Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Easter Blessings

This has been a week spent appreciating the little things I love about those around me, especially my family. I have been taking time to really notice the cute, unique things about each child and all of the special things that make Ben the wonderful man he is.

I am thankful for this time of reflection and appreciation. It is a healthy reaction when coping with loss.

Right now we are all coping with the loss of a sweet little 5 year old girl, Jersey, who lives a few doors away.

Here is the story:

On Wednesday, Mari was invited over to her friend, Kori's house to play. I took her over and gave her a quick hug and reminded her to be good. I left to complete some quick errands.

When I returned, Kori's house was surrounded with fire trucks, ambulance, and police cars. Uniformed people were everywhere. I parked the van and ran with all my might into the house.

"Where's Mari?" I screamed. One of Kori's aunts stopped me and said, "She's fine, but Jersey fell out of the window." I spotted Mari and snatched her up. Aunt said, "Jersey fell out the 2nd story window and landed on her head on the concrete below." Mari and Kori, and Jersey and some cousins were upstairs playing in the girls' bedroom. One of the girls got the window open. They were bouncing on the bed, playing 'puppies' by the window. Jersey leaned on the screen and fell out. The other girls were hanging out the window too. They said it was a miracle that no one else fell out of that window. Everyone was hysterical.

The paramedics were outside working on Jersey. Lifeflight was on its way. All the little girls were sobbing.

My first instinct was to pray. I asked if anyone had said a prayer yet. They said they hadn't thought of that. We gathered in a circle...all of us of different faiths...and I said a prayer. During the prayer I felt a calm confirmation that everything would turn out the way it was suppose to.

I exchanged phone numbers with Kori's aunt and the paramedics shooed us all away.

I went home, still clinging to Mari, shut the door, occupied Mari with her favorite show, and broke down sobbing.

A short while later, I heard the lifeflight helicopter land on our street. I shut the blinds and held if I could shut out that horrible scene.

Jersey was flown to PCMC.

There was a knock at our door. 2 Detectives, plus a policeman friend of ours, asked to come in and speak to Mari. I had my costume 'Emma' curlers in my hair because we had to do a 'Joseph and Emma' later that night and Mari was covered in Cheetos dust.

I washed Mari up and explained to her that the police helpers wanted to ask her some things. Mari was nervous and thought she was in big trouble. After assuring her that these people were trying to help Jersey, and that Mari was not in trouble, Mari sat on my lap and talked with the detectives.

They were very sweet. One woman detective talked right on Mari's level while the other man detective took notes on what Mari said. They asked Mari some very specific questions..."Who's house was she playing at?" "What happened?" "Do you know what a screen is?" (I was surprised when Mari told them that a screen was "little squares".

Mari did beautifully. She gave them more information than I thought she was capable of understanding about the situation. I was proud of her, but also worried that she understood so much. (The detective later recommended counseling for Mari because she understood what she saw.)

I called the aunt right before we went to our 'Joseph and Emma'. I was relieved to hear that Jersey's vitals were good. I felt at peace enough to leave my children to do our obligation to the ward that was expecting us for their Relief Society Meeting.

That night, Ben gave me a Priesthood blessing to give me comfort. I finally got to sleep 1 hour before my alarm went off. (Couldn't get the horrible scenes out of my mind). This was the day of our biggest orchestra concert (The Monster Concert) and rehearsal of the year. I had 50+ kids counting on me to be focused on them. Take a deep breath and move forward. The day after the Monster Concert was our school Orchestra concert. Focus! The next day I was in charge of a Hillbilly Band performance for our Stake Relief Society meeting. Focus!

After what seemed like many days and many visits up to PCMC, Jersey's condition got progressively worse. We had a neighborhood fast for her. We said thousands of prayers. By Monday morning, we knew that this would be His will, His plan, not ours.

Mari and I went up to the hospital to be with the family and the other little girls who saw everything. The child life specialists taught the children about the special machines and tubes, giving each child a hospital doll. The children colored pictures for Jersey. They explained to the children that Jersey fell and hit her head so hard that she would not be waking up.

Through tears of heartache, the children were given Mylar balloons and sharpie markers and asked to write messages to Jersey to send up to heaven. We all went outside and released the balloons. The children did not want to let go of their balloons...or of Jersey.

We went home to endless phone calls wanting to help this sweet family. There was no time to cry until late at night when everyone was in bed. Ben held me as I cried.

The next day I had to go tell the principal at our school about Jersey's death. They announced it to Jersey's kindergarten class, and her brother Ian's 5th grade class. They had counselors on hand if the kids needed to talk.

We talked openly about it at Family Home Evening. It was very comforting to remember the Easter story and how Jesus Christ died...but then was Resurrected...just like Jersey will be one day.

How thankful I am that because of the truths that were restored again to the earth, we now know what happens to our spirit after we die. We also know that death is not the end. One day, we will be reunited with our bodies. The bands of death will be broken. We will be whole again.

We cannot be afraid to live, or to die. We must LIVE each day. We must love completely.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Snowflakes and Butterflies

The weather has been confusing lately. The kids were getting ready for Spring. Out came warm clothes and sandals. Out came summer toys and bubbles. Out came gardening tools and seeds. We were shocked when we woke up to this:

It is beautiful but not what we expected Spring to look like.

Hyrum and Dad went out to shovel. Hyrum is always eager for some Dad time even if it includes work. Hyrum is a good worker and is getting better every day.

Marliyn knows what to do in the snow (even if it happens right in the middle of the shoveling effort). Driveway Snow Angels, what else!

Dad chased her off the driveway and told Mari to find something else do to. Mari remembered her desire to catch butterflies with a net she found. She immediately returned with the net in hand and asked her Dad to point some butterflies she could catch.

Dad tried to explain that butterflies are not out yet but Mari would not listen. She spent the next hour chasing butterflies in the snow.

Sweet Mari, maybe the little butterflies are out. Maybe they're just as confused about the weather as we are. Keep looking. You'll see butterflies soon enough!