Feed your FAITH and your fears will starve .

Thursday, December 12, 2013

I Believe

Thanksgiving was actually really pretty good for me this year.  It was always one of Trent's favorite holidays because he LOVED all the food!  The last few Thanksgivings have been crazy but this one was not and I was so grateful for that.  I missed him and wished he was with me but I also felt peace with the day.  We spent the day at my parents' house and the weather was unseasonably warm. After dinner Brad and I took a long walk and just spent some time talking.  I knew I needed to decorate Trent's grave and I had made the decorations and had everything ready, I just wasn't sure if I wanted Brad to be there.  When I told Brad I was going to go to the cemetery I surprised myself by asking him to come with me.  When we got there the styrofoam that was supposed to fit in the vases was way too big.  Brad and I shaved the styrofoam down to size with a plastic spoon and knife.  As we were sitting in the cold grass shaving styrofoam I was overwhelmed by how blessed I am.  It was totally surreal to be at my husband's grave, with my husband. But I was overcome by how much I am loved.  I have two amazing husbands who love me and are doing everything they can to help me be happy.  As I finished putting the final touches on the decorations the tears started.  Brad wrapped me in his arms and cried with me.  It was a very tender moment and I was so glad that I had asked Brad to go with me.  

A couple of days later I took Zach and went shooting with Marilee and Bret.  I gathered all of our pumpkins from the front porch and had a blast blowing them up.  I was feeling like Zach needed a little bit of time with me and it was a fun way to do it.  

 Zach has struggled a bit lately and I have tried to find time to spend just with him as much as I can.  It doesn't happen often but after FHE on Monday we had a few moments together.  We slipped away to Macey's and grabbed some oohhh-so-bad-for-you snacks! Pringles and Eggnog!  What could be better than that?
Then last weekend we went to Idaho for Brad's nephew's mission homecoming.  On the way up I took my kids and went to visit my grandpa and grandma.  It is easy to do since we have to drive two cars everywhere we go! ;) They were headed to bed when we got there...at 7 pm!  So we busted up their evening and spent a couple of hours talking and laughing with them.  My grandpa had a stroke about three years ago and has never been the same since.  I remember going with Trent to visit him in the hospital.  When we left I cried to Trent telling him that I didn't think I would ever see my grandpa alive outside that hospital again.  I never expected that Trent would pass away before he did.

While we were visiting, Jonny was his usual noisy self.  Grandpa quietly listened to our conversation until Jonny spoke.  Every time he heard his voice he would yell at him to leave me alone and be nice to me.  He kept threatening Jonny that he was going to "take him out back".  It was hilarious!  We laughed pretty hard about that.
Jonny (the terror), Me, and Grandpa Rounds

Me and Granny Rounds--she looks like she is scared of me!

Zach, Mallory, and Jarom

Zach, Granny, and Megan
Last week I was driving in the car with Jonny and we had a very interesting conversation.  It went something like this:
Jonny: Mom, is God strong?
Me: Yes, actually He is all powerful.
Jonny: So, He can lift a cow?
Me: Yep, He can even move mountains.
Jonny: Will I ever see that?
Me: I expect that you will.
It was a funny little conversation and of course the answers I gave him had another meaning but it got me thinking about what I believe about God.  Over the course of the past few years I have had to trust God more than ever before.  While Trent was battling cancer I put all of my trust in God, hoping and expecting a miracle.  Since Trent passed away I have had to dig deeper than ever before and trust God even more.  I have to trust that all that has been promised me will one day come to pass. I have to believe that Trent dying was in the plan and that at one time I knew about this plan and agreed to it.  I have to believe that the trials that I face are making me stronger and molding me into the person that Heavenly Father needs me to be. I have to believe that one day I will be reunited with Trent and all will be made right.

At this time of year my thoughts are also turned to our Savior and his miraculous birth.  I am so grateful for a Father in Heaven who loves us enough to send His Son to earth to be our Savior.  I believe He was born of a virgin, lived a perfect life, and atoned for my sins, pain, and sorrow.  I believe he was crucified and rose from the grave, providing the way for all of us to have eternal life.  I believe in a plan and a purpose for us beyond our comprehension that will one day give us ultimate happiness.  I believe in being happy here, now and making my life full and rich and satisfying.  I believe that is what Trent wants for me.  Yes, I believe.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Monday Always Follows Sunday

Last Sunday Brad, Megan, and myself all had to speak in Sacrament meeting.  We all knew about it for about three weeks beforehand.  I kept telling myself I was going to write my talk early and have lots of time to tweak it.  It was on my mind a little bit but it didn't get written until Saturday morning.  Because I was putting of writing my own talk, I was getting nervous about Megan having hers done too.  I kept asking if it was written and her reply was always, "Sure Mom, I have three scriptures.  I will be fine." What???!!!  I pressed her to write an actual talk but in the end she was right, and she did fabulous.  She stood up to the pulpit with nothing but her scriptures and taught us.  She spoke about when she was reading a scripture in 3 Nephi about Christ's visit to the Nephites after his resurrection.  She spoke about when Nephi saw Christ he knew who he was and knew him.  She stressed the importance of each of us having our own personal relationship with Christ so that we can know Him as well.

I have to admit, I was one proud mother at that point.  Megan is a great kid and I love her dearly. In that moment she impressed me so much.  She does not express a lot of emotion about Trent's passing and I don't always know what is in her head but I now know a little more about what is in her heart.

Brad spoke about Gratitude and all of the blessings his family received after Linda's passing.  He talked about the gratitude he felt for those people who cried with him over the death of his spouse and the fear that he had for Charlie's future.  He then talked about the miracles they had experienced in regards to Charlie's healing.  He expressed his gratitude for the growth that he had gone through as well.  He was quite emotional as were many in the congregation.

My topic was 'Thanks Be To God'.  Since mine is the only talk I have in digital form I will include it. 

In the Guide to the Scriptures under Thanks Be to God, it reads:
Gratitude for blessings received from God. Expressing gratitude is pleasing to God, and true worship includes thanking him. We should give thanks to the Lord for all things.
When we were asked to speak and given our topics the first thing that came to my mind was the story of the 10 Lepers which is found in Luke 17:12-19.
12 And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off:
 13 And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.
 14 And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.
 15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God,
 16 And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.
 17 And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?
 18 There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.
 19 And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.

When I read that passage the phrase that really stuck out to me was in verse 15. (read again) We should thank God with a loud voice.  This doesn’t mean that we are supposed to loudly proclaim our thanks, but we should let our actions speak loudly of what we believe and our gratitude to our Father in Heaven.  This is done through service and living the gospel every day.

When we first moved back to Brigham City after Trent was diagnosed, we decided to get a dog for the kids to distract them from their new reality.  Shortly after getting the dog, I lost him.  I don't know how, but he got out and ran away.  I packed up the kids in the bike trailer and went looking for him.  I recognized this as a teaching moment and pulled over to the side of the road and asked Mallory what she thought we should do. We decided to say a pray for help in finding Scout.  As soon as our prayer was finished we turned the corner and there in the middle of the road stood our dog.  I was so excited and told Mallory that our prayer had been answered!  We got Scout on a leash and started for home.  Mallory then reminded me that we should thank Heavenly Father for His help.  Here I was, being so proud of myself for teaching about prayer yet I was the one being taught about gratitude and thanking our Heavenly Father for all of our blessings, big and small.

Recently I have heard the question posed, “What if you woke up today with only what you thanked God for yesterday?”  I can assure you my list should be a lot longer than it is.  There are many things on that list; family, warm homes, health, talents, being able to provide for our families, a living prophet, the fullness of the gospel, temple ordinances.  The list could go on and on.  But the things that resonate most with me are the Atonement and the Plan of Salvation or the Plan of Happiness.

Neal A Maxwell spoke of the Plan of Happiness in an article in the Ensign in 1982.  He said, “Of course, this grand plan and design for our happiness is not something which exists merely to strike awe in us or to evoke gasps of gladness. It does not exist apart from us either, but completely involves us—painfully at times and happily at other times—but relentlessly always.

Our response to the realities of the plan should not be resignation or shoulder-shrugging fatalism—but reverential acceptance!"  Acceptance is a step in our growth that eventually will bring us to thankfulness.

"Therefore, our faith in and thanksgiving for Heavenly Father, so far as this mortal experience is concerned, consists—not simply of a faith and gladness that he exists—but also includes faith and thanksgiving for his tutoring of us to aid our acquisition of needed attributes and experiences while we are in mortality. We trust not only the Designer but also his design of life itself—including our portion thereof!” (Neal A Maxwell)

Our family is one that knows well what a gift the Plan of Happiness is.  As Elder Maxwell said, it is not always the ‘happiness’ part that we experience, in fact we are meant to experience some pain, but eventually, eternally, we will enjoy the fullness of the Plan of Happiness.

Russell M Nelson said, “God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, but we are not. Each day, ours is the challenge to access the power of the Atonement so that we can truly change, become more Christlike, and qualify for the gift of exaltation and live eternally with God, Jesus Christ, and our families.33 For these powers, privileges, and gospel gifts, thanks be to God!”

The following is a favorite story of mine that teaches about the Atonement:
In that place between wakefulness and dreams, I found myself in a room. There were no distinguishing features in this room save the one wall covered with small index card files. They were like the ones in libraries that list titles by author or subject in alphabetical order. But these files, which stretched from floor to ceiling and seemingly endlessly in either direction, had very different headings. As I drew near the wall of files, the first to catch my attention was one that read "Girls I Have Liked". I opened it and began flipping through the cards. I quickly shut it, shocked to realize that I recognized the names written on each one.

And then without being told, I knew exactly where I was. This lifeless room with its small files was a crude catalog system for my life. Here were written the actions of my every moment, big and small, in a detail my memory couldn't match.

A sense of wonder and curiosity, coupled with horror, stirred within me as I began randomly opening files and exploring their content. Some brought joy and sweet memories; others a sense of shame and regret so intense that I would look over my shoulder to see if anyone was watching.

A file named "Friends" was next to one marked "Friends I Have Betrayed".

The titles ranged from the mundane to the outright weird. "Books I Have Read", "Lies I Have Told", "Comfort I Have Given", "Jokes I Have Laughed At". Some were almost hilarious in their exactness: "Things I've Yelled at My Brothers." Others I couldn't laugh at: "Things I Have Done in My Anger", "Things I Have Muttered Under My Breath at My Parents". I never ceased to be surprised by the contents. Often there were many more cards than I expected. Sometimes fewer than I hoped.

I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the life I had lived. Could it be possible that I had the time in my 20 years to write each of these thousands or even millions of cards? But each card confirmed this truth. Each was written in my own handwriting. Each signed with my signature.

When I pulled out the file marked "Songs I Have Listened To", I realized the files grew to contain their contents. The cards were packed tightly, and yet after two or three yards, I hadn't found the end of the file. I shut it, shamed, not so much by the quality of music, but more by the vast amount of time I knew that file represented.

When I came to a file marked "Lustful Thoughts", I felt a chill run through my body. I pulled the file out only an inch, not willing to test its size, and drew out a card. I shuddered at its detailed content. I felt sick to think that such a moment had been recorded.

An almost animal rage broke on me. One thought dominated my mind: "No one must ever see these cards! No one must ever see this room! I have to destroy them!" In an insane frenzy I yanked the file out. Its size didn't matter now. I had to empty it and burn the cards. But as I took it at one end and began pounding it on the floor, I could not dislodge a single card. I became desperate and pulled out a card, only to find it as strong as steel when I tried to tear it.

Defeated and utterly helpless, I returned the file to its slot. Leaning my forehead against the wall, I let out a long, self-pitying sigh. And then I saw it. The title --- "People I Have Shared the Gospel With". The handle was brighter than those around it, newer, almost unused. I pulled on its handle and a small box not more than three inches long fell into my hands. I could count the cards it contained on one hand.

And then the tears came. I began to weep. Sobs so deep that the hurt started in my stomach and shook through me. I fell on my knees and cried. I cried out of shame, from the overwhelming shame of it all. The rows of file shelves swirled in my tear-filled eyes. No one must ever, ever know of this room. I must lock it up and hide the key.

But then as I pushed away the tears, I saw Him. No, please not Him. Not here. Oh, anyone but Jesus. I watched helplessly as He began to open the files and read the cards. I couldn't bear to watch His response. And in the moments I could bring myself to look at His face, I saw a sorrow deeper than my own. He seemed to intuitively go to the worst boxes. Why did He have to read every one?

Finally He turned and looked at me from across the room. He looked at me with pity in His eyes. But this was a pity that didn't anger me. I dropped my head, covered my face with my hands and began to cry again. He walked over and put His arm around me. He could have said so many things. But He didn't say a word. He just cried with me.

Then He got up and walked back to the wall of files. Starting at one end of the room, He took out a file and, one by one, began to sign His name over mine on each card.

"No!" I shouted rushing to Him. All I could find to say was "No, no," as I pulled the card from Him. His name shouldn't be on these cards. But there it was, written in red so rich, so dark, so alive. The name of Jesus covered mine.

It was written with His blood.

He gently took the card back. He smiled a sad smile and began to sign the cards. I don't think I'll ever understand how He did it so quickly, but the next instant it seemed I heard Him close the last file and walk back to my side. He placed His hand on my shoulder and said, "It is finished."

I stood up, and He led me out of the room. There was no lock on its door. There were still cards to be written.
In the past few years I have learned a great deal about the Atonement and all that it encompasses.  How grateful I am for a Savior who has descended below it all to experience all that we might experience to be able to succor us in our times of need.  My testimony has grown exponentially of a loving Father who knows us each individually and loves us infinitely.
While we were fighting for Trent’s life our needs were overwhelming as were our blessings.  We saw miracle after miracle and received many answers to prayers.  Although we did not receive the miracle of healing that we so desired, we were blessed with the miracle of faith.  Even until Trent’s very last breath, we all believed that he could be healed if it was the will of the Lord.  One of the hardest and most calming things I have ever done was to offer our last family prayer to our Heavenly Father and express to Him our complete and total submission to His will.  When the end came my very first thought was that of gratitude that Trent was no longer in pain.  And so for that, thanks be to God for the blessing of death, to release us from our pains.
Recently at a fireside I spoke with Chris Williams, who was the speaker, about our similar trials.  During our conversation he said, “I look at it as an opportunity for a blessing I didn't want.”  That was a little bit difficult for me to swallow but I am working on it. 
·         Receive this blessing from the hand of the Lord, with a thankful heart:D&C 62:7;  That is a constant pursuit for me. I think that being grateful requires us to always look for the good in every situation and trust that God has a perfect plan for each of us. 

I am grateful for so many blessings in my life.  I have been lucky enough to have the gospel as a central part of my entire life.  I have always lived in a home with worthy priesthood holders.  I am sealed to a wonderful man who is waiting for me to join him.  I am also married to an amazing man who has blessed my life in countless ways.  Brad saved me and showed me there is till happiness for me when I thought I could never be fully happy again.  We have nine awesome kids who challenge us and heal us every day.  I have a strong testimony of the Plan of Happiness and the infinite blessing of the Atonement.  Thanks be to God for sending His Son to redeem us.  I am blessed beyond what I deserve.  I know that Heavenly Father is involved in the details in my life and He is deserving of my thanks in all things.

So, let us be filled with an attitude of thanksgiving in our journey homeward, and thanks be to God in all things.

Of course I bawled while giving the talk but it felt like cleansing tears.  The rest of the day I felt this energy that I couldn't quite explain.  My spiritual high was short lived however.  As you know, Monday always follows Sunday. *sigh*

Monday I took Megan and Zach for a routine eye exam.  I took them back to the eye doctor they had seen when we lived in Providence before.  I was surprised to learn that Megan's eyes were almost perfect!  She has been wearing glasses since she was 2 1/2 and has been through patching, bifocals, and vision therapy. One of our goals through her treatment was to get her left eye strong enough so that if anything ever happened to her right eye, she would be okay.  Well today was that day.  During the exam the doctor became concerned by what he saw and asked his assistant to get a picture of Megan's eye.  It would show the same thing he sees when he dilates her eyes but then we could all see what he sees.  He then compared that picture to some he had taken seven and eight years prior.  The new photo revealed a mass right around her optic nerve.  He said it was not particularly dangerous looking but was concerned that it was something new and had not shown up in previous pictures.  Well, I have been in this situation many times before and I began asking all the question I knew to ask.  Unfortunately he was not giving any straight answers, partially I think, because he did not have any.  I also think he was trying not to scare me because he knew Trent and knows our history.  He immediately began flipping through his medical journals but did not come up with anything.  He texted the pictures to a Neuro Opthamalogist in Ogden and asked for his opinion.  This doctor was not able to give any solid answers either but offered to see Megan and do more extensive testing.  Ugh.

As we left he office my stomach was in knots.  I didn't say much to Megan because I didn't want her to be concerned but I think she can read me like a book.    I have to admit, my mind went immediately to cancer. How could I tell her she had cancer? What if she had to do chemo? How sick would she be? What about her gorgeous hair? What if she died? If it isn't cancer, what if she lost her eyesight?  I called Brad and tried to keep it together while I told him about the visit.  I failed.  The tears came and panic set in but just for a little bit.  My stoic face came back and I determined that I could do this too.  It felt so much like the person I had to be for the three years of Trent's treatment.  Always the strong one, putting on the brave face so that everyone else would be okay.  

After that first day I didn't express any anxieties of mine to Brad.  His way of supporting me was to not bring it up at all...talk about the elephant in the room!  It kind of made me feel as though it was 'out of sight, out of mind' for him but I know that wasn't the case.  Friday finally came and Megan and I drove to Ogden for the appointment.  I was not particularly nervous and I don't think Megan was either.  The appointment went well but we still have no definite answers.  This doctor thinks it may be Myelinated NFL but it is not common for it to show up at this age.  He is going to do some more research but he said "it looks very benign."  Great. I will take benign.  So now we wait for more answers with a little less weight on our shoulders.

Megan and I went out to lunch and did some Christmas shopping after that.  We chose a restaurant that Trent loved, Goodwood.  We talked a lot about Trent and the things we miss and remember.  We had a great time.  She is really a fun person and we laughed a lot.  I have missed that Megan.  Lately she has struggled a bit with our new reality but she puts on a brave face most of the time.  It was so nice to see the real Megan come out and let loose just a little. We were able to talk very openly about a lot of things and it was a very bonding time, for me at least.  I hope she feels the same way.  

Thursday, November 14, 2013

In My Dreams

The last little while I have been plagued with bad dreams.  I usually wake up sobbing and it can be very hard to get those dreams out of my head.  A few days ago I dreamed that Trent was trying to divorce me. He was sitting at a table signing tons of papers and pushing them towards me to sign.  Of course I was having nothing of it.  I woke up bawling and Brad was there to hold me and help me calm down.  The following night I dreamt that Trent was still alive and we were headed to Boston for treatment. ( We did that in November and December of 2011.)  As we were boarding the plane "they" ( I don't know who "they" were), would not let me go with Trent.  I was forced to let Trent go alone.  I was frantic, knowing that no one else could take care of him like I could and he was soooo sick.  I spent the rest of my dream trying to get to Boston to be with Trent.  When I woke up bawling this time, Brad asked me to explain the dream to him.  While I was telling him I said, "Trent got to go and I had to stay."  As I said those words they kind of slapped me in the face.

The night after that I dreamed that Brad and I were grocery shopping.  We were talking and laughing and having fun together.  Then suddenly Trent was there wanting to shop with me.  I began shopping with him and looked up to see Jonathan at about 8 years old ready to shop with Trent too.  I woke up again, not crying, but just confused, trying to figure out what it all means, if anything.

The other night I was talking to Zach and I told him about my dream about Trent wanting to divorce me.  He immediately took on the adult role.  He told me I should put that right out of my mind because we all know that Trent would never want to divorce me and that is the furthest thing from his mind.  He then instructed me to stop thinking about those dreams because they are coming from the adversary who is trying to distract me from doing good. All the time I spent thinking about those dreams could  have been spent serving someone else.  Whoa.  I sat there with my mouth hanging open soaking in all that he was saying.  I knew that Trent was putting those words in his mouth.  It was very humbling.

Since then I have been nervous to go to sleep because my dreams can be so upsetting.  But I am working on a new perspective.  I have begun praying for protection at night and to be blessed with comforting dreams.  I am hoping that the next time I dream of Trent it will bring me peace instead of turmoil.  I guess this is just another side effect of losing someone you love.  *Sigh*

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

I Am Worth Refining

Life just does not seem to slow down, or even give me a chance to breathe sometimes.  October has been such a whirlwind! A few weeks ago Jonny came to me and told me his tooth hurt.  I looked at his face and it was completely misshapen and swollen on one side.  I immediately called my brother, Josh, to see how serious an abscess is and if he needed immediate attention.  I called the on-call pediatric dentist who told me that he would be willing to meet me at the ER to see if Jonny needed IV medication or if he could wait until morning.  I was scared!  I kept him close to me all night and he saw the dentist first thing the next morning. He was put on antibiotics and scheduled for an extraction.  Ugh.

We tried the laughing gas but of course that did not work well at all.  He ended up having to come back the next day for sedation.  This makes twice that I have had to do this without Trent!  It always makes me nervous but I know he is in good hands...Trent's and the dentist's.  
 Jonny was pretty loopy after the sedation and kept asking me why they made him sit in the dizzy room.  It was kind of funny but he was certain he could walk and he was a little hard to restrain.  He kept doing this funny little laugh and telling me he loved me.

The next week I was out to lunch with Jonny and out of the blue he said, "What did Jesus do after he went to Gethsemane? Break bread?"  Um, wow.  I explained to him that Jesus paid the price for all of our sins so that we could repent and live with him again.  He said, "Yep, that's how I am going to live with Daddy again, huh!"  He then proceeded to tell me that we were all going to live with Daddy soon.  How I love to hear that!
Then we had to conquer another first, Jarom's pinewood derby.  This was the first car Jarom got to build because last year we were in Disneyland when his troop held their derby.  He was a little bummed about having me help him because I am not nearly as cool or skilled as Trent was at doing things like this.  I called on some help from Trevor, Trent's brother, and he helped Jarom build a pretty cool car.  It is hard to go through these things that are supposed to be a father/son activity.  It makes my heart hurt for him.  At the derby it was me and all the the other dads putting in the graphite and making sure the weights were just right. Kinda weird.  Oh well.
Then last Monday as we were all getting ready for school I got a text from Zach from downstairs.  He had had a dream about Trent and was really upset.  I went to him and he was a mess.  He asked if he could go to Trent's grave.  Of course I said yes.  I kept him home from school and we went to Brigham to clean the headstone.  I knew when I chose the black granite that it would be a little more upkeep but I didn't care.  I wanted it to stand out from the others.  I didn't count on it being so hard, emotionally, to clean it.  I bawled the whole time while Zach just watched.

Afterwards I let Zach have a few moments alone while I wandered around and cried at all of my friends' headstones that happen to be nearby.  Ugh.  Zach is really being hit hard lately and it kills me to watch him.  
Lately my emotions have been all over the map.  Some days I am fine, other days I can't stop the tears.  I have many moments where I am caught off guard and can't believe this is my life.  I still get angry sometimes too.  When I am in the midst of dealing with all that life throws at me I get angry that Trent left me here to deal with it all.  I finally decided I can't be mad about my plan not working out because it was never my plan that we were working on, I just didn't know it.  If Trent had his way, our lives would be very different.  So I guess I can't be mad at him either.

Besides helping all the kids in their grief, I have all the added stresses of blending a family. That is hard! There are so many things that I did not fully anticipate that drive me to my knees.  It tears at my heart to see all the kids struggle to find their place and try to deal with their new realities. Not one of them chose this nor are they completely comfortable with it yet.  That will take years, even decades I am sure.  I am ready for life to let me rest for a while and be just a little easier.  I am learning that is pretty unrealistic. I read a quote the other day that I have not been able to get out of my mind.  It said, "You are being refined because you are worth refining."  I have to believe that.  I AM worth refining.  And so is every single person who faces trials, big or small.  We are all in the process of refinement.  That is life.  And life is hard.  There is no getting around that.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Tender Moments

A couple of weeks ago I was getting anxious about decorating Trent's grave for Fall.  The cemetery he is buried in has lots of restrictions on what you can put on the graves and I was having a hard time finding exactly what I wanted.  Finally I decided I would make two flower arrangements and went to Joann's to pick the flowers.  As I was purchasing the stems the cashier asked me in a really excited voice what I was going to do with all the pretty flowers.  Awkward.  I quietly told her I was decorating my husband's grave and then struggled the rest of the time not to cry in front of her.  I am sure she felt dumb but sometimes I just want to spit out a very direct answer to put them on the spot on purpose.  Rude, I know. 

I also picked up some Swedish Fish and Jonny and I drove to Brigham.  He was so sweet and tender when he put the box of fish on the headstone.  He kept asking me if Daddy was going to come alive and eat them. Oh how I wish...

A couple of nights ago I overheard Jack and Jonny discussing the fact that Jonny's daddy is dead.  Jonny was adamant that he was not dead.  He said, "My dad is NOT dead because he lives in me!"  Yes, the tears were flowing after that.  One night while I was putting Jonny to bed he told me in detail about the day that he ran away and crossed the big street all alone. (You can read about that HERE.) He told me that "Dad came back alive in his body and made the cars stop on the road.  After we got across the street he waved his arm and the cars started going again."  I would love to have seen that!  I really hope that Jonny is able to hang on to these memories.

Right after Trent passed away I was really on a spiritual high for quite a while.  It seems sort of backwards but when you are driven to your knees and humbled you become teachable.  I felt closer to the Spirit than I ever had before.  I knew I was a changed person and I didn't want to ever go back to who I was before. However, if you are not constantly moving toward God, you are sliding backwards.  There is no standing still in the journey.  Recently I have felt as if I was standing still and I realized once again that means I am moving backwards.  Life gets so busy and there are so many emotions of mine and 10 other people that I have to handle every day.  It is a lot of work!  I realized how much I was craving the quite moments of study that I had grown to need in my life.  When I got the opportunity to attend the Saturday morning session of  LDS General Conference, I jumped at the chance.  Megan got four tickets from our bishop and she gave them to me, Brad, Marc, and Aly.  We had a great time.  The meeting was so good! I had chills everytime the choir sang.  It was amazing.  When President Monson spoke my heart broke for him.  I loved it when he said that to say he missed his wife did not convey his feelings enough.  I completely know how he feels.  I remember last fall feeling like the entire Women's meeting was specifically for me.  I still go back and listen to those talks when I need a little boost.

The next day was Zach's 14th birthday.  I can't believe he is that old!  It is also another sting because he will be ordained a teacher on Sunday and Trent should be here to do that.  Ouch.  I think that has weighed heavy on Zach's mind too.  If nothing else, Trent better be there in spirit.  

Last weekend we took all the kids but one and went to Idaho for Savannah's farewell.  She is Trent and my oldest niece.  She was receiving her endowment in the Rexburg Temple on Saturday and giving her farewell talk in church on Sunday.  Brad was a little nervous about being there "where Trent should be".  On the drive up there I had the thought come to me that during the session Brad and I would be asked to be the witness couple.  We have been to the temple together several times but have never wanted to act as the witness couple.  It is just one of those things that is a little weird for us.  I had my response planned.  I would politely say, "Things are complicated and we would rather not, thank you."  When I met Brad in the chapel he whispered to me that he had a feeling that we were going to be asked to act as the witness couple.  I kind of laughed and told him about my impression.  I wondered out loud if we were supposed to do it.  Not thirty seconds later the temple worker tapped me on the shoulder.  As he *loudly* asked us to be the witness couple I stared at him in disbelief.  My mouth would not form the words of my planned response.  I looked at Brad hoping he would save me.  He was as stunned as I was.  I finally reluctantly agreed.  We stood and walked to the front of the room.  As soon as I sat down I started to cry.  I stared straight ahead while tears slipped down my cheeks.  Travis, Trent's brother and Savannah's father, stood up and grabbed a handful of tissues for me.  I don't think he knew what to say and I wasn't sure either.  He just sat by me while I cried.  Pretty soon he had to get up for more tissues...for Trent's mom.  It was strange, I was not sure why I was crying because it was not a bad thing to act as the witness couple...just a tender one.  While I sat there I felt the warm peace of the spirit enter my body.  I knew Trent was there and was missing me too.  It was a bittersweet moment.  

I have been carefully deciding what things of Trent's should be given to whom.  I had a picture of the Idaho Falls Temple resting against the wall in my bedroom, waiting for me to find a place to put it in our new home. One day I walked by it and go the very distinct impression that I should give it to Trent's mom.  She and Trisha came to stay with us for one night last week and I took the opportunity to give it to her then.  I told her about my impression and that I knew that Trent wanted her to have that picture.  It had been an anniversary gift from Trent a few years ago.  It was an emotional moment but I wasn't sad or hesitant at all. I also knew that I wanted all of Trent's brothers, brothers-in-law, and both of our dads to have a tie of his.  I let our boys choose two ties each and then took the others to Idaho to give to Trent's family.  Everyone was grateful for the ties but when I gave one to Travis it was different.  I didn't let him choose as I had done for the others.  There was one specific tie that I wanted  Travis to have.  When I gave it to him he was instantly choking back emotion.  He thanked me and I walked away.  When I got to the doorway I looked back and watched him wipe the tears from his eyes.  I lost it.  I ran upstairs to try to get my emotions in check in private.  As soon as I turned around Brad was there.  He took one look at me and gathered me into his arms.  I am not sad to give Trent's things away.  It is just stuff and it is only useful if someone is using it.  Trent has no need for it anymore and I know that his family is grateful to have something of his.  I was just glad that Travis seemed to really appreciate it.  It is surreal doling out my husbands belongings but it needs to be done.  

On the way home we stopped in to see my grandparents.  My grandpa is bedridden and we don't know how much time he has left.  My grandma had just returned from a weekend spent with her daughters and the emotions in the room were quite tender.  I could tell they had really missed each other.  As my grandma lovingly rubbed my grandpa's leg I could see how much she loves him.  She is facing the same thing that I am, life without the love of her life.  It is not easy but Heavenly Father is mindful of us and blesses us beyond what I can comprehend.  Life is hard and we are asked to do hard things but it is really a matter of trusting in God and taking things one day at a time.  

Thursday, October 3, 2013

To Talk or Not to Talk

Grieving is a very hard task and lately it has landed squarely on Zach's shoulders.  He has had several "off" days and some that were completely disastrous.  One day shortly after my surgery he was not doing well so I had him stay home with me.  He camped out in my bed all day and tended to my every need.  It was nice to get to chat with him and share our feelings about life and all the twists and turns we are facing.  I know that all he wants is to have Trent back but he knows that this is all happening for a reason and he trusts Heavenly Father enough to believe that.  There have been a couple of times that I couldn't get to Zach when he needed me and all I could do was pray like crazy that Trent was with him to give him peace.  Yesterday I had to take him out of school for a couple of hours so he could regroup.  We went to breakfast at McDonalds and let the little kids mess around on the playplace. On more than one occasion I have asked Zach if he would like to talk to a counselor.  He says he would prefer to talk to me.  I am so glad that Zach feels like he can do that!  I promised him that as long as he will be open with me and tell me how he is feeling I won't take him for counseling.  I am hoping that between me and Trent we can cover all angles and help him heal.  

Last week I took Megan and Zach to their first Youth City Council Meeting for Providence.  This was a big deal for us because Trent served on the Providence City Council and loved it.  It was a lot of pressure and he took a lot of abuse from residents and even some neighbors.  He served to the best of his ability and always cast his votes in accordance with the law, no matter how unpopular it might have been.  The youth meeting was held in the council chambers where Trent served.  I remember going to watch him be sworn in and was having mixed emotions watching my children do the same thing in the same room.  Because I was familiar with the city employees and those who served on the council, I was gearing myself up for someone to say something about Trent to us.  To my surprise no one said a word.  I was greeted by only one employee and the others just looked at us...not saying a word.  I was not necessarily offended by this, just surprised.  It made me wonder if Trent had already been forgotten and that hurt!  However, what happened the next day changed my mind.

I received in the mail a card with no return address and no signature.  It was from one of the patients at the Huntsman Infusion Center that the kids and I visited on the one year mark of Trent's death.  We didn't leave our names on the goodies we left but the notes on them had Trent's full name and birth/death dates.  I guess this person had to do a little digging to find me.  The note read:

To the Rasmussen Family,

Thank you for your kindness and gift that you shared with me on Wednesday at the cancer center.

Your thoughtful act touched me so deeply.  It brightened my day!  It also showed me that you truly do have the best daddy in the world because he taught you to serve others.  There is nothing wiser than to follow the example of good parents, the ones on Earth and the ones in Heaven.  

Again, thank you, thank you for the gift of love and caring that you showed to me, a stranger, in honor of your father and husband.

When I read the note I burst into tears.  I was so glad that this person had enjoyed our efforts enough to write that sweet note.  Trent is not forgotten, he lives on in each of us and I will spend the rest of my life making sure that his influence is felt by as many people as I can.

Lately there have been some very unsettling things happening in my extended family.  I won't go into detail for the sake of privacy but some situations have hit very close to home for me.  I have found it very difficult to talk about those things and have been hesitant to reach out to my family members to love and support them.  It is not that I don't feel those things, it is just too real.  After my experience at the council meeting I realized what I was doing to them.  I was "not saying a word."  That can be just as painful as saying the wrong thing.  I have heard a million and one things that were not especially helpful and I had to dismiss them because I knew that they were not malicious.  But when you are met with silence it can come across as indifference and that cuts to the core.  So, I will be better at that.  I will extend myself even when it is uncomfortable.  I will tell those around me how much I love them and wish them happiness and healing.  I will remember how it felt when I was cradled in loving arms and allowed to vent and cry and rage and sob.  I will open my arms and heart to others in need of a place to land.  I will live my life so that Trent's passing was not in vain.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Never a Dull Moment Around Here...

When I married Brad I am pretty sure I failed to mention to him that I was my parents' most expensive child. Unfortunately he has learned that the hard way the past couple of weeks.  It all started when I was washing my face with an apricot scrub.  I somehow got a little tiny piece of the apricot shell in my eye and I thought I might die right then and there.  I figured it would flush out with how much my eye was tearing.  I went to bed hoping it would be gone by morning.  At about 3 am I finally woke up Brad, bawling because my eye hurt so badly.  He flushed it with saline solution for about five minutes but it didn't help.  Brad suggested he take me to InstaCare or the ER.  As bad as it hurt, I decided it was best to wait for a while before we did that.  (???!!!) Not sure why I thought that was a good idea but after two excruciating days I finally went to the eye doctor and he retrieved a microscopic piece of apricot shell from my eye.  Ouch!!!

The following week was my birthday.  I was not quite sure what to expect for that day.  I knew it had potential to be a complete disaster.  It is a new experience for everyone, facing days that have been really hard in the past, but with a new life, new family, and new hope.  There were moments of sadness that day and I thought about Trent a lot.  I remembered how much fun he had spoiling me for my birthday.  It was definitely bitter sweet.  Brad and all the kids did a great job of making the day fun for me.  In the morning I was met with lots of birthday wishes from all the kids.  Jarom kept insisting that I was turning 38, which I did not like one bit.  I told him I needed a year to get used to that number and he needed to let me be 37 for awhile first.  Brad spoiled me with lots of new clothes, shoes, and jewelry.  It ended up being a really good day. :)

The next morning Brad and I left for the Widow/Widower Conference.  In the Fall they hold a "mini" conference with classes only on Saturday but we decided to make a weekend of it and leave a little early. When Brad was booking our hotel he asked if there was going to be any place that I did not want to stay.  I told him The Little America was completely off limits because that is where I spent part of my honeymoon with Trent and we had stayed there on numerous occasions since then.  He assured me he wouldn't book there and proceeded to use hotwire to find a room.  As luck would have it, The Little America is where our reservation was made!  Ugh!  We both stared at each other in shock, not sure what to say.  My mind was reeling, not sure what to do.  We tried to cancel the reservation and Brad even called to explain the situation. Guess who had to pay for two rooms...at different hotels...?  Yep, I am expensive.

Anyway, we headed down to SLC to do some shopping and spend the day together.  I wore a new outfit that Brad had given me for my birthday which included a new pair of shoes.  As we were walking around the Gateway I noticed that only one of my feet was hurting.  I was silently cursing the new shoes but hoping that I could break them in enough so that they would be more comfortable because I really loved them!  We stopped at a little shoe shop and I found a pair of boots that I wanted to try on.  Brad bent down to undo the zipper and help me put on the boot.  He started laughing and asked me what the significance of the cardboard was that was peeking out of my shoe!  I laughed so hard! I was actually relieved that the cardboard was the problem because as soon as he took it out I loved the shoes even more.  We both laughed so hard we were crying and jokingly said we hoped there wasn't any in the other shoe.  Guess what we found at the next shoe store.  Yep, more cardboard.  I am such a nerd!  

We had a really fun night and ended up strolling through Temple Square.  It is kind of weird staring up at the temple with Brad knowing I am not sealed to him.  I thought it might be uncomfortable but it wasn't at all.  As we sat near the reflection pool I had the most intense feeling of gratitude come over me.  I have an eternal marriage to an amazing man that I can't wait to see again and spend eternity with.  I also have a marriage for time to a wonderful man who blesses my life daily.  I am overwhelmed by how much I am cared for and watched over.  I truly have so much to be thankful for.  

The conference the next day was so good.  We firsts heard from Brock Richardson, son of the late Lance Richardson who is the author of the book, "The Message".  He gave an inspiring talk and reminded us that our children were given this trial because they have been marked for greatness by a loving Heavenly Father who knows what they can become.  Of course we also heard from Kent Allen, whom I LOVE!  Thankfully I had coerced a handful of my widow/widower friends into coming to the conference so they could hear him too.  I think they all enjoyed Bro. Allen as much as I did.  The only thing I did not like was hearing from Brother Allen that it would take 22 years for two blended families to feel like one family.  Wow.  Didn't love that.

At lunch we were joined by a man I did not know. We had one extra seat at our table and he took that seat. He was kind of shy but nice enough.  I made small talk with him for a bit and introduced him to everyone at the table.  During the conversation I ended up telling him about my recent marriage to Brad.  When everyone else left for class he asked if he could ask me a personal question.  He asked me how I knew it was okay with Trent that I married Brad.  He told me that his wife had asked him not to remarry but he was feeling the need for companionship.  As he spoke he was a little emotional and I knew exactly what he was feeling.  We had a nice talk and I spoke very candidly to him about my experience.  As I told him about Trent and Brad I felt the assurance once again that the decision I made was correct and that Trent is not only okay with it, but happy that I have Brad.  

That evening as we went to bed my stomach began hurting really badly.  At about 3 am I woke up with a horrible crushing feeling in my chest.  I couldn't breathe and I was scared.  I woke up Brad and he tried to calm me down for about 40 minutes until I could breathe again.  By six in the morning I was in the tub trying to get the pain to go away from my stomach.  We had planned to go to the "Music and the Spoken Word" broadcast at Temple Square so I got up and got all ready to go but was in horrible pain still.  I laid on the bed for a minute trying to get comfortable.  Brad kept suggesting that he take me to the ER.  Of course I said no. We decided to head back to Brigham City to get the kids from my parents.  When we got there all I could do was lay on the couch and try not to moan.  Brad finally insisted that we go to the ER.  We compromised and headed to InstaCare instead.  We left most of the kids with my mom and drove home to drop off Jarom. I kept thinking I would get better if I could just find a comfortable position to lay in.  On the way to InstaCare Brad got pulled over by a cop.  When he saw the situation I was in he asked if we needed an ambulance.  Brad said we didn't but neither one of us knew how close we were to needing one!  As we walked up the steps to InstaCare Brad said he had a firm impression that we needed to go straight to the ER.  He knew I wouldn't do it so we went in anyway.  After a few tests the Dr. said that although I had an infection she was not sure that was the only thing wrong with me.  She said I was "risky" for appendicitis and sent us to the ER for more testing.  When we got to the ER Brad was all in a twist.  Of course it had to be the same hospital that Charlie and Linda were brought to that started his traumatic experience.  Neither one of us was thrilled to be there but I could tell that Brad was really struggling.  I tried to reassure him that I was fine by holding his hand and winking at him when he looked at me.  He was not having it at all.  I was finally taken to a room and examined.  As the nurse started my IV I let a single tear slip down my cheek.  It was not that the pain was so much that I had to cry about it, but I thought of how many thousands of times Trent had to do that.  The amount of pain that I was in was constant for him.  It made my heart hurt knowing how much he suffered for so long.  I was finally given some pain medicine that made me extremely loopy.  They asked if I was nauseous and I told them I wasn't. They insisted they give me Zofran anyway, "just in case".  I hated that I knew that drug. Ugh

Shortly after that I had an ultrasound.  It hurt and was uncomfortable but as soon as the tech lifted the wand from my stomach I gasped and lurched off the bed.  That was when Brad finally felt better because he knew it was appendicitis.  Ironically, that was when I got scared because I knew it was appendicitis!  I had been hoping they were going to tell me to go home and fart and I would feel better.  No such luck.  Brad and a hospital volunteer gave me a blessing and I was wheeled into surgery about one hour later.  The surgeon said that had we waited much longer my appendix would have burst.  Brad gave me the look like, "When are you going to start listening to me?"  hehehe.  I would like to say that I will, but it probably won't be anytime soon, I am kinda stubborn like that.

I was released from the hospital the next day and was sent home to recuperate.  I think the kids were not quite prepared to see me that way and it may have sent a couple of them in a bad direction.  Brad and I had been kind of nervous that would happen.  Emotions have run all over the map this week from mild apprehension to complete emotional breakdown.  It is becoming quite clear that year two is going to be a difficult one while the children begin their grieving processes.  I feel like I am in a place that I can help them and understand them and not be dragged down too far myself.  I am going to need Trent more than ever to be there to comfort our kids and let them feel his presence.  I have a feeling that if I can get out of the sick bed I am going to be spending a lot of time on my knees.  :)

Friday, September 13, 2013

Part Three...Back to Brad

It kind of seems like our courtship was backwards.  Very early on in our relationship Brad and I discussed marriage.  We were both nervous about it and the changes and difficulties marriage would bring but we could not deny the feeling that it was right.  There were so many small answers that kept confirming over and over that we were headed in the right direction and we just needed to have the faith to keep moving.  Yet even with that goal in mind, we dated in secret.  We didn't sneak around or anything, we just chose to keep the relationship under wraps for a very long time.  I was not emotionally ready to deal with everyone else's reactions and opinions.  For those same reasons Brad asked me not to write about him on the blog until now.

I needed to sit my kids down and let them know what was going on.  I wanted to make sure that they knew and were as comfortable as they could be with the situation.  I gathered them all in my room and immediately I began to cry.  I told them that it was very likely that I would marry Brad.  My announcement was met with silence.  I think that not one of them knew what to say.  Mallory started to cry and Jarom wouldn't look at me.  Megan and Zach said they were fine with it but I could see in their body language that they were struggling a bit.  Watching my children in that painful situation made me want to run away from everything and just keep them safe from every emotion that might be difficult for them.  However, every time I had that feeling it was instantly replaced with a calm, peace that confirmed to me that Brad was the right person for me.  I can honestly say that I am as sure about Brad as I ever was about Trent.

Part of the reason that Brad and I fit so well together is that we have both experienced a tremendous loss. In June of 2011 Brad's wife, Linda, passed away from an amniotic embolism while pregnant with their fourth child.  Linda collapsed in their home and was given CPR until the baby was delivered by emergency C-section in the ER.  Immediately after her birth, Charlie began having seizures.  Both Linda and Charlie were life-flighted to a hospital in Salt Lake City.  About ten hours later Linda passed away.  Brad was told that Charlie would likely not survive either.  He actually waited 10 days to have Linda's services thinking that he might be burying his daughter as well.  Charlie was kept in the NICU for the next seven weeks while doctors did everything they could for her.  Brad was told several times that if Charlie lived she would likely be in a vegetative state and would have no cognitive abilities.  Her CT scans showed extensive brain damage from the lack of oxygen during her traumatic birth.  When Charlie was almost two months old Brad brought her home from the hospital with a feeding tube in her stomach because she could not swallow without aspirating.  Six months later the tube was finally removed.  Miraculously today Charlie is a happy, healthy two year old with no visible signs of delay in any area.  I think she has her own guardian angel watching over her every minute of every day.  Brad also has three other adorable kids that have their own guardian angel as well: Carter, Ryen, and Jack.

During the first months following Linda's death, Brad had so much on his plate that his grieving was pushed aside.  So when we started talking on the phone it was as if we were in a similar stage of grief.  He was still a little ahead of me but we found that talking to each other was very helpful.  We cried a lot!  He challenged me on things that I thought were perfectly normal and fine in my grief and helped me realize that they were stages that I would pass through and not the end result.  For instance, I wanted the Second Coming to happen so quickly that I was perfectly willing to live the rest of my life for my kids, experiencing their joy but not my own.  Then I thought that the Second Coming would happen in 3-5 years and I didn't want to see any of the milestones in my children's lives.  I was sure I would be reunited with Trent by then. Brad helped me see that while I could still hope for the Second Coming to be soon, I couldn't stop my whole life and wait for it.

During all the hundreds of hours that we spoke on the phone we talked a lot about our spouses and what amazing people they are.  I feel like I got to know Linda and what kind of person she was.  She lived for her kids, she was witty and fun and sarcastic.  She is an amazing artist and very smart.  She worked hard to give her family a good life and deserved to get to stay here and raise her beautiful kids.  I feel that if Trent and I had known Brad and Linda we would have been great friends.  In fact, I think that Trent and Linda are having a great time watching what they brought together.

One of the hardest things I have ever done was to tell Trent's mom that I was dating Brad and that it would eventually lead to marriage.  On Easter Sunday I slipped away from the festivities and called her.  We chatted for a little bit about the kids and the holiday.  We talked about Trent and how much we missed him. I then explained to her that I thought he was working extra hard on other side make sure I was happy.  I had told her about Brad before, but at the time he was just a guy that was really easy to talk to and was helping me work through my grief.  This time I told her how our relationship had developed and what I felt was imminent.  I had been so nervous to tell anyone in Trent's family because I knew the news would bring mixed feelings and I didn't want to hurt them.  His mom was amazing though.  Her reaction was a million times better than I had hoped for.  She was so loving and supportive.  Of course there were tears, but she told me she had a feeling it would come to this with Brad after I talked to her about him the first time.  She said that even when I was adamantly stating that I would never marry again, she knew differently.  I thanked her for humoring me in my grief laden rants.  She wished me as much happiness as I could have and made me promise to keep her in the loop with all the details.  She also told me that she was excited to meet Brad and his kids and to love them too.

I then had to tell Trent's dad.  He and I don't always see eye to eye and our relationship has been somewhat strained.  But I was surprised to hear him tell me that he had thought all along that I would be married within a year.  Truthfully, that comment kind of stung.  Yes, he was right, but it made me feel weird.  It was still very hard for me to admit what was happening and my heart was all in a twist trying to sort out my feelings for Brad and how that would all fit with my eternal marriage to Trent.  I eventually came to realize that the time frame for remarriage has absolutely nothing to do with how much I love Trent.  I have actually heard people say, "She must not have loved her husband very much if she is already remarried."  My first reaction is to be horrified by that comment but it is just another thing I have to chalk up to lack of understanding.  Unless you have walked this walk you have no idea what it is like.

I told Trent's mom and dad that they were free to tell his siblings so I didn't have to do it.  I knew that they would be gracious to my face but assumed that there would be some hurt feelings behind closed doors.  I can truthfully say they were all VERY gracious to me and to Brad.  I know it is difficult for them to watch us be unhappy and miss Trent, but I think it is also hard to watch us carry on.  They have all made every effort to be supportive and loving to both me and Brad and I have been so humbled by their grace.  My siblings had much the same reaction.  They were very surprised but supportive.  I was very grateful for their reactions and well wishes.  I am so blessed to have such a wonderful family!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend a fireside given by Chris Williams and his wife Mykell. They were both speakers at the Widow/Widower Conference I attended in the spring.  I knew how touched I had been by their message then so I invited all my widow friends to join me at the fireside.  As we were sitting in the chapel waiting for the meeting to start, Chris Williams waved hello to me with his eyebrows! Hahaha!  I smiled back thinking he was pretty friendly.  After the meeting I went up to introduce myself and thank him for his message.  He said he remembered me from the meeting in the spring.  I was a little surprised because I didn't talk to him at that meeting.  We ended up talking for a long time and I was picking his brain a bit about grief, remarriage, and his real feelings.  I wanted to know that even though he has such an amazing attitude that he still has bad days and moments of despair.  It is not that I wish that for him, just that I wanted to know that I am normal. I really try very hard to be positive and recognize my blessings but I still have moments that I just want to scream and make everything go back to the way it was before Trent was sick.  While we were speaking Chris told me that he tries to look at it as an opportunity for a blessing he didn't want.  I just stared at him.  My mind was swirling with a million "yeah but"s although the only thing I said was, "I am going to have to chew on that one for a while."  He hugged me goodbye and I left, with a big mouthful of fat to chew.

I didn't want this "blessing".  I was just fine counting all the wonderful blessings I had before our lives were turned upside down by cancer.  I was just fine watching my children play and interact with their dad and having our cute little family intact...physically.  I was just fine having the love of my life by my side making me laugh and filling every corner of my heart to overflowing.

Almost three years ago I sat in front of the statue of Jesus Christ in the visitor center on Temple Square, bawling my eyes out after we had learned that despite much fasting and prayer, Trent's cancer was advancing rapidly.  Trent was mad and I was an absolute mess.  I had my head buried in my hands, sobbing, while I listened to the narrative over and over.  At that moment the spirit whispered to my heart, "Do you believe in God?"  I knew the answer was yes.  Over the last few years I have relied heavily on my belief in God.  I have come to know many things more deeply than I ever knew them before.  I have learned of Heavenly Father's love for each of His children, how involved He is in our lives, how ready He is to comfort and love us and make His presence known.   Now, three years later, I can say with more surety than ever before, I believe in God.  I know He knows and loves me personally. I know that His plan is far better than mine.  I know that He will someday show me how all of the trials of this life work together to make me grow and ultimately help me gain the greatest reward.

The other day I was talking to Megan and she made the comment that although it was really difficult to watch her dad suffer as much as he did, she felt like our experience has made us all grow so much more than if he was taken quickly.  There were so many times that we pulled our little family together and explained the latest bit of bad news and asked for their faith and prayers in behalf of their daddy.  We were all scared but chose to place our faith and trust in God and let Him handle things.  It didn't turn out like we wanted but I know that God is still handling things for my family.   I have had to watch my children struggle and hurt and miss their daddy.  Yet I have also watched them grow and become closer to their Heavenly Father.  My testimony has grown exponentially as well.  I guess that is an opportunity for a blessing I did want.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Our Year of Firsts is Over

Last year at this time I was living my worst nightmare.  As I look back at all that we went through from cancer diagnosis to burying my husband I can't believe I lived through it.  I could never have imagined what our family would have to endure and surely would have said we couldn't have done it, we were not strong enough to handle that kind of trial.  But, somehow we did.  In D&C 84:88 it reads: And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face.  I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up."  We have surely been lifted by angels on both sides of the veil for a very long time and the Spirit has been in our hearts, if not we would have broken.  Rasmussens are survivors, and we are doing our best to survive every day.

The days leading up to the one year anniversary were a little sketchy for me.  Most of the sadness would hit at night and leave me with a tear soaked pillow.  Monday morning I woke up feeling kind of crappy about life so I decided to get my tootie in gear and serve someone.  I figured I am the only one who has control over my mood and I had the power to change it.  I got a little help from Megan and Jonny though.  When Jonny came upstairs for breakfast he was sporting this new look...

Jonny and his "nustache and boatee"
Megan had drawn facial hair on his face with a Sharpie marker.  He proudly announced that now he had a "nustache and a boatee like daddy".  At first I was slightly irritated that he had permanent marker all over his face and that my 16 year old had done it.  But he was so excited about it I let him keep it on.  He even wore it when we went to the nursing home that afternoon.  I needed to do something for someone else and music helps my soul so much.  So I took Megan, Jonny, and Ryen (Brad's daughter) to the nursing home so I could play the piano for them.  It was not a big deal, only a few people came to listen.  We had a lot of fun though. Megan and I sang some hymns, and Megan and Ryen sang some primary songs and a few show tunes too.  I played some old Broadway tunes, some arrangements of hymns, and a little Root Beer Rag.  Yeah, we love that song at our house.  Jonny danced like a crazy man the whole time.  I was giggling too much to pay much attention to what I was playing so don't listen to the wrong notes!

After Jonny finished dancing he offered a piece of gum to this sweet little lady.  She politely declined saying she didn't have enough teeth to chew it.  Jonny sat down beside her and held her hand while I played.  He told Megan that he was going to marry her.  Later as we were leaving Jonny said, "I think I will find someone else to marry, her lip looks brown and poisonous!"  What a goofball!  She was the cutest little lady and we had fun talking to her.  As we were leaving she made us promise to come back and bring a whole program with us next time.  
Jonny and his girlfriend
I knew the one year anniversary had potential for complete disaster and I did not want that to happen, especially the day before school started.  I wanted the kids to have a fun day so they could start the school year off with a happy heart.  I had hoped to go fishing and have a picnic lunch with Trent's family yesterday but I wasn't able to pull it all together in time.  So we moved on to plan B.  I took the kids to Walmart and got a whole bunch of bags of Lifesavers.  Trent always sucked on Lifesavers while he got chemo to take away some of the awful taste that chemo gives you.  We put stickers on each bag that said, "In loving memory of the best daddy in the world. Trent Rasmussen 3/20/73-8/21/12."  We then went to the local Huntsman Cancer Treatment Center.  I knew I was not ready to go to the one in Salt Lake.  I love all the nurses and doctors there but I did not think my heart could take seeing them on that specific day. 

The kids were great.  They marched right in a started handing out candy and talking to the patients.  We wished them all good luck in their fight and left before I lost control of my emotions.  We ran into one more patient in the parking lot.  He was receiving his infusion outside so he could smoke.  His IV bag was covered with a cereal box and I knew instantly that it was because he was receiving the "Red Devil".  That drug is sensitive to sunlight and has to remain covered.  I walked up to him and offered him a bag of candy.  I had done really well talking to everyone else but for some reason I lost it with him.  I explained that my husband had passed away from cancer one year prior and we were just trying to pass on the love.  He thanked me over and over and I excused myself quickly.  I was hovering on the edge of completely losing it so I quickly took one more picture and loaded the kids into the burb.  Before we drove away I told the kids how proud I knew that Trent was of them.  I asked them how they felt and they all said they felt really good and wanted to things like that more often.  I am so lucky to have the greatest kids in the world!  

After that we stopped for lunch at the Olive Garden, one of Trent's favorite places to eat.  The manager there just happens to be our new neighbor and he treated us to dessert.  He was super sweet and made sure our waitress was very attentive to us.  

When Jonny ordered he asked for "broccoli and lemons".  Ummm, weird.  We all laughed off the lemons thing but he was insistent.  So the waitress brought out a plate of lemons for him.  This was his face with the first bite...

After that he decided it was better to pull out all the seeds so he could take them home to plant a lemon tree. I guess that is like making lemonade out of lemons, right?!

After lunch we went bowling and had so much fun!  None of us are very good...in fact Zach and I tied for the high score of 86.  Dismal, I know.  But we had a lot of fun dancing around and just being nerdy since we were the only ones there for most of the time.  Trent was a fabulous bowler because he could throw that ball so hard!  It was fun remembering the many times we had bowled together and hearing in my mind Trent's laughter as he would bowl strike after strike after strike.  Sweet memories. :)

Da Boys

Da Girls
After bowling we suited up for some lazer tag.  The attendant put all of us on a team against another little family of three.  They didn't stand a chance against us---mostly because of our numbers!  I am not sure how she thought that was going to be fair but we went along with it.  A few times I heard the little boy say, "Stop shooting me! I am already out!" Oh well, we had fun anyway.   

After lazer tag we drove around for a bit while we shared memories of Trent and I showed the kids some of the places he always went.  It was nice to share those moments with the kids and hear the things they remembered about their daddy.  On the way home we stopped to pick a bunch of sunflowers in Trent's honor.  As Megan was cutting them I looked around the suburban and almost everyone had fallen asleep.  It takes a lot of energy to have as much fun as we did!

When we got home I got a phone call from Trent's brother, Troy, saying he was about a half an hour away and he was coming to visit.  I was so glad!  I really needed to connect with someone in Trent's family that day and Troy and I have always gotten along very well.  Trent and Troy are not much alike but they certainly shared a love of politics.  Although I don't follow things as much as Trent did, it was nice to talk shop with Troy for a bit.  It made me smile thinking about how passionate Trent was about politics.  It also made me think the Second Coming has to be right around the corner with how bad our government is. hehehe

Troy treated our family to dinner at Chuck-O-Rama.  We stuffed our faces then rolled home to get ready for the first day of school.  

There is a song by Chris August called "He Will Restore" that I love.  In the chorus it says:

I know you're feeling like it's falling apart and it can't go on anymore
But God is a God who knows how to heal so just give it up to the Lord
And He will restore

Like it was before
You may have strayed off course
But He will restore

I really like this song but have always been just a little miffed because I don't get my old life restored to me in this lifetime.  A big part of me still wants everything the way it was before.  Before Trent had cancer and our lives were turned upside down.  But as I listened to that song as I was getting ready yesterday it dawned on me that I am receiving that restoration already.  As hard as the past year has been without the love of my life, I can see that God has given me the ability to heal.  He has restored my capacity to love and be loved.  He has restored my ability to have joy and find happiness in daily life.  And for that, I am so grateful.  One year closer, My Love.