I can never believe when I get a chance to sit down and blog, that it has really been a month since my last post. This month is no exception. It has been a wild one, filled with some really hard and glorious experiences.
We went up to Logan for "family weekend" to see Halea. We drove up on Saturday morning and went to the football game and then we went to a Halloween Activity that the city does. They have all sorts of scenes from movies and TV shows all done out of carved pumpkins. It was quite amazing. Then we went and got Halea some groceries, we went to dinner and then it was time to go. It went really fast. It was really sad to leave her there. She calls her dorm her "hotel". She seems to really like her roommates and she loves school and all of the fun exciting things that she is getting to do, but I think she misses home. Maybe we did something right after all.
I had the opportunity to work with a family in Salt Lake that was interested in having some hand molds done of their teenage son that had committed suicide. We arranged a time for me to meet them at the mortuary. When I arrived, the mom was in a little bit of a break down, understandably. She could not make a decision. She started saying that maybe she didn't want a hand mold, which I was totally fine with. She was crying and saying that she felt so bad that I had driven all the way up there, because it was ALL the way up there. North North, very East Salt Lake. Probably a 45 minute drive. I was fine, but I had cut my time frame pretty tight. I had my night class on that day which was at 6:00 in Orem, almost an hours drive, without traffic. Well this poor mom was still deciding if she even wanted a hand mold at 4:45. I tried to ignore the time because I knew that talking with this mom and reassuring her that this was not about me, was way more important. After talking to her, she agreed to let me do just a single hand mold and then I would call her when it was ready and she could choose to have it or not. I left feeling so so sad for this family. Suicide is soooo hard. I also felt really good because I was able to make a deliberate choice to spend my time where I felt it was needed, I was living a lesson I learned from Tatum. Enjoy and be present with those that need you right then. Don't sweat the things that don't matter in the eternal perspective. The traffic on the way home was terrible, but I was only about 10 minutes late to my class.
While I was driving I was going to call Halea and tell her how much I love her because I was a little shook up about this sweet kid who had taken his life, but I decided not to. It was that night or the next that she called me. As soon as I heard her voice I knew that something was terribly wrong. I could tell she was crying and she immediately told me that her very best friends brother had also taken his own life. I was just sick. This poor family has had their share of trials, and so I was just stunned to think of how they would shoulder yet another blow. Halea was a disaster because her friend is at BYU and she really just wanted to go and be with her. I told her that I would come and get her as soon as she could get done with whatever things she needed to tie up for school. On Thursday I drove up to Logan and picked her up. It was really nice to have those one on one hours with her. The next day was the funeral. It was really tender and the family handled it really well. I have been to some funerals that involve suicide where they don't really address this elephant in the room. This family spoke about it and addressed it, even though I'm sure it was really hard. My heart just breaks for their family. I don't know how you recover from such a tragedy. How do you carry that heavy burden left by a life cut short? Halea was able to spend some much needed time with her friend that weekend. Last week I was looking over some articles written by my favorite social worker/psychologist and I remembered that he had some things that he had written on suicide. I made a mental note to send the links to this family. Two days later I ran into the mom in Costco! We had a good talk. It reminded me how raw those emotions are. In all of the time that the girls have been friends I have never run into her in a public place. Coincidence, NOPE! God is good.
The next week we were getting ready to leave for school and Holden came downstairs with a basket with a hat fashioned out of paper, a suit coat and a few other things that I couldn't see. I asked him what it was for and he said "Oh, its our wax museum today, this is my Abraham Lincoln costume." This is a pretty big deal in 5th grade. The kids pick someone from history that they want to dress up as, they write a little paragraph about them. They make a fake button to place by them for people to push, then all of the 5th graders sit at tables and the parents go around, push the buttons and the kids recite their paragraph about their historical person. With Halea and Hayden we were involved, helped them get their costume ready, etc. Holden had made a hat and a beard out of construction paper and found a suit coat all on his own. Maybe he was trying to avoid Lance taking over his project. They both like to be creative, so maybe Holden wanted to do this one on his own. I was just embarrassed that I didn't even know he was working on it!
Hayden went to the Sadie Hawkins dance with our cute neighbor girl, and he got a job! He works at a place called Swig. They serve mixed sodas, smoothies, snow cones, Italian sodas and cookies.
The other day we had the missionaries over for dinner. Of course they asked how many kids we have. Lance answered, "five". He proceeded to give all of the kids ages. My heart panged a little, but I know we each deal with this differently. As they were leaving they were walking down the hallway and stopped at our family picture, that includes Tates. Lance started pointing out each of the kids and then he got to Tatum and he said, "this is our daughter Tatum that died". The poor missionaries! They seemed so uncomfortable, but I was really proud of Lance because I'm sure it was as uncomfortable for him. Luckily they only had to stay for a few minutes before they could escape out the door.
The last two weeks we have been having our floors refinished. We have had to move all of our furniture off of the wood. We also replaced our carpet in our living room with wood. It has been a long couple of weeks. Currently our refrigerator is still in our piano room! The past few days I have been washing walls and taking decorations off walls. One of my friends is going to come and help me freshen up the decorating. I also thought that we might try a different furniture configuration in our living room, to try and keep the windows more open so we can see out into our back yard. We started moving the couches back in and Hilary was throwing a fit. She kept saying "no, I want them the same!" She was even crying. I thought that I knew why, because I was feeling the same way. I was sure that her four year old mind would not be thinking the same way mine was, though. I sat down next to her and I asked her why she didn't like the couches this way. Then sure enough she said it, "Because Tatum sleeps over there on that couch!" and she pointed to where the smaller couch used to be, and where Tatum slept. I was sort of having the same anxious feelings because it all looks different than when she was here, and I don't like it. I was so grateful to know that I wasn't the only resistant one and I was really happy to know that Hilary absolutely has her very own memories of Tatum. I was so sad that she too is being forced to accept change, and reality even when she doesn't want to. This is what life is all about. Change.
I have had the opportunity to attend several funerals this month. One of my friends told me that she thinks that I go to more funerals than anyone in the world. Probably a little overstatement, but probably pretty true. I have said before that I love a good funeral. I believe it is a place where the veil to the other side is very thin. The spirit is readily accessible and if you go with an open heart, you can be taught the greatest of all truths. It is also a true demonstration of our faith and especially our faith in the plan of salvation. I attended one yesterday that was for one of our patients from the hospital. Their little baby was born and lived for just a few hours. They had known for most of their pregnancy that he would not stay in this world for very long and they were perfect examples of embracing his entire life. They studied and sought guidance through the spirit and personal revelation to help them understand his purpose in their family. I attend a lot of funerals, this was by far one of the most spiritual and sweet and powerful meeting I've been to. His ripple in this life will be felt for a long long time.
One of the profound things that they spoke about were the many miracles that they witnessed during their pregnancy and during their sons short life. My favorite thought, shared by the mom, was that the obvious miracles are not always the most beautiful ones. Their son being healed and being able to live would have been the obvious miracle and they would have been thrilled to receive. The miracle that has occurred, the change in their hearts because they are able to be his parents, is a much more beautiful and precious miracle. I loved this thought because I think sometimes we are only looking for the huge, obvious, miraculous things that happen, so we miss the simple life changing events that are happening every day. I feel that same way about Trevin and Tatum. I know that Heavenly Father could have healed either of them. That was not their purpose. I wish this knowledge and understanding could take away the smart of the human feelings that accompany having to let someone go. It still takes my breath away when I see pictures of Tatum. It still makes me sad to make changes like moving my couch or selling our van. It still hurts to realize that this really is our family story. These are things that are all part of our human experience with them and so the sadness that comes is understandable. These things only remind me of how very much I love her, and I want to remember so it's OK.