Tuesday, May 28, 2013

[May 28, 2013]

May 28, 2013
18 weeks

Good morning my handsome boy!

It's Tuesday again.  The last Tuesday of this school year.  17 days away from the anniversary of your diagnosis date.  126 days since we last heard your voice, saw your smile, held your hand, or hugged you.  To say I'm kind of a mess is a bit of an understatement.  

Last week I was driving home from school by myself - Dad had McKayslin because I'd stayed late to work on getting some things caught up, you know how May is.  I came home on Main Street instead of coming up Center.  The cemetery is on Main.  As I approached the cemetery, tears started sliding down my cheeks.  Happens all the time.  But this time I caught myself feeling cheated, for lack of a better word, out of the time the doctors said we had left with you.  When they told us of the frank relapse it was with a timeline of a few months, 3-4 months. Now, I KNOW that they don't know everything, but we really had our hearts fastened on those months to get to say good-bye, to make more memories.  So, I'm driving down Main Street, tears slipping down my cheeks, falling more rapidly the closer I came to the cemetery, and I was asking you WHY you left so early.  I was actually a little angry.  I'm selfish - we've talked about that before.  And then I felt this calm, and felt you urging me to understand that it was partially your choice to leave so soon.  You hurt.  You hadn't eaten in over 2 weeks.  Your body was tired.  Your spirit was trapped in a body that was broken.  You wanted to stay but you knew because of the condition of your body that you wouldn't be able to do the things we'd talked about doing.  You were concerned, as you always have been, with us more than you were yourself.  You didn't want us to remember you as being so sick.  You wanted us to remember the Kenton that only slowed down when he was asleep.  The Kenton that was so full of life and energy that everyone was drawn to him because he just knew what life was all about.  You didn't want us to feel resentment at lost time, or to become angry with the way that last time with you was spent.  You knew where you were going when you died, and you weren't afraid.  You always have been one to see the bigger picture.  Thank you for helping me understand.  

Hymn 130:  
Be thou humble in thy weakness, and the Lord thy God shall lead thee, Shall lead thee by the hand and give thee answer to thy prayers.  Be thou humble in thy pleading, and the Lord thy God shall bless thee, Shall bless thee with a sweet and calm assurance that he cares.

Your Goosey Girl misses you.  She cries in loneliness, in sadness, in heartache.  You are the best big brother any little girl could wish for!  

With summer approaching, she's feeling, even more than normal, your absence.  Please keep her close.  Let her know you're still there.  Dad and I are doing our best to help her.  It's hard to help someone through their grief when you're still so unsure how to get through your own.  

Yesterday we had dinner with Bishop's family and the priests from the ward.  Those big boys that you love so much - Bishop, CJ, and Mitch in particular.  It was a fun night.  Easy conversation.  Delicious food.  I have such a tender spot in my heart for CJ and Mitch.  They're such good boys.  (They're going to hate me for saying that!).  Every Sunday as they would come into our home to bring the sacrament, they came with such reverence, such respect, and such love.  They would prepare and bless the sacrament, and then you would pass it to our family.  There was always such a strong spirit here during those times.  I'm forever grateful for their example, for their faith, and for their willingness to serve our family in such a personal way.

As we were leaving, Kristy handed Dad a letter.  I read it in the car on the way home.  I shouldn't have, because I hadn't cried yesterday!  With Bishop's permission, I'm going to share part of it...

I don't know if it is because of the date or maybe it's just the time of the year, the time when your lives changed forever, but I am remembering with intensity a great kid, a boy who smiled and brightened the area all around him.  He had a gift for making everyone feel happy and good about life.  Maybe he really got it, how precious each of our days are, maybe he knew that he had just a short time to help us all smile a little more and to be happy and to really know that everything will be okay.  I wonder why he had to leave so soon because we still need that, a smile that says to our mind and our hearts that life is precious and it's going to be okay.  I guess I know those things still, but it was just easier when Kenton was here and I miss him.  Nobody laughed/giggled quite like him and I have never seen a kid march as he walked with such purpose.  I have asked myself and God what I was supposed to learn from such a young teacher and Ii think that it is pretty simple - be happy come what may.  I am not sure how he did that or your guys either for that matter, it makes me feel weak and sort of infantile in what I really understand.  Kenton got it and I believe that you guys get it too.  I think that you have all experienced something beyond what we all understand as sacred, it would be more like something divine and precious, but those things are experienced only at the expense of intense suffering and lots of tears...

I have asked the Lord to have His spirit comfort you and I think he has answered my prayers and the prayers of a lot of others too.  Hopefully it has helped a little bit, and maybe in time you will understand how much we love each one of you and that we miss him too.

So please keep being patient with us in our efforts to show you that we love you - we are not experts, but in our minds eye there is this smiling kid that is helping us all try to keep at this thing called life...

I have no idea what Kenton is doing right now but whatever it is I know he is telling whoever he is around about his cool little sister and his great mom and dad, maybe he even gets to show you guys off.  

I know he is proud of you and wants you to be happy - I can't even picture the kid without a smile, how he loves you...and must miss you too, and he has got to be elated to know now, not just believe, but to KNOW that families are forever!

...because of Kenton we love our kids a little more freely and with maybe a little more understanding that every day is a gift and we will never regret loving and caring for those closest to us.  You are close to our hearts and we love you very much.

Bishop "Bean" 

Be thou humble in thy calling, and the Lord thy God shall teach thee to serve his children gladly with a pure and gently love.  

Yesterday was Memorial Day.  We have been up to the cemetery nearly every day since Tuesday.  Each day there are a few more flowers, a few more tokens of love, a few more messages in the book we left there.
Your headstone is truly remarkable.  

You are very loved.  We miss you, and so do many others.  

You did well, son, at this thing called life.  You set a high bar for those of us that know and love you.  

Just like Bishop said... Maybe he really got it, how precious each of our days are, maybe he knew that he had just a short time to help us all smile a little more and to be happy and to really know that everything will be okay. 

I know you really got it.  You always have.  Even from the time you were a little boy.  Unrestrained, unconditional love, patience, faith, forgiveness, and joy in living.  

Be thou humble in thy longing, and the Lord thy God shall take thee, Shall take thee home at last to ever dwell with him above.  (Grietje Terburg Rowley)

Love you, love you, handsome!
Thanks for being awesome!


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

[May 21, 2013]

May 21, 2013
17 weeks
1 day short of 4 months

Hey buddy. 

Yesterday afternoon I was sitting at my desk in my classroom when a HUGE thunderstorm rolled in.  The rain triggered this memory that I shared on your Facebook wall:

Just about one year ago, on a day just like today, McKayslin and Daddy had gone to town for McKayslin's gymnastics class. You had stayed home to do homework and then to play games with Megan during Shannon's piano lesson. You had just been to the orthodontist to have your braces tightened and your teeth hurt really bad. You NEEDED a chocolate milkshake from McDonald's. It looked like rain. It smelled like rain. And we rode our bikes up to get milkshakes anyway. It started raining like crazy on the way home. We were drenched when we got home! The downpour that just started outside my classroom window triggered that memory. What a fun day that was! 

One of my most favorite things about you is the way that you just embraced life!  We were cold, wet, and laughing after that bike ride.  You always could find the best in every day.  I so wish I had that gift.  This picture is from a totally different time, a Sunday drive up to Rick's Springs.  Something made you laugh, and you laughed that whole body laugh that made everyone around you smile.  I miss that smile.  That laugh.  That joy.
This has been another tough week.  Sunday night as I was looking through pictures on my phone, all of these words kept marching through my head and pounding in my heart: shattered, old, empty, broken, sad, useless, tired, hurt, unloving, shattered, old, empty, broken, sad, useless, tired, hurt, unloving, shattered, old, empty...  the same words over and over and over again.  I wonder if good weeks are just around the corner?  Or around the corner after that?  Or if they will ever even exist again? 

Satan works so hard on us. This episode was a mere 48 hours after a beautiful evening at the temple.  Mrs. Speth was at the temple on Friday night also. She asked, "Are you holding up, today?"  That seems to be a good way to phrase the question...because we're not fine.  I don't know when we will be fine.  But some days we 'hold up' pretty well.  And others, well, others I completely fall apart.  Dad, too.  And McKayslin.  We all miss you so much. And missing you hurts. Badly.

I try to put on a brave face during the day.  I try to smile.  Sometimes I even have a real genuine smile, fleeting as it may be.  How grateful I am for those friends that have stuck with us and understand that we're trying.  That our smiles may not be real for a really long time.  And they love us anyway.

Each day it seems we lose a "follower" (or two or three) on the TK Facebook page.  That's usually when I say again that I'm done writing.  Are people tired of our story?  Tired of our heartache?  We represent every parent's worst fear - losing a child.  I get that.  Guess what?  I don't want to live this story, either.  

What I wouldn't give to just have you back.  To be struggling through the last 2 weeks of school, balancing homework and baseball games.  To be sitting on the metal bleachers at the Hyrum Baseball Fields in the heat or in the rain, watching you play the game you loved best, hearing you cheer for your team, and for the players on the other team that you knew.  There's a reason you were voted MVP for your team last season, my boy.  To be planning our summer of cooking and playing and camping and being together.  To be normal.  Instead, McKayslin and I are faced with long empty days in the house that holds so many memories.  Shidlers gave McKayslin their swing set yesterday.  She is so excited to have it!  She's been begging for years to have one of her own.  And she's made a new friend in the neighborhood, for which I am incredibly grateful.  I really need to clean and organize our house.  Living in 3 separate places over 7 1/2 months and then coming back to work so soon after you left, well, our house looks like an audition episode for Hoarders.  Wow, nothing like airing our dirty laundry in a public forum, lol.  But, then I think about how much you were hurting that last day of your mortal life.  And I wouldn't want you to have to live that pain for any longer than you had to.  Sometimes I just want to stomp my feet and yell, "Dangit, this isn't fair!  Kenton did EVERYTHING they said!  Every.little.thing from changes in what he ate, to taking a bazillion huge pills a day, to clinic visits, and transfusions, and IV meds running all night long, to not eating anything at all for over 2 weeks...he followed every rule, he didn't complain, he didn't whine, and yet he didn't get to stay!  WHY?!  Especially when that kid doesn't follow any of the rules, and HE gets to stay!  WHY?!"  Nice temper tantrum, huh?  It's kind of embarrassing to admit that I feel that way.

The Tee it up with Team Kenton golf scramble was a great success!  With all of the incredible support our family has received, we are medical debt free!  We couldn't have done this, and continued to take care of our other financial obligations, without so many people working so tirelessly and giving so freely of their time, talents, services, and love on our behalf - starting with the Hyrum 8th ward and all of the meals brought in while I was with you at PCMC, friends taking McKayslin each day so she could enjoy her summer break, Cotton Candy for Kenton, our Lincoln Family jar of love, and continuing from the very first bake sale/yard sale fundraiser, the 4th of July events at Hyrum City, the Hyrum City Youth Council, wagon rides and concessions sold at baseball games, to the Karnival for Kenton, to Kenton's Cup and Spirit Sleeves, and different soccer team donations, to the concert/silent auction/raffle, The Canyon Elementary Angel Tree, The Lincoln Box of Love, hats and t-shirts, so many gifts of financial love at your passing, those who "wish to remain anonymous" that paid for your funeral expenses, and continuing with the quilt raffle and Zumba-thon, hand-crafted scarves, and finally the golf scramble, along with all of the anonymous donations made to our account, bills paid, and money and gifts sent or delivered to our home.  We had many people ask, "What can we do to help?"  And then we had those that just DID.  One huge lesson I've learned through all of this is the importance of always following a prompting to serve, to help, to love.  Don't ask.  Just do.  It's been really hard for us to be on the receiving end of so much help.  So much service.  We've been humbled time and time again at the sacrifices made for our family.  

One night we came home to find pizza gift cards and a box of chocolates on our doorstep.  That was the night that we all came back to work/school after your funeral.  The thought of going home and cooking was wearing on my heart...and we arrived home to that.  Jodi really listened to a prompting that day!  I've had treats show up in my classroom at just the time I needed to know someone cared (Kris, Rachel, Heather).  And so many other little random acts, cards sent with money or gift cards simply signed "thinking of you with love!", money slipped into our hands by friends and sometimes by strangers, tokens of love for McKayslin, a random text sent at just the right time, a hug, and so many other little (and big!) acts of service that I could never write about them all, that let us know that we're cared for and loved.  And in the end, it's not about the money, it's about the love that we feel when someone takes the time to let us know they're thinking of us in whatever way they are able.

Today's the Mountain Man Rendezvous.  Your favorite field trip. McKayslin is excited to go.  Hopefully they won't get rained out! It looks like a beautiful day!

The thunderstorm yesterday ended with a beautiful double rainbow - both of rainbows being full rainbows.  I don't ever recall seeing that before.  And then the clouds as the storm passed were incredible!

I was looking for a picture and came across all of the pictures from Christmas.  And New Year's Eve.  And from your last hospital stay.  So many memories.  I'm so grateful for the memories.  We really did pack a lifetime of memories into 12 years.  No big trips.  Just good solid living and loving.  Lots of traditions.  And lots of love.

Every Tuesday I swear I'm done writing here on the blog, opening my soul to anyone who chances upon your blog.  And every Tuesday I get told in no uncertain terms that my job is to continue to share the healing process that we're going through.  It's interesting that your story has touched so many people.  Some we know and so many that we don't.  I do feel that soon my writing will take a turn and become more about my memories and the lessons learned from being your mom, and less about my heartache and sorrow.  But that, I don't know for sure.  I seems like when I sit down to write, I have an idea of what I want to share and my fingers type out something totally different.

Your headstone should be finished and placed today.  That's the goal.  Browns and Bells have worked so hard to get it just right and to have it ready for "Kenton Day."  It's beautiful.  McKayslin took your wishes, added her wishes, and together the two of you created something that is so incredibly perfect.  Well, as perfect as a headstone could be, considering what it represents...

Love you, my boy!  

And miss you always!

Always, forever, no matter how far...


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

[May 14, 2013] {16 weeks}

May 14, 2013

Dear Kenton,

Good morning, son.  I'm sitting here at the kitchen table and can see the sun beginning to rise.  There are big puffy (cumulus?) clouds in the sky.  The sky is a pale blue with streaks of pink.  The clouds themselves appear to be a very light pink/purple.  The birds are singing (loudly!) in the trees outside.  It's a morning you would love!  I remember so many mornings you would take so long bringing Sparky in that I'd wonder what the heck was going on.  I'd look out the window and see you watching the sun rise, or listening to the birds.  Thanks for the reminder this morning to slow down and enjoy this incredible world in which we live.

It's been a tough week here, but you already know that.  I keep thinking that this sadness, this aching, this heartbreak should ease a little bit.  Instead, it keeps going and sometimes is even greater.  The only thing I can imagine is that with the upcoming anniversary of your diagnosis, I'm reliving everything all over again.  You've heard my prayers, you've held my hand as I've poured out my heart to our Father in Heaven.  I pray for peace.  I pray for comfort.  I pray for strength, and for courage.  I've prayed to have this pain just go away.  I've been given peace.  I've been given comfort.  I've been given strength and courage.  And I've been told that the pain won't go away, although it becomes more manageable through The Atonement, because of the depth of love we have.  My heart just hurts.

Last week I received the most awesome text from Heather Mom.  Oh how I love that you are watching out for your friends!!  They miss you so much!  Another of your friends' moms stopped by with a card.  She said that her child felt like you were the one real friend they had.  That your friendship was genuine and you really cared.  I love that about you!

Last week, Tippets stopped by with a gift from the Semadeni family - the most incredible piece of artwork that will hang prominently in our home alongside our family photos.  Their sweet daughter also sent a beautiful gift.

Saturday was the first annual Tee it up with Team Kenton charity golf scramble.  For a first time event, there was incredible support! It was an awesome day!  Mike and Marti have done so much!

Sister Howell stopped by last night with a letter for us.  She wrote her memories of you.  I can't read it yet because I'm just not strong enough.  I know it will be a priceless treasure. You have touched the lives of so many.

I've been thinking back over the past year...the support we've received has been nothing short of amazing.  I think of the fundraisers, the anonymous donations, the gifts, the meals, the gift cards, the acts of service, and I am overwhelmed.  I'll never be able to thank everyone, recognize everyone, or repay their kindness.  I don't know why so many people have chosen to reach out to our family, but I will forever be grateful, knowing that we wouldn't have been able to spend the time together that we did without their help and generosity.

People keep telling us how strong we are, and that we are an inspiration. I don't get that.  We're surviving.  Living.  Grieving.  Trying to smile.  When someone asks how I am, I just say fine.  I don't know what else to say.  Still standing perhaps.  Or right now at this minute I'm okay?  

I am grateful that so far, at least to my face, no one has said it's "time for me to move on" or "time to get over this."  Our lives changed completely the day you left.  We're still trying to figure out our family dynamics now.  And I'm so incredibly thankful for the friends that still speak your name and share their memories of you.

I wish I had the courage to write everything that is in my heart this morning, but I'm choosing instead, to listen to the prompting I'm receiving that now isn't the time to share that.  I know you know my thoughts, my feelings, my struggles, my self doubts, my inadequacies as a mother - how I expect too much, get frustrated too easily, and don't praise enough... I'm sorry I wasn't more patient, more loving, more supportive.  That doesn't do so much now that you're gone.  Thank you for loving me anyway.

Love you, my boy.
Love always,

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

{May 7, 2013} [15 weeks]

May 7, 2013

Good morning, son.  I love you!

The past week has been an interesting one for sure.  You've been working on softening this hard old broken heart of mine.  There are a couple of instances where the words coming out of my mouth or the my actions were not me - they were all you.  Thank you for that.  I guess I thought it would be easier to just not care about people the way that I used to.  That somehow that would make it easier to have you gone?  I don't know.  What I do know is that after one such action, your Dad looked at me and said, "Your son is proud of you for that..."  I don't want to disappoint you, or any of the people who love me, so I've promised myself to attempt to keep my heart open.  Definitely easier said than done.

Friday night I went to pick McKayslin up from Heather Mom's house after school.  Heather was doing McKayslin's hair for the ballet, so we were all just talking.  I didn't realize EliGus was on the floor in the living room until I heard him just start jabbering.  I looked over and he was looking right at me.  Heather and I have said many times that we know you're close to EliGus.  Hailey is one of your dearest friends, and I know you worry about her, so it makes sense that you would be close to EliGus, thus allowing you to be close to Hailey.  

Just a little background knowledge...over the past month or so, EliGus has regarded me with such seriousness.  He would smile at Dad.  He would smile at McKayslin.  He would smile at everyone.  Except me.  When he looked at me, it was with big serious eyes as if he were trying to tell me something.  Over the past month as my heart became increasingly less open and less loving, EliGus continued to just stare into my eyes.  No smiles.  No jabbering.  Just that soul searching stare.  He's 6 months old.  And would hold that stare until I broke it.  

Friday night as I realized he was talking to me, I walked over and knelt down next to him.  He looked right at me, smiled, and continued to talk.

Pretty sure you've been asking EliGus to tell me that I need to be kinder, more loving, more forgiving with others and myself.  And once I figured that out, was when he started smiling and talking to me again.  Sorry I'm such a slow learner.

This past weekend we went to Idaho for Acadia's baby blessing.  I thought it was going to be a very difficult thing to be there - the first big family function on my side of the family without you.  And a baby blessing no less.  You have always loved babies!  Here you are back in 2009 holding Acadia's big sister.  You tried really hard to convince Uncle Chaddy and Aunt Jess to let you bring her home with us!

This morning I was thinking back to when you found out you had to have a bone marrow transplant and that meant that the opportunity of having your own biological children would be slim to none.  You were more devastated by that news than the news of the actual bone marrow transplant.  And then, I watched you as you closed your eyes and said a prayer.  Your tears ceased and there was a brightness about your countenance.  When you opened your eyes, with a smile you said, "That just means I can adopt!  And babies that wouldn't have a Daddy to love them can have ME!"  Such a big heart and so wise for your age.

When you found out that the cancer was terminal, you cried in such anguish for the loss of so many things - two of your biggest heartbreaks were that you wouldn't get to go on a mission, get married, and adopt those babies!  What comfort was received when in your patriarchal blessing you were told that your earthly mission WAS complete and that your Heavenly Father had a greater mission for you.  You were promised that you would have a wife and children.  One of your favorite "big" friends told his mom that he was pretty sure Heavenly Father already had someone special picked out for you.

So back to this weekend.  I thought for sure it would be a really difficult weekend.  Surprisingly, it wasn't.  As we walked into the church, Aunt Jess handed Acadia to McKayslin and we all went to sit down.  That sweet baby looked right into my eyes and started jabbering.  And then she smiled.  Pretty sure you were talking to her just then.  We could feel you so close.  Later, both Uncle Chaddy and Aunt Jess said they were sure you had been getting Acadia to smile.  She's the one that saw you last.  So many things I wish she could tell us!

The opening hymn was #123. Perfectly fitting and much needed.  Not one I was familiar with, but it has now become a favorite!
Oh, may my soul commune with thee
And find thy holy peace;
From worldly care and pain of fear,
Please bring me sweet release.

Oh, bless me when I worship thee
To keep my heart in tune,
That I may hear thy still, small voice,
And, Lord, with thee commune.

Enfold me in thy quiet hour
And gently guide my mind
To seek thy will, to know thy ways,
And thy sweet Spirit find.


As Uncle Chaddy took Acadia to the front, surrounded by so many of the same priesthood holders who had stood with Daddy as he blessed you, there was a very distinct spirit in the chapel.  As I closed my eyes and Uncle Chaddy began the blessing, I suddenly felt you so strongly that I could hardly breathe.  I felt as if you had your arms wrapped around me in the biggest, tightest hug you'd ever given me.  My heart smiled.  How grateful I am for that few moments.  I miss those hugs.

Mama Locco made us dinner last night.  Lasagna.  Your favorite!  And Kristy sent dessert home after McKayslin's violin lesson.  Chocolate cupcakes with strawberries and whipped cream.  Another favorite!  We have great friends.  So many times we are blessed with exactly what we need because our friends pray and look for opportunities to serve.  In Mosiah 18:8-9 we read..."and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light; ...and comfort those that stand in need of comfort..."  We're trying to be those kinds of friends.  The kind of friend you always have been to others.

I miss you.  Thank you for being my boy.  I'm so blessed to be the mom of such incredibly strong and faithful kiddos.

Keep working hard.  Keep smiling.  We'll do the same.

Love you much!