanks goodness for that.  It's not quite like a mission, or death for that matter:)  She has been sending me cute pictures of all of the food she is making.  She is doing it.  She starts her real classes on Monday.  Fly girl, fly!!
Tuesday was the first day of school for all of the other kids, including Hilary.  Are you kidding me?  One to college, one to preschool all in 24 hours.  Rude.
Tuesday Hilary and I went to lunch with one of my friends and her son.  We were sitting across from each other and so were the kids.  I wasn't really listening to what they were talking about because I was talking to my friend.  All of a sudden Hilary stood up, put her hands on the table, leaned across the table and shouted "Halea did not die.  Tatum and Trevin died.  Halea went to college!"  Word.  He must have asked if Halea was gone or died.  That will teach him!  I guess that answers the question of whether she understands the difference between being gone for college and being gone forever.

That night we went to Lance's work party at Murray park.  Last year it seems like the party was just a few days after Tatum died.  We still went.  I don't know why.  So it was weird to be back there.  It is also the same park that we did a fundraiser for Mitochondrial disease a few years before we had Tatum.  It is just always a little strange to be back there.  It was weird to be without Tatum and now Halea.
On Wednesday morning Hilary and I got to go to a funeral.  I know I have said this before, but I really like to go to a good funeral.  Well this one was amazing.  I knew it would be because the parents of this sweet little baby were so together.  Their faith and foundation in the gospel was astounding.  They had a grateful attitude that just permeated where ever they were.  At the sign in book they had a little bowl of mints and chocolates, so of course the meeting was off to a good start for Hilary.  After the opening prayer there was a little bit of silence, just enough for people to hear Hilary announce, "eww this is dark chocolate, with a nut.  I don't want this mom".  Gotta love her honesty.  The lady next to me just smiled.  The funeral was beautiful, both parents spoke.  The father of the baby and his family (parents and siblings) all sang a beautiful  hymn acapella that was amazing.  You could tell that they used music as a very important means of worship in their home.  Then their sweet bishop got up to add a few closing remarks.  He said he felt that it was no coincidence that he had been called as bishop just the Sunday before, so he would be able to officiate at this service.  He then told us that he and his wife had lost a little baby eight years before.  He added some very appropriate comments that just added to the spirit of the meeting.  I left feeling so lucky to have attended such a spiritual feast.  To see people grateful and aware of blessings from Heaven, even amidst such difficult circumstances.  It was inspiring.  That night I asked Hilary if she wanted to bring me some books to read.  What book did she bring me?  The printed book of our blog.  We looked through several of the posts and looked at the zoo pictures.  After several pages she lost interest and took off.  I, however, read for several more pages.  There were things in there that I had totally forgotten.  It was so hard to read and remember how bad Tate's seizures were.  Poor little thing really suffered.  It broke my hear a little.  I wonder if I was willing her to stay just a little longer.  I so did not want to let her go, even though I knew how sick she was.  I just wanted more time.  I just wanted her to be near.  I still don't understand how my heart has continued to beat.  I was so grateful that Hilary brought me that book, so I could remember those tender feelings.
Thursday night was a girls night out event at one of the hospitals that I work for so I coerced my good friend into coming with me.
The keynote speaker was Todd Hansen.  If you have not heard of him, he does a show for KBYU called The Story Trek.  It is seriously such an intriguing show.   All he does is randomly knock on peoples doors and if they will let him in, he interviews them while filming.  Totally just a surprise encounter.  His mantra is "everyone has a story".  I could sit and watch hours and hours of his show.  I love to listen to the different stories.  They are just "ordinary" people, but you see that everyone has things that make them unique and that all of them have pivotal moments in their lives that put them on the path that they end up on.  It is cool to see how choices affect their stories.  His talk was super great and inspiring.  After the speaker we went and walked around the booths that they had set up with different vendors.  Along the way we saw lots of people we knew from work and from the community.  It was really fun.  We even got to meet the guys from this radio show that Halea listens to.  I had to get a picture and send it to her of course!

After the booths we got our food and sat down at a table.  As we were sitting there I recognized this lady that I knew from the hospital.  She had lost a sweet little baby girl about 4 years ago.  Sometimes in my work I meet people that I just really click with, personality wise and spirit wise.  She is one of those.  After Tatum died she came by to visit me.  She brought me the cutest "box of sunshine".  In it was the Hilary Weeks CD that I have completely obsessed over and worn out.  So she and her friend sat down and we were chatting.  Then she told me that she had a new baby.  I was so happy for her.  It is never good to end your family with a baby dying.  I feel like my arms will never stop feeling empty.  Then later she asked me if I knew of anyone who could do her hand mold.  I thought she was kidding.   When I realized she wasn't I told her that I could do it.  That I wanted to do it.   That I insisted on doing it.  She seemed shocked that I wanted to do it.  She said that it was so ironic that I would be here tonight because she had just googled that day to see if she could find someone to do her baby's hand mold because all of her kids have one, including her little girl that died, which I did for them.  Not a coincidence.  See, the Lord cares.  Even about the little things and concerns in our lives.  I think that is amazing.

Friday.  School Orientation.  Ugh.  Yeah, it's going to be as hard as I thought.  I know that we can do this, it's just going to take a lot of patience on all of our parts.  (this is where I hope that my family is reading my blog)  I had a little bit of anxiety going into the day.  The BSW program puts you in a cohort, which means that for the next two years I will be in the essentially the same classes with these same 53 students.  Which is going to be fun, but I started realizing about Thursday that we would probably have to do introductions of ourselves, team building exercises, etc.  I mean what else are they going to do with us for 5 hours!  And I was right.  The first "get to know you game" was one called I've Never.  Each person at the table gets 6 pennies.  You go around the circle trying to say something that you have never done, but you think that everyone else has done.  For example "I've never been to Disneyland".  That is something that you would assume most people have done, but if you haven't then that would be a way to get people to have to put a penny in the middle.  If you have done the thing that a person says they haven't you put a penny in the middle.  The last one holding a penny wins.  I was out in the first round.  I am way older than most of these kids and so I have done EVERYTHING!  It was funny to hear all of the things that people haven't done.  Maybe they were lying.  One lady said that she had never been to the beach.  What??  Luckily we just took our basic introductions from that information.  We were told to pair up with someone at our table and tell one or two facts about them from what we had learned.  So the girl I was paired with wrote down that I had been to Europe and the countries we went while we were there.  But randomly she asked me how many kids I had.  When I said 7 I think I saw her eyes pop out of her head.  When she did the introduction and said that I had 7 kids everyone in the room gasped.  It was pretty funny, and nice that I didn't have to give any further explanation.
As I was heading home I was feeling really overwhelmed.  When I pulled into the house I saw that the lawn hadn't been mowed, even though I had told Hayden that it needed to be done right when he got home.   Then I walked in the kitchen and saw a mountain of dishes and dirty counters.  I was really frustrated.  A little while later I was sitting at the computer trying to figure out my school books and I kept hearing a ball bouncing on the back of the house.  Our windows were open so I yelled to whoever it was to stop a few times.  A few minutes later Heidi came in hysterically crying.  I thought something terrible had happened.   She said, " I shattered our window".  Wow.  This day was quickly getting worse and worse.  I told her that I had said to stop bouncing the ball.  She said how sorry she was.  I told her that it was fine because this was a window that had a problem with it so it needed to be replaced anyway.  I just wish that she hadn't kept bouncing the ball.
By night time we were all pretty exhausted, but we had one more thing to go to.  Our orthodontist does a patient appreciation party every year at the Lindon pool.  And every year it rains and thunders and lightnings. I always feel so bad for them so I try and go and support.  We didn't go last year, so I felt like we really needed to go.  Heidi and Holden were not super excited to go, especially because it was windy and raining and cold out.  I loaded Hilary and the other two in the car and off we went.  The weather appeared to be better in Lindon when we got there.  We got inside and put our raffle tickets in the bucket.  We went straight to the cotton candy.  Just as we were going to try and find a spot to sit and possibly get in the pool their was lightning so they called everyone out of the pool and we had to stand by the building.  We waited for several minutes, the entire time I was wondering why I was staying.  This day was a bust, I should just go home.  Just then they announced that we would not be able to get in the water and they were closing the pool for the night.   They had several more prizes to raffle off so they started those as we were packing up to leave.  Just then they called Heidi Walker.  She won this adorable beach cruiser.  I was soooo happy for her.  Poor thing needed something good to turn her day around.  What a crazy day.  Thanks to the best orthodontist, SmilePerfect Dr. Arnold!

I am really grateful for the perspective that I have.  I do not love the way that I have earned it, but I know that it couldn't have been done in any other way.  I am grateful that I appreciate a good funeral, and that Hilary gets to feel that spirit too.  I am grateful for the strangely rewarding career that I have been a part of for 14 years.  I am so grateful for the amazing people that I get to be with, at the most devastating time in their lives.  It has profoundly changed me.  I am grateful to know that there are no coincidences.  I am forever grateful that my good friend encouraged me two weeks into Tatum's illness to write down our story.  I hope that I have done it justice and that our kids will read it and know of our love for our Savior and for all of the tender mercies that we received during that time and throughout our daily lives before and since.   I am grateful for my own story, even though it is not always comfortable to share

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