Friday, February 29, 2008

Three Months...

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Today, it has been three months since Aaron passed away. I wanted to do something special today, so I took Aaron Jr and Ode over to see Sheila (Shayla). Sheila is Aaron's horse. Aaron got Sheila a few years ago and fulfilled his dream of owning a horse. When I first saw Sheila, I was so excited. I thought she was the most beautiful horse ever. I have always loved dark brown horses. Aaron loved Sheila so much. He would go horseback riding often and he really loved to be up in the mountains on his horse. He was amazing with all animals, but before he passed away had recently been working at a ranch with troubled youth. He was doing equine therapy and was able to work around horses and youth all day long. He loved horses and he loved helping people, so they went hand in hand. He adored his job.
This is the first time I have gone to see Sheila since Aaron passed away. It was emotional being there, but I was so happy to take Aaron Jr and Ode there. Aaron was always excited to take Aaron Jr to visit the horse and he fully planned on Aaron Jr loving horses like he did. Aaron Jr loved the time he spent with his daddy feeding the horse or even taking little rides on her. When we got there, Sheila came right over to us. I am sure she recognized Ode and even something about us even though we didn't spend as much time with her as Aaron or Ode. She let us pet her for a while. She had her winter fur on and she looked so cute. We love her so much.
After Aaron passed away, I tried to think of who should get Sheila. It had to be someone who had a place for her, someone who lived close so that Aaron Jr and I could still see her often and so that Aaron Jr could ride her when he gets older. It needed to be someone who had gone horseback riding with Aaron and Sheila. So, the only person that could have been was my sister's husband, my brother-in-law, John. John went horseback riding lots of times with Aaron. They shared a love of horses and often talked about when John would be able to purchase a horse so that he didn't have to borrow one every time he went with Aaron. When I asked John if he would be interested and able to take on a horse, he seemed very grateful. He said that he had wanted a horse for a long time, but this wasn't the way he wanted to acquire a horse. Gaining this horse this way meant that he didn't have Aaron to go horseback riding with. Aaron is the person he went with every time, so now, he has the horse, but not the friend to go riding with. It is interesting the way life works out sometimes.
I am SO grateful to John and his family for taking Sheila. She needed a home and I am SO glad that she can be with family so that Aaron Jr can ride his Daddy's horse. Thank you John and Lisa.

We also took Ode with us. I wanted to talk about Ode for a minute as well. Aaron has owned Ode since he was a little puppy. It has been about 12 years. He is an older dog and is the best dog in the world. He is the most obedient dog you will ever meet. Aaron and Ode have been the best of friends for so long. Ode would be up at the door wagging his tail when he heard Aaron's truck coming down the street. He loved him and it is heartbreaking seeing him have to live without his best friend. Aaron treated Ode like a child, he loved him like a child. When Aaron passed away, there wasn't even a question of who would take care of him. If I could keep him at my parent's house, I would love that, but I can't... so Aaron's parents have Ode. I am grateful to them for letting him live there. They love having him so much and he knows that home. That has been his home before when Aaron lived there and now it is his home again. It was the only thing that would have made any sense. We miss having Ode with us every day, but Aaron's parents only live a couple of blocks away from my parents, so we get to see Ode often. We love him and when we are around him we feel a little bit more of Aaron around us.
Three months... I am not going to express how we are doing now as opposed to the first month. Each day... each moment is different. I know that time is eventually going to help with the wounds. It will always be painful when I think of what we have lost, but time will help us to focus more on the wonderful memories we have with Aaron.
We miss Aaron so very much, but how blessed we are to have Sheila and Ode in our lives who Aaron loved so much to remind us of him. And how blessed we are to have family to help to support us and to lift us up when we need help. Between family and friends and the Savior... we can make it through anything. I will never 'get over' the loss of Aaron, but I know that I will 'get through' this trial because of the strength I receive each day from those who love me.

Aaron... we will love and miss you Always...

*Thanks to Dan for taking the photos of Aaron Jr. & Me.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Sunny ? California

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Aaron Jr.
At the park on the first day.

Malia, Pearl, Aaron Jr.

Christa, Pearl, Malia, Sue, Grace, Goofy, April, Susie, Steve, Aaron Jr.
At California Adventure Park

Susie, Dave (blurry, but the best one I had) (Dave is April's husband)
At Disneyland.

Christa, Malia (Christa is Steve's wife)
At the beach.

Isaac, Nick (Nick is Sadie's husband)
At the beach.

Grace - let's go fly a kite... at the beach.

Aaron Jr., Leslie
At Disneyland

Aaron Jr., Sue (Grandma)
At Disneyland

Aaron Jr.
In the Finding Nemo ride. He loved it.

Leslie, Aaron Jr.
Also in the finding Nemo ride. I loved this shot of Aaron Jr, but what is my face doing?

Aaron Jr.
This was on a kiddy roller coaster. I was so interested in getting a good photo of him on it, I wasn't even comforting him through it. When it ended though, he didn't want to get off.

Aaron Jr., Mickey Mouse

Aaron Jr., Minnie Mouse

Top Five People: Leslie, Christa, Sue, Grace, Sadie
This was on the ride called 'Tower of Terror'. It was the only adult ride most of us went on that the kids couldn't go on. It was so worth riding on. What a fun and surprising ride. Thanks gals for the adventure. Grace, you were a trooper and so very brave.

April, Sadie, Sophia (Aaron's two sisters)
At the beach on the last day.

Malia, Susie, Sophia, Grace, Aaron Jr., Isaac, Pearl
The SEVEN grandkids in their Mickey Mouse ears.

Aaron Jr., Isaac
The TWO grandsons. We can't wait until Isaac is old enough to play with Aaron Jr. They will be great friends.

Aaron Jr., Steve (Aaron's brother)
It was really nice, Aaron loved exploring under the rocks on the beach. He could do it for hours. If he had been here, I could picture him taking Aaron Jr. to explore the whole time we were there. Luckily, Steve took Aaron over and explored just like Aaron would have. It was sweet and I am glad he thought to do it. Thanks Steve.

Aaron Jr., Steve, Isaac
Grandpa and his two grandsons.

Aaron Jr.

Leslie, Aaron Jr.

This last week, we went to California with Aaron's family. I had a lot of anxiety about going since Aaron wouldn't be there. At one point, I had decided not to go... but decided to go after talking to Aaron's sister Sadie. I am SO glad we went. Yes, I missed Aaron so much... it was very painful at times. But, I was able to bond with Aaron's family like I have never bonded with them before. It was a bitter sweet vacation... I missed Aaron, I thought about him constantly, but Aaron's family helped me so much to have fun and showed me kindness, love, and support. I didn't know what to expect when we left, I had several very tough hours, but overall... it was such a great trip. I am grateful for the closeness I feel to his family and for the love they showed to me. I was able to have one on one time with each little family and it was such a delight spending time with them and their kids. We were able to share stories and memories of Aaron and it helped to take some of the pain away.
I am grateful that we went and I am very grateful for Aaron's family all making me feel so loved and so much a part of their family. I feel closer to them than I ever have and I am so glad of that. Aaron Jr. was able to bond more with his cousins and they all got along so great. I am excited for him to spend more time with them all.
As much anxiety as I had to go on the trip, I had even more anxiety the last day knowing we were coming home. Coming home meant that we would be returning to this 'new normal' that we are not used to yet. But we are home and I have actually felt so much better. I truly believe that the trip to California with Aaron's family has brought a little bit of closure for me. I am grateful for them all.
Thank you to Steve and Sue for footing the bill and taking us on this trip.

This was the only time Aaron and I ever went to Disneyland and the California Adventure Park, and I know I have put this photo on the blog before, but I wanted to put it into this posting. We had a great time with Steve and Christa.

We all miss you Aaron... you are forever in our hearts.

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Saturday, February 16, 2008

Happy Birthday, Bruce !

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Today is my older brother, Bruce’s birthday. Bruce passed away when he was 16 years old in a car accident. He is the 4th of the 11 children in my family and he is a very important part of our family even still. He is talked about often and remembered every day. He was very kind and a good example to those around him. He played any sport he could possibly be a part of and excelled in them. I often wonder what he would be like now and what his wife and children would be like. We miss and love him dearly.

Aaron never knew Bruce because he had passed away already when I met Aaron. Aaron heard stories about Bruce and spoke of him with admiration.
The night Aaron passed away in November, it went through my mind that Aaron was finally meeting Bruce, whom he had never met before. When we were sitting in the hospital beside Aaron that evening, Aaron’s mom, Sue, looked up at me and said that Aaron and Bruce had finally met. It meant a lot to me that she would say that. It has actually been a comforting thing to think about… Aaron and Bruce getting to know one another. Both of them waiting patiently for their families to join them someday.

We love you Bruce…
We love you Aaron…

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Friday, February 15, 2008

Aaron Jr.'s Memory...

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This is a photo of Aaron's Ford Powerstroke. He loved this truck. This photo was actually taken in September after Aaron Jr. and I washed it for Aaron. The other day, I was outside with Aaron Jr. and a truck went by that sounded like this diesel truck of Aaron's. As it went by, Aaron Jr. said really excitedly... 'Daddy!' It was so sweet. It reminded me of when Aaron Jr. and Ode would race to the door and wait there when they would hear Aaron's truck coming down the street. You could hear it and feel the vibrations from it sometimes. I am SO glad that Aaron Jr. is remembering things about his Dad.

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy February 14...

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To love is to receive a glimpse of heaven.
-Karen Sunde

Aaron LOVES Ford trucks. So, for our first "February 14th" together... I stitched the word 'FORD' on this piece fabric that I cut from of a pair of my old jeans and then made it into a pillow. There were thousands of stitches that went into that word and it took me SO many hours. I think I figured out that it took me more than 20 hours to stitch the word 'FORD' onto that jean fabric. It was worth it, because he loved the pillow and always had it displayed somewhere.

This is a pillow that Aaron made ALL by himself. He stitched the words on it AND sewed it into a heart shaped pillow. The only help I gave him was to show him how to use the sewing machine. He did it all by himself and I didn't see what he had created until it was finished. I treasured it when he gave it to me, I have treasured it ever since he gave it to me, and I will continue to treasure it forever. For those who don't know... 'Eu Te Amo' means 'I love you' in Portuguese. He served his mission in Brasil and was fluent in the Portuguese language.

Don't worry, it is just water in those glasses... or maybe sparkling cider.

Words cannot express the emotions flowing through my soul today... I am sure no one has to wonder how I could be feeling today, so I am not going to say much about it. I just wanted to show photos that I love and that show how I feel about my sweetheart. Aaron and I were never that into celebrating February 14, but I just always felt so safe knowing that I had the person who meant everything to me on that day. We didn't need to celebrate... we just spent the time together. So, today will be lonely without Aaron, but I will focus my attention on Aaron Jr. and we will make sure that we have a fun day together.

I love you always, Menino.

- Menina

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Saturday, February 9, 2008

Our Boy Gets A Haircut

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My sister in law, Suzy, cut Aaron's hair last week. Here are some photos of the big event.

Get Ready...
Suzy is showing the colorful shield thing to Aaron Jr. to get him excited to be there.

Get Set...

She has sprayed it and combed it down to get it ready to cut. Wow... that is quite a head of hair. When you comb it that way... Help!

To keep Aaron Jr. distracted, Suzy let him spray her water bottle into his own mouth throughout the haircut. It kept him pretty still.

Suzy and Aaron Jr. CHEESE!

This was another day, but I wanted to put a photo of his hair after it had dried to show the true haircut. It is still SO cute I have to say. Still has curl and a lot of body. I love it. He doesn't look that thrilled. He had just woken up and was enthralled in one of his favorites movies.

This post reminds me of an experience I had with Aaron a couple of years ago. He was cutting his own hair with those hair clippers that a lot of guys have. Well, when he did this, he would usually call me in to finish up for him and get all of the stray hairs that he had missed and then also to trim the neck area. Well, when I got in there this time, he handed me the clippers and I started down at his neckline and started going up his head like I usually did to find all of the stray hairs. Once I was about two or three inches up his head, I realized that he didn't have an attachment on it anymore and it was cutting so close, almost as close as shaving it. I stopped at once and said, "oh no." So Aaron said, "Leslie, what did you do?"
Well, what had happened was... he took the attachment off and had just planned on me trimming the neck. So, it was a total miscommunication. But I ended up having to just shave up around the rest of his head to make a line where I had left off. I think it was only up to about the middle of his ear. It did look wrong, but I did offer to try to just blend it and make it look okay. He didn't want that, so he said just to make the line up that high... so that is what I did. Needless to say, I don't think I was ever asked to help with his hair again. Actually, I think maybe once or twice, but he was very clear from then on to make sure I knew what he wanted me to start on first.
Luckily, Aaron was able to wear hats to work, so he wore a hat most of the time. He still got teased by a lot of his friends, but he took it well. He never got mad at me... he was a little frustrated, I could tell... but he never got mad. He knew it was an honest mistake and forgave me for it.
It was fun after that happened to offer to cut his hair, though... it would make us both laugh.

I have been a little under the weather lately. I finally went to the doctor yesterday and I have bronchitis. Luckily, I am no longer contagious, but I have to use an inhaler until my lungs are feeling more normal... supposedly 6 to 8 weeks.
Aaron would get bronchitis pretty much every year that I knew him. Last year he had it around this same time and it even turned into pneumonia. I have only ever had it once about ten years ago. It is strange that I never got it from Aaron all of those times he had it, but now I get it this year. I guess it is my turn.

It is strange how EVERYTHING I see or do reminds me of Aaron... even an illness. Time doesn't seem to be healing the sorrow, it still just seems so fresh. But the love and support being shown to us by those who love us and care about us is helping us to feel not quite so alone.
Aaron Jr. is bringing joy to me daily. I am grateful for our sweet little boy. He is a precious gift from a loving Father in Heaven.

We love you Aaron...

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Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Our Little Cowboy

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I wanted to get some nice photos of Aaron Jr. in these cowboy clothes before they were too small. When I was pregnant, Aaron and I stayed in this motel on our way home from California where we had just helped Rob & Kaily move. In the motel room, there was this framed picture on the wall of a little child in a cowboy hat and overalls standing by a barn door. Even though we didn't know if we were having a boy or a girl yet, I told Aaron that I wanted to take a photo of our child in cowboy clothes by a barn and enlarge it and frame it and hang it on our wall. Well, this isn't a barn, it is a shed in our backyard... but Aaron painted it red just a few months ago, so this is where I wanted these photos to be taken. I even waited to get Aaron Jr.'s hair cut until after these were taken because Aaron talked about how he wanted Aaron Jr.'s hair just long enough that his curls could flip out under his hat.
So, I borrowed my brother's nice camera and went with my friend, Shauna, down to take these photos. I took a lot of them, but these are the ones that are my favorites.

Aaron Jr.'s Clothing and where it came from:
Cowboy hat: Aaron's mom
Plaid flannel shirt: Aaron
Black leather vest: Aaron (before we found out if we were having a boy or a girl)
Bolo tie: Aaron's
Cowhide coat: Rob & Kaily
Rope: Aaron
Levi jeans: my sister, Karey
Cowboy boots: Me (at a thrift store near where we live, what a bargain)
Belt: Aaron (just a couple of weeks before he passed away)

It was cold that day and Aaron Jr. braved the weather like a champ. He has gotten used to the idea of putting on his cowboy clothes. He actually enjoys putting them on now. But, I think it is time to retire a few of the items. They are a little too small now. But we will save them for when Aaron Jr. has a son.

I was sitting in the kitchen today and Aaron Jr. ran to me crying and pointing to his right foot. When he got to me, he said he had hurt his foot (in his language) and he held it up a bit. I asked him if I could kiss it better, so he held it up and I lifted it up. After I kissed his foot, I said "all better" and he ran away smiling and laughing ready to play again.
After he ran away, the thought entered my mind that he has a lot of trust in me. He was hurt and he truly believed that me kissing his foot and telling him it was all better took all of his pain away. He believed it and he let the pain be taken. He believed it because he trusted me.

As I sat there, I realized that it is the same for us, as children of our Father in Heaven. Heavenly Father makes promises to us and it is up to us to put our trust in Him and believe.
The difference in these two scenarios is us... not Heavenly Father. Because we don't have the kind of faith that a child has, it is more difficult for us to put our trust in Him than it is for our child to put their trust in us.

Heavenly Father loves me just as I love Aaron Jr. He wants me to be happy just as I want Aaron Jr. to be happy. He doesn't like to see me hurting just as I don't like to see Aaron Jr. hurting. He is there ready to take my pain away just as I am there ready to take Aaron Jr.'s pain away... as much as I can anyway. Aaron Jr. trusts that I can do that for him... it is up to me to trust that my Father in Heaven can do that for me.
It is easier said than done, but we are promised that if we put our trust in Him, He will guide us down the path that will bring us joy.

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. -Proverbs 3:5-6

It IS easier said than done. I still struggle to go to sleep at night. I still have lots of moments where I am completely uncomfortable no matter where I am or what I am doing. Right now, I feel like I don't have a place in the world, like I don't belong anywhere. I struggle through each day trying to smile, but feeling so much sorrow inside.
So many people have mentioned to me that I am courageous and that I am a strong person... but, I don't feel courageous. In fact, I am scared to death for what my future holds for me in this life. And as far as being strong... I feel like I am collapsing from the inside out. So, any strength I am receiving has to be the Lord sustaining me through this trial. The moments when reality hits me, I feel like I am getting kicked in the stomach and the wind is knocked out of me. In those moments, I have to push reality aside to even function. The pain is still so deep... but I am trying.

This is where trust comes in. I do trust that my pain can be taken away, that is why I pray each night for peace and comfort. It is just so hard to hand it all over at once. I pray each night that Aaron is all right and that he is happy. I do have moments of peace and comfort and those moments are blessings from my Father in Heaven. Aaron Jr. brings me smiles and laughter each day. He is such a blessing in my life. I believe that it is through him that I am being given a lot of my moments of peace and comfort. I am truly grateful for him.

We love and miss you, Aaron...

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