Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A Grateful Heart

I wanted to write that last blog post so I could get it off my chest and be able to write about my regular life, but somehow I still haven't done that. It's hard! And now we are getting to a difficult time of year. But I just have to share my gratitude I feel at this very moment. It's times like this I don't want to forget, which is so easy to do.

I started my new job as the Assistant to Executive Director of the Center for Digital Antiquity at ASU on October 14, 2013. It was bitter-sweet leaving UVU after 7.5 years. I cannot believe I really worked there that long! I will forever be grateful for my job at UVU with the Behavioral Science department. I couldn't have hand picked a better supervisor or coworkers for me. Especially with all the hard things I went through during my 3 years in that department. They were extremely flexible and understanding when I needed/wanted to fly home to Arizona or just needed a day off because I was sad. I love them!

My last day at UVU was October 9 and that same afternoon we drove to Arizona. It was crazy. That was a Wednesday and I started at ASU on a Monday. Brady drove back to Utah solo on that Sunday. We have been lucky enough to see each other every 2 weeks or so, which has been so great. I don't know if I could handle everything without him. Our biggest life saver is FaceTime!!

Between Brady's different trips to Arizona, he has landed a position as a Commercial Investment Broker with Marcus and Millichap. It's been hard work! Several interviews, tests, new suit (not so hard!) and countless emails and phone calls. I'm so proud of him and super excited for him to get here and start his new career!

My job at ASU has been perfect. The people are great, atmosphere is wonderful and the benefits are seriously AMAZING! I'm just so grateful!!

Thanksgiving is on Thursday and it's hard to take in. I don't like thinking about just one year ago our family was doing family pictures at my grandma's house and my dad was there. I miss him so much. The holidays this year are not going to be easy. I've learned to not push myself into doing things I just plain don't feel like doing...and that's okay!

Well anyway, that's my little grateful heart's story. I'm blessed. Living with my mom has been so great too. I think 2014 is going to be a good year for our family.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

I love you, Dad.

I'm not really sure how to start this post, but I know I need to. The last couple of weeks I have been feeling a sort of nudge to write, but not just anything. It needs to be this specific post. It almost seems like I have to address the elephant in the room before I can post anything "normal" again. But I really don't feels like talking about this elephant. The elephant is fine to be in the room...why do we need to talk about it? It's not bothering me so why do I need to disturb it and stir things up? Well, I have other things I want to talk about, but until the elephant is gone, I can't.

You know what I think it is? It's this upcoming conference weekend. Last April conference was the hardest weekend of my life. And that's no exaggeration. Shelley and Keri were at my house for the weekend and the weather was beautiful. My dad had been having some issues and needed to go to the hospice hospital. They transported him there, and my mom told us everything would be ok and he was fine. But in our hearts (I think my whole family) we knew it was time to come home.

Very early Sunday morning my mom called and talked to me, Shelley and Emily all at the same time. She said things were not well and we would need to plan on coming home in the next week or so. Dad would be coming home that night. She wanted us to enjoy conference and really listen to and feel the spirit. I was sick to my stomach, but I agreed to try and enjoy conference. Between sessions, my mom and I were texting trying to figure out flights and such. I asked her if we should just get in the car and drive home right then. She replied "yes." This is when I knew it was time. This is when I couldn't control myself. My thoughts were going wild. I was a mess. How do you pack knowing you need to choose an outfit for your own father's funeral? I didn't want to even think about that, but I had to.

Shelley drove home to pack and half an hour later we drove down to Provo to pick her up. We were on our way. Emily was flying in from somewhere else. We listened to conference in the car, but that only lasted 2 hours. We still had 8 more hours of driving...of thinking.

We finally got home to AZ around 11:00 PM. I had been feeling ok, but the moment I walked through the door I broke down. The spirit was so strong in our house, but it was a different sort of spirit. One I had never felt before. It was like a protection of some sort. Our family room felt protected and guarded from the world. I didn't realize it at that very moment, but now I know why. It felt like a temple.

Brady and I brought home our tempurpedic mattress topper and put it in the family room so we could all have a place to rest together. We all stayed in that room for the night, dozing off here and there. I was scared. I had never experienced anything like this before and I honestly didn't know what to expect.

Only 6 hours after we arrived home, around 5:45 AM on April 8, my sweet and loving father passed away. I can't tell you the sadness I feel at this very moment even just typing that sentence.

Our whole family was around his side. We told him how much we love him and asked him not to leave us. The spirit was so strong and the sun rise was beautiful. It was peaceful and I know he waited for that very moment to go. He literally did everything in his power to stay here with us. I know he wanted to be here so badly.

The spirit was with our whole family that week. We were comforted and felt so much love. I could literally feel the difference when the prayers started to lessen.

So why did I need to write this? What's the point? Am I looking for sympathy? No. I don't know why I needed to. But it feels better to get it out. I miss my dad like nothing I've ever missed before. It hurts my heart. I had a dream last night that I was a little girl, probably around 9. We were living in our old house and I was riding my bike in the cul de sac. My dad was in the front yard and I was so extremely happy. It felt so real....because that is exactly how my life was. My dad was always there. No matter what!

As you may know, I've been applying and interviewing for jobs in Arizona. It's time to move home. I've missed my dad immensely in this process, as he was my favorite person to talk to about jobs and interviewing and my future. He was my biggest supporter and always had the best advice. I still keep his advice, but I wish so badly I could call him and tell him all about my interviews!

It still doesn't feel real. It feels like I will still be living in Utah and Brady and I will pack up for Thanksgiving and head home for all of our family traditions. Feels like my dad will be siting there in his chair, taking a nap or asking me if I want to play scrabble. Yes, dad I do want to play scrabble with you!

Nothing makes the pain or the grief easier. I never knew or felt like my dad was in any pain, because he never made mention of it. If he did, I knew it was serious. Even when he was home on hospice, he seemed just fine to me. My knowledge of eternal families is what keeps me going. I KNOW I will see him again and I KNOW we will be together forever. I know when I pass away, he will be there waiting for me with his cute smile and a huge hug. I cannot wait!

I've been so blessed in my life. I have an amazing husband who is an absolute rock and huge support to my entire family. I am so grateful for the gospel and for my testimony. I'm grateful for the example my dad was to me and I hope to be more like him and his missionary work. I've felt him close and know he loves me and wants the very best for me.

I know my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love me so much. Christ knows the feelings and the pain I have. All the blessings I have are because of them. They really do want me to be happy and live a wonderful life. I will always miss my dad, but I am happy.

I love this video below. This explains perfectly why my dad worked so hard. It was all for us - his family! He is the best example of hard work and putting your family first.

Thank you for your support and for your love. I know it's awkward and sometimes it's hard to know what to say, and that's ok.


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

My Dad

Deep breaths.

Deep breaths.


Ok, I can write this. I can do it. My hands are sweating and my stomach is turning, but I can write this. Where to start? I've wanted to update my blog for a while now, but subconsciously or maybe consciously, I keep putting it aside and avoiding the subject. I don't like thinking about it really, but I feel a sense or a need to record what's going on with my family and my life right this very moment.

Let's start from the beginning. When I was 11, my dad had a seizure in the middle of the night. My mom didn't think much of it, but my dad went to the doctor since he was feeling really tired and a little sick. The doctor told him he had a brain tumor and required surgery the next day. Pretty much a life and death situation. Five kids under 12, including a 10 month old baby. I really didn't understand the seriousness of the situation at the time, but looking back I can't believe how "normal" my life felt! I was actually mad that I wasn't going to be able to go to dance that night.

Fast forward 13 years. My dad has had several brain surgeries and has done radiation, chemotherapy, steroids...all several times. On December 22, Brady and I drove home for Christmas break. We left earlier than planned and I will be forever grateful that we did. I was able to spend that evening/night with my family. My dad sat me and Brady down in his room and had a very serious and personal talk about the tumors. Since Thanksgiving, he had become increasingly dizzy and was not able to walk on his own. We would do a sort of "train" walk where one is in front and one behind to help him go wherever he needed to in the house.

That night, he went to bed and all was well. We were home for the break and we were excited to spend a week and a half with the family! Around 5:30 in the morning of December 23, I woke up to the scariest cry/scream coming from my mom on the other side of the house. I don't know how I even heard her because I have been known to sleep through fire alarms. But I heard her so clearly, and woke up instantly. I woke up Brady and told him to hurry, it was my dad. He ran to their bedroom and he yelled back at me to call 911.

I called 911 for the first time ever, and spoke to the woman on the phone. I could hear the ambulance on its way as I was on the phone with her. I went in the room and helped my mom and held my dad's hand. He squeezed it hard, but his face was blank. All of a sudden, my parent's room was filled with paramedics, policemen and people everywhere. Shelley and Davis were in the room, but Chase was still asleep. Jackson and Emily were actually driving to Arizona at the time. Chase woke up and rushed down just to see my dad being taken away on a stretcher. What a site. I wish I could forget the pictures in my mind, but I just can't.

What had happened was my dad woke up and said he needed to use the bathroom. My mom told him to hold on just a minute and that she would help him walk over there. He told her he was going to do it himself, but my mom said no and got out of bed. Before she could reach him, he was stumbling and falling from being so dizzy. He fell and hit his head on the entertainment center in their bedroom. There was a gash in the back of his head that required staples.

Anyway, my mom went in the ambulance with him and we all put some clothes on and drove to the hospital. An hour or so later, they had him in a room hooked up to all sorts of machines. Then he was transferred to his regular hospital in downtown Phoenix where he sees his brain doctor and such.

The next two weeks were so hard. He was in the ICU for 4 days or so and had to have so many tests done. It was so hard, and having Christmas in the middle of it all made it even harder. My mom came home so early on Christmas morning and I helped her set everything up for my brothers, who are still pretty young.

In the hospital...love his glasses!
We each took turns staying the night at the hospital, and spent most of our days there. My siblings continued on with our Christmas traditions, but I couldn't get myself to do anything but sit at the hospital. My mom was literally there for probably 18 hours a day.

I requested additional time off from work and was able to stay a little longer. While my dad was in the hospital, he had 2 strokes, a huge blood clot, pneumonia, a UTI, rashes from allergic reactions and seriously anything else you can think of. A couple days before we left, we had him transferred to a rehab/nursing home type of place. It was not the nicest place, but it didn't smell and it was a lot closer than the hospital! We felt like we were making progress.

The only problem was that my dad was so so sleepy. He wouldn't wake up. I would shake him and say "Hi dad!!!" "Merry Christmas dad!!!!!" and get no response. It took all of his effort to even open his eyes a tiny bit. Some days he would seem to get better, then the next it would seem worse. One step forward, two steps back.

I had to go back to Utah since I had been gone over 2 weeks. Brady and I made the long drive back and we started to get back to our routine, although I was very sad all the time and I couldn't even concentrate on anything.

Things went down hill from the rehab center...his organs started to shut down and things just weren't right. He needed to go back to the hospital. He was transferred back via ambulance and we started the whole process all over again.

He was in the hospital for about another 2 weeks. My mom was there again for 18 hours a day. She felt torn between being at the hospital, and being with my brothers. It was so hard and I wish I could've just been there to at least take care of my brothers so she didn't have to worry!

Prettiest sunsets from the hospital every night
Things started to improve a little bit, and my mom decided to move him to a different rehab place that was actually attached to the hospital. That way if there were any more emergencies, he would already be at the hospital. I never went to this rehab place, but my mom says it was the worst. He had to share a room, and the workers were loud, there were prisoners everywhere and the nurses didn't check on him regularly. It was horrible!

My mom couldn't do it anymore. The only way she could bring him home, was on hospice. She decided this would be best for our family, and since she had been at the hospital for so long, she felt she would be able to take care of him.

So everything was set up and ready to go. It seemed each "transfer" happened on a Friday, so we would have to wait the entire weekend which was no fun. Finally, the bed was set up, the supplies were delivered and my dad was sent home. Both he and my mom were so so ready to come home. My dad had lost his speech because of one of the strokes, but he would do a thumbs up and a few other signs to communicate with my mom and the nurses.

He has been home over a month and a half now and my mom is the best nurse! She literally does everything on her own. A nurse comes to bathe and shave him twice a week, and a medical nurse comes once a week to check on everything and see if my mom has any questions. I can't believe how strong my mom is and how smart she is. She is a real RN!

I went home in February to help my mom and it's so much work. I don't know how she does it on her own. My siblings and I all went home for spring break and it was just great. My dad still does his thumbs up and a few other things. Sometimes he will have a random moment where speech will return and he will say things out of the blue.

One day, I was helping my mom and my dad was pulling on his feeding tube. I told him he need not worry or mess with it and he asked me what it was. I explained to him that it was a feeding tube, and showed him the food and how it all worked. He then said "Let me see if I understand this correctly..." and proceeded to explain how it works back to me. It was amazing! And it really is out of the blue.

He is very aware and knows what is going on around him. When we were home for spring break, my goal was to get him in a wheel chair and take him on a walk outside. Well guess what...we did it!! We have a hoist that is kind of like a huge hammock and we were able to get him in and push him around. It was great to get him outside for some fresh air and a change of scenery. He is getting stronger every day from the physical therapy my mom and aunt do with him. He is still my funny dad and I love him so much!
Ready to go on a walk outside!!

Now here I am...back in Utah. I wish I could live in Arizona, but I just can't right now. Brady is graduating in December (YAY!!) and then we will move home to Arizona. I know my dad is so proud of Brady and wants him to finish his degree right now and not put it off.

This experience has been the hardest of my life. It's so hard and even though my dad is still here, I miss being able to call and tell him little things that happened. Or have a missed call with a sweet voicemail from him. I'm crying just thinking about it...but how grateful I am for the past times and our amazing relationship.

I am still living my life and Brady and I are still doing fun things. That is what my dad always wants! I will be home again in May and July. I'm grateful that Allegiant has started flying from Provo to Mesa for so cheap! :) Saves time and money.

I want to be able to post about my life and what is going on, but I felt I couldn't do it until I got this off my chest. It feels good to write. Thanks for reading.