Monday, September 29, 2008

Ten Months...

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My brother Robert, his wife Teresa, and their son Zach came down this evening. They took us out to dinner then we went to play at the park. Here are a few photos. Thanks Robert and Teresa and Zach. We had a great time.

After they left, Aaron Jr. found the Johnny Jump Up and wanted to play in it. So, I hooked it up, put him in, and he had a blast. We don't have any door jams in any open spaces in our house, so when we first got it, Aaron found a 'stud' in the ceiling and put this bike hanger in the ceiling to hang it from. It always worked really well. This is the first time it has been used since Aaron passed away. Aaron Jr. enjoyed himself... even though he is getting a little too big for it.

This is Aaron's friend Dan, his girlfriend Liz and her daughter Ashlynn. The past few years around this time of year, Aaron and Dan would go up to a beautiful canyon in Mapleton. They would take their horses, camp out, then go horseback riding through the beautiful mountains with trees full of changing leaves.
Yesterday, Dan called to see if Aaron Jr. and I wanted to join them up in that canyon to sit around their campfire and roast marshmallows. Dan had called and asked my brother in law John if they could bring Shayla (she was Aaron's horse) with them. So, they had Shayla and Abby (Dan's horse) with them. Aaron Jr. knew who Shayla was and kept calling her 'Daddy's horse'.
It was a really nice evening. The whole drive down there, I just kept wishing that I was sitting in the passenger seat with Aaron driving to go and meet them.
It was SO nice of them to invite us. I am so glad we went and it was nice to sit and talk about Aaron and also talk about their trips to go horseback riding up there.
Thank you Dan and Liz and Ashlynn. We had a great time.

This is a photo that Dan took of Aaron a couple of years ago on one of their trips to that canyon. Thanks Dan. I love this photo of Aaron and Shayla.

The fact that it has been ten months since Aaron passed away is a surreal feeling for me. I still miss Aaron as much as ever and my heart still aches with loneliness and sorrow wishing he were here with me. Each month that passes doesn't necessarily make me feel more healed... it is just time. The healing has come from the love and support of others and also from the healing power of the atonement of Jesus Christ. I still feel like I have a long way to go, but I am so grateful for the Savior and for the understanding He has of my own individual pain. He knows it, because He suffered it. 'Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows...' -Isaiah 53:4
'...the Redeemer was anointed to bind up the broken-hearted...' -Doctrine and Covenants 138:42
I am not alone in this. None of us are alone in anything that we suffer. No matter how excruciating the loneliness feels at times, I am not alone.

Always missing you, Aaron. I love you...

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Aaron the Younger

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I have to say, I have always figured that it would be difficult to be a single parent (or as Dr. Laura would say, A Widowed Mom) ... but I never imagined that I would ever find out from personal experience just how difficult it is. These photos don't show what it is like to be a single parent, but they are fun and are some of our experiences as of late...

I get this look a lot lately when Aaron Jr. is not getting his way. Still hard to resist. :)

Here are a few activities he has enjoyed lately.

Finger painting was, of course, very messy... but it was totally worth the mess. Aaron Jr. had a blast. I have seen moms on Supernanny who have a hard time letting their kids do anything that will get them dirty or messy and Supernanny is always trying to get them to let it go and let the kids have fun... you can always clean it up when they are done. Well, I have to admit, part of me was ready to put a stop to it a few times... I even started to put the lids on the paints when I figured there was enough mess. But when Aaron Jr. protested and wanted to keep painting, I just had to take the lids back off so that he could keep creating. It was worth it. I have some wonderful 'original paintings' of Aaron Jr's that I will treasure. The one thing that I could have done without was when he started painting his feet and then using his feet to paint the cupboards underneath where he was sitting. That is when we quit and I told him it was time for a bath. I wasn't thinking at all and he started walking towards the bathroom... on the carpet... with the paint still on his feet. What a blessing that it was washable paints. :) He had such a great time.

Aaron has been doing pretty well at staying in his own bed when I am finally able to get him tired enough to go to sleep. This particular night, out of the blue, he said he wanted Daddy. So, I found a little photo of our family and gave it to him to hold. He was SO excited. First, he put it next to himself on the pillow so it was right next to his face. Then, the next time I had to get him into bed, he held it close to himself and then he put it down his shirt and hugged it tight. It was so cute.
Once he was finally asleep, this is how I found him. The little photo is under his very uncomfortable looking right shoulder.

I have really been enjoying the veggies I have been able to bring home from the farmer's market that I work at every Thursday. Here is a butternut squash that Aaron Jr. is using as an instrument and a baby. Mmmm... squash.

Top left: the night before his haircut.
Top right: the next morning when I had to carry him out of bed to get his hair cut. NOT a happy camper.
Bottom left: Suzy cutting his hair.
Bottom right: Aaron Jr's adorable haircut.

Aaron cutting his fallen popsicle with stick.
Aaron slurping his fallen popsicle from ground.
Aaron feeling proud that he was still able to eat fallen popsicle.
Should I be worried about this?

Okay, now... it sure is nice when your child starts to become a LITTLE more independent, BUT Aaron Jr. has been scaring me more often. When I let Ode out to go to the bathroom, Aaron Jr. usually wants to go out with him. So, I will let him out and then when I got out a few seconds later, he keeps following Ode down the street. I think that he thinks as long as he is with Ode, he is okay to go wherever Ode goes. I have had to put a stop to Aaron Jr. going outside with Ode unless I am there by his side. He sure has gotten fast though... he runs when I try to get him back to our house.
Also, he has begun getting into the refrigerator and cupboards to get his own snacks. I have had to move all of the food to really high cupboards and the top left photo is what I have had to resort to with the refrigerator. I would be okay with him getting his own snacks, but I keep finding him eating things down on the couch. Yogurt, crackers, bread, corn on the cob (right photo). I have had to clean the couch and the carpet way too many times in the last couple of weeks for my liking. The corn on the cob... there were a few left over after dinner, so when I wasn't looking, he got the butter out and buttered them and ate them all like this sitting on the couch. Butter isn't a good thing to get on a couch.
Another reason it needs to be stopped is because he keeps getting into the refrigerator at other people's houses. Those just are not the greatest manners. :)
The bottom photo is of him washing dishes. He is obsessed with pulling the stool over to the sink and 'washing' dishes. What actually happens is that he usually washes the floor and himself a little more than the dishes.
ONE thing that melts my heart is that every time Aaron Jr does anything that disappoints me, all I have to do is show it on my face that I am disappointed, and he walks over, gives me a hug, and says 'Sorry Mom'. It melts me and it is so hard to put him in time out after that. But I still have to sometimes.

A Year Ago...

The two photos of Aaron with Aaron Jr. are so special. We were at the park in the bottom one and Aaron was SO proud of Aaron Jr. that he was hanging from the bar all by himself... so he called me over to take a photo.

Here is Aaron Jr. last year when I caught him putting on Daddy's shoes and Daddy's jacket. I do want Aaron Jr. to know his Daddy. He can't get to know his Dad from personal experience with him, but I am hoping he gets to know his Dad through these posts and also through the friends and family who know Aaron. I do hope Aaron Jr. grows up to 'walk in his Daddy's shoes' by having all of the greatest qualities of his Dad.

Aaron Jr. has hit a stage of life in the past couple of weeks that is unlike what I have seen in him before. I have never really liked the term 'terrible twos' when referring to kids that hit a certain stage in their cute little lives... but Aaron Jr. has definitely hit the 'rambuncious twos', the 'energetic twos', the 'independent twos', the 'emotionally and physically draining of his Mom twos', the 'mischeivious twos', the 'making messes twos', the 'wanting to do everything his own way twos'... I could go on and on...
BUT on the flip side, he is still in the 'bringing overwhelming joy to his Mom twos' stage.

As far as being a single parent... it is a task I never expected or desired to have to take on. It is a very lonely and overwhelming task. With Aaron Jr. becoming more and more active and independent, I have become more and more tired physically and especially tired mentally. The time of day when Aaron would have usually come home from work, it hits me especially hard because I just long to see him walk through the door and give me that boost of emotional support and give Aaron Jr. some much needed Daddy playtime. Definitely something I took for granted when I had it.
But no matter how difficult this is, I am SO grateful to be Aaron Jr's mom. I am blessed every day by his life.

'I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.' -Doctrine and Covenants 84:88

What a precious gift.


Missing Daddy... we love you Aaron...

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Missing the Adventure

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After Aaron and I got home from our honeymoon in 2002, we enjoyed spending so much time together. In that first month after we got married, we went on our honeymoon, then we had these adventures...

Aaron took me on my first mountain bike experience ever. He took me to Moab to ride on the practice loop of Slick Rock Trail. It was so much fun.

Anyone who knows Aaron will have a good laugh about this photo. Here we are in our 1993 Lexus ES300 on our way up Lions Back down in Moab. Truck or car, Aaron was going to test the power of any vehicle and have his adventure. We didn't make it any further, but Aaron HAD to take a photo. Aaron was always searching for a hill or a mound of dirt or something to drive over to test the power of his vehicles... even in the middle of town. :)

The top two photos are where we camped. It was so great.

At the end of our bike ride, we took a dip in a little river. Of course, Aaron found some critters to pick up and play with. Here he is with a little crawdad, or crayfish... whatever they are called.

Aaron lost his watch at the bottom of that waterfall when he went in there. He dove down in and found it. Miracle.

A few days later, Aaron's sister was in the hospital getting ready to have her first baby. This was going to be the first grandchild on their side of the family. So, we went up to the hospital to wait for the baby to be born. Aaron was SO excited. Here are Aaron and me with Sadie and Nick's baby, Grace.
One great story about this night:
I had always wanted to have kids right away when I got married. But Aaron had wanted to wait for a little bit just to get the hang of life after getting married and stuff. Well, Grace was born nearly 4 weeks after we got married. That night when we got home from the hospital, Aaron told me that he was ready to start trying. I was so excited. I was always grateful that we were there when Grace was born to get Aaron excited to start trying to have a baby. That started our few years of trying. That is another story...

Here are two more of Aaron's Ford trucks. He sold the one on the right when we first got married (it was his pride and joy). He sold the one on the left just a few months before he passed away. Part of me wishes he still had one of those. He had talked about restoring an old Ford truck with Aaron Jr. when he got older.
The other photos here are of Aaron and his friend Dan. They went for an afternoon ride one day after school. I think it was up Provo Canyon. Of course Aaron found some water to jump into... no matter how cold it might have been.

That next weekend, we went camping with a couple of Aaron's friends up at Mirror Lake. It was GORGEOUS. There was still snow on the ground, but it was amazing and fun.

Aaron and Leslie

Aaron and Leslie

Kaily, Rob, Austin, Leslie, Aaron

Aaron and Leslie

Did I mention that Aaron always loves to jump into ANY body of water that was around, no matter how cold it was? Yep, they jumped in... but not for long.

After everyone else left, Aaron and I went mountain biking around the lake. It was so beautiful and we had such a great time.

Leslie and Aaron
Aaron is packing all of our camping gear out on his bike to take to the car. What a man. :)

I love you, Aaron...

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Saturday, September 20, 2008

Friends... Old and New...

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Leslie, Kaylynn, Joshua, Kerianne, Rori

Tonight, I went out to dinner with some friends. There were supposed to be more of us, but things came up at the last minute for some and kids got sick for others... so we had a smaller group than we planned, but it was still fun to get together and chat. We missed all you girls who couldn't make it tonight.

I want to take a few minutes to talk about my great friends. I have been amazed throughout my life at the friendships I have made at all of the different times of my life.
There are the friends I met in all of my years in school, then there are the friends I met at work and just by chance meetings, the friends I met on my 18 month mission to England, the friends I met after my mission but before I got married, the friends I met because I married Aaron and I got to meet all of his friends and their wives, the friends that I met because they were neighbors of ours, there are the friends that I have made since Aaron passed away... some that I have met and some that I have not met, but wish I could. THEN, there are the family members that I call friends.

Ever since Aaron passed away, I have needed people around me so much more. My closest friends and family were there with me every step of the way as I felt so broken and scared about my life and about my future here without Aaron. The loneliness I have felt as I have tried to figure out what I am supposed to do without him has been overwhelming. All I wanted and needed when Aaron passed away was to have people around me CONSTANTLY. I couldn't be alone or else all of the emotions of it all started to close in around me and I felt like I couldn't breathe. I needed family or friends around constantly. The loneliness hasn't stopped, but I have come to a place where I don't need people around me constantly anymore. I am able to be alone more often and I am able to give more and more time to creating a greater bond with Aaron Jr. Like I said, I still feel more lonely than I have ever even imagined a person could feel, but I am able to be alone more often now without always feeling like I can't handle it. My friends and family have done so much to help me reach this point.

Here is a scripture that has been on my mind a lot lately. It has always been a favorite of mine. It says:

Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.
-Proverbs 27:17

Of course, the one who has sharpened my countenance more than anyone is the Saviour. He is a friend to us all and has done more for all of us than any of us can even imagine. I am so grateful for Him.

As I look back on my life, every person that I have ever considered a friend, old or new ... in one way or another... has helped to sharpen my countenance and has helped me to become the person that I am today. I am grateful for all of you in my life.

I love you, Aaron, my best friend...

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Friday, September 19, 2008


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My sister, Lisa, sent me this photo of the moon and this quote in an email this week. I LOVE this proverb. It is such a sweet thought to imagine.
I love this photo of the moon. My sister and I have always had a love for the moon. It is always something we have shared. When I was little, I used to look up at the moon when we were playing outside and I truly believed that there was, in fact, a man who lived in the moon who turned it on and off. When we were younger, Lisa and I even named the moon. We tried to come up with an old fashioned old man's name and we came up with the name 'Harvey'. So ever since, it has been 'Harvey the moon' to me. I can't tell you how many cards I have given to and received from Lisa with the moon on it and I can't tell you how many little gifts have been exchanged that had something to do with the moon.
When I had my very first camera ever, I always talked about when I would have a really nice camera and my only requirement for it being a REALLY nice camera would be one that was able to take a really awesome photo of the moon.
Anyhow, just some random memories and thoughts.
I love that Eskimo proverb. Thank you for sending it, Lisa. Even though it might not be a true statement, it is nice to believe that our loved ones ARE watching over us and that the times we can feel them around us is their way of telling us that they love us and that they ARE happy.
I hope you are happy, Aaron. I love you...
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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Universal Donor

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Five Great Reasons to Donate Blood:

1 * The pleasure of knowing you are helping to save lives is the most important reason.

2 * You get a free 'check-up' while they assess whether or not you are eligible to donate. They take your temperature, your pulse, your blood pressure, and they even check to see if your blood is low in iron. So... free check-up.

3 * About one pound of weight loss once you are done donating (but only if you forego the next great reason).

4 * You get to sit and eat yummy cookies and drink yummy juice afterwards.

5 * You get to sport one of these multi purpose wraps on your arm. (see below) Not only is it high fashion in color and sticky fabric, but it also acts as a pressurizer to stop the bleeding. It is also a great conversation starter.

I gave blood today. The American Red Cross has been calling me to come in and give blood, but I have been putting them off for a while. I actually love going and donating, but I have been a little preoccupied for a while. At church on Sunday, they passed around a sign up sheet for the blood drive this week, so I signed up. It was very convenient.
I have O negative blood, which is the universal blood type. That is why they call often because this blood type can be given to anyone. I love donating blood. I actually don't even mind watching them stick the needle in my arm. I find it fascinating.
I recommend to everyone to donate blood. It helps so many people in difficult situations. All you have to do it look at my Five Great Reasons to Donate Blood to be convinced.

American Red Cross

I love you, Aaron...

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Big Boy Bed

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When Aaron passed away, Aaron Jr. was still sleeping in a crib. Ever since Aaron passed away, Aaron Jr. has been sleeping in bed with me. At first, it was because we were both going through something so traumatic... but then it became a habit and it was so easy to just get him to sleep while he was laying in the same bed as me.

Well, today... Aaron Jr. and I transformed his bed from CRIB to TODDLER bed. Once it was finished, he was really excited to lay on it. It was exciting during the day anyway.
Tonight, I decided that I was going to put him to bed in his own bed. I tried to do his nightly routine in that room so that he was getting used to the idea a bit. I brushed his teeth in his room, we said the prayer while he knelt on his bed, I sang him some songs, then I kissed him goodnight and left the room. At first, he thought it was kind of a game... so he kept getting out of bed and chasing me and laughing. I was trying to do the 'Supernanny' going to bed technique. I tried for about 30 minutes, then he started realizing what it meant. He started trying to get up on our bed and he was crying and asking me to hold him. It was breaking my heart. Every time I picked him up to take him back to bed, he was clinging on so tight. Well, I figured that this first time, I could just hold him while he went to sleep to get him used to that room again. So, I picked him up and sat on the floor next to his bed. It was actually quite sweet sitting there holding him while he started to understand a bit more what this was all meaning. I had a CD playing of primary songs sung as lullabies. It was actually very comforting and peaceful. We finally layed down on the floor next to his bed. After about another hour of him tossing and turning on the uncomfortable floor, he finally pointed to his bed and said he wanted to lay down on it. So, I put him up on his bed, covered him up, and held his hand while he drifted to sleep. It only took about one minute for him to be sound asleep.

This evening was actually a really tough evening. Emotions started catching up with me and I just broke down. I am not going to go into what was on my mind, but I felt like life was closing in on me. It is still okay to have tough nights like this even though I am trying harder to find the JOYS in life, right? I hope so.
Then, this change in sleeping arrangements... it is going to help us start feeling a little bit more like 'normal' people. BUT, this is actually probably harder for me than it is for Aaron Jr. Tonight is the first night in a very long time that I have been alone in bed. I have felt very lonely even with Aaron Jr. on the other side of the bed, but now I will be truly alone.
I know this is going to be for the best, but this transition will be difficult like all of the others have been. This time, it is my choice though. That is the difference.

Lonely without you, Aaron. I love you...

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Aaron's Kawasaki KX500

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This is Aaron on his motorcycle. It is a Kawasaki KX500. He bought it soon before he left on his mission. He even talked about it in his mission journal. He talked about how he missed riding it. I had to laugh at that journal entry. This photo proves that Aaron was daring beyond belief. I never went with him when he rode in the sand dunes, but his friends and family tell stories of Aaron riding and it is why I was always so nervous when he went riding. He came home with scratches and bruises sometimes, but I knew that he knew what he was doing. I just hoped and prayed that he would come home okay each time. He talked about selling this motorcycle several times when we were tight on money, but he could never bring himself to sell it. He thought I would never agree to let him get another one in the future... plus, he LOVED this motorcycle. I always heard from his friends about how powerful this motorcycle is and that not just anyone can handle something like that. Aaron was a big, tough guy. Anyone who knew him knows why he was able to handle it.

This is the motorcycle last week. At the bottom are his motorcycle boots. I wanted to get his helmet in a photo, but it has been misplaced at the present time. I hope we can locate it soon. But he is wearing his helmet in that first photo, so there you have it.

This is me with Aaron Jr. He always enjoyed sitting on it.

And here is the reason for this posting. This is Sadie and Nick with Pearl and Aaron Jr. Sadie is Aaron's sister. Her husband Nick wanted to buy the motorcycle. So, here they are getting ready to load it into the truck. Nick is big and tough like Aaron. If anyone can handle the motorcycle like Aaron, then Nick can. Before they got there, I was out taking photos of the motorcycle. I was always wishing Aaron would sell it because it made me nervous when he went riding, but as I looked it over and had a moment, I broke down just knowing that Aaron would never be here to ride it again. In a way, I am okay with the not riding it part, but him not being here, that is the part that brings sorrow. I have to say, though, selling this was easier than selling the truck. Knowing this one was going to family, it isn't too far away and it isn't with strangers. Nick and Sadie know how much Aaron loved this bike and Sadie even has cherished memories of Aaron with it.

As they were taking it, Nick said, 'Don't worry, I'll take good care of it.' So, I told Nick that I would rather he take good care of himself while riding it. I hope he is careful.

Thank you Nick and Sadie. I appreciate you buying it from us. We hope you enjoy it. We love you guys.

This is the only time I ever rode on the motorcycle. Aaron took me around on these dirt roads. I was so nervous, but I knew he would take good care of me.

We love you, Aaron...

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Friday, September 12, 2008

Joy Amidst Sorrow

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"The challenges you face, the growth experiences you encounter, are intended to be temporary scenes played out on the stage of a life of continuing peace and happiness. Sadness, heartache, and disappointment are events in life. It is not intended that they be the substance of life. I do not minimize how hard some of these events can be. When the lesson you are to learn is very important, trials can extend over a long period of time, but they should not be allowed to become the confining focus of everything you do. Your life can and should be wondrously rewarding. It is your understanding and application of the laws of God that will give your life glorious purpose as you ascend and conquer the difficulties of life. That perspective keeps challenges confined to their proper place—stepping-stones to further growth and attainment."
-Richard G. Scott

I got this quote in an email this week from another widow. It hit me pretty hard because this has been on my mind for quite some time now. Not the quote, but the contents of the quote. I have been trying to put into words these feelings and then this quote came along and it described very beautifully how I feel.

These words apply to everyone no matter what challenges they are facing. This just happens to be the most challenging trial I hope to ever have to face. It is strange how because I am missing Aaron so much and it is still so painful, sometimes I feel like I need to outwardly show what I am feeling on the inside. The pain and heartache and loneliness are all things that are internal feelings, and because I am feeling those things, sometimes I desire to portray those feelings outwardly so that people know a little better what I am feeling inside. It is true what the quote says... 'these feelings shoudn't be the confining focus of everything I do'. How true is it that when we let our emotions control us, we truly are 'confined'. We are not free. We have to take control of these feelings and emotions to be free and to be able to overcome this aspect of the natural man.

I tell myself everyday that I can still be happy and have joy even though I am lonely, heartbroken and in pain. The reason I have to tell myself everyday is because I haven't perfected this advice to myself yet. When I read this quote, it hit me so hard because he put into words the perfect advice that I have needed to hear.

Yes, I am in pain. Yes, I am lonely. Yes, I am heartbroken. Yes, I miss Aaron with everything that I am. BUT, in the eternal scheme of things, THIS trial IS a 'temporary scene' being played out in my life. Just because I feel those things doesn't mean I need to let those feelings define who I am going to be for the rest of this life. Who knows how long I will feel those feelings so strongly... it could be a very long time, but this experience is an 'event in life' and shouldn't be the 'substance of my life'.

Whenever I experience difficult times in my life, a story that I heard a long time ago re-enters my mind. It goes like this:

Some time ago, a few ladies met ... to read the scriptures, and make them the subject of conversation. While reading the third chapter of Malachi they came upon a remarkable expression in the third verse. "And He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver."
One lady ... proposed to visit a silversmith and report to them what he said on the subject. She went accordingly and without telling the object of her errand, begged to know the process of refining silver, which he fully described to her.
"But Sir," she said, "do you sit while the work of refining is going on?"
"Oh, yes madam," replied the silversmith; "I must sit with my eye steadily fixed on the furnace, for if the time necessary for refining be exceeded in the slightest degree, the silver will be injured."
The lady at once saw the beauty, and comfort too, of the expression, "He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver." God sees it needful to put His children into a furnace; His eye is steadily intent on the work of purifying, and His wisdom and love are both engaged in the best manner for them. Their trials do not come at random; "the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
As the lady was leaving the shop, the silversmith called her back, and said he had still further to mention, that he only knows when the process of purifying was complete, by seeing his own image reflected in the silver.

I have always loved this story. It really helps when I am in my darkest hours to know that God is aware of what we are going through. He is aware of how much we are able to endure. He is aware of what we need in order to be 'refined' into what He knows we can become... what we NEED to endure in order to become like Him... in order to see His image in our countenances.

We are being molded by our experiences. It is our choice whether or not we choose to be molded into something beautiful and pure, or into something that is bitter and ugly. This is decided based on our experiences and how we choose to react to them. I actually have thought many times that I don't WANT to be happy without Aaron here with me. It is like I am making a conscious choice to stay right here, not progressing, choosing to be unhappy just because life hasn't gone the way I think it should. But, sometimes it is as though I can feel Aaron pushing against my back and urging me to take a step forward and be okay finding the joy in life.

My sister, Lisa, did a post on her blog this week about 'Carpe Diem: seize the day, pluck the day when it is ripe'. (well worth the read if you have time). Her post inspired me along with this quote I got in the email. There is so much we are here to learn about. It would be a shame to let experiences slip by without taking all the knowledge and seeking all the joy that we can out of them or 'plucking the day when it is ripe'.

It is MY choice to be happy. It is MY choice to seek out the JOY in life and accept that there IS indeed good along with the bad. There IS joy right along with the sorrow... and it IS okay to acknowledge those joys even in tumultuous times. It is MY choice to be grateful that Aaron is and always will be a part of me. That is joyous.

I think the reason it has been difficult for me to show that I do have joy in my life is because I don't want to portray to people that I am 'over this'. I don't want to give people the impression that I am okay now and that I am all better. But, this quote reminded me that no matter how difficult and painful the trial, we are expected to not only endure it, but to endure it well.

I choose to have joy amidst the sorrow.

I found a slice of joy this evening when I was going through an old cell phone and reading text messages from Aaron. There was one dated 09/20/07, just two months before he passed away. It reads:
'I know you do not hear it enough. I love you'

This brought joy to my heart and I felt gratitude to my Father in Heaven for this tender mercy. Tonight was a very difficult night and I needed to 'hear' something like that.

Please never take for granted the opportunities you have to tell your spouse that you love them. After they are gone, you will regret EVERY missed opportunity to say it out loud. Showing them that you love them is great, but they need to hear it. You will regret it if you don't, but you will not regret it if you do.

I love you, Menino. Oh, how I miss you...

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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Aaron, the Carpenter

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I think I have mentioned Aaron's woodwork before, but I have not let on to the full extent of what Aaron was capable of when it came to building things.

Aaron's Mom had her fall open house at her store tonight. I remember going to it last year with Aaron and Aaron Jr. We showed up around the time it started to deliver some furniture to the store. That is where he sold his furniture. He was blessed with such an amazing talent, I wanted to share some photos of just a few of the pieces he made. This doesn't even make a dent in the number of pieces of furniture he ever built.

Aaron built so many pieces of furniture, but there are a few pieces that stick out in my mind as some of my favorites. The red hutch on the left is one of them.

Everything in this photo is stuff he made.

I was always so excited to have a daughter so that Aaron could build her a bed like this.

Another one of my favorite pieces, the black hutch on the right.

More favorites.

These are both on my favorites list. The red piece on the left was always one that I wanted so badly. Everytime Aaron and I would deliver furniture to the store, I would always check to see if it was still there. When it sold, I was so sad. I always planned to have him make me one when we could afford to have him make us one. I hope whoever bought it realizes what a treasure they have. In fact, anyone who ever bought one of Aaron's pieces of furniture now has a treasure. They are all treasures to me.

I don't have a photo of it, but the month that Aaron passed away, he and I delivered a long sofa table to his Mom and Dad's house. She was going to keep that one. As we carried it in, I remember thinking that it was my favorite sofa table that he had ever made. He had another one just like it in the works in his shop. It is still sitting in his shop... unfinished... in the same spot that he had it.

The month that Aaron Jr. was born, Aaron made two coffee tables. He brought them both in the house and he wanted us to use them for a little while and then I was supposed to decide which one I liked better and we would keep that one and sell the other one. This square one above is the one that we decided to sell, so you can imagine how amazing the other one was. It is in our living room. It is a round coffee table that is one of the most amazing pieces in my opinion. It looks plain enough, but Aaron put so much work into it. He rounded the wood and everything. I love it.

Both favorites. The green piece on the left is one of the few pieces that I helped with. Aaron was in a bind one night and had several large pieces that needed to be done that night. So, I went out and offered my assistance. Aaron usually didn't take me up on my offer, but this time, he did. So, the black part of the hutch, I painted that. It is a very small portion of the piece, but everytime I saw that piece from then on, I always felt a little more of a connection to it because I helped with it.

I wish I had a photo of Aaron with more of his pieces of furniture, but I don't. Believe it or not, even though I am obsessed with taking photos, THIS is the ONLY photo I ever took of Aaron with one of his pieces of furniture. The reason for it is because he and I always planned to make a catalog of all of his pieces, so of course we needed the furniture to be alone in the photo. This time, I happened to just insist on taking a photo of him with this piece when we delivered it. We took photos of pretty much EVERYTHING he ever built.

These photos only show the tiniest portion of furniture that Aaron built. His friend, Rob, used to help him with the business until he and his family left for dental school. In his career building furniture, Aaron built hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of pieces. They were all amazing. He always took such great care to make sure everything was perfect before delivering any piece of furniture.

I always loved delivering the furniture with him. Once his friend moved away, it was me that helped Aaron load the furniture into the truck and then helped him unload it. There were times when I would look at a piece of furniture and think in my mind, 'there is NO way I am going to be able to carry that.' I usually wouldn't say it out loud. I always wanted to prove that I could do whatever he needed me to do. Sometimes, my hand would feel like it was about to fall off and I didn't think I could go one more step, but I would push through it so that Aaron didn't have to do it alone. I LOVED helping him with it, it meant we got to spend more time together when I could help him get things done.

Aaron worked exhausting hours when he worked on furniture. He would set a deadline for himself and if he wasn't done, he would stay up ALL night long to get it done. I usually tried to stay up waiting for him. I know he got tired of my phone calls to his cell phone out in the shop when I would ask AGAIN when he might be coming in. He always tried to get me to go to sleep, but it was so hard going to sleep when I was so worried about him getting injured on any of the power tools. I couldn't sleep restfully until he was beside me.

This is one reason it is so hard for me to go to bed at a decent hour now. I would wait up for him no matter what. I couldn't rest peacefully unless he was next to me, so I would wait up so that I could sleep better knowing he was safe and getting some rest. Now that he is gone, it is just so hard going to sleep until I am completely exhausted. Even now, 9 months later... the hours that I go to bed are shocking, even to me. It isn't on purpose though...

Building furniture was a talent of Aaron's, but it was also his career for most of our marriage. It was hard for him at times. He worked alone and it was hard on his body. I can't express in words how grateful I am to him for all that he did for our family. Many days, I would deliver his lunch out to the shop because he wanted to just keep working. Lucky for us, he usually took the time to come in for dinner. There were even many nights when I would take Aaron Jr. out to the shop to kiss Daddy good night because Aaron would still be working in the shop. Aaron Jr. loved going out to Daddy's shop and still loves going out there with me. He remembers his Daddy being there.

Here is a memory that is so precious to me.
The kitchen window where I do dishes is straight across from the windows of the shop. At night, when Aaron would be out working, the lights in the shop would be on and I would be able to watch him work from the kitchen window. I can't even express to you how much I enjoyed being able to watch him without him knowing. He never knew. We never made eye contact when I would watch him, he would be concentrating so hard on what he was doing. I loved watching him. Now, when I am in the kitchen and I look out that window, I feel an emptiness. He is not there. I would give anything to look out that window and see him in his shop.

Aaron's wood shop is still pretty much how he left it. There is a special order hutch that he was working on even the day before he passed away. The first time I went into the shop after he died, it was the most difficult place for me to be. I couldn't hold back the emotions. I took one look at that unfinished hutch and I just lost it. It is still sitting there, unfinished, in the same spot. There are several unfinished pieces of furniture in the shop still. The shop is now the place I go to in order to feel the closest to Aaron. Besides the house, it is the place where he spent most of his time when he was here. I love going out and just looking around and sitting in his chair out there. There is so much of Aaron there, I can't go in the shop without a flood of tears. I feel him there... every time.

With all of my heart... I love you, Aaron...

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Some of you have asked where his Mom's store is. It is called Secret Haven and it is in Fruit Heights, UT. There are still some pieces in her store, but they are no longer for sale. Now that Aaron is gone, we are holding on to everything that is left with everything we've got. It is a great store though. SO many memories of delivering furniture with Aaron there.