Friday, July 25, 2014

Fundraising for Camp Kesem

 Jeni battled breast cancer three times before it finally took her in the end. After her first round, she was very concerned about the stress the situation was putting on her children. She did some research to see if there were any programs that could help them work through some of their fears and emotions. BYU's Camp Kesem was the answer to her prayers. It is an amazing camp that is designed to help children whose parents have or have had cancer.

When the final diagnosis was given, Jeni made a request that in lieu of flowers, people would donate money to Camp Kesem instead.

The kids and I decided to make some items to sell so that we could raise some money for Camp Kesem. These little crafts, and the suckers helped them make about $35 to send to the camp. The people in our area were amazing to help my kids feel like they were making a difference. They just lit up whenever people would purchase their pictures and the candy they had made.
If you would like to help kids get the healing they need while going through the Hell that is having a parent with cancer, then you can go here to do so.

Little Readers

One morning I was getting ready to read with Sara when I had to run to the restroom. By the time I came back, Miss Emma had stepped in to help her sister. It was a really sweet moment that has been duplicated many times over now. I love these little readers.

Super Bowl 2014

 We met at Melissa's house to enjoy the Super Bowl. I can't even remember who played, but I do remember that the snacks were delicious and the company was fabulous.
 Here is Luke as his spot.

 We loved having Grandma there with us. She was staying with Rex at the time, and my kids were happy to get some time with her.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Jack's Krispy Kreme Field Trip

 Miss Jenny took Jack's class to Krispy Kreme for a field trip. It was delightful.
 These boys crack me up when they get together.

God Is a Smart Dude

For a few weeks before the funeral, I had been experiencing some pretty severe pains in my abdomen and back. I thought it was from kidney stones, so I had been doing some things to help with that. On the way home from the funeral, I got a severe pain that felt like someone had just punched me in the back. Ross offered to take me to the hospital, but I told him I just needed to get home and rest and get some fluids.

I should have listened to him.

When I got home, I started to bleed. A lot. I got really dizzy and was pretty scared, and the pain started intensifying a lot.

Ross quickly called a sitter, and we headed to the ER. Some IV fluids helped me not feel as dizzy, and laying with my feet up controlled the bleeding a bit, so I was deemed as non-emergent as was sent home with the new that there was a strange mass in my uterus causing the bleeding, but they couldn't do anything else for me at the time. I was just to rest and follow up with my OB. Frustrating and totally scary. Keep in mind that I had JUST got home from burying my sister-in-law who had died of cancer. The term 'strange mass' had me panicking, and I was furious that they wouldn't help me further.

The next morning, Ross and I were up early to get in touch with my OB. Turns out there was some kind of conference, and more than half of the OBs in the area were out of town. We finally tracked down one who had an opening for the next day, but it took hours of phone calls and pleading. I was still bleeding and was constantly battling vertigo and pain. Frustrating.

I got a sitter for the kids the next day, and Ross met me at the OB office. As soon as the doctor put the ultrasound wand on my belly, he said I needed surgery. I had a giant polyp that was pulling away from the uterus wall and was causing some significant tearing. He was pretty upset I had been sent home. We were glad to have some validation. My surgery was scheduled for the next morning, and everything went well. I was sent home with instructions to take it easy.

That wasn't too hard, since I went home with no bleeding, but a nice new case of Strep throat. Once I got some antibiotics for that from the Instacare a couple of days later, I was finally able to feel like myself again.

When I started to recover, I was surprised to see how good it felt. I had no idea how sick I was. This had been coming on for a while, and it has been gradually wearing on me. To feel so good again was amazing.

Now, when all of this was going down, I was pretty mad at God. I mean really? Didn't he think we had been through enough already without this kind of stress taking us down? As I was yelling at him about this one day, he took some time to explain it all to me.

We had been doing everything we could to support and help Rex and his family before and right after Jeni's death. God knew that this condition was happening within me, but He allowed me to be blissfully ignorant so that I could be there for them in the small ways I was. It wasn't until AFTER the viewings and the funeral that it was brought to my attention.

Not only had God allowed me to serve in the tiny ways I did, but He also gave me a good way to distract myself from the sadness of it all when there was no longer anything I could do for them. Judy was staying with them, so I knew they were well tended to, and I knew they would need some time to adjust without extra bodies in their way for the next little bit. Without this distraction, I may have gone crazy.

 Plus, I got some healing snuggles from this guy. He never left my side while I was sick, although he is a bit of a pillow hog...

God is smart, and he knows what He is doing.

Jeni's Funeral

Saturday and Sunday held the viewings. It was hard, and I wish I had more to say about my feelings. It was just hard. I was so glad that she was at peace, but the pain her death brought her family was rough mostly because there was nothing at all I could do about it.

I ended up staying in the hall with Luke for most of it because for some reason, two year old little boys don't like to sit still and be quiet. Cole and Lucy would join me in the hall from time to time, and we would chat, laugh, and hug. I was glad to see them shift off some of the weight of the circumstance, and I hope they didn't ever take that diversion as me not taking the situation seriously. Goodness, I love those kids.

Monday was the funeral. All of the nieces and nephews sang 'I Am a Child of God' and I led them. Ross was one of the pall bearers. Her family gave some amazing speeches about her life, who she is, and why we are all so blessed to have had her in our lives. She is so amazing. I miss her.

After the funeral, we headed to the cemetery. The ground was covered in snow, but the sun was shining. So fitting. The site dedication was lovely and brought the Spirit in so strong. Judy brought balloons with Pink ribbons on them for us to let go and watch fly off into the sky. It was beautiful.

We then headed back to the church for the luncheon, which was amazing. It always feels strange to laugh or smile after something like this, but there is something about a good meal that can make this possible, and I am glad. It was what we needed, and furthermore, it is what Jeni would have wanted.

 We hugged everyone goodbye, and left with heavy hearts. We so wanted to do more for Rex and his children, but we knew our presence was more of a burden than a help. I haven't stopped praying for them since that day. Every family prayer includes them, and all of my personal prayers. They are strong and amazing, and I love them a lot.

I Have Amazing Friends

 When the news of Jeni's passing got out, we were comforted and supported by some amazing people who really understand the importance of bearing one another's burdens, mourning with those that mourn, and comforting those that stand in need of comfort.

The flowers above were brought to me by the Young Women's presidency. There were 3 flowers- one for each of Jeni's children. They knew that my concern at the time was for them and how to help them.

My fabulous friend and neighbor, ShawnandShellbi Stika came by to give us popsicles. She explained that her grandmother was never very wealthy, but her house was a hub for company and social visits, and she never let anyone leave her house without some kind of edible treat. One of the most popular was popsicles. It was a cheap way to show people that she cared about them and wanted them to be happy. (This reminds me a lot of my own Grandma Wallace and her rice crispy treats.) At her funeral, a room full of grown adults mourned her loss and celebrated her life with popsicles. My sweet friend came to share comfort with us in her own personal and lovely way. I am so blessed. 
 My kids chose to color some Valentines and make some decorations to sell. They donated all of that money to Camp Kesem- a camp for children whose parents have had cancer. I had many lovely friends come by and purchase items to show their love and support.
 My friend Paulette brought these pumpkin bars with PINK frosting. She knew how much I love them, and wanted to offer some sugary comfort in a unique way.
This is honestly just a small sampling of all the ways we were served and blessed during this time. There is so much goodness in this world, and for that I am so grateful.

January 23, 2014

Shortly after Ross left for work on this day, he called me to let me know that Rex had just contacted him to tell him about Jeni's passing earlier that morning. She passed away quietly in her sleep. That peaceful release from her pain-filled body was what we had been praying for her to experience, but it still came with a heavy push of pain and heart-sickness.

Once I mopped up my first outburst of tears, I told the girls that they didn't have to get ready for school. I explained the news, and we hugged while they took it all in. We had a quiet day at home trying to find ways to give quiet moments of service in Jeni's name.

I got a reminder call that I had a dental appointment in SLC that day, and I was so relieved to have a good excuse to meet Ross for lunch and have him come home early. It was during our lunch that the first signs of some medical issues started to pop up, but I shook them off as merely relating to the emotional stress we were all going through.

Here are some of the Facebook Statuses that marked this day in Jeni's honor as the news began to spread:

Jeni is so loved and so missed. She left a real mark on this world, and her legacy of faith, love, endurance, work, kindness, and so many other things remains strong and intact.