Feed your FAITH and your fears will starve .

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.