My Journal: The first three months

My five year old was missing her Dad so much yesterday. She begged me to find a way for him to come back. Gracie told me everything she could remember about her Dad. As I heard her version of Ryan’s last moments on this earth, my heart just ached. I would do anything to take this hurt from her–from all three of my children. But I just held her helplessly as she cried, and told her that I loved her and that her Daddy loved her. After we put the kids to bed, Ryan went to play tennis with a friend, and I had some time to myself. I completely fell apart. I sobbed for hours, and listened to his voice in old messages on my phone. I looked at pictures, and read emails, and truly let myself break. When Ryan came home, I was curled up in the blanket that I had wrapped Ryan in as he was taken off life support, with tears streaming down my face. He immediately dropped all of his tennis equipment, and held me in bed as I cried and cried. I sobbed for my own broken heart, but more than that, I cried for my children, and for Father that they will barely remember.

I am so glad that I met my sweet new husband when I was at my worst. It sounds strange, but he has watched me progress, and he has been there to pick up my broken pieces. He is able to remind me just how far I have come, because he has been with me through so much of it.

Today, I started going through the journaling that I did immediately following RJ’s death. When I think back to those days, to the crushing pain and the sleepless nights, I am so thankful for where I am today. I still have many days where I struggle. It still hurts, but I have become so much stronger, and I have been able to find so much joy despite it all.

I thought I would share some of my early writings from when my pain was so raw. My RJ had a stroke on October 15, 2015, and he passed away on October 19, 2015.

Here are snippets from my online journal from the months following:

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October 24, 2015

Ryan had a stroke. I saw him deteriorate. I held his hand, I planned his funeral, I said goodbye. I’ve cried for so long that tears won’t even come anymore most of the time. But it still isn’t real. His pants still hang in my closet where I left them after tucking him in bed. His razor lays where he left it that morning. The voice mails and text messages are still there. I irrationally wait for him to walk through the door at any minute. I have no idea how to live without him. He is my heart.

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October 27, 2015

I should be worried about what to make for dinner tonight. I should be busy driving kids around to activities. I should be hopping into the shower right now after working out. I should be waiting for Ryan to come home for lunch.

Instead I am running errands. Correcting death certificates, meeting with the school counselor, making phone calls to notify companies of Ryan’s passing, and waiting in line at the social security office.

It seems so foreign and wrong. He should be here.

October 28, 2015

I went to the temple today. It was hard to be there without him, but helped me to refocus. I have been struggling with the question, “Why now?” Why when we were so happy? Why when I have three babies that need their Dad? Why when we had so much to look forward to? Why when I need him so much?
Ryan must have been desperately needed on the other side. He always has been the most motivated, hard-working person I knew. I can see him now working feverishly to do the work he has been called to do, and all the while watching over and taking care of his family. I miss that boy more than anything. But he isn’t far away.

October 29, 2015

We got Addie off to school, fed the littles, and then Gracie and I headed back to bed for some snuggles this morning. I think the craziness of the past couple of weeks is finally catching up with me. I’ve been going on prayers and adrenaline. My body doesn’t react well to stress AT all. I’ve had SO many panic attacks, I can’t eat, I throw up all the time, and I’m exhausted. I’ve lost over 10 pounds. I feel numb, devastated, peace, and panic all day in waves. Let’s be honest people…I’m a mess.

November 2, 2015

In the hospital, I begged for the nurses to let me lie beside Ryan. It was the only thing that would help bring me comfort. Now I wish so much that I could hold his hand and lie my head on his shoulder one more time. I miss him. It physically hurts. I know that he is OK, and I know I will see him again. Eternity just seems so far away today. 💛

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November 5, 2015

Three weeks ago today time stopped moving for me. It is surreal that life keeps happening after something like this. People go grocery shopping, go to work, and are blissfully unaware of how time in my world has ceased to exist. It stopped the moment that I saw Ryan and knew something was seriously wrong with him. It seems like one long never ending day.

November 7, 2015

The girl in this picture…she was so young, naive, in love, and happy. If I could tell her something on her wedding day, I would tell her to live in the moment. I would tell her that marriage is wonderful and amazing, but also will take a lot of hard work and forgiveness to be successful. I would tell her that life won’t always be easy, but that the good always will far outweigh the bad. I would tell her that life is messy and heartbreaking and beautiful. That girl is gone forever, and I’m not sure I love being her replacement some days. But I can see how I have grown and changed. I hope one day I will be able to look back on today and see how far I have come. 💕

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November 8, 2015

It was a hard/beautiful Sunday. I have been so numb and unable to cry for the past few days…it sounds insane I know. I cried nonstop in the hospital and eventually got to the point where it wasn’t a release to cry anymore. And since the funeral I have struggled to let it out. But today the floodgates opened. I have cried so hard that my head aches now, but it feels so much better. Has it really almost been a month since this all started?

November 9, 2015

So glad that we had the time together that we did. And now that I know what true happiness feels like, nothing could ever prevent me from doing the things that I need to be with him again one day.

November 11, 2015

I started grief counseling today. My bishop and I both agreed that I need some extra help dealing with this crazy new life. It’s hard to try to keep things together for kids that desperately need stability, when you feel like a complete mess yourself. I drove to the counselor’s office, which is ironically directly across from where Ry worked. I almost canceled just because I didn’t want to make that drive. Then once I felt like I had finally conquered my fear and was sitting in the waiting room, I was handed paperwork to fill out. One of the first questions was marital status. For the first time in almost 9 years, I didn’t know which to mark: Married, single, or other…Widow. I’m a widow now. But I couldn’t bear to do anything but check the married box. I hate that he isn’t here. Every night I think my heart can’t break any more, and then every morning I wake up without him. And it does.

November 12, 2015

4 weeks. It has been four weeks since that Thursday. It was a horrible day, with beautiful tender mercies within. It is the day that constantly replays itself in my mind. Over and over. That morning, Ryan calling me sick on the side of the road, calling the Dr. when I started to worry, the ER, coming home and tucking Ryan into bed, making chicken noodle soup, leaving to pick up his prescriptions, the phone calls, rushing home, seeing him, the complete terror and confusion, 911, the second time in the ER, the scans and conversations with the team in Utah, the life flight and agonizing drive to SLC, the first surgery at the U of U, and the first night that I slept alone…looking out at the lights of SLC. In some ways I wish I could relive it all. It was the last day that he was himself.

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November 14, 2015

It looks like Christmas at our house! Decorating the tree was something we have always loved to do as a family….Ryan would do tree assembly, lights, and help the girls put the star on the tippy top of the tree. I was always in charge of the music, hot chocolate, and ornaments.

Honestly I don’t feel like doing any of that now, and if it weren’t for my kids I probably wouldn’t. But they need it. And they need me.

So I didn’t fall apart it when I found Ryan’s ornament from elementary school, or when I hung the stockings up and his was still on the garland from last year, or when Addie found an angel ornament and said “it’s just like Dad now.” Or when Gracie prayed for the third day in a row for Jesus to come again so she could have her Daddy back. I didn’t fall apart then, but I will now. Because I miss their Daddy too. Grieving and being a Mom at the same time is a difficult balancing act.

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November 15, 2015

Single mom. I am a single mom. I know that it has been a month (tomorrow) since I became one, but it hasn’t felt like it until now. My mom has been here the entire time, with my Dad coming back and forth as well. Until an hour ago. I felt confident that I would be fine as I saw them pull away from my house. That lasted for about 10 minutes.

Then as I looked at my beautiful, amazing children I couldn’t help but think, “What if I’m not enough? How can I possibly be? Ryan was the best Daddy…how can I even come close to filling his void in their broken little hearts?” I know that on my own, I’m not enough. But I pray that with Heavenly Father’s help I can become more. I love my babies more than life itself. I know that HE feels the same way about me.

November 18, 2015

I don’t think I will ever get used to sleeping alone. So, I wear Ryan’s clothing, spray his cologne, and sleep on his side of the bed. I can’t stand sleeping on my side…the empty space is just too much. I fall asleep easily (thanks to medication), but mornings are difficult. The reality hits hard again and again: I really have to live for the rest of this earthly life without him. It feels like my heart has been ripped out of my chest. It hurts to breathe. It’s overwhelming, heartbreaking, and achingly beautiful. Because “grief only exists, where love lived first.”

November 19, 2015

For me so far, journaling is a way that has helped with my grieving process. I print off everything on this account as our family journal. And I so appreciate the support from all of you. So here we go…the good, the bad, and the ugly.

On October 19th, one month ago today, I had to say goodbye to my best friend. Ryan was on life support. He was receiving medical interventions that were only prolonging the inevitable. He had made his wishes clear earlier that week, and medically it was certain that it was his time to go. But to have to be the person to authorize it…to have to tell the doctors to remove the life-sustaining machines and tubes….to know that I would have to explain to my children why their Daddy would not be coming home… To kiss him for the last time and whisper goodbyes through tears in his ear….there are no words to even express it. It was the most difficult and heartbreaking day of my life. Honestly it was pure hell. To say I was a complete and total mess is a severe understatement.

But the moment my children walked into the NCCU I felt an overwhelming wave of peace. I was able to explain the situation to them in a way that was sacred with strength I KNOW I didn’t possess on my own. We went into his room, and I helped them say goodbye. As awful as it all was, I am SO grateful for many of the experiences we had. I have NO doubt that Ryan still lives, and that our goodbye was not forever. But our family is. 💕

November 21, 2015

It has been a hard few days. I am emotionally and physically exhausted, and the girls have been struggling. Nothing breaks my heart more than watching them sobbing because they miss their Dad. I am constantly finding pictures and notes that Addie has written. She told me that this is a picture of her calling her Dad in heaven. I so wish….😢💕 I would give anything to take it all away from them. IMG_5400

Grieving as an adult is beyond difficult, and for their innocent little minds to have to suffer through this is beyond heart wrenching.

November 22, 2015

I went into the bathroom to get ready for church, and opened up a drawer…it was full of Ryan’s things. Being in this house is a blessing and torture at the same time. He is everywhere. I miss him so much that it takes my breath away at times. I couldn’t do it anymore. I emptied it, saved things like his razor and deodorant and put it them away with the rest of our keepsakes. It almost hurts more to see it full of my things now though. Why does it have to be So. Hard.

November 23, 2015

I can do hard things. It is amazing how much there is to do after the death of a spouse. Life insurance, medical bills, probates, notifying companies of his passing, changing each bill into my name only, death certificates, picking out gravestone, figuring out inherited 401K pension and HSA, selling vehicles and consolidating payments, changing mortgage into my name, making a new will, meeting with accountants….the list goes on and on. It is so overwhelming. These are never things I have to do! I haven’t even paid our bills in 7 years! But I’m learning and figuring things out. Today was a win! Celebrating small victories.

November 24, 2015

I have started this post three times and keep going back and erasing it. I have finally decided that there are no words to describe how I feel right now. Broken. Confused. Devastated. Honestly nothing even comes close. I spent the day alone. It’s something that I desperately needed. I drove to Rexburg and went to all of the places that were important to us 9 years ago when we first met and married. I visited the temple…it was better this time than last. Then after grabbing a few things from the store, I stopped at the cemetery. And now I don’t want to leave. I probably couldn’t if I tried because the tears are flowing and I can barely see. I miss my best friend. I miss my person. I miss my husband. I wish there was another way. Most days I try to have perspective and faith. But right now I just can’t. I want him back.

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November 29, 2015

I can’t sleep. Even with medication, it eludes me. To say that I miss Ryan is such a severe understatement. It gets worse with every day that passes. I don’t think I will ever “get used” to him not being here. I have been craving a conversation with him, something that is very one-sided these days. I finally couldn’t take it anymore tonight. I ran and plugged in his phone (it was turned off a month ago)…and because he never deletes any of his texts I was able to read through past conversations that we had. It isn’t the same, but it will have to do for now. What I would give for a hug and to be able to hear him tell me that everything will be OK. He has always been the person that can comfort me best.

I think the absolute hardest thing about this trial is the never-ending pain. There is no end in sight, there is no light at the end of the tunnel. For the rest of my life, I will have a piece of me missing, and a heart that is broken. I will move forward, but I will never really move on. I don’t even want to. 💙

November 29, 2015

We are on day 3 of Hudson throwing up. I was exhausted this morning and fell asleep for a couple of hours once I got him down for a nap. I sent the girls to church with my friend and then checked my phone. Addie had sent me some sweet text messages while I was asleep. They said, “You’ve got this mom!” I am so grateful for the precious children that I have. Addie tries so hard to take care of me. She is so much wiser and more brave than any six year old should have to be! Gracie is hilarious and keeps me on my toes, and Hudson is the sweetest little boy! I would be lost without them. Plus they look just like their Daddy.

November 30, 2015

Survival mode. I thought I knew what that meant, I have had three babies…and being a mom is hard. But right now, I am truly in survival mode. Forcing food down, forcing patience with my kids, forcing myself to get out of bed, forcing myself to smile when I feel like crumbling and screaming and sobbing, forcing myself to inhale and exhale when the pain takes my breath away. I had no idea how EXHAUSTING grief could be. Mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually, I am wiped out. I’m running on cherry coke at this point. (Sorry mom) BUT I made it through today, and that is a win. One day closer to him.

December 4, 2015

When it rains, it freaking torrential downpours. Let me tell ya. “You are so strong.”…I hear it daily. But honestly I feel anything BUT strong. I mostly just feel so incredibly sad, and broken, and amazed that my heart is even still beating. Trust me, if it weren’t for my children, I would have crawled into that hole with Ryan gladly. Morbid and overly dramatic, maybe. But true. The initial blow of losing my best friend literally knocked my to the ground. There were moments in the hospital that I had to be peeled off the floor, sobbing. And they haven’t ended. The blows keep coming daily….I resent checking my mail because every time I do, there is another fire to be put out. I’m exhausted, and frustrated. I wonder when it will end, then remember that it won’t. Because even when the finances fall into place, and the legal matters are settled, and the condolences end (which I also dread), I still will be without my husband. And my children still have lost their Dad. And he will never baptize them, or take them on their first date, or go camping with them, or proudly watch their dance recitals…not in the same way anyways. Life will never be the same. I irrationally feel like happiness is unobtainable for me now. I logically know that time and healing WILL take place. But today, the tunnel is long, and the light is non-existent.

December 6, 2015

“When my strength is weak, I can feel you carry me. In the darkness left for blind, I can feel your hand in mine. And your whisper heals my soul, and I plead with all I know: don’t let go, don’t let go.” The words of this song say the things that I don’t even know how to put into words. Today I am so thankful for those who are carrying me. My savior, my family, the earthly Angels around me, and my Ryan. Even though I can’t see him, I can feel him near at times, and I know he is still watching over and taking care of our little family.

December 8, 2015

9 years ago today, Ryan asked me to marry him. I was 18 and crazy! So I said yes…and it was the best decision I have ever made in my life. I’m so glad that I get to spend eternity with my best friend. 💚💛 He really was SO good to me. I was ridiculously spoiled to be married to such an amazing man. We both found the love of our lives! And now I’m going to invest in a herd of cats (is it called a herd?) and be the widow cat lady on Hershey Loop until I’m old and wrinkly and get to be with him again. 🐈Be excited neighbors!

December 8, 2015

And this is why I am so INCREDIBLY overwhelmed. These are all medical bills (incorrectly billed), forms to be filled out, and companies that need to be called. This is one visit to the mailbox! It happens Every. Single. Day. None of these are low priority, and all need to be done ASAP! Can I run away yet?

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December 9, 2015

I haven’t listened to the radio since Ryan passed away, but I happened to turn it on this morning on the way to my grief counseling appointment. After my appointment I was feeling overwhelmed with my day and pretty discouraged. I turned on my car and our song immediately came on the radio. It may be silly, but I feel like there is no way that it was a coincidence. I needed some love from my Ry and it brought a lot of comfort to think that he is with me–especially when it is hard.

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December 12, 2015

I have always loved the rain. The smell, the sound of it hitting the window, the fresh smell outside, and baking bread while I curl up with a book and a blanket. Ryan and I used to joke about how I should have been a meteorologist because I love clouds and watching storms.

The day that Ryan passed away, it rained. I watched it hit the windshield as we drove home from the U. I felt like every drop was coming from heaven, and since then I have found comfort in rainy days. Today I miss him SO much.

December 13, 2015

I am different. Losing Ryan has changed me in so many ways. Instead of waking up this morning thinking about my day like I used to, I awoke with a flashback of the hospital: Making the final decision to remove life support. It haunts me. I know that God had already made the decision, and there was nothing left to do to save him. But I had to LET it happen. I had to choose the time, and the medication used, i had to plan the day around my husband’s death. I relive it over and over.

When I wake up, I feel the now familiar heaviness in my chest and pit in my stomach. I feel the overwhelming feeling of helplessness, and the pure agony of that day, and every day since. I am forever changed. I feel jaded, and cheated of my innocence. I will never look at life the same way again. I have happy moments, but doubt I will ever feel truly happy again. A huge piece of my heart is missing. I’m not ok. I’m not “fine”…but if you ask that is what I will tell you. Because I don’t even know where to start when people ask how I am. I don’t want to burden anyone else with the darkness that I feel so often. I’m NOT ok today, but maybe one day I will be.

December 15, 2015

It’s surreal how fast time is moving, yet how it has stopped. 2 months ago today, I heard Ryan speak for the last time. Even after his stroke, his final words were of concern for me and for our family. I am so grateful for that tender mercy. With difficulty, Ryan was able to communicate and told me how much he loved me. He gave me a hug, and I snuggled up with him in the hospital while we waited for the air ambulance to arrive. I didn’t know (although I feared) that I was saying goodbye to my husband. My heart aches to be able to have one more conversation with him now, but that will have to wait. One day closer.

December 16, 2015

Perks of being a Widow:

1. I can eat organic mashed potatoes from Costco for days and my family doesn’t care if we live on cereal and chicken nuggets.

2. Wait that’s it. 😳

December 17, 2015

Wearing my wedding ring makes me feel sad. It is a constant reminder that I am married but alone. I feel uncomfortable with it off…like it is a sign that I’m “single and ready to mingle”…which really is SO not happening. Maybe ever. I have debated the ring situation. Today I added Ryan’s wedding ring to my necklace, and it has been comforting to have close to my heart. It feels right.

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December 18, 2015

It’s been a crazy morning! Yoga pants and hats save lives. 😉 I have been STRESSED out this week. Addie is struggling, I am a big mess, Hudson is teething and has a sinus infection, my house needs some serious cleaning, and I have been having to learn how to make huge financial decisions alone. My husband was a banker. Let’s be honest, he took care of all of that…I feel like I have been thrown in the middle of the ocean and then expected to learn how to swim. It’s a lot! But I have such a great support system. So thankful for the people who have been so willing to help me.

People are SO good. I went to the ear nose and throat specialist once a couple of weeks ago for an appointment to schedule my tonsillectomy. Today the nurse from that office showed up at my house with boxes and boxes of gifts and food. My tree had maybe 3 gifts under it before they got here. I’ve been dreading Christmas. They were anonymously given, so to whoever was so kind to my family. Thank you.

December 19, 2015

Two months ago I had to make the most horrific decisions…choices I never saw coming in a million years. Two months ago my amazing husband and best friend passed quietly to the other side. To say I “miss him” is such an understatement….but I do. In the two months that have gone by I have learned so much. I feel more capable of taking care of my family alone. But I ache to have him here with us. Two months closer.

December 21, 2015

I have been dreading Christmas. Gingerbread houses, decorating, Christmas music, buying and wrapping gifts, parties, pretty much all of the things that I usually love about this time of year. It all just seems so hard, and trying to force it is exhausting.

But tonight as I sit in my spotless house (thank you! You know who you are! 💕) I can’t help but think about Him. The one who suffered far beyond what anyone can comprehend. Without him, there would be no peace. Without him, families couldn’t be eternal. Without him, hope would be lost. Even on my hardest days, I know that he is there…that he hurts with me, and that he is waiting for me to give him my broken heart. He is the only one that can mend it. I am so thankful for the precious gift that our Father gave to the world. He truly is my Savior. And that is something that I can be genuine in celebrating.

December 25, 2016

I survived my first Christmas. It was a day of some forced smiles, some real smiles, and a lot of keeping myself busy. At the end of the day I put on Ryan’s clothes and sprayed some of his cologne, (why do I torture myself?!) and immediately started sobbing. I miss him. I miss his smell, I miss his laugh, I miss his hands, I miss his hugs, I miss his voice, I miss his smile, I miss everything about him. Even the annoying things like how he always ripped the bottom of my perfectly tucked in sheets out every night for his feet to “breathe.” Or how I was always cleaning the whiskers off of my counter after he shaved. Or his snore when he would roll onto his stomach at night. Now I have a perfectly made bed, clean countertops, and a quiet bedroom. And i hate it. What I would give for one more day. For one more regular boring Netflix watching day. Or even one more argument for that matter. I would take anything. Soak in the mundane little moments, you just never know when life will turn upside down.

December 26, 2015

Dreams. I didn’t have any while I was taking sleep aids for the first 7 weeks after Ryan passed away. I was in a drugged sleep, just grateful to be resting with the crazy anxiety I was experiencing. I stopped taking them a couple of weeks ago though, and so looked forward to dreaming about Ryan. I just want to talk to him and see him, even if it is just in my subconscious mind. But I haven’t. I have no idea why, he is all I think about. I dream about meaningless dumb things. It is getting SO frustrating. I beg myself every night and pray to just have a happy dream where we are together. I NEED it. My real dreams have been shattered in so many ways…I really don’t feel like it is asking for much. So here I go, to sleep. Missing my person, and praying that I will be able to see him just for a moment in my memory.

December 27, 2015

This, people, is what pure exhaustion looks like. I am getting ready to head to bed (it’s 7:48pm)! I packed up my littles and they headed up to Canada for a week or so with my parents while I have my tonsillectomy. I feel a bit guilty to say that I am relieved to have time to myself. I can be a complete mess without scarring my children for life. 😉 I can lay in bed a bit longer and can just take care of me for a few days. Ryan was so good at giving me breaks, and he took such good care of me, this new “self care” thing is going to take some getting used to. But I need it, and my kids need me, so I think alone time and extra sleep will help me be a better mom later. If only I were on vacation instead of getting my annoying tonsils removed.

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December 30, 2015

I miss Ryan. I miss my best friend, I miss my husband. But as much as I miss him for myself, I miss him so much more for my babies. He adores them, and they love him so much. I know he will be there in so many ways for them still, but I so wish that he could tickle them, wrestle on the ground, give them scratchy kisses, and be the one to give them priesthood blessings. It breaks my heart to have them miss their Dad.

I looked through pictures on Ryan’s phone tonight, and I can’t believe how much Hudson has already changed. He started walking while we were in the hospital. He has started to say a couple of small words, and he acts more like a toddler than a baby lately. I know Ryan is still his biggest cheerleader, and that he celebrates every milestone with me as he watches over his little buddy. He was SO excited to finally get his boy, and I have no doubt that he is still as proud as ever of our little Hudson Jack.

December 31, 2015

Oh how I love that scruffy face. I saw someone two days ago wearing the same exact hat and from a distance I could almost pretend it was my RJ. My heart skipped a beat. It was irrational, yet comforting, to pretend just for a second that he was at the same restaurant as me and that everything had been a horrible dream. I love him! He’s always been my person that makes me feel like I’m “home.” So glad that our marriage will last forever…8 years is nowhere close to long enough for me!

2015….it is so bitter sweet to say goodbye. We were (and still are) so blessed, and probably were the most happy we had ever been. I loved my little family, and our beautifully imperfect life.

2015 was also by FAR the most devastating year for our family. I feel pretty torn about starting a new year without my husband. But every day lived brings me closer to the day when I will see him again. I have so much to look forward to with my children, and I have found the rock at the bottom. 😉It can only get better from here on out. (pretty please!) Bring it on 2016.

January 5, 2016

9:30 and I’m in bed. Weird. As crappy as having surgery is, I admit I REALLY needed the rest. I was exhausted emotionally, physically, and spiritually. I had a pretty awesome breakdown the day before my tonsillectomy. I ate Chinese food for breakfast, was looking at buying a house in Idaho Falls, made a hair appointment (was going to cut my hair really short) and then canceled, and made an online dating profile. 😳 All horrible decisions! I don’t want ANY of those things. I probably needed a good couple of weeks of pain killers and sleep.

January 7, 2016

2 years ago we made a hard decision…Ryan chose to take a huge pay cut. There was potential for long term growth, but it also meant more time at home, and less travel. Because of this decision, we were able to have him home with us so much more the last two years of his life. I got to spend most lunch breaks with him. He had more time for us. I am SO grateful that he made the decision that he did. He was following promptings back then without knowing why. I can see now the huge blessing that it was, even though it seemed like a gigantic sacrifice.

January 12, 2016

My kids have been asking to call their Dad. They call his phone again and again to hear his voicemail. They leave him messages telling him that they love him. They tell him how much they miss him, and about all of the things they love to do with him. I am so glad that they are opening up about their feelings. I think it is such a healthy way for they to “tell” their Dad all of the things they long to say…but it honestly Rips. My. Heart. Out. Every time. My babies NEED their Dad. I hate that it his voicemail is the only way that they can hear his voice. Some days the grief is just so overwhelming. I didn’t understand before what a toll it really takes on a person. It is the most exhausting thing…it is physically painful. It hurts to think, it hurts to breathe, it hurts to do normal every day things, it just plain hurts.

I have read a lot in the past couple of months, and it often has been said that grief is the strongest human emotion. I agree. All except for one….the love for my children overrides everything. If my kids need to call their Dad, I pretend that I’m not falling apart inside. Every day I get out of bed and take care of them. Even on the days when I want to lay in bed and cry until I am a puddle of tears (which are more often than not). In the hospital, all I could feel was my own pain…until my children walked in. In that moment all that mattered was making sure that they were ok, and that they had a sacred last experience with their Dad. It is amazing just how strong the instinct is to protect my children. Motherhood is a beautiful thing. It saves me from myself every single day.

January 13, 2016

Living without Ry is like living without half of myself. Oh how is miss him. I took so many things for granted before: Being able to text him, seeing his name on my call ID every day when he drove home from work, quick kisses before saying goodbye, Netflix and popcorn date nights, having someone to hold my hand in the car, cooking for someone who appreciated my work, getting ready for church and hearing him tell the kids “you have the most beautiful mom”….I miss the little things the most.

It has been a rough week. Let’s be honest the past three months have been unbearable at best. Today, I finally couldn’t hold it in anymore. The tears started flowing early on, and I couldn’t get them to stop. I was a utter and complete sobbing mess. I feel like Satan has been working overtime on me. He knows how vulnerable I am and some times I give in and listen to the voice in my head that tells me that I am completely alone. The same voice tells me I am not enough, and that I should just give up. It is overwhelming and just plain hard to fight all of the time. Tonight I finally realized that I needed extra help. I texted my bishop and he came over with a couple of friends to give me a blessing of comfort and healing. I needed it desperately. Every single thought and struggle I have been having lately was addressed. I feel comfort now more than I have in weeks. I am so thankful for the priesthood, and though I don’t have my husband here to access it through him, there are so many worthy men willing to help. I ended the night reading one of my favorite conference talks, and a bath. Because, seriously. Who doesn’t feel motivated after soaking in bubbles and listening to Jeffery R. Holland?!?

January 14, 2016

4-5:30pm used to be the hardest tIme of my day. Bored and hungry kids would cry and hold onto my legs begging for attention while I would attempt to put a healthy meal on the table. Finally, we would hear the garage door creak open and the kids would bolt for the door. “Daddy’s home!” Ryan would come inside and quickly change out of his work attire. The kids would impatiently talk to him through the door of our walk in closet. Then it would begin. The fun parent was finally home! Ry would lay on the ground and fake sleep while the kids giggled and tiptoed around him…until he would explode into a tickling frenzy. The air would fill with shrieks and laughter. He would wrestle with them all. The girls jumping on top of him while he held Hudson high above his head in the air. Tickle Monster. It was their favorite. Sometimes I would sit and watch smiling to myself, sometimes I would ignore it all and enjoy a moment to myself. Once in a while I would try to quiet the unruly screaming. What I would give for those sounds to fill my home now.

After Ryan had his stroke, his speech was very limited. He was only able to communicate a few things. I will never forget his face when he looked up at me and said, “I just want to go home and play tickle monster.” I can’t imagine how terrifying it had to have been for him. He was trapped in a body that wouldn’t do what it always had done. But all he could think about were Addie, Gracie, and Hudson. I am positive he didn’t want to leave them. He wanted to be there for the big things, and for little things. Like tickle monster. It’s funny, somehow the little things mean the most now.

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January 19, 2016

3 months. Has it really been 3 months!?! It is still hard to believe how much has changed for our family in such a short amount of time. The days are excruciatingly slow though, and it honestly seems like it has been a lifetime since Ry passed away. We miss him. The kids had an especially hard night last night. Addie woke up screaming 4 times before 11pm…and I ended up with two crying girls in my bed for the night. I wish I could take it all away from them, and that we could wake up from this never ending nightmare. But I can’t. So we are focusing on finding peace. I am learning to use the atonement in a way I never have before. It truly is the greatest gift.

 

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