Thursday, May 29, 2008

Six Months...

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Six Months? The only words that come to mind when I think about it being six months since Aaron passed away are:
Not only doesn't it feel like it has been six months, HALF A YEAR, but it also still doesn't even feel like it is real yet. I was talking to my friend Liz today about that and we were talking about when it is supposed to start feeling real. It still doesn't feel real to her either. When I think about it seriously, I know that it is real, but why doesn't it FEEL real? I just don't understand it.
I have come across a few things this week that have made this week feel happier. I have found some cards and letters that I wrote to Aaron that he kept. I was so grateful that I found them and even more grateful that he had kept them. I also found a journal that he and I started writing in right after we got married. There are only a few entries in it from each of us, but the words written in there are treasures. It brought back the memories of how we were and how we felt when we first got married. I loved reading Aaron's words again and I just cried and cried out of happiness, but then when I read the last entry and turned the page and saw no more entries, it was heartbreaking. I needed more.
Anyhow, these six months have been the most difficult months that I can ever imagine going through. When people ask if things are getting easier, I always tell them that some things are getting easier, but a lot of things are getting harder. I won't go into it right now about which things are which, but overall, I would say that some things are A LOT harder than when it first happened.
I miss Aaron so much. Selfishly, I want him back... but knowing where he is and that he would be so happy there, I know that the cares and pains of this world are no longer an issue for him. I know he is around us, but I miss him so much. WE miss him so much.

I love you Aaron, with everything that I am...

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Monday, May 26, 2008

Memory Day

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Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal.
~From a headstone in Ireland

Aaron Sverre Harkness - 30 years old

Bruce Daniel Higginson - 16 years old

My brother, Bruce, is actually buried in Missouri. This is where we lived back when he passed away. When Aaron and I were dating, Aaron came on a trip with my family to go back and visit some of the church history sites and go to the Nauvoo Temple open house. We stopped at Bruce's grave and this photo of Aaron and me was taken there. (side note: this was also the day we 'officially' got engaged with a ring. I'll tell that story sometime)

This was our first Memorial Day spent together. Here we were taking a break after playing croquet with some of my family. We weren't 'officially' engaged yet, but we were secretly engaged. We even had our date reserved at the temple by this time.

This was our last Memorial Day spent together. We went hiking with some of my family up to Donut Falls. In this photo, while everyone else is hiking up to see the falls, Aaron is standing there on the right contemplating if that is the way he wants to go...

... then he headed up the other direction... the more dangerous direction... and John (my sister Lisa's husband) followed right behind him. We were both very nervous watching from down below. But this is SO like Aaron... he always tried to go his own way. I guess you would call him very adventurous. Thank heavens they both made it to the falls okay.

Here are most of the other people around the falls. Aaron and John are at the top...

... here is a closer shot of them. I didn't see it happen, but all of a sudden, I was told that Aaron jumped into the freezing cold water fully clothed. This is another thing Aaron always seemed to do... jump into any body of water whether he had a swimsuit or not.

This is Aaron coming down afterwards... soaking wet.

Here we are... our family.

Aaron and Aaron Jr. on the hike back to the cars.

Later in the day, Dave and April called to see if we wanted to go to the Jazz playoffs game that night. So, we hurried over to their place and we all drove into Salt Lake to go to the game. I had no idea it would be our last Memorial Day together, but if it HAD to be, it was a really great day. Between the hike and the Jazz game, we managed to squeeze in a bar-b-que with my family and also Aaron went horseback riding with my brother-in-law, John. It was a full day and it has a lot of great memories. I am grateful that we were able to do so much so that we have such fond things to look back on.

Now... on to today. We woke up to pouring rain. We went to the cemetery to visit Aaron's grave with my parents. Thanks Dad and Mom for going with us. And thanks to anyone else who was able to make it out there.

Aaron Jr.

Leslie and Aaron Jr.

It was rainy and very wet, but the sun did manage to peek out a few times through the rain while we were there. Later in the day, we were able to go to a bar-b-que with my family and it stopped raining. It was a nice day... considering.

I was quite disappointed when we woke up to rain today, but as I thought more and more about it as the day went on, I figured that it suited the day pretty well. I figured that as long as there were going to be so many of us weeping for our lost loved ones here on earth today, why not have the heavens weeping right along with us?

I am so grateful for our memories of Aaron and Bruce.

Peace to each manly soul that sleepeth; Rest to each faithful eye that weepeth... ~Thomas Moore

We love you Aaron and Bruce...

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Mother's Day...

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Sweater, n.: garment worn by child when its mother is feeling chilly.
~Ambrose Bierce

I looked and looked for a quote that I thought was perfect to describe a mother... I couldn't pass this one by without using it. It is so true that when I am chilly... Aaron Jr gets a jacket or my jacket. This is true in more areas than just being cold. I remember growing up if any of us kids wanted more food at the dinner table, if it was all gone, my mom would give them some off of her own plate. I have found my self doing that same thing now. I think that mothers are just like that... always thinking of the comfort and welfare of their children.

Me & Aaron Jr... the joy of my life

My Mom & Aaron Jr.

Aaron's Mom & Aaron Jr.

I wanted to tell my Mother and my Mother in law how much I love them both. Happy Mother's Day.

Aaron Jr... the sweet little boy who is here to allow me to celebrate Mother's Day AS a mother. What a privilege it is to be raising him and what an honor it is to be his mother. I am eternally grateful for him.

I LOVE this hair.

Me, Aaron Jr, & Aaron... without Aaron, there would be no Aaron Jr. Thank heavens there is or else where would I be now?
This is a photo from my very first Mother's Day EVER. Well, the first one that I got to actually celebrate AS a mother. We were visiting my brother Spencer and his family in Oregon, so we got to celebrate Mother's Day with them. It was a fun day.

Being a wife and a mother was all I ever wanted to be. When I got married, that part of my dream came true... but then we had a difficult time with the other part of my dream. After what seemed to us like an eternity of disappointment and discouragement, we decided to try artificial insemination. On April 6, 2005, the test was positive and we were blessed to find out we were having a baby. My dreams had all come true. I was a wife AND I was going to be a mother. We didn't even come close to having to wait as long as some couples have to wait, but when you want to be parents... any length of time seems so long. Aaron Jr is our little miracle.
My three happiest days: the day I became Aaron's wife; the day I found out I was to become a mother; and the day I actually became a mother.

I am grateful to my Father in Heaven for blessing me in my life. I am so grateful to be the mother of Aaron Jr. He brings smiles and laughter to my life. He brings tears to my eyes as he reminds me so much of his daddy, but the reminders also bring joy to my heart. Aaron Jr is the happiest child I know and I don't think that is an accident. I believe his cheerfulness is meant to help those around him throughout his life... mainly me... his mother. I love you Aaron Jr.

Aaron, you were missed on Mother's Day... we love you...

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Friday, May 9, 2008

Today was difficult...

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Tonight, I was supposed to host a gathering at our house with Aaron's closest friends. It was a gathering I was having to celebrate his birthday... late. Since I wasn't able to have a surprise party for him this year, I thought it would be nice to get the friends who usually came to his surprise parties and gather at our house. I was planning for it to mostly be telling stories and memories of Aaron. I had anxiety about it, but was looking forward to it anyway.
Well, today wasn't a good day. It didn't have anything to do with the anxiety about the gathering, it just wasn't a good day... so I called it off. I hope Aaron's friends all understand. If the day hadn't been so crappy, I would not have had any problem continuing on with the plans.
But, today, I wept for more consecutive hours than I have for a long time. My eyes are sore, I have a headache, I am drained of energy...

Last week, I was talking to my mother in law about a class she had attended. They had talked about 'mourning'. They talked about the story in the New Testament when Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. They talked about when Jesus felt the mourning and the grieving of the family of Lazarus, He grieved with them. These are the verses (John 11:32-35):

"Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.
When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled,
And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see.
Jesus wept."

'Jesus wept'. It is so comforting to know that He mourns with us, He grieves with us, He weeps with us. He is able to truly go through it WITH us because He has suffered it all for us already. I hope someday to have enough faith to truly cast my burden upon the Lord... I am trying.

The days that bring this much sorrow are so painful. I will let days go by where I push the whole idea out of my head that Aaron is even gone, but then something will happen and it will set off a day like this. I have never even imagined that a person can experience as much pain as I have been feeling. It amazes me that emotional pain can be felt physically. There are times... even today... when I feel like I cannot survive even one more moment, and yet that moment passes... and then another... and then another. And then all of a sudden the day is gone. The days are long and the moments are painful. If it is possible to die of a broken heart, then I am shocked that I am still here. But for Aaron Jr's sake, I am glad I am still here. He brings the light and joy in each day.

I don't know why I have been asked to endure these trials. I might never know in this life... but what I do know is that we will not be asked to endure any trial that is more difficult than what our Father in Heaven knows we can endure. I guess He knows more about my strength than I do. I am grateful to our Savior for His atoning sacrifice. He knows firsthand what pain and sorrow we all experience... He will walk with us every step of the way if we let Him. I am sure He wept as I wept.

Anyhow, obviously today was hard. With Mother's Day coming up, I am hoping to feel Aaron close and have a beautiful day with Aaron Jr.

I love you Aaron ... as always...

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Sunday, May 4, 2008

Hawaii... then and now...

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Aaron and Leslie - Kauai, Hawaii - May 2003
Aaron and I were always competitive. Here, he has an unripe coconut held tightly in his hand and I was supposed to get the best grip I could on it and then when we were both ready, I was supposed to try to pry it out of his hand. I don't think I ever got it out, but I always like to try.

Aaron bought me this CD when we were in Hawai. It had this song on it that is playing on my blog.

Leslie, Aaron, April, Sue, Steve - at church on Sunday

Aaron and Leslie

Aaron being adventurous and then Aaron and Leslie

Leslie and Aaron and then Aaron ready to go scuba diving.

Two and a half weeks ago on a Wednesday afternoon, I got a phonecall from my friend Laura. Laura and I used to work together for a photographer. She has since then moved back east and my life, of course, has taken a drastic turn. Anyhow, she called two and a half weeks ago to let me know that her work was sending her to Hawaii on business and that if I could figure out a way to get to Hawaii, I would have a free place to stay. So, I kind of doubted that I would be able to afford to fly Aaron Jr and me over there, but I thought I would try to see if my brother in law had any buddy passes available that would make it at least a little cheaper. So, I asked... and he had some. So then I had to make up my mind whether or not I truly felt like I could handle it mentally. The last time I was in Hawaii was with Aaron and a few of his family members. She was leaving on Saturday, so I didn't have much time to make up my mind. I think that is what got me there. If I had had more time to consider it, I don't know if I would have made the decision to go. I am glad I went though. Aaron Jr. had a BLAST!
Here are some photos from the trip. I took SO many photos, I had the most difficult time deciding which ones to put in my blog, so here is the narrowed down selection. I started with about 570 photos from the trip. :) Aaron Jr was just TOO much fun to take photos of. What can I say?

and NOW...

Aaron Jr and Leslie - Oahu, Hawaii - April 2008

Aaron Jr was timid at first, not wanting to go near the water, but within about 30 minutes, he was running in and out of the waves like nobody's business. I had more fun watching him in the water than I have had in a long time. This is Waikiki Beach.

Aaron Jr and Leslie on the North Shore.

Aaron Jr running from a wave... and Aaron Jr and Laura
The waves were a lot bigger here than they were the day before on the other beach, but Aaron Jr still was brave and had a blast. We had to be more hands on since these waves could have taken him right out to sea... but it was so much fun playing with him in the water.

Aaron Jr and Leslie

Leslie and Aaron Jr.
As you can see, I was being taken down in the bottom right photo. They were powerful.

Aaron Jr spent most of his time throwing sand or throwing rocks. Here he is in stages. Left photo holding handfuls of sand, middle photo throwing sand, right photo walking back with sandy hands and loving every minute of it.

Aaron Jr at the Hawaii Temple. It is SO beautiful there.

These are four different scenery shots I loved.

As we were walking back from dinner, we ran in to none other than ELMO. Who else would we expect to see on the streets of Waikiki? You can't tell from the photo, but after we left there, Aaron Jr just wanted to go back and see Elmo.

Top photo: the view from the first hotel we stayed at.
Bottom photo: the view from the second hotel we stayed at.
Both beautiful places.

Aaron Jr enjoying our third beach experience. This beach, he was able to lay in the water without waves crashing into him. He was able to walk out pretty far before the water was even to his waist. He LOVED this day. This was the first day that Laura had to be in meetings, so it was just Aaron Jr and me most of the day. It was a really great bonding time. Since Aaron passed away, Aaron Jr hasn't had a lot of one on one time with me. I loved spending this time with him, and then when Laura was done for the day, she would come and meet us each day.

That same beach, we started feeding some birds. Aaron Jr was LOVING it. They came and ate right out of our hands. Every time the birds got close, Aaron Jr would start giggling and they would get scared away again, but they finally showed trust and came for the... Teddy Grahams. Does anyone know if those would be bad for birds? Hope not.

I just loved this shot of Aaron Jr.

Leslie and Aaron Jr.

Aaron Jr playing in the sand, Aaron Jr kissing the birds goodbye, Aaron Jr with his baseball cap on and his hair flipping up underneath, Aaron Jr eating a slushie... Mmmmmm...

Here is another sequence of Aaron Jr. First, finding the perfect rock, second, getting ready for his throw, third, throwing the rock. If you look close, you can see the rock BARELY leaving his hand in the third one. He is amazing.

Too cute.

We were feeding the birds again. This time, they weren't as scared... until...

Aaron Jr started chasing them all.

Aaron Jr enjoying himself... then Aaron Jr looking GQ.

What a kid!

A nice lady on the beach gave us this little tube... here is the fun we had with that this last day...

Woo Hoo!

Mom and Son... he must have said something REALLY funny.

Again... love the background.

Leslie, Aaron Jr, Laura

Laura and Leslie - thanks again Laura. It was great to see you.

Aaron Jr and I rode along to the airport with Laura even though we had about 6 hours to wait after she flew out. We shared a taxi. Anyhow, it was a VERY long wait, but Aaron Jr and I found things to do to fill some of our time. Here he is in his stroller laughing at something while I took his photo. :)

It was definitely overwhelmingly difficult a lot of the time to be there in Hawaii. Everything was reminding me of the time Aaron and I were there together. The memories were flooding into my mind as quickly as they could. I am glad I have memories to be reminded of. They do bring some sorrow, but they also bring joy as I think back on when we made those memories. I had anxiety a lot of times, but overall, I am glad I went. It was SO kind of Laura to think of us when she was going. THANK YOU LAURA. WE LOVE YOU. It was good to get away... and especially have some one on one time with Aaron Jr. It was hard watching him play a lot of the time because I could imagine Aaron out there playing with him in those waves... and exploring the water and the beach. Aaron LOVED the ocean. He always had a snorkel with him whenever he was near water so that he could see what neat things and neat creatures were under the water. Aaron would have loved showing Aaron Jr all of the things there are to explore. I feel like he was there with us though. How could he have missed out on Aaron Jr having that much fun in the ocean? He couldn't have.

Here is one last photo of Aaron and me 5 years ago in Hawaii together. I love this one...

We miss you, Aaron... we love you...

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