Tuesday, July 30, 2013

[July 30, 2013]

July 30, 2013
27 weeks

Dear Kenton,

Hey, handsome!  Love you!  Miss you!

Today is an interesting day.  It's quite warm outside, but cloudy, and the wind is blowing.  Strange weather.  Sometimes I wonder what it's like for you weather wise.  Do you get to watch the weather?  Do you get to paint the sky?  Do you get to make the clouds into pictures?  Every once in a while we see a cloud that looks like something you would make as a little "I'm okay" for McKayslin.  One afternoon we saw a cloud that looked exactly like a boy with a cowboy hat.  And then later that evening, we saw a cloud that was shaped as a heart.  The heart cloud was the only cloud in the sky.

Those make us smile.  And miss you.

McKayslin is participating in a week long art camp this week.  She is having so much fun!  She loves to draw just like you.  She's working really hard on her horse drawings.  It's pretty cool watching her develop that talent.

What else is going on around here?  Not a whole lot.  We seem to have hit that summer slump.  You know - the one where we don't want to do anything.  Doesn't help that I've been sick and Grammy just had surgery.  Dad is the only one with any motivation, and he's stayed busy working in the yard and working on the firepit.

This morning I went out to pick raspberries.  Again.  

I noticed something interesting.  
There are always more berries on the east side of the bushes than on the west.  
And the best berries are the ones that are tucked safely away behind branches.  

That started me thinking - when we're in direct sun - life is just cruising along with no bumps, we don't grow very well.  

When we're in complete shade - not doing the things we're supposed to be doing, we don't grow very well.  

We need both sunshine and shade to grow.  We need trials.  We need challenges.  We need a test of our faith every now and then.  Yet we need to always be facing the morning sun.  We need to read our scriptures, and say our prayers, and pay our tithing, and serve others, and just do what we're told (hmmm...that seems to be a theme with me this week!).  When we are doing those things, facing the sun, yet encounter the branches and thistles and shade, we become stronger.  

I need to quit picking raspberries.  
These deep raspberry picking thoughts hurt my brain.  ;)

Recently I've reconnected with several of your nurses from PCMC on Facebook.  

Each of them have sent me a private message, independent of the others, that say the same thing.  They all talk about what a brave, happy, strong, courageous, friendly boy you are.  How you make those you are with feel like they are the most important person in the world when they're with you.  You've always been that way.  I love that about you.  Well, that and about a million and a half other things.  I haven't met anyone yet that can say your name without a smile.  You brought smiles and love to everyone you came in contact with.  

You taught us much.  
You showed us how to face our challenges with a smile. 

How to grow through those challenges without losing sight of our faith.

You taught us how to love.
How to value those around us.
How to serve.
How to be strong.

Love you, my boy!  

Thanks for being YOU!

Love you, LOVE YOU!


Monday, July 29, 2013

[peace and picking raspberries]

Our power went out during church yesterday.  3:47 pm I believe is what they said was the exact time.  Right during Charity's incredible lesson on Peace.  Sometimes the lessons at church are just exactly what I need to hear.  This was one of those.

The lesson was based on the talk Personal Peace: The Reward of Righteousness by Elder Quentin L. Cook.  

President Heber J. Grant described the Savior's peace this way:
"His peace will ease our suffering, bind up our broken hearts, blot out our hates, engender in our breasts a love of fellow men that will suffuse our souls with calm and happiness."

From Elder Cook:
Peace comes from knowing that the Savior knows who we are and knows that we have faith in Him, love Him, and keep His commandments, even and especially amid life's devastating trials and tragedies.

The Savior's Atonement will overcome and compensate for all of the unfairness of mortal life and bring us peace.  Humbling ourselves before God, praying always, repenting of sins...and becoming true disciples of Jesus Christ are profound examples of the righteousness that is rewarded by abiding peace.

Even with the trials of life, because of the Savior's Atonement and His grace, righteous living will be rewarded with personal peace.  In John 16:33, Jesus says, "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace.  In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."

President Harold B. Lee taught: 
There is a refining process that comes through suffering, I think, that we can't experience any other way than by suffering...we draw closer to Him who gave His life that man might be.  We feel a kinship that we have never felt before...He suffered more than we can ever imagine.  But to the extent that we have suffered, somehow it seems to have the effect of drawing us closer to the divine, helps to purify our souls, and helps to purge out the things that are not pleasing in the sight of the Lord.

This was a great reminder to me of the power of The Atonement.  Once again, I needed to hear, to believe, to remember, that The Atonement is NOT just to help cleanse us of sin.  The Atonement allows us to lay our sorrows, our sadness, our hurt, our guilt, our anger, our weariness - all of that stuff - at our Savior's feet.  We are promised that if we do, even and amid life's devastating trials and tragedies, we will have peace.  

We returned home from church, woke Grammy up from her nap (knee surgery on Thursday is pretty exhausting and painful!), and fixed some lunch.  Still no power.  We read a little, visited a little, did a whole lot of nothing for a while.  Then Luke went to do Friends of Scouting collections and I went out to pick raspberries.  I'd neglected them too long, and with those crazy gusts of wind (strong enough to knock down a pole and take out Hyrum City's power for SEVEN hours), I found many of my berries had been blown right off the bushes.

I picked what was left.  Still a huge bowl full.  As I was picking the raspberries, I was thinking.  Not much else to do while picking raspberries.  Every time I finish picking the berries, my arms are scratched and my fingers are full of tiny little raspberry prickles.  One would imagine that after doing this for so many years, I would realize the importance of gloves and long sleeves...

And then I realized.  Isn't that what the lesson in RS was all about today?  The long sleeves and gloves are the righteous living that promise peace (no prickles and scratches)?!  

Simple things that allow us to hurt less.

Why is this such a difficult lesson to learn?  Why do I need reminder after reminder after reminder to just do what I've been taught?!

Sigh.  Sometimes I think the simpler things are, the harder I make them.

Today I'm putting on my long sleeves and gloves (saying my prayers, reading my scriptures, humbling myself, seeking opportunities to serve).  Today I'm trusting in my Savior.  Today I am accepting the gift of peace.  Today begins another challenge to remember the promise and gift of The Atonement.    

"His peace will ease our suffering, bind up our broken hearts, blot out our hates, engender in our breasts a love of fellow men that will suffuse our souls with calm and happiness." - President Heber J. Grant

Hymn No. 89: The Lord is My Light

The Lord is my light; then why should I fear?
By day and by night his presence is near.
He is my salvation from sorrow and sin;
This blessed assurance the Spirit doth bring.

The Lord is my light; tho clouds may arise,
Faith, stronger than sight, looks up thru the skies
Where Jesus forever in glory doth reign.
Then how can I ever in darkness remain?

The Lord is my light; the Lord is my strength.
I know in his might I'll conquer at length.
My weakness in mercy he covers with pow'r,
And walking by faith, I am lead ev'ry hour.

The Lord is my light, my all and in all.
There is in his sight no darkness at all.
He is my Redeemer, my Savior and King.
With Saints and with angels his praises I'll sing.

The Lord is my light;
He is my joy
and my song.
By day
and by night
He leads,
He leads me along.

"Peace comes from knowing that the Savior knows who we are and knows that we have faith in Him, love Him, and keep His commandments, even and especially amid life's devastating trials and tragedies."  - Quentin L. Cook

Sunday, July 28, 2013

[cleaning the fridge]

I'm sure the last time the fridge was cleaned out completely was...well, to be honest, I'm not exactly sure when that was.  

It's one of those tasks that gets consistently moved to the bottom of the to do list.  Because it really doesn't seem all that important.

Yet, truthfully, it's one of those things that takes a whole lot less time than we think, and is possibly a lot more important than we realize.

Upon cleaning our fridge, I found various plastic containers of leftovers.  Some recognizable, barely past the point of being edible.  Others so far beyond that the container was tossed along with the contents.  I didn't go so far as to remove everything and scrub the shelves, nor did I go through the mish mash of bottles, jars, and packages in the door, but I did clear the fridge of anything that could have passed for a science experiment.  Our fridge is (mostly) clean, and I know what's in there.  

This morning, my brain is a rumbling demolition derby of thoughts, tasks on my to do list, worries, and memories.  As I look forward to attending Sacrament Meeting today, it's almost as if the demolition derby was called to a stop because of a fire in a car.  In my mind's eye, I watch with interest as the worries, the hurt, the anger, the unnecessary tasks, go up in flames and I am safely removed to the sidelines, a comforting arm around my shoulders, and peace in my heart with silence surrounding me and strength to continue to accept the challenges I'm facing.

And I realize that life is an awful lot like cleaning the fridge.  
I pack around so much extra stuff.  
Worry.  Anger.  Hurt.  Busyness.  

Yet, today is a new day.  
An opportunity to clean my personal fridge of the stuff that needs to go.  
Just like every day.

Except today is just a little bit more.  Because it's Sunday.

On Sundays I prepare myself to partake of the sacrament, to cleanse my heart of that stuff that's been festering there too long, to seek and receive forgiveness, and to covenant again to be an example of our Savior.  My heart heals just a little bit more.  I feel a little bit stronger. 

This is my prayer today...

Lead me into life eternal
By the gospel's holy call.
Let thy promise rest upon me

Father, all my heart I give thee;
All my service shall be thine.
Guide me as I search in weakness;
Let thy loving light be mine.

Hear me as I pray in meekness;
Let my strength be as thy day.
Give me faith, the greater knowledge;
Father, bless me as I pray.
            - Text: John A. Widtsoe
            - Music: Alexander Schreiner

Friday, July 26, 2013

[broken] [five minute friday]

This should be an easy prompt.  
I have written so many times about my brokenness.

My mind is blank.

Perhaps that is my brokenness today.
I am empty.
And sad.

A broken heart begins to heal.  
Each fissure packed tightly with memories.

Broken comes in many forms.
Sometimes broken can't be fixed.
Upon repair, the fault lines are weak, noticeable.

That's the broken my heart feels.
Yet, I continue to pack each crack full of memories.
One day, my fault lines won't be quite as weak, or quite as noticeable.

Until then, just love me in my brokenness.
Help me heal.

Thursday, July 25, 2013


World English Dictionary
tradition  (trəˈdɪʃən) 
— n

2.the body of customs, thought, practices, etc, belonging to a particular country, people, family,
or institution over a relatively long period
3.a specific custom or practice of long standing

We promised.

Over the days from that last discussion with the medical team until the day Kenton left this earth, he reminded us at least daily that our traditions were something that held our memories, something that would bring us peace, and were a necessary part of life.  Even with him gone, those traditions must be honored, cherished, and carried out.  There would need to be changes, yes, but they could not be neglected, forgotten, or ignored, for he knew that in those traditions we would remember, we would find joy, and we would feel him near.

July just happens to be the month filled with more traditions than any other for our family.  Part of that comes from small town living where celebrations are commonplace.

The 4th of July is celebrated in a big way here in our little hometown, and for 10 of the 11 years that we've lived here (and the 2 years prior to that when we lived in town), we have participated - the rodeo, the parade, the festivities on city square, a drive to Lewiston, ice cream at Casper's, and pizza in the field (or a cookout at Favorite's) while waiting for fireworks.  Last year, Luke and McKayslin were home for some fun on city square and fireworks.  Kenton and I were at PCMC - we had ice cream in his room and watched fireworks from his window in room 4417. 

This year was year 10 of 11.  Things were a little different.  We rode in the parade promoting Kenton's Cup.  We skipped city square.  We went to Lewiston.  And had ice cream.  We ordered pizza.  We had a picnic at the cemetery.  We played games there.  We would have watched fireworks there also, but the sprinklers came on.  I can only imagine the giggles escaping from Kenton as he watched us scurry with all of our stuff to the car!  Our fireworks watching happened at Favorite's house.

The 24th of July, Pioneer Day, is a big deal here in Utah.  There are more fireworks, more tradition.  Every year for 15 years now, we have bought an ice cream treat, and watched the fireworks from a parking lot.  This is the very last tradition that we were able to complete normally as a family.  No modifications.  Just straight up tradition. 

12 years we had Kenton with us.

This year, we knew this was going to be a challenging day.  We knew we needed to take this tradition and keep it as complete and as unchanged as we could.  It was going to be different without our boy.  McKayslin asked, "Can we bring Kenton to the fireworks with us?  I mean, can we bring a picture of Kenton to fireworks with us so we can see him?"  What a wonderful idea that turned out to be!  We printed a 5x7 photo of our Kenton, framed it, and took it with us to the parking lot.  We picked up our ice cream treat, and sat in our chairs, eating ice cream, sharing memories, and enjoying fireworks along with our boy.  I have a feeling this is going to be something we do often. 

Traditions are necessary, important, and critical to our healing.  Kenton is closer when we honor that promise we made to carry through with our traditions.  We miss him.  We miss his smile, his hugs, his giggle, his encouragement, his strength.  Oh, how we love that boy!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

[life's variation on the two part invention]

For those of you who don't know, I am a pianist.  

Or used to be.  

Now I'm more of a person who plays the piano well enough to be considered talented.

When I was in high school, my piano teacher had me purchase the book of Bach's Two-Part Inventions.  I had the technical skills to play those inventions.  I had the dedicated practice time.  I had the desire.  But I could not play them.  I tried.  I practiced.  I practiced again.  I practiced hands alone until my fingers knew the notes, the melody, the rhythm, everything to be successful.  And then I'd attempt hands together. I couldn't get my fingers to put the lines of music together to make something pleasing in sound.  And it frustrated me.

I could pick up Chopin or Beethoven or Haydn or other Bach compositions and practice them into something wonderful.  But those dang Two-Part Inventions just never did become something I enjoyed.

Over the past few days, I've been drawn back to the idea of the Two-Part Inventions.  So much that I actually dug through my piano books and found my old book.  I sat down this morning, opened it, and attempted to play.  I sat at the piano with tears of frustration streaming down my cheeks.  Still can't do it.

It's a mind block.  I'm sure of that.

What is a Two-Part Invention?  Here's the best definition I could find:These are short pieces in which two different melodies are played simultaneously. Usually, the right hand plays the higher voice, and the left hand plays the lower one. In each Bach invention, there is a motive (a short musical idea) that is repeated in various forms - each time slightly different, and is developed through the whole piece.

What are Bach Inventions in three different voices (Sinfonias)?

These are similar to the two voice Bach Inventions, but with an additional voice, so the music becomes richer with the harmony, the counterpoint and the whole sound. We said before that in the two part Bach Inventions the right hand takes the upper voice and the left one takes the lower voice. How do we play the third voice?
The third voice moves between the hands. Sometimes it is played by the right hand, and sometimes by the left. (Complicated? well, it is not easy at all but it can be done).

I think back to when Luke and I were first married - each of us coming in with our own separate melodies, and working to combine them into something that made sense.

We'd just about figured that out, and were playing our new melody, when Kenton came along, adding his own melody.  We shifted, changed keys, adjusted, and incorporated this new sweet melody into ours until we once again had a near seamless melody.  With the addition of McKayslin, there was another shift, another key change, as her melody added on to ours.  We spent the next few years transposing, practicing, and developing a beautiful melody that was our family song.

It was a beautiful song built on tradition, love, challenges, acceptance, understanding, and faith.

And then, suddenly, without warning, our life changed keys and we were thrown into a minor key full of dissonance, pain, fear, and uncertainty.  As that new melody clashed with our beautiful family melody, we found ways to incorporate this new development and come out with a melody that was stronger and richer than before.

Our family song became beautiful again.  

January came, and once again we were introduced to a new melody.  This one deep, dark, dissonant.  One that threw our beautiful family melody against the rocks, shattering it into tiny little fragments, flitting about trying to find hold in this new melody.  

As each day passes, our melody finds place, one note, one measure, one phrase at a time.  The melody is introduced, refined, practiced, taking in those beautiful fragments of our original composition and melding them with the deep dark dissonance of our new reality.  This melody is taking much longer to come together.  It requires much more practice, much more attention to individual notes and phrases, much more attention to timing.  But eventually, we'll be able to take these two melodies and combine them into a new melody, that while haunting and dissonant, will be a beautiful reminder of our strength, our faith, our love.

Starting today I am determined to master at least one of those two-part inventions.  If for no other reason but to prove that I can.  Because if we can find beauty in this new melody, we can do just about anything.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

[July 23, 2013]

July 23, 2013
26 weeks

Good morning my handsome boy!

Today is Uncle Darrell's birthday.  I bet you guys have something pretty fun planned!  Just behave yourselves!  ;)

6 months have passed since we last held your hand, kissed your cheeks, heard your voice, and felt your hugs.  In some ways it feels like the time has gone by so quickly and yet in others it feels as if time crawls by at an unbearably slow pace.  We miss you so much!  Sometimes I just go in your room and stand there, looking at your books, your toys, your clothes, and I wonder how in the world we keep going day after day.  

A few weeks ago the "5 minute Friday" prompt was in between. I wrote this in response to that.  I haven't shared it except with my fellow moms of cancer fighting cuties.  Yet, for some reason, I feel that it needs to be shared today.

In between. That place where your arms ache to hold all of your babies. Where your friends don't know what to say or how to help, so sometimes, they choose to say nothing. Those days in between feeling like you might almost have recovered a tiny piece of your heart only to discover that, nope, it's still gone. And that hurt is the most physical and emotional pain imaginable. Those moments in between the breakdown and the breathing where your chest is tight and your mind is numb and there is no color. In between needing help on every level and needing to be helpful. But no one understands. Or asks you to help. Thinking that in your in between you don't have enough inside yourself. But not giving you that choice. That in between that is a parent's worst nightmare. And it's the hardest thing you've ever done. And all you want is to feel normal again. Whole. Unbroken. Trusted. Needed. And loved.

We are living that worst nightmare.  Our nightmare began as a bad dream 13 months ago.

Over the past 13 months we've had acquaintances become friends.  And friends become acquaintances.  We understand both.  And harbor no ill feelings.  Sometimes being close to something that scares you to the core is just not possible.  To maintain your own sanity, you have to distance yourself.

We're still in that in between.  I think we will be for a long time.  One doesn't just get over something like this.  Things don't get better.  They get different.  Bishop often reminds us that we're living on a higher plane of understanding and asks us to continue to be patient with those that are striving to understand and love us anyway. 

Mrs. Rice sent us the nicest card in remembrance of you, knowing how hard yesterday was going to be with that 6 month mark.  She shared her favorite memory of you - when you found that joke in 5th grade about one of the world wars and hurried to share it with her because you knew she'd love it also, and the two of you stood in the hall just laughing.  It makes my heart smile when our friends share memories of you.  

The flowers that Cia sent us for your birthday are still bright and beautiful sitting in the middle of the kitchen table.  Yellow and white daisies.  Your other favorite flowers and in your favorite colors.

Mama Locco brought cookies when she brought Goosey home last night.  Frosted sugar cookies with "TK" colored sprinkles.

All things that are seemingly so small but bring such comfort.

Sunday I was called and set apart as a team teacher in the Gospel Essentials class.  Bishop apologized that this wasn't a "limelight" type calling.  What he probably doesn't realize is that it IS an answer to my daily pleading to be needed, to be able to serve.  As he set me apart, there were several points in the blessing that specifically mentioned you.  My most favorite phrase was, "And Kenton will be there with that trademark smile, that one that brought us through so much, spurring you on..."

I think I'm most excited about this calling because it is exactly what you would want me to be doing and I know you'll be helping me.  Is this the "big thing" you were talking about a few weeks ago?  I think, perhaps, it is.  

Walk with me, son.  
Teach me what you've already learned.  
Help me be brave.

I wanted to share with you a few things that were posted on Facebook yesterday, the 6 month mark of your passing 

From my cousin Theresa: I was reminded again this week of the hastening of the work and the need for valiant servants. I was reminded of how the work is going on both sides of the veil. I was impressed by the smile of pure joy on both the repentant investigator and the missionary who was the conduit for the spirit. Kenton 's name is synonymous with valiant. May your heart be lifted as the day goes on and you are reminded of the joys of being the mother of one so very prized.

Our sweet friend Betty wrote: They lowered the missionary age to 18 for everyone else, but Kenton's is even lower. He's doing his great work there just like he did here. 

And from cousin Shana: Kenton is a stripling warrior, for sure. Valiant and never doubting because his mother taught him so well about faith in every footstep. I love you deb, grateful for all you are and how your live. My prayers continue for your family, that you'll have the comfort and peace you need to face this mortal journey with courage and a smile as you feel Heavenly Fathers arms as well as Kenton's, around you daily.

This is the work I get to share with you in my new calling.  

We've been blessed in so many ways.  People reached out to us because of your great example and friendship.  We really are trying to be the kind of example and friend that came so naturally and easily to you.  Thank you for giving us that goal, and for teaching McKayslin to be that same way.  

We love you son.
Miss you.

Love you LOVE YOU!


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

[July 16, 2013]

July 16, 2013
25 weeks

Dear Kenton,

I'm sitting here tonight wondering what's going to come tumbling out onto this page.  I started the day in tears and have been sad and quiet and hurting all day. It's not easy being the one left behind. Happiness is a choice. This week it's just proving to be a more difficult choice than usual.

Your birthday party was such an awesome event! There were so many people there! The food was delicious, the entertainment was delightful, and we have over 50 blankets to donate to PCMC in your honor. We couldn't have pulled off an event of this magnitude without the help of some pretty amazing people! We're so blessed to be surrounded by loving friends who serve so willingly!

Bob presented us with your Eagle award. The Spirit of the Eagle. It was an incredible moment. He and Mike did some really cool things for our family. YOU'RE AN EAGLE SCOUT! :)

We stopped at the cemetery on our way home from the party. McKayslin picked you or a Schleich Colt that needed to be delivered to you. Your resting spot is so beautiful. And at night it's all lit up with solar lights. Cia had dropped off the most awesome solar bumblebee. It's way cool. We left your Colt and cried a bit. The whole day had been about you. Oh how we miss our boy!

Today a couple of friends called and asked me if I could help them. That happens so infrequently these days, but was exactly what I needed. I hate feeling useless. It was a busy day, but busy in such a way that made me grateful. Does that make sense? Probably not. Whatever, right?

Dad, McKayslin, and I have finally gotten back on track reading scriptures every night. You feel so much closer when we do. Emotions are definitely close to the surface with all of us as we approach the 6 month mark of you being gone.

I've been thinking a lot about all of the help we've been given over the past 13 months. There are those who have helped on a very large scale and those who stand behind the scenes quietly offering service as they're prompted to do so, answering prayers they have no idea were even offered. Faced with an event such as we were, both kinds of service were welcome and necessary. A blessing to our family.

As the need for large scale service dissipated, those quiet behind the scenes friends continue to serve. That's how I want to be. That's what I long to be able to do. To answer those quiet pleas. That's how you served. Always ready, so close to the spirit, knowing what to do, how to do it, and you were never afraid. You blessed so many with your selfless acts of kindness and love. You set the bar pretty high my boy!

My goal for this week is to continue to pray for opportunities to serve. To be open to promptings. To be a willing helper. You'll help me with that. Right?

Love you, my boy! Thanks for 12 1/2 years of love, memories, and awesomeness! Looking forward to an eternity of the same!

Miss you always!
Love you LOVE YOU!


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

[July 9, 2013]

July 9, 2013
24 weeks

Dear Kenton,

Good morning, my handsome boy!  
Miss you!
LOVE you!

Getting to the point of writing to you this week has been quite the process.  Mentally more than anything.  I didn't write last week.  I 'talk' to you frequently.  I write elsewhere.  What I didn't realize is that my writing here affected so many different people.  

At the end of Tuesday last week, into Wednesday, and throughout the weekend, I had texts, e-mail, phone calls, and Facebook messages asking if I was okay and heard over and over how my letter to you had been missed.  I am actually writing this on Wednesday morning.  You know why.  The reasons aren't applicable to anyone else.  

It's interesting that when I write, I don't know what I'm going to write until the words come tumbling out onto the page.  It takes me a long time to write each letter.  Some things are just too personal to share, yet some of those things are exactly what need to be shared, so the words get moved, and changed, and deleted, and rewritten.  

Does what I share make any difference?  After the messages received last week, that answer is yes.  

So, I'm back.  
For now.

July has been tough so far.  Not going to lie.  July is our family's favorite month.  We have so many traditions.  It's your birth month.  This month will also be the six month mark of you being gone.  

As each tradition approaches, we have to figure out how to keep our promise to you of keeping that tradition, but mix into that tradition the fact that you're gone and it just isn't the same, and we end up with something that is different. Challenging.  Emotional.  Really hard.  

When we come out on the other side of that tradition, there is relief.  Happiness, yes, mixed in with that relief and tinged with a certain amount of sadness.

Our family has always been about happiness, love, memories, tradition.  Your return to Heavenly Father doesn't change that. You want us to be happy. You want us to live. You want us to make memories and honor traditions and remember you with smiles and laughter.  We do that.  Or try to.  

Nancy Guthrie said, "Your love for the person you lost is not defined by your ongoing misery."  

Happiness is a choice. 

That was the choice we made back in June of 2012 (and even before that, it just became a more pronounced choice when you were diagnosed).  Millie's mom has been using that as a hashtag on her photos as their little family moves forward without Millie.  I asked her permission to use it also.  It makes sense.  And in surviving, navigating this crazy grief process, it's necessary.

Don't get me wrong, the tears still come. Often. Sometimes without warning.  I think it will be that way for a very long time.  It has to be that way.  We love you so deeply and miss you so much that there is an incredibly deep hole in our lives without you.  

Friday is your birthday.  We will be honoring you and celebrating you.  And missing you.  The other day I found myself planning your birthday breakfast (puffy pancakes with strawberry jam) and wondering where you would choose to go for lunch.  I'm making those puffy pancakes on Friday morning because they're your favorite.  McKayslin picked you out some shiny birthday balloons.  They're up at the cemetery.  

I'm trying not to be really angry about the fact that we have to celebrate without you this year.  And every year from here on out.  Sometimes I'm successful. Right now is not one of those times.  I want to be buying you new Schleich animals. And a shotgun.  And making your favorite foods.  And singing happy birthday to YOU.  And taking your birthday trip. 

Happiness IS a choice.  That doesn't mean that choosing to be happy is easy.  And I refuse to pretend that I'm happy all the time.  Because I'm not.  You know that.  

When people ask how I am, I say fine.
Fine is relative according to the day and the emotions that are manifest that day.  But also, fine, because honestly, people don't really want to know.  Some do, I know who they are.  That question is a question of habit.

I am sometimes genuinely happy.  
I refuse to feel guilty about that.  
You'd be angry with me if I did.  

What I'm learning is that emotions sometimes come quickly, catch me by surprise.  

Often I am surprised with a happy memory, one where I can almost hear your laugh.  
I love those.  

Other times I am surprised with a tender memory, one where I can almost feel your hug.  
I love those.  

And then there are the times when I am slammed with sadness and grief and hurt so deep that it's honestly a physical ache.  Gratefully those times don't come as often and don't last as long as the memories.  I strongly believe that is a tender mercy from Heavenly Father.

How do we do this every day?  
My question to answer that is how do we not?  
What choice do we have?  
Isolating ourselves in our grief and pain doesn't help anyone - specifically not us.  
Are we as strong as everyone seems to believe?  Probably not.  
Are we strong?  Yes.  
But we're not without weakness, or flaw, or pain.  
We need to be needed.
We are human.  
We are grieving.  
But we're also choosing to live, to love, to remember, to honor, and to choose happiness.

Happy almost birthday, my handsome warrior.

Love you.
Miss you.
Wish you were here.

Love you, LOVE YOU!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

[Beautiful] OR [Five Minute Friday on a Sunday]

Beautiful is the warmth in a memory.  
The peace in forever.
The joy in love.

The smile in the photograph.  
The small scraps of paper tucked in safe places with pictures and love notes from my loves - my boy, my girl, my forever love.  

Beautiful is acceptance, peace, and the ability to choose happiness.  
The tiny cracks in my heart that allow the grief to escape and joy to enter.  

Beauty in friends that attempt to understand.
That encourage the telling of memories.
Friends that, not knowing what to say or do, simply hug me tight.
Service given and received.
Being needed.
Prayers for strength, peace, healing, joy.

Beautiful is a strong and faithful.
Eternal family.  
Blessings of the temple.  
Of obedience.  
Of prayer and faith and courage.  

Beautiful is the warm hug from my girl.
The silent, strengthening presence of my boy.
The unwavering love from my forever love.

There is beauty in tradition.  In memories.  And in taking old traditions and blending them with this new heartbreaking reality to create new traditions that bring us close together.  Closer, still, to our goal of eternal family.  

Beautiful is the warmth in a memory, the peace in forever, the joy of love.

*Linking up to Five Minute Friday