Saturday, November 29, 2008

Twelve Months... One Year...

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Aaron Sverre Harkness
March 29, 1977 - November 29, 2007

...the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord...-Job 1:21

I didn't really want to 'celebrate' the day today, but I wanted to remember Aaron today. So, my only plans today were to relax at home with Aaron Jr. and Ode and then to meet people at the cemetery to release balloons like we did at the funeral. Things went as planned for the most part. I invited both of our families and some close friends. Everyone from my family who lives in the area all came, and a few friends came as well. Aaron's family got stuck in traffic coming down the canyon, so they didn't make it. Hopefully next year. Thank you to all of you who made it today and all of you who wanted to be there. You have all been such a huge support to me this past year and I am grateful to every person that has had a role in helping me through this ongoing grieving process. Here are some photos from today...

Each child got to hold a balloon and release it when it was time.

Once again... sending our hearts to heaven...

This photo is to show off Aaron Jr's belt. Aaron bought this belt for Aaron Jr. just a couple of weeks before he passed away. When he brought it home, we decided to save it for his birthday that was coming soon. So, Aaron Jr. wore this belt for the first time just two days after Aaron passed away... on his 2nd birthday. It finally fits him.

I actually lost Aaron's belt buckle a few years ago and had planned to buy him a new one for Christmas last year. They would have matched. I am bummed I never got to buy him a belt buckle to replace the one I lost.

Last weekend, Aaron's parents hosted a gathering to have Aaron's closest friends come over for dinner and memories. I was at Wal-Mart one day and saw these shirts. I couldn't pass them by. I bought the one that says 'My Dad is the Man' so that Aaron Jr. could wear it to the gathering of friends. It was so cute. The one that says 'Mommy's Little Hero' was going to be what he wore today at the cemetery, but I forgot to put it on him this morning. So, he has been wearing it all evening instead. The point of this shirt is self explanitory... but I will go ahead a say something about it anyway.

Aaron Jr. has TRULY been my hero this year. I truly don't know how things would have gone if he weren't here. He was the reason I even got out of bed for those first several months. Some days, he is still the reason I get out of bed. He has made me smile and laugh at times when I didn't think there was a smile or laugh left inside of me. He is a miracle and a blessing in my life and I am so grateful for My Little Hero.
My other Hero has been the Lord. I have learned more this year about relying on the Lord than I have learned throughout the rest of my life. The quote by Abraham Lincoln on the side of my blog is more true than I ever realized. It says:
'I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go.'
The Lord truly HAS sustained me.
'Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee.' -Psalms 55:22
This year, I have felt more out of place than I have ever felt in my life. I know that I belong here as Aaron Jr's mom, but as far as feeling like I had a place anywhere else, it is just really difficult knowing where I belong if Aaron isn't here beside me. I have felt lost and I have had a hard time knowing who I was anymore without my partner, the other half of me. When Aaron passed away, half of me, an entire 50 % of me passed away with him. Then there was the part of me that tried to take care of him as a wife takes care of a husband. I didn't have Aaron to take care of anymore. Making dinner, cleaning the house... the part of me that loved being a wife felt completely lost. I just didn't feel like I had a place anymore. .I adored being a wife. The wife inside of me had no one to be a wife to anymore... here. I don't know if that all makes sense.

When Aaron's favorite singer, Chris LeDoux, passed away on March 9, 2005, Aaron was devastated. This photo was taken right around that same day. He really looked up to this man. On the one year anniversary of Chris LeDoux's death, Aaron sent a text to me and I think to a lot of his friends that said, 'God bless Chris LeDoux. One year today'. I have to admit... I was very tempted to do that today. I still have the text on my phone and it brings a smile to my face when I read it.

I have been thinking a lot lately about what to call today. When you are born, you have a birthday, when you get married, you have an anniversary... when you die, I just don't know what to call November 29, 2007. All year, that date has been kind of life a swear word to me. When I hear of someone going through a really tough time with something, in my mind, I kind of refer to it as 'their November 29th'.

My November 29th was, of course, the most painful and horrific day of my life. I still can't fully believe that this is all real... that Aaron is really gone. It is still so surreal to me.

I have thought a lot about that last day of Aaron's life today. We released the balloons today just before 4:00 pm because that is the time that he passed away. I have never written down what happened that day. It has always been too painful to imagine writing it down, but I am going to write out some of it right now. That afternoon, I took Aaron Jr. to his 2 year well check at the doctor's office. After it was over, I wanted to stop at Aaron's parents house where Aaron was sleeping and tell him how tall Aaron Jr. was and how much he weighed, but he hadn't been feeling well for over a week and hadn't slept for a few days, so I decided to let him sleep and just go ahead and go to my parents house that was just a couple of blocks away from where he was sleeping. I got to my parents house right about 3:00 pm and put Aaron Jr down for a nap. I was watching a little TV and just before 4:00, I heard an ambulance go past my parents house. Something felt a little off, but I brushed it aside assuming it was someone who rolled their car while four wheeling in the mountains. That happens a lot. Well, a minute later, another ambulance went by, and I felt sick to my stomach, but didn't want to think it was Aaron. Well, when the third emergency vehicle went past, my mom ran and and told my dad that they should go and see what is going on. They said they would let me know. I didn't want to leave Aaron Jr. there alone while he was napping. As soon as they walked out the door, I knew they would be back quickly to tell me that the ambulances were at the Harkness home. It happened. About 30 seconds after they left, my mom ran into the door and told me that I needed to go with Dad right now and see what is going on. I ran out the door feeling sick to my stomach and feeling the worst panic I had ever felt in my life. We rushed to the Harkness home and I ran inside. I ran up the stairs to where Aaron had been sleeping to find Aaron's parents standing in the hall with their arms around each other's shoulders. They looked shocked and horrified and as I rushed past them, I asked 'what is going on'? Just after I passed them, I got to the bedroom door where they were working on Aaron just inside on the floor. I had never seen anything like it. They were being so rough as they tried to save his life. I stood there in shock and feeling like my worst nightmare was transpiring right there in front of my eyes. I broke down and just didn't know what to do. I ran around the corner into the bathroom and put my head against the wall and just sobbed. I overheard someone say that it wasn't looking good, but they were going to take Aaron in the ambulance and continue trying to save him. As they took him on a stretcher down the stairs and out the door, I knew in my head that it was over. I felt the same way that I felt when I was in the car accident with my brother. As they took me and my other siblings away from the accident scene that day, I knew in my head that my brother was dead, but my heart didn't want to believe it... so my heart won the battle. I fully believed that he would be okay. It wasn't until my sister came into my hospital room the next day and told me that Bruce had passed away that I knew he was gone. It came as a shock because I wanted him to be okay. That is what happened on November 29th last year. When they drove away in the ambulance, my head knew Aaron was dead, but my heart was breaking and hurting so badly, so I forced myself to believe that he was going to be okay. We got to the hospital and sat in the waiting room for just a few minutes before they came in and said that there was nothing more they could do and that he was gone. I was shocked and horrified. I had never been that scared and I had never hurt so badly in my whole life. My heart literally felt like it was breaking into a million pieces. It hurt emotionally, but it also hurt physically. I never knew that a broken heart could hurt physically. I know now.

When they let us go into his room to see him, I just sat there holding his hand. I held his left hand. The hand that he had written his 'to do list' on the night before. The list was there and I just sat there sobbing and not knowing what to do next. As we sat there, I told his mom, 'we needed more time.' After a few minutes, his mom looked at me and said 'He has probably met Bruce by now.' In my mind, I was grateful that there were people on the other side that would have been waiting for Aaron. People he loved and people who loved him.
My world had just come crashing down around me and I felt like there was no way I would ever survive that heartache and pain.

That next few days were a blur. I couldn't eat, I couldn't sleep. I had no desire to do anything or be anywhere. I wanted to crawl into a hole and just wither away and die. The only thing that kept me going those days was Aaron Jr. He needed me and he didn't understand the nightmare that was our lives. I had to be there for him.

The room that Aaron passed away in at his parents house was the room that we usually stayed in when we slept over there. To this day, I have still not been able to walk into that room. It has been a whole year and I can't bring myself to walk through the door. I have stood right outside and looked in, but I can't walk in.
The shock and horror of that day still haunts me. I still go through the panic and the fear. Today, as I tortured myself and watched a home video of the night Aaron Jr. was born... I had a little panic attack not knowing what I was going to do without Aaron here. It still happens often. I am still scared of living without Aaron.

My November 29th will forever be a devastating and painful day. We didn't have enough time together here in this life. We didn't get to fulfill all of our dreams together. There are so many thing left undone and so many things left unsaid. I still talk to Aaron every night and I pray that he is listening. All I ever wanted was to make Aaron happy and to continue to grow together in our marriage to achieve the happiness that comes from a lifetime of memories. I have to say... I feel SO proud to be Aaron's wife. I adore him and I am so grateful we were brought together. I am so blessed.

I love and miss him with all of my heart. His death has left a hole in my heart that will never be filled... until we meet again.

November 2007 - Leslie-Aaron Jr-Aaron

Eternally yours, Aaron... and loving you always...

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Thursday, November 27, 2008


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...the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord...
-Job 1:21

As I begin writing this post, I am feeling like it is one of the more difficult ones to write. Thanksgiving last year was our final holiday with Aaron here with us. He was struggling healthwise and as I look at this photo that was taken on Thanksgiving last year, I am just so torn apart knowing that it was the day which began our final week with Aaron here. I am falling apart tonight. It is the middle of the night and Thanksgiving is approaching way too quickly. This photo would come to be the last photo ever taken of our family and also the last photo every taken of Aaron. As I sit here struggling to even breathe tonight with tears filling up my eyes and streaming down my cheeks, I am filled with so many painful emotions. This month has been rough. I knew it would be, but this is even rougher than I thought it would be.

I was originally going to just write a few things that I am grateful for and leave it at that, but I am feeling way too much right now. I can't leave it at that. I had to let some of this out.

I am struggling to even put any thoughts together, so I will just put it into some pretty simple words that I think people will understand... this sucks.

I do want to share my gratitude today though. Even as I sit here sobbing, I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude for what has been given to me. Even though I feel such a huge and devastating blow at having lost my best friend and husband, Aaron... I can't think of that without also thinking about the gift that has been given to me... our son, Aaron Jr. He is truly a gift and a treasure in my life. The degree of pain I feel at having lost Aaron, I feel that degree of joy at having been given Aaron Jr.
Joy and Pain seem like such opposite emotions, so it is strange that I have felt both of them so intensely at the same time throughout this last year.

* I am grateful for my husband, Aaron.
* I am grateful for the brilliant memories I have with him to reflect on throughout my life.
* I am grateful for Aaron Jr. and the JOY he brings to our home.
* I am grateful for our families and the love and support they give to us.
* I am grateful for our friends and the love and support they give to us.
* I am grateful for people who have reached out to us throughout this nightmare year.
* I am grateful for the gospel of Jesus Christ and the peace and comfort it has brought to me thoughout my life, but especially this last year.
* I am grateful for the scriptures and the strength they bring me.
* I am grateful for Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice. I am grateful for what He went through so that He could know the pain and hearache I am going through. I am grateful for His love and the peace and comfort He brings to me.
* I am grateful for my Father in Heaven. I am grateful to know who I am and where I come from. I am grateful to be a daughter of a loving God. He truly is our Father.
* I am grateful for the principle of tithing. By paying our tithing this year, we have been greatly blessed to be able to meet our needs.
* I am grateful for cameras. I have to say, it brings me much joy and happiness to be able to look back through the thousands of photos that I took of Aaron. Those photos help to keep his memories alive so that Aaron Jr. can remember his father.
* I am grateful for our lives together. I am grateful for the life I was able to share with Aaron and the life we were able to help bring into this world to join our family. Aaron Jr. brought us much joy together and will continue to bring much joy until we are together again.

I love you, my sweet Aaron. I am grateful to you and for you...

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Friday, November 21, 2008

Set in Stone

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Ode, Aaron Jr., and Leslie


It is finally done. They sent me an email last week of the rough draft so that I could approve it. Once I approved it, they could get started on the engraving and everything. They called on Wednesday morning to let me know they would be coming to install it on Thursday. I was so nervous. I was nervous about how I would feel seeing it and nervous about whether or not it would look the way I wanted it to. Well, it turned out beautifully.

Now, I will explain the meaning of everything. Of course, the names are self explanitory.
The reason I chose black granite is because I personally love the look of it, but also I just know that Aaron would have chosen black granite if HE were picking it out for us. I love how it turned out. It sets off the engraving really nicely.
The Salt Lake Temple is where we got married. That angle of it was taken from an actual photograph that my brother took of the temple on the day we got married. (that photo is further down on this posting)
August 21, 2002 through eternity is also self explanitory.
Those are Aaron Jr's handprints. Since he is our only child, I wanted something on the headstone that had to do with him. My friend Kerianne suggested doing his handprints and I ran with that idea. I loved it and I think it turned out so neat.

This is the photo of the temple that I sent to them to use.

This is what I sent to them to show them what I wanted the front to look like.


Here is the back of the headstone. I think I have mentioned on here before that Aaron and I both had a love for lighthouses. When we started writing to each other on our missions, I mentioned a love for lighthouses and the symbolism behind them. Well, he wrote back to me and told me a very spiritual and personal story about a lighthouse and how he feels about lighthouses and their symbolism. I read most of that letter when I spoke at Aaron's funeral. Here is the quote:

The quote on the back of the headstone is just one paragraph taken from that letter. Once Aaron passed away, this quote took on a whole new meaning for me. I focused more on the last few words he had written since it talks about 'every mans journey home'.
The lighthouse itself was taken from a photograph that I took of the very first lighthouse Aaron and I ever visited together. We went there on our honeymoon. It is in Florida and it is called the 'Ponce de Leon Inlet Light Station'. We both loved this lighthouse and we even bought a wooden replica of it and brought it home. It is now one of my treasures.

Because this lighthouse was inland, there was no water or rocks around it and I wanted there to be an ocean setting on the headstone. So, I found a photo that I took of the very last lighthouse Aaron and I ever saw together. We saw it together just a week and a half before he passed away. It is in San Francisco and it is called the 'Point Bonita Lighthouse'. I took that photo and superimposed the other lighthouse over that lighthouse. So, the lighthouse is from Florida and the surroundings are from San Francisco. (those two photos are also below in this posting)

Here are the original two photos of the lighthouses.

Here is what I emailed to them after photoshopping the lighthouse into this setting.

When I found out they were on their way to install it, I called Aaron's family so that they could come over to see it if they were available. After that, I found out that my mom and my sister, Lisa and her two youngest kids were in Salt Lake, so they came over to see it as well. I am bummed that I didn't think to get a photo of them while they were there. Next time for sure...
I was so grateful to all who could make it while I was there. I was glad to share those moments with you all.
Here are a few photos of the members of Aaron's family who were able to come and see it when they got it done.

Aaron's brother, Steve was at a meeting really close, so he got over there the quickest. I was so glad he could make it during work.

Aaron's parents were both out in Salt Lake working or running errands as well, so they headed over as well.

I had been trying for an hour to get Aaron Jr. to put his hands on his handprints and he finally did it with the help of Grandpa. Thanks Steve.

When I told Aaron Jr. we were going to see Daddy's headstone, he was very anxious to get out of the car. He doesn't know what a headstone is, so as he got out, he started saying 'I want Daddy.' Then, once he was out of the car, he started yelling 'Daddy, Daddy.' Then saying again, 'I want Daddy.' When we got to the site, I patted my hand on the grass and said, 'Daddy's right here, Aaron.' Then he started saying over and over, 'No, Daddy's not there'. When I asked him, 'Where's Daddy?' He said, 'I don't know.'

I wonder when he will be old enough to understand. Right now, he just doesn't understand and that is okay. There will come a time in his life when I might wish he was still young enough not to understand. Those times will be when he is having a really hard time not having his Daddy around for all of the events in his life. Right now, I am okay with him not understanding. He is still just a happy and cheerful little boy who makes me laugh and smile every single day.

It was a surreal feeling standing there looking at the headstone of my 30 year old husband. I had very mixed emotions as I sat there staring at it. It felt wrong, but at the same time... since this IS my reality, I was really grateful that it was here before the year anniversary rolled around next week. That is what I have wanted all year. I am glad it is done. I am glad to have something to look at when we go to visit Aaron's gravesite. Being able to look at our names together and also be able to read that quote over and over will bring some comfort and peace when we are there. I really love the way it turned out. I could go on and on about my feelings regarding the headstone, but I will stop there.

I did want to say thank you to all of you who have been so thoughtful and willing to share your love and concern through comments and prayers. I am always strengthened through your loving words and I am grateful to you all...

Aaron, I love you eternally...

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Saturday, November 15, 2008

All the world should know: I LOVE AARON !

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I figured this month would be difficult for me...

I figured that I would have a difficult time remembering my last days and moments with Aaron. Last year around this time, we were in San Francisco visiting some friends of ours. Looking back through the photos of our trip on this blog, it made me realize that we were on our last vacation together as a family. We were seeing the ocean for the last time together. We were taking some of our final family photos. We were driving in the car for a long distance for the last time. I remember driving while Aaron tried to sleep and had his seat layed back and him reaching back and holding Aaron Jr.'s hand. Aaron Jr. didn't usually like to have his hand held, but that was a turning point. He let Aaron hold his hand and from that time on, Aaron Jr. has liked having his hand held in certain situations. That was most likely the last time that Aaron Jr. got to watch Aaron eat sunflower seeds as a way to try to stay awake as he drove. To this day, Aaron Jr. still says 'Daddy' when he sees sunflower seeds. That is one of the few memories that he still has.

This sounds silly, but I just got done watching the latest episode of 'ER' online and I cannot even express the painful emotions that have flooded into my soul. This particular episode is of these parents losing their five year old son, but watching the doctors work on the little boy and trying to save his life... it just brought back such horrible and painful memories from last November. It just brought so many vivid memories of that day.

Rushing to the emergency room still hoping that they could save Aaron even though I overheard them saying that it wasn't looking good. I still had the hope. I still needed the hope to get me through each moment. Sitting there waiting for word on how things were going. Sitting there more scared than I had ever been before hoping that this was all a bad dream. The doctor coming to let us know that it was over and there was nothing more they could do for Aaron. Then, the fear I had had just moments before seemed very small. I was so scared. Walking into the room where Aaron was laying and still not understanding how it could possibly be happening that they weren't still trying to get him back. Sitting next to him, holding his hand, and sobbing tears of the worst pain I could ever have imagined. Sitting there scared to death of life without my best friend, life without my partner, life without the person that I got to wake up next to everyday, life without the father of my child, life without the man that I love with every ounce of my soul. I couldn't believe that someone could feel that much pain. I thought I was going to die right along with him that night. I couldn't imagine being able to survive the physical and emotional pain I was feeling as I sat there crying. I couldn't understand why. I wanted to wake up. I wanted to die. My whole world was crashing down around me... and I was sitting there crying as though it was real. It didn't feel real. Sitting there across from his mom and telling her that we needed more time.

More time.

I need more time. More time to tell him that I love him. More time to hold him and make sure he knew how much I adore him. What if he didn't know? How can I live with that? What if he didn't know how much I love him?

Leaving the hospital that night was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I desparately didn't want to leave him alone. I wanted to stay with him. I wanted to be with him. I couldn't handle any of it. Aaron Jr. wasn't there, so I needed to go to him. When I left the hospital that night, I went to Aaron Jr. and didn't know what to do. I didn't know what to tell him. How could he possibly understand that his daddy was not coming home?

Have you ever had a nightmare where someone you love SO much passes away? Then, when you wake up in the middle of the night, you are crying and you realize that it was a bad dream and you are SO extremely grateful that it wasn't real? I have. But the next morning, when I woke up from what little sleep I got... I didn't have that reassurance. It was real and my nightmare didn't end. Since Aaron passed away, I have had a dream that Aaron Jr. passed away. I couldn't believe that both of the people who meant the most to me in this world were both gone. But then I woke up, I did have that grateful feeling when I found out it was not real. I wanted so badly for November 29, 2007 to be a bad dream... but it was real.

After Aaron passed away, I had so many questions. I had questions about things I did and things I didn't do. Questions about how I could have been a better wife and how I could have made Aaron happier in our short time together. How I could have made Aaron feel more loved and helped him know how much I love and adore him.

I have wondered if those looking in would have wondered if I loved him enough or made him happy enough... I tried. I tried.

Throughout this year, as I have written about Aaron, and as I have written about my grief, I have done so with the hope that I could portray to the world and to those right here around me how much I love and adore Aaron. I wish people could see into my heart. While he was here, I loved Aaron the best I could. I always loved Aaron and I still love Aaron and I always will love Aaron. No matter what mistakes either of us made in our time together, I have to look back and just realize that no one is perfect. We tried to make each other happy and we fell short sometimes, everyone does... but we did the best we could. Aaron brought me happiness and if he were still here, I know we would be happy together now. When someone you love passes away, how could you NOT question these things? I will always wish that I had kissed Aaron one more time and that I had told him one more time that I love him with all of my heart. I can't go back. I wish I could, but I can't go back. All I can do now is tell him every single night how much I love him and hope that he can hear me. All I can do is pray that he knows how much I love him. Because I do. I love him with everything that I am.

I wish one year ago, I could have been reading a blog like this and that it could have inspired me to not waste any time. I want to be on the other side of this blog and be someone who is getting to learn from it. It shouldn't take someone else's trials to remind us what we should do and what we should be grateful for, but some days that IS what it takes. You all know what to do. Learn from my regrets. Even the times I was annoyed, I wish I could just let it go and show an increase of love and affection. We are all annoying and annoyed at times. So what? It has been a while since I have gone on and on like this. Tonight is difficult. I am sorry.

Yes, this month is difficult. I hate that it has almost been a year. I hate that on November 30, I won't be able to look back and say that Aaron and I were doing anything on that day a year ago. I hate it. The pain feels so fresh again, there are millions of tears being shed again, and I am having a very difficult time.

All the world should know... I love and adore you Aaron...

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Robert Lennon

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Welcome to this world little one... and congrats to Dave and April on the birth of this beautiful baby boy. He is just precious. He is named Robert after Dave's dad who passed away in April. I am sure he is honored to have a grandson named after him.
That makes two trips we went on in October and we missed the birth of two babies by 4 days each time. That is okay though. We had a great time and we get to see photos of the beautiful babies.
We hope mother and baby are doing great. We love you guys.
Missing you and loving you, Aaron...
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*we stole this photo from April's blog. thanks...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Song of the Heart

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Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the Lord hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted. - Isaiah 49:13

I grew up in a family who loves to sing. We all love singing in church, harmonizing with each other on all of the hymns, and we even love singing at home at the drop of a hat. We are literally a real life musical. If someone says something that reminds any of us of a song, we all break into that part of the song and then be done and go on with conversation. Aaron always got a kick out of this. Growing up, when we were at church, we would all try to take different parts on the song to harmonize with each other. My sister, Lisa, and I would actually take turns with the parts. One verse, I would sing soprano and she would sing alto. The next verse, we would switch. We both loved singing alto better, so that made it fair. We all just loved to sing.

Aaron loved to sing as well, but rarely sang loud enough for anyone to hear him. I remember when we first got married, we were having our first 'Family Night' and we got the hymn book out and we sang a song together. If I remember correctly, I think we sang 'Families Can Be Together Forever'. Aaron sang loud enough for me to hear him and I can't even express how much I loved it. He was insecure about his singing. He had been told in the past that he couldn't sing, so he didn't like to sing loud enough to be heard. Well, no matter what Aaron thought he sounded like, hearing him sing was always music to my ears and it always brought joy to my soul. He did sing along with the radio often and if I strained my ears and he didn't notice, then I could hear him sing and I loved it. I would love to be able to hear him sing again.

After Aaron and I got married, he was always encouraging me to join the ward choir at church. Even though I grew up in a family that loves to sing, I just wasn't interested in being in the ward choir. He never stopped encouraging me to join.

Well, a little more than a month before Aaron passed away, I finally joined the ward choir. I only attended a couple of practices before Aaron was gone... I never even had a chance to perform with the ward choir while he was here.

Once Aaron passed away, I stopped being interested in singing. I joined in on the songs at his funeral, but besides that, I had no interest in singing. I would still sing little fun songs to Aaron Jr. in the car, but singing at church became a spectator thing for me. Sometimes, the tune would get the better of me and I would start to hum along, but I always stopped myself because I just wanted to listen. Singing always brought me joy and part of me just didn't want to feel that joy, so I deprived myself of singing because I could still enjoy the music and words even if I wasn't participating.

All year, my mom has tried to pass me hymn books to encourage me to sing, but I would either put them away or just hold them and read along. I don't know why I chose not to sing, but I think it had something to do with finally giving in to Aaron's pleas to join the choir and then he was taken. I think I felt like I didn't deserve to feel the joy I felt from singing the hymns anymore. No matter how much I wanted to sing, I didn't let myself.

Well, yesterday, my mom was speaking in church, so we went to listen to her. A few of my siblings came as well and I sat next to my sister, Lisa. During the first song, she put the hymn book over in front of me to let me share with her. I resisted, but she insisted. I finally started to hum the alto while she sang the soprano. Aaron Jr. was on my lap and once I started humming along, he instantly looked up at me to see where it was coming from. He hadn't heard me sing in church since Aaron passed away. When I saw his reaction, I couldn't believe it. He couldn't stop looking at me. I didn't realize throughout this year that I was setting the wrong example for Aaron Jr. So, once I realized that he was surprised to hear me, I decided to sing the words instead of just humming. So, I started singing the words. At that moment, he looked at my mouth and just stared at my mouth for so long as I sang the words to 'All Creatures of our God and King'. It brought tears to my eyes as I felt the spirit and felt joy that Aaron Jr. was getting to hear his mom singing praises unto the Lord.

The same thing happened on the next song. Once I started singing, he instantly looked and stared at my mouth for a while. It was heartbreaking for me looking back on this year and knowing the example I was setting. That song was 'I Stand All Amazed'. The emotions overtook me on that one.

It has just been so difficult for me to sing this year. I guess I felt like I had to deprive myself of some of the things that brought joy. I was so devastated that Aaron was gone, so I desprived myself of certain joys that were in my control.

Aaron Jr. has recently started singing a few little one liners from songs on Sesame Street and shows like that. I have been so proud to hear him trying to sing and it has caused me to want to sing with him. I know for a fact how much Aaron enjoyed singing and I know he would be so proud if his son grew up singing and enjoying to sing. I plan to be a better example in this.

From now on, I plan to sing in church. I want to feel the spirit that comes from it.

For my soul delighted in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads. - Doctrine and Covenants 25:12

I love you, Aaron. My soul delights in the song of your heart...

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Sunday, November 9, 2008


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Leslie and Aaron Jr. overlooking Chicago from the ferris wheel on Navy Pier.

This is Aaron's sister, April and her daughter Susie. We went to visit them in Chicago last week and had a marvelous time.

Aaron Jr. and Susie.

It was Halloween that day, so there were people dressed up on Navy Pier and walking around entertaining people. This monkey was exciting for the kids. Susie walked right up and gave him a high five. Aaron Jr. couldn't be persuaded to go near him. He was very skeptical. But he enthusiastically waved as we were saying goodbye to the monkey... from afar.

Also on Navy Pier, we took the kids to the Chicago Children's Museum. The kids loved it. I have a photo from each station that we made it to.

And more...

Once we got to this activity, we were done. Not because we were tired, but because the kids loved this building area. Especially Aaron Jr. He went right to work putting nuts and bolts together to hold pieces of wood in place. He was just so into it. I am sure he remembers the times he would go out and 'help' his Daddy with his tools while he fixed something. Aaron Jr. was definitely IN HIS ELEMENT.

I put a lot of these. I just love Aaron Jr.'s face in these. He is concentrating so hard on what he is doing.

I finally put the camera down and stepped in to help out with the building process.

This is how Susie does a 'thumbs up'. SO cute.
And April... what a trooper.

Aaron Jr. and Leslie.
Susie and April.
After the museum, we took the kids on a carousel ride.

Getting clean. Aaron Jr. and Susie. Aaron Jr. is 7 1/2 months older than Susie. He is so big compared to her. Wow.

One of the days we were there, April took us to the Botanical Gardens. They were so beautiful. It was autumn and they still had such brilliant colors of flowers around and such neat things to see. I loved this place.


Susie and Aaron Jr. overlook the waterfall and pond.

April and Susie.

Leslie and Aaron Jr.

Susie and Aaron Jr. They had fun together.

Aaron Jr. on an awesome bench.

Aaron Jr. showing off an apple that he stabbed with a stick. He was very proud and carried it around until we had to leave.

Susie showing off a ladybug she found. By the way, they are EVERYWHERE in Chicago. I couldn't believe how many ladybugs live there.
This is one of my favorite photos from this trip. She is so precious.

One of the few times we saw Dave. He was studying and taking finals the whole time we were there, so we didn't see him a lot. But here he took time to read the kids a book.

This was the last day we were there. We drove out to Lake Michigan and found this park near the water. The kids played at the park for a while before we went down to the beach.

Aaron Jr. and Susie.

Aaron Jr. I can't seem to get enough photos of him on a swing. Ever since his first time on a swing, he has always loved it. I get great photos of him laughing because he is laughing on it so much of the time.

April and Susie strolling through the leaves.

Aaron Jr. and Leslie

At the beach of Lake Michigan. The whole time we were there, I just couldn't believe this is a lake. You can't see anything across the way... I swear it has to be an ocean. It is GIGANTIC.

Aaron Jr.

Aaron Jr. and Leslie (me). BIG hugs.
Aaron Jr. and Susie at the beach.

Susie and April.
April, thanks for taking us to some great places even though you were uncomfortable most of the time. We had a blast. And thanks for being willing to grab my camera and snap some photos without me even having to ask. They are treasures. We can't wait to meet your new little addition.

Aaron Jr. and Leslie.
Ending with Aaron Jr. This little boy is so precious to me.
I have to tell another story that I am sure most mothers can relate to:
On our way home from Chicago, I was juggling a two year old, and three carry on bags. It was quite a sight. When we flew in to Salt Lake, we got to the baggage carousel and waited patiently for our luggage. We got our two bags, then we waited and waited and waited for Aaron Jr.'s car seat to come. It never did.
So, we headed over to the baggage claim counter to see where our car seat was and there were several other passengers who hadn't received their luggage either. The counter was right by the carousel and Aaron Jr. was at the carousel. I had just looked back to make sure he was still right there. Well, a couple seconds later, as I was standing there waiting to be helped, an old man says 'Who's kid is that? He is going to get hurt?'
Needless to say, I knew it had to be my kid before I even turned around. Aaron Jr. is somewhat curious and mischeivious. So, I turned around to see Aaron Jr. climbing up the carousel. He reached the top by the time I got there and was running around on the carpeted area at the top. I got there and prayed in my heart that I would not have to climb up the carousel to go and get him. I begged him to come down, but every time I ran to a different spot, he would run to the opposite side. I knew it was inevitable. So, I started climbing up and that is when he took his opportunity to run onto the upper conveyer belt and DOWN into where the bags come out of. Thank goodness it was not running at that time. When I got to the top, I looked down into the hole he was in and he tried to run right through the little hangy things where the bags come out of. Something stopped him. That is when I took my opportunity, with a red face and feeling completely flustered, to threaten him in a low and firm tone to get out of there or he was facing some serious time out.
Well, he ran back up the conveyer belt and I grabbed his hand. We hiked back down the carousel with a lot of eyes watching us. I then quickly walked back over to the counter to wait for service.
Anyhow, we made it home and all is well.
We had a great time in Chicago with April and Dave and Susie. It felt strange, as always, going away without Aaron with us. I missed Aaron so much while we were there.
These last couple of trips to Oregon and Chicago have been amazing. Visiting family is always a treat and it has helped us to escape our new reality a little bit. It has been nice seeing family and enjoying their company. Thank you all for making us feel so welcome.
Loving you and missing you, Aaron...
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