Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Five Months...

* * * * * * * *

If you had asked me five months ago if I thought I would be able to make it to five months without losing it completely, I would have said 'not a chance'. Looking back over these last five months without Aaron, they are mostly a blur. That first few weeks, I didn't take any photos, I couldn't go to bed at a reasonable hour, I couldn't eat, I felt like I was walking around with no purpose. The only thing that got me out of bed in the morning was knowing I still needed to be a mom to Aaron Jr.
At times, I still feel this way. I still can't go to bed at a truly reasonable hour, I still have a hard time eating properly,
taking photos... I am going crazy more than ever with my camera (and that is hard to imagine). I still feel like I am walking around with no purpose... but not as often. Aaron Jr is still what gets me out of bed most mornings. He still needs me and over these last 5 months, I have learned that... I need him just as much or even more. He gets me through...
When I think back on all of the years Aaron and I crossed paths, but didn't properly meet, it seems so right that we were together in the end. It just all kind of worked out with Aaron, I didn't have to try to get him to like me or anything like that. And I didn't have to try hard to like him. It came very naturally. I didn't have to search long and hard for him. He was right in front of me for many years without me knowing the 'diamond in the rough' that was so close. The treasure that would eventually be mine.
Of course our marriage, like any other, was never easy. We had our moments of complete joy and our moments of difficulty and trial and all of the other stuff in between... but I believe that we are blessed after someone passes away to remember the moments of joy and the moments of contentment and try to avoid the others. You have the ability to see a person for what they truly are and the great things they have done in their life. I always knew that Aaron had an incredible heart and a great love for other people and a huge desire to serve... but since he passed away, I have learned even more of what made Aaron who he was / is. I have a greater love for him and a greater desire to be better. The lessons we learn from the lives of those around us are so valuable. It has amazed me the lessons that I have been taught from learning more and more about the life of my husband. What a huge blessing for me to have the knowledge that our marriage can be eternal.
Today, I took Aaron Jr and we went to the cemetery. They finally put down grass. It was cloudy and gray while I was there, but at one point as I was sitting there on the new grass, the sun peaked through the clouds and it shined down on me. I couldn't help but smile through my tears. I said a prayer of gratitude and I am so glad that we could be there today. I know that my Father in Heaven was very aware of my needs today.
Afterwards, we stopped by a place to look at headstones. I am trying to figure out what color of granite I want to use. There are so many factors that go through my mind as I try to make decisions about what will be on the headstone. There is so much to say and so much to tell about Aaron, but you can't sum it all up in that little space. It will be a double headstone. It will have both of our names on it, so it will be for both of us. It was very strange picking out a headstone for myself... but as I drove away, I couldn't help but ask these questions in my own mind, "How did I get to this place?" and "How is it that I am having to pick out a headstone for my 30 year old husband?"
It still seems so unreal. Will it ever feel real? I don't know.

Last year (or maybe it was the year before now that I think about it), Aaron's Dad got four little tree saplings in the mail as a gift for Arbor Day. They had started to wilt because they hadn't been planted, so Aaron's Dad was either going to throw them away or asked if Aaron wanted them. They looked pretty far gone, but Aaron agreed to take them and see how they did in our yard. Within the next day or so, Aaron planted all four trees in our flowers beds. He had just put in new soil and thought they would do better there than anywhere else.
They were all about 8 to 10 inches tall. Well, last summer, they thrived. They got taller and even got leaves on them. By the time Autumn came, they varied in size, but they had done great all summer.
Well, after Aaron passed away and once I put my house up for sale, I thought about all of the trees we had planted since we moved in there. Within the four years, we had planted approximately 25 trees not including the 4 saplings. I wanted so badly to be able to take all of the trees with me when the house sells, but it isn't possible. They have all done so well and are big and beautiful. Well, the 4 saplings came to my mind and I figured that they could be transplanted easier than any of the other trees. So, a couple of weeks ago, we went down with Aaron's parents and his brother and we got the trees. I thought it would be neat for the trees to go to various family members, so I gave a tree to each member of his family who owns their own home. They have all been replanted and I am praying that they all survive. Mine and Aaron Jr's tree is planted at my parent's house for now and we are loving having it here to take care of and look at. It is yet another piece of Aaron that we can have with us.

This post is getting long, but there is one more neat thing that happened this last week. My brother-in-law, John, got Sheila re-shoed last Friday. My sister, Lisa, went over to watch the horse get new shoes and afterward brought one of the old horseshoes to me as a keepsake. When I saw it, I was thrilled. I was so excited and I asked her if the other three were still there with the horse. She called John and he said that the shoer had taken them with him, but he called him for me and he said he would save them. So, a friend of mine, Joann, who lives closer to him went by and got them and brought them to me today. I was so grateful.
It was so thoughtful of my sister to get one for me. I am grateful she thought about me. I hadn't even thought about the fact that Sheila had the same shoes on that she had on when Aaron passed away. Now, we have these to keep. They were the last shoes Sheila would have been wearing when Aaron was here to ride her.
This week is Aaron's Dad's birthday and I am excited to give him one of the horseshoes as a reminder of Aaron. Hopefully he won't read this before I can get it up there to him. :)

I love you always, Menino...

* * *
(thanks to Aaron's friend, Dan, for these shots of Aaron with Sheila taken in the Autumn of 2005)


LL said...

LOVE IT! Your words are always so real. The horse shoe idea is so great, Lisa's the best! I'm sure Steve will be touched, what a thoughtful gift.
Love you Leslie-think of you daily~

Scarlett said...

Hi Leslie -
I have been reading your blog for the past few days and it has really touched me and reminded me to not take anything for granted. I have had A LOT of reminders like that in the past few years and on one hand I'm tired of having to learn it the hard way but then again I wonder, would I have learned it any other way.
One of my best friends and mission companions passed away suddenly last month. She was only 30 as well. She has 2 beautiful little boys and a very loving and devoted husband. I know the pain and anguish I felt when Michelle died but I can only imagine how Andrew feels without her. Your blog has given me a glimpse of what it truly feels like to lose someone you love and I can't imagine my eternal companion leaving me behind. Thank you for sharing.
I don't want to sound nosey or pushy or anything like that, but I have really been wondering what was the cause of Aaron's passing? I will understand if it is something that you don't want to talk about but like I said after reading your entire blog over the past few days I really am curious.
Again, thank you for sharing you with us, a bunch of strangers. Thank you.
- Liz

christa said...

Steve and I were talking and it just seems so much longer than five months. We too miss him dearly.

Vicki said...

I can't imagine what you're going through. I am so glad you have Aaron Jr., though... he's such a cutie! And I'm glad you can remember the good times. Just know that all your family, friends, and strangers are all praying for you. You are in my thoughts and prayers. Love you lots! You truly are amazing!

Matchbox Mom said...

I have just fallen in love with your little family over these months. What a blessing and a reminder you have been in my life.
Our little family of strangers is still praying for your sweet family. We really do love and care for you!!
If there was ever anything I could do to help you, I will.


Mindy said...

Leslie, I loved this part: "You have the ability to see a person for what they truly are and the great things they have done in their life". It made me think about how we should really try to see people this way when they're here with us, and not just when they're gone. Thank you so much for your words! Love you!

wilkinson_fam said...

Hello Leslie -

It's been entirely too long. Since High School as a matter of fact. I came across your blog recently and was so sad to hear of the passing of your sweet Aaron. And yet, discovering your honest entries has also been a tender mercy for me. My husband's brother - also 30 - passed away on Sunday and left a young wife and a 3-year-old daughter. In my conversations with his wife since his passing, I have wondered what I can say other than "I love you" and "You are in our prayers." But then I think back on how I have felt during times of loss and tragedy and as I have read your thoughts and entries. I am reminded how much that simply "being there" means to someone. We can't do anything to change it (no matter how much we'd move heaven and earth to try), but just knowing that someone cares and is pleading to the Lord in our behalf means so much.

You have been in my prayers. We have also suffered some tough blows recently and it is only through the strength of the Lord that we've survived. Thank goodness for the miracle of the atonement and the power of prayer.

Thanks for your testimony, thoughts and faith. You are a beacon of strength to many , whether you recognise it or not.

God Bless,
"Mandy Kjar" Wilkinson

Tiffany said...

Still following your blog. So wishing your story was different, but please know how many lives you truly are influencing for the better. May the Lord continue to bless you and Aaron Jr.

Leslie said...

mandy kjar wilkinson,

if you check back on this, i tried to find your blog so i could respond on there, but i will just put it here.
it is heartbreaking hearing about your sister in law.
i am not that far ahead of her in this process, but i remember in those first months, i wanted DESPERATELY to talk to someone who knew what i was feeling... it is just a loss that no one can possibly understand unless they have lost their spouse. so i wanted to talk to someone who understood. i still want that. somehow it helps you feel okay to be feeling what you are feeling when you know that another person has felt that way or is feeling that way.
if your sister in law it at all interested, i would love to talk with her. somehow it helps a tiny bit. not with the pain, but just to feel like your feelings are normal.
anyhow, i will pray for her and their daughter.
love always, leslie *

Bonnie said...

You are so strong! I am amazed.

The Daly's said...

Leslie- Thank you so much for your postings. So many of us are strangers that have found your blog and watch for the updates. I have learned so much from you. There are thoughts and prayers coming to you from all around on this difficult day. You are so strong! - Michelle

The Barbers said...

Leslie, I am so glad that you agreed to meet us at the park to play so I could get you those horseshoes. I am extra happy that you thought of me to help you get them in time for Aaron's dad's birthday. I hope he liked the gift!
I really enjoyed sitting with you while the kids DIDN'T play on the playground. I just can't believe how big Aaron Jr. has gotten since I saw him last. He is just so big!
As I sat there with you, I had no idea what you must be feeling. I jsut kept thinking that is had to be difficult to do someting so normal as going to the park, and feeling so NOT normal.
I realized yesterday how much Aaron Jr. is helping you. I am grateful that our Father gave him to you to help you through this. What a sweetheart!
Please, keep me in mind if you need anything else. I am more than happ to help out. If you need anything for next weekend, let me know, too.
I am constantly thinking of and saying little prayers for you and Aaron Jr. We all love you a lot!

Anonymous said...

Hi Leslie, Aaron seems to be so in tune with the environment - his love of the outdoors and horses, his love of wood and building. Is it possible to have a headstone that incorporates wood in some way? It just seems such a natural material for him...

With love,

Jennifer Bowman said...

Leslie -
Thank you for your thoughts and comments and for being so open with your struggles. I don't know you however you teach me so much through your posts, you teach me to take nothing for granted and savor each day we have with our loved ones. SO thank you. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your darling little boy. Your strength and testimony through this all also is so touching & inspring to me.
I hope you have a good day today. ;)
- Jen

dani said...

hi, leslie...
i just wanted to let you know you are in my thoughts and prayers.
love and blessings,

Clippy Mat said...

thanks as always for sharing your process thru your journey. we each go a little way with you as you move forward. reading your blog and seeing your lovely photos is such a privilege.
love and best wishes to you and aaron jnr.

E and T said...

Hi Leslie

I admire your strength and courage and the fact that you appreciate and express gratitude for what remains (in the face of unimaginable loss). You are truly inspirational.

Love and best wishes

Karey said...

I'm sure it has been a long five months for you. It is still so hard to believe. I'm glad the sun came out for you at the cemetery. I hope the sun is coming out for you more and more as time goes by. What a blessing to know of our Savior's love for each of us. Allow the warmth of His love to help you heal. I love you. Give little Aaron a hug for me. Can't wait to see you this weekend.

Annalee Kelly said...

I am one of your 'unmet supporters'-I check your blog daily and appreciate you. Here is a quote from Elder Neal A. Maxwell who seemed to understand pain as well as anyone. HOpe it brings a small measure of comfort:

"When in situations of stress we wonder if there is any more in us to give, we can be comforted to know that God, who knows us perfectly, placed us here to succeed. No one was foreordained to fail or to be wicked. When we have been weighed and found wanting, let us remember that we were measured before and we were found equal to our tasks; and therefore, let us continue, but with a more determined discipleship. When we feel overwhelmed, let us recall the assurance that God will not overprogram us; he will not press upon us more than we can bear."
"Meeting the Challenges of Today", Classic Speeches, vol. 1, p. 165

Anonymous said...

These are really wonderful pictures of Aaron. The second one is just beautiful.
I hope you are doing well and finding hope and endurance in each new day.
I still pray for you and Aaron Jr. often.
Blessing to you both,

Katie B said...

You don't know me. I found your blog from a link on another. (big long story for another time) but I wanted to share a headstone with you.... just to give you some ideas.
If you go to my blog and visit the April 15th post, this is a picture of a headstone for another great man. As "fate" would have it, he is buried in the cemetary next to the Bountiful temple. Right off the road on the most southern end if you are ever in the area and would like to see it in person.

I don't know you, yet my heart aches for you. You are in my prayers from this day forward.

Kristi said...

5 months. Wow. It still seems so unbelievable. We love you and wish we could be with you more often.