Join the 5K4RJ

My sweet brother in law sent us a package! To honor his brother (my late husband), he has had organized the second annual 5K4RJ. It will be held in Logan, UT this Saturday.


Before I knew the date of the race, we booked a trip to Disney World with the kids. We will be running/walking our own 5K in Florida and, as always, will be carrying him on our hearts. We are sad to miss the event in Utah, but I know Ry would approve of our choice to take our munchkins to Disney instead. ūüôā If you live near Logan, please sign up and run for this cause that is near and dear to my family’s heart. ‚̧If not, you can also donate to the American Heart and Stroke Foundation.

For me, our three children, and all of those who loved my RJ, raising stroke awareness is so important. It is also important to understand that strokes not only affect those who are older in age, but young and healthy people as well. Honestly it breaks my heart that an event in memory of my sweet husband even exists. RJ, we miss you! ūüíô

“I carry your heart with me, I carry it in my heart. I am never without it.”

-E. E. Cummings

Click here to donate in memory of Ryan:
http://honor.americanheart.org/site/TR?px=12927072&fr_id=2320&pg=personal

Click Here for 5K4RJ Event Details
https://m.facebook.com/events/1317949541626101?acontext=%7B%22ref%22%3A%223%22%2C%22action_history%22%3A%22null%22%7D&aref=3

Miracle

After a particularly emotional Easter Sunday, I was doing my best to just hold it together as we drove home from Church.¬†My oldest daughter (and the rest of the senior primary) sang the most beautiful song during Sacrament meeting called “Miracle” which pulled at my heartstrings and started the day off a bit teary.¬†It was a beautiful Sabbath, but with all of the talk of death, resurrection, and the atonement, my mind had been on my RJ all day.

I was struggling to keep my composure when¬†Gracie started asking me questions from the backseat–hard questions, many of which I didn’t have the answers to.

“Why did Daddy have a blood clot? What does a blood clot look like? Why was it in his head?”

“Why did Heavenly Father need Dad¬†in Heaven? We need him on Earth. Doesn’t Heavenly Father know that?”

“I talked to Heavenly Father when I was sad. I told him I wanted my Dad back, and asked if I could talk to him for just a minute. I talked to Daddy, but I didn’t¬†hear him back. He didn’t answer me. Heavenly Father must not have listened¬†to my prayer.”

“It doesn’t make sense that Dad would die. He was so young. He wasn’t even old and wrinkly. Why didn’t he die when he was old?”

“Are you going to get old and die? What if you and Ryan get sick? What will happen when you die and I can’t see you? I don’t want you to ever die.”

“I had another nightmare about when¬†Daddy was throwing up. I remember I went upstairs to give him a hug and to talk to him, but you told me he needed to rest. You told me¬†to go watch the movie downstairs. Why didn’t you let me talk to him? I never got to talk to him ever again. I’m mad that you didn’t let me talk to my Daddy when he was sick.”

I tried to the best of my ability to answer honestly, but to also comfort¬†her. “Daddy must be a very busy missionary, but he¬†still watches over our family, and helps us even though we can’t see him. Heavenly Father always hears our prayers, even though they aren’t always answered in the way we want. I know it is confusing that Daddy got sick and passed away when he was young. Not everyone lives until they are old, but I plan on living for a very long time. Ryan is healthy too. I’m so sorry that I told you to go downstairs when Daddy was throwing up. I didn’t know that you weren’t going to be able to talk to him again. I wish we all would have talked to him more.” I tried to give her answers to her difficult questions. I wanted to ease her troubled little mind, and give her clarity, but there were¬†also a lot of answers like, “I don’t know honey” and “I wish I knew.”

Because I don’t. I have spent a lot of time contemplating the same questions¬†as¬†she does. I don’t know why or how her Daddy developed such a life threatening clot in his blood. It happened so quickly, so¬†unexpectedly, and the cause of it¬†had puzzled the doctors in Utah as well. I don’t know why he was taken at such a young age, with three babies and a wife left behind to miss and grieve him. Like Gracie, I have many questions I plan on asking when I get¬†to the other side.

I parked the car in our driveway, opened the door, and held out my arms to her for a hug. We stood there, in the doorway of my van for a long time. She was quiet for a moment, and then she looked up at me with a look that I can’t even describe. It was pure devastation.¬†“It’s not fair Mom. I can’t even remember my own Dad.”

And then it was all over. My emotional dam burst and all of the tears I had been holding back were flowing down my face in seconds.

I honestly can’t even imagine.¬†For a child, losing your parent has to be the absolute worst.¬†Watching my sweet girls process their own grief and try to understand the reality of what they have gone through, completely and utterly breaks my heart.

I asked Addie to watch Hudson inside the house, then sat out in the yard with Gracie. As I thought about how hard it must be for her, I wished so much that I had all of the answers. I wished that I could take it all away. I wished I knew how to heal her broken little heart.

And then, I remembered the beautiful messages that I had heard all afternoon. And I realized that I really DO have all of the answers, at least the ones that matter the most.

Jesus is our Savior. He loves us so much that he suffered for our sins, and bled from every pore. He died for each one of us. Because of his ultimate sacrifice, we will all be able to live again after this life. Death is temporary, and pain is only for a time.

With a feeling of relief, I looked into my sweet daughters eyes and bore a¬†simplified¬†version of my¬†testimony of the atonement. I told her that Heavenly Father and Jesus love her so much that they made a plan for her to be able to see her Daddy again. I told her that one day, his spirit and his body would reunite, and that he would be able to touch his scruffy face, and hear his voice–not just in her heart or in old voicemails or pictures, but with her hands, ears, and eyes. In person. And on that day,¬†he will be perfectly strong and healthy, and he will never die or get sick again.

I saw the pain leave her eyes, and then she grinned and told me that she hopes that he stays bald. Because her Daddy looked perfectly handsome, even without hair.

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I am so grateful that I know the answers to life’s most important questions. I have no idea how I would be able to cope, or to help calm my children’s aching hearts without the¬†knowledge of life after death, and of the Plan of Salvation. It has truly become my lifeline in the past 18 months.

I am thankful for Easter. And for hope. And for my loving Savior, who broke the chains of death, and loved me enough that he died to save me.

“Jesus¬†is a God of miracles. Nothing is at all impossible to Him. But I know this:¬†

Of all His miracles, the most incredible must be the miracle that rescues me.”

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One year and six months

Overwhelming grief. Happiness. Numbness. Overwhelming grief. Happiness. Numbness. Overwhelming grief. Happiness. Numbness. Etc…

This is where I am at.

Tomorrow will be the eighteen month mark of the day that RJ suffered his stroke and brain aneurism. Wednesday is his eighteen month “angelversary” (a word that is used to describe the anniversary of the day he passed away)

18 months. It feels like another lifetime ago, although the ache in my heart reminds me that it hasn’t been so long.

So much has changed in the past year and a half. I have experienced an incredible amount of heartache, dated, moved, and remarried. I really am very happy with where life has taken me and my children since that fateful day.

Life has gotten easier for the most part. My new husband has been such a blessing, I am certain that he was meant for our family. He has saved me in so many ways.

I have surrounded myself with only a few RJ’s old keepsakes, pictures, and articles of clothing. I have tried desperately to minimize the amount of negative triggers in my environment, and to only allow happy memories.

It helps. But I feel so much guilt for it at at the same time.

How could I ever be OK with being OK?

Yesterday, I cleaned out my filing cabinet so that we could prepare my portion of our yearly taxes. As I came across things like death certificates, medical bills, and student loan paperwork, it was as though I had taken back to October of 2015. And somehow, it almost hurt more than before, because, in an effort to help myself move forward, I have been avoiding it all. Remembering those early days really brings up a lot of unresolved pain and a feeling of desperation and anxiety.

But I know how to do grief.

Grief is like an old familiar friend now. As much as it hurts me, it feels familiar and right. I don’t feel guilty when I am mourning and missing him.

What doesn’t feel right is living without him. Being happy and being ok. It feels like I am leaving him behind.

He feels farther away.

I would rather hurt than slowly forget. But I¬†don’t know how to bring him back, to feel closer to him, without feeling the excruciating darkness that accompany the memories of him leaving us.

So I feel overwhelming grief.

I allow myself to hurt, to cry, and to feel the pain. I feel it until I can’t take it anymore, and I fear that I will become stuck in that dark place. Usually it lasts for a few days.

Then I take a breath and focus on all of the reasons I gave to be happy. For weeks, I find and soak up every moment of lightness and joy. I think of him daily, that will never change, but I push out the bad and only allow the good. It is exhausting and takes a lot of effort to be happy sometimes. But I do it until I physically and emotionally can’t anymore.

And then I don’t feel anything at all.

I feel numb.

I see now that this is my body and mind’s way of protecting me. There is no telling how long I will stay in this state, as it always depends on how soon I am confronted with a trigger. I push through, do everyday life, but struggle to feel anything. I try to prolong this phase sometimes, because I know that deep down, the pain is waiting.

I know that eventually it will find me. It always does. All it takes is a song, a dream, or cleaning out my filing cabinet to push me off into that all consuming place of pain. And then it hurts so much.

But I also feel better because that means I haven’t forgotten him.

My heart hasn’t gotten used to being away from his.

And that makes me feel such a deep sense of relief. Because it makes him feel closer to me again.

I miss him.

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Happiness

Happiness.

It’s a word that means so much more to me now than it ever did before.

There was a time in my life, when I thought I would never be happy again. I truly believed that the rest of my existence would be so overshadowed with pain that I would be incapable of finding joy.

During that difficult¬†time, my children were my lifeline. They were what I lived for every single day. Because of them, I continued on. I got out of bed. I wiped their tears. I continued to be¬†their Mom. Even on the days that I didn’t want to, their constant love and need for me kept me going.

One afternoon, I turned on music while I was cleaning my kitchen. It started off a soft melody, but the volume was soon turned up LOUD by little fingers. Suddenly, I was dancing in the kitchen with my babies. I watched them spin and giggle, jumping and twirling to the beat. As I watched them, my heart wanted to burst out of my chest. It felt foreign at first, and there was a significant amount of guilt that accompanied it, but it was there. I felt happy.

Over time it has gotten easier. I have learned to be unaplogetically happy.  It is something that was difficult to allow, and to embrace, but I know for certain that my RJ would want nothing less for me.

Through widowhood, I’ve learned that being happy doesn’t mean that you don’t struggle or feel pain. Being happy doesn’t mean that you aren’t full of wounds and scars. It doesn’t mean that things are perfect or even ideal. Being happy doesn’t mean that you forget.

Happiness is found by searching out the good and the beautiful in everyday life. It means absorbing every ounce of joy that you can despite your circumstances in this life.

Happiness is¬†a choice, and it’s one that I have to make daily.

I am so thankful for these sweet little people. They teach me every day to be a better person. ‚̧ They are my happy.

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Washed Clean

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DSC_5488I am so proud of my sweet Addison!

She chose to be baptized last Saturday. I loved watching her excitement and happiness as she became a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The day, honestly, was bitter sweet for me. Days like these really make me miss this girl’s Daddy who is in Heaven. But I know he was there with us. And I am SO incredibly grateful for the Daddy she has here on Earth. It was a day full of family, food, tears (some sad but mostly happy), and such a strong spirit of peace. I got especially emotional as we sang the song, “When I am Baptized.”
I like to look for rainbows whenever there is rain
And ponder on the beauty of an earth made clean again.
I know when I am baptized my wrongs are washed away,
And I can be forgiven and improve myself each day.
I want my life to be as clean as earth right after rain.
I want to be the best I can and live with God again.

I am so thankful for the words of this beautiful song. And they are true! Without Jesus Christ in my life, I would have no hope, or purpose. But because of him, I can find peace and true joy, even through trials and heartache. If anyone reading is interested in learning more about what my family and I believe, contact me via email (in contact section of this blog), or via Facebook (addilynjack) and I would love to mail you your very own copy of the Book of Mormon! Free of charge of course! ūüôāIMG_3284.JPG

Thanks for reading!

‚̧Monica