Feed your FAITH and your fears will starve .

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Two Years Closer...

Wow.  Today is two years.  I can't believe it.  It is so surreal that I can't seem to wrap my head around the fact that it has been two years since Trent passed away.  I am not sure if it was a good or bad thing that today was the first day of school.  It has probably been really good for me to be as busy as I have been but then today, there is nothing.  There are a million things I could be doing but they will all be there tomorrow too.  I am taking it easy, letting myself cry when a memory comes to mind.  I was not sure what to do with the kids.  I didn't want their first day of school to be wrapped up in the events of this day two years ago.  Instead, I think I will take them fishing on Saturday morning.  Trent would have loved that.

A few weeks ago we had yet another scare with Jonny and his "traveling" ways.  We were in St. Anthony at the parade and we were getting ready to go.  As I was gathering up garbage and blankets and such I turned around and Jonny was gone.  We immediately started searching for him.  Several of the adults with us split up to look.  He was nowhere to be found.  I was very calm yet completely distressed.  After a few minutes I called 911.  In my mind I was praying like crazy for Trent to be with him.  A short time later the cop arrived and called all units to respond to the search effort.  A family down the road was having a little get-together and after the cop asked if they had seen Jonny two men stepped up and said they would like to help look for him.  That is what made the tears flow.  I was doing okay before that.  Then I started to panic just a little bit. Moments later Jonny was found by the police officer's wife who had also joined the search.  As soon as I saw him I ran and grabbed him and hugged him tighter than he liked.  I didn't care.  I set him down and kicked his little tootie!  My emotions were a little conflicted at the time.  I am sure many other parents have felt the same way.  I was secretly hoping that Trent had been with him and maybe given him a little swat on his rear too. :)

This month marked my 19th anniversary with Trent.  I remember when on my parents' 21st anniversary my dad remarked about the fact that my mom had been married to him half of her life.  I was always conscious of the years that ticked by and how close I was getting to being able to say the same thing.  It is weird now.  I am still married to Trent and have been for half of my life but it is not quite the same.  I didn't get to enjoy all those years with him.  But I will settle for the fact that I have loved him half of my earthly life and I take comfort in knowing that I probably loved him in the life before, just as I will love him in the life after.

It is always a little bit different celebrating an anniversary with a deceased spouse while a living spouse looks on.  I am not quite sure how to handle it.  We were supposed to be at a baby blessing on my anniversary but Brad was up all night before that with a bad stomach flu.  As I held the barf bowl for Brad I couldn't help but think about the hundreds of times that I held a barf bowl for Trent.  When we first got married even the sound of Brad coughing sent chills down my spine.  I made him promise that he would never get sick.  How do you make good on that promise!?  Slowly some of those triggers are softening though.  I was surprised that I could help Brad and not come completely undone with all the memories of being by Trent's side through all of his illness.  I ended up leaving Brad and his kids home while the rest of us went to the baby blessing.  When my brother stood to bless his son I had the very distinct feeling that Trent was there, standing in the circle with them.  I peeked open my eyes hoping to catch a glimpse but of course saw nothing.  Darn it!  During the meeting I had the overwhelming feeling that I needed to share my testimony.  I tried to shrug it off because I was visiting that ward and didn't want to take their time.  But deep down I knew I would eventually stand at the pulpit.  It always makes me feel better when I have had the opportunity to share my testimony and I am glad I did.  Later that day I took the younger kids and went to the cemetery. We didn't do much, just laid by his headstone and took a few pictures.  It still stinks that I have to visit my husband there though.

The next week was quite a whirlwind.  We had four lambs entered in the fair and that was a lot of work!  It was fun though and provided a lot of time for me to build relationships with Carter, Jarom, Mallory, and Ryen.  I kept thinking how happy Trent would be to see his kids having this experience of raising and showing animals.  He would have loved it too.

On August 9th we had a very special day.  We participated in a 5K in Trent's honor.  My family and Trent's came together to form Team Trent.  It was amazing.  I was especially excited to see Jesse, Trent's nephew.  I haven't really seen him for years and he has had some difficulties in his own life that have kept him away.  When I saw him I ran up and threw my arms around him and his brother Justin.  It made my heart melt just a little bit more when I found out they got up at 3:00 am to be there on time.  During the opening ceremony the tears started flowing.  My cute little brother Mike just slipped his arm around me and let me cry.  I pulled myself together until they called for the team captains to get their balloons for the balloon launch.  On the way over I saw Aly, my best-widow-in-the-world-friend.  We grabbed each other and bawled some more.  Ouch!  We finally got our balloons and prepared for the launch.  They had someone sing, "Go the Distance" before the launch.  Of course I was still bawling.  This time it was Adam, another little brother, who held me while I cried.  I looked around and saw all the people there supporting me and all the others who had similar trials.  Life is hard!  But I am very blessed to have such amazing people surrounding me. Even though the morning was emotionally exhausting my heart was overflowing with love.  I know I am loved.  I know Trent is loved and will never be forgotten.

And so today I am missing Trent's sweet smile, his uneven earlobes, his Pillbury Doughboy laugh, his adventurous spirit, his love for life, and his amazing example.  But mostly I am missing his presence.  I miss his arms around me, my hand in his, and our kids at our feet.  I MISS HIM!  I hope he misses us as much as we miss him.  I know we will be together again but the road in long and lonely.  Until then we will endure and we will do it well.  God speed Trent, we LOVE you!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Evidence of Healing

I can't believe that summer is half over and I am still alive!  HaHa!  I was pretty nervous for school to get out because I would have nine children to entertain ALL DAY LONG!  Well, so far, so good.  We have had a lot of fun this summer playing ball, swimming, camping, biking, and swimming some more.  In June I coached a softball team for Mallory and Ryen and I had the time of my life! It was so fun to have that time with just the little girls.  I felt a little part of me healing as well, letting myself jump back into to who I was before and have the things I always wanted to have with my girls.  It was a good opportunity for me to strengthen the bond between me and a couple of pretty fun little nine year olds. :)

In June we entered the "gauntlet of birthdays".  We had four birthdays within 3 1/2 weeks.  Whew!  It was so much fun to plan something special for each of them, although we celebrated Megan's birthday a week early because she was at a music camp on her real birthday.  One night after one of the last birthdays Brad and I were talking and he realized that the birthday rush hadn't brought on the deep feelings of despair that they had in the past couple of years.  I had to agree.  It is so hard to see your kids growing up and getting older without their other parent here to share it.  But as time goes on those days get a little easier.  Trent and Linda are never far from our thoughts but it is easier to smile on the special days than cry like we did before.  I never would have believed that was possible, but it is.  I am sure that is how Trent and Linda want it to be too.

A few weeks ago I was chatting with Mallory while I was doing her hair.  She was having a bit of a rough day and was kind of acting out and being miserable.  While we were talking she said, "I just don't understand why this has to happen to our family!"  I reminded her that it happened to the Rowbury family too.  She said,  "I know, that is what I mean, why did it have to happen to our big family?"  I was stunned just for a moment to think that she considered us all a family.  That is a major step, especially for Mallory.  But then I surprised myself when I answered, "I think it happened to us because Heavenly Father loves us.  He must trust us an awful lot to let us go through losing Dad.  He must have known that we would still love Him even though our life is really hard."  As I said those words I started to cry.  I didn't realize I felt that way.  I know we are loved and cared for but I was never really sure that we had gone through all that we have because we are loved.

For the next few days our conversation kept playing over and over again in my head.  Did I really believe that or was that just what I thought Mallory needed to hear?  About a week after my talk with Mallory I had almost the exact same conversation with Ryen. This time I could answer with more assurance, I really do feel  that we were trusted with this trial because Heavenly Father loves us.  I know we have so many people pulling for us on the other side, waiting, hoping, and expecting our success in healing and making the most of life here on earth.  Not a one of us will ever "get over" losing our loved ones, but even through all the pain, there is joy and love and happiness for us.

Last week Brad and I celebrated our first anniversary.  We spent the weekend in Park City hiking and shopping.  We also got to see WICKED in Salt Lake City.  We had a great time and the whole weekend my heart was so full!  This past year has not been easy by any stretch of the imagination...but we made it!  Luckily, we still kinda like each other so it is reasonable to expect that we could do a few more years together.  ;)  I thought I had learned enough going through cancer with Trent and facing life without him.  But Heavenly Father must have thought I needed more so he sent me Brad.  I have had to learn so many new things about love and patience and giving.  But I guess that is what this life is about...loving and learning.  So we will keep on doing just that, loving and learning and maybe a little bit of healing too.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Beautiful Month of May

Again I find myself astonished at how long it has been since I posted.  Life seems to be moving at an incredible pace right now.  You can't believe how fast a day goes with nine kids and tons of yard/housework to do!  Who am I kidding, sometimes those days with nine kids and tons of yard/house work drag on for eons!

May was pretty good to me with a only a few big bumps along the way.  At the beginning of May my sweet Grandpa died at age 91.  He had been bedridden for some months after a long decline following a stroke a few years ago.  That leaves my cute little grandma as a brand new member of the club I wish I wasn't in. Honestly, I was relieved for my grandpa.  He held on for so long.  About a month before he passed away I was visiting him at his home.  He was not lucid all the time but was in and out of our conversation.  He waited for everyone to leave the room and we were alone together for just a couple of minutes.  He grabbed my hand and looked me straight in the eyes and in a hushed but intense whisper said, "What is she going to do?"  I immediately knew he was hanging on because he was worried about my grandma being alone.  They had been married for 67 years and I am sure the thought of being apart was scary for both of them.  I assured him that there were a lot of people who love Grandma and we would take care of her.  I told him that she would be okay.  I was about to tell him it was okay for him to die and be free of his pain but Grandma walked in right then.  I will miss him and all of his quirky ways but I can't help but feel a great sense of relief that he and Grandma won't be apart nearly as long as Trent and I will.  At the funeral we had a family meeting instead of a formal viewing.  Our very large family met in the chapel and were invited to come to the pulpit to share a memory of Grandpa.  I hadn't planned on saying anything but suddenly found myself walking up the aisle toward the pulpit.  I told of a time several years ago when Trent's parents had recently separated.  I was visiting my grandparents and I must have told them a little of what was going on with Trent's parents.  My grandpa looked at me and said, "Holly, you get in the other room and call your mother-in-law."  I told him I wasn't going to do that.  I had no idea what I would say to her.  A few minutes later he repeated his instructions.  Again I refused saying that she was causing us pain and I didn't have anything to say to her.  He didn't have to tell me the third time because I knew I was not going to get away with it.  Quite frankly, I was surprised he let me tell him 'no' twice already.  So I went in the other room and called my mother-in-law.  Our conversation was brief and superficial.  I am sure that nothing that was said changed either one of our lives one iota.  BUT, what I learned that day was monumental.  Love is not conditional.  It is not okay to love only when we are being treated kindly, or to refuse love when we feel we are being hurt. We don't turn love off and on like a light switch, to anyone, especially to our Father in Heaven.  It is really easy to be devoted and loving and grateful to our Father in Heaven when life is good and the road is smooth. The test is to remain faithful when the road is uphill and rocky.

For Mother's Day I was completely spoiled.  Jack and Charlie made me a hot pad with their hand prints on it.  Jack made a booklet to his "nice stepmom" that listed all the things he liked about me.  Jarom and Mallory made notes for me as well. I don't have great pictures of all of them but here are at least a few.
Man this is a good looking kid!  
Megan gave me a necklace and some AMAZING caramels that I only shared a few of.  :)  Zach made me breakfast in bed with a cute note for each food item.
Not great of either of us...but he is TALLER than me!!!!

And Ryen also made me pancake bites.

Yes, I ate a lot of breakfast that day.  Brad spoiled me with gifts and an awesome dinner. Among other things, he made Linda's favorite potatoes and I have to agree, they were awesome!  It was our first Mother's Day celebrated as a new, big family and I think it went well.  Everyone was allowed time to honor their own mother and they all did a great job making me feel appreciated for the role I have in each of their lives.

Memorial Day was the next hurdle.  I invited Trent's family to share Saturday with us but only two of his brothers and their families were able to make it.  Brad was, of course, out of town visiting his wife's grave so we celebrated the weekend separately.  We met at the cemetery with my parents, two of my brothers, and their families as well.  We didn't do anything huge, just placed flowers and a fresh pack of Swedish Fish on the grave.  Then we sat on the grass and ate a huge two pound bag of Swedish Fish in Trent's honor. Afterward we went to Moore's for dinner and really slammed them with thirty people!  I have decided that in the future I can't expect everyone to acknowledge all the days that I think are important for Trent.  That might be just a bit too much for them.  The center of their worlds did not die, just mine.  Hopefully we can plan one day every year that everyone can get together and remember Trent.  That will be enough for me.

I handled that whole day quite well but the next day was different.  I should have seen it coming.  It is beginning to be a bit of a pattern for me.  The day of is usually fine but the days after have seen the crash over and over again.  I had to teach the lesson in Relief Society on Sunday.  It was about the Resurrection.  I was quite emotional throughout the lesson and it totally drained me for the rest of the day.  I don't know why crying makes me so tired, but it does.  I tried to call Brad after we got out of church but he didn't answer. No biggie except that I needed him so badly right then! That just made me feel so alone.  The tears started and didn't really stop until the next day.  When Brad came home he did his best to comfort me but all I could do was cry.  It really stinks that we both have a real reason to celebrate Memorial Day now.  The next few days were a blur of emotions, tears, and me pulling away from everyone.  I did my best to stay present physically but mentally I was on another planet.  Thankfully after a few days I was able to pull out of it.  It is hard to do but it really is a decision I have to make.  I have to decide to be happy and present.  I can't spend my life mourning the past.  I need to take time to do it every once in a while but I have to be able to enjoy the life I am living now too.

I am beginning to see more and more that I am in a partnership with Linda to raise her children and it is the same for Brad and Trent.  Linda and Trent are relying heavily on Brad and I to do our best with all of our kids.  Brad has been really good with my kids and has worked hard to form a bond with all the kids that will let him...not all of them do.  Since the weather has been warmer I have taken at least one day a week for a field trip with the three little ones.  We usually pack a lunch and go to a new park to play.  A few weeks ago we were at the zoo and as we were walking to the picnic table I felt a quick rush of emotion.  It didn't make me cry, it just felt warm and the only word I could use to describe it was appreciation.   I didn't think much of it until a couple of days later when Brad said how much he appreciated what I was doing with the kids. At that moment it clicked in my head and heart that the emotion I felt was Linda.  Then a couple of weeks later I felt it again and was able to easily recognize her.  Carter was being set apart as the Deacons quorum president and Brad was assisting in the blessing.  I knew instantly what she needed me to tell Carter and that she needed me to give him a hug too.  I hadn't done that with Carter yet.  He likes me from a distance mostly.  We talk and tease each other and he is always very polite to me and does what I ask.  Lately we have been a little closer but the hug was uncharted territory.  After the blessing was finished Carter shook hands with everyone and hugged his dad.  Before I left the room I walked over to Carter and whispered in his ear the things I felt from Linda and gave him a hug.  I was more than surprised when he reached up and hugged me back.  Tears sprang to my eyes as I left.  I was humbled to be the mouthpiece if you will, for Linda.  It was an experience I will not soon forget.

Blending these families is hard work.  Every day.  But little by little we are making progress.  Our edges are softening and our patience is growing.  We are figuring out how and where we all fit.  Thankfully I know that both Trent and Linda are near and are doing everything they can to help us.  Believe me, we can use all the help we can get.  :)

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

I'm Back!

I am embarrassed to note how much time has passed since I posted.  Truthfully, life has been busy, difficult, heartbreaking, and too private to share for a while.  I think for the past six weeks or so I have had a love/hate relationship with this blog.  I have yearned to write and get out some of my emotions but I couldn't. Some people who read my blog have made comments and judgments as to the content and it stung just a bit. I have chalked it up to "they don't know because they haven't been there" but it made me a little gun shy to share the truth of my feelings.  I understand I have made myself vulnerable to the world by writing this blog but I don't write this blog for "an audience", I write it for me, Trent, our kids, and now for Brad and our new family too.

So back up almost two months, (how embarrassing!) I was having some problems with my gall bladder, which often goes bad after you have your appendix removed.  As I was having an ultrasound of my gall bladder, the technician found several large kidney stones in just one kidney.  That set me up for surgery to remove my gall bladder and have lithotripsy on my kidney at the same time.  Honestly, the gall bladder removal was a piece of cake.  The lithotripsy just about did me in. I had surgery on the last day of February and don't remember much of the first two weeks of March except being in a whole lot of pain.  Brad was right there, attending to my every need, most often before I knew I needed it.  My mom was there for the first several days but I don't remember being conscious of her being there until the second to last day she came.  I ended up in the emergency room four days after the surgery because the pain was so intense.  I was passing kidney stones like crazy and although I had a stent in my kidney the pain was still severe.  As I lay there in the emergency room soaking up the glorious relief from the morphine, my mind went back to Trent and all that he suffered for so long.  It still makes me sick to think of how often and how much pain he was in.  I wish I could go back and change our journey.  Even if the outcome had to be the same, I would change the course and at least give him more comfort, less pain and fear, and sweeter memories.

While all of this was happening things at home seemed to be falling apart.  Satan really knows how to get you when you are down and boy did he try.  I was really ready to strike March from the record completely but as I look back there are shining moments I wouldn't want to trade.  March 20 was Trent's birthday.  I had been pretty iffy because of all the surgery stuff but wasn't really prepared for how hard that day would knock me down.  The tears started the night before and just didn't want to stop.  Brad left for work as usual but returned home shortly afterward to spend the day with me instead.  For the first several hours I could only lay on my bed and cray.  Brad was so good.  He stayed with me the whole time and gently rubbed my back or just held me while I cried.  I finally decided I needed to DO something so we went to Hobby Lobby to get flowers to arrange for Trent's grave.  Later that evening I took the kids to the cemetery.  I think I must have cried out all my tears earlier in the day because it was okay for me to be there then.  We finished off the night with dinner at Maddox with my mom, Mike, and Lyndsi.  It wasn't an awesome day but we made the best of it and even had a few smiles and laughs.

Megan got asked to Prom and we had some fun shopping for a dress.  We found the perfect dress in the first shop we looked.  She tried on several but when she came out in "the one" it honestly took my breath away.  My baby girl was standing before me as a beautiful woman.  I was shocked at how the time had slipped away from me and saddened that Trent was not there to whistle at her and gush over her with me.  It kind of left a big empty hole in my heart.  Brad just happened to be away for the weekend of Prom so I really was left there alone to mark that milestone in Megan's life.  Ouch.

The day after Prom I had to teach in Relief Society.  As nervous as I was to do that, it was very healing for me.  It was easy for me to speak from my heart and I felt lighter when I was done.  The lesson made me realize once again just how much love my Heavenly Father has for me.  I was reminded that I have complete control over my feelings and attitudes and if/when I get to a point that I don't think I can carry on, Christ is ALWAYS there take up that slack.

The next weekend I got to attend Trent's father's wedding in the Rexburg Idaho Temple. I was anxious to go because I was sure that Trent would be there and I was eager to feel him near me.  The ceremony was very sweet and I did feel Trent there, if only briefly.  It felt good to be surrounded by people who love Trent as much as I do.  However, it was difficult too.  A few different times in the temple and at the reception afterwards I overheard people talk about me as "the one whose husband died".  We are coming up on two years but it still hurts and it feels so awkward to hear people talk about it like that, thinking that I can't hear them.  Brad was supposed to be there with me but fell ill the day before I left.  I was disappointed but was okay with it because I needed a little space for a while.  The space turned out to be a little too much.  We had a birthday party for Doug on the Sunday following the wedding and there were family pictures all over that were used to decorate for the party.  It is always a double edged sword to see my smiling Trent in those pictures.  Somehow during lunch I was left alone while everyone else chatted with those at their table.  I didn't try to be alone but I didn't try to include myself either.  After some time had passed someone recognized that I was alone and invited me to join them.  However, the damage had been done.  I had let myself give in to the overwhelming feelings of sadness and the tears started.  I excused myself to the bedroom and bawled my eyes out.  Ugh.  Brad happened to call right then and was able to comfort me to some extent.

The weekend following was LDS General Conference.  Brad and I had two tickets to the Sunday afternoon session but ended up not using them.  I was very sad to let the experience go.  I love Conference weekend and wish it came more often than twice a year.  I am always given hope and strength to carry on when I hear the words of our prophet and his apostles.  I was especially touched by President Packer's sincere testimony.  He all but told us that he has seen Christ in person.  He is a WITNESS of Christ.  I keep thinking how awesome it will be to one day be able to say the same thing.  Since then I have enjoyed working off some stress in the yard or house while listening to the talks from Conference.  Thank goodness for my iphone. :)

As Easter approached I became more and more excited.  Yes, it was another holiday that we had to figure out how to make work for both families, and yes, it is a ton of work to get holidays ready for nine kids.  But, I was overcome with gratitude for my Savior, Jesus Christ.  Because of Him Easter is a joyous holiday for me and not one of sadness without Trent.  I know that I will see him again.  I am in awe of all that the Atonement encompasses.  It seems I am learning constantly of more ways to apply my Savior's atoning sacrifice to my life.  Looking back over the past few years and most recently, over the past two months, I can see the learning process I am in.  I have made great strides at times and have fallen great distances at others.  But each time I am picked up, dusted off, and set on my path again.  This life is not about proving myself to my Savior, He already knows who and what I will become.  It is about proving myself to myself and learning to lean on my Savior every step of the way.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Eternal Love

From the beginning of my relationship with Brad I have struggled with the idea of "eternal love."  All the sappy little sayings about love made my heart cry out just a little in pain.  I had that love and my life was great!  I love Trent eternally and infinitely and there can be no other person in that spot.  Right?  That is what I thought.  But over the last month I have decided that is wrong. I have had several experiences with friends, family, neighbors, and strangers that have taught me just a bit more about love.

A few weeks ago I was giving the lesson at my visiting teaching appointment.  I had read the lesson beforehand but had not really thought about what I might add to it.  I was talking about how many people gave me scripture references after Trent passed away.  I looked up every single one of them, looking for any little bit of peace I could find.  One of them happened to be in the lesson that day.
John 14:6  Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.  
I know that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.  The part that struck me was that no man cometh unto the Father, but by Jesus.  Somehow in my mind that morphed into love.  Love for everyone.  My job here is to love as many people as I can, as purely as I can so that they too will know what I know--that Jesus loves them.  He loves all of us so much that He died for us.  By purely loving our family, friends, neighbors, and even strangers we can turn their hearts to Jesus and help them return to Him and Heavenly Father.  As I was talking about this scripture it dawned on me that I can love Brad eternally too.  In my mind I guess I thought that because I am not sealed to Brad that I should only love him a certain amount...never to match the level that I love Trent.  But Christ sees things differently.  He does not have a certain amount of love for those who are faithful and have perfect marriages, lives, and kids.  He does not love those who struggle to obey the commandments to a lesser degree.  He does not have to try really hard to love those who outwardly and blatantly disobey His laws.  He loves us all.  Eternally.  Infinitely.  And that is how I am striving to love as well.  Just because I am not sealed to Brad does not mean that I should not love him fully or that I will stop loving him when I die.  He is playing such a huge part in my "test" on this earth.  When I cry Brad wipes my tears, when I laugh he laughs too. I am finding that I can truly love two men at the same time.   I know that Trent is happy for me to have such a great man to share the rest of my life with.

A few weeks ago I decorated Trent's grave for Valentine's Day.  I still struggle to go to the cemetery but I want to do it for Trent.  I want people to know that the amazing man who is buried there is still loved and thought of constantly.  I want people to know that Trent will have a Valentine remembering and loving and missing him every second of every day.  Of course decorating his grave brought on the tears.  I was supposed to meet Marc and Aly right afterward to go to dinner with a couple of other widows and I was a mess.  As soon as Marc opened his front door I melted into his arms.  I immediately felt the love and compassion he had for me too.  I thought again about loving everyone and sharing Christ's love.  I am so blessed to have so many people in my life who love me.

Last week I went to the temple with a good friend of mine to do some initiatory.  While I was there I very distinctly felt the presence of one of the women whose name I had.  I was overcome with emotion.  I acknowledged her presence with the temple patron.  I cannot describe the way I felt except to say that it was an overwhelming feeling of love.

I just returned from a weekend trip to St. George.  It was a great trip, not only for the weather and activities, but for the tender mercy and outward display of love that our Heavenly Father has for each one of us.  In the background of the picture of the headstone is Shea's headstone.  Shea is a good friend that Trent and I met while he was sick.  Shea passed away from colon cancer almost one year ago.  During the time that both Trent and Shea were sick they formed a strong bond.  We loved her dearly!  We were also blessed to get to know her parents and share some very tender moments with them.  Shortly after Shea passed away their family moved to St. George.  When I planned my trip to St. George I wanted to visit them but I did not have any contact information to find out where they lived.  While we were there we attended the Parade of Homes.  As I was walking through one of the houses I caught a glimpse of a woman with her head down.  I only saw a bit of her profile out of the corner of my eye but there was a flash of recognition.  After I walked by her my mind put it all together.  It was Jeanine, Shea's mother!  I quickly turned around and beelined it straight toward her and threw my arms around her without saying a word.  We both dissolved into tears.  I told her I was worried I wasn't going to be able to find her but she insisted that I didn't need to be worried, Heavenly Father takes care of those details. :)  We were invited to her home and got to spend some time with her and her husband. Jeanine shared with us a story that strengthened my testimony of the individual love that Heavenly Father has for each of us.  For privacy sake, I will not share it but as I listened to her share her testimony of His love and answer to prayer, I was once again overcome with emotion.  The feeling of complete and total love enveloped me.

So in February, the month of love, my mind and heart have been taught a great lesson about the power of love.  We are not asked to come to earth to move mountains.  We do not have to be the best at everything, or even anything!  But we are asked to love one another.  Truly, deeply, and unconditionally.  I have said it before so please forgive the repetition, I KNOW that my Heavenly Father loves me.  He has proven it over and over again.  I know He loves Trent enough to rescue him from his pain.  I know He loves each and every one of His children just as much as He loves me.  I just need to learn to share that love with as many people as I can.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

"Familys Are Foever, Even with Step Familys"

Life as a remarried widow can be quite challenging.  Adjusting to life with a new man and four additional children sometimes takes the wind out of my sails.  It is hard!  Much harder than I ever expected.  We are learning how our family dynamic works and little by little we are making progress with a setback or two, or FIVE, along the way.  Being married to Brad doesn't make my sadness over losing Trent any less.  It doesn't dry up the tears and suddenly make my life peachy.  The things that were easy with Trent are not easy with Brad.  Sometimes that makes me miss Trent even that much more.  But Brad and I have chosen to walk this path together, for better or worse.  Sometimes the "worse" moments unexpectedly turn into the "better" moments...

A few nights ago Brad was putting Charlie to bed.  It was taking him quite a long time but it didn't phase me because he will often lay with her in the dark and cuddle.  I know those are his quiet moments to love on Charlie and miss Linda.  And that is okay.  I was reading to the little boys on the couch when Ryen came running to me trying not to cry.  She said, "Holly, I think you need to go comfort my dad.  He is on Charlie's bed crying."  Right then, Carter, Mallory, and Charlie came running down the hall looking a little scared.

Ryen was really trying to hold back her tears and I asked her if she was okay.  She insisted she was and that I needed to go help her dad.  I stood up and hugged her.  Of course she stiffened up like a two by four because she can't handle any type of physical touch from most everyone.  I hugged her anyway and told her it was okay to cry if she needed to.

I quietly crept into Charlie's bedroom and laid down beside Brad.  He immediately reached for me and continued to cry and cry and cry.  I was glad to be there for him and wished that it didn't have to hurt so badly.  That is one benefit to marrying a widower, we go through the same things and there are no feelings of jealousy for one another's spouses.  Sometimes triggers hit us at unexpected moments and there is not a darn thing you can do about it.  That night's trigger was the quilt on Charlie's bed.  It is made out of Linda's clothing.  She has had it on her bed for a few weeks now and Brad has seen it dozens of times but something caught him off guard and released the flood gates.  After Brad was mostly done crying we laid on the quilt while he pointed out Linda's favorite shirts, capris, etc.

When we finally emerged from the pool of tears Mallory (age nine) slipped up next to Brad, put her arm around his waist, and gave him a card she made for him.

The card reads as follows,
Dear Brad,
I know it is hard to lose someone you love with all your heart.  I am so sorry.  I know how you feel.  It is hard when you lose pepole.  It breaks your hearts when pepole pass on.  It will never be the same without them.  This song I made because of you when you were sad.  I made a song because Kaleb was sad because Jayden, he sits on the bus with, made him sit with me and Maddie.  So I made a song that is..."It is time to be happy, it is time to have freinds."  Then when you were crying I made a song that is..."Dreams will come true, hearts will be successful.  I will wait for you in the glory sky."  Brad thank you for helping me. You really are supper man.  Oh step familys aren't as bad as I thought.  You rock oh and good luck.

Love, Mallory

The little thumbs up sticker says, "P.S. Familys are foever, even with step familys"

The picture has all of the Rowbury family on the left and all of the Rasmussen family on the right.  It was so cute.  Brad and I were both choking back tears.  She sang the little songs for us and gave him a big hug.  I was so thrilled with the change we have seen in Mallory.  She really struggled with the whole situation when we got married.  She was by far my biggest obstacle.  She has done a complete turnabout and is now one of the easiest kids to work with.  She is such a tender little heart.

Monday, January 6, 2014

And....The Crash Finally Happened

The holidays are done.  We survived.  Barely.

A few weeks ago Brad and I spent some time in SLC with Marc and Aly so we could do some Christmas shopping.  While we were there we ran into my friend and fellow widow, Stephanie.  I was so shocked and thrilled to see her.  She is also remarried and is doing amazing.  She is a super positive and real person and I have learned a lot from her.  
Aly, Me, and Stephanie
Because Brad and I are very different in how we do Christmas I was really nervous for the holidays.  But despite that it was really nice to shop with someone this year.  Last year was almost more than I could handle, watching all the couples shopping hand in hand, smelling perfumes, picking gifts.  Ugh.  Yuck.  That was hard.  Thankfully I was one of the lucky people this year and it was so comforting to have my hand in Brad's while we shopped.
 Marc, Brad, Aly, and I got to attend the Christmas program of "Music and the Spoken Word" at the Conference Center in Salt Lake.  It was an amazing show.  The music was outstanding!  I have never been so in awe of one's musical talents as I was when I watched the organ soloist.  He was phenomenal!  We had a great weekend, as always.  Every time we are with Marc and Aly we laugh our heads off.  It feels so good to be able to laugh so hard you cry.
Marc, Aly, Me, Brad
 A few days later Megan asked me out to dinner, which I paid for. ;)  That works out well for her.  We went to Noodles and Company and laughed throughout the entire meal.  We decided she is going to get a job just long enough to learn how to  make the Tomato Basil Bisque.  It is so good!  After we stuffed ourselves with soup and noodles we headed over to Sweetly Divine for more deliciousness.  Yumm!

Me and my Megan-love her so much!
The closer Christmas got the more nervous I became.  I handled everything well outwardly but inside I was anxious and missing Trent immensely.  I was excited to share a Christmas with Brad and his kids but I was really torn between that and missing Trent and our life before cancer.  Our families have different traditions and because we all wanted to do the things we did with our spouses/parents it was hard to decide what to do.  It really became an issue at times, with kids fighting about how Christmas morning was going to go.  We tried our best to give everyone the best memory we could.  I am not sure how successful we were but we had a few kids come tell us that this was the "best Christmas ever".  We may change things up a little next year and do things a little differently though.  
Christmas Jammies!!!!
Megan, Zach, Jarom, Carter, Jack, Jonny, Mallory, Ryen, and Charlie

Christmas Eve was tough for me.  I had to slip away several times to hide my emotion.  I know Brad was doing the same thing.  There were so many memories flooding through my mind and all I could think about was how much Trent loved Christmas and how my kids deserved to celebrate that with their dad.  For traditions' sake, on Christmas day Brad took his kids and went to Idaho and I took mine and went to Brigham.  I am still not sure that was the best thing to do but it was what was decided. 

On the way down to Brigham I was asking the kids what was their favorite gift they gave, what was the favorite gift they got, what was their favorite part of Christmas, etc.  It was a nice conversation and I thought about how happy Trent must be.  I didn't feel him, but I am pretty sure he was with us, enjoying it every bit as much as we did.

For Christmas Jonny got his first fishing pole, and Spiderman mask, ahem.  We went ice fishing on Mantua Reservoir with my family.  I was on my way there and missed all the excitement but Court, my brother-in-law was with Jonny and told me this story: Jonny was sitting with his line in a hole and started screaming that he caught a fish.  Court's reaction was a little slow because he has heard that scream from his own kids a million times and rarely do they have a fish on the line.  But when he looked up Jonny's pole was bouncing like crazy.  He hurried over to help him but by the time he got there Jonny had already reeled in the fish and had it out on the ice.  Court said, "Jonny your dad would be so proud of you! That is amazing!"  Jonny quickly replied, "My dad was standing right next to me the whole time!"  I really hope he was.
Besides all the holidays we also got to celebrate a birthday.  Brad had his birthday the other day and it was really fun!  All day long I had a smile on my face while I prepared things for his big day.  The little kids got to help and they were all excited.  I really enjoy making a special day for birthdays and it was fun to shop for Brad this year.  I surprised him with a dinner our with our besties, Marc and Aly.  Part of the night was supposed to include ice skating but the rental shack was absolutely packed so we opted for a very foggy picture and then played card games until the wee hours of the morning.  What a fun birthday!

With all the busy-ness of the holidays, and a few ordering mishaps, we didn't get our Christmas cards sent out.  Instead, on New Years Eve I set up a tripod and crossed my fingers.  Luckily we were able to get a decent family photo on our front steps.  It was a hard thing to do logistically and emotionally but I think it turned out well.
With the kids back to school I thought I had conquered the holidays and come out fairly unscathed.  That is what I get for thinking!  This morning I was pretty emotional and in disbelief again that this is the life that God had in store for me.  So I tackled a bunch of things on my to-do list and kept myself busy all day.  It wasn't until I took Zach to counseling tonight that the bomb went off.  Instead of Zach meeting with the counselor first, he asked if I would meet with him.  It was not a particularly emotional discussion we had but during the course of the conversation he told me that at the last meeting he had asked Zach what he would tell his dad if he were here and what he thought his dad would tell him.  That hit me hard.  Zach's dad is not here and it is so unfair! I would give anything to change that for him.  It kills me that my children's father cannot physically be here with them to see them grow and be their dad.  No one can do that for him.  Brad is wonderful and does as much as they will allow him to but he does not try to be their dad and I don't want him to.

The whole thing sent me into a downward spiral and I ended up bawling my eyes out on my bed while Brad tried to figure out what to do with me.  During the worst of the crying I got a call from Marc.  He is so good at following promptings and I wondered if he was prompted to call me at that moment.  We talked for a few moments and he helped me get out a few more tears.  While we were talking he reminded me how much Trent loves me and would do anything to help me be happy.  I know that is true and it was so nice to hear it. Thanks Markle!

I truly am blessed to have such amazing people in my life.  No matter how far or how hard the fall, they are there to pick me up.  As I type this, Brad is rubbing my feet with lotion in an attempt to calm me and hopefully help the tears subside.  It has been a pretty constant flow for several hours now.  But I know this will pass.  I will be okay.  And I will carry on, the best way I know how, surrounded by all the love and tender care that Trent can send my way.