Sunday, June 29, 2008

Seven Months...

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To be honest... I am not quite sure what I am feeling tonight. I have so many mixed and jumbled emotions lately, I don't have any idea how to put my thoughts into words tonight.
So, I guess if anyone wants to know how I am doing and I had to answer right now, I would refer them to months ONE through SIX and call it good for tonight. Everything I am feeling is a combination of what I have already written, especially this
posting back in January. Some nights I literally cannot stop weeping, so I end up sobbing until I am too exhausted to continue.
I try my hardest to hide it most of the time, but I am still broken inside. Life is so uncomfortable. There are so many things that keep coming up and coming at me that bring more and more pain on top of what I already feel. Things that I wouldn't have to be dealing with if Aaron were still here. And things that he would comfort me through if he were here. I just don't know how much more I can survive. Thank heavens for Aaron Jr. who, when I look at him, I am reminded that I have to survive it.

Time = healing ? ? ?

Not yet.

I miss you more than ever, my Menino... I love you.

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Saturday, June 21, 2008

June 20, 2002

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Here is another entry that I am making mostly for myself and Aaron Jr. I am not sure if this is written down anywhere, so I wanted to make sure it is written so that Aaron Jr has it.

June 20, 2002
was one of the happiest days of my life. I was on a family vacation with my family on our way to Nauvoo to go through the temple open house there.

When Aaron and I were dating, we were driving somewhere together and we were talking about my upcoming family vacation with my family. I would be gone a week. In the car as we drove, he asked me how he was expected to be apart from me for a whole week and mentioned something about going with me. I invited him right then and there and he accepted. I LOVED that he was worried about being away from me for a week, because the truth of it is... I would have had a VERY difficult time being away from him for a week as well. I had been to Nauvoo several times, but Aaron had never been there and was very excited to go and see such a wonderful part of church history. We would be caravanning with several of my siblings and their families and also with my parents.

Included in this trip we would be going through Yellowstone National Park, to Mount Rushmore, a family reunion for my dad's side of the family, and also to other church history sites in Missouri.

Here are a few photos from our trip...

Aaron and Leslie in Yellowstone National Park - 2002

Yellowstone National Park - 2002

Top right photo is at Mount Rushmore. The other are from random other places. We also went to Hannibal, Missouri where Mark Twain is from.

Of course in the photo on the right, we HAD to stop the car to get out and take a photo with the street sign that said 'FORD'.

This is the Nauvoo, Illinois temple on the left and on the right is the Winter Quarters, Iowa Temple.

Top right photo is at the Carthage Jail where Joseph Smith was martyred. Bottom right photo is in the Liberty Jail where Joseph Smith and several other church members were kept for months. The left two photos are at Adam-ondi-Ahman in Missouri. The four boys in the photo at the top are four of my nephews. My nieces and nephews fell in love with Aaron on this trip. They adored him and he adored them.

The field we are standing in front of is called the Hidden Valley. It is in Adam-ondi-Ahman. My dad took us there to show us this area. When we got there, he told us how someday there will be a large gathering there. The reason it is such a perfect spot is because this valley has little ridges on every side surrounding it. It makes it so the acoustics are amazing. You can stand on one side of it and be talking in a pretty normal voice and a person standing on the other side can hear what you are saying. We were all wanting to test it out, so we all got out of the cars and went over to test it out. Aaron took a little longer to get out of the car... and at that moment I didn't know why, but I soon found out.

Everyone split up and went to opposite sides and we all tested it out. It worked. It was pretty amazing that we could hear each other talking when we were only speaking in normal voices. If I had to guess right now, I would say that it is at least 100 yards wide. So that shows how amazing the acoustics would be.

Anyhow, everyone was getting ready to leave, but before we did, Aaron asked me to go across again and he wanted to test it out again just the two of us. So he went to the opposite side. (If you look at the photo, Aaron would have been standing on the far left of the photo. You actually can't see exactly where he was standing because the camera wouldn't take that wide of a photo. I was standing on the far right side in the photo.)

Once we were at the edge, I was standing there watching Aaron and all of a sudden, he got down on one knee across the way. I realized what he might be doing and I was shocked. He said, 'Leslie, do you love me?' I said, 'Yes.' Then he asked, 'Do you know I love you?' I said, 'Yes.' Then he said, 'Will you marry me?' I said, 'Yes.' Then he said, 'Well, then come and get your ring.' I said something like, 'Whatever, you don't have it.' He said, 'Yes I do. Come and get it.'

(Side note: We had picked out a ring together. I actually showed him one that I loved from a magazine. I have never wanted a diamond, but he had a really hard time accepting that he might not be able to buy one for me. Once he accepted it, he liked the ring that I liked. When we left on the trip, he told me how long he still would have to wait until the ring would be ready, so I didn't even consider that this would happen on this vacation.)

Anyhow, we started walking towards each other to the middle of the valley and he showed me the ring. It was the one. I couldn't believe it. My family was standing at the edge of the valley in awe and excitement that they were getting to witness this. I was so excited and happy. We hugged and kissed and Aaron put the ring on my finger. He had wrapped it up in a Starburst wrapper to hide it from me throughout the trip. He said he had been waiting for just the right time and then when my dad told us about how the acoustics worked in that valley, he knew he wanted to do it right then and there. That is why he took a little longer getting out of the car. Now, we weren't just secretly engaged... it was official and I could wear something proudly that showed I was spoken for. It was such a happy and joyful feeling.

We took this photo on the edge of the valley. I have always thought it was so funny that I was proposed to from 100 yards away and then had to walk 50 yards to be able to get the ring, and then hug and kiss. I love that Aaron chose that time for it. It is a very unique story and one that will always be remembered.

This photo is of the ring and also of Aaron's knee. He has dirt on it because of kneeling in the dirt. I love that even though he wasn't right next to me holding my hand to ask me... he still knelt down. I love that memory.

This photo was taken that night at dinner.

This was the last photo taken of us on this trip. It was so great having Aaron be there to see so many neat things. Also, if Aaron hadn't been there, our story would have been entirely different. But because Aaron was there, this trip ended up including one of the most beautiful days of my life... June 20, 2002.

I will walk with you through eternity, Aaron... I love you.

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Family and Friends Blogs

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Our Friends
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Amanda Sue

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Fathers Day

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A man's desire for a son is usually ... the wish to duplicate himself in order that such a remarkable pattern may not be lost to the world. - Helen Rowland

First photo taken of father and son. Happiest day of our lives.
Thanks to Sue or April for taking this photo. It is a treasure.

I love the quote at the beginning... it could be taken as though the man is prideful thinking that since he is so wonderful, he has to have a son to be JUST like him. Because I am the one who chose that quote... I chose to be the one saying that he is a remarkable pattern... so I chose to read it as how grateful I am that we had a son so that the wonderful qualities of Aaron can be carried on so that Aaron's memory and legacy are never lost.

I expected Fathers Day to be a tough day, but I didn't expect it to be as tough as it was. I have been on the verge of tears all day long. I have gone through photos again and again today and can't stop crying when I think back on the memory that goes along with each photo. I just doesn't seem fair that we only got to spend two Fathers Days together after Aaron Jr joined us in this world. I have been going through photos this week trying to find ones to post for Fathers Day and I have been amazed at how many things we were able to do together as a family in the two short years that Aaron Jr was here with us before his Daddy passed away. Because I was the one BEHIND the camera for most of the photos we have have (which I am more grateful for now)... I pulled out loads of photos of Aaron and Aaron Jr. I pulled out some because they are just so precious and I pulled out others because I loved seeing so many things that Aaron Jr got to do with his Daddy even though he won't remember. He will have these photos to show him though, and to cherish. Here are some photos that show the things that Aaron was able to teach to Aaron Jr in those short two years.

a love for creatures great and small...

a love for adventure and physical activity...

how to 'rock' climb...

how to tree climb...

how to kick a ball...

how to catch a ball...

how to catch a fish...

how to show off his catch...

how to ride a horse...

how to mow a lawn (while playing football)...

a love for any body of water... great or small...

his handy man and mechanical skills...

how to drive a car...

how to drive a truck...

personal hygiene...

a love for camping...

how to plant and nurture a garden...

how to reap what you sow... and then cut faces into them...

how to cut and stand a Christmas tree...

hairstyling tips...

his love for Lake Powell...

how to find a good skipping rock... in matching swimsuits...

how to relax...

how to nap...

a love for the outdoors...

how to 'hang in there'... :) (Aaron called ME over to take this photo... it was rare that he had to call me over to take a photo. It shows how proud he was of what Aaron Jr had just learned to do.)

how to trust...

one of the most important things that Aaron will continue to learn about his Daddy is his testimony of the gospel...

the other most important thing that he will learn is how much his Daddy loved him and continues to love him...

This is one of my favorite photos I ever took of Aaron and Aaron Jr. Just an evening at home sitting on the couch and watching TV as a family... I loved the way Aaron Jr was looking at his Daddy, so I grabbed the camera. The love and adoration in the looks on their faces... it is a treasure. He looks so safe in Aaron's big, strong hands... and the love he felt at that moment would have also made him feel so safe. These photos will help Aaron Jr to have a visual knowledge of how much his Daddy loved him.

"It doesn't matter who my father was; it matters who I remember he was." - Anne Sexton

This quote will be true for Aaron Jr. He won't get to watch his father and learn from his living example... he will have to learn who his Daddy was and remember him from the stories and experiences of his life told to him from the memories of others.

Dad, your guiding hand on my shoulder will remain with me forever. ~Author Unknown

First Fathers Day that Aaron Jr was here for. We met our friends Rob and Kaily and their family in Lake Tahoe for the weekend. It was so much fun.

Second Fathers Day that Aaron Jr was here for... and last Fathers Day that Aaron was here for. We went and had a picnic with Aaron's family up in Mueller Park Canyon. One of my main memories from that day is that Aaron Jr wasn't feeling like himself, so he ONLY wanted me to hold him. It breaks my heart now that it was Aaron's last Fathers Day here.

Now, to this year... our first Fathers Day without Aaron here with us.
We celebrated with both Dads / Grandpas. We are grateful for our Dads. I want to thank them both for all they do for us. We love you both.

Aaron Jr with Grandpa. (my Dad)

Aaron Jr with Grandpa. (Aaron's Dad)

Aaron Jr throwing flowers on Daddy's grave site.

Aaron Jr on Daddy's grave site. We took flowers, a photo of Aaron Jr with Aaron, a letter from me, and picture that Aaron Jr drew for him. We also left a 'Ding Dong' there for Aaron. He loved Ding Dongs. He would tell me of the fishing trips he took with his Grandpa and that his Grandpa always had Ding Dongs and Swedish Fish with him, so Aaron loved Ding Dongs because they brought back such great memories. So, we left him a Ding Dong to share with his Grandpa. That is the Grandpa that Aaron is buried next to.

I realize that I have been left with a gigantic task ahead of me... to take over both jobs when it comes to Aaron Jr. It is a tiring and an overwhelming future to imagine. Sometimes when I am taking Aaron Jr to 'time out' for the umpteenth time in a day, I just get so tired. I just wish I wasn't always having to be the bad guy. I want Aaron to be here helping me in the discipline and also experiencing the joy that comes by being the parent of such an amazing little boy. I want to be watching Aaron Jr grow up together. I want to be able to share a glance at each other with excitement or pride because Aaron Jr says a new word or does something great. I want to be able to share the joys and sorrows of parenthood with Aaron. Aaron Jr has begun to hit when he doesn't get his way. I want Aaron to be able to teach Aaron Jr the importance of showing love and respect for me, his mother... and for me to do likewise for him, his father. I am the first to admit that I can't raise Aaron Jr the same as though both of us were here playing the roles in his life as mother and father, but I continue to pray that Aaron is able to be with us as much as possible. I pray that he is able to be here to guide us in our lives. It just doesn't seem like we would be left without him still playing a role in our lives. It just doesn't seem like Aaron Jr would be left without any guidance from his father. Aaron would have been able to teach Aaron Jr so many wonderful things. I know that I can teach him what his father was like and try to raise him to have the positive attributes from us both... but I hope that Aaron can be around to help me raise Aaron Jr to be the man that we knew he could become.

Why? This is the question I have asked myself countless times. Why can't he be here? Why was he taken so young? Why was I left without my husband here? Why was Aaron Jr left without a father here? Why does it hurt so badly? Why us? Why do I have to go to bed every night without Aaron by my side? This has been a very difficult week and the week ended with an extremely difficult day.

On this Fathers Day, I want to share how grateful I am for Aaron. I am grateful that he is the father of our child. I am grateful that we will be together again and be able to one day share in those joys of parenthood together. I love him. I am grateful for the stories and examples from his life that we will all be able to share with Aaron Jr. I am grateful that Aaron Jr will be able to read from Aaron's journals. There is so much he will learn about his father by reading the words written by his own hand. He will read how much Aaron loves our Savior, Jesus Christ. He will get to read his father's testimony of the gospel and how it changed his life for good. I will be able to tell Aaron Jr how much his father loves him and how grateful he was to have him as his son. He was so proud of him. He would have done anything for him. Aaron Jr will know his father... I will make sure of that.

We sure do miss you Aaron. Happy Fathers Day to you... we love you...

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