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'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 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 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...