Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Best Two Years

Time is an odd thing.  It has now been just over a month since we've had our little Eli with us.  In some ways it feels like the longest month of my life and in other ways it feels like the quickest.  Despite only living for a short four and a half months, we are fortunate to have a million memories with our little guy.  I love that I can say I vividly remember taking every single one of these pictures: 


Many events and expressions are captured in these pictures all the way from the day Eli was born to his first bath at home to celebrating Superbowl Sunday to the day his rash started showing up to some of his final days in the ICU.  I love the pictures that don't mark any big event but that he's simply smiling in because that truly shows how he was for the majority of his life--happy!  Several people have asked me since Eli passed away if he was miserable most of the time and I am quick to tell them: "No!" The last 6 weeks, while he was in the ICU, were undoubtedly hard on him but before that, Eli was a happy, thriving baby and I will always cherish every moment we had with him!

Because of the incredible power of the spirit, Logan and I are doing pretty well.  As expected, some days are much tougher than others but because of the amount of support we have continued to receive as well as the joy of what we believe in, we have found an immeasurable amount of peace in our lives.  

We have had the luxury of settling back into life at our own pace and haven't had to rush into anything which has been a huge blessing.  Logan has been getting ready to go back to school this fall and is also working here and there while I have been working a little bit and helping out with the Murray basketball team as well.  Before the end of the summer we have a few vacations to look forward to and can't wait to soak up some sun!

I'm a few days premature but Sunday will be mine and Logan's two year anniversary!  We have definitely experienced some bumps in the road but I would feel very ungrateful if I failed to mention what an amazing two years it has been.  I knew a long time ago that I wanted to marry Logan and to this day I am amazed that I have been blessed with such an incredible husband, best friend and father to my children.  Not a day goes by that I don't thank my Heavenly Father for placing Logan by my side to experience both the happy and hard times in life.  I hope you know how much I love you, Rico!!  I can't wait to celebrate on the beach!!

Friday, June 21, 2013

All Natural

Logan and I had the opportunity to babysit my brother's little Lily a few days ago when they went to the USA vs. Honduras game.  As soon as they dropped her off Logan took right over and was so cute with her.  She loved watching Baby Einstein with her Uncle Logan and if he wasn't holding her, she would sit on the ground and watch his every move, including whenever he left the room.  It made me so happy to see Logan have so much fun with her.  He is definitely a natural when it comes to the kiddos!


We have received two incredible personalized drawings since Eli passed away that are honestly too amazing to describe.  I attempted to take a picture of them so everyone else can get an idea of how wonderful they are but the quality isn't great.  The first one has such a neat story to go along with it.  The woman who drew this picture saw Eli's obituary in the newspaper one day and felt impressed to draw him according to what she thought he'd look like as a little boy.  She said she felt his spirit so strong while she was drawing it that she had to stop because she was crying so hard.  She drew him in a white shirt and tie because missionary work is likely one of his biggest focuses right now.  I was speechless when I saw it because it truly does look just like him even though we never saw him that old.  I know she was inspired while she drew this picture because I see Eli all the way in it.  She drew this picture, wrote us a letter and dropped it off at the cemetery and asked them to give it to us without leaving any contact information.  I hope one day I will be able to personally thank whoever gave us this incredible gift.


The second drawing came from the sister of some wonderful friends of ours.  Once again, the artist's ability to capture Eli so perfectly completely amazed me.  It may be difficult to see in this picture but his face in this drawing is almost identical to what he really looked like.  The mouth, hair and cheeks look exactly like our baby boy.  I think my favorite part of this drawing is Eli holding Jesus' finger.  I can practically feel the love coming from this picture!


Earlier this week I went to lunch with several of the SCID moms that live in the area.  Talk about an amazing group of women!  They are all such insightful people.  I had such a fun time visiting with these ladies and can't wait to do it again soon! **Beginning July 1st (I'm pretty sure that's the date) Utah will officially have a newborn screening for SCID!  This is fantastic news considering it greatly increases the baby's chance of survival if it's caught early on.  Many thanks to all of those that have made this happen--including some of those women that were at lunch with us on Tuesday.  Thank you, thank you!**

For those of you that weren't able to make it to Eli's viewing or Funeral, I am uploading the following video for you to see.  A friend of ours made it for us and did a fantastic job capturing many of the memories we have with our little guy.  



Thursday, June 13, 2013

A Welcomed Distraction

My oldest brother and his wife and kids currently live in Minnesota so we don't get to see them nearly often enough.  As soon as Eli passed away, their entire family bought plane tickets to Utah.  It was so good to have them around during such an emotional time.  Unfortunately my brother had to go back to work after a week but his wife and their boys were able to stay for a second week.


How cute are they?!

Love them!
My brother and his wife had the opportunity to come out and meet Eli on separate occasions after he was born but unfortunately their kids weren't able to.  When they heard Eli had passed away they were heartbroken that they never had the chance to meet their cousin but instantly displayed the perfect faith of children when they said: "It's okay that we didn't get to meet Eli because he will always be in our hearts and we will see him again."  I strive to have that kind of faith on a daily basis!  It was definitely a welcomed distraction having them here!  Can't wait to see you guys again in a couple months!

For the past two and a half weeks, Logan and I have tried to do our best to allow ourselves time to grieve while at the same time attempt to put a regular routine in place again so we can feel somewhat normal.  Some days are much better than others and although we've never been through this before, we assume it will take a long time to heal but we continue to feel an overwhelming amount of peace that genuinely feels tangible.  We know the countless number of prayers offered on our behalf are the primary reason for the strength we feel and we are so grateful for each and every one of them.

Logan and I still aren't working full time but have started doing a little bit of work here and there to keep us busy.  Thankfully we also have amazing friends and families that have kept us entertained when we needed a distraction and willingly given us our space when we wanted time alone.  We feel so blessed to have never had a lack of support through this entire journey.

Logan will go back to school in the fall but until then we have a couple vacations to look forward to and are taking advantage of this warm weather as much as possible!  As we ran several errands the other day Logan talked me into going to Scheels for the first time.  Too many dollars later we finally found our car but definitely had a lot of fun!

My favorite Eli memory right now: How much he despised being swaddled from day 1!  I insisted at the beginning and would constantly find him like this a few minutes later:

He somehow eventually found his way out of his blankets AND whatever he was wearing!
Thank you, thank you for the many memories, little buddy!  Love and miss you like crazy!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Funeral Talk

Since last Friday, several people that weren't able to make it to Eli's funeral have asked me to post my talk on here.  I've hesitated to do so because I hate to draw attention to my talk alone but everyone has been so supportive I felt like I should.  Logan's talk, which was equally as great, isn't written out like mine so I can't include it as well but those of you that were able to be there know how wonderful he did!

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin left with us a remarkable legacy, including an incomparable conference talk given in October of 2006.  Of the life changing events we commemorated on Easter Sunday, he said:

“I think of how dark that Friday was when Christ was lifted up on the cross.  Those evil men who sought His life rejoiced.  Now that Jesus was no more, surely those who followed Him would disperse. On that day they stood triumphant.  On that Friday the Savior of mankind was humiliated and bruised, abused and reviled.  It was a Friday filled with devastating, consuming sorrow that gnawed at the souls of those who loved and honored the Son of God.  I think that of all the days since the beginning of this world’s history, that Friday was the darkest.”

Each one of us will have our Fridays while here in mortality.  I have had mine.  For as long as I can remember, I have dreamt of becoming a mother.  Whenever I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I told them that I wanted to be a mom.  Even my college degree in Elementary Education was completed with the primary intent of making me a better mother.  Fortunately, I fell in love with a man who had the same dreams of parenthood that I did. 

We chose not to delay starting a family after our marriage nearly two years ago.  We hoped and prayed that the Lord would bless us with a child.  Becoming pregnant proved to be more difficult than I had anticipated and we were thrilled to learn one year ago that we were expecting our little Eli.  After a challenging pregnancy, we became a family of three on the fourth of January.   The joy Logan and I felt exceeded even our expectations.  Eli was absolutely beautiful and appeared to be perfect in every way. 

At a mere five weeks old and following an aggressive rash, Eli was hospitalized and diagnosed with an immune deficiency that would begin the fight of his life. 

Eli’s diagnosis left me feeling helpless and heartbroken.  Every mother’s desire is to protect her children and shelter them from any pain.  I felt entirely powerless.  In order for Eli to have any chance of survival, we had to submit him to pain and suffering.  That realization was devastating. 

The words of President Boyd K. Packer bring comfort and perspective during our Fridays.  He compares our lives to a three act play:

“There are three parts to the plan. You are in the second or the middle part, the one in which you will be tested by temptation, by trials, perhaps by tragedy.  Understand that and you will be better able to make sense of life and to resist the disease of doubt and despair and depression.”

He continues:

“If you expect to find only ease and peace and bliss during act 2, you surely will be frustrated. You will understand little of what is going on and why things are permitted to be as they are. Remember this! The line ‘And they all lived happily ever after’ is never written into the second act. That line belongs in the third act, when the mysteries are solved and everything is put right.  Until you have a broad perspective of the eternal nature of this great drama, you won’t make much sense out of the inequities in life. Some are born with so little and others with so much. Some are born in poverty, with handicaps, with pain, with suffering. Some experience premature death, even innocent children. There are the brutal, unforgiving forces of nature and the brutality of man to man. Do not suppose that God willfully causes that which, for his own purposes, he permits. When you know the plan and purpose of it all, even these things will manifest a loving Father in Heaven.”

I am not here to suggest that I completely understand the plan and purpose of all that Eli had to suffer.  However, I do believe with all of my heart that his suffering was not in vain and I know that one day Logan and I will have a perfect understanding of the precious purposes of every day of our son’s brief life.  King Benjamin taught this valuable truth:

Believe in God; believe that he is, and that he created all things, both in Heaven and in Earth; believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in Heaven and in Earth; believe that man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend. 

By the time the third act of our life closes, we will comprehend all that the Lord comprehends and we will live happily ever after.

As you know, the majority of Eli’s brief life was spent at the hospital.  Logan and I were determined not only to endure his hospital stay but find joy there as well.  While we weren’t able to participate in typical new baby activities, we discovered happiness in simple things such as dressing him in a new outfit every morning, watching Jazz games together and capturing his first smiles during our many photo shoots.

Our happiness wasn’t confined to our hospital room.  Logan and I were blessed to become acquainted with many extraordinary people during our stay.  Some of the finest people I have ever met are the parents of those children who are waging battles similar to Eli’s.  These families who are bearing heavy burdens of their own were quick to reach out and make our burdens lighter.  We will be forever grateful for their amazing examples of faith and courage.

It takes a special person to serve critically ill children day in and day out.  Each of Eli’s caregivers was blessed with exceptional gifts of caring and compassion.  These good men and women celebrated each victory with us and grieved every setback.  We were never alone.  Because of Eli’s need for strict isolation, our family and friends had very restricted visiting privileges.  As a result, the hospital staff became our family.

Elder Uchtdorf reminds us:
"We shouldn't wait to be happy until we reach some future point, only to discover that happiness was already available--all the time! Life is not meant to be appreciated only in retrospect...there is something in each day to embrace and cherish.  There is something in each day that can bring gratitude and joy if only we will see and appreciate it."

The greatest lesson I learned during our hospital stay is how much we are all known and loved by our Heavenly Father.  It is sometimes easy to forget God during the sunny days of our lives but when the storms rage around us, we find our knees and plead for understanding and miracles.  Survivors of the Willie and Martin handcart company expressed the feelings of my heart when they said:

“The price we paid to become acquainted with God was a privilege to pay.”

Perhaps the darkest of our Fridays occurred one week ago when Logan and I made the decision to say goodbye to our precious baby.  Despite our knowledge of a glorious reunion one day with Eli, separation is excruciating. 

Returning to Elder Wirthlin, I quote:

I think that of all the days since the beginning of this world’s history, that Friday was the darkest.  But the doom of that day did not endure.  The despair did not linger because on Sunday, the resurrected Lord burst the bonds of death. He ascended from the grave and appeared gloriously triumphant as the Savior of all mankind.

And in an instant the eyes that had been filled with ever-flowing tears dried. The lips that had whispered prayers of distress and grief now filled the air with wondrous praise, for Jesus the Christ, the Son of the living God, stood before them as the firstfruits of the Resurrection, the proof that death is merely the beginning of a new and wondrous existence.


Each of us will have our own Fridays—those days when the universe itself seems shattered and the shards of our world lie littered about us in pieces. We all will experience those broken times when it seems we can never be put together again. We will all have our Fridays.  But I testify to you in the name of the One who conquered death—Sunday will come. In the darkness of our sorrow, Sunday will come.  No matter our desperation, no matter our grief, Sunday will come. In this life or the next, Sunday will come.”

Once again, thank you for the continued support that Logan and I appreciate so much!  A friend of mine posted this song on Facebook today and it definitely hit home for me.  I dream about the day I will see Eli again and know it will be a glorious reunion!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Life

It has now been over 24 hours since Eli's funeral services and Logan and I are amazed more than ever at the amount of love and support we have received the past week, specifically the last 2 days.  We have experienced a parent's worst nightmare but because of the prayers and support of so many others we are doing far better than we ever could have imagined.  To the hospital staff that came to Eli's services: It was such an honor to share the last two days with all of you.  Logan and I cherish and appreciate what you did for Eli and for us more than you will ever know.  I wish it was possible for me to individually thank every single person that has helped us through this journey but I know that's not realistic so I will continue to pray every night that each of you will be blessed for all you have done for our little family and know how grateful we are for it.  I know, without a doubt, Eli can feel of your love as well and nothing brings me greater joy than that.

Eli's funeral services were perfect and everything we hoped they would be.  We had a ton of support, the weather was perfect, the music was wonderful, Logan and I cherished the opportunity to speak about our little buddy and his final resting spot is at the most beautiful spot in the cemetery.  I wouldn't have wanted any of it any other way.

As we move on to life without Eli physically with us, it's odd to think of our lives back to how they were with both of us working and Logan going to school.  Even though it has only been about 6 months, those things feel like a lifetime ago.  Part of me wants to wait awhile before we throw ourselves back into it all so we can have a chance to spend some time together and another part of me wants to dive right into it thinking that will be the best way to heal.  Even though I have an education degree, teaching doesn't feel right right now so it will be interesting to see where life takes me next.

Although there are multiple unknowns in our near future, I couldn't be more excited about the one thing I do know for sure...Logan and I will be here next month:


Montego Bay, Jamaica!
Our two year anniversary is at the end of this month so we gave in to each other and booked a trip we hope will give us a good chance to clear our minds and just be with one another.  It definitely can't come soon enough!