Tuesday, February 18, 2014

[love languages_remembering]

February 18, 2014

Dear Kenton,                                                                 

This morning I woke up with tears already streaming down my cheeks and a memory in my heart.

Your last Halloween was spent in-patient at PCMC.  You didn't get to go out and about trick-or-treating even on ICS because your counts were still too low.  But the nurses and techs made sure to visit your room and bring lots of treats.  I'd taken your Musketeer costume down the weekend prior, and you and Dad had made a hat and a sword during craft time on Halloween.  It was a hard day for you, my Kenton.  You felt so crummy and were so disappointed to be stuck in room 4404 for yet another day.  

There were no tears, however.  You just put on your smile and enjoyed the day the very best that you could.

As the evening approached and the festivities were coming to an end, you asked Dad to get a couple of bio-hazard bags out of the supply drawer.  (Those are the only zipper-type bags available on ICS, lol).  

You dumped the candy out of his Halloween bucket and sorted it into 4 piles.  You kept your favorites (Fast Break mostly) and piled each of our favorites into the other three piles... Snickers and Peanut Butter Cups for me (although you did keep some PB cups for yourself as well - definitely my kid!!), Kit Kats and taffy for McKayslin, and Hershey Bars for Luke.  After dividing the candy very carefully, you put each portion into a bio-hazard bag and stashed it away in a drawer.

When McKayslin and I arrived that weekend, you gave us our bags of treats.  I wish I'd taken a picture of that bio-hazard bag filled with love.  

When you were a little boy I read the book "The Love Languages of Children."  It talked about finding your child's love language and using that love language as a base for everything that you did from teaching to discipline to giving gifts.  I tried for 12 years to figure out your love language.  Each time I thought I had you "figured out" I'd see a different love language become dominant in your personality...

Gifts - You LOVED to give gifts - flowers, candy, small trinkets.  In fact, your scout leader had a prize box that the boys could earn beads to trade for prizes.  There was something in that box that  you really REALLY wanted, yet when the time came to choose your prize, you picked it up, studied it carefully, then set it back in the box to choose a prize that McKayslin would like instead.  Clint gave  you the prize anyway.  On the flip side of that, you LOVED to receive gifts.  You treasured everything given, no matter how small.

Physical Affection - You would spend Sacrament Meeting with your arm linked through mine, your head resting on my shoulder.  Even at 12, you would hold my hand when we would go places.  Your very last day here on earth, you asked me to hold you in your bed.  I did for a very long time.  The memories wrapped up with this love language are some of my favorites - snuggled in your hospital bed watching movies, reading scriptures, reading books, playing games.

Acts of Service - this is a BIG one for you!  Every Sunday you would patiently wait at the door of the stake center to hurry out and help Sister Hepworth with her door and her cart.  Then, you would walk her to the chapel, help her get settled with a hymn book and a program, and then come to our bench.  After church we'd find you walking her to her car to help her get ready to go home.  You'd get so sad if we were late to church and someone else had helped her.  When we had chore lists at home, so many times we'd all find our chores for the day marked off with a "love you!" written by them.   Your smile was brightest when you found a way to do something kind for someone else...and when someone found a way to do something kind for you.

Words of Affirmation - You were so good at so many things.  I sometimes forgot that things were also a struggle for you.  Over the past few months I've had several impressions that lead me to believe that being Kenton was a whole lot harder than you ever let on.  People expected so much out of you.  I expected so much out of you.  Yet, with every struggle, with every challenge, a simple word of encouragement and a reminder of your awesomeness would give you the will to work through anything.  You were really really good about using this love language as you interacted with us and with your friends.  I don't think you ever threw away a single note that was written to you.  I found a stack of "lunch notes" in your sock drawer - ones that I had tucked into your lunch over a series of school years.

Quality Time - throughout this journey - and even before - your favorite place was home.  You would rather spend the weekend at home watching movies and playing games with us than go out with your friends.  You adored your friends, and would go out with them.  You just loved us best.  When given a terminal diagnosis, all you asked was to be able to come home.  Home with your family.  Home to your memories.  We spent a lot of time together as a family - we still do, which makes your absence hurt so much more.  We've been told more than once that our family spent more time together and made more memories in 12 1/2 years than most families do in a lifetime.  That gift of quality time is one I will forever treasure.

I'm not entirely certain why this is what needed to be shared today.  Perhaps someone is struggling finding a way to "connect" with their littles?  Perhaps I needed the reminder that we built a lifetime of memories? Perhaps I needed to look more closely at my relationship with McKayslin and Dad and figure out how to do better?  Or perhaps I just needed to feel you close.  Today is a very sad, very hard day for me.

I miss you, son.  

Love you forever.

Monday, February 17, 2014


I thought that once we reached the one year mark of Kenton being gone that things would be easier.  Softer.  More tolerable.

I was wrong.

Everything is sharper.  
More riddled with emotion.

There are days where I want to just huddle in my bed, covers pulled tight, shutting out the whole world.  Yet with a full time job, a part time job, a family, and a church calling, that doesn't become an option. Ever.  And it's probably a good thing.

We've become pretty recluse, our little earthly family of 3.  We don't go out with friends.  We don't really go out at all other than to work and school.  McKayslin does go to friend's houses on occasion, and once in a while we get really big and brave and she invites a friend over here.  Those friends are ones that played here when Kenton was alive.  Because they seem to understand and accept us as we are - in our sad times, our broken times, through our tears.  And they talk about Kenton.  I love to hear the "remember whens" sprinkled throughout their conversations.  Kenton is always remembered with love and laughter.  Because that's who he was.

That larger than life kid that loved everyone.  That made sure everyone had a friend.  And even when faced with terminal cancer, some of his last words were, "Take care of Goose!  Take care of each other!"

What most people don't understand, what we didn't understand, is that LIFE is dang hard.  

Watching everyone else move on, their kids growing strong and healthy and whole - that hurts.  

I try not to be jealous.  

Or angry.  

Sometimes I'm successful.

I appreciate those friends that don't expect too much out of us.  
They serve.  
They love.  
They ask us to do things, but if we say no, or if we back out at the last minute, there is no judgement.  
They don't understand what we're going through.  
They don't try to understand.  
They just love us through it.  

And when we bail, yet again, they bring brownies and don't expect to stay and visit, or send a card, a text, a Facebook message, a pizza, or leave a bag of treats on our door, because, gratefully, they love us even in the midst of our crazy messed up reality.  

I'm starting to wonder if we'll ever be okay again.  And I'm okay if we're not.  Because sometimes, getting stuck in our memories brings more smiles than tears, and being together where we can just be is sometimes about all we can handle.

We miss Kenton with every breath.  With every heartbeat.  In every sunrise and every cloudy day.  Things are so different without him here.  Everything is such an acute reminder that he's gone.  

So when you ask where we are, or how we are, please know that your concern does not go unnoticed... it just might be too painful to answer just then.  But until we can answer, please keep praying for us, keep loving us, and understand that we're doing the best we can.