Friday, August 29, 2008

Nine Months...

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Six years ago, Aaron and I were on our honeymoon. Aaron took me to Florida and the Bahamas. Everywhere we went, we stayed at the nicest places and ate at the nicest places. Aaron wanted us to have the best honeymoon ever. Well, mission accomplished... it was the most amazing honeymoon I can imagine. What he didn't realize, though, is that no matter where we went, it would have been the greatest honeymoon... because I would have been with him. Here are some of the highlights...

Aaron and I build this 'sand flower'. I love that he was willing to build whatever I wanted to build.

One funny memory of the top left lighthouse: it is called the 'Ponce de Leon Lighthouse'. On our drive to go see it, Aaron kept saying the name of the lighthouse in the best foreign accent he could muster. I would say it normal and he would say, 'No, no, no... its Ponce de Leon.' I can still hear the accent in my mind. I tried desperately to get him saying it on video, but he always managed to catch me when I would secretly turn the camcorder on. It is one of my favorite memories from this trip... he was so happy and playful and it was so much fun. We had a great time together.

These last two photos were taken on August 29, 2002... exactly six years ago today.

I still can't believe the time that has passed since Aaron passed away. It feels like yesterday, but at the same time, it feels like an eternity.

Instead of focusing on the difficult feelings these days bring, I wanted to write about a blessing happening in our lives. I want to share my gratitude.

When Aaron was here with us, I was a stay at home mom. I am still a stay at home mom. I have done a few things to try to make a little extra money to pay our bills, but nothing that comes close to covering it. We are receiving survivor benefits from the government, but even that doesn't cover our bills each month. I am not writing this to get sympathy about our finances, I am trying to share our faith promoting experience and the love of our Father in Heaven.
Somehow, we are being blessed to be able to cover our bills each month. Each time I think we won't be able to make it the next month, our tax return will come, or we will receive generosity from kind people, or Aaron's truck sells, or else some of Aaron's furniture will sell at his mom's store. (of course not the furniture he built, I could never sell that... other stuff he bought to resell.) When I brainstorm about our bills each month and how much we have, it doesn't make any sense that we are being able to pay them. I have been reflecting on a scripture all month long that explains why we are being blessed in this way.

'Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.'

I am writing this for the sole purpose of sharing my faith promoting experience of the law of tithing. The fact of the matter is... things don't add up in my mind and I don't want to question the blessings we are receiving. We are paying our tithing, we are being helped to meet our needs... and I am grateful.
I can't express the gratitude I feel for the loving and giving people who have done so much for us, through word and deed.
Our Father in Heaven knows our needs; each of us individually. He is mindful of us all. I know this.
Yes, we are going through a trial that I wish we weren't having to go through. It is difficult, it is painful, it is heartbreaking... everyday. BUT, we are being blessed as well. We are receiving the promised blessings from the Lord. He is giving me strength and courage that I didn't even know I was capable of having. Some days, I don't feel strong or courageous; those are the days that I still go through the shock of wondering if this is even real... days that I am still waiting to wake up from this bad dream. But other days, I feel the strength and courage that I am being given by our loving Savior and I am able to look at the world with hope.
And for this, I am truly grateful.

Missing you more and more, Aaron. I love you...

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

How We Celebrated...

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This is how Aaron and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary. We went out to dinner on the night of, and then...

Aaron took me down to St. George to stay for the weekend. We went mountain biking up in Snow Canyon. It was so much fun.

This is our fifth wedding anniversary, last year. This was the final anniversary that Aaron was here for. Aaron surprised me with a weekend down at Brian Head. We hiked a bit and mountain biked.

We got those matching swim suits at Old Navy a few months before that. We picked it out for Aaron Jr. and then Aaron said that he liked it so much, if they had one in his size, he would buy it. Well, we walked around the corner to the men's section and there they were. Enough said, right? This photo in the bottom right corner is one of my very favorite photos of Aaron and Aaron Jr.

Anyone who has ever been on a hike or just on a nature outing with Aaron knows how much he loves to catch pretty much anything that moves. He was always looking under rocks for lizards and he would usually catch at least one per outing. Here he is introducing Aaron Jr. to the exciting world of... whatever that is. He told me when he caught it, but now I can't remember. Anyone? Is it s horny toad or something like that?

One thing that I look back on now that Aaron is gone is that it was never a question as to whether or not Aaron Jr. would be coming with us that weekend. It was just understood that we would want him with us, so why not take him? That is how it always was. Every getaway we had in those two short years, Aaron Jr. came with us. Now that Aaron is gone, it is such a blessing that we got to have that many more memories as a FAMILY. What a blessing.

Here we are this year. Like I said in our wedding posting, I decided that this year should be busy doing things that would help me to feel like I was celebrating memories of Aaron and me. So, Aaron Jr. and I took Ode and we started out at the cemetery. We ate a picnic lunch there and enjoyed the sunshine.

After that, we drove past the Salt Lake Temple where we got married. (we would have walked around, but I couldn't leave Ode in the hot car and we didn't have a leash).

After that, we drove to American Fork Canyon. Aaron and I had some 'couple' photos taken there before the wedding. We had never been back to that spot where we had the photos taken, so this year, I thought it would be fun to try to find it and take Aaron Jr. and Ode there. I figured it would be a bit of a challenge to find the exact spot since it wasn't a place that was marked. I planned to spend as much time as I needed in order to find it. Well, once I started driving up the canyon, it only took about 15 minutes. I found it. I was so excited. So we got out of the car and we started exploring and taking photos.

In the anniversary posting, photos 4 and 5 were taken there.

Same spot as photo # 4. I had to reach around and take all of the photos myself, so I apologize for all of the extreme close ups.

We had a photos taken between these trees, but I didn't include it. Aaron Jr.'s shoes were forgotten on this trip, so he is wearing his Christmas slippers. He actually loved it.

Behind us is where photo # 5 was taken. The water was higher this year, so Aaron wouldn't have been able to stand on the one rock as easily as he was in that photo. I can't get over how cute Aaron Jr's smile is in this one.

Just a cute photo of Ode and Aaron Jr. Best friends.

Aaron Jr. wanted to take my photo, so here are the attempts. I had to move myself around trying to get in the view finder. :)

Here is my sweet boy and me. I thought these were so precious.

The most priceless thing that happened on our anniversary is a simple phrase said to me by Aaron Jr. I was putting his shoes on (slippers) to leave for the cemetery and he looked at me and said, "You're pretty."
I melted. He had never said that before. The thought crossed my mind right then and there that Aaron had prompted him to say that. At least that is my hope. Someone knew that I needed to hear something sweet like that on my anniversary.
That set the tone for the day... I know Aaron was with us that day. I went about the day just imagining Aaron there by my side. I can't imagine him being anywhere else. I would hope that he would be celebrating with us on the anniversary of the day that we started our eternal family. This is why I wanted to celebrate instead of sitting at home dwelling on the fact that he isn't here physically. I knew that Aaron would have wanted to do something special for me, so I thought of a way that I could celebrate that would bring back wonderful memories while creating new ones with Aaron Jr. at the same time. I did have those moments of heartache and loneliness and tears, but all in all, I had a good day. I think the anticipation of it was worse than the actual day itself.
What a wonderful day to celebrate... the day that Aaron and I were sealed together for eternity. I am so blessed.

I love you forever and always, Aaron... thank you.

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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Built FORD Tough

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Well, today was tough. I recently listed Aaron's Ford truck online to sell. Well, my brother listed it for me. I held off for 8 months. I was dragging my feet because I knew that once the truck sold, I would have a really hard time watching it drive away. This truck was our first major purchase after we got married. Aaron needed a truck and was watching online to find the perfect one. He finally found one that he wanted really bad, but it was up in Oregon. The price was right, so he flew up to Oregon and drove this truck home to Utah by himself.
Aaron loved this truck. He babied it and kept it in really great shape. He was always out tinkering around in the engine or with the wheels or with the lift. He was all about having a really nice and tough looking truck.

Here is a great photo of Aaron with his truck. We were down at Yuba Lake with part of my family. Earlier that day, my Dad and Mom's motor home had gotten stuck in the soft sand and Aaron knew his truck was tough enough to pull out the motor home, so he attached a tow rope and pulled the motor home out with ease. Later, Aaron decided to launch the wave runners and told my brothers to let him know immediately if we started to sink. Well, as soon as it started to sink, my brothers told Aaron he better get out of there, but as soon as he started to pull forward, he sank in so deep... we weren't going anywhere. We tried for hours to get the truck out of this hole, but had no luck. Finally, we called AAA and they came to the rescue... so we thought. They parked their rig about 50 yards up the beach and as they started to pull Aaron out, they got stuck as well. He was in there good. So, they stopped trying to pull Aaron's truck and used his truck to pull them out and then they were able to pull Aaron out after a while.
Aaron loved telling the stories of his truck down at Yuba Lake. They were good bragging stories about his truck. Here is what it looked like after:

Recently, I was visiting with Aaron's friend, Austin, and he had a great story to tell me. I had never heard this before, so I loved this story and thought it was so funny. This is exactly how Aaron felt about trucks. This is what Austin wrote down for me:

' We were riding along in Aaron's truck listening to some old country song,
"I've Got Wanderin' Eyes. Yes I love the ladies, but my heart always stays here at home."
So I jokingly asked Aaron, "Do you have wandering eyes?" He didn't even hesitate, he said, "Not even close. I have wandering eyes for nice trucks and boats." '

This is the neck tie and a photo of Aaron Jr and me that Aaron had hanging from the rear view mirror. I hated taking those down.

As I was cleaning out Aaron's truck today, I ejected the CD that was in there. This was the last CD Aaron had put in. I told you he loved Chris LeDoux. The # 3 on it means that it is #3 of his Chris LeDoux CDs. To keep his original CDs nice, he made copies of all of his Chris LeDoux CDs. I think they go up to # 30 something.

This is just after they handed me the money and I handed them the title. They probably thought I was so strange. I was crying most of the time they were there looking at it. They had asked why I was selling it and I told them that Aaron had passed away, so at least they knew that. I couldn't hold the tears back though. I know this photo looks like I am happy and smily, but there are tears behind that smile.

They are driving it away here.

Ode was there to watch it drive away as well. I remember so well everyday when Aaron would come home from work, Ode would be at the door wagging his tail before Aaron had even pulled in the driveway. He could hear the roar of the deisel engine all the way down the street. I will really miss that sound. I always loved hearing it as he started it up in the mornings and especially when he got home.

As I was cleaning it out and while they were test driving it, Aaron Jr kept asking to go for a ride in the truck. As they were pulling out of the driveway, this conversation took place:

Aaron Jr: "Daddy's truck"
Leslie: "Yeah, that's Daddy's truck"
Aaron Jr: (reaching for the truck) "I wanna hold it"

It tore me to pieces.

I kept these floor mats. One funny thing about FORD floor mats is that Aaron even had rubber FORD floor mats like these in our Lexus. People always got a kick out of seeing them when they rode in that car.
I actually love the slogan 'Built FORD tough'. Anyone who knows Aaron knows how big and strong and tough he is. Friends and family were always telling stories about amazing things that Aaron was able to do because he just had so much strength. When I would hear that slogan 'Built FORD tough', I would relate it to Aaron. I even thought about putting that on the headstone for a while. It is just SO Aaron.
I know it is probably strange to some people that it would be that difficult to watch Aaron's truck go, but it was difficult. One of the most difficult things I have done so far. There are just so many memories attached to that truck. Watching it drive away, I honestly felt like another big piece of Aaron was gone.
One of the things that is the hardest about this is that Aaron Jr being so young doesn't have that many memories of Aaron, but anytime he saw that truck, he said 'Daddy's truck'. He would want to sit in it and play and just be in it. It is one more thing that Aaron Jr won't have as a reminder of his Dad. That is heartbreaking.

I love you Aaron...
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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Six Years

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...whatsoever you seal on earth shall be sealed in heaven; and whatsoever you bind on earth, in my name and by my word, saith the Lord, it shall be eternally bound in the heavens...
- Doctrine and Convenants 132:46

Today, August 21, 2008, is our SIXTH wedding anniversary. These first two photos are the photos we used for our engagement photos. These engagement photos and our wedding photos were taken by my brother and his wife. Here is their photography website link: Rob Higginson Photography

More photos from our engagements.

These two photos were taken by a friend of my mother in law's. Just another fun engagement session in a beautiful place.

The night before our wedding, Aaron's family hosted a wedding dinner in their backyard. Some friends of Aaron's from Brazil came and cooked the whole dinner. Aaron LOVED Brazilian food, so it was perfect. It was such a great evening. It had been raining that day and the report said it was supposed to continue raining that evening and then that it was supposed to rain the next day as well. We didn't have any alternate plans for the dinner, so it was such a blessing when it stopped raining about a half hour to an hour before the dinner started. Aaron's dad stood up and asked for people to just stand up randomly and tell a memory or an experience they have had with Aaron or me. So, there were some funny and special things said about each of us. It was a wonderful evening.

That next day, Aaron picked me up bright and early so that we could go early to the Salt Lake Temple to have our 'couple' photos taken before the wedding. It was going to be better lighting and there wouldn't be people walking through our backgrounds. Even though it was supposed to rain that day, there were only a few small clouds in the sky. We were so blessed with beautiful weather and a beautiful day. Everything about the day was beautiful. It was the most joyful day of my life.

Aaron wanted to surprise me with the suit he picked out for the wedding. So, I didn't see what he was wearing until he picked me up that morning. I LOVED it. His tie and vest were steel blue and then his shoes were black and had blue on them to match his vest. He was really proud of his shoes and I loved how excited he was about what he had chosen. He looked SO handsome that day. He was always handsome, but on our wedding day, he was radiant.
About 6 years before I got married, I found a dress in a magazine that I knew I wanted to be my wedding dress, so I held onto that page. When it was time to get a dress for my wedding, my mom, my sisters, and I went and picked out a couple of patterns that would work for the dress and then we went to pick out the fabric. My mom made my dress and it was absolutely perfect. I loved wearing it. I am so grateful to her for the work she put into it.

These are the guests who we were privileged to have at the actual ceremony in the temple.

These few photos were not set up. They are some of my favorites from the day because they were candid and I love the way Aaron is looking at me.

The reception was gorgeous. It was in Aaron's parents' backyard. They worked so hard all summer to get it ready. They planted flowers and just had the yard looking spectacular. I am so grateful for their hard work. It was perfect. Both families helped so much with what we needed help with. Everything was so great!

My sisters made my cake. I love daisies. My whole reception was covered with gerber daisies and so was my cake... made out of frosting. I love this cake. They did a great job and I am grateful for the beautiful work they did.

On the left is a cross stitch of a bride and groom that my mom made. The flowers were done by my sister and Aaron's sister. My sister also made my bouquet. Everything was beautiful. The cake on the right is the groom's cake. More on that later. The interesting cake in the back that looks like a bunch of rings stacked up is a Norwegian wedding cake.

Cutting the cake.

Eating the cake. With the Norwegian wedding cake, the bride and the groom are supposed to take ahold of the top of it together and break some of it off. Supposedly however many rings break off in your hands, that is how many children you will have. You can see in one of these photos how many rings broke off. I think it was like 14 or so. Wow...

Aaron LOVES Ford trucks. He is obsessed with Ford. He loves their trucks, he loves to talk about Ford, he loves to tell people that they are better than other trucks. So, I asked my sisters to make a Ford groom's cake. Aaron LOVED it.

It was always my dream to be married in the Salt Lake Temple. My dreams came true on August 21, 2002 at 11:20 a.m. It was the most beautiful day of my life. I have had two most beautiful days of my life. My wedding day and the day Aaron Jr. was born.
I always wondered if I would be nervous the day I got married. I was. I had every emotion running through me that day. As I walked into the sealing room where we were to be married, I felt this peace wash over me from head to toe that made any and all nervousness become just a memory. I cried all the way through the ceremony because the JOY was overwhelming. I was so happy. WE were so happy. Our wedding day was exactly as I imagined it.
I am so grateful that Aaron and I are sealed for eternity. I am eternally grateful that he chose me and that I chose him. Looking forward to eternity with Aaron is what makes this difficult journey seem bearable.
Our anniversary this year is just another one of those 'firsts' that I have been dreading. In those first months after Aaron passed away, all I planned to do was visit the cemetery and then sit at home with Aaron Jr. and Ode, our dog. I planned to just have a day of nothing but sorrow and loneliness. But the last few months, I have thought a lot about what we could do to celebrate the day. As I looked at our anniversary, I realized that even though Aaron isn't here physically to celebrate with me, it is still a day to celebrate. We started our eternity together SIX years ago. That is still something wonderful to celebrate.
It is strange that my very first posting on my blog was from our anniversary last year when we were celebrating FIVE years. Looking back at those photos makes me realize that I just had no idea what would be happening in my life just a few short months later. If only we had known. Now I can only imagine... if I had known Aaron was not going to be here much longer, I would have tried even harder to make sure he knew how much I love him. I would have made sure he knew that he brought joy to my life and that I was SO grateful for him. He would have known. I hope he knows now.
I imagine that today will still have the moments of loneliness, sadness, and sorrow... but we are going to celebrate. I miss Aaron so much. I know that I am doing better than I was in the beginning, but the pain of Aaron being gone is still a very real pain. I still feel the heartache and heartbreak. I still wish everyday that he could just hold me and make everything okay. I still feel like half of me is missing. I miss Aaron, but I can be grateful for what I have. I am grateful for the blessings in my life. At times it is difficult to recognize them when I am missing Aaron so intensely, but I am truly grateful for the multitude of blessings in my life.
I hope and pray that I will feel the comfort and peace of knowing that Aaron is with us today.

Happy Anniversary, my Menino. I love you... for eternity...
Love always, your Menina *

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