Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Eternal Love

It's been nearly five weeks since our lives were changed forever. 

I have been noticing that a lot of my husbands things are actually falling apart.  His flash drives where all our financial stuff is at - luckily I just bought new ones to transfer everything to.  His shirts were needing to be replaced.  He had a pair of shoes that were causing his knees and back to hurt so we bought new shoes about the time he got sick.  My Dad is now the owner of those practically brand new shoes.  I couldn't just let them sit here and not benefit anyone right now.  

His toothbrushes needed to be replaced - so I tossed those within the first few days.

I took over using his big green bath sheet.
I took over his side of the bed because there is a lamp on that side.  
I took over driving his car, after all it does have great gas mileage. 
I took over his chair at the table.
I took over ... who knows what else.  
I took over hanging the outside Christmas lights.
I took over using his Sam's Club card, since my was misplaced the first week after he passed away.

At some point in the future I'll take over his side of the closet too.  

I need to take over doing the finances.  (I'd rather not, but I need to)
I need to take over giving the kids extra snuggles. 
I need to take over getting guidance from Heavenly Father regarding our family now.
I need to take over planning for my future, instead of the one that we had planned together.
I need to take over ... so many more things too. 
I need to take over training our teenage daughter how to drive.

I have taken up picking up the living room each night before bed. (not perfect, but it's getting there)
I have taken up kissing picture frames, or my kindle screen.  (not the same, but in my mind it helps)
I have taken up praying vocally every night in my room.  (no one else in there, so I'm not bothering anyone)
I have taken up crying in the car almost every time I'm alone. 
I have taken up feeling like I'm a burden to others if I need something done.  (luckily I don't need much)
I have taken up feeling very lonely.  (haven't found anything to alleviate that feeling yet and I probably won't for some time.)

I stopped buying his favorite treats, especially if they weren't mine also.  I'm just so glad that the last thing we shared was a bag of dark chocolate m&m's.  They will always hold a special place in my heart. 

Being kissed by the love of my life has stopped
Being told I'm beautiful has stopped. 
Being told multiple times a day that he loves me has stopped.
Being close to him and looking into his eyes has stopped. 
Being the receiver of his great gifts has stopped. 
Being his lover has stopped.  
Being two people in a marriage has stopped only because one of us has moved onto the next step in eternal progression. 
Asking him about our plans for the day/week/weekend has stopped. 
Asking him about what he thinks has stopped.
Asking him about our finances has stopped. 

All those things that I wish I could have had a little more clarification on has stopped. 
Being able to have him recall details that I forgot has stopped.
Having him at the computer or in the car listening to Dave Ramsey has stopped. 
Having him whistle his awesome whistle has stopped.  

But our love - our LOVE hasn't stopped.  
Our marriage - is still in place however he isn't physically here anymore.
My Testimony - it is still ALIVE and STRONG. 
My Love for God - hasn't stopped, in fact I think it's gotten stronger too.
My learning of the gospel - is still taking place.  
My Love for the TEMPLE - has increased. 
My Faith - has increased.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is still TRUE!
I'm still seeking after good things. 
Being a Mother hasn't stopped. 
I can still listen to his voice tell me important things I need to know from an audio CD I have.
I can still read his words via a letter that her wrote to me that says he LOVES ME and wants me to be HAPPY and have a SMILE on my face. 
I am his WORLD!  And he was MINE!
Our Love - is ETERNAL.

See what I mean it's not really an end, but a temporary pause.  It feels like an end because we are mortal beings and its just the way we are programmed, but really it's just a little hiccup in life's journey.  I know that if Jesus Christ came to Earth and suffered ALL things for ALL mankind.  Why do I think that just because I'm doing good and trying to be good I shouldn't have hard times also.  Now, I haven't had a trial free life by any means, but I think the biggest and most challenging trial I've faced to date is that of losing my spouse.   I have to now take on the task that two people had set out to do together.  It's a bit of a daunting task, but I know that Heavenly Father is on my side and will help me through.  It's not going to be a walk in the park, but I know that our needs will be met, and that we'll be truly happy - one day.     I know that I do feel jipped that I didn't get 50 years with him here on earth, or that we didn't even make our 20th anniversary.  But, what's a few years whether it's 2, 10 or 50 years being away from him compared to ETERNITY. 

That boy and I are sealed together!  And that means just since he has passed on, that our marriage will continue in the next life.  I just need to keep myself worthy to make it where he already is.  I love looking at his photos, and remembering the stories behind them.   He was great at making me laugh, and great at telling me what I needed to hear even though I didn't want to hear it.   He was great at loving me unconditionally. He wanted me to be happy and he surely made me happy.   

Sunday, December 14, 2014

A fairytale, or not a fairytale -- that is the question.

I just keep thinking how my life with Chris was almost like a fairytale.  And the fairytale has been interrupted for who knows how long.  

If it weren't for the photos and my own memories, it would feel like the last 16 years of my life were just a dream, and now real life begins.  I often remember when something would come into the lives of people that I cared about, it made my heart ache for them in that situation.  And when people would willingly choose to do something that wasn't quite smart, it hurt too.   I would often ask Chris, why I cared about people so much?  Because if I didn't care about them, it wouldn't hurt!   I don't remember exactly how he would respond but basically his message was that that's who I am, I am a person that cares deeply for others, and hurt when they hurt and mourn when they mourn.   And that this is how God wants us to be.  He wants us to care for others, and love them, and serve them, and when they are hurting for whatever reason we should be there with them, to help them carry that burden.  

I'm naturally someone who likes to get out and help others as much as possible, and right now, I'm finding it hard to want to do that, because I don't have the energy, I'm too tired, or I'm just trying to discover who I am now.  It's been over a month since my sweetheart was called back home, and it feels like forever!  (I know, I'll probably keep saying that over and over, but that's how it feels.) 

Trying to rebuild my life without him being right beside me is going to be challenging and hard.  This isn't something I asked for, nor did I want it.  At least not to my knowledge.  It feels like a huge prank gone bad, and really don't like it.  

I realize that there are things I will probably want to go and do, but I have no one to go and do them with, and I don't want to be a third wheel either.  So trying to deal with those emotions has been challenging too.  I don't know what to do half the time, and I'm just trying to get through one day at a time and sometimes like today it's getting through one minute, or hour at a time. 

People keep asking me what I need, and really what am I supposed to say to that?  Oh, my kitchen is falling apart STILL, and I can't seem to make meals EVER, my livingroom is picked up one minute and 10 minutes later it's a MESS.  My toilet is having issues, my bathroom wall is falling apart, I'm falling apart, I'm exhausted, but I have so many things to do but they still aren't getting done.  How about, I almost had a dream home - Can you go ahead and make that magically happen?   I miss having a my man's arms holding me tight, what can you do about that, where I'm not going to feel awkward?   I'm lonely, and want to be around people and I have absolutely nothing to do, but everyone else is busy.  My husband is gone, can you bring him back?     Yes, see it's almost impossible to answer that question, because I will probably try and push it aside as if everything is okay when in fact and in reality everything is not okay.   

I constantly look at him in our family photo from a few years ago and just stare at him.  And I feel that in this case staring isn't bad.  I keep trying to remember what exactly it felt like to have him hold me tight, and it's starting to fade from my mind.  And that makes me sad.  I don't know how to feel about looking at all of his things everywhere.   I like them there, but I don't.  (See what I mean, you can't really define anything)  

My sons are great for giving me hugs, and my nearly 10 year old son is getting so big that his strong arms are starting to feel like a great substitute for his father.   I made him promise me that he would give me a hug WHENEVER I needed one and he said, Of course Mom!   And I told him that I'd give him one whenever he needed one.    

It's almost crazy how life can be redefined in a matter of minutes when the makeup of a family changes.  Whether it's through divorce or death.   I'm not comparing the two just the fact that life gets shaken up.  I'm trying to find what my purpose is now, when for so many years I was focusing on making our marriage stronger (with the exception of when I got a little sidetracked).  Now that I don't have our marriage to work on really -- what do I do now?    

I hate feeling alone, and I don't want to feel like I have to contact others, it would be so much easier if others could just drop in realizing that my place may look like a trash hole, which is embarrassing but sometimes instead of doing some kind of chore maybe I just need someone to come by that I feel really is concerned.  Sometimes it's just a shoulder to cry on that I need.  Someone there to help me feel like I'm not alone, even though I know that I'm not, but really it feels like it when all the tears come when I'm by myself.  

I feel like no one is really going to understand because if you haven't been through this (the loss of a spouse) you aren't really going to know a portion of what it feels like.  My heart still aches every day for the loss I have gone through and am still dealing with and trying to process.  I have an underlying feeling of sadness and loneliness ALL THE TIME.    It's apparently part of the process of grieving, and I still stand by the fact that my spirit is roaring like a lion but my heart and body aren't quite there yet.  

I find writing all my thoughts down right now, are the only way I can "Talk" about what I'm feeling because my other half isn't here with me to really tell it to.  I wish he was, oh how I wish he was!  

Saturday, December 13, 2014

"Dear God, was that really necessary?"

So,  I had a friend that passed away a year ago today.   He was in our ward along with his wife for a short time, and he was assigned to be our home teacher.  He was great with the kids, and they all loved him, we all did.  He was faithful in coming, and his smile was so contagious.   He had a big heart and was kind to everyone that I saw him interact with.   However, they had moved out before he had passed away, and they were expecting their first child.  It was a very touching story, and my heart ached, and I cried, and cried because I felt so sad for her, and what her life was now going to be like.  Little did I realize then what my own life would be like less than one year later. 

Well, I too am now taking the journey his sweet wife has been on for a year now.  I often looked to her for a source of strength while she was going through this, and though how amazing she was.   Well, I just sent her a message and realized it expressed a lot of my personal feelings that I wanted to preserve on my blog as well.  

"Oh Erica, my heart is hurting for you all over again! It's been 1 month today that my husband passed away and it feels like a lifetime or two. I can hardly see myself in a year ... I have similar feelings of guilt at least right at first because I kept thinking I should have taken my husband to the hospital sooner and I should have done this differently. And then I thought his family wouldn't like me anymore and would blame me for this ... and all of that I know isn't true, but as a human those were thoughts that I had coming from my brain.

Most days I feel like blah, and other days I feel like more blah... but I look back on just the few weeks that have passed and realize that I'm not the same I was a month ago. I miss my husband as much as I'm sure you miss yours, and I hate that anyone has to suffer this way too. I find myself crying in the car most of the time or late at night. And the only words I ever seem to get muttered are "I miss you like crazy , (or so much) and I love you, I need you." IN some order those get muttered and that's about it. This ache is deep and hurts like nothing I've ever felt before.

I know that I had a little bit more time with Chris than you were able to have with Josh, but when it's love, it's love and feels like they were taken way too soon.

I'm having a rough time trying to figure out who I'm supposed to be now. For so long it was the "two of us" and what our dreams were, and our plans, and now all of those have come crashing to the ground. So now I have to set out to try and find out who I am without the love of my life right beside me, but really I am clueless on where to even begin to look.

I was washing dishes the other night and was set off in a bout of crying because I realized that he wasn't coming through the kitchen door anytime soon to come up behind me and put his arms around my waist and kiss my neck and talk with me. It's crazy how simple little things or tasks or words will bring a flood of emotion to the surface.

Sorry this got a little wordy, I should just transfer this to my blog now that I'm thinking about it. But I just want you to know that I was thinking about you today, and my act of service was going to visit with Chris' father who lost his wife just three months before Chris passed away. And that brightened his day to have us go down to Santaquin to visit. - Just thought I'd let you know. I know we didn't know each other well before you moved out, but I love you as much as I loved having Josh as our home teacher! If I can help you out with anything or you need someone to talk with that might be able to relate a little better please just call, or stop by .

Hugs to you on a very difficult day. "
I did have a few great days in a row, and then yesterday (Friday December 12) I had a rough day again. The tears just don't seem to end, like ever!  But I'm guessing this will be the ride I'm in for, for the next little while.   I've been relieved regarding our financial situation now that our provider isn't physically able to, but really he still is, because he was such a hard worker and paid into a system that will now pay us back.  I hate that it comes to this, but I'm so grateful to know that this resource is available.   

I was talking with my sister in law Shantil today, and I was saying how before his passing, my life was always full of ways to strengthen our marriage.  And all the dreams and plans we had centered around "US".  Now that half of "US" is gone, there isn't a marriage to be strengthened right now, and there isn't an "US" in that sense anymore.   So I'm having a hard time trying to know what direction I go in, what it is that needs to happen.  I surely hope that I'm going to get the personal revelations regarding my family now, since my resident priesthood holder isn't on the premises in an earthly sense anymore.  

This isn't a job meant for one person, and I often want to repeat the lines from "Fiddler on the Roof" when Tevye says this, " Dear God, Was that really necessary?"   

So right now, I've got nothing, except trying to make it through each day.  I know the tears are good, and I need to work through this grief, but man oh man ... I keep wondering who got the short end of the stick?  I feel like he might have it a bit better right now, and I feel it's totally not fair to have to raise our children alone.  I feel I'm not going to do as good of a job teaching them everything they need to learn and know and that scares me a bit.  (Okay who am I kidding, it scares me A LOT!)

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Longest three weeks of my life so far ...

You know, I've learned a lot in just the last three + longest weeks of my life. 

Mostly about the atonement. As a younger person I didn't really understand what the atonement was really all about.  I had the idea that it was just for those that had done something wrong and that was it.  But now, NOW I realize it is so much more than that.  And it's the perfect thing in place for me to lighten the burden that I'm now left with.  And the other day before I went to the temple that realization of what it really was hit me, and so before the temple visit I handed that over to the Lord.  I feel at peace and I feel calm, even though things are really chaotic and crazy.  There are several unknowns in my future, but I feel that with Faith I can move forward and know that things will be okay.   This of course, doesn't take away the pain and hurt I feel in losing Chris, but at least it gives me something to look forward to.  

 I'm realizing now, that I was probably at the peak of my personal and spiritual growth with him here, and that for me to complete my learning and growing he had to go ahead of me. I realize how easy he made life for the kids and I.  He was pretty much perfect with a few bouts of obnoxiousness in there.  

Ben (Chris's brother) and Shantil and there family came by last night and were visiting for a while, and before Ben left I asked him for another priesthood blessing, because I have been having a few rough days where the emotions have been so close to the surface.  And the intense loneliness that I was feeling was so much to feel at once.  So in the blessing, I was assured of the Love my Heavenly Father has for me, and that he is still watchful over our family.   And towards the end of the blessing, it was said, "Your husband is still watching over you, and he is thinking of YOU all the time." 

That was something I had been worried with, if he was even thinking of me, and if he had just forgotten me and the kids.  And that just helped alleviate that concern.  He is so dearly missed, and I feel the ache pretty much every day.  And sometimes still can't believe that this is my life now.  It feels weird to try and move forward, and the idea of being truly happy and feeling joy in the future is hard to grasp.  Chris was the best part of my life, and my greatest blessing and now that he's not physically with me anymore I feel a huge whole in my heart and a deep ache in my body. 

Really quick though ... the other night I was having a rough moment and I was bawling and wailing and the kids were all in bed, and I just wasn't feeling so great about this situation at all, and after what seemed like a long time, I had this simple little thought to go and listen to his talk that he gave at his mom's funeral three months ago.   So I went to the computer and put in the audio CD and found the track that was his.  I can't tell you how soothing hearing his voice was to my soul.  I also had his stick of deodorant and kept taking whiffs and I was looking at a photo of him all at the same time and it brought me a lot of peace right then.  I know sounds silly.  But the part that really struck me in listening to the talk, the words he spoke were in regards to his mother, but it was like he was talking to me specifically and telling me answers to questions that I had been asking for the last several days and weeks since his passing.  So he was talking to me, in his voice and answering questions that I was having and it was amazing how calm I felt by the end of his talk.  He was and is a very wise man, and he was so great at comforting me when I really needed it.  And right now, I just wish he was here to bring me that comfort that I so deeply need.    

Anyway, sorry for the rant, I'm just in what I'm calling widow fog and whatever seems to come to mind seems to find it's way out of my mouth or typed onto the screen. 

We have church in a few hours (1pm) so I should probably make sure my kids start the long line of showers and baths to get everyone ready in time.  

And on a happier note, we'll be heading up to Temple Square tomorrow night (Monday) with Ben and Shantil and their kids to check out the lights.   I'm kind of excited for it.  I'm so glad that they had mentioned they were going to do it and offered the invitation for us to join them.   Because taking the kids anywhere and by myself isn't really desired or fun. So I'm glad we have someone else to go with.  

Not sure how today will turn out, since it's the first Fast Sunday since his passing.  I know the spirit will be strong and my heartache will be there too.  I might need to pack along extra tissues today.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

The beginnings of a very long journey

So I feel like my memory isn't going to be very solid for a very long time.  As it is, my memory of the first few days and weeks since my sweethearts passing are a bit of a blur.  And really it's a good thing.  

I remember pleading with the Lord that very night and the next day in between people coming over that he would erase the image that I last had of my sweet husband.   I cried, and cried because it wasn't a very pretty last image.  I just had a death experience three months earlier and it was so peaceful and spiritual and expected and we all came together and shared memories and the spirit in the home was so abundant.   

Now, with this experience from just a little over three weeks ago, which was completely different I find myself really struggling especially the last few days.   I remember lots and I mean LOTS of people stopping in to give me hugs, drop off things, clean up the kitchen - which had been a mess for almost a month since he first got sick and all my attention was spent trying to help him.   I had money given to us, and lots and lots of people giving me assurance that things would be okay.    We had people coming in to drop off food items, going shopping for paper goods, (toilet paper, paper towels, plates, bowls, plastic ware etc..)   

I feel overwhelmed to say the least.  I'm not used to being on this side of the service.  My  husband and I have been on the other side of giving to those in need, and it made us feel so good to help out where and how we could.   So I don't know if it's a bit of a pride thing that's hanging me up, but I find it really hard to be the recipient of such generosity and love.   

On the Saturday after Chris's passing, I was looking for a cassette tape that I know he recorded with the kids.  And I couldn't remember where it had disappeared to.  I had a thought as I was looking at his dresser/nightstand and saw his huge pile of neatly folded clothes and under all of that was a shoe box, and I thought "What if???"   So I removed all the clothes to the bed keeping the pile neat and folded, and sure enough after messing with stuff in the box, I found it.   I put it in the cassette recorder that we had and the only source to play a cassette and nothing on the side that was available to play at first.  So I flipped it over and rewound the tape a little and hit play.   

The first thing I hear is his voice and he's singing Chris LeDoux's  "Look at You Girl".   He always sang that to me and EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. I would end up in tears.   He sang fantastically, and whistled well too.  He was always singing these love songs to me and it melted my heart.   So when I heard him singing one of my favorites that he did, I instantly felt like I was getting a really tight hug.  And that's all I needed to know that I can do this.  No, it won't be easy.  No, it won't be fun.  Yes, I will miss him like crazy.  But it was his way of letting me know that he knew I can do this.  

Granted after the passing of a loved one, the first of everything tends to be really difficult.  But, I'm trying to face them head on.   I know I'm going in the right direction because I'm feeling peace and know in my heart that somewhere in the future I'll look back at this time and realize that it really was a major boost in my spiritual and personal growth.  But right now, I'm just in survival mode.  I can see how some might want to take their own life after such an extreme loss, and a traumatic experience.  No, I don't feel like that at all, because I have a responsibility to my children to continue to raise them.   And I know that my Heavenly Father loves me and is very mindful of my family.   I know the gospel of Jesus Christ is true!!  Families can be together forever and that means beyond the end of our mortal lives.   I know that I will see him again!  I can only imagine how sweet that reunion will be, and I look forward to it, but hopefully not for a very long, long time from now.  I want to enjoy my children growing up and experiencing all their firsts.  And eventually grandchildren when that time comes.   Chris and I are a perfect match for each other.  We made complete sense together.   Yes, life without him is going to be challenging, but that's what is going to make me into the person Heavenly Father wants and needs me to become.  And I don't think I would be able to become that person with my best friend, confidant, lover, and perfect husband remaining at my side.  

This isn't something I ever imagined to be in my life plan, and it's more testimony to me that I'm not in charge of my life really.   I can make plans, but have to be adaptable if reality changes.  Well, my reality has changed in a major way and now it's going to take some time to figure out what to do, and what my goals are now.  Since things that we had talked about and were planning are no longer going to happen.  

Everyone probably realized that we were set to close on a new house, and I've still felt pangs of sadness when I think how small this house feels and know that I was so close to being able to move into my dream house.  But I know that right where we are is the right place for us to be right now.   And I'm so thankful that Heavenly Father was actually showing me tender mercies all along to prepare me for this, but I didn't realize it as it was happening that it would be for an event as this.

I don't wish this on anyone, at an age like mine.  It's going to be rough, I'm going to be lonely, I'm going to be dead tired, and need breaks.  And my kids are going to want me to do "ONE" more thing, and everything that Chris and I did together I know I have to do on my own now.  And I'm overwhelmed to say the least.

My word of advice for those of you with your spouse still with you, if you aren't out of debt right now .... make a vigilant effort to get out of debt now!!!  Luckily we were out of debt earlier this year thanks to our effort of working together on our money matters, and we were ready to start helping others out exactly how we're getting helped out now.  No reason to delay it, you never know when one of you won't be there and trying to be responsible for debt after the passing of someone could be really hard to deal with.  So other than our home we don't have any debt.  I've been trained really well and will continue to use the system that Chris put into place.  He made it so simple and easy.   I thought going onto a budgeted amount of money for buying groceries was difficult and it sucked, but you know what -- I see now how that has helped me.   And I'm so glad my husband was perfect at preparing for the future.   

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Knocking on the window

So as I was asleep in my bed earlier, I was awakened by a knocking at the window.  It wasn't very loud but it was the same rhythm that we started years ago when we were first married. And it kept repeating.    

We lived in an apartment that was completely indoors without any exterior openings.  Probably not the most ideal apartment but it was what we could afford and it worked for the time being.  He had school and he worked at Subway.  I was very much pregnant at this time and just sat around our apartment because most of the time I was so sick.   So as he left our apartment every time, he would knock on the wall as he walked back down the hall opposite where our apartment door was.  He knocked three times, which meant "I love you".      And sometimes he would knock on it as he was coming down the hall to come home.  It made my heart jump when I heard it and I was always anxious for his return.  

So while laying in the bed asleep I kept hearing this knocking sound on our window.  I didn't actually look out to see what might have been causing it, but in my mind I was brought back to that time, and as soon as I made a connection that it was him telling me He loved me, the knocking sound stopped.   

He's still around and he's still here, but I'd much rather have him here and tangible.   Boy am I ever anxious for our reunion, but hopefully I get to experience more life with my kids before it's my turn.  It's not going to be easy, but hopefully with time I can enjoy life once again. 

Suffering a Great Loss

As many already know, my husband, my children's father,  Chris Randolph passed away unexpectedly Thursday night November 13, 2014.    

A night that forever changed our lives.  My heart was broken from this sudden loss, and I'm deeply saddened because my best friend, my lover, my husband and the father of my children is no longer with us here physically.   

The pain of the night that it happened is a pain I never want to experience again.  It's so real, it's so painful, and is worse than anything you can imagine.  

I've noticed though, that in telling my story about that night it's getting easier to cope with it.  So I want to share it here for anyone that is interested in knowing what happened.  I can't explain why it happened and I'm not going to attempt to either.  

My husband came home from work on October 17th and said he felt like he was coming down with something.   Sure enough by the next morning he wasn't feeling well at all. He had a fever going on, but was still his playful self.   A week went by with what we thought were symptoms of the flu (in hindsight).  After one week of feeling that bad we went to a family practice clinic to have him checked out.  They did x-rays and blood tests and after 1.5 hours in the office came into the room and said, "Yes, you are definitely SICK!"   They had taken a few chest x-rays and had the radiologist look at them and said, it looks a little hazy but it doesn't look like pneumonia.    He was already having difficulty breathing by this point.  We had been doing breathing treatments at home, and nothing seemed to be making it better.   He was still forcing  himself to go to work though. However, he missed the primary program at church that next day and he felt so bad that he had to miss it.  He just seemed to get worse through the next week.  He was showing up at work later and staying later and his coworkers were telling him he should be at home resting, and I think maybe even said he should be in a hospital for how bad he was.   He was so winded with everything he tried to do.  Just taking a shower was so hard.  

He missed going with our family to an indoor trampoline park a few days before Halloween, and even though it was lots of fun I wished he was there with us too!  We were in the process of buying a new house as well.  Things were seriously crazy!    I was gathering up those papers as I needed them, and had him sign as he needed to.  We were excited for that next adventure in our lives.  The setting was ideal and we were dreaming of all the stuff we could do with it.  On November 1st - later in the day around 9pm or so he was groaning on the bed and it was really as close to crying out in pain as he could get without actually crying.  Must be a man thing ...?? Not sure.     So, I instantly knew we should take him in, but he swore it was a pulled muscle from all the coughing he had been doing.  He said we could go in but lets wait till morning because he was tired and wanted to get some sleep - he was convinced it was a pulled muscle.  I got a little bit annoyed with him and left the room saying that if he didn't want to take my advice that was fine, but I was going to go back to the projects I was working on in the other room.   (Seriously there isn't much I could do to help this situation when he doesn't want the help.)

About two hours later he got up to use the bathroom and called for me and said that I was right.  We should get him in now.   His breathing was labored, it was painful and he felt the need that we should take him in to the ER.   So I told my older girls what was happening.  

We drove to Timpanogos Hospital in Orem, Utah - which is where our insurance is good at.  I pulled up to the ER entrance and ran inside and asked if there was a wheelchair, luckily there was one sitting right there in the hall so I grabbed it and ran back to the van where Chris was still sitting.  We got him in the wheelchair and got him inside the whole while he's holding his right ribcage.  We scanned in his drivers license and the lady behind the desk was printing stuff off and we finally got buzzed through the doors after a few seconds.  We were guided to a room beyond the triage area. They hooked him up to oxygen right away.  And started poking and prodding him with all sorts of needles and such.   They took him for an x-ray and sure enough he had pneumonia in both lungs and it was pretty severe.   The ER doctor told us that he was having us admitted and there started the 9 day stay at Timpanogos Regional Hospital.  He was on oxygen the whole time, he was doing breathing treatments around the clock, he was on morphine the first few days and he was not able to talk very well because his throat was pretty raw from all the coughing the last two weeks.  His appetite was not good.  This was a Saturday night.  Sunday - my hometeacher and his wife brought our family dinner after church that day. After I had a chance to eat I went up and visited with Chris.  A few other members from our ward went to visit him as well.  The visits were great but it was draining him of energy.   His Dad came later that same Sunday and they sat and watched a football game together.  He was there way after I had to leave and get home to my kids.  I hated to say goodnight to him.   I came back the next morning after the kids were at school and had my three year old with me.  We were there for about 5 hours and in that time I had to help him with his shower.  And I mean everything that needs to be done, I did for him.  I kept thinking to myself, if this isn't love, I don't know what is. 

 We spent time together over the next several days, most of it in silence but that was okay.  We just loved being with each other.  We are a team and we love doing things together. That Monday I brought the kids to see their Dad, and it was a circus for sure.   Needless to say I didn't stay very long that visit. The rest of the week had me going in the morning time and then come home for a few hours make sure the kids had food for dinner and then I'd go back in the evening for a few more hours.  Which I would help him brush his teeth, and occasionally we would watch a movie together.  That time was so precious to me now. (In sickness and in health - I was with him all the way)  I really hated leaving at night because I was afraid something would happen to him and I wouldn't be there to help him.  After a few days he didn't need the morphine as often and eventually stopped it altogether middle of the week. About that time his appetite was coming back.   Throughout the week several of his siblings came to visit him, some a few different times. 

I had to fight feeling guilty because I was spending so much time at the hospital while my amazing children were holding down the fort at home.   The kids were amazing through this.  I kept telling Chris how great the kids were being, and as such said, "Go ahead and start netflix for the kids.  Just be sure and tell them that I'm not going soft in the head but it's because they are being so great through this."  So on Friday I set that up for them (us) so that they(we) could be entertained here at home and I wouldn't feel as guilty being gone with my husband at the hospital.  I was forgetting to eat at home, so I would only remember as I was already heading up - so I stopped somewhere pretty  much every day and picked something up to eat back in his room.   We did jamba juice one night and just enjoyed being together.   Oh how I wish I could have that again.   I was getting really antsy for him to be back at home, with the rest of us where he belonged.  But his breathing was still having issues.    Saturday night we were informed that they would do a CT scan the next day to make sure they didn't see anything new or different and that as long as it was okay we could go home on Monday, November 10th.   They performed the CT scan on Sunday morning and nothing new was revealed.  So the doctor felt like it was okay to head home, however, he was hesitant in letting him come home.  Well, it sure took a while to get the okay to leave and come home. The kids enjoyed him being home, and he even had a stay outside in the fresh air bundled up sitting on a chair in the sun.  Esther had finally interacted with her Dad on her own accord, because in the hospital she didn't want anything to do with him.  

We got set up with oxygen here at home, and had a concentrator plugged in.  And I grew a serious appreciation for nurses especially those that cover the night shift.   He basically stayed in the recliner that we have in our living room and I'd still help him with all the things I was already doing while he was in the hospital.   Tuesday was a rough day since he didn't sleep well Monday night, so he had a hard time feeling like he could catch his breath all day. Tuesday night he slept better, and Wednesday was an AWESOME day.  We were finally hopeful that he was on the road to recovery. 

He was smiling most of the day felt really good, he was playing games with Esther, later that night we were watching Quantam Leap on Netflix, and sharing a big bag of dark chocolate m&m's.   And Esther especially loved that daddy was sharing with her!  Things were good, peaceful.  He stayed in the livingroom and I went to my bed to sleep.  Nervous as heck like the previous two nights at home and all the nights while he was in the hospital.  

We woke up the next morning, and from the start he was having a hard time catching his breath.   We headed down to Payson for a Dr. appointment as a followup from the hospital visit.   It was a cold day.  Chris was so winded by the time we got him into the building from the car, and he looked terrible - like he should have been in the hospital.  After a few tests, x-rays and breathing treatments in the office he was looking so much better.   Still extremely winded and difficult to feel like he was getting enough air.   According to the x-rays there he still had the pneumonia clear throughout both lungs and all over in the lungs.   We headed home, and it was now snowing.  And I remember telling him, "Gosh, this is when I wish you were well enough to be driving"  (I hate driving in tricky weather conditions).  

Upon getting home, we had a little bit of time before I had to go get my kids from school.  I remember sitting on my couch after the kids were home and thinking, "Oh man, I've got to go get something figured out for dinner, but I'm so exhausted)    No sooner had I finished saying that, one of our dear neighbors was knocking on the door with an armful of stuff to eat for dinner.  I started to cry when I realized that they were inspired to bring some food over.  Dinner was now taken care of.

My sister in law had come over to do piano lessons with my kids since it was that day of the week.   She brought two of her four kids with her, and we had a houseful of happy fun noise going on.  Chris didn't mind it at all.   Around 6 or 6:30 I proceeded to warm him up some of the food that was brought over which is some of the best stuff around.   And he had about 5 or 6 bites from his bowl before he needed to go use the bathroom.    So we pushed the table away from the recliner, and he got up and walked in there and sat down on the toilet and he was breathing so hard and so heavy (like he normally would when walking into that room, which wasn't very far away) and he asked me to rub his back and shoulders as this has usually helped to calm his breathing down previously and after 10 minutes of me doing that it wasn't getting any better.   Esther our three year old who is potty training and nearly there came running in, I have to go potty!   We only have one bathroom and I started to panic not knowing what I could do so that she wouldn't have an accident but ... the first thought that came, run her next door.  So I ran her over and luckily the neighbor was home and let us use their bathroom.  And as I was leaving, her husband was coming in from being at work or something like that.   I ran back home, and put Esther down, and ran to Chris and saw him laying on the floor between the sink area and the toilet/tub area.    I almost got a little freaked out right then, till I realized he was conscience and I ran up and knelt by him and rubbed his head and asked him if he fell.  He said, that he didn't fall but that he felt light headed, so he laid down.    I ran to get the oxcimeter we bought just a few days ago, that helps monitor the oxygen level, and pulse rate.   The first time I put it on, it read low 70's for his oxygen level and mid 40's for his pulse rate.  Now I started to freak out.   I told him we needed to get him to the hospital.

Because he is a big guy there was no way I could do this on my own.  I ran back next door trying to remain as calm as possible and recruit Kawika.  He came over, and I sent a daughter to the other neighbor to get him.  Chris was down on the floor for at least 30 minutes and could not get up on his own.  We helped get him up to the chair that I put in there and he suggested to swap it out with the black desk chair that has wheels.  Brilliant on his part - like he always is.   So we got him to the black chair, and in this process realized he was covered in sweat - just from laying on the floor.  I knew something wasn't quite right.   

We got him in the car with the help of another friend that was walking by right at that moment and I had pulled the van up onto the lawn so that we didn't have to go to far to get Chris in the car.   Once in, I left and just took off.    (I had already arranged a ride for my 10th grade daughter to get up to the high school since she was part of Pirates of Penzance).     On the way to the hospital before we got on the freeway he was still telling me how to drive.   I could hear him breathing since it was pretty darn audible.  And I was nervous as heck driving him up to Timpanogos hospital where we had just been released three days earlier.   By the time I was at the intersection right in front of the hospital, halfway through the turn, it got eerily quiet and after I finished the turn I looked over and it was pretty.  My sweetheart had stopped breathing on me.  I was crying and pleading that he stay here, and as I pulled into the parking lot he was falling over into me since we hadn't buckled him in.  So I put up a hand to hold him up and his face was so lifeless.  Right then, I knew things were never going to be the same.   I was honking my horn as I was pulling up, and screaming for help.  Luckily two people were walking out just as I pulled up and I fumbled to remember how to get my window down and once I did, I screamed that he wasn't breathing!!   They ran inside and within seconds here came a team of people running out and the first doctor opened up the car to check the situation, and I'm completely hysterically crying he assured me that I did everything I should have.  He wasn't breathing but he had a pulse.  It was a weak pulse, but it was a pulse.    They had a hard time trying to get him from the car to the gurney, and off they went running into the hospital.    I came running, and crying right behind them. 

 The people at the desks were so kind and helpful asking me who they could call for me.  And the first person that came to mind was my sweet sister in law Amy.   I knew her number and they called her.    I hadn't remembered to bring either of our phones so I didn't know anyone else's number.  However, I did remember to bring my kindle fire with me, and left it in the van.  I gave my keys to one of the ladies and told her she could move it out of the way too.   So I pulled up LDS Tools to get my bishops number and from there, I can't quite remember anything else except reaching my parents was pretty hard.  And we managed to call his Dad.      These amazing people were doing there best to make me comfortable and calmed down as much as I could be under those circumstances.   The Dr. was very honest and upfront with me, and said it really was serious and didn't look good.   Remember, I already knew it wasn't going to be the same.   Through a crack in the ER room they pulled him into I could see them doing the chest compressions and that set me off about the reality of the situation, someone noticed my view from there and adjusted the curtain so that I couldn't see.   

Eventually Amy showed up and she had no idea what was going on, other than it was about Chris.   So she was with me, and they had us head back to a private room away from the craziness, and we just cried.  The Dr. came in again and said that they were doing everything they could and had this been a nursing home patient they would have stopped already.   They worked on him for 15 - 20 minutes before they came in and called it.   My bishop was in the room and of course, Amy.   So I wasn't alone, but felt so alone.  

I had some of my good friends from my neighborhood end up at the hospital along with Chris's Dad.   And the whole thing was just surreal.  The doctor told me that when I was ready I could go in and see him.  It took a little bit of time.  I just kept thinking this isn't happening.  My husband didn't just pass away.   

After some time and priesthood blessing from Chris's father, and my bishop I felt like it was time to go see my sweetheart.  They warned me that he had a tube coming out of his mouth.  That he was basically naked, but that a blanket was covering him up.  And they had cleaned the room up.   It was definitely hard to go into the ER room where he was at, but it helped me understand how real this situation really is.  I kissed his forehead, and searched for his hand under the blanket.  His skin was so cold, but he did look peaceful.  His illness was now over.   

But that's when my journey was just beginning.   It's not one I would suggest.  But really the spiritual side of everything I was roaring like a lion, but my heart and body weren't there yet.   They probably won't be for a while, and that's okay.  From what I hear it takes time some longer than others, but it takes time. 

So upon getting ready to leave I had a friend drive my van home with me sitting right where he had just been.  Luckily my role in the van this time wasn't the same so it wasn't too hard for me, but it did take a few days before I got up the courage to face that difficult challenge.    

This story will continue in another post. 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Reflecting on lives lost

Sometimes things happen that might completely change your life.   Sometimes for the worse, but hopefully for the best.   Sometimes we don't expect these desired changes to ever take place.   And then one day you get an overwhelming feeling that NOW, now it is time to proceed to the next step.   

Well, we might be approaching one of those moments.  And really it's kind of exciting and scary all at the same time.   Not sure when I really want to announce what that is exactly.   But just know that good things are coming to our family.  We truly are blessed in almost every facet of our lives and we like to extend those blessings to those around us. 
Recently we lost our dear sweet mother, Mary Randolph - Chris's mother.   On August 14, 2014 she passed away into the world of spirits.   She was kind, thoughtful, loving and a joy to be around.   She loved her family and clear up till the end she would light up when a grandchild would come into her sight.  We had a very great experience for about two weeks.   I could feel the spirit extremely well the days prior to her passing, and there were moments of laughter as we reminisced and told stories, and there were also moments of great sadness knowing what was about to happen.  Even as I type this the emotions are coming to the surface again. 

It was such a different experience to go through the death of a loved one and not be so far away geographically to know what was really happening.  It was sweet, it was tender, it was very spiritual.  It's always hard to think of living on without someone so loved and important to her family.   It's almost hard to comprehend that life really does go on for everyone else.  

Sometimes as I make the drive down to Santaquin, where my in-laws live, I feel like I'm going to show up there and she'll come walking out from her bedroom.  (and I would just jump for joy to see her even do that - as she couldn't walk really at all the last several months of her life).  She is missed everyday!  Little Esther will come up to me and say, "Grandma's in heaven."   She barely turned three after Mary's passing.  I am amazed at how much she knows at such a young age.   

It was definitely a rough time for our little family, because we lost her on one day, and the next day we heard that the first Bishop that we had after we bought our home here in Provo was killed while on the job.  It was a major shock to the ward, stake and neighborhood.   He was a great man, and as Christ like as they come. We were unable to attend any of his services because everything was at the exact same time as Mary's.  It was such an emotional time, but I'm so glad that the family was able to ALL be close and have those last few days with her as she was crossing over.   

Then just a week ago, a month after the funerals for the other two people, we found out that a young father age 30 unexpectedly died from a pulmonary embolism.  His cute wife just gave birth to their second child 8 weeks before.   I'm amazed at her faith through this.  I had the chance to talk with her two days after he passed away and she is a strong woman.  I want to be like her.  Life is so precious and fragile, and there really is no time to harbor ill feelings towards those you care about, or are part of your family.  

Thursday, May 15, 2014

My sweet two year old ....

 There are advantages to having a cute little two year old, and photography equipment. And oh yeah, knowing how to take an excellent photo.  So, with both of these photos it was completely impromptu.  The first one I had set up just to practice with my flash and using the backgrounds and where I should place the light.  She was in her pajamas still and I think she might have even had "stuff" on her face.  She's still stinking cute!   

This bottom one is from right after doing a newborn session for a friend.   Esther saw a piece of hard foam equipment that I had in the room and she moved it over and said, "Take a picture Mommy!"  she wanted me to, so who am I to say NO?   Right, so I worked with it.  Now I really want to take off and do more "studio" types especially during the cold months so I can keep busy.    So just remember if you want to schedule a session contact me and lets work something out.   (

That smile!  It's kind of her "I'm a stinker, but know I'm cute" smile and I wouldn't have it any other way.    Here's to having a cute little two year old running around.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Trying to play a year of catch up .... how am I doing?

Oh my goodness I can't believe how much of a slacker I've been in recording our families happenings.  I'm going to be better at this from now on.  I miss looking back over the last several months and seeing the fun little things that have happened with us, or for us.   So I am going to start right now.   A quick recap of our year so far ....

It's been a lot different than last in that we haven't had many illnesses as we did last year. For which I am truly grateful.   We had a lot of sad news come to us from family and friends towards the end of 2013 such as a previous home teacher Josh Robison passing away 1 day after his first child and son were born.  He was in his early 20s - clearly not long enough to spend with his sweet wife and now new son.   

Secondly we witnessed (rather Chris) a person attempt to take his own life and all while we had visitors and lots of little kids running around and playing as kids do.  Thankfully not one of the kids actually saw what was attempted and neither did I.   That I consider a tender mercy from my Heavenly Father.   

That same weekend as the attempted suicide we also found out that a great friend of Chris's was to report to a federal prison the following Monday (only two or three days after we initially found out). Chris did have a chance to talk on the phone with said friend the night before he left, and we've been in constant contact since then and have watched him grow in many ways.  While he is going through his own set of trials now because of choices he made, we are considering it a tender mercy that God's timing in things happening in our own life has been a blessing to others already.  

And the most recent bout of news that has affected me more than the rest of the family - I found out that some close friends of mine went through a divorce and finalized back in March. I was clueless!  Had no idea that anything was wrong.  So I have a lot of questions floating in my mind and hopefully in the future I can have some of those answered.  I happened to find out the night before Chris had the entire day scheduled off and so I find it an incredible tender mercy from my father in heaven that my sweet husband was there for me, after his dental appointment, to cry on his shoulder and to have his arms wrapped around me as I tried to process this devastating news.   

More happy news to tell though ....  We've celebrated lots of birthdays (I hope to go into individual posts for those in the near future but for now this is going to have to do) 
We have Katherine involved with Ballroom dance at her jr. high school, and it's so fun going to watch her perform right along with her team.  She's so talented with this and looks absolutely graceful.  She auditioned for Timpview High School and made the JV team for next year.  However, we did find out that it's a before/after school program now and we're not sure how well that will work out.  Too bad my kids didn't drive themselves yet.   

Heidi has been making friends with some wonderful girls in the neighborhood and now one of her friends lives right next door as of a few weeks ago (almost).   It's been fun having her taunt off with these kids and seeing her grow as a person.   I love seeing her break away from her shyness shell ... it's about time!    

Thomas and Ethan are now enjoying baseball again.  Thomas is playing legit baseball and is playing mostly the part of the catcher.  So he has to put all that catcher's gear on and at first he was very upset about doing it, but his team won their game last Monday and now he's a bit more excited to play.   I'm excited to watch him grow as a player and develop this skill.  Along with watching his younger brother start learning more of the mechanics of the game as he is doing machine pitch this year.   

Kaylee just turned the ripe old age of 15 and has crushes galore.  Trying to keep her head in reality seems to be difficult these days as she's oohing and aahing *spelling  over these cute boys she sees just about everywhere.  After all she is now at the end of her ninth grade year and she's at a high school full of cute boys.   But I think she's also excited to get to the point of taking her test to get her permit ..probably this summer. (Maybe)    
I'm busy with my photography business "Wendy Lynn Photography" and am working on ways to bring in more clients and attract more clients.   It's always fun to spend time with these people and then see their reactions when they see their photos afterwards.   I don't know why I didn't fall into this years ago instead of just recently.   It's fun, challenging and feels very rewarding when a client is happy.   However it is only part time right now, but hopefully in a few months it'll be a bit bigger.  (Crossing fingers)  (

Chris is working steadily at Solution Services still and coming up on his 9th year there.   So great to be married to someone who has a great work ethic and has tendencies that make keeping employment very possible, and makes him very likeable.   

Esther is busy being a toddler, learning to use her scooter, even trying to put on roller skates, dressing and undressing herself, and is quite the chatter box as well as a smart alec.  Can you believe that?  She's 2 1/2 and she's already a smart alec.   Oh boy ...   

What's going on in your neck of the woods?