Jan 17, 2011

they're gonna wash away

Hello dear ones.  As you all likely know, my beloved mama passed away on December 21. She was surrounded by her mother and father, her sister Wendy, brother-in-law Ryan, and myself.  The two days preceding her death were very difficult to endure and I can hardly remember them, much less write about them.  But I am so grateful I was able to be by her side during such a spiritual time.  I know that, because of the extraordinary care provided her by Hospice, her pain and anxiety were completely under control, and for that I will also be eternally grateful. We all knew the exact moment her spirit left her body and immediately felt gratitude to Heavenly Father that she had been relieved from her year of suffering.  I felt an overwhelming sense of calm the entire day, interrupted only by sudden surges of joy as I felt the joyous reunion I knew she was having with Seth.

It feels like it's been ages since she passed, but it's not been quite a month yet. 'Whirlwind' is the best word I can think of to describe the weeks surrounding the death of a family member.  Meals arrive. Flowers arrive. It's a stampede of friends and family and acquaintances, each of whom you want to stop and talk and cry with, but at the same time you have no energy to speak to a single soul.  You would think that after Seth's recent death (which was the first funeral I'd ever been to) I would know a little more about how to act but I was even more awkward this time around. I spent most of that first week in Wendy's basement with my cousins, watching hours and hours of crappy game shows and food network.  Growing up, we'd always play in the basement while the aunts were upstairs talking about 'grown up stuff.' As my grandparents were planning the funeral that I had no desire to help with, I completely retreated to the old safe haven. When Seth died, I was all about planning the funeral and making sure everything would be perfect. It kept me busy the entire week he died. Mom was too sick to make many decisions so I gladly assumed responsibility.  Thankfully, my grandparents, aunts, and uncles completely understood my desire to hibernate and gave me plenty of space the days following her death.  They truly are the most loving, caring, understanding family around.

Christmas was...beautiful.  I can't think of a better time of year for mama to go. The celebration of the birth of our Redeemer was the perfect reminder of His purpose, His plan, His Atonement, and truly put our entire year into perspective.  Our family laughed, cried, and laughed some more. I spent some of Christmas day with Katelynn's family, who have treated me like one of their own as long as her and I have been friends. I can't describe how much I love her parents, siblings, and grandmothers. Just as much as I love her. They. Are. Awesome.

The funeral was lovely. I cannot, cannot emphasize how grateful I am to those who attended that day.  Because the service was later in the afternoon, and the burial had to be completed before sunset, we were unable to greet anyone after the service but reading through the guest book brought me to tears.  Knowing how many people loved and will miss my mom means the world to me and my family. Thank You to everyone who were there or whose thoughts were with us. As many of you already know, I'm horrible at messaging and texting back when people offer condolences or ask how I'm doing. But! One of my (many) new years resolutions is to improve on responding because it has become such a bad habit of mine.  I think I've said this before, but what usually happens is I'll get a really nice message, think to myself, "Awww how nice!!" and then never actually reply to the person! It's not intentional whatsoever, I just lose track whether or not I communicated my response out loud.

It was awesome to have family around not only for comfort but because we were able to get stuff done. My uncles, aunts, and cousins worked together to help me completely clear out my basement, one of the huge things that had really been weighing on my shoulder. There was just so much down there-- old couches, Eli's bedroom, tons and tons and TONS of my mom's storage. We sorted through everything and loaded a trailer up in one day to take to the dump. Because she watched a lot of A&E and was obsessed with the show Hoarders, my mom became really freaked out that after she died I would turn into a Hoarder. (I have no idea why. I'm the anti-Hoarder. I throw away EVERYTHING.)  But many of the people on the show begin clinging onto their items after losing a loved one and not wanting to part with anything (annnyyythinggg) reminding them of that person. Mom's prediction nearly came true--when we were emptying out the basement I had to make a lot of hard decisions. Eli and I simply can't hold on to all of mom and Seth's stuff. After the house sells, we'll have a storage unit for whatever furniture doesn't fit into our apartment, but trying to keep all her decor, anything with their handwriting on it, all of their clothes, etc is just impossible. And honestly, so unnecessary. But it was hard to throw that stuff out. Every single item that reminded me of them in any way I would have to rationalize with myself, "it's not them."
Aunt Mary suggested I take pictures of things that I didn't want to get rid of but had to get rid of. Very good compromise. Plus, Wendy was in the background shrieking "you can't become a hoarder! your mom was so scared you'd become a hoarder!"

Eli remains in Sacramento serving the last year of his mission. As my uncle said at the funeral, my mom's final and most pressing wishes were for him to complete his service and not to come home upon her death.  When considering which funeral we would rather him come home for--Seth's or hers--, of course we chose for him to fly back for Seth's because we knew it would probably be the last time he could see my mother here on earth. I spoke with him the day she died, on Christmas day, and we exchange emails and letters every week.  He always says the most uplifting, inspirational things that save me when I'm feeling the lowest of low. I really, really look up to my baby brother and follow any bit of advice he gives me to the best of my ability. He has done so much more than anyone could imagine for me since he's been on his mission. I will always admire and support him, and know how lucky I am to have such an amazing brother.

My lifelong friend, Kimberly Julian, lives in Salt Lake City and her parents asked if I wanted to get away from Kansas for a bit before our school semesters began. Of course I said "yes!" and they booked me a last minute ticket to visit her for five days.  Her mom was close friends with mine for years, and the Julians have also treated me like family my entire life.  It was so wonderful to turn off my phone, get a lot of reading done, and of course spend time with my Cranbarryl.  She's engaged to be married in March and by the end of the trip I knew her fiance Patrick much better than I had. They're such a cute couple. They're both hilarious and full of energy. One of the highlights of the trip was going to the Salt Lake temple by myself (Kimberly was working) and pondering a lot of things after doing a session of baptisms. Since my visit to the temple, I have felt so peaceful and truly just...appreciative... for the trials I've had. I've learned and grown over the last year in ways I may never have without these experience. While nothing can take away the pain of missing my mom and brother, I have received comfort from the Savior and from the truthfulness of the gospel.  I feel so secure knowing I will be with both of them again for eternity.  It's just the waiting part...!

2011 is going to be a year of healing. I have a lot of things to wrap up, to take care of- the house, the mortgage, medical bills, creditors, all that good stuff.  I stress out poor Katelynn on a daily basis, reeling off my massive to-do list over the phone and I know most the time she probably just wants to hang up on me... but she always empathizes like the trooper of a friend she is. That poor girl has nearly given herself an ulcer just from being my confidant over the last year. Anyways, between tackling all those legal responsibilities, the school semester starting tomorrow, working full time, attending institute, fulfilling my church calling, tax season, getting the house on the market, and oh-so-much-more, I think I'm going to be busy and distracted enough to keep from having a huge emotional meltdown. I know people are probably expecting me to collapse, and honestly, I'm waiting for it to happen as well. But with the rock-solid support system I have, a firm faith in God, and a little perseverance.... I might make it out of this fiasco alright. Yes, I have moments of unbearable sorrow. I do. But they don't linger very long. I still have joy in my life- lots of it.  I have been mourning Seth more than my I have my Mom since she has passed. I think it's because when he died, I used her sickness and all the responsibilities I had to take care of her as a (necessary) distraction from the devastation of losing him. If I fully dealt with his death at the time it occurred, I would have been physically and emotionally unable to care for my mom. So I kind of knowingly postponed grieving for him until she was gone.  And it has hit hard, especially this last week.  Mourning him has now become my distraction from losing my mom, and I'm knowingly postponing grieving for her. I know it's complicated and really weird, but they say everyone copes in their own way. My way is just very strange.

I'd like to keep this blog going. It's a nice distraction. I'm sure it seems like I'm always giving way too much information for everyone to read, but my family's situation is public whether or not I blog about it, and I think it's fair for those who love and care about us to know what's really happened and how we're doing. I'll keep you posted on my aunts, uncles grandparents, Eli, and obviously, myself. I love my friends. I love my family. I'm grateful for the people I've been blessed with in my life. Love and thanks to you all--

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YTdCzIduUb4