Sunday, March 30, 2014

Painful Progression

I remember driving back to the church after the cemetery. It was just Jason & I in the car. We were both exhausted. Silent. In shock of what we had just witnessed. But, for some reason, I turned to him & said "the crazy thing is that I don't think this is the hardest day." 

It seems impossible - how could anything be harder than watching a tiny white casket get lowered into the ground with the body of your precious son inside? 

But yesterday, for me, was a harder day. With the help of my mother and my daughter and Heavenly Father (Jason was out of town), I went through Link's closet and I took his clothes off the hangers. Pulled them out of his drawers. I smelled them. And I sobbed into them. Soul-wrenching, devastating, angry, sorrowful, sobs. 

There was his little "Stuffed" onesie that he wore on Thanksgiving day when he was in the St. George NICU. The blue and grey giraffe outfit - the first real clothes he wore - on the day we were finally discharged from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. The little Santa jammies Grandma Potts gave him that he wore on Christmas day as he was passed around as our "miracle baby." The handmade onesies Aunt Trisha had given him. The orange & grey "All-Star" outfit..Oh he was SO handsome in that outfit! The Broncos sweatshirt that he had worn on a football Sunday. His soft, white blessing outfit, complete with tiny bow tie. Sigh... And then the bag of clothes that were in his dirty clothes - for a year. I couldn't bring myself to wash them until yesterday. And that brought on a whole new set of tears. The blanket he died in. The bear shirt that they had to cut open... it was almost too much. I almost gave up. It's too hard. Just too hard. 

Finally, it was in boxes. And we brought in the girl clothes for Noelle. More tears. I felt like I was betraying my baby boy. Replacing him. Moving on without him. To take out all his clothes - the cars and trucks and sports and bugs and dinosaurs - and replace them with bows and frills and pinks... there are no words. I missed him so much. My only baby boy. 

I haven't yet written about his angelversary. When people ask me how it went, I havne't been able to think of one word to describe it yet. There were some VERY difficult moments. And there were some very peaceful, wonderful, joyful moments. It started with Ireland
coming into our room in the morning & excitedly saying "Mom! get up! There's a beautiful sunrise outside & you have to come take a picture of it!" So - I got up. And she was right. It was full of clouds and pinks and it was beautiful. We let the girls stay out of school that day. I was so thankful my mom was here to be with them. Jason and I headed to the temple with family names and that was the best place we could be on that day. We were able to do work for many ancestors - including 11 (eleven!) sealings! There was so much joy in that room during
those sealings. I am so thankful we were able to be there that day & help our ancestors and feel the spirit of our son. I felt like I was doing something for him to honor him - I felt like I was giving him a gift. Our drive home was a blustery one - it started as rain, but was a snow storm by the time we got to Cedar. Crazy Utah Spring weather! So - needless to say, the time at the cemetery was shorter than I'd hoped - and we had to wait to bring our chain link of family names - but we did bring letters to him as well as let go of balloons. Jason also had bought him a matchbox car to give him & he unwrapped it & placed it on the "racetrack." Then Jason &I took a moment to be by his grave and let it all sink in. And I sobbed. We watched his funeral slideshow when we got back and had to use LOTS of tissues. After it was over, I looked over at McKinley & she had her Link bear over her face and was crying. I held her close and she just sobbed and sobbed. I was thankful to be there with her and cry with her - just as we did one year ago that night. 

In between all of this, there were loving, caring phone calls, text messages, e-mails, visits, gifts, etc. My sweet friend sent flowers.Jason's mom came bearing gifts and love. A wonderful family in our ward who had just experienced their own huge loss came and brought a book and cards. My sisters' families watched Link's slideshow. One of them sent me a picture of a rainbow they had seen. Another one sent me a picture of their family gathering to talk about Link. A couple people sent e-mails with names of temple work they had done for family members (thank you!!) on behalf of Link.One of my good SIDS mom friends had a dream with her son, Link, and another SIDS baby, all playing together on a rainbow quilt. Sweet, tender mercies. 

The evening before his angelversary, we were reading in The Friend magazine & it talked about the story of Jarius' daughter being raised from the dead. They had come to tell the father that it was too late- she was already gone. I am sure I can envision the devastation in the father's eyes and heart when he was told that. Jesus' response was "Fear not. Only Believe." Those words stuck with me throughout the next day of Link's angelversary. You see, lately the questions have come more. The doubts. The "WHY?"s A year later & none of it makes any more sense than on the day it happened. I still just cannot understand why he was taken from us - especially after all we went through to get him cured. But after hearing those words, I felt like the Lord was gently telling me "Heidi... it is not your job to understand. It is your job to believe." And I realized that those words seem familiar. How many times have I told my children, in effect,  "listen sweetheart, you don't need to understand why I'm asking you to do this. I just need you to obey and trust that whatever I ask you to do is going to be for the best."  So - I'm having faith that my Heavenly Father really does know what is best for me. Everything in my plan is going to be for the best. Even the painful things. He is God. I am not. He sees the bigger, eternal picture. I do not. So, this Sabbath morning, as my eyes are still swollen from yesterday's sobbing, I am taking a deep breath. I am looking ahead and trusting that "the best is yet to be!" and I am trying to find the joy in all He has given me. I am truly blessed. 

Link's bench draped with the chain of names that we & other family & friends had brought to the temple. There were 24!! We came to know and love each one of these names & are looking forward to finding more. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Mary Poppins

In five days, it will be March 26th. 

A year ago, that date meant nothing to me. Just another March day. Now... that date has been seared in my mind and heart forever. 

I have been dreading March all together. Everything seems heavier.  That date feels like it's been looming, sometimes taking the brightness right out of the sun and the green right out of those shoots coming out of the ground. 

I can't hide from March 26th. It is almost here and it means that I have lived and breathed for almost a year while my son has not. And nothing about that seems right or good or fair. 

My mind can't stop going back to that unfathomable day and the days to follow. 

His eyes that would not see. 
His chest that would not rise and fall. 
His toes that would not be tickled.
His hands that would not grasp mine. 
His lips that would not smile. 
His voice that would not coo, cry, or laugh. 

I had such a hard time being close to his body. My spirit reached for his spirit, but it was gone. That connection was broken and all that was left was a shell of a being that used to be my son. 

I think, too, of the weeks and months following his death. Trying to find meaning... trying to find hope and comfort and peace again. My entire family came in August for a retreat/reunion. We went to go see Mary Poppins at the Tuacahn. I was prepared for a night away - for familiar songs and a familiar storyline. I hadn't seen the Broadway version until that night and, for me, it was rather life-changing. 

I don't know when it happened...somewhere into the second act, I began to realize that the story of Mary Poppins held similarities to the story of my son's life. I know that may sound strange and even cheesy, but it's true. Here’s the line that struck me & I could not stop the tears – from George Banks - "You know what I think? It’s that Mary Poppins woman. From the moment she stepped foot in this house, things began to happen to me. My world was calm, well ordered, exemplary. Then comes this ‘person’, with chaos in her wake. And now my life’s ambitions go, with one fell blow. It’s quite a bitter pill to take."

And, there it was. I felt the same way as George Banks when Link came – he turned my life upside-down. Not that my life was necessarily "calm, well ordered, exemplary," but whatever it was, it definitely changed. Everything was different. All chaos. No order. Living in the hospital. He put us through things that we never ever expected, similar to Mary Poppins. Crazy things. Miracles. He changed our family forever. Just like she changed the Banks’ family. Just as she helped them SEE THEMSELVES – see what was really important – help them realize their dreams, so our son did for us. And when her mission was complete – just as his – she didn’t say goodbye but left abruptly. She was sad to go, but she had done what she came to do. 

The ending song - Anything Can Happen - gives me hope for the future with the message (once again) that I can find myself again. That if I let it, Link's life can change me in ways that I never imagined. Here are some of my favorite parts:

Changes can be made
You can move a mountain if you use a larger spade

Anything can happen, it's a marvel

You can be a butterfly
Or just stay larval

Stretch your mind beyond fantastic 

dreams are made or strong elastic

Take some sound advice and don't forget it
Anything Can Happen if you let it

Broaden Your Horizon
Open different doors
You may find a you there that you never knew was yours

If you reach for the stars all you get are the stars
but we've found a whole new spin
if you 
reach for the heavens you get the stars thrown in 
Anything can happen if you let it
life out there waiting 
so go and get it
grab it by the collar seize it by the scruff
you've started living life you just can't get enough 
Anything can happen it's official
you can choose the super 
or the superficial
sally forth the way we're steering
start disappearing
go and chase your dreams
you won't regret it 

Anything can happen 

Anything can happen

If you let it

And the last few lines of the play sent the tears rolling again...

Look! wasn't that a shooting star?

You can borrow my telescope.

I was right. Wish on it, Children!
Winifred - my dearest love.

We won't forget you, Mary Poppins.

We'll never forget...

I'll never forget. Never forget Link's life. His death. His mission. A year later and I am still trying to learn all the lessons Heavenly Father has for me through Link – I know our whole family is. I pray that I won’t shove them away, but I will embrace the changes we need to make to focus on what’s important and REAL in our lives. I was so thankful to have been able to go to that play. It was more than entertaining (though it was that, too – fireworks, amazing dance numbers, great singing, etc), it was truly inspirational for me. 

I love you, my son. I miss you every second of every day. I try not to drown in my sadness. Some days are harder than others, but I know you are close & watch over us. I know you know how much I love you. I tell you in my letters to you. I tell you in my prayers. I tell you in my dreams. Thank you for being with us for those 139 days. I cherish the memory of every single one of them. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

February Newsletter & Slideshow

FAMILY:  On the first Sunday of the month, the girls got to hand out programs at church and were so cute, smiling and welcoming everyone as they entered the chapel. Jason & Heidi got to go to the temple twice this month (thank you Camri!!) & loved taking family names through. On the 7th, Heidi took a great aunt on her side & Jason took a great uncle on his side – both of which had birthdays of September 9th, which is McKinley’s birthday! Pretty neat! Jason took the girls sledding after our one big snowstorm at the beginning of the month & they had a great time.  On the 12th, we headed down to St. George again – this time for another Noelle ultrasound. The girls all came and we loved seeing how much she’d grown since we last had an ultrasound at about 19 weeks. The 3D even showed how chubby and cute her cheeks are getting J Afterwards, we headed to the park and enjoyed some exercise and sunshine.  Valentines was a fun day. Daddy bought the girls their white roses and mom got a dozen red ones, along with candy. Daddy also made pink heart pancakes for breakfast. Mom “heart-attacked” the girls doors with post-it notes featuring all the things she loves about them. Mom fixed their hair in hearts and they brought back lots of candy from school. Dad took the day off to be a watchdog at their school – meaning a helper and a safety guy. The girls had been looking forward to that all year long & were SO excited to get to see their dad at school & play with him at recess!  That evening the girls hung out at the Bealers while mom and dad went to see The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and then out for a romantic dinner at The Garden House. It was a wonderful day. We got to see the Corrys new baby boy this month, Kaden. He is really cute and we are so excited for their family! When Jason went on an overnight scout trip this month, Heidi decided to let the girls have a lateover. McKinley invited Kiersten Corry and Ireland invited Shaylee Johnson. We had fun making & eating pizza, painting nails, watching the “real” 101 Dalmations, and eating caramel popcorn J The 17th was President’s Day & we had full intentions of going on the Kanarraville Falls hike. Unfortunately, it seemed to be ill-fated. Neither Jason nor Heidi brought money & the parking lot was $10, so Jason parked about a ½ mile away & walked up to meet us, but then we saw a sign that said NO DOGS and we had Sydney with us. Sigh… so, we headed back home. We still had fun, though, and Jason took McKinley out for a date while mom took Ireland & Kezia swimming. The girls also had fun this month going to our neighbor, Mahina’s, birthday party. They had been looking forward to it all week and had a lot of fun. We have been really lacking in moisture here in Utah this year. We fasted for moisture and got some, but it melted pretty quickly. It has sure made it nice, though. We’ve gone on walks, the girls have ridden their scooters & bikes & played in the backyard more. We also enjoyed watching the Olympics this month, though for part of the month it didn’t come in on our TV. We did get to see ice dancing, some bobsledding, the ski halfpipe, some slalom, and women’s skating. It was a lot of fun and the girls had fun staying up late J GO USA!

JASON: Heidi made “14 days of Valentines” for her sweetie this month & had fun leaving all sorts of treats for him every day, along with witty sayings J  Jason enjoyed being a watchdog at the girls’ school and getting to meet their teachers and friends and help out. Jason enjoyed watching the superbowl – at least half of it – Denver pretty much gave up the game from the beginning, so we ended up watching America’s Funniest Home Videos. Jason had an overnighter with the scouts this month up at the Davies cabin. He said they played a fun game & had a good time. They also hiked the Bristlecone Trail. Jason got a sweet surprise in the mail this month from our good friend, Vic Jackson (Lucy Jackson’s dad). He had made him a dog tag with a picture of Link on one side and picture of Link and Jason on the other. He wrote a sweet note about how dog tags identify people and Link is a part of Jason’s identity. Jason has worn it quite a bit and it’s such a neat gift. He has also taken more time this month for family history and enjoyed talking with his Aunt Margaret on the phone – clearing up some confusion & getting more information about his relatives on that side. Jason apparently has decided to grow his hair out & it’s almost long enough to braid now!

 HEIDI:  Heidi was busy with her calling this month - making posters for the upcoming Relief Society meeting about family history work. She also made flyers and door-to-door postcards. It was fun to get to be creative J Heidi still deals with the 3rd trimester difficulties, but it’s par for the course. She went to the chiropractor a few times, but didn’t notice a major difference, so she is just trying to stay active and do yoga to help with the carpal tunnel, sciatic pain, and achy hips. She is grateful for all her helpers that pick things off the floor for her J She did have a bit of a scare in the middle of the month when Noelle wasn’t moving quite as much as she usually does – she went into the hospital in the morning and they did a non-stress test and she was fine, which was such a relief to Heidi.  She went to a Share service day, where she got to help make headbands for stillborn babies & visit with some great ladies. Much of this month was spent in memory projects for Heidi. She has scanned all her hard copy pictures up through college and has transferred probably 50+ video or camcorder tapes to her computer. She has enjoyed seeing these videos – especially the ones from when she was in elementary school. One of them reminds her very much of Ireland. She also shared a couple of these videos (from 1984 &85) with her family & got lots of fun comments & reminiscing. One night while dad was at scouts, Kezia got out the lotion and each of the girls took a hand or a foot and gave mom a wonderful massage. It was so nice.  The girls have also been cute about wanting to fix mom’s hair this month. They will fix and brush and spray and primp and eye-shadow till mom is just beautiful! Heidi decided to go ahead and start therapy this month to help her deal with some anxiety she is having about Noelle’s upcoming birth. The first day brought out more emotions than anticipated & she was pretty emotional all day long. The family was so sweet, though, and brought her breakfast in bed to help her feel better the next day. She is sure thankful for her family.

-McKinley had fun at activity days this month – including sweeping Sage Drive and passing out Stake Conference reminders. She also got to go to a Stake Activity Day get-together on the 8th. She learned about families and made a “service wand” that you place wherever you do a service. She gathered the whole family together when she got home to talk about what she had learned & how the service wand works J
-McKinley learned how to make friendship bracelets & made one for Emma Beacham during Stake Conference, along with a sweet note.
-McKinley also made a few projects from Aunt Trisha’s craft box that she got for Christmas, including crystallized pipe cleaners (cool!), silly sludge (crazy!), and a button bowl (that one didn’t quite turn out, but was fun to try).
-McKinley’s creativity kept going & she put on a little play that we printed out and then she decided she wanted to make her very own play, so she wrote the script, directed it & starred in it J Way to go McKinley! She also did a cute treasure hunt for the family where there were about 7 different clues and we ended up finding stickers in the end.
-McKinley & Ireland had a cool happening at their school – a helicopter landed on their field & they got to go explore the inside!
-McKinley is reading The BFG (Big Friendly Giant), by Ronald Dahl in class & mom has enjoyed hearing about it J
-McKinley really enjoyed the Olympics and after watching skating she would put on socks and a dress and glide around the room.

-Ireland had her first of what will probably be many trips to the orthodontist this month. He verified that her mouth is going to be too small for all those teeth & suggested we wait 6 months & then possibly proceed with a retainer and/or mouth expander. Ireland did great with all the pictures and prodding.
-Ireland has been learning all sorts of fun things this month! She continues to excel at jump roping. She also learned how to do McKinley’s ankle jump rope. She learned how to do a “3-braid” (yay!) and she learned how to make the friendship bracelets (she made one for every member of our family – including dad!). Way to go Ireland!
-Ireland doesn’t remember her dreams a lot, but one night she said she had a dream that Miss Whizzle (from the Magic Schoolbus) came to our house and we were all My Little Ponies and we were all running from a bad guy.
-McKinley & Ireland had a cool happening at their school – a helicopter landed on their field & they got to go explore the inside!
-It’s humerous listening to conversations in the van sometimes when mom takes the girls to school. One day they were talking about who had crushes on who. Ireland said “No one has a crush on me…” (and just when mom was going to say something about Ireland still being beautiful and wonderful and so many people loving her, she said)… “I’m lucky!” ;-)
-Ireland loved watching the Olympic ice skating, but mostly just talked about their outfits J She did, however, watch the ice dancing & said “Can Grandpa Potts do that – cuz he is a REALLLY good ice skater!”
-I showed Ireland a pictures of Aunt Cindy with some flowers she got for her birthday. Ireland just saw her & the flowers & said “Did she just get out of the hospital?”

-Kezia earned a date this month & decided to go to McDonald’s. She & mom had a great time! J
-Kezia seemed to be missing her baby brother one Sunday this month. She wanted to keep singing his goodnight song and hold his picture.
-Kezia had a parent-teacher conference this month & her teacher talked about how great she’s doing! She is doing most things that the older kids that are going into Kindergarten this year are doing- and she’s REALLY taken to sight words! She knows about 30 sight words now. Way to go Kez!
-Kezia called for mom in the middle of the night and she went into her room. Her eyes were still closed & it was like she was still dreaming, but she was telling mom about her dream – something about her sisters in their room and spelling her name – K-e-z-i-a. And she was reaching out for something.
-One night as mom and dad were putting Kezia to bed, we started singing her goodnight song & she said “WAIT! I do not allow you to sign my goodnight song unless you are rubbing my back!”
-On Valentines Day, Kezia was so cute. She secretly colored & cut out a bunch of hearts. Then, she told mom to go in the other room & she would ring the front doorbell & run in & mom would say “hmmm – I wonder who is at the door?” and then she would find a heart. This happened about 3 different times & Kezia was so happy that mom never “figured it out.” Until the next day & she told the TRUTH about the secret heart giver J
- One time, Kezi said to dad “You go in the other room while I fashion-style mom to be Sleeping Beauty and then you can come in and be her prince and kiss her.”
-One day at church, Kezia said to mom “I think my mind is starting to tell me that I’m almost starting to fall in love with him” (the “him” being Luke Beacham – a 7 year old in our ward)
-Kezia has about 3 different containers for her “collections” and she has now started one for “prizes.” She will randomly tell people they can pick out of her prize bag. The difficulty comes when they pick something and she says “Um… sorry, you can’t have that. It’s too special.” So, they pick something else and she says the same thing. In the end, we tell her to just let us know which ones we can have J
-Kezi & Ireland have lately been wanting to be hammock-blanketed to bed lately – where we put a blanket on the ground, they lay on it, and we each take a side and carry them into bed.


We enjoyed decorating Link’s grave for Valentines at the beginning of the month. It looked really sweet with roses, a decorative Valentine envelope and hearts. Kezia even picked out a pink butterfly & even though she didn’t want to leave it at his grave, she did and we are sure he enjoyed it. One night, we had pizza for dinner and Heidi looked around and had a very strong sense that Link should be there – that he was missing from our family. At that same moment, Jason commented on how Link would have loved eating pizza. We think he might have truly been close with both of us having those same feelings at the same time. Some friends of ours, the Corrys, had their baby boy this month & Heidi decided to give them one of Link’s outfits that he never got to wear. It was hard, but we are thankful to share and give something so meaningful to our good friends. Mom had a rough time on Valentines, missing her baby boy. It wasn’t the same to write Valentines’ notes to the girls and not our boy. One day, mom & Kezia stopped to visit his grave and a flock of doves flew right in front of them, low to the ground. It was a wonderful love note. Mom posted about our plans for honoring Link for his angelversary next month & we have felt his love and help as we have taken family names through the temple and continue to search out names.