He was my Shtev ...

Today it's been eight weeks since we lost our Steven. And this is probably one of the most difficult things I have yet to share.

It's difficult because I know my writing can never do it justice.

It's difficult because it reminds me of all I have, even if temporarily, lost.

The last picture that Steven and I are in together, which would also be the last birthday of mine we'd celebrate together.
Steve is my brother-in-law. He married my older sister. But he was truly my brother. And even that title does not, cannot reflect all that he was and is to me.

Steve was my Gmail chat buddy. We chatted almost every single day.

Steve was my Aggie football buddy. Whether it was going to the games together, being able to watch the away games on TV, or just talking Aggie football, we did it. Many people have asked how my family could sit through decades of losing seasons of Aggie football. It's easy, because we sat through them together. 

Steve was my Aggie basketball buddy. These games were generally much easier to sit through than  football. ;) The minute something happened in Aggie basketball (or Aggie athletics in general), we were texting each other. The majority of all photos Steve and I have together are sitting at an Aggie athletic event. 

Steve was my Glenn Beck buddy. We met him together.

Steve shared all his favorite books with me and even let me keep some of them.

Steve was my Aggie apparel go-to man. If there was ever a sale at the university bookstore, Steve would text/email immediately so I could buy all the cute things on sale!

If I ever had a car question, I asked Steve.

If I ever had a computer question, I asked Steve.

If I ever had a internet question, I asked Steve.

If I ever had a financial question, I asked Steve.

If something ever was broken, I asked Steve to fix it. And he would.

If I ever needed furniture moved, Steve was my go-to man {he helped me move four times in eight months last year alone}.

Steve was my prank buddy. He'd pull them on me. I'd pull them on him. I actually had one planned for him ... maybe one day when I join him in Heaven I can still do it.

Steve came to every cross country and track meet of mine in the valley throughout my entire high school and collegiate running career.

While at the races, he would always take photos because he knew I wanted them for my scrapbook.

Steve could recognize my running form from blocks away.  Seriously, one time he was in a car with his co-workers. They saw a runner over two blocks away and he said, "That's Mindy." And he was right.

Steve was my softball buddy. Planning company softball was sometimes, downright awful. The only reason I did it was for him ... to be able to play with him.

Steve diligently tried to get me married. For the last 14 years he has had someone in mind. Ha! He is probably the only person on the planet I'd let even touch this topic. :)

Steve was my favorite listener.

Steve let me vent to him about Calini. 

Steve knew what Calini is.

For the last 17 years I have received flowers on Valentine's Day, from Steve.

Steve always bought the best presents {flip-flops, Aggie gear, pink things}.

Before making any and every major decision in the last 17 years, I asked Steve.

Steve was my advice-giver on everything.

Steve taught me how to be more thoughtful and selfless.

Steve {along with Tiffy} taught me what a marriage should look like.

Steve taught me how my husband should treat me.

I trusted that man and his advice completely - entirely. No matter what it was on because he would do anything to make sure my life was easier, better, happier.

He was one of my closest confidants and friends.

I miss him with every breath of my heart.

And that is who my Shtev is.



I made Nephew Two pray over a lunch I made last week.

Heaven knows if I made it, it certainly would need a blessing on it.

At the end of the blessing he prayed, "And thank you for the time we had with my dad."

That is the son Steve & Tiffany raised. That is the boy who I have never been more proud and pleased to call my nephew.

And I had never been so grateful for the 17 years we had with Steve. And I have never been so grateful for all of eternity that we will continue to have with him. 


USU Football + Steve

Friday, October 3, 2014 was the day Steve was supposed to come home from the hospital. 

In a tragic, ironic twist, it ended up being the day we buried him.

Prior to his passing, our entire family was looking forward to that day for him returning home and because it was the day our Utah State Aggies would be playing BYU in football. We had all planned on watching it together that night when Steve came home.

Even though we said our final goodbyes to Steve that day instead of welcoming him home, and while the football game became quite minuscule compared to the earlier events of the day, we chose to still watch that game together.

 Honestly, we didn't have high hopes for our football team. BYU was ranked and we had just lost our all-star quarterback {the ever-so attractive Chuckie Keeton}. Even as the game began, BYU quickly scored and if I am being honest, I thought it was going to be reflection of how the entire game would go.

However, our Aggies sure proved me wrong! Even though USU football had not won in Provo, Utah since 1978 {read as when Steve was two-years-old!!}, we came out of that game with a win!

While I don't think God cares about football {and I really don't!}, I couldn't help but think it was somehow still a tender mercy for a grieving family to find a little bit of joy on such a difficult day.

Two days following the game, something amazing was brought to our attention.

Steve's friend, Mike Bair, is the equipment manager for USU athletics {he is the one who provided us with the AWESOME tour of the USU athletic facilities last summer}. He knew how big of a fan Steve was of USU football and prior to the game, he asked the USU head football coach, Matt Wells, if he could put Steve's initials on the game balls.

Coach Wells agreed. Each team brings six game balls to use throughout the game and on each and every game ball that USU brought to Provo, SPM, Steve's intials, were written. 

After the epic win, Mike Bair then asked Coach Wells if he could keep one of the game balls ... to give to Steve's sons. Coach Wells, yet again, agreed.

Steve's sons now own the game ball from the monumental win of Utah State against a ranked Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.

And, not sure how my sister feels about this, but that football has found a permanent home in her living room! Ha!

Thank you for the love, Mike Bair, Matt Wells and Utah State University! We will always remember the game against BYU that Steve played a role in winning. :) 


Big Blue + Steve

If you follow me on Instagram and Facebook, you will know that Utah State played a huge role in celebrating the life of Steve after his passing. I am finally getting around to explaining all of that for those who were curious. 

Steve not only was a graduate of USU, but he worked there for 14 years in the IT System Administration Department {that's a bunch of technical jargon to say he did computer stuff}. :) Additionally, he was huge Aggie athletics fan {like myself and the rest of our family}.

Utah State Loves Steve first began when the University Inn on campus provided rooms free of charge to anyone coming into town to celebrate Steve's life at the viewing or funeral. This was due to Steve's employment there.

It continued at the viewing as Big Blue, the university's mascot made an appearance!

This was just a kind gesture from Big Blue and the USU Spirit Squad, as Big Blue is someone our family has built a fun relationship with over the past couple of years. For Big Blue to make public appearances, he has to get permission. So we are grateful that he wanted to come and we are grateful he was granted permission to come as well.

I am pretty sure Big Blue was hesitant to show up at an event that could be so somber, but it was perfect. I am sure Steve was just laughing. And it definitely brightened up the evening of Steve's boys and his nieces and nephews that were in attendance. I couldn't help but laugh myself! Thank you, Big Blue!!!

However, the love from USU would not end there, not even close ...


Sobering Snowfall

Last week, the first snowfall graced Logan, Utah with its presence. 

In all its annual and classic majestic beauty, it was an unexpected sobering experience.

After losing Steve, our lives and the lives around us kept moving forward. We went back to work, went back to school, days have come and gone, even a new month has been embraced. 

But that first snowfall ... I suppose it flooded over me as the first physical, natural indicator that this world is going on without Steve here, at least not physically. And... that aches, for that is a world I never wanted to live in or even imagined living in

But that has become our reality ... a reality that was manifested by that first snowfall, a reality that will likely manifest itself in a myriad of avenues as our lives sojourn without him physically by our side.



There is still much left to be spoken of losing Steve. I think there always will be.

There is still much left to be spoken of the grief of losing Steve. I think there always will be.

Wild Animal Park | December 2010
But today, today I want to talk about how in the midst of our darkest days, there still is joy.

Up to now, I have shared some of the most raw and gut-wrenching experiences. In fact, everything I have shared to this point, has covered a mere four days. The first four days.

Those days were dark. Those days were a blur. Those days, time just careened. Even though his death occurred six weeks ago, what you have received from me is just those first.four.days.

And before I go further into days five, six, seven or more ... I want to give you a glimpse of where I am now, a place where JOY IS FOUND.

Grief still cloaks almost every moment, every experience. But joy has a way of floating in like an early morning fog every now and again.

Joy comes in the knowledge that we WILL see our Steven again

Most of you probably know I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As a member, it is our belief that families are forever and that as you pass from this life to the next, your loved ones are waiting for you. Since Steve's passing, my mind has conjured the most beautiful and divine image I can think of ... that one day, when I too pass, I will run to that man and hug him so tight!!!! I long for that day. Because Christ overcame the grave, so did our Steven and so will we.

Joy comes because I know Steve wants me to be happy

For the last 17 years, I have always felt Steve was one of my biggest fans. It didn't matter what I was doing, he was always, always there supporting me 110%. All he ever wanted for me was to be happy and he did everything in his power to contribute to that happiness. I have a feeling that now that he is gone, that is what he is still doing. And so for him, I will be happy.

Joy comes from the goodness of others

Our family will never be able to thank the countless individuals who said {and continue to say} prayers on our behalf, sent texts/emails/FB messages/phone calls, dropped by, made meals, donations given for my sister and her family, those who mowed the lawn, those who dropped off gifts or treats, those who helped clean up my sister's yard for the winter ... The list just goes on and on.

Last week Tiffany was at the grocery store and someone saw her at the checkout. He was a friend of Steve's and he quietly said, "Please let me buy your groceries today."

Constant.experiences. of people expressing their kindness, love and support ... thank you just isn't enough. Our gratitude has no end.

A part of me went to Heaven that day with Steven ... 

And something is telling me there will always be a profound void, emptiness and ache. But, make no mistake about it ... we still find joy, just as Steve would want us to. 


I know that Steve would want me to be blogging about anything other than him. :) I know he wants me to be blogging about my old, regular, pointless things. :) And I will. I just want to get some particular experiences here first while they are so close to my heart. And then ... then I will find a way to blog the way he always wanted me to. :)


Beauty in the darkness

There is something about making the place of your loved one's body beautiful that just provides some solace to a broken heart and soul.

These were the first items to be placed by where Steve's body is placed, perfectly fitting for October and November. I couldn't love it more; Tiffany made it perfect. It gave a little heart to his body's temporary home. 


Friday, October 3, 2014

There are no words ...



Our deepest gratitude to Cali Stoddard for her friendship and her amazing talents in the beautiful photography.


Thank you for the new memories ...

The first viewing for Shtev was Thursday night.

Oh, we were both so young! 
It's a strange thing to do, ya know?

I know I appreciate the opportunity to attend viewings to sort of say goodbye to a friend or loved one lost. 

I want to say it's different when you're on the other end of a viewing, you know, the end that has lost the loved one, but that isn't even true. I was present at the viewings of all four of my grandparents and this was nothing like that.

Even now I am only realizing it's because it is incomparably different when it is the viewing of your loved one who is someone who has gone too soon. 

So heartbroken, yet the expectation to see people, to smile, to have conversations with people. Yet, some of those conversations were so touching. I think our family intimately knew the way Steve touched the lives of others, but to hear one experience after another, after another ...  it was comforting to see the profound beauty he brought into the lives of others and into this world. In a way, we were given new memories of Steve after he was gone, and my gratitude for that knows no bounds.


Every little detail ...

After we came home from the cemetery, it was a blur for the next two days until the viewing on Thursday evening.

Everything had to be planned and it had to be planned fast.

But the most important thing was for it to be perfect ... all of it.

I wanted the obituary to be perfect. I wanted to give the world a small glimpse of the greatest man I have ever known.

We wanted the accompanying photo to truly show Steve ... his cuteness, his smile, just Steve.

There were photos to be chosen for the video the mortuary was going to put together. Just 50 photographs to highlight the remarkable life of a selfless husband, father, brother, son and friend.

And the program, the program that Tiffany could not choose at the mortuary because none of them were right, but then came up with the most beautiful program I've ever seen.

We also put together a table for those coming to say goodbye to our Steven to see that small glimpse of his goodness and life.

And while logic tells me that in the grand scheme of things, these details might not be "important" ... but when these are the final things you do for your loved one, every decision becomes important. And we just wanted to honor our Shtev in everything we did. 


His Final Resting Place

No wonder it has been raining so much today, the heavens must be weeping.*


The rain poured down as we sought for the perfect, final resting place for Steven's body.

And find it we did.

His final resting place would overlook his Aggies. And as we would watch Aggie football games in that stadium without him, we could still look upward and remember our Steve, so that in a way, he could still always be there with us.


* An old bishop of mine wrote this to me when he heard of our loss. 


Their love ...

I had never been to a mortuary to plan the funeral of anyone.

Their wedding day, December 13, 1997.
You set the date and immediately jump into making decisions. 

Tiffany made those decisions with a graceful ease.

Tiffany somehow knew which flowers to choose ... And going from casket to casket, the moment she saw a specific one, she just knew that it was the one.

She even knew which decisions not to make there, as none of program templates conveyed what was needed to be conveyed.

At one point, someone asked her about a specific detail, "Well, what would Steve like?"

Her response, "He just loved whatever I loved."

And it was true. That was IS one of the beauties of their marriage and relationship, he was just so happy, making her happy. He truly loved whatever she loved. 

I love the way those two love each other. It has been one of my greatest blessings in this life to be a witness to it. It has been beautiful to see that love continue to manifest itself from both sides of the veil ... a love for all time and eternity, something Steve would refer to as, "Best.phrase.ever."  And, oh isn't he right!


She shouldn't have to be doing this ...

I drove Tiffany and her boys home from Murray that day.

If I am being completely honest ... as I drove I thought, "If we all of us were in a car accident," {all three vehicles of us}, "We could be with Steve now."

During that car ride, our brother called Tiffany's phone, thinking he had called me. I am certain they had over 10 missed calls from my phone. I could hear her say, "Steve didn't make it. He passed away."

Later, Brandon (my brother) would tell us that his wife, Hillary, immediately started sobbing, and he? He couldn't cry out of the pure shock of the moment. This just wasn't supposed to happen.

It was during that car ride that I realized my 35-year-old sister had just become not only a widow, but a single mom as well. 

Walking into the Steve & Tiffany's home upon returning to Logan was almost unbearable ... to think, Steven would never physically be within those walls again ached

I made phone calls to the mortuary, to plan a time to meet with them. Steve passed on a Tuesday, and due to General Conference on Saturday, his funeral would need to be Friday and would need to be planned fast. We scheduled a time to meet with the funeral director in a few hours.

Steve's mom, sisters, Tiffany, and my parents arrived at the funeral home. I cried with my sister as she said, "I shouldn't have to be doing this." I cried because she was right. No 35-year-old wife should have to bury her husband ...
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