12.30.2014

Our Christmas


I think I thought Christmas was going to be harder than it was. 

Don't get me wrong, Christmastime was hard.

But I am not sure if Christmas day was harder. Maybe it is because I was gearing myself up for it.

At one point, I was taking the trash out of my sister home. I went through the garage and saw Steve's car.

I am not sure why, but seeing his car tugs at my heart every time I see it.

I stood there and tears began to stream down my cheeks. I thought of his beautiful wife, children, home, and the gifts his sons were able to open from him this year. And I just thought, "Oh, Steven. Look at all this beauty because of you." And while I ached for him, I was just filled with a peaceful gratitude for him and all the divinity he brought into this world.

I have included some snapshots of how we were able to remember our Steven this month that made our hearts happy and a couple other photos that I know would make his heart happy.

Tiffany put this ornament on her tree this year. It was the perfect reminder we all needed and that the birth of our Savior brings.
My favorite ornament of the year. I ache because of his absence. 
A friend of my mother's who has also lost a son gave her this ornament. 
And the most touching experience of all Christmas, Steve's boys were able to open presents from their father, even though he's been gone for three months.
Steve's sister, our sister, spent Christmas with us this year. We loved it.
Nephew Two asked if I would join him in wearing an Ugly Christmas Sweater for our celebration. I obliged. 

12.29.2014

Dear 2014 ...


Guys, this is going to be real. 

It has been the darkest year I have ever known.

In February I became ill, leading up to my hospitalization and eventual diagnosis of autoimmune failure in March. From February 28 to September 1, I had pain every single day except for one {word to May 10th!}. Since then, I don't think it has been every day, but maybe I am so used to it now that I just don't realize it.

Amongst my toughest semester in grad school ever and autoimmune failure, I had two weeks to find a new roommate and a new place to live ... and then in those conditions, actually move for the fourth time in eight months.

In May my last living grandparent passed away.

In August, I lost my dream job of six-and-a-half years. While was able to pick up three part-time jobs, it still resulted in less time than my one full-time position and I was technically "unemployed" for three months. 

In September, two of my clients passed away. A dear friend committed suicide. And ... we unexpectedly lost our Steven. 

In October, we buried him.

In November, our family would experience additional heartache and grief that will not be detailed and that has carried over in December and I am not entirely sure how it is going to turn out.

But ... God is good.  He has sustained me and all of us through this year. And I know He will continue to sustain us all. And for that, I am eternally grateful. It is in Him that I have hope that we can keep on keeping on and find joys in the days that 2015 will bring, even though we have lost so much.

12.26.2014

Smiles mean more than they used to ...


Before Shtev passed away, he planned a surprise trip for his boys to Disneyland.

Originally, it was just for Steve and their immediate family of four. However, after his passing, we knew Tiffany would not be able to do it alone, so with the exceptional assistance from JetBlue, I was able to transfer Steve's airline ticket into my name and the rest of the family purchased tickets on the same flight.

Ironically enough, Steve had reserved two hotel rooms at the hotel instead of just one, which ended up fitting us all perfectly.

Ironically enough, for the trip he purchased new luggage for Tiffany and the boys ... but not himself.

I had an absolute marvelous time with my family and being able to still be the recipient of Steve's thoughtfulness and tender heart.

Tiffany was able to celebrate their wedding anniversary in the same place they had spent their honeymoon 17 years ago. 

These photos are so special to me, because smiles mean more than they used to.


 









P.S. I fought with the formatting for far too long. Just pretend all the photos are aligned and centered. :)

12.05.2014

"Good luck. :) I love you."


About a week after Steve went to Heaven, we were looking through his personal belongings and found a single sheet of paper he had typed for Tiffany.

The heading was, "If/when I die ..."

It then proceeded to give all of his wishes in the event of his death. Which funeral home to go to, where he would like his body to be buried, the casket he liked, where the services should be held, who would sing at the funeral, who would speak, even down to who would give the prayers.


And you know what?

Tiffany pretty much picked every single detail perfectly to his wishes without having that paper. 

There were two things that touched me particularly about that paper. 

The first was that he had wanted me to give his eulogy, which I was able to do. That, along with writing his obituary, were the two most privileged and honored things I have been able to do in this life. 

The second was what he wrote to his wife at the end of the sheet. 

"Good luck. :)  I love you."

Be.still.my.soul.


12.02.2014

All 10 of us


We buried our Steven on a Friday.

That following Monday, we attempted to live our new lives without him.

The boys weren't able to make it to school. Brandon and Hillary decided to stay a week longer. I made it to about two hours of work.

And somehow, we all found our way back to that sacred ground were Steve's body was buried. 


We laid out blankets and pulled out the lunches we brought.






And there we were.

All 10 of us again.
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