Tuesday, December 10, 2013

[December 10, 2013] 46 weeks

December 10, 2013
46 weeks

Sometimes I pretend that you're just on a mission. And then I catch a glimpse of your photo on the wall, or the cast of your hand intertwined with McKayslin's. And I remember. 

My breath catches in my throat. My heart catches in my chest.
I have to remind myself to breathe.

It's been one year since we learned that there were abnormal cells showing in your bone marrow. You weren't even at the 100 days past transplant. The BMT team was very concerned. We were very concerned. One year ago President Acevedo stopped to give McKayslin and I each a blessing (you and Daddy were in Salt Lake, we'd been e-mailing all day and then Skyping all evening). 

That blessing has been a source of strength and peace for over a year now. President blessed me that I would have an understanding of and an appreciation for the Atonement and the Resurrection. 

That night was the first night that I actually couldn't pray. I didn't know what to say. I just knew that I was terrified of what the future held. I sat on the stairs in tears. I knew I needed to pray. But I couldn't. And then I uttered the only words that I could, "Please, Heavenly Father, I need peace." 

Instantly, powerfully, I felt a wave of peace make its way through my fear, my sadness, my hurt. The tears ceased. And I knew that regardless, everything would be okay.

Over the past year, I have prayed that same prayer countless times, always with the same result. There is peace.

Lately we've had a few friends stop by for various reasons, but they are the friends that are willing to talk about you. They know you. They love you. And we love them for that. It's so healing to be able to share your stories. To be able to hear your stories. Don't get me wrong, we'd so much rather have you here. We miss you every single minute of every single day.

Last night we had pancakes, bacon, and eggs for dinner. And I remembered one day a few years ago...

It was a Saturday morning. You wanted pancakes (you always wanted pancakes). McKayslin wanted waffles (she always wanted waffles). We usually had waffles. But that morning I realized (duh!!) IT'S THE SAME BATTER! So I made both. Waffles for our Goose and pancakes for our Bubs. You were so happy that morning. And so appreciative of that simple act of kindness. These memories remind me to always be appreciative of the little things. 

We were talking about that morning as I cooked dinner. And then I started laughing because I remembered that was also the morning that we played "stupid human tricks" in the kitchen. I cooked up a bunch of little tiny pancakes. You stood next to Sparky on one side of the kitchen. I stood on the other side of the kitchen and flipped the pancakes off the spatula toward you and Sparky. You caught some, Sparky caught others. We all laughed so hard that morning. That was an awesome memory. It caught me off guard and made me smile through my tears.

You have such a gift of living life to the very fullest. I miss that. It's a good lesson for me to remember these moments because it helps me remember that life is to be lived, not just endured.

Oh how I miss you, my handsome warrior. You've been gone nearly a year. Each week seems a little more challenging than the one before. We're so grateful for friends that remember. They remember us with stories, with memories, with cards, texts, and service. But above all, we are so grateful for you. And for our knowledge of eternal families.

Christmas won't be the same without you. Because nothing is the same without you. Some days feel a little softer than others. For that I am grateful. I don't think this will ever get easier. I don't think it's supposed to. But I do think it's supposed to get softer.

As we go into this Christmas season, I am reminded, yet again, of the power of the Atonement. And, I am learning to have an understanding of and an appreciation for that divine gift.

Carry forth, brave son - you're doing amazing things. I've had several incredible stories of your influence shared with me. I am so proud of you!

Love you. Miss you.
Neither of those things will ever change.

All my love,

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

[October 29, 2013]

October 29, 2013
40 weeks

40 weeks you've been gone, my handsome boy.  
You've been gone longer than we awaited your arrival as a baby.  
40 weeks of missing you.  
40 weeks of tears.  
40 weeks of heartache.  
40 weeks of doing things without you.  
40 weeks of trying to match our old traditions with our new reality.  
40 weeks of grief.  
40 weeks of wondering just how we're going to stay standing.  

And on the flip side...

40 weeks of service.  
40 weeks of phone calls, texts, email. 
40 weeks of concerned looks.  
40 weeks of "How is your heart today?"  
40 weeks of meals, treats, cards.  
40 weeks of seeing the love and concern of our Heavenly Father poured out so deeply through those who love us.

Last week I was teaching piano lessons.  Megan's lesson.  She was playing the song "For Good" from the musical "Wicked."  That song hits me right in the heart every time... because I knew you, I have been changed FOR GOOD.  

She played it beautifully, not needing any help, so I just sat back and listened.  

And then, for just a very brief moment, I felt a hand on my shoulder.  
No one else was here except Meg and I.  
And you.  
You stopped to let me know you are okay.  

I had to catch my breath as she finished playing and I felt you leave.

Saturday we went to the Pumpkin Walk.  
We've gone every year since you were just a baby.  
Every year except last year.  
Because you were at the hospital.  
Just as we walked in, a single little leaf fell from a tree, and landed directly on my head.  I reached up, took it off, and Daddy said, "Hi, Mom!"  Yep, just a little love tap from my boy, again, letting me know that you're okay, and that you are there.

This week I've been thinking a lot about our traditions.  

And at first I was angry that you didn't get to spend those last traditions doing things the way we always have.  

But as I sat, with tears streaming down my cheeks, I was gently reminded, again, of the love our Heavenly Father has for us, and how He knows the end from the beginning.  

Brought into my mind was our last Halloween together.  It was the weekend before Halloween actually.  McKayslin and I had brought FunKins and carving tools to the hospital because you weren't allowed to be around live plants (fungus, mold, etc.).  Our family spent that Saturday afternoon "carving" pumpkins.

You know what's awesome about that?  
We have the last pumpkin you ever carved.  
It won't rot.  
It won't have to be thrown away.  
Because it's not a real pumpkin.  
See that tender mercy right there?

And then my mind wandered forward to Thanksgiving.  Since you were old enough, you (and then you and Sis) have always decorated the tree on the Friday after Thanksgiving with Grammy while Daddy and I went shopping.  

Last year we didn't go shopping.  
You were in-patient again, recovering from pericardial effusion and the surgery to relieve that.  
McKayslin had the great idea the week prior to that, to pick up little fake trees, and all of the ornaments to decorate them.  
That Friday after Thanksgiving, that's what you guys did.

We have both of your trees bagged up, ornaments still exactly how you hung them.  
We'll get them out on the Friday after Thanksgiving.  
Because they're small, they don't have to be undecorated.  
Yours will stay exactly as you so carefully decorated it.  
Another tender mercy.  
We'll always have your tree.

Oh how we miss you.  Oh how we love you.  Oh how we grieve.

You're a pretty amazing kid.  
Your sister is a pretty amazing kid.  
Your dad and I are pretty blessed to have been chosen to be your parents.

We'll stop by to see you tonight.  
And again on Friday when we undecorate your resting spot after Halloween and put up the fall/Thanksgiving stuff we've found.

Love you, LOVE YOU!

Forever.  For Always.  And no matter what.

Have a great week, handsome!

Love you!


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

[37 weeks] [October 8, 2013]

October 8, 2013
37 weeks

Dear Kenton,

This morning started out rough.  Rougher, in fact, than many others.  I'm not sure why.  The only thing I can think is that I've been trying so much harder over the past month or so to just be better - to forgive more freely, to love more openly, to serve more willingly, and to spend time each day reading the scriptures and in thoughtful earnest prayer.

Every time we attempt to become closer to our Heavenly Father, Satan really steps in and tries to take hold on our hearts, make us feel that we're not worthy of the love of our Heavenly Father, that we should just give up, and go back to being slothful, lazy, grumpy...

Doctrine and Covenants Section 58:
For verily I say unto you, blessed is he that akeepeth my commandments, whether in life or in bdeath; and he that iscfaithful in dtribulation, the ereward of the same is greater in the kingdom of heaven.
 Ye cannot behold with your natural aeyes, for the present time, the design of your God concerning those things which shall come hereafter, and the bglory which shall follow after much tribulation.
 For after much atribulation come the bblessings. Wherefore the day cometh that ye shall be ccrowned with much dglory;
You are such a great example of being faithful in tribulation.  Never once did I hear you question your faith.  Never once did I see anger regarding your diagnosis, your treatment, your final diagnosis of terminal.  

I posted on the Team Kenton Facebook page "37 weeks and each seems more taxing than the last. Miss you, my boy. Love you forever."

We have some pretty great people on our team, my boy.  Do you know how I know that?  

Because today was actually an okay day.  And a day that starts out like that and ends out okay has to have some pretty heartfelt prayers going up on my behalf.  So many people that have never met you, me, our family, have been praying for us since they first learned of your diagnosis in June of 2012.  Those prayers continue.  And they bring the strength and peace that we need.

Tonight after our weekly visit to the cemetery...

...and traditional stop at McDonald's for dinner, Dad had YM early, McKayslin was playing with the littles, Grammy was reading a book, and I needed to go to town to get shampoo and conditioner.  

I had every intention of going straight to Wal-Mart and straight home.  As I was driving, thinking, praying, somehow I didn't really notice where I was going until I ended up in the temple parking lot... (pretty scary to think of, but since I'm certain I was supposed to be at the temple tonight, there were a legion of angels directing traffic and guiding my car - and pretty sure you were sitting there riding shotgun which is just downright awesome!).

I didn't have my temple clothing in the car.  But I did have my recommend.  And, interestingly enough (?!), I had worn a skirt to school today, so I was dressed in appropriate attire for temple attendance.  I sent Roma a quick text to see if she could keep McKayslin a little longer than planned, stepped out of the car, snapped a quick photo...

...and headed into the temple.  
I chose to do initiatory.  
Or, more accurately, I was told to do initiatory.  
You, my boy, are pretty persuasive.  

You knew that I needed to hear those blessings again.  
To be reminded of the promises made to me by my Heavenly Father.  
Thanks for getting me there tonight.
You know me so well.  

Over the past few weeks, things have happened and things have been said and implied, that without going into detail, because details would hurt others, and that's not my intention, have really knocked me for a loop, set me into a tailspin, and kicked my mom guilt into overdrive.  

As I've prayed for comfort, for peace, for understanding, for the ability to forgive, I've felt as I've gotten nowhere.  That I've been stuck in this place that hurts and threatens to break me.  Tonight, as I participated in the initiatory  two phrases were emphasized each time - "Your sins are forgiven you and you are clean..." and "...your shoulders that they may bear the burdens placed upon them..."  (those may or may not be the exact phrases, but they're close).

And I left the temple feeling as if I'd walked into a room filled with brilliant light, with the love of our Savior, and I could feel your arm linked with mine as we walked to the car together.  Forgiveness.  Strength.  Tonight was a miracle that I truly, completely needed.

I still don't understand why you had to go.  
I doubt that, until the Millennium, I will understand.
Every day is a battle to just be okay.
We're doing our best.
Some days are better than others.
Some days just hurt.

We know you're nearby.  
Watching over us.  
Helping us.  
Loving us.  
Missing us.
Thanks for that.

We miss you.
We love you.
We are blessed to be your forever family.

Love you, LOVE YOU!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

[35 weeks]

September 24, 2013
35 weeks (8 months)

Dear Kenton,

Hello my handsome warrior!

Sure do love you!  
Sure do miss you!  

I miss those super tight hugs - like that day we started Christmas break 2012 - when you came sprinting down the hall of the halfway house because we'd beat you there (you'd been at clinic getting a transfusion) and you threw your arms around me right there in the doorway of our room - or like every morning before you'd leave for school - and like every single time I'd be leaving to come home when you were still at PCMC or at the halfway house.  Yeah, I miss those.  No one gives a hug quite like you.  McKayslin gives great hugs and I love those hugs too!  We all miss your hugs.

I miss that giant smile.  The one that was nearly always present on your face.  The one that could light up an entire room.  Change an attitude.  Lift a dark cloud.  We all miss your smile.

I miss tripping over your cowboy boots.
And your Schleich animals.
And your cars.
And your tractors.

I miss finding drawings of horses in random places.

I miss having sketchbooks and drawing pencils lying around every room of the house.

I miss the notes in my scriptures, in my school bag, in my purse (although you taught your little sister well, because she does this now!). 

I miss hearing you pluck out songs on the guitar and on the piano.

I miss hearing you play your favorite song on your iPod 20 times a day.

I miss hearing you sing along.

I miss you asking for eggs for breakfast every.single.morning.  ;)

I miss cooking breakfast.  
Because McKayslin and I eat cereal almost every morning and you hated cereal.  

I miss cooking your favorite foods - cilantro lime chicken, pumpkin pancakes, pizza sticks...  You loved everything I cooked and were always the first to tell me how delicious dinner was (even when sometimes it wasn't!).

I miss you sending the "love you Mom, have a good day!" texts when the bus had just rounded the corner, or when you first got to school, and always when you got home from school.

I miss waving to you and blowing you a kiss every morning as the bus left - I asked you several times if you wanted me to stop because I was embarrassing you and you always said no.

I miss having a shopping buddy when I go to craft stores.

I miss buying Schleich animals.  And sour cream and onion Pringles.

There are so many things I miss.

Every day I miss you.  

I read something the other day that I wish I would have read when you were little.  It was talking about the best way to cheer your children on.  Simple words... "I love the way you..." instead of criticizing, or yelling, or "encouraging" during sporting events mainly.  But I've thought a LOT about that over the past week or so.  Oh how I wish instead of being so hard on you I simply would have let you know that I was proud of you.  

Do you know how proud I am of you?  
How proud I've always been of you?  

Instead of "helping" (which I realize now really was no help at all!) by yelling during sporting events, piano practice sessions, and homework time, I should have told you:

"I love the way you play baseball with your whole heart!"  

"I love the way you don't give up when you're wrestling someone older and taller than you!"  

"I love how you know each karate motto and how you live them!"  

"I love that you share your art with so many people!"  

"I love how you play goalie with every ounce of effort and concentration you can muster!" 

"I love that you're learning to play so many songs!"  

"I love that you're developing your musical talents!"  

"I love that you're not afraid to perform a musical number in church!"

"I love watching you in the musical!"

"I love that you're working hard - I know this math is tough, can I help you?"  

"I love seeing your hard work pay off when report cards come!  Being on the honor roll is a really big deal!"

"I love that each morning you get my vitamins ready for me before you head to the bus!"

"I love that you take Sparky potty every single morning before you'll eat breakfast so I don't have to!"

"I love that you text me little 'love you Mom!' notes during the day!"

"I love that you're the perfect big brother!"

"I love that you serve so freely and without any desire for a reward!"

"I love that you're always looking for ways to make someone's day a little brighter!"  

And when I think about this, I often think of the day you sent an e-mail, it was a Friday, you were recovering from your BMT and you were SICK!, yet you noticed that one of the nurses (she wasn't even YOUR nurse this day!) was having a pretty rotten day, so you e-mailed me and asked me to bring her a surprise when we came to the hospital that afternoon.  I asked you what and you KNEW that she loved doing puzzles to relax, so you asked us to pick her up a puzzle or two.  We did.  And you were able to give them to her before she headed home that night.  She thanked you with eyes full of tears.  You always could read people so well, and you always wanted to make them smile!

"I love your courage in being friends with everyone!"

"I love that everyone knows what you believe because you live your beliefs proudly!"

"I love your example of faith and courage!" 


Yep, I so wish I'd realized how hurtful my "help" was.  
I'm so grateful for your forgiveness and your unconditional love.  

Because of you, I am more aware as I talk to McKayslin, to my class, to my friends.  
I'm sorry I didn't do better with you.

It's been a rough 8 months without you.  Sometimes I wonder where the 8 months have gone because time seems to be flying by.  Yet other times, I feel every crushing second of those 8 months without you.  

I was remembering the other night the last solo you sang in church.  It must have been March or April of 2012.  Right before you got sick.  It was the song "In That Holy Place" by Sally DeFord.  You sang it so beautifully.

Holy temple; hallowed walls;
filled with heaven's light
Where the Spirit teaches truth
and testifies of Christ
There within that holy place
our hearts are made as one
United by the power of God
in pure eternal love
House of learning; house of faith;
house of peace and prayer;
House of glory; house of God;
I’ll feel his presence there
I will stand with heart and hands
kept clean and pure each day
Worthy of the blessings found
in that holy place
Holy temple where we learn
creation’s grand design
Where our souls will be endowed
with power from on high
There we kneel, our hearts prepared
to cov’nant with our Lord
And there his Spirit binds our lives
in love forever more
House of learning; house of faith;
house of peace and prayer;
House of glory; house of God;
I’ll feel his presence there
I will stand with heart and hands
kept clean and pure each day
Worthy of the blessings found
in that holy place
Holy temple where we bless
our loved ones gone before
Where eternal ties are sealed
by sacred priesthood pow’r
There we turn our hearts to those
who gave us life and birth
How beautiful that holy place
where heaven dwells on earth 

This song plays in my mind often.  
I can hear you singing your testimony of eternal family.  
And it makes my heart smile and my tears fall.

My son of many talents - I love that you shared your talents so freely.
I love that you have blessed the lives of so many.

And mostly, I love that I am your mom.

I love you forever.
And miss you always.

Thanks for being awesome.
For loving me.
For forgiving me.
And for teaching me.

Keep being awesome my heavenly missionary!

Love you, LOVE YOU!

Monday, September 16, 2013

[34 weeks]

September 17, 2013
34 weeks

Hey buddy,

It's been a few weeks since I've written.  Life really REALLY hurts lately.  We're all struggling.  There are more tears, more sadness.  We have to try a lot harder to smile, to laugh, to find joy.  I don't know if it's because with school starting up again it's harder to think that you're really truly gone, and not just at scout camp, or a friend's house, or Grammy's, or working for Uncle Birdie...you're gone.  And you're not coming home.  That reality, nearly 9 months in the making, really really stinks.  I'm not a fan.  :(

Although no one has said it out  loud, probably because they're afraid what level of crazy I'd hit if they did, we get the feeling that our story is getting old.  People are tired of our sadness.  Tired of our grief.  Tired of us not being ourselves.  Oh how I wish we could explain this feeling of emptiness...how I wish that no parent ever had to feel this.  To live this.  My heart will never be the same.  For the rest of my life I will walk around with 2/3 of my heart.  

Several friends have shown up lately with random treats, or sent texts at just the right time. They, gratefully, remember, honor, and love us even with all of our crazy, with all of our random tears.  We're so grateful.  So blessed.  Just the other day I had a really incredible experience at Best Buy.  I'll forever remember employee Tennessee with a smile in my heart.  I shared that experience on my personal Facebook page.  I'll share it here another time.

Exactly one year ago Saturday was one of our last family fun days as an earthly family of 4.  We spent the whole day out and about.  We went to the Air Force Museum. We ate at Famous Dave's.  We wandered the streets of Ogden looking at the painted horses...

Saturday, we attempted a family fun day.  We had a pretty good day, considering it was just the three of us.  We are doing as you asked and continuing to do fun things with McKayslin.  I guess we're mostly succeeding since McKayslin told us thanks for not being old boring parents.  We went on the Ferris Wheel at Scheel's.  Last December we were all going to go, but you weren't feeling so well.  We went on Saturday.  Daddy had a panic attack at the top. White knuckles, forgetting to breathe, lots of fun.  I shouldn't have teased him so much because later, as we were driving into SLC, turning in on 400 South, I had the same thing happen.  Oh yeah, lots of fun.

On the way home, with tears in his voice, Daddy said, "I hate driving this road at night...it reminds me of the last time I brought Kenton back to the hospital..."  And we cried.  We do that a lot.  Cry.  Hurt.  

I've been thinking about your journey from diagnosis through the end, and realizing that in that time, I only heard you complain just a few times.  Sure, you were freaked out, and they thought you had an underlying panic disorder. That was weird.  But you only complained just a few times.  How did you do that?  How did you take that crappy diagnosis and just roll with it?  How did you manage to continue to be so awesome in the midst of something so horrible, so painful, so utterly devastating?

I need to go back and write about so many things that happened on this journey.  Maybe then I'll be able to start looking forward.  Maybe then I'll be able to go a whole day without breaking into the ugly cry.

You're just such an amazing kid.  Your sister is such an amazing kid. And I'm just this ordinary Mom entrusted with parenting such amazing spirits.  Stick with me, son. I need your help.

I miss you.  I still look into your room every night to check on you.  I still tell you goodnight. I still talk to you.  I sound a bit crazy.  I feel a bit crazy.  I guess this level of grief is going to lead to a little bit of crazy. The goal is to keep it at a little bit of crazy.

Love you, handsome!
Thanks for being awesome!

Love you!!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

[Just because]

We're at almost 33 weeks since Kenton passed away.  33 weeks ago, about right this same time, we were rearranging the living room so that we could sleep up there together.  Kenton was home!  Oh the plans we had...

The past 33 weeks have been longer, harder, and more painful than I could have ever thought possible.  The depth of our love mirrors the depth of our grief.  That love is pretty deep.  Consequently the grief is pretty deep also.

School has started.  We're a few weeks in.  

Kenton's Cup was last weekend.  Incredible.  Kenton's dream of being able to hold the tournament yearly to help other families is becoming a reality.  What a blessing to be surrounded by so many people that made this happen!  We can hardly wait to present the proceeds to our chosen benefactors.

The Eastern Idaho State Fair ended last night with the Demolition Derby.  Always a family favorite.

Those 3 things, while being exciting, and happy, and wonderful, also served to crush our fragile state just a little more.  

We're tired.

And sad.

There are constant tears.  If it's not me, it's McKayslin or Luke.  Sometimes all three of us at the same time.  Some nights we all lie in bed, arms wrapped tight around each other and just weep.

Some days it's all we can do to get out of bed, go to work/school/church/whatever and be in public only long enough to escape back home where we can fall apart again.

Other days we might appear to be doing fine.  And we actually might be.  That's the crazy thing about grief - you just don't know what you'll be feeling or how you'll be acting at any given point of any given day.

Please be patient with us.  This soul crushing grief isn't going away anytime soon. 

We're doing our best to be happy.  To carry on.  To love.  To serve.  To be okay.  

We miss our Kenton.

Please don't ask how we are.  Or if we're okay.  You don't have to say anything at all.  A hug, a card, a smile, eye contact.  That says everything we need.  

Just thought you should know...

Monday, August 26, 2013

[August 27, 2013]

August 27, 2013
31 weeks

Dear Kenton,

Over the past week, my anger has abated some, replaced by a hollow, empty, soul wrenching loneliness.  This grief thing is pretty crappy.  I never know what emotion I'm going to feel at any given time.  I think night is the hardest for me to find anything except sorrow and sadness and pain - because when I go to bed, I still find myself headed to your room to check on you, to give you one last hug, and one last kiss on the forehead as I wish you sweet dreams...yet, I have to turn away, because you're not there to check on, to receive a hug, or a kiss on the forehead, or my wish of sweet dreams.  And that's when the tears come.

We're all a little more worn down, a little sadder, a little more lonely than we were a few months ago.  Grief is a refining process.  A painfully slow refining process.  We understand a little more, we love a little deeper, and at the same time, we feel your absence a little more profoundly as each new first approaches, arrives, and passes.

Yesterday I taught Sunday School again.  My testimony is stretched and strengthened and renewed each week as I pray, read, study, and prepare the lesson.  We just started the Gospel Principles book again.  The lesson was Our Heavenly Father.  I was reminded of the quote by President Benson... "Nothing is going to startle us more when we pass through the veil to the other side than to realize how well we know our Father and how familiar His face is to us." 

We talked a lot yesterday about our loving Heavenly Father.  The longest part of the discussion was how we come to know our Father.  It's interesting to me that "the Primary answers" are exactly that.  PRIMARY!  (Thanks, Machelle, for that insight!!).  We have to be reading our scriptures, saying our prayers, attending our meetings, paying our tithing, etc. in order for our hearts to be open and receptive to the Holy Ghost giving us the knowledge (not just the belief!) that our Heavenly Father is real, He loves us, He knows us.  (Thanks, Kent, for that insight!).  Karen shared that it's when we've stopped doing those things, and begin again, we feel such a sense of relief and realize what was missing.  Isn't it crazy how easy it is to get to busy for the primary source of peace?!

Another part of the discussion was understanding and realizing that these habits (reading the scriptures, saying prayers, etc.) are in place and when we come to a difficult stage in our life, whatever that may be, we might come to our knees in a "habit prayer," yet stay on our knees as our prayer becomes that of seeking solace, answers, and comfort.  It's during those times that we REALLY learn to know our Heavenly Father, we lean on Him and the peace of Our Savior through the Atonement.  We walk on a little higher plane with a little more faith and a little more understanding.

Granted, those soul searching times of anguish have the ability to bring us to our knees in defeat just as easy, if not more so, than to our knees in prayer.  There is a fine line - that's why those habits are so critical.

You know this.  You understand this.  You always have.  You are an old soul.  A valiant missionary with only a short while to share what you knew.  You did that well, my boy.  Your whole being radiated the Pure Love of Christ.  No one could look at you and think anything different.  

Saturday morning, Dad and I went to the early early session at the temple.  Brother and Sister Taukiuvea were there.  As we sat, waiting to enter the Celestial Room, Sister Taukiuvea leaned over to me, with tears in her eyes, and whispered, "I can just see Kenton standing so strong, so brave, so valiant, so ready just as Peter, James, and John."

How blessed I am to be chosen as the mother of one so valiant, of TWO so valiant, because your little sister is strong.  Stronger than she thinks.  And she knows, just as you know, that our Heavenly Father is real, that He loves us.

This afternoon (I'm actually writing this on Monday evening because, well, there's just no way to get up and write this on Tuesday morning, and still be able to pull myself together to go to school!), I was home alone - McKayslin was at Paigey's house, Daddy and Grammy were in town.  I turned on my "Sunday" station on Pandora.  As usual, the first song that played was exactly what my aching heart needed...

Be still my soul: 
The Lord is on thy side;
With patience bear thy cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change He faithful will remain.

And so my challenge this week, is to remember and to trust and to allow that healing to happen.  


Our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ stand ready, anxious, and willing to walk by me, to carry me, to strengthen me.  Help me remember.  Help me be strong.  Help me be humble with a heart and mind open and receptive.

I love you, son.  I am so blessed to have had 12 1/2 years to take care of you, to learn from you.  I miss you every single minute of every single day.  I am so proud of you.

All my love,

Monday, August 19, 2013

[August 20, 2013]

August 20, 2013 30 weeks 

Oh, my handsome boy, 

Today I am angry. 

7 months ago we brought you home. 

In our hearts we believed we had time with you. 

Time for memories. Time for favorite traditions, favorite foods, favorite movies, favorite games favorite places, favorite people. 


We didn't get any of that. 

We had two days. 

One day where you felt okay, but slept a lot. 
And one day where you slept nearly the entire day assisted by necessary oxygen and morphine. 

No favorite foods. No favorite movies. No favorite traditions. No favorite games. No favorite places. 2 days. 

And then, you were gone. 

Not until the eternities will we get to see your smile again. Feel your hugs. Hear your voice, your laugh. Receive a picture you drew, or a note your wrote. 

I cry all the time.
I hurt. 
I'm sad. 
And I'm angry. 

School starts in 2 days. 
Your 8th grade year. 
Back to school traditions. 

Without you. 

It isn't fair.
It isn't okay. 

I'm saying it out loud again. 

Yes, I realize this is part of the grieving process. I think that's a step I skipped when the requirements of full time work resumed. It's pretty difficult to be an effective, loving first grade teacher when your whole being is filled with such soul shattering anger... 

Within the walls of this anger phase, there is so much guilt, so much sadness, so many 'what if's, and so many unanswered questions. 

I don't know why you had to leave so soon. 
Why you had to leave at all... 

And I don't know how to make it okay in my heart. 

So for today, for right now, for this stage, I'm taking 5 to be angry. It may be 5 days. It may be 5 weeks. 

And today, I'll watch that video of you singing happy birthday to me. 
And I'll cry. 


Love you forever. 


Sunday, August 18, 2013


"By small and simple things are great things brought to pass." (Alma 37:6).This wasn't the avenue this writing was intended to go this morning.  At least not in my mind.  But because I am striving to listen and respond to the promptings given, this is the avenue I will pursue...
Each day we make a series of small, seemingly insignificant choices...what time to wake up, what to wear, what to eat for breakfast, whether to open the laptop and introduce ourselves into the day electronically.
...and then there are those small, incredibly significant choices...whether to kneel by our bedside in morning prayer, or open our scriptures instead of our electronics, whether to speak kind words, or go out into our day with a cheerful countenance and a heart open and receptive and willing to serve as our Father invites.
Each of those choices is small in and of itself, yet each choice holds potentially eternal consequences.
Elder Bednar teaches:"Ordinary people who faithfully, diligently, and consistently do simple things that are right before God will bring forth extraordinary results."
"By small and simple things are great things brought to pass." (Alma 37:6).
This Sabbath morning, I recommit to living my life as I've been taught and reminded - daily prayer, daily scripture study, service, love, faith.
“I believe many, if not all, of the most satisfying and memorable accomplishments in our homes, in the Church, in our jobs and professions, and in our communities will be the product of this important spiritual pattern—of simple and small things,” Elder Bednar said. “Brothers and sisters, we should find great comfort in the fact that ordinary people who faithfully, diligently, and consistently do simple things that are right before God will bring forth extraordinary results.” - Elder David A. Bednar

Five Minute Friday

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

August 13, 2013

August 13, 2013
29 weeks

Hey, buddy!  

I loved being in the temple this morning.  

I feel you so close when I'm there.  I know that the work you're doing there can only be completed with work done here.  Doing my best to get there often and help you out.  :)

Tonight, as usual, we headed up to the cemetery.  McKayslin had chosen a very special little horse to leave there for you.  

We were trying to decide what it should be named.  I *think* she settled on STAR, but I'm not sure.  We chuckled as we remembered that when you were little little, every one of your animals was named a treat name - caramel, fudge, brownie, chocolate chip.  And then when you were little, every.single.horse you had was named Denny (because you loved The Man From Snowy River that much!).  It's fun to share those memories with McKayslin.  Those memories keep you close.

Kena stopped while we were there.  Left you a little something.  I didn't think to get a photo.  I will next time we head up.  Your friends still talk about you.  They still miss you.  And I love that they still talk to us.  Sometimes it's really hard because my mind starts to play the "what if" game, or I dwell too long on the "if Kenton were here, what would he be doing right now?"  But I don't want them to avoid us.  Or stop talking to us.  Their love of you that they so freely share with us keeps you close.

Are you seeing a theme there?!  Clearly we're starting to figure out what we need to do to keep you close.  ;)  LOVE YOU, pal!  

Monday morning we'd taken Grammy to therapy and gone over to Lee's to pick up a few things.  Robert saw us and made a point to come over and talk to us.  He and his wife Kristi were among the first cancer fighter parents to reach out to us.  As a fellow angel parent, no words were necessary as we clasped hands in a firm handshake.  

We did visit for a few minutes, drawing strength from our shared experiences, and as we parted with tear rimmed eyes, I was reminded again of one of the first posts I read on Tanner's blog...a post that reminds me so very much of you, my own little brave soul:

Not too long ago in Heaven there was a little soul who took wonder in observing the world. He especially enjoyed the love he saw there and often expressed this joy with God. One day however the little soul was sad, for on this day he saw suffering in the world. He approached God and sadly asked, "Why do bad things happen; why is there suffering in the world?" God paused for a moment and replied, "Little soul, do not be sad, for the suffering you see, unlocks the love in people's hearts." The little soul was confused. "What do you mean," he asked. God replied, "Have you not noticed the goodness and love that is the offspring of that suffering? Look at how people come together, drop their differences and show their love and compassion for those who suffer. All their other motivations disappear and they become motivated by love alone." The little soul began to understand and listened attentively as God continued, "The suffering soul unlocks the love in people's hearts much like the sun and the rain unlock the flower within the seed. I created everyone with endless love in their heart, but unfortunately most people keep it locked up and hardly share it with anyone. They are afraid to let their love shine freely, because they are afraid of being hurt. But a suffering soul unlocks that love. I tell you this - it is the greatest miracle of all. Many souls have bravely chosen to go into the world and suffer - to unlock this love - to create this miracle for the good of all humanity."

Just then the little soul got a wonderful idea and could hardly contain himself. With his wings fluttering, bouncing up and down, the little soul excitedly replied. "I am brave; let me go! I would like to go into the world and suffer so that I can unlock the goodness and love in people's hearts! I want to create that miracle!" God smiled and said, "You are a brave soul I know, and thus I will grant your request. But even though you are very brave you will not be able to do this alone. I have known since the beginning of time that you would ask for this and so I have carefully selected many souls to care for you on your journey. Those souls will help you create your miracle; however they will also share in your suffering. Two of these souls are most special and will care for you, help you and suffer along with you, far beyond the others. They have already chosen a name for you". God and the brave soul shared a smile, and then embraced.

In parting, God said, "Do not forget little soul that I will be with you always. Although you have agreed to bear the pain, you will do so through my strength. And if the time should come when you feel that you have suffered enough, just say the word, think the thought, and you will be healed." Thus at that moment the brave little soul was born into the world, and through his suffering and God's strength, he unlocked the goodness and love in people's hearts. For so many people dropped their differences and came together to show their love. Priorities became properly aligned. People gave from their hearts. Those that were always too busy found time. Many began new spiritual journeys, some regained lost faith - many came back to God. Parents hugged their children tighter. Friends and family grew closer. Old friends got together and new friendships were made. Distant family reunited, and every family spent more time together. Everyone prayed. Peace and love reigned. Lives changed forever. It was good. The world was a better place. The miracle had happened. God was pleased.

Later, McKayslin and I were sitting in the waiting room, waiting.  Well, duh, what the heck else would we be doing in the waiting room?!  Whatevs.  McKayslin was coloring, and I was reading from the October 2002 conference Ensign on my tablet.  I had loaded that issue on Sunday when a talk was referred to during the lesson.  However, as I scrolled down through the talks, the title of one caught my eye...BUT IF NOT.  I don't exactly remember that talk from conference.  You would have been 2.  Pretty sure you were roping Grammy during that session which made it a little bit difficult to listen and pay attention.  I clicked on the title and the talk opened up.  I began to read and had the hardest time keeping tears from just spilling down my cheeks right there in the waiting room (where we were waiting, remember?).

Mortality’s supreme test is to face the “why” and then let it go, trusting humbly in the Lord’s promise that “all things must come to pass in their time.”

Some of my richest memories are associated with weekend assignments to stake conferences as I have accompanied a stake president in visits to members of his stake wrestling with life’s challenges in courage and faith, especially those who have lost a child...I know from poignant personal experience that there is no night quite so dark as the loss of a child. 

And so today I wish to speak to all who are struggling in this laboratory of applied faith that is called mortality—and in particular to those bereaved, burdened, and grieving parents who beseechingly ask, “Why?”
First, please know that grief is the natural by-product of love. One cannot selflessly love another person and not grieve at his suffering or eventual death. The only way to avoid the grief would be to not experience the love; and it is love that gives life its richness and meaning. Hence, what a grieving parent can expect to receive from the Lord in response to earnest supplication may not necessarily be an elimination of grief so much as a sweet reassurance that, whatever his or her circumstances, one’s child is in the tender care of a loving Heavenly Father.
Next, do not ever doubt the goodness of God, even if you do not know “why.” The overarching question asked by the bereaved and the burdened is simply this: Why? Why did our daughter die, when we prayed so hard that she would live and when she received priesthood blessingsWhy are we struggling with this misfortune, when others relate miraculous healing experiences for their loved ones? These are natural questions, understandable questions. But they are also questions that usually go begging in mortality. The Lord has said simply, “My ways [are] higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isa. 55:9). As the Son’s will was “swallowed up in the will of the Father” (Mosiah 15:7), so must ours be.
Still, we mortals quite naturally want to know the why. Yet, in pressing too earnestly for the answer, we may forget that mortality was designed, in a manner of speaking, as the season of unanswered questions. Mortality has a different, more narrowly defined purpose: It is a proving ground, a probationary state, a time to walk by faith, a time to prepare to meet God (see, for example, Abr. 3:24–252 Ne. 31:15–16, 20Alma 12:24Alma 42:4–13). It is in nurturing humility (see Alma 32:6–21) and submissiveness (see Mosiah 3:19) that we may comprehend a fulness of the intended mortal experience and put ourselves in a frame of mind and heart to receive the promptings of the Spirit. Reduced to their essence, humility and submissiveness are an expression of complete willingness to let the “why” questions go unanswered for now, or perhaps even to ask, “Why not?” It is in enduring well to the end (see 2 Ne. 31:15–16Alma 32:15D&C 121:8) that we achieve this life’s purposes. I believe that mortality’s supreme test is to face the “why” and then let it go, trusting humbly in the Lord’s promise that “all things must come to pass in their time” (D&C 64:32).
But the Lord has not left us comfortless or without any answers. As to the healing of the sick, He has clearly said: “And again, it shall come to pass that he that hath faith in me to be healed, and is not appointed unto death, shall be healed” (D&C 42:48; emphasis added). All too often we overlook the qualifying phrase “and is not appointed unto death” (“or,” we might add, “unto sickness or handicap”). Please do not despair when fervent prayers have been offered and priesthood blessings performed and your loved one makes no improvement or even passes from mortality. Take comfort in the knowledge that you did everything you could. Such faith, fasting, and blessing could not be in vain! That your child did not recover in spite of all that was done in his behalf can and should be the basis for peace and reassurance to all who love him! The Lord—who inspires the blessings and who hears every earnest prayer—called him home nonetheless. All the experiences of prayer, fasting, and faith may well have been more for our benefit than for his.
...I know that his path through mortality was intended by a kind Heavenly Father to be shorter and easier than ours and that he has now hurried on ahead to be a welcoming presence when we likewise eventually cross that same fateful threshold.
This talk calmed my soul, eased the ache of my heart just a bit, and helped me realize that the depth of my pain mirrors the depth of my love for you.  That love will never change.  It will never go away.  And because of that, the sadness and the anguish that I feel will also remain.  Some days are easier than others.  Some days are so painful that it's all I can do to crawl out of bed and make myself do anything at all.  
This morning on the way to the temple, I plugged my phone in and opened Pandora to my "Sunday" station.  The first song that played was Hilary Weeks' "He'll Carry You."  
He knows your heart; He knows your pain
He knows the strength it took just to simply breathe today,
He sees the tears that you cry
He knows your soul is aching to know why
He hears your prayers, each humble word
When you said you could not face another day, he understood
He knows the path that you will find
Though you felt alone he's never left your side

He knew there'd be moments when no earthly words could take away your sorrow
And no human eyes can see what you're going through
When you've taken your last step and done all you can do
He will lift your heavy load and carry you

He'll bring you peace and leave you hope
And in the darkest night he'll comfort you until you know the sun will rise
Each new day you will have the strength to live again

And in the moments when no earthly words can take away your sorrow
And no human eyes can see what you're going through
When you've taken your last step and done all you can do
He will lift your heavy load and carry you

He hears you when you're crying in the night
He hears you when your soul longs to fight
Till the morning will come and the light of the dawn reassures

That in the moments when no earthly words can take away your sorrow
And no human eyes can see what you're going through
When you've taken your last step and done all you can do
He will lift your heavy load and carry you

When you've taken your last step and done all that you can do, He will lift your heavy load and carry you. 
Coincidence?  I've stopped believing in coincidences...
Last night we headed up the canyon (along with about half of Hyrum city) to check out the fires that are burning on our mountains.  We were lucky enough to get to hang out with our dear friends the McBrides for a while.  Daddy got to play traffic control.  McKayslin and I visited with Kylee and Joanne.  We are so blessed with amazing friends.  Banana Brad misses you.  I feel it in every hug.  See it every time I see him.  He brought a loaf of banana bread the other day.  Your favorite. Each time I start to feel alone, like no one understands, or cares, or remembers, someone does something and I'm reminded that we are not alone.  
We left the fire and took Kylee and Joanne home, stopping for a drink on the way back through Hyrum.  My eyes had a hard time not crying when Alyssa said, "Drinks are on me tonight.  You guys are awesome and so inspiring!  Thank you!"  You would be amazed how many people know your name.  Know your legacy.  You're pretty much awesome!
And so, my brave son, I finish this week's letter with a gentle reminder that you have unlocked so much goodness and love in people's hearts.  You have created miracles.  We're doing our best to continue the work you started.
Knowing that you're free from pain and safe in our Father's care gives me peace.  And knowing that our Savior stands ready to provide peace, strength, and comfort allows me to tackle each new day...
I so wish I could take each of my friends, look them straight in the eye, and sing these words to them.  But that might be a little frightening for them, so I'll share them here again.
He knew there'd be moments when no earthly words could take away your sorrow
And no human eyes can see what you're going through
When you've taken your last step and done all you can do
He will lift your heavy load and carry you

He'll bring you peace and leave you hope
And in the darkest night he'll comfort you until you know the sun will rise
Each new day you will have the strength to live again

And in the moments when no earthly words can take away your sorrow
And no human eyes can see what you're going through
When you've taken your last step and done all you can do
He will lift your heavy load and carry you
Have a great week my handsome warrior!  The world is a better place because of you! 
Love you more than Snickers Bars and Diet Coke!  ;)
I love you.  I miss you.