Saturday, December 29, 2007

One Month...

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Well, today it has been one month since Aaron passed away. How is it possible that the actual time is one month, but it feels like yesterday and also feels like 30 years ago? Part of me wishes it was 30 years later so that my time here without Aaron would be closer to coming to an end. Actually... MOST of me wishes for this. The only reason I don't wish this is because there is still so many things ahead to enjoy with Aaron Jr. It is just so hard to imagine enjoying many things without Aaron here.

Aaron Jr. and I went to the cemetery again today with my mom, my sister Karey and her daughter Veronica. The heart that I made was still patted down in the snow, but a little bit shallower since the sun had melted the snow some. The words I wrote were also still visible, but just barely... so I re-wrote them. Also, the photo I took on Christmas was still there in the plastic baggy I put it in.

There is no headstone. I want one to be there, but at the same time... I am not ready to go and pick one out yet. It needs to be perfect. It needs to be one that reflects Aaron's life. One that he would have picked out for himself. One that he would be proud to have there. One that shows to the world what kind of life he lived.

Going out and about with friends and family has been really hard. I actually have turned down almost all invitations to get out and do normal things. It is just too hard. I feel like if I go out and do 'normal' things, I will be accepting this as my new normal. This is what I keep telling my friends and family in response to their invitations. I don't know how long it will take for me to just go ahead and start doing normal things, but... one month... that just doesn't seem long enough. It is just so hard being around people in the world that don't know what I am feeling. Being around people who aren't grieving with me and who don't realize that the world has lost the most important person to me. These are the reasons I can't go out. I don't know why I am so into definitions lately. Maybe it is because I am looking for some reasons for why I am feeling the way I am feeling. The definition of the word normal is:

'conforming to the standard or the common type; usual; not abnormal; regular; natural; serving to establish a standard'

I don't want this to be MY normal. I don't want this to be MY standard. How long will it take for me to feel normal? I don't know, but right now... I don't want to feel normal under these circumstances. This doesn't seem usual or natural to me and I don't want it to feel that way.

A mom from all the way across the world in Australia commented on my blog today. Her blog is one that my sister found while 'blog-hopping' and then shared her blog with me several months ago. It is beautiful. She lost her daughter almost a year ago and she wrote some very uplifting and kind words to me on the last posting. I thank her. Here is one excerpt from her comment:

"the missing never ends but life has a funny way of helping you adjust to your new normal."

I know this is bound to happen. I know that Heavenly Father wants us to be happy. I know that He will prepare a way for this to happen... in time. I know that Aaron wants us to be happy as well, but because I have a mortal perspective and not an eternal perspective, I feel like happiness is so far away.

I love and miss you more than words can express, Aaron.

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Friday, December 28, 2007

It Has To Get Better... Right?

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Today was an awful day.

It started out pretty okay... I got to see my friend Liz and then Rob and Kaily and their kids. They are here from San Francisco. It was good to talk to them about Aaron. It gave me a good cry, which I felt like I needed today.

It ended okay... my family had their Christmas party tonight. It was hard being there without Aaron, but at least I was with family. I had a few laughs, but all in all... I was very lonely.

It was the middle part of the day that was so awful. There is just a lot of stuff that I never realized I would have to be dealing with if I were to lose Aaron. Stuff that is so trivial to me in my mind right now when all I want to do is grieve for my husband. I won't go in to all of the stuff going on in my mind right now, it would just stir up the turmoil that I am trying to forget from today... but things that I feel are trivial are just so hard to deal with right now. They just don't matter in comparison to the loss Aaron Jr and I are experiencing. We miss Aaron so much and trivial things are just that... trivial.

It is interesting... the word 'trivial' has been coming to my mind so often ever since Aaron passed away. I have never used that word so often or even thought of that word so often as I have since the day Aaron died. Since it has come to my mind so often in the past month... I finally looked it up in the dictionary just to see what the actual dictionary definition was... and here it is:

trivial: of very little importance or value; insignificant; commonplace; ordinary

The loss of Aaron from my side in this earthly life has caused me to reflect more than ever on the things that are important and not the 'trivial' things. I don't even understand why I couldn't always feel that way... I wish I could go back and do things over with Aaron still here and feel this way as much as I do now. Oh the abundance of joyous days we could have had together if we had both just dismissed the trivial things that filled our days and replaced them with the more important things in life.

Yes, today was hard. It was actually the most difficult day I have had since the funeral. I wish I didn't have to deal with these 'trivial' matters... if Aaron was still here, these matters wouldn't even be issues to deal with. I am very lonely for Aaron. I want him back. I need him. I need him to hold me and tell me that everything will be okay. I miss so much the way he would hold me as we layed there falling asleep together in bed. Precious moments such as these are the things I miss the most. I hurt so much. I feel so alone.

I love you Aaron.

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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Celebrating a Birth... Grieving a Loss

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As I sit here putting photos on my blog... I can't help but feel like it is an unnatural thing for me to be doing. It is one thing to share my feelings regarding how Aaron Jr and I are doing, but it is a strange feeling to do something so normal as to include photos in my blog postings. It feels strange enough that I didn't put them in originally in the last couple of postings, but added them later realizing that people might like to see the rocking horse that Aaron Jr got and also see that we did some normal Christmas stuff.

Ever since we were married, Aaron has always stuffed a stocking for me. My favorite memory of a year that he did a stocking was the year we had Aaron Jr... 2005. Aaron Jr was born on December 1st and even though that was the greatest month of our lives, it was also one of the toughest for me physically. Not only did I get strep throat in that month after the baby was born, I also got an infection from complications during the birth... those two things combined caused me to have a fever of 104.5 one night. Plus, I also got an infection from complications with nursing Aaron Jr. So... all in all, it was a rough month for me physically. Anyhow... we had decided that Christmas for us was going to be our new baby and the joy we received from that.
Well, one night really close to Christmas, Aaron ran to Walgreens to fill a prescription for me and was gone a while. When he got back, I was laying on the couch with Aaron Jr and trying to relax. Throughout that night, he kept coming to me and asking questions about the sewing machine. At one point, something went wrong with the needle, so he even had to bring the whole sewing machine over to the couch and I fixed it while I layed there. I was under orders to stay laying down.
Well... the next morning, I woke up to a brand new homemade Christmas stocking filled to the brim with all kinds of things that Aaron found at Walgreens. Candy, shampoo, conditioner, gum, cough drops, etc. It was so sweet. He always did such thoughtful things for me. I felt so bad that I hadn't done anything for him... but he didn't care. He never cared... as long as he could do something for me. I love that about him. So, that is my most treasured memory from a Christmas with Aaron.
I didn't get anything in my stocking from Aaron this year, but I did fill Aaron Jr's. I knew Aaron would have.

This puffy vest wasn't supposed to be a gift for Christmas, but Aaron bought it for Aaron Jr a couple of months ago and Aaron Jr hadn't worn it yet... so I brought it out on Christmas and had him wear it as though it was a gift from Aaron this Christmas. He fell asleep watching Teletubbies. He loves that show.

In the afternoon, we went to the cemetery for the first time. We went out with Aaron's parents and also Aaron's brother, Steve, and his family. I just didn't want Christmas to go by without going out there... to have our family together on Christmas. It was a very sobering feeling to be standing there at my own husband's grave. Each time I do something that should tell me how final this is and that this is my 'normal' now... when I am done... it still doesn't feel real. Almost like we are all pretending, but he will be coming back really soon. The next photo is of Aaron Jr and me at the gravesite. I just can't believe it. How can this be real?

I couldn't leave without stepping a heart shape in the snow and writing something to Aaron in the untouched snow above him.

I left a copy of this photo on his grave with a note I wrote for him. This is of our family on Christmas last year. I miss you so much Aaron.

I didn't feel like celebrating on Christmas. All I could think about was what we were missing. I feel like Aaron was with us that day... and I pray that that is true... but I wanted so badly to just hold him and for him to hold me. I kept thinking about how Christmas is a day for celebrating the birth of our Savior. I kept trying really hard to have a nice day even though I don't feel whole anymore. There is half of me missing. There is a big hole in my heart that just isn't getting filled. There is an ache in my soul that hurts no matter what I do.

I AM grateful for this day that we celebrate the birth of Christ, who was born in humble surroundings, who lived a perfect life, who suffered all things for us, and died so that we may live again. I know that He suffered even the pain that I am feeling at this time. To know that He suffered more than I am suffering right now... I am in awe. To know that He not only suffered my pain, but the pain of every person that has ever lived and ever will live... I am just so overwhelmingly grateful. I am amazed that He would do this for me. I am so grateful for my Savior. I know that He is waiting for me to cast my burden upon Him. (Psalms 55:22) Isn't it a miracle that we are invited to do this? I am so grateful.

One more experience I wanted to share is something that happened today (the day after Christmas). I was showing Aaron Jr a photo of his Daddy on the computer and it was a close up photo, so his head was almost life sized. Well, Aaron Jr was up on the chair sitting in front of the computer and pointed to the computer and said "Daddy". Then he reached for the computer and tried to put his hands around the back of Aaron's neck, but couldn't. Then, as his hands rested on the computer screen on either side of Aaron's face, he said "Hold you." So, I leaned down and I asked him, "What did you say?" (I just wanted to make sure I had heard him correctly.) And Aaron Jr said again, "Hold you" as he had his hands on the computer screen. What is a mother supposed to do in that situation? I can't even explain the agony I was in knowing that I couldn't make that happen. I couldn't do anything that would allow Aaron to be there to hold his son. Even as I sit here typing this experience, I am sobbing and wishing so hard that I could make it so Aaron Jr could have been held by his Daddy today. He just doesn't understand.

We love you Aaron. We miss you so much.

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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Are We Really Supposed To Go On?

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It is 12:58 am Christmas morning. About 7 hours ago, Aaron Jr and I went up to the Harkness' for Christmas Eve festivities. They had the traditional seafood dinner that they have had every year forever. Aaron always looked forward to that meal every year. He knew I didn't like seafood, so I never cooked it for him and that meant he didn't get to eat it very often.

Sitting at the table tonight picturing him getting ready for the feast was so overwhelming. I could picture the way he would sit and eat... usually with his elbows or forearms on the table... while he made casual conversation. I had to get up and leave the table several times to try to compose myself. I still can't believe he is really gone.
It is so hard to explain what I am feeling. I want so badly to be able to put it into the perfect words... words that would give everyone a clear knowledge of what I feel. Those words don't come though, just the feeling.

After dinner, we got the kids dressed up and did the Nativity. Aaron Jr was Joseph. Sue asked people to share a little something about the character their child was representing. It was so perfect that I was supposed to share something about Joseph, a carpenter. I thought of the characteristics that Joseph would have had... ones that would have helped him to accept his calling to be the earthly father of Jesus the Christ. I thought of the work that he would have taught Jesus... working with wood. I thought of how humble and good he must have been to have been given the blessing of helping to raise the Son of God. I have always been in awe at the task set before Joseph. As I pondered on the words I wanted to share, I couldn't help but feel the sadness once again that Aaron Jr won't be able to learn woodworking from his dad... or anything else he would have wanted to teach Aaron Jr. It is a blessing that we have Aaron's missionary journals. At least Aaron will be able to teach Aaron Jr about the gospel through his written words.

After the Nativity, we started opening gifts. There were such thoughtful gifts given tonight. So many gifts given to help each other cope and remember Aaron. The one that is the most difficult to talk about is the gift given to Steve Jr, Aaron's brother. Sue had taken Aaron's eyeglasses and had Steve's prescription put into Aaron's frames so that Steve could have them. It took a lot of pondering and put me through a lot of turmoil trying to come to a decision about how I felt about that. Once I finally made the decision to go ahead and let her give those to Steve, I felt good about my decision. Then after I felt good, I would start to feel really uneasy about it again. They are the only possession that Aaron wore pretty much daily. Right up until the very moment when Steve opened the gift, I was still going back and forth in my mind trying to decide whether or not I could truly feel okay inside about giving away something that Aaron wore so often. I sobbed tears of sorrow... but also was glad to see how honored Steve seemed to be. I have so many treasures of Aaron's that I am going to get to cherish, but even so... it didn't make the decision any easier for me. Who knew that my husband's eyeglasses would mean so much to me once he was gone? I never realized it. My one request to be given to Steve was that they would one day be passed down from him to Aaron Jr. I never realized what 'things' would mean so much to me once Aaron was gone. Eyeglasses? Why? But yes, they are a treasure. I still feel good about my decision for the eyeglasses to be given to Steve, but I do feel sorrow that I don't have them to look at everyday like I did when Aaron would wear them. I know that Steve will treasure those like I do. I know that Steve will take great care of them until one day when he does pass them down to Aaron Jr. Even though it was so difficult to give Aaron's eyeglasses away (one of the most, if not the most, difficult thing I have done since Aaron passed away), I know they will be treasured by his brother and I am glad of that.

As I have been typing this, a thought came to my mind. 'Why treasure something that was only used to correct an imperfection?' I will tell you why. It is the imperfections in all of us that make us unique and beautiful. Aaron's imperfect qualities are the things that bring smiles to my face more than anything else. His tardiness everywhere he went. At the time, it was frustrating, but now... it is so endearing. The way Aaron would mispronounce certain words... I never found it annoying... it was always something that made me smile because it was so Aaron. The one eyebrow hair that was always really long on his right eyebrow... that one always made me laugh. No matter how many times I pulled it out or trimmed it... it always grew back really fast. I called it 'his freak eyebrow hair'. The scars that always came with great stories of how he got them. The various colors of paint that were always on Aaron's hands, under his fingernails, ALWAYS on his clothes, even on the eyeglasses that were given to Steve... I don't remember Aaron's hands ever being completely clean. He had hard working man's hands. I want to share so many more things that make me smile... but I would be here all night. I can only hope that my imperfections were beautiful to Aaron like his are to me.

Whoever actually reads my words and thoughts... I want you to know how much I miss my husband. It is now 1:45 am on Christmas morning... and I dread going to bed because I have to lay there without Aaron next to me. Each night I put off going to bed for this very reason. I finally go to bed when I can't even keep my eyes open for another minute.
Christmas without Aaron has been so hard. I didn't even want it to come. It isn't a time I feel like celebrating. Aaron Jr has noticed the absence of his Daddy more in these couple of days than he has for the past couple of weeks. Poor little boy. He is my treasure.
Please treasure your loved ones. I wish I had known that I didn't have much time with Aaron... and it was way too short of a time. I wish I could say I always showed Aaron the love that I now wish I had shown to him. I pray every night that Aaron knows how much I love him. So, please be kind and loving to one another. There are too many things to regret... don't let it be that you didn't say 'I love you' enough times. I love you all my friends and family.

I miss you Aaron. I love you... ALWAYS.

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The Rocking Horse

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A few days before Aaron passed away, he ordered a pattern online to build a rocking horse for Aaron Jr for Christmas. He received the pattern in the mail two days before he passed away, so the rocking horse was never even started.
Well, a man from my ward called me today (Christmas Eve) to let me know that they give handmade toys and rocking horses away to children on Christmas Eve and they wanted to give one to Aaron Jr. So, they drove all the way up from Lehi to Bountiful to deliver this rocking horse to Aaron Jr. When I told him about the pattern Aaron had ordered, he wanted to take it and told me that they wanted to build it for Aaron Jr so that the rocking horse his Dad had planned to build would be built.
I can't tell you what a tender mercy this was for me. I was so sad that there wasn't going to be a gift for Aaron Jr from his Dad for Christmas... so when they showed up with that rocking horse today... they said, this isn't from us... it is from his Daddy. So, Aaron Jr received a gift from his Daddy after all. Aaron Jr jumped right on that rocking horse and rocked back and forth for a while. It was a priceless experience and I am SO grateful for the love and sacrifice that it took to build that horse. Thank you so much. What a treasure.

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Friday, December 21, 2007

Our Loss...

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I truly do not know how to even begin writing in my blog again. Part of me wants to abandon my blog for good, but the other part of me wants to share my feelings with whoever is out there to read about them.

I decided to start using my blog to tell the world what it has lost. Most of the world doesn't even realize that on November 29, 2007, the world lost a truly great man. The world lost a compassionate man, a spiritual man, a kind man, a man who was always thinking of what he could do to help others, a strong yet gentle cowboy.

Now I will tell you what I lost. I lost my best friend, my true love, my companion who was supposed to walk by my side throughout this life. I lost my husband, the father of our son. I lost an example of faith. I lost the man that I laughed with, the man I cried over, the man I worried about. I lost the man who rejoiced with me and the man who sorrowed with me.

When I say I worried about him, it is something that happened often. He was a man who loved adventure. All kinds of adventure... biking, motorcycling, snowboarding, wakeboarding, four wheeling in the mountains, scuba diving, horseback riding, hunting, etc. When he would go motorcycling or hunting, I would worry the whole time that he would get hurt. I was always assured that he was perfectly safe, but if you know Aaron, you know that he dared to do what most wouldn't dare to do. He loved adventure and he loved the thrill he got in life by doing the daring things. Though I worried about him, I loved this about him as well.

Though most of the world doesn't know Aaron, he is someone that everyone should know about.

I miss him so much. The day Aaron passed away, my soul became broken. My heart tore in two pieces. I felt physical pain from this. I have never felt this pain before and I pray I never have to feel it again. I know that the Lord will heal my broken soul and my torn heart when I let him. I know he is there waiting for me to ask him to help me to heal. But right now, the agony I feel, the pain in my heart, the ache in my soul... they all help me to feel connected with Aaron. The days that are busy when I don't have time to sit and think about Aaron and sob... those are the days that are harder for me to look back on. When I sob, I feel connected through the memories that are causing me to sob.

Aaron Jr is doing pretty good. Some days he will pull me by the hand and walk around the house looking for something that he wants. When I can't figure out what he wants, I realize that he must be searching for Aaron... his Daddy. My heart breaks for him. He knows his Dad hasn't been around for a few weeks, yet he is too young to understand why. He is having to grieve without understanding what the reason is behind it. His grieving will come throughout his life at the moments when his Dad would have been with him. He will grieve the day of his first sporting event, he will grieve the day he is baptized and someone other than his Dad will be performing the baptism, he will grieve the days he goes hunting or fishing or riding on the horse without his Dad to be the one to teach him, he will grieve when he is learning to drive a car, or the day he learns to wakeboard, he will grieve the day he leaves on his mission, he will grieve the day he gets married, and he will grieve when he has his children. This is another reason my heart breaks. It breaks for Aaron Jr thinking about everytime he will have to grieve for his Daddy throughout his life. The things he will miss out on. He will have the memories that people can tell him, but he won't be able to have his own memories WITH his Daddy. I am grateful that we have Aaron's family and my family to help us through this difficult time. They can also help Aaron Jr to get to know his Daddy because his family will have the stories from his youth that will help Aaron Jr understand how Aaron became the man I fell in love with and married.
I pray that he will be able to feel his Dad around him during these times when he needs his Dad the most. I pray that this tender mercy can be granted to him and to me.

I pray for the chance to tell Aaron how much I love him. I pray that I can understand how much Aaron loves me. I pray for the peace I need to sustain me through the days and months that lie ahead. I know that the Savior is there, waiting, ready to take my burden upon himself through the power of the Atonement. I know all I need to do is ask and have faith that he will do that for me.

I miss Aaron so much. I am in so much pain. I love Aaron with all of my heart and I look forward to the time when we will be together again.

Until we meet again... I love you Aaron.

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Thursday, December 6, 2007

We Call Him Blessed...

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Aaron Sverre Harkness

"This is a great man" Aaron Sverre Harkness, 30, our dearly loved husband, father, son, brother, and friend, passed away Nov. 29, 2007 at his parent's home in Bountiful, Utah while in his sleep.Aaron was born March 29, 1977 in Bountiful, Utah to Stephen Harold Harkness and Elida Susen Jensen. He married his love, Leslie Kay Higginson, on August 21, 2002 in the Salt Lake Temple. Aaron is the love of Leslie's life and thankfully, he is the love of her eternity. Aaron was one-of-a-kind, a great man. His greatest redeeming characteristic in life was his generous, loving heart the size of Texas. This vast love for others was infectious, and people were naturally drawn to him. He spent his entire life serving others, often unnoticed and at his own expense. Aaron served an honorable mission for the LDS Church in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He loved the Brazilian people and was able to serve in many capacities as a missionary. There's no doubt that his great love for the people touched countless lives. Aaron was an exceptional husband and father. He was amazingly strong, but gentle. A giant both in stature and heart. He was also a passionate outdoorsman. He delighted in spending time outdoors with his family, friends, his dog Ode, and his horse Sheila. Somehow, Aaron always shot the biggest buck and caught the biggest fish. Aaron was a cowboy at heart and he was guiding his son in those same footsteps. They loved spending time together. Aaron spent the majority of his working life self-employed as a carpenter, making unique and beautiful furniture. He had so many talents, so much knowledge to offer. He always tried to take advantage of every teaching moment. He was also employed as a counselor at Discovery Ranch in Springville, Utah. He was instrumental in giving comfort and guidance to troubled youth. There are many aspects of Aaron's life that parallel that of his Savior's life. Christ was his ideal. Although he spent only 30 short years here on this earth, he lived his life to the fullest. Aaron touched the lives of everyone who came into contact with his generous spirit. We are all better people for knowing him. We love you Aaron! Survived by his loving wife Leslie; son, Aaron Sverre Harkness Jr; parents, Steve and Sue Harkness; sisters, Sadie Joy Muhlestein (Nick), and April Starr Whiting (Dave); and brother, Steve Harold Harkness II (Christa). Funeral Services will be held Tuesday, December 4, 2007 at 11 a.m. at the Bountiful 34th ward located at 540 N. 1200 E. Viewings will be held in his honor Monday, December 3, 2007 from 6-8 p.m. at Russon Brothers Mortuary located at 295 N. Main St in Bountiful, Utah, and from 9:45 a.m. -10:45 a.m. at the church prior to the service. Interment-Salt Lake City Cemetery. A college fund is being set up for Aaron Jr.
Online guest book at:

Published in the Salt Lake Tribune on 12/2/2007.