Tuesday, April 30, 2013


I take a picture of our calendar at the end of every month, so I can remember what we did that month - and I can put it in our monthly newsletter. 

All it takes is a glance and you can see the difference between these two months. We had lots of things going on in March - Link's blessing on the 3rd,  lots of birthdays to celebrate, St. Patrick's day,  play dates, dentist appointments, Easter, spring break. Nowhere do I have "bury my son" on there. That was not in my plans. The fact that we blessed him & buried him in the same month just hurts my heart - such an absolute contrast of emotions. 

It doesn't look like we did anything in April. Honestly, I didn't even change the calendar to April until it was halfway done. It felt like we were leaving him behind - moving on without him. The only thing written in that month are 2 dentist appointments - and THOSE are only on there because they didn't get done in March - they were scheduled for the day Link died. What you can't see written in April are these words:

Get out of bed.  
Survive the day. Breathe in and out. 
Go to bed. 

Getting out of bed is hard, but going to bed is usually harder for me. The day is over. I am left with my sweetheart and a broken heart. That's usually when the tears find me.   Because... it's one more day closer to being with him again, but it's also one day farther from all the memories. I try to write them down whenever they come to me, but they are fading & I know there is so much I didn't capture. Everyone tells me I've taken a lot of pictures, but it's not enough for me. I will think back & wish I had taken a picture of this or a video of that. And just the everyday memories - I need to remember them. It hurts that so much fades away so quickly. 

As May approaches, I hope that I will be able to do more than just breathe & survive, though I know that will still be the majority of my day. 
I have moments - snippets of time - where I am here with my family. Where I come out of my grief coma for just a second and see things as they are and know they will be okay. Where I am with my daughter and I'm not just hearing the words she's speaking, but I'm listening. Where I am with the kids at the playground and I actually feel the wind on my face and the sun on my skin and I hear their laughter and truly smile. Where I look into my husband's beautiful green eyes and I am there - in the moment...
and then... the grief takes over again. 
It's such a paradox to me. Being in the moment - being there for my children and cherishing every moment is so difficult for me right now - the grief coma makes it so difficult to "wake up" and BE THERE - yet out of everyone, I should be the one to know the value of each moment - each breath of life. 
I'm working on it. 
I'm hoping May will bring more moments of clarity - and less time in my grief coma. 

Friday, April 26, 2013


Yesterday we received Link's final autopsy report in the mail. 

Everything about that last sentence is so wrong

This is what it said:
Manner of death: Could not be determined.
Immediate cause of death: Sudden unexplained infant death. 

It said a lot more than that. Pages & pages of medical information - no viruses, nothing wrong with his organs... nothing. Jason made me promise not to read it without him by my side, but I couldn't help it. I had to know. 

It's not like I expected it to say anything really different, but... well... maybe I did? Maybe I wanted them to find something... something... anything to tell me WHY. 

I was never going to be one of those moms! My baby was never going to die of SIDS! I tried to do everything right! I breastfed him, I always put him to sleep on his back, he didn't want the binki at first, but I kept giving it to him until he really took it, I swaddled him in breathable blankets. The room was kept at a normal/cool temperature. 

Unexplained. Unexplained. 

So, basically they are telling me that my baby died and they don't know why. And he went through SO much in his first two months of life - 2 MONTHS of hospitals - just to lose him in his sleep? Just to have it be unexplained? 

I think I am certifiably in my "anger phase" of grieving. There are times I am positively volatile.  HOW IS THIS FAIR? keeps running through my mind. I have a journal where I write to Link and this was a recent entry:

"It’s NOT FAIR! It’s not fair that you don’t even get to experience your first year of life – of mortality – with all the seasons and traditions that go with it.There’s so much you didn’t get to see of this big, wide world.  You missed out on most of Spring!! The flowers blooming, the birds chirping, the baby animals. Oh, I think you would have loved it! You’re going to miss summer! Oh – how you would have loved summer! I think you’d be sitting up by then & we could put you in the little pool in your new swim shorts that you never got to wear. You are not going to be here for the fireworks! The BBQs! The blowing of bubbles and the wearing of short sleeves! Having picnics in the park and staying up late. Camping! How much it hurts my heart that you are going to miss camping! The fishing with your daddy, the campfire, the brilliant stars at night.  You’re going to miss Autumn, my baby boy. The gorgeous turning of the leaves. Going back to school. The pumpkins. You never got to ever dress in a costume & go trick-or-treating! Oh, my baby boy, I am SO SORRY that you are missing out on that! And winter… I know you were around for winter, but it was mostly spent in hospitals or inside. You are going to miss out on snowman-building, sledding, sipping hot cocoa, and really experiencing CHRISTMAS!  Oh… all these holidays… all these seasons… all these traditions that you aren’t going to get to experience in mortality. Oh! It makes my heart hurt. I am so, so, so sorry. I know you will see them from the other side, but it’s not the same & it’s NOT FAIR!  And it's not fair that I will miss most of your first year milestones. The crawling. The walking. The talking. I feel so cheated! And it’s not fair that you get to be there with Heavenly Father & I am stuck down here in this carnal world and don’t have any idea when I will see you again. IT’S JUST NOT FAIR! It’s not fair that I have to see other people with their babies. They get to have them, hold them, kiss them, sing to them, tuck them in at night, watch them grow. Watch them LIVE. IT’S NOT FAIR! It’s not fair that your sisters have to grieve you - have to miss you every day and wonder when you will come back & let them hug you and dance with you and get you to smile and laugh. IT’S NOT FAIR! It’s not fair that every year, your sisters will get updated pictures on the wall. They will change as they grow. But yours will not change. It will remain the same. You won't have pictures from when you are 5 months old. Or 6 months old. Or a year. Or two. I won’t get to see what color your hair really WAS going to be when it came in – or if your eyes would have held that blue. IT’S NOT FAIR! It’s not fair that I won’t get to see you grow up, go to school, make friends, serve an earthly mission, get married on earth, etc. IT’S NOT FAIR! It’s not fair that your dad won’t have another priesthood holder in our home. Oh! I was so excited to finally give him a son! It’s not fair that he won’t be able to go on father/son camp outs with you, or go to scouts, or match ties, or play with matchbox cars that he saved from his childhood for his future son, or go four-wheeling. Oh – how I was looking forward to seeing that father/son bond as you grew. IT’S NOT FAIR!"

Do I sound like whiny three-year-old child? 
I sure feel like a child sometimes. 
I wonder how I can be expected to help my girls through this when I feel like a child myself. I can barely function as a human being, let alone a wife, let alone a mother. 
Please forgive me as I let the anger come. As I feel it and I work through it.  
I bring it to my husband and he holds me. 
I bring it to my God and he lets me rant and rave and yell. And after it all, and I am left a  sobbing heap on the floor, he speaks quietly to my heart. He speaks comfort. He speaks hope. He speaks love. And I sob some more. Because he loves me. Because He knows. He knows like no one else knows. He knows. 

It's been one month since Link died. ONE MONTH. The 26th of every month is going to be a hard day for a while, I think. It's now been a month since I've held him, since I've seen those bright blue eyes, since I've heard him cry.  But it hasn't been a month since I've talked to him. I talk to him every day. It hasn't been a month since I've loved him. I will keep on loving him every minute of every day. 

Friday, April 19, 2013

Another Goodbye

Today we had to say goodbye to my Tundra dog.

He had been limping for a while. I knew he'd been in some pain from his arthritis, but I wasn't ready to say goodbye. It's been a rough day.

Tundra was a good dog. We got Tundra and his adopted sister Sydney on the same day, in February of 2003. Adorable puppies - they were our kids before we had kids. I always wanted a Siberian Husky that I could go running with & Tundra was my dog. With his black & white fur and his ice blue eyes, he was just a handsome guy. All the kids would say "look - it's the dog from Snow Dogs!" He looked a bit fierce with his mask in the beginning, but he always had a big heart. Big paws and a big heart. He had SO much energy as a puppy. I remember thinking I couldn't wait till he got a little older and calmed down a bit. And then he did. And it was sad.

We lived in Park City when Tundra was a puppy and it was his PARADISE. The snow would be three feet high & he would just leap through it like a deer. His sister Sydney would have to try and keep up in his trail. He would roll around in the snow & if Jason threw a snowball, he would run, jump & DIVE down into the snow to find it.

Once we had kids, he became their beloved playmate. He was usually the favorite for the kids because he was big & lovable & he never jumped up on them. Our favorite times with our dogs were going camping and we could let them run free. Tundra would run & run & run. He wasn't always the best at coming when he was called, but somehow he always found his way back to us. In 2008, we went camping by Fishlake and he came back with porcupine needles in his nose, mouth & eyes. Poor guy. Always curious. Always so full of life. In 2009, he got hit by a car & we also found out he had some thyroid issues that same year. He was never quite the same, but still had plenty of life & energy to spare.
When we moved here to Cedar, we lived in a single level twin home for the first year. It was even more fun for the girls. They would bring the dogs in all the time and play with them. Dress them up. Tundra was good to let them have their way with him. There was a path by our home & we would often take them for walks. The girls would fight over who got to hold Tundra's leash. They also tried to teach him to say "I love you" like the youtube video dog.  He was McKinley's special companion when she was feeling down. She was really upset about something one day and stomped around & cried & then I didn't hear from her in a while & I looked outside. There she was with Tundra. She was talking to him. He was licking her face repeatedly. She came back in happy.  He loved to lick faces - especially Jason's scruffy face.  A few more camping trips. More cuddling. More time with my big boy...

And then today at 5am he started whining. He sometimes whines & then stops, but no matter how many times we checked on him and offered food & water, he just wouldn't stop whining. He wouldn't even eat a hot dog. When we got him to the vet, he said that his stomach had turned and he was in bad shape. He talked about surgery, but wasn't sure it would be very successful at his age & condition. In the end, we decided that he had suffered long enough & it was time to say goodbye. Oh - how I cried when I hugged & kissed my big boy! He has been a part of this family for so long. It's so hard to say good-bye to both my boys in a matter of weeks.  We are really going to miss him. When we would take the dogs to the park in Park City, we would have them wait at the top of the hill after we had unleashed them & then we would say "GO PLAY!" and they would take off running. As Tundra took his final breaths today, Jason said "Go play Tundra! Go play!" I believe he's now playing in heaven - free of pain - with my baby boy that didn't get the chance to play with him in this life.

We love you Tundra! Go PLAY!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

...By a Thread

Thank you for all the kind comments & messages. Thank you for all the prayers. Please, please keep them coming. I fear for the day when your prayers cease. I feel like they're my spiritual flotation device and once they go away, I will start sinking. 

Many of you have asked how we're doing. Many times it's sincere, but in passing, and I can't really elaborate, other than to say that we're "hanging in there." Sometimes it might be more appropriate to say "hanging in there by a thread." 

So, here's what I would say to you if you meant it sincerely, if we both had time, and if I were being honest. 

My girls are each going through their own grieving processes. 

McKinley (7)  has been my little comforter. She cried with me for the first few days. If I was ever alone, she would come right by me and stay with me. The minute I show my tears, she is right there by my side with hugs & rubbing my back & shushing me. When she watches Link's slideshow, she gets a little teary-eyed still, but mostly she just keeps checking my face for any signs of distress so she can be there for me. But she still doesn't talk about it much. Finally the other night, I encouraged her to write in her journal. Hopefully she doesn't mind, but I wanted to share it. She is so sweet. 

Ireland (5) is finally "getting it," I think. At first I think she just thought that it was a temporary thing. When I tried to talk to her about it, she would say "I'm not worried about it." I was surprised at that because she was the one that was SO infatuated with him. She was ALWAYS in his face, wanting to touch him - wanting him to touch her.  But now I think she's understanding that it's more permanent. She's showing a lot of anger right now - yelling, pushing things, being disobedient. She's been very naughty, too - getting into things. Having accidents (which is really strange). Making huge messes. Using baby talk a lot. She's also been constantly interrupting adult conversations, saying "I have to tell you something..." 

Kezia (3) just thinks he's coming back - even when we try to tell her otherwise. Yesterday she saw the things we bought him for Easter & she said "we'll show these to Link when he comes back!" She's also been SUPER naughty - I can't even tell you all the things she's gotten into. And she has been SO particular about every little thing. She dropped her ice cream cone TWICE & had a complete meltdown because it wasn't "exactly like it was!" - same thing with a piece of cheese a couple days ago.  She comforts me, too, though & tells me "don't worry, mom, I won't get dead!" And she is the one who reminds us to sing Link's song every night. 

Both Kezia and Ireland are very open about it. Almost anyone who walks through the door, they will say "did you know my brother died?" They were both here when it happened. Kezia has talked quite a few times about "Link's blue face." 

We have been trying to talk to the girls - and trying to get them to talk to us. I think it's going to take time. But we talk about Link every day - talking about what he'd be doing right at that moment if he were still here. We still sing his bedtime song. I don't want his memory to fade. I don't want them EVER to forget that they have a little brother. 

Jason is still my rock. But he has crumbled a few times and that is good for me as well. Sometimes crying together is very healing. He misses his baby boy so very much. His work has been so awesome & supportive. So many of them came to the funeral. They donated money. They have given their love & support. They are so good about letting him work from home. This week he went back part-time & I know it was hard for him, but we are so thankful for the people he works with. So thankful. We have a box-full of books to read, but we started with the book my Grandma gave us, Gaze Into Heaven: Near-Death Experiences in Early Church History, by Marlene Bateman Sullivan. It's been interesting. Nothing short of amazing, really. We enjoy reading & knowing that our baby boy is happy on the other side. 

Me? Well, I'm here. I'm still working through a lot of guilt, grief, and anger. Sometimes I will feel really functional & will go hours & hours without shedding a tear. Then I will see something or hear something & just fall apart. The other day I was so proud of myself for getting so much done, but as I was putting away the laundry, I found one of his tiny socks & just had a meltdown. How BADLY I wanted to put that sock on my son! Later that day, I went to give the girls a bath & as the tub filled with water, I just sobbed & sobbed. He should BE HERE to get a bath! He loves his bath! He should BE HERE! Sometimes I think my insides will explode from the missing of him. Many times I still have to remind myself to breathe. 
Also -  I have to keep telling myself that he's not here. It's still so instinctive for me to shush the girls if they're being to loud on that side of the house. It hurts so much to have that missing spot in our van as well.  Going into his room is probably the hardest thing for me.  The room where he died. Every particle of every one of my senses screams out for him. My eyes long to see his beautiful blues. My ears ache to hear his cries, his laughs, his “talking.” My nose longs to smell that sweet baby smell. My mouth longs to kiss those huge, precious cheeks of his. And my skin aches to touch his skin – to feel the weight of him in my arms, to hold his tiny hand, to touch those tiny toes.Oh... the hunger is still so strong. It still hurts so badly. I don't want the 2-D version in pictures or videos. I want HIM! 

And at the same time  the love letters from heaven keep coming. Both from my Heavenly Father - and from my son. Earth angels keep coming as well. They are amazing. They continue to grieve with me. They continue to love. They continue to serve and to listen. My friend, Robyn, who lost babies, drove all the way here & back to Salt Lake last Saturday just to hug me and bring me healing words and love. It has been a tender mercy to communicate with people who have lost children. And I've met at least three other angel moms since Link died. Two of them lost baby boys about the same age as Link - and in the same way. They are so good to provide me with comfort, love, and perspective. These two talks also have provided much comfort and love.

Speaking of tender mercies, I spoke of the rainbow that appeared on the day of his funeral. My cousin took a picture of it & sent it to me (thank you Toni!). 

I LOVE this picture. I love that you can see the dark clouds of anger, the rain that reminds me of all the tears we have shed, and yet, through it all arches an amazingly beautiful rainbow - full of color! Full of love! Full of hope! And I love that you can't see the other side of it. We know it's there, but we just can't see it right now. Just like my baby boy.

I miss him every second of every day. My heart yearns for him every minute. And I know he is there. The waiting is hard, but I know he is there,  watching us, loving us, waiting for us. I love you my duder-dude. I love you Link. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Two Weeks

Two Weeks.

14 days.

336 hours.

Two weeks since I've kissed his sweet, warm, pink cheeks. Our baby boy. Our only son.

It started out as a pretty typical Tuesday. The girls got off to school. Jason went to work. I took Kezia and Link with me to the store. I put his car seat in the cart.  He was a little fussy as I dropped off a prescription. He cooed & talked to me & played with his toy giraffe as I waited to have a key made. He fell asleep in his car seat as I gathered things and put them in the cart. I saw some of my neighbors in the cereal isle. We talked. One of them asked how Link was doing & I smiled as I told her how wonderful he has been. How he has grown. I let her peek at him while he slept.
We got home. He was awake & I put him in his exersaucer while I brought groceries in and put things in the freezer. By that time, he was hungry and fussy, so I got him out of the exersaucer and fed him. His sister Ireland got home and kissed him. My mom called & we talked and Link smiled & kicked his legs as Kezia put the headset on him and he heard his grandma's voice. He was getting tired, so I swaddled him, sang to him, kissed him and put him down for a nap like I always do. This was right about noon. I sat down with the other two girls to eat lunch. We started eating and I heard him fussing, so I went back in - put his binki back in and stroked his face & shushed him. This was about 12:15. The last time I saw him alive.
I took a nap while the girls watched a movie. I was really tired & slept soundly. I got up about 2pm. At about 2:30 I went in to feed him because he needed to eat before I left for my dentist appointment. When I got into his room, I noticed he had rolled over. He was still swaddled, but he had completely rolled & was face down - with his head toward the bottom of the crib. I thought that was strange, but I didn't panic until I picked him up. He was limp. He was cold. He was blue. He wasn't breathing. I held him as I ran out of his room. I screamed. I called 911. I put him on our living room rug. They walked me through giving him CPR. After a while some police came & took over for me - giving him CPR. I called Jason. I cried. I screamed "He HAS to be okay! He has been through too much in his life already! He HAS to be okay!!" They were asking me questions & I was trying to answer between sobs and screams. I felt nauseous. I felt sick. I felt despair into the bottom of my stomach.  Jason came. The paramedics came. Jason went with Link in the ambulance & I waited till my sweet friend Diane came to get Kezia & Ireland. Then I rode with a police officer to the hospital. He drove fast, but not fast enough. I called my mom. She said she had to look at the caller ID to make sure it was really me. I was frantic. We said a prayer on the phone.
We got to the hospital. Jason was there. We went to the room that they were working on him. There were no signs of life. I sobbed. I went to where his body lay & held his tiny hand and the doctor told us that he was gone. I remember that I kept walking around & repeating "but he's my baby boy. But he's my baby boy..."

Everything else is kind of a blur. People were there helping, talking, giving hugs & holding hands - our bishop, our friend Mark Corry, Jason's brother, Jeff.  An officer put us in a tiny room and asked a bunch of questions. I kept looking at this guy like he was speaking a foreign language. I was just in such shock.
We eventually left the hospital and went home. I went into my room & sobbed. My friend brought the girls to our home & we had to tell them that their baby brother had returned home to Heavenly Father. Friends and family were coming & going - helping with the girls. Cleaning.

That night was the hardest night of my life. Every time I closed my eyes, all I could see was his little blue face. All I could feel was his cold lifeless body. We let the girls sleep in our room. Jason slept on one side of me. McKinley slept on the other. We were all so close & they were breathing in and out, in and out. I just felt like they were breathing for me. They were my life support when I felt like I couldn't make myself breathe. Still, even though they were breathing for me, my heart was still shattered, and I could not sleep. I tossed & turned. I felt shock and grief in the pit of my stomach that kept coming. Finally, sometime in the middle of the night, I got up & went into Link’s room & grabbed the blankets from his crib. I laid down in the bed next to his crib & just sobbed & sobbed. Oh, how I needed my baby boy in my arms. How I NEEDED him. My prayers were desperation. They were pleading. They were demanding. They were "God - can't you see? Can't you see how badly I NEED him? I need him! Please NO!" They were "Oh God, NO! You have the wrong girl! I CAN'T do this! I CAN'T! Other women can. They are strong. They are courageous  They are faithful. But I can't. Please don't make me!"
After a while, Jason came in there. He laid there & cried with me.

The next few days were full of things that no parent should have to do for their child. And, indeed, my mind would NOT accept that this was happening. We chose pictures, we went to the mortuary and picked out a beautiful tiny casket, we went to the cemetery and chose a plot, we put together a program for the funeral, I put together a slideshow, we dressed my baby boy's body for burial....and all the while my mind is screaming "I am not here. This is not happening. I will wake up. He is fine. He is beautiful. He is healthy."

Words came from my mouth. I blinked. I breathed. I pumped milk for a baby that wouldn't drink. I cried tears constantly.

And in the background were angels seen and unseen. My parents who drove to me the minute they heard & helped & cried with me and helped with the girls. Jason's mom and sister who came right away & were there for me. Jason's brother who kept coming from St. George to be there. My sweet sisters who helped get the girls' outfits ready. They put together pictures and items to be displayed for the funeral. They ran errands. My sweet friend, Lena, dropped everything, found a sitter for her three boys, and drove from Fredona, AZ to come and hold my hand and help me breathe. She had lost baby twins and she knew what to say & do. So many amazing people were coming & going. Flowers. Cards. Paintings. Gifts. Food. So much love. I have to admit that at the beginning, I didn't want any of it. I just wanted it to all go away. I wanted it all to disappear & I just wanted my baby boy back in my arms. But I felt the love & support. I felt the prayers.

Most of all, I turned to my husband. He told me everything was going to be okay - even when I was looking at him with tear-swollen eyes and asking "How? HOW can it be all right? How can we do this?"  He is my anchor. He is my rock. He helps me to breathe. To remember. To kneel. To trust.

The day of the funeral was horrible and sweet and surreal. Somehow I got up and got dressed. Somehow the girls got dressed, too. Trisha fixed my hair. Tiffany helped with my make-up. Somehow I got to the church & as a little family, we kissed & talked to Link's body. Somehow I stood there for an hour and a half while people came. They came. From all over. Minnesota. Texas. Park City. Vernal. Salt Lake. Richfield. ALL OVER. Family. Friends. Loved ones. They hugged me. They told me they were sorry. They told me how beautiful he was. Somehow… somehow I listened as my father gave a prayer. Somehow I tucked my baby boy into a casket of white and watched as they closed the lid – never to see his face in the flesh again until the resurrection. Somehow I sat through a funeral where heartfelt prayers were said, beautiful talks were given, memories were shared, sweet poems were read, powerful songs were sung. Somehow we got to the cemetery and I listened as my sweet husband dedicated the grave. Somehow I stayed there after everyone left with my groom by my side and watched as they put his tiny casket into a vault and placed the lid. Then somehow I left the cemetery and came back to the church and talked some more. We sat by Vic & Molly Jackson, who had lost a 2-year-old daughter and I clung to their words and their love. Somehow we came back home and I talked and cried and smiled & even laughed with Jason’s family from Texas. 

Now... it's been two weeks. It still hurts. I know it will for a while, but I cannot disregard the tender mercies - the love letters from heaven -  that have happened in our lives since the passing of our son. Some of them are too sacred to share here, but they are real.   This whole experience has tested my faith in the Plan of Salvation, but I can say that I KNOW that I will see my baby boy again. I know he is happy. I know he watches over us. I know my Heavenly Father loves me. At first I wondered how he could do this when he knew how much it would hurt me - and I'm sure I will keep on wondering that - but at the same time, his peace & love have abounded. There was a rainbow on the day of his funeral. The forget-me-not plant that my grandma gave me is blooming like crazy.  I've had some amazing dreams. I've heard some very healing, loving songs. Read and heard some wonderful talks.  The fact that he died on the week of Easter - with General Conference to follow the next weekend - is a complete tender mercy. I wrote this the week that he died:


An empty crib.
An empty room.
An empty car seat.
An empty exersacer.
An empty jumper.
An empty Bumbo seat.
An empty swing.
An empty tiny chair.

Empty eyes.
Empty arms.
Empty laps.
Empty hearts.

An Empty Tomb.

I am SO thankful for the resurrection of my Savior. SO THANKFUL! How horrible it would be to think that this was the end for my precious son. 

It is still going to be so very hard. I know it will. Please bear with me as I begin this grieving journey & sort through all kinds of emotions and pain. It really does amaze me how such a tiny person can leave such a huge hole in our hearts and in our family. 

But I KNOW that he truly is our LINK from heaven to earth!!

THANK YOU. THANK YOU. THANK YOU to everyone. We don't know that we will get time to personally thank each of you for the cards. The flowers. The gifts. The text messages. The facebook messages. But we want you to know that we have read every one and appreciate them with all. Thank you. 

Below is the slideshow I put together for the funeral. I put it in Picasa, so you could hopefully open it a little bigger to fill the screen.