Thursday, April 11, 2024

Ignorance is Bliss?

Aaron & Linnaea May 2023
Hi Aaron,

Tonight I picked up Linnaea again from ballroom practice and brought her home, and we stopped by the cemetery. She asked why, and I told her it was so I could tell you goodnight. 

She thought we would see you. I so wish...

She asked where you were, so I told her that your body was there, but your spirit, the real part of you, was with Heavenly Father and Jesus in heaven. 

The next question?

"Where's heaven?"

Oh baby, I wish I knew, I really do. And when I told her I didn't know, she said she didn't either. She asked when we would see you again, and I had to tell her not for a long, long, long time.

I did tell her that They love you even more than we do, and that's a whole lot! And then I silently cried because I needed to not upset her. She is so innocent and just took it all in. I envy her faith and trust.

I was looking back today at some of my older posts, trying to find some information for another mama, and was struck anew with how miraculous your life was. And how precarious. And how I truly had no clue.

So many times...

So close...

And I honestly had no idea. Or maybe it's because it wasn't your time yet. 

In looking back, I found where I asked Daddy if it was strange that every Thanksgiving I wondered if we would still have you here for Christmas. That was back in 2018, and I remember every single year that thought went through my mind. 

Except 2023.

Oh, the hubris...

When we went in on the night of the 9th and your viral panel came back positive for Flu A, I figured maybe five days in the hospital, well before Christmas. And then the 13th hit and I realized it wasn't going to be quite that quick, but still, it would happen. 

Even on the night of the 22nd, I was pretty sure that even though we would celebrate Christmas in the hospital (again), we would be home by the 26th or 27th at the latest.

The 26th found Daddy and I at the mortuary choosing your casket, determining your resting place, buying burial clothes.  The 27th I cleaned out all of your medical supplies and sent them away. And the 28th, the day I was sure you would be home by, we dressed you one last time.

Oh Aaron, the last two days were actually pretty good ones. But today, oh today...

I was doing okay, returned your stone and flowers to the cemetery and went to work. And then I saw the news reporting a possible active shooter situation at SUU, you know, where Sarah and Joseph are, and my heart stopped again. I grabbed my phone, fumbled to open it to text them, and then saw Joseph's text that they weren't on campus and were safe.

But Aaron, for those few seconds... 

I now know what it is like to lose a child, to bury my baby. Just ... just no. 

And then going by to tell you goodnight.

Goodnight, my son. 

I love you.

Miss you.

"Ignorance is bliss. I wish I still had some."

- Adam Pascal 

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

The Feels...

Hey kiddo,

I stopped by Westlake today and picked up Linnaea. It's concert week which means Deborah is tied up there until late every night and Linnaea isn't nearly as much help as she thinks she is. Since I work just down the road on Tuesday and Thursday, I go back after and rescue both of them. 😉

But anyway, she missed her mom almost immediately and was sad on the way home, so I handed her my stuffies from my dashboard, plus the two that don't fit and are kept in the glovebox. 

They kept her busy for a little while. But then we talked about feelings. I told her it was okay to be sad, because when we miss someone it's because we love them. And when we're sad, we cry. She asked where my mom was (because that's her frame of reference, that's who she was missing) and I told her my mom is all the way in Arizona, and I miss her. And I miss you. She said she missed you, too, and her mom, and her dad and Barrett 'cause they're a family and are supposed to be together.

Yeah, families are supposed to be together. And I have faith that we will be. 

Today was an "okay" kind of day, Aaron. Getting going was a little rough, but no rougher than it has been and not as bad as many days. I was worried about taking her to the cemetery to pick up your things tonight; I worried about how she would take it.

But it didn't seem to phase her at all. She helped gather your things, and then she wanted to gather them for other people. Oops! I persuaded her that we needed to just do yours. She really was pretty matter of fact, like she was when she asked "where are we" when your room was cleaned out. 

We are so blessed to have her in our life, and Barrett and Elend. And I'm so excited for your next nephew to come, but hopefully a few more weeks away. 

I'm trying to be open to my feelings. There's grief and pain, but also comfort and sometimes glimmers of joy. They kinda all get mashed together: joy and hope and sorrow and wonder and anger and love and maybe even excitement (sometimes). 

I miss you, kiddo. I miss you so much. It's very strange to pick up your stone and flowers from the cemetery and put it in my car. When I look back, it is so bare. And honestly, there aren't a lot of stones right by you anyway. The plots have been purchased but not needed yet. 

It comes in waves, Aaron. Saturday was hard, Sunday was okay. Yesterday I completely broke down and lost it. And today, it's not as bad, at least yet. 

I'm starting to find my sea legs; I don't like it, but I'm learning to live with it anyway. I mean, it's not like there's really another option. I hope you're looking down and know how much you're loved. My precious, precious child. I love you.

“Often the test of courage is not to die but to live.”

– Conte Vittorio Alfieri

Sunday, April 7, 2024

General Conference 2024

April 2021 Conference
Hey Aaron,

It's Conference weekend, and it was strange this year, kinda like everything is lately, since you left.  

I look at other pictures, back through the years, and so many times we had blankets spread all over the carpet to protect it from sticky finger and greasy popcorn. The room was (relatively) crowded. This year it was pretty much Daddy, Michael and me, plus sometimes the dogs. No blankets, no Conference bingo, no wheelchair, no beeping...

It was hard to pay attention, somehow. I kept going back in time to when I would get up during the intermediary hymn to get your food, or do your treatments, or whatever. 

Or the several times we were in the hospital, in the PICU, and I would miss talks because it was time for rounds, or specialist visits or, I don't know, something...  

I need to get back to the temple. I haven't been since the day we dressed you, and for so long before I didn't dare go anywhere I had to turn off my phone. I need that comfort, that guidance. 

This new freedom still seems strange. 

This week is concert week for Westlake ballroom so I'll go by and pick up Linnaea on Tuesday and Thursday, and she'll hang out with me on Wednesday because I don't work that day. Deborah said she'd try to pay attention to her phone so I didn't have to come in, and I reminded her that I don't have to get home to sign anyone out...

April 2011 Conference

Aaron, I didn't think I really had any "what ifs" regarding you. When you left, I took it on faith that it went the way it was supposed to go. But lately, they've plagued me. So I cling to the promise that you would be here until your mission was fulfilled. I have to. And I'm working on changing those "what ifs" to "even ifs". 

I'm trying, really I am. And sometimes I do okay, maybe even good. But then it seems to bubble up again and I'm just, well, something... 

Here's what I wrote while I was trying to listen and take notes today:

This is hard, my whole body hurts (probably from sitting on the couch all day yesterday). It seems weird to not be needing to do so many things for you in between conference sessions, or even during. This is the 26th conference since you were born and it is the first time you're not here. I feel sluggish. I try to listen but am distracted. I just want to crawl back in bed. But I'm trying, I'm listening, trying to be where I can to recieve help.

A couple things that stood out to me were that He knows me, knows my pain, and wants to bless me. Miracles have not ceased and there are angels among us (are you one of them?). And by consistent effort, even slow effort, I can maintain momentum and not be completely at the mercy of the waves that seek to pull me under.

So I will. I will keep trying. And I will keep acknowledging when it's hard, 'cause it is hard! Those feelings are important, and I believe that my grief is due to my love for you. But while it will not "go away", I can grow in it and through it and around it. So I'll keep moving forward.

I mean, what other choice really is there?

"When we trust God and His love for us,
even our greatest heartbreaks can in the end work together for our good."

- Gerrit W. Gong 


Friday, April 5, 2024

Friday into Saturday Again...

Friday into Saturday.


Without you.

I've actually been able to talk about you, and my grief, lately and not break down. But somehow, somehow my body seems to know when it's time again.

I find dread starting to creep in on Thursday evening. 

And then it hovers in the wings Friday morning.

I do manage to go to work and set it aside. After all, it's my story, not my clients' and they deserve my full attention.

But then the trip home on Fridays always seems so dark, even though the sun is out. There are nights I can make it home without crying, or at least without sobbing. Not on Fridays.

Tonight Daddy and I watched Maleficent: Mistress of Evil. A fun show, it's been way too long since I saw it to remember everything.

I forgot that she dies and Aurora is heartbroken. Those sobs, that anguish...  And I was right back at your bedside again.

Tomorrow is General Conference, Aaron. How many times over the years did we watch from the hospital? Usually the PICU? I really don't know. But we also were home for many of them, and each time I tried to get a picture of you watching. You especially loved the music. Sometimes I wrote about it, like when I reflected on listening to the choir sing, "My Life is a Gift" from your PICU room, and how your life was, is, a gift, a precious one.  

But recently I found a post that I started but never finished. Do you remember how I would take notes, in large part to help me focus? Well, here's the only part I got down from that time:

 "Mortality is only the second act of a three-act play.  The atonement covers all unfairness in life." 

 I'm pretty sure it's not an exact quote, but oh, it speaks to me. I'm grateful I wrote it down whenever it was because now I cling to it. 

I love you so much. Miss you dreadfully.

The leaves of memory seemed to make
A mournful rustling in the dark.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Another New Month...

Hey Aaron, it's April.

Actually April 3rd. April 2nd I went to your spot and picked up your things so that they could mow and clean up the cemetery. It looked so bare, but then I decided to leave the flowers Mary had brought. I know by now they're gone, but they were looking a bit ragged anyway, and I just couldn't leave it with nothing there at all. 

Tomorrow I'll take your things back again. I now have an alarm set for 6:30 pm every Tuesday that says "cemetery" because I don't want to even chance forgetting to pick them up and losing them forever. 

Oh, kiddo...

It almost felt like a really bad April Fool's joke, with the joke being on me, 'cause you're not here. 

Yesterday I also went up to Primary's. I've been twice before but once was to meetings over in the clinic building, in a part that you never went to, and the other to a meeting in the main hospital but again, in an auditorium that you never saw. 

Yesterday I went to see someone in the PICU. It was the overflow section, so not where you left, but in the room you were in before you became so critical. It actually wasn't as hard as I thought it would be, but it still seemed strange to walk onto the unit. 

And because it was the overflow, I didn't have to call in to be admitted. I just walked in and back there. But that wasn't you in the bed this time. I think I did startle a few people. They were rounding just after I got there, and then pulmonology came by. Both times I just kinda sat back in the corner. After all, it wasn't my child this time. 

And the mama, my friend, well, she's pretty awesome. She's just starting the trach part of their journey, and together, she and her girl are going to rock it! I took her some of your old (unused) trachs so her kids could play with them and she could do "surgery" on a doll for her daughter. 

Do you remember when we trached Bunny? And how many times you decannulated him? And how I freaked out until I realized it wasn't "your" trach you were holding or had thrown on the floor? I think you thought that was pretty funny. I also think I can credit you with more than a few of my (now many) gray hairs. 

Today Mary, Michael and I went to the Manti Temple open house. It was beautiful, and not something we could have really done with you. It is very much not wheelchair accessible. Plus, we stood in the sun for about two hours waiting to get in. I'm grateful we had the opportunity, and I also remember taking you to the Saratoga Springs open house. And the Provo City Center one. But while I just enjoyed being with you in Provo, in Saratoga I felt the whisperings of the end. As we sat in the Celestial room there, I remember thinking this would be the last time I got to be in a temple with you. And it was. 

Oh, Aaron, I feel so selfish. Your time here is done, and I'm now much more able to be present for your brother, but I still miss you so much, on a visceral level, a deep celular part of me hurts. 

I've heard that when a mother carries a child, there is a transfer of some of the fetal cells so that forever after, her body carries part of the child. So does that mean that the umbilical cord is never truly severed? And is that why I feel like part of me is now missing, lost, gone and I ache to find you? 

You know, I learned the other day that in February, plots in our little cemetery went up significantly. When I mentioned that to Daddy, he replied that he would have gladly paid the difference if that meant you had been here just three more months.

Me too, little man, me too. 

But it would not have been fair to you. Your body was so tired, your soul so weary. You  fought for so long and you deserve to rest.  I just wish I could convince my heart of this. 

In my before,
I would have never imagined
grief to be such a 
penetrating experience.

But today, I know better.
Your absence is felt on a cellular level.

Franchesca Cox

Monday, April 1, 2024

The Power of Music

Aaron, I was home alone tonight for quite a while. Michael left for work before I got home, and Daddy was working late.

And I was missing you (so what else is new?). 

So I watched your vidoes, the one from your funeral, and the 5000 days one.  Between the music and your smiles.... 

Kiddo, you have the best smiles, just like your brothers and sisters. And the same mischievous looks. I can only imagine the hijinks you guys would have gotten up to had you been more mobile. As it was, you teased them pretty good, especially Michael.

You would have missed him so badly when he left for his mission if you were still here. But I guess this way, maybe you get to go with him instead?

So after I watched the videos (and cried some), I started looking at the piano. I really haven't played much in so, so long, and yet you loved music. You got so excited every time music therapy showed up.

So I found my piano music and sat down. It was pretty rough, I won't lie. I was glad there was no one around to hear it.  But before I stopped, I pulled out Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata. I haven't played that one in years, maybe over 20, and not much even then since high school, more than 35 years ago. Guess what kiddo? It was okay.  I mean, it was a bit off, but the muscle memory was definitely still there. And it felt good.

Maybe I need to do this more. 

Do you listen to music in heaven? Do you sing and rejoice? Do you miss me, too? I can't wait to sing with you someday.

I love you, kiddo.

Miss you, too. 

"In some music, one hears the metronome of the soul."
~Dr. Idel Dreimer

Sunday, March 31, 2024

Easter Sunday

As I sit here on Easter morning, I am humbled, overwhelmed, devastated, and yet hopeful. 

Somehow I thought I understood Easter before, and maybe I did, in the same way that a third grader learning to do multiplication and division understands combining numbers. Or maybe more like a much younger child adding and subtracting. 

I'm sure I'm nowhere near the level of a graduate student.

But maybe I'm beginning to really learn...

Oh, Aaron, I cling to the Resurrection, the joy of Easter, the rising of Christ, the hope of eternal life, and to seeing you, holding you again.

It's quiet here, soft music playing and the heater blowing, but nothing else right now. Everyone else sleeps and I sit by the window waiting for the sun to rise. It's cold, snowy, not much like what stories and greeting cards portray. But it's Easter just the same, Easter Rocky Mountain, crazy Utah style.

And grief is not what I expected either. I knew, academically, that it was hard and long and . . . well, something. But somehow I thought that knowing this was coming for so long, studying and learning, I'd be better equipped in some what to handle it. Reading about soul-wrenching, gut-aching pain is very different than experiencing it.

But I know He knows, and He knew, and He has been through it in ways that I simply cannot (nor wish to) imagine. And He holds me, and you. 

Bit by bit, the sky grows lighter. Each Easter I look up what time the sun rises, hoping to catch it. And each year I remember that it comes later than I've learned. We are so close to the mountains on the east that the shadows last longer than expected. So I sit, and I ponder and pray, and wait, much like I wait for comfort, for relief, even for you. 

Growth is hard! It stretches, molds, hurts, but I have faith that it makes me more than I am. 

Happy Easter, Aaron.

He is risen, risen indeed. 

Easter morning 2023

But there is a resurrection, therefore the grave hath no victory,
and the sting of 
death is swallowed up in Christ.