August 2, 2014

Still in the Details...

I am WAY overdue for an update!  Life has gotten easier in some ways, and harder in others.  Averie is getting so big and changing so much.  She's the one that makes me the saddest, because Jared would have absolutely loved her little personality and how busy she is.  He was always asking me to send him pictures and videos of the kids while he was at work.  Then he would reply, "Man, I miss those little stinkers!"  He loved our little kiddos.

I've adjusted to life without him, so in that way it's easier.  I can't imagine anything harder than the days that I was taking care of my four kids + my sick husband.  That's what pulled me through those first few months - the relief of Jared not being sick anymore.  But now the memories are coming back of our life pre-cancer.  So that's hard.  I've had people ask how often I miss him.  There's not really a how often, I feel like I just live my life, then sometimes I will hear a song or see something that will jog a memory and it's really hard, almost unbearable.  I don't miss him because I'm lonely, I miss him as a person.  I miss how funny he was, I miss how he was always up for a good time, I miss how he interacted with his family, I even miss how pesty he was.

I felt Jared's presence a lot the first couple months after he died.  Even though that is gone, I still have moments where I know he is still there and still cares about us.  He's still in the details.

When Jared died, I didn't feel broken or confused about what to do next.  I credit him 100% for that.  He had the hard conversations with me, and I'm SO grateful for that!  He told me what he wanted for me and the kids, and what his concerns were.  When his cancer came back, he told me that he wanted me to get married again...that he wanted the kids to have a dad.  At the time I broke down and didn't want to even think about him being gone.  But he knew that we were better off not being alone.  And he was so unselfish to not only want that for me, but to share that with me.  It still makes me emotional to think how hard that was for him to think about.  But it has absolutely helped me to move forward.  I've tried to think about what I would want for him if I was in his shoes... would I be jealous?  Would I want him to be with someone that wasn't as great as me? :)  But I realized that I would want him to be with someone that deserved him... someone that was fantastic that made him happy.  I would want the absolute BEST for him because he was such an amazing person.

I have been dating someone.  He's a guy that used to live in our neighborhood.  He has four kids.  He moved away after his wife passed away three years ago.  Jared knew and liked him.  He even went to his wife's funeral.  I've been really open with my kids.  I told them that dad wanted me to find someone and get married because he knew there were things that a man can do for them that I can't.  Not only that, but my kids need to grow up seeing what a marriage is.  So I told them I was dating him to see if he was good enough for us. :)  It's hard to know if Jared would approve.  But I've had some little experiences along the way.  I had a dream one night that Jared was alive and well, he knew I was dating him, and he was counseling me.  I remember I asked him, "Yeah, but what if it was you and you knew you were going to have 8 kids?" (I KNEW he would say he couldn't do it.)  But instead he was trying to ease my mind about it.  Another time I went to fill up the tank of gas for the lawn mower.  A guy walked across the gas station and insisted on helping me.  My son opened the door and for some reason said, "My dad died."  I was so embarrassed!  I knew it was going to create an awkward conversation!  But the guy told me that he had married a widow with four kids, and he started giving me lots of counsel on how to know if the new guy is the "right one."  The way that it all happened, I just KNEW that Jared had sent that guy over to talk to me!  He's become very creative in his ways to communicate with me.  So I know he's still there, even though we can't see him.  But it's been weird, different, and fun to date again.  Definitely more things to figure out, and the pressure that I need to be careful because I've got Jared's precious little ones that he has trusted me with.  I don't want to disappoint him.  But it's also nice to be able to be with someone that understands losing a spouse.

The kids and I went to Oregon in June.  It was Jared's dream vacation.  I tried to enjoy it extra for him.  We drove by the house he grew up in, and I realized that not only did that place have special memories for him, but that was also the place that we got engaged.  But of all the things we did, I think Jared would've been most proud of this... (pics coming soon - I can't get them to upload!)

Anyway, that's the past few months!

April 24, 2014


On February 2, 2009 I was doing a game on Facebook that was 25 Things About Me.  I wrote, "I worry about being a widow at a young age because of my husband's horrible diet that he refuses to change!"
When I read this it makes me sick.  At the time I wrote it, I do remember I was worried about Jared's diet.  Shortly after that he started to change his diet and became more healthy.  But when I said young age I was meaning 60s, maybe even 70s?  I still consider that a young widow.  Sometimes I look in the mirror and I think to myself this is the face of a widow?  It still sometimes doesn't seem real.  Widows are supposed to be elderly.  They are supposed to have grandkids.  A couple weeks ago I went to a Womens Session for Conference in our church.  I was by myself but the place was completely full of women.  They played a video of a couple that gets married, then it shows them with a little baby, then eventually it shows them as an old couple together.  At first it made me angry and I watched some of the women around me wiping away tears at how beautiful life is.  After the video I burst into tears.  That was supposed to be my life.  But as I have these moments of weakness, I realize that none of us are exempt from some of the hardships that life might throw at us.  I know women are left alone to raise their children.  I just never thought I would be one of them.
So as I live the reality of being a widow, I feel very inadequate in some things, but I also feel very blessed.  I finally paid off all of my medical bills that weren't supposed to be my responsibility.  But I hated that I never wanted to get my mail for fear of what was going to be in there.  I no longer have anxiety going to my mailbox!  I also spent months with no TV in my bedroom because I didn't know how to program the remote.  That was always Jared's job.  And I knew it took him a long time to figure it out.  Sometimes he was on the phone for hours with a technician.  I finally decided to try it.  I googled some answers and finally figured it out.  So I get to unwind in bed again watching my favorite shows.  That has actually made a huge difference.  I can't believe I went 5 months without that!  I'm also learning to enjoy things like edging the lawn - things I always considered to be a "man's job."  But there are times when things happen that I really just can't do on my own.  A couple nights ago we had a strong windstorm that was blowing my fence over.  It had already snapped one section of fence.  Two others were hanging and threatening to break my shrubs and trees, so I struggled to break them the other direction against the wind.  But the remaining fence didn't look good, and I was worried the whole thing was going to come down.  I called a neighbor, Brett, who came and braced it for the rest of the night.  The next day I had many guys in the neighborhood approach me offering to fix the fence.  The old posts have already been dug out, and supplies have been purchased.  A group is coming tonight to fix the fence.  In James 1:27 it says "to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction..."  As all of these neighbors came rushing to my aid, I was so extremely grateful for their help.  I'm so blessed to be surrounded by so many caring, good people.  But it musters up all of these feelings again at the reality that I AM THAT WIDOW that needs help, a 36-year-old widow with four little kids and my whole life still ahead of me.  AAAHHHH!


April 18, 2014

6 Months Gone

Dear Jared,
I can't believe 6 months have passed since we said goodbye.  Time has passed so quickly, which I guess is a good thing.  Today I've been reflecting on the past 6 months and things I know you would've liked to have been a part of. 

You would be so proud of our kids!  They are doing so well.  They are such happy kids, it makes it easy to smile.  Averie is getting so big!  She has turned into such a stinker!  I know you would be laughing with me at how she tries to pester those around her to get a reaction, then she's quick to give them a hug and tell them she's sorry.  She definitely takes after you!  She's talking a lot more now, and her little high-pitched voice is so cute.  Drew loves preschool.  I love dropping him off and watching his excitement.  He has a new best friend, Kai, and they get together quite a bit.  He is such a sweet boy.  He is constantly giving me hugs and telling me he loves me.  He makes sure to tell me he loves you, too.  He doesn't like to leave my side, which is a new thing.  He's probably worried I will leave him.  I'm sure he doesn't understand that you didn't want to leave him.  One day he will.  Jace is the one you were worried about the most, and I think he's the one you would be the most proud of.  He is such a responsible, well-behaved kid!  He misses talking sports with you like crazy.  Last night your dad came over and Jace said the prayer.  He gave such a sweet, mature prayer.  I think your dad was able to see the growth in him.  I have no doubt that you have a huge role in that.  Brynlee is still a rock.  She's a good example to her younger siblings, and she helps me out a lot.  I don't know if I could do this without her!  Because of her, I get my much-needed breaks.  I'm so grateful for that!  I am doing well.  I get reminders every now and then for how clueless I am with the stuff you always took care of.  Sometimes I wonder how I'm surviving!  I know you wanted me to be happy, so I'm trying to find happiness.  That is such a blessing and a gift I feel like you gave me.  I know you wanted me to move forward, and I'm so grateful you shared that with me.  Sometimes I feel a huge weight of responsibility because I know you wanted us to be happy and taken care of, so I always wonder if I'm making the right decisions.  I had a dream a couple weeks ago that you were counseling me.  I wondered if it was true counsel, or if it was just on my mind.  I'm sure you're trying to find ways to communicate with me.  It was good to see you healthy and yourself.  I hope I have more dreams like that.  The past couple days I've been looking out the kitchen window and I picture you driving up and getting out of the car.  Sometimes all of this just doesn't seem real.

Last month was the annual March Madness with all the guys.  I told them to be sure to watch for signs that you were with them.  I KNEW WITH ABSOLUTE CERTAINTY that you wouldn't miss it! :)  They told me they had a couple of experiences where they felt like you were there or at least aware.  And apparently Neil gambled a lot.  I'm sure you had something to do with that!

Today I was reading back to where our lives were a year ago.  I'm so grateful that cancer is no longer consuming both of us.  I'm so grateful that you don't have to struggle daily anymore, that you can joke, play ball, and do all those things that you wanted to do so bad for so long.  I'm grateful that you are now watching over us. 

I will always love you, and I will always be grateful for the wonderful memories we created.

March 15, 2014

Happy Birthday!

Last year I truly believed that Jared would be here today celebrating his 38th Birthday.  Sometimes I think it's good that we don't know everything. :)
We had a good celebration in his honor.  We made his favorite cake - lemon with rainbow chip frosting, and everyone who came to celebrate wrote him a little note that we attached to balloons and sent them off to him.  I really hope his mom is spoiling him rotten today for us!  I'm sure she's taking good care of him.

Happy Birthday, Jared!  We miss you!

March 7, 2014


Today I was listening to an old CD and it took me back to the first couple years of my marriage.  Life was so care-free.  We were about to have our first baby.  It's hard to fathom how my life went from that to where it is now.  I never imagined Jared would be gone from my life this soon...gone from his kids' lives without the chance to see who they would become.  He wanted that more than anything.  But he's gone.

Luckily I rarely have moments like I had today.  Mostly I just live my life.  But the more time goes on, the more I have psychological issues surface.  I've debated counseling, but I really feel like I'm doing well.  I think the feelings I have are normal.  The first thing was triggered by a nightmare.  I had a dream that as they were about to bury Jared's body, they noticed some signs of life, so they brought him back, but he was in his extremely dependent state.  All of the overwhelmed feelings came back, and then the guilt from feeling overwhelmed.  I think I've been burying a lot of guilt.  I remember when he was the most dependent thinking if I could do what I was doing for another 50 yrs, I would do it for him.  But I was so over my limit, there were days I wondered how I'd even handle another day.  And that's hard to feel like you can't care for your husband anymore.  It creates a lot of guilt.  I guess I share that because it's the truth of what happens in caring for someone under extreme stress for so long.  The second one I just realized recently.  In the hours before we found out Jared had cancer, I was truly happy.  We had a perfect day.  Jared went golfing, and I went to lunch with my friends.  Then we spent the afternoon at the park with the kids and neighbors.  Jared was playing football with Jace, and life was pretty much perfect.  Then he went to the ER and found out he had terminal cancer, and my happiness was shattered.  So now as I see glimpses of happiness again in my life, I have a subconscious worry that the rug is going to get pulled out from under me again.  I hope that time will alleviate these fears or anxieties some.  I'm confident it will.
Most of the times I get sad, I get sad for my kids.  I can handle what has happened to me.  But sometimes I feel like my kids deserved more than to have their dad taken from them.  That being said, my kids have been doing incredibly well.  I'm so proud of them!  When I went to Jace's parent/teacher conference a couple weeks ago, the teacher said that he is a completely different kid at school, and that he is doing SO well!  I'm sure my kids were under extreme stress with their dad constantly in and out of the hospital, and their mom juggling going back and forth to the hospital and trying to take care of them.  And they saw him have seizures.  I tried to play them off, but I was stressed, so I'm sure they were as well.  So I feel like we have a good, stable home now.  And I'm happy for that.  That's not to say that I don't think my kids might go through different waves of anger or grief.  I wouldn't doubt that each of them will go through periods of being angry in the future.  But I'm grateful for where they're at right now.  They're good kids.  The other day I asked Averie where her mom was, and she pointed to me.  Then I asked her where her dad was, and she said, "Don't know.  He's gone."  I wonder what is going on in her little brain.  She doesn't know that he would've given anything to stay with her, to watch her grow.  But she's right.  He's gone.

January 7, 2014


One of my favorite movies of all time is "The Count of Monte Cristo."  Edmond Dantes spends years in prison for a crime he didn't commit, and after finally escaping he discovers a hidden treasure and has wealth beyond his wildest dreams.
I found my own little hidden treasure last night, only this one is priceless!
I had been told by several people that Jared needed to sit down and write letters to his children.  That was always in the plan.  But it didn't happen.  We thought he had more time.  We didn't know he would suddenly lose his ability to communicate.  So many excuses, but unfortunately it didn't happen.  And I've always regretted that.  I wish my kids had something written by their dad to know how much he loved them.  I obviously know how much he loved them, but that won't go very far 2, 10, 30 years from now...
Yesterday I was going to get rid of Jared's phone.  For some reason as I went to leave, I went to grab his phone, and I didn't. 
As a little side note, I've read a few near-death experience books lately, and they all say the same thing - that those on the other side have a lot more influence in our lives than we realize.  I've had a lot of CRAZY things happen since Jared's passing.  I've even made the comment that I feel like I'm living in the Twilight Zone.  I'm no longer a believer in chance.  And I don't believe that me not grabbing that phone to get rid of it was just chance.
Last night I was talking on the phone with my sister, and at the end of the conversation she mentioned something that her daughter had snapped a picture of off of Jared's phone.  It was a little note he had written to Averie.  I had NO IDEA.  I grabbed his phone and went to his notes, and sure enough, there was a letter he had started to write to Averie.  This is part of it:
My sweet sweet girl.  You are so precious and cute.  How I enjoy your sweet spirit...You are always into everything, with a motor that won't quit.  I love it.  Please follow the good example that your older brothers and sister have set for you.  You are loved!  I know you will grow up to be a real contributor to society.  Love your mommy.  She wants nothing but the best for you.  She loves you very much.  I love you too."
When did he write this?  Why did he stop with Averie?  Or why did he start with Averie?  Did he suddenly take a turn for the worse?  Or did he write others that got deleted by mistake?  Did he start with her because she is the one that will need this most?  Or is it because she is the one that will remember her daddy the least?
Whatever the reasons, one thing I know for certain is that this little note written from her daddy will be something Averie will treasure forever.

December 9, 2013


It's been interesting to watch how my kids each cope with the loss of their dad.  I guess I could add myself as well.  Whether we're doing it right or not, it's the only way we know.
The few days that Jared was on hospice, I had a social worker come and give me input on what to expect for the different kids.  I was surprised when she said that I will see changes in Averie.  I figured she is so young that she wouldn't be affected.  The social worker told me that even infants demonstrate reactions to loss. 
When she checked back with me a couple weeks ago, I told her that I thought as a whole we were doing pretty well.  She asked if Averie had separation anxiety, and I told her that she used to (before he died), and now she doesn't.
But these are the things I've noticed in each of the kids:
Averie (2) the past couple of weeks has started to panic at bedtime.  She wanted the light to be left on.  Then after a couple days of that, she panicked when I put her in the crib.  She was okay to sleep on the floor, she just didn't want to be in the crib.  My thought is that she is associating that crib with the casket.  She watched as they shut the casket.  She even said, "Bye-bye, dad!" as they shut it, then it was the last time she saw him.  But she can't verbalize the way she feels, so she's probably confused and scared.  So she's now upgraded to a big-girl bed.  She's been doing better, but she still has to have the light on.
Drew (4) was really confused at first.  Now he talks about his dad and the situation in a very matter-of-fact manner.  He makes really cute comments.  One day he said, "Mom, I bet when dad died he asked Jesus if he has a basketball hoop."  I told him I'm sure he did!  Another time he was doing something he shouldn't, and I told him to stop or it could kill him.  He said, "But if I die, Jesus will carry me to his house and I can see dad again.  That would be GREAT!"  I laughed.  It's probably the attitude that all of us should have about death.  I told him it would be great, but that I would miss him too much.  Then today I picked he and his friend up from pre-school, and I heard Drew say, "My dad died."  His friend said, "How did he die?"  Drew said, "He just got really sick and died."  His friend said, "So you don't have a dad anymore?"  Drew said, "Nope, but when I die I'll see him again."  I love that kid!  He makes me smile.  I have noticed that he seems to be a little more aggressive and deviant.  Usually if he gets in trouble, he stops because he doesn't like to make me mad.  Now he has an obsession with painting and coloring, and it usually ends up on something it shouldn't!  He promises it won't happen again, but does it every time.
Jace (8) was always the one that concerned me the most.  He's the only one I've seen cry.  I think he's bottling a lot.  He has definitely gotten more aggressive, especially with Drew, but I think he's really struggling with finding a connection with someone.  He's battling whether to stay loyal to his dad's sports teams, or to find someone else to cheer with.  He has always been a sports freak like his dad!  He's constantly telling me about a random game he just finished watching, and tries to tell me every little detail, and I don't really care!  But I try to listen because I know he really needs that.  I was even surprised when he told me a couple weeks ago I could get married again as long as it's to Dwyane Wade.  I told him I didn't think Jared would approve. :)  He just misses his sports buddy like crazy!  I think he's feeling the void more than any of the kids right now, which doesn't surprise me.
Brynlee (9) has been an absolute rock!  Her concern is more about me.  Last week was my birthday, and she was really worried about who was going to get me presents.  She made a list of special things she was going to do for my big day, and when I ran to the store a couple days before, she called me and asked if I'd be sure to buy the balloons, candles, cake, etc. so she could take care of me.  I am lucky to have her.  She's the one I haven't noticed much change in.  The truth is, I don't think any of my kids will realize what they don't have for a while.  And that makes me sad.
As far as myself, I'm not really sure where I'm at.  I don't feel Jared's presence as much as I used to, but I'm still doing okay.  I don't know if I'm in denial, or I just haven't fully realized the gravity of my situation.  I have moments of sadness where I miss him, and I let myself be sad for a minute, but I make myself get over it and move on.  I don't know if that's the right way to cope, but it's how I do it!  I've connected with some amazing people the past few weeks that have lost a spouse, and it's good to have a support group.  One of them told me, "I never felt so low that I didn't feel God's love."  I could say the same.  So I feel very blessed that way.  And we've all had little things happen that we know Jared had a hand in!  I still feel like the veil is thin right now, so I'm trying to soak it in as much as possible.  I know it probably won't last, but I hope it does!  It's nice to feel like we have a guardian angel who is completely invested in our well-being.  I know he is helping me along.