Thursday, March 31, 2011

Ode to Ode

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~ Ode ~
I am so very sad to report that our dog, Ode (Odie), passed away on March 15, 2011.

It has been a couple of weeks, but I have been going through photos trying to find any great photos that I can of Ode to bring back memories. I found SO many to share on here, but I didn't want it to be such a long posting, so here are a few photos of us with Ode.

I will probably share more photos throughout the next couple of months so we have lots of memories of him on here.
So that is why it took me so long to get a posting on here, I have been going through photos.
I took this photo above back in October 2010.

I do warn anyone reading this that I use this blog for journaling, so I have written a lot of personal feelings and some special experiences about our special dog that others might not be as interested in as I am. But I love Ode and I want Aaron Jr to know how I felt when Ode passed away. It has been tougher for me than I ever imagined that it would be. So bear with me. :)

Our first family photo taken with Aaron Jr AND Ode in it.
Aaron Jr was three months old. March 2006
Ode was / is a part of our family. He was very much a part of our lives and we love him.

I took this photo in March of 2005. Aaron certainly did consider Ode to be just like a child of his. They were the best of friends. Ode was a loyal friend and companion to Aaron for almost the whole second half of Aaron's life. I love this photo of Aaron holding Ode on his lap like a child. Its the only time I ever saw him hold Ode like this. It was funny.

These photos are both 'family photos' in a round about way.
In the photo on the left, I was pregnant with Aaron Jr. It was taken at the end of September 2005, two months before Aaron Jr was born.
In the photo on the right, we built that snowman and pretended that the snowman Aaron / Daddy. It was taken in January 2009, a little more than a year after Aaron passed away.

Me, Aaron Jr, and Ode at Aaron's gravesite on the day that they brought the headstone and put it in. A year after Aaron died. Ode loved to wander when we took him out there. He loved to wander everywhere he went. He was a roamer.

I included this photo because this is Steve and Sue, Aaron's parents. Ode lived at their house for many years. When Aaron lived at home, then when Aaron was gone for the two years on his mission to Brasil, then when Aaron was a single college student and couldn't have Ode in his apartments...

We finally got to bring Ode to live with us when we bought our home in Lehi back in January 2004. Aaron was so happy to have Ode living with us, Ode was so happy to be with Aaron, and I was really happy to have Ode living with us as well. Ode was a part of the family. After Aaron passed away, we still had Ode in Lehi with us... until we had to sell our home at the end of 2009 (sad day).

So, back Ode went with Steve and Sue because we couldn't have a dog where we were living. We have had the privilege of 'dog sitting' when they went out of town... and we would visit Ode often... but we sure missed having him living with us. But Steve and Sue took great care of him and I know they love Ode and loved having him there. And Ode sure loved them. They are heart broken as well. Thank you Steve and Sue. So much.

Ode and Me.
I sure love Ode. I always felt safe when Aaron was out of town as long as Ode was at home with me. He was so obedient and he was loyal and he was aware of any noises that were out of the ordinary. His ears peaked and he would bark anytime he felt there was someone around that should be there.

After Aaron passed away, I thought I would be so scared to be at our house without Aaron there. I was blessed though, because with Ode there, I felt safe. I am sure it also had to do with the fact that Heavenly Father was helping us to feel peace and safety. But Ode sure helped in that process and I sure miss him.

Ode has been around for Aaron Jr's whole life. Ode has been Aaron Jr's best pal for his entire 5 years. Aaron Jr has always called Ode his best friend. Anytime Aaron Jr was sneak out of the house and I couldn't find him, I knew that it meant he was following Ode around our neighborhood and roaming with Ode. It still made me nervous, but I felt better knowing he was with Ode.

Ode was a loyal friend to both of my Aarons.

Our last family photo, taken just two days before he passed away. Sue got a great shot with this one. I sure love this photo. You can see how swollen Ode's right leg and paw is compared to the other one. He was just so old and was in so much pain.

After Aaron passed away, I was just sure that Ode would not be very far behind him. Anytime Aaron went out of town, Ode would mope around and he wouldn't want to eat until Aaron got back. He was just so sad that his friend was not there. So, when Aaron passed away, I was sure that Ode would die of a broken heart. Or at least would starve because I didn't think he would eat much. I have no idea if Ode truly knew what had happened and why Aaron was gone. In my opinion, Ode was just never the same after Aaron passed away. He had a sadness about him. Like the rest of us who love Aaron, Ode was affected.

Even though I assumed Ode would go soon after Aaron, he didn't. He still lived for three years and three and a half months after that. I am so grateful for the time we got to have with Ode after Aaron died.

Aaron raised Ode from a pup, so Ode was another living reminder and connection that we had to Aaron.

As Ode got older, it became more and more difficult for him to climb stairs. We could tell he was in pain and figured it was arthritis. The past year or so, he has gotten progressively worse and his breathing became more and more labored. None of us could imagine making the decision to have him put to sleep, so I prayed a lot in the past few months that Heavenly Father would take Ode home so that he was not in pain.

A few months ago, I told Aaron Jr that Ode was really old and he would not be around forever and that dogs die when they get really old. It was at that point that Aaron Jr started praying EVERY night that Ode would not die. He would either pray that Ode would not die or that Ode would not go to heaven, which to Aaron Jr is the same thing as dying. He would pray one of those two things every night.

So, a couple of weeks ago, Sue and Steve had everyone over to dinner so that we could all see Ode in case anything happened. That is when that last family photo was taken of us. I could tell he was not doing well and knew it was going to be soon. The next night after that, Sue called me to tell me that she didn't think Ode would make it through the night. She said that they were considering having a vet come to their house the next morning to put him to sleep if he even makes it through the night and they wondered what I thought about it. It was hard for any of us to make that decision, but I knew that it was what was best. We all did. He couldn't really even stand up anymore and breathing seemed difficult for him.

So, late that night, Aaron Jr and I went to their house and I sat next to Ode on the floor, petting him, and just sobbing for an hour and a half... and here I go again. Wow. It was a precious hour and a half that I will treasure. I cannot imagine what people go through watching a loved one with an illness as they get weaker and weaker and then they pass away... because it was sure tough with our dog. So it breaks my heart that anyone has to go through that with someone they love.

Anyhow, I asked Sue to call me in the morning and that I wanted to be there when it happened... but she misunderstood me and thought that I wanted her to call me after it happened. So, the next morning, Sue called me to let me know that it was over and that the vet had just left. It was early in the morning, so she had woken me up, and at first, I felt like I had the wind knocked out of me because I had missed seeing Ode one more time that morning before he was gone. I knew it was a total misunderstanding and as we talked on the phone and as I woke up more, I suddenly realized that when she called, I had been having a pretty amazing dream. A dream that I would not have had if Sue had called me to have me come up there to see Ode before the vet came. At that point, I realized that it was a trade off. I so badly wanted to be there with Ode as he passed away, BUT, if I had been there with Ode, I would not have had the dream...

The dream: I don't remember where we were in the dream. It seems like our surroundings were not familiar. But in the dream, Ode was laying down resting like he had been the night before as I was sitting there petting him. In the dream, someone said a prayer that Heavenly Father would take Ode home. As soon as the prayer ended, Ode's spirit stood up from his body and his spirit ran as fast as he could towards heaven. Home. The dream went on to other things that I cannot remember, but not for very long... because only a few minutes later, Sue called and woke me up to tell me that it was over and that Ode was gone.

This may seem kinda cheesy to some, but to me, it was a tender mercy for me to have this dream since I was not there with Ode at the time he passed away. I am grateful to have had this dream. To see his spirit running like I have seen Ode run so many times before when he was young and healthy... it was such a JOY to see. It seemed so real.

I told Sue that Aaron Jr and I would be right up and we went up there to be with Ode before he was buried. When we got there, Sue offered us a spot on the floor next to Ode so we could pet him. So Aaron Jr and I sat down next to him and pet him for a while. Aaron Jr went out to help Steve and also Aaron's brother Steve dig a hole for Ode in the back yard. Aaron's brother had come out with his daughter that morning as well. We were all so sad. I could not stop crying. Ode had lived for 15 or 16 years and I could not believe that he was gone. That he wouldn't be here to play fetch with anymore.

Once the hole was ready, we wrapped him in a blanket that Aaron had in his truck and also another heavier blanket, then we carried him out and lowered him into the grave. Ode is buried next to a pine tree that was planted for Aaron after he passed away. It is a perfect spot for him to be.

I never knew how much it would affect me when Ode passed away. I knew I would be sad and that I would miss him, and I knew it would be even more difficult after Aaron passed away because Ode was a connection to Aaron for us... but I had no idea my heart would break as much as it has. I have had dogs that I loved before in my life, but I never ever had them long enough to watch them die... I now realize the loss one can feel by losing a pet. A friend. My heart broke again when Ode passed away and I am missing him. A lot. But I know he is happier now, so it is a blessing for him to be free from pain.

I am not sure what Aaron Jr comprehends about it. He still talks about Ode coming out of the dirt to play with him sometime, but I think he is understanding more each day that Ode is gone.

A couple of prayers of Aaron Jr's lately have gone like this:

...bless we can talk to ode up in the sky and he can hear us.
...bless Jesus can put his spirit back in Ode and he can be alive again and we can dig in the hole.

This was one of our conversations:
Aaron Jr: Ode didn't smile at me.
Me: When?
Aaron Jr: When Jesus took his spirit to heaven.

And now... here is one of my all time favorite photos that I have ever taken. I took this of Aaron and Ode on a trip we took with my family up through the Canadian Rockies back in June of 2004. I believe we were still on the U.S. side at this point at a lake called Lake McDonald up in Montana. It was a beautiful morning... and when I snapped this photo, I just knew I had captured one of my favorite shots ever.

Aaron and Ode were the best of friends. Aaron would have done anything for Ode and Ode would have done anything for Aaron. I remember when Aaron would be out in his shop in the backyard working on furniture... even into the wee hours of the morning... and so many times Ode would sit and wait patiently right outside of the open shop door until Aaron was ready to come in for the night. When Aaron would need a little break, he would grab a piece of scrap wood and go out and throw it to Ode over and over while Ode fetched it and brought it back to him.

Another thing about Ode that I loved was this...
Aaron drove a Ford F-250 Powerstroke Diesel pickup truck and we could always tell when Aaron was almost home from work because Ode could hear the truck and feel the vibrations of it coming down the street before we could, so Ode would run to the door leading from the kitchen our to the garage while wagging his tail all excited, then Aaron Jr would follow, and then we would hear the truck coming down the street. I loved that about Ode. I would usually be cooking dinner right there, so then I would open the kitchen door out to the garage just in time for Aaron to use the garage door opener to open the big garage door and Ode and Aaron Jr would run out to greet him when he got home. I loved watching that.

Wow, I miss those days. Normal everyday days. Sometimes I forget how normal life felt back then. The beautiful and JOYful normal. Oh, how I wish I could have those days back.

~ It is JOYful to picture Aaron and Ode in heaven doing the same thing they are doing in this photo... just walking together in the beauty of their surroundings. ~

I sure love and miss them both. So much.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Happy Birthday, Aaron / Daddy!

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Today, March 29, 2011, would be my husband, Aaron's, 34th birthday. It has only been a little more than three years since he passed away, but this will be the fourth birthday of his that we will have to celebrate without him here.
Fishing was one of his favorite things to do, so when I came across these photos of him this past week, they brought back some great memories of fishing as a family. I wish I could remember what this reservoir was called. It was in July of 2006 and Aaron, Me, Aaron Jr, and Ode all went up to go fishing. It was beautiful. He is tough to see standing out there on that little island with the tall grass, but Aaron IS out there fishing.

This is Aaron reeling in a fish, then holding the fish that he caught. We brought it to his parents house that weekend and he cooked it for them.

Our family playing at the reservoir.

Once it began to rain, I got Aaron Jr and Ode into the car to try to keep us warm and dry while Aaron kept fishing. While we watched from the car, he fished for almost another hour. He would have stayed all night, and if the weather had stayed warm and sunny, it sure would have been fun.

Aaron Jr in the car while we waited for Daddy.

Driving away from the reservoir. So beautiful.

One of Aaron Jr's favorite things to see is a rainbow. When I asked him a few weeks ago what was his favorite thing to do... his answer was: "I love to look at rainbows."
I asked him again, this time trying to get him to tell me a hobby that he loved to do, so I asked him if he likes to go fishing? He said: "Yes, and I like to look at rainbows."
I thought it was funny. So, when I saw these photos of Aaron doing something he loved to do and standing under a rainbow, I knew I had to use them for his birthday posting.

Happy Birthday Aaron / Daddy!

We sure love and miss you!

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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Trust = Safety

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So, I have had something on my mind for the past few days. And even though it has been on my mind for the last few days, it doesn't mean it is the first time I have had it on my mind, this is just the first time I have sat myself down and finally started to write about it because I needed to put some of my thoughts down so that I could figure them out... I am trying to wrap my head around them so I don't feel so horrible.

Throughout my life, I grew up being a trusting person. I was trusting and I was trustworthy. Until about 10 or 11 years ago, I can't even think of someone before that time who I felt like I couldn't trust. I gave my trust freely to people and it was up to them to keep my trust... or to lose my trust.

I'm not going to go into the who's or why's where my trust has been broken in my life, but let me just say that the first time my trust was broken by someone I was close to, it was one of the more difficult times in my life. Once your trust has been shattered, it is so difficult to build that trust back up. Walls go up, and you are put on the defense. That trust is no longer freely given, once it is broken, it has to be earned back. And that is tough for both people.

This past few days, I have been thinking a lot about the subject of trust. I used to feel like it was broken when someone lied to you, but I have recently in my life realized that trust is not about just being truthful... it comes down to the way you feel around a person.

I realized today, as I pondered on this subject, that when I truly trust someone, I feel safe with them. And I don't mean safe in the physical sense, even though that is another way you can show trust... putting your physical safety in someone else's hands... but the safety I thought about today was feeling safe with that person whether they are right there with you or not.

Emotionally Safe.

Whether or not being around a person makes you feel better or worse when you walk away. Whether or not you feel as though your emotional safety is safe in their hands, in their words, or in their actions.

The safety I am talking about is the feeling of safety you get when you think of that person and know that they love you and will protect you and your feelings whether right there with you or behind your back. I started pondering on the people who I feel truly safe with. Safe in knowing that they love me, that they care for me, that they TRULY want me to be happy and they seek the good in me instead of seeking out my weaknesses.

When a word or thought keeps returning to my mind day after day, I like to look them up in the dictionary to try to understand my feelings more...

TRUST: to have faith in; to rely on someone; to believe; to confide someone or something to a person's responsible care

That last one is the one that got me. When I am around someone, how do I feel when I am with them? Are they truly interested in me and how I am doing? Are they truly listening to the words I am saying and what I mean by them instead of listening to my words and twisting them and translating them in their own minds the way they want to hear them? If the answer to these questions is yes... then I should feel safe with that person.

How do I feel when I am not around that person? Do I feel confident that they will think the best of me and look past my weaknesses? Do I feel confident that they are trying to understand me and my motives or do they misunderstand my motives and interpret my motives to be different than they truly are?

These are the questions that have been on my mind lately. I am grateful to say that most of the people in my life are trustworthy... thus making me feel safe with them as a person, as a friend, as a family member, as a loved one. But when you do feel unsafe with someone because you don't know if you can trust them... it sure sucks... and it makes you feel just awful.

I'm having a tough day. I am having one of those days that makes me want to escape. One of those days where I want to throw our stuff in the car, buckle myself and Aaron Jr in the car and just start driving. To escape. But I can't.

Wow, I didn't mean to be so negative... next posting will be better... I hope.

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Monday, March 14, 2011

"I flew the flag for Aaron..."

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A couple of months ago, a guy that my sister and I knew when we were younger wrote to me to tell me how sorry he is to hear that Aaron passed away. He said that for some reason, he just kept thinking about our (mine and Aaron Jr's) situation and told his wife about us and they both felt so sad for us. I was grateful for their concern and have told him to be careful so that his wife and kids don't have to experience this. He is a pilot in the U.S. armed forces. He asked me not to use his name, but said that I could use his call sign, which is Flash.

Soon after that, Flash sent me another message and said he had been wanting to do something for Aaron Jr. He asked if he could "fly an American flag for Aaron Jr". I did not know what that meant for sure, but of course I told him that he could and thanked him.

That next week Flash wrote and said "I flew the flag for Aaron yesterday". He said that he would mail it out to Aaron Jr as soon as he could.

Well, it came in the mail and let me tell you, it is such a neat gift for Aaron Jr to have. What a kind and thoughtful thing to do. I am grateful that he took the time to do such a kind thing for Aaron Jr and for me. What a treasure the flag will be to Aaron Jr throughout his life.

With the amazing flag, he sent a certificate to Aaron Jr telling where the flag had been flown for him 'In loving memory of' his daddy. I also asked him to write a note with the flag so that Aaron Jr could always know what it meant. So Flash wrote a letter to Aaron Jr to explain what he did with the flag and why he was sending it to him. I am not going to quote the whole letter, but I want to quote part of it:

"To me that is what the American flag represents, our homes and our families, the very things that make our country great. Well, guess what Aaron, you and your family are part of that and I'm proud to be serving to help protect it.
I know that you have been a tremendous blessing to your mom during this difficult time since your dad died. You have become the man of the house and have helped your mom more than you know. That is an honorable act and I'm proud of you, I know your dad is too. I also know that your mom and your dad (even though he can't be with you right now) love you very much. That is why I flew with this flag right beside me, to honor you and your service during this tough time. I want you to have it so that it will always remind you of our great country, and what makes and keeps our country great - our families. This is for you Aaron. I'm so sorry for your loss.
With Love, FLASH"

That says it all, right? I want to thank Flash for the thoughtful and kind thing he has done for Aaron Jr... and all the while he is in harm's way so far away from his own family. I pray for his and all the other members of the armed forces to have safety and I thank them all and their families for their service and sacrifice.

Thank you Flash! Aaron Jr LOVES his gift.

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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Random February

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Outlets in Park City. Aaron wanted these ear muffs and I was glad they were only $3.00 because I thought they looked so awesome on him.

Aaron Jr watching his cousin Emily play basketball.

My niece Emily playing basketball.

Aaron Jr with my niece Kristina with Shayla.

Shayla with Aaron Jr and Kristina.

Nephew and nieces.

...nephew Thomas, sister in law Tawnie with nephew Jack, nephew Sam.
In their piano recital.

We stopped by Lisa's house one day and as we were leaving, I found Aaron Jr shoveling their sidewalks. SWEET boy.

This was at the book release party that was thrown for my sister Karey and her book that came was published. It sure was a fun night. Here are some photos from the party...

niece Veronica, Me, niece Savannah

Karey at her first book signing at Costco. WOO HOO!

Chocolate chinned Aaron Jr so proud of his Aunt Karey. Congrats again Karey. We love you.

I found this in my phone and I think I forgot to post it. These next two photos are from back in November. This is my mom (on the left) and a lady in her ward who helped at the polls on election day ALL day long.

Aaron Jr using the apple peeler to peel an apple when we were making apple pie for Thanksgiving. Mmm... I want some right now.

Looking forward to March and warm weather.

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Wednesday, March 9, 2011


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So, my sister in law Tawnie wrote an email to all of us sisters and mom last week asking 'Who's in?'
Once I opened the email, it was a challenge to join her in a DE-cluttering task for each of our homes. She got the idea HERE and the tricks and tips for how to do it are HERE. Instead of me explaining the challenge, you can read it at that link.

Most of us sisters and mom agreed to join her in the task. Some will have more to throw out and go through than others, but it is a task that each of us can tackle and have unnecessary items to throw out.

Those of the sisters who have decided to join in have mostly made lists for the 40 days, doing a room or area per day. Well, I rent a tiny little house that has mostly just the basic necessities in it already, so I tried to figure out how I could join in on the challenge in that little house that would really only take one and a half days to go through all the stuff in it.

So, after thinking about it for the past week, I have decided to try to tackle some tasks that have been on my mind for a long long long time. Tasks that will DE-clutter my life by DE-cluttering the heavy weights that have been on my mind for so long... such as...

* tasks that I want to get done, but for some reason keep putting off. Don't you hate those projects / tasks that sit there in the back of your mind for years, but because they are not urgent, you just let it sit there nagging at you? I have SO many of those.

* unresolved and unnecessary issues that weigh on my mind mentally, worries and fears that I have. They need to be DE-cluttered out of my mind by resolving them.

* figure out what to do with some things that are taking up space at other people's houses because I do not have a place for them ever since we had to sell our home. They are things I want to keep, but have left them at family member's homes too long because they have been kind enough to let me. They never complain, but I want to lift that burden off of them... somehow. Then the burden of worrying about it will be DE-cluttered from my mind.

Some of those tasks are going to DE-clutter my surroundings, but most of them will probably DE-clutter the heaviness of the things weighing on my mind.

This is a very raw and unfinished list...

I am still out of town for a couple of days, so I haven't ACTUALLY sat down and written these tasks down, but when I do, I will post them here... that way I will be able to track my progress have blog stoppers by to answer to.

Then at the end of that 40 days, life will be perfect, care free, and I will be engaged to be married. Right?
HA! Just kidding. Just making sure you were all still with me. NEWSFLASH! You have to be dating to get engaged. That's the kicker. Where to find the guys to date. But that is a different posting altogether. So let's move on. ;)


Here's hoping for a DE-cluttered life in 40 days...
Thanks for the challenge Tawnie! Let's all get to work.

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Saturday, March 5, 2011

My Cute Boy

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"Look Mom, it is an earring on my lip."

It is actually Cracklin Oat Bran cereal. What a silly boy.

We were sitting at a stop light and Aaron Jr asked me, "Is that an H or two X's?"
I snapped a photo because I was so proud that he could see both in that.
I know I am a nerd.

Aaron Jr wrote this note and gave it to me. This is the conversation after went something like this:

Me: Thank you! What does it say?

Aaron Jr: What does it say?

Me: Ummm... It says 'I love you Mommy, You are the best Mom ever.'

Aaron Jr: (huge smile) How did I know how to write that?

Me: I don't know! (huge hug) You must be so smart!

This is my big helper. My five year old shoveling the walks. What a sweet boy.

He kept throwing it back onto the sidewalk. :)

Love that smile.

Still throwing it the wrong way, but look at that form.

Okay, there you go. Perfect!

I LOVE this boy!

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