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, 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.  

Saturday, August 10, 2013

[5 minute Friday] Lonely

Lonely is a sad word.
Lonely is that empty arm, the lopsided family missing its boy.
My heart.  It's lonely too.
Attending the temple last night without Luke.
That was lonely.
It's not the same without my other half.
Just like McKayslin is not the same without her other half.
We miss our boy.
Yet in loneliness I find solace.
Time to reflect.
To pray.
To search.
And I find answers.


Five Minute Friday

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

[August 7, 2013]

August 7, 2013
28 weeks

Hey, pal!  

Sorry I'm a day late.  
I just couldn't sit down and write anything out yesterday.  

Too much emotion.  
Too much pain.  
Too much anger.  
Too much guilt.  

Everything was just too much.

I think I've hit the guilt and anger phase of grief, because let me tell you, I am mad about every.single.thing.  And every memory that crosses my mind is laced with guilt.  There was always more that could have been done, should have been done.  I should have said/done this or that instead of what I did.  I hate feeling this way.  I hate that my tears are tears of anger and guilt instead of tears of sadness.  

Don't get me wrong, those tears are there too.  Plenty of them.  

Monday night was so hard.  I'm not exactly sure how I made it this far, past your first birthday in heaven and the 6 month mark of you being gone, up to now and am just now completely falling apart?!

Is it that school starts in just over 2 weeks?  Is it that Grammy's surgery and consequent care bring back so many emotions and memories?  Is is that I just need to sleep more?  Eat better?  Take care of myself a little bit?  Probably all of that.  And then some.

I know that you're close because I feel you here, arms around me, telling me that I am good enough.  
That I did enough.  
That I am enough.  

Yet, Satan has a pretty strong hold on me this week and I am doubting every.single.thing that I know.  When I get to my lowest point each night, lying in bed, crying myself to sleep, I am blessed with the tender mercies of feeling you near and hearing the words spoken during a priesthood blessing when I was told that I understood better than most the importance of spending time with my children and that because of that understanding, my children knew how much I loved them.  

I hear that, and yet I still question.  I feel so weak...

15 years ago today, Daddy and I were married, sealed for time and all eternity.  How grateful I am for that.  To know that you and McKayslin are part of our forever family.  

I love you son!  
Don't give up on me.  
I'll be okay.  

What was that you made us agree to?  
5 to be mad, 5 to be sad, then suck it up and get on with life?!  

Well, my 5 to be mad, 5 to be sad may be days instead of minutes this month, but I won't back out on my agreement with you.  

I love you forever.  
Thanks for loving me right back.

Big mom hugs and big mom kisses coming your way...

Love you LOVE YOU!



Friday, August 2, 2013

[5 Minute Friday] Story

What is my story?  I am a daughter, a friend, a wife, a mother, a teacher, a writer, a crafter, a pianist,  a faithful LDS woman striving to live, learn, love, serve, and grow.

Each of my stories is as important as the other.  Each deserves time to be in the spotlight. There are high points and low points in each story.  Some stories have incredible high points and others have devastating low points.

Each story mixes and mingles with the other to create the story of me.

My stories change a little each day as I learn, grow, plan, practice, and love.

The story I love best is the story of me as a mom - it is my story of love, of faith, of understanding, of compassion, of service, and of learning that I’m stronger than I ever thought possible.  But that story begins right at the beginning, and carries through the lowest low I've ever lived.  How is it possible that my most loved story and my most heartbreaking story coexist in the same chapter?  How is it that these lessons and this strength came at such an enormous cost? 

One day I’ll understand my whole story – that grand plan orchestrated by a loving Heavenly Father.  But, for now, I’ll live my story the best way I know.  I’ll learn and love and serve and believe.  Because this story, my story, is one worth sharing, and one worth living well.

Five Minute Friday