I am beginning to dread writing these letters more and more because I know it will just make me cry. Somewhere inside of me there is still a five-year-old little girl who just wants to be at home safe with her mom and dad. I never really realized that I have some form of anxiety until very recently. As a girl, I thought it was normal to obsess over bad people coming into our house at night to rob us or hurt us. I used to lay in my bed and repeatedly remind myself of your words that dad would never let anything happen to any of his babies. I logically and emotionally knew perfectly that what you said was true, but when the anxiety overtook me and I got really desperate, I would think about dad’s gun up in his closet. I knew dad could “take” almost anyone alive, but just in case a mob were to come, there was always the gun. It seems so silly now, but not really. I often talk to LG about whether or not he would actually fight for me or the kids. He’s such a gentle giant, I’m always worried I would have to do the fighting. Dad was a gentle giant too, and I know that he would fight, so I guess I should rest assured.
This photo came up on my facebook feed today. There is a way that facebook reminds you of your past posts. I took this exactly one year ago. Don’t you worry, the fact that dad is holding mine and Renee’s babies together is not lost on me. I can’t remember where we were when I took this. I want to say it was someone’s baptism. Eli’s? Isn’t it just so perfect?! Dad always had time for the children! What a wonderful dad. What a lucky bunch of kids. I can’t believe he looked this good just one year ago. He withered fast, didn’t he? It really is as if as soon as he knew Renee was taken care of, a part of him just moved on. Dangit. I wish we had him for just one more year. Heck, I’d take one more day, one more hour, one more minute. I wonder if I could spit out the words, “I love you,” in just a second? If I could add anything, it would be, “thank you.” He would know all of the thank you’s in my heart.
Thank you, dad, for giving me life. For loving my mother. For feeding me. For carrying me to the car when I cut off my toe, and for not being mad when I cut it off from being disobedient to your orders. For carrying me into the house every time when you knew I was just faking sleep. Thank you for the buckets at the beach. Thank you for baptizing me. Thank you for teaching me to love hard work. Thank you for disciplining me. Thank you for loving animals. Thank you for not beating me, even though you were beat. Thank you for working all of the time, so I could have clothes and a car to drive. Thank you for teaching me to drive stick shift, and for laughing at me when I stalled on the hills. Thank you for the many many adventures. Thank you for killing all the rattlesnakes. Thank you for the pep talk when Matt Jewell broke up with me and I cried for days on end. You told me it was his loss, and I believed you. Thank you for remodeling my bathroom in Tennessee while you were on vacation. Thank you for giving me a priesthood blessing before my mission that helped me realize much much later that LG was the man I was meant to marry. Thank you for loving my husband. Thank you for all the ways you’ve watched over my little family. Thank you for the KFC months ago and the TV that arrived at my house days after you died. Thank you for LG’s drill. Thank you for my electrical outlet in my garage. Thank you for another remodeled bathroom. Thank you for giving me the gumption to duct-tape stuff and keep driving, and the assurance that it would be okay. “What’s the worst that can happen?” I heard you say, as I pulled tentatively onto the freeway for a four-hour drive home. I wanted to call you to be certain, but I just left you sick in your hospital bed. The only way you could make me go back home to my family was to lie to me and tell me everything would be okay. Thank you for the last little talk we had in the hospital when I got uncomfortable. You made sure I listened. It was less than a month ago and I can’t even remember your exact words. You always understood how hard it was for me to listen, but whatever you said, because of its intensity, I knew you loved me and I knew you were proud of me, and I knew you believed in me and wanted me to be happy. I made sure you knew that I felt the same. How much you must have known I would need that for the rest of my life.
Mom, I’ll never forget that nurse’s baby boy that came to visit us at the hospital. It didn’t matter that dad was tired or in pain, he took that baby right up in his bed with him and loved on him. I was almost kind of jealous that it wasn’t Max, and as if dad read my mind, he proceeded to tell that nurse all about Max and how amazing he thought he was, how he could make a basket from any part of the room. I can’t even begin to describe how much it hurts to think that Max will never know his grandpa. I don’t think a second would be long enough, but I would give it to you anyway, mom. I would give it all to you. How you must be so lost without him.
I usually try to write these letters on Sundays when everyone is napping or occupied, so that I can cry and have time to myself. However, yesterday got away from me and I am writing in between subjects while I study in a little private study room at UVU. My eyes and brain were tired, so I decided I coul write as a break from reading and kill two birds with one stone. Bad idea. The study room has glass walls, and I am so glad I am up on the fifth floor where no one is around this late at night. It’s 9 pm. No one but crazy mothers study this late at night on campus. It’s a good thing because the tears are rolling freely down my face. I had to move my laptop farther from my eyes so that the puddle on the table wouldn’t ruin it.
I must get back to studying now, mom, but I don’t ever want to stop once I get started. It’s like you are right here with me. Like dad is right here, too. I wanted to tell you one thing right quick. I’m struggling with the working mom guilt. It’s so hard to let Max be cared for by someone else. He’s my baby!!! But, like dad taught me, I do what I have to do. So, to help with my guilt, I made homemade rolls this morning. It’s my first batch of rolls in the new Bosch mixer my mother-in-law got me for Christmas. Nine months without rolls tells you how insane my life has been. Anyhow, as I was taking the dough from the mixer to knead and cut, I had a flashback. It was after school. I was 7 or 8. Your mixer looked a lot like mine, but your dough was wheat. It smelled of yeast. My mouth was watering. I knew you loved me. I hope my kids knew of my love when they ate those rolls tonight. I wasn’t even home for dinner because I was here at school. I have learned that pursuing my own dreams is also something important to teach my children, but it sure is hard to spread myself so thin.
One last sidenote: LG gave everyone back-to-school blessings last night. We were late this year with all the craziness of the funeral and Abigail’s pep-talks taking a lot of our time, and my new job and stuff. So last night it was. I wish you could have been there, mom. In my blessing, LG talked a lot about my new job and how I should pray for my students because they are my fields. The scriptures say we should pray over our fields. And then, he got emotional. He stopped for a long time. Then whimpered. The spirit testified to me that whatever he would say next was something vital and true. He said, “Alice, your father is watching over you.” His voiced cracked as he cried. “Your earthly father.” “He will do everything in his power to help you, and he will always be there when you need him.” I think my immediate sobs kind of scared my kids, but maybe it will help them to have a greater appreciation for their dad who is alive, and for the priesthood. Such a beautiful moment, and I hate to write it here because I always publish these letters on my blog. That was truly sacred.
Well, I must go. It’s 9:03, and I have 150 more pages to read before class on Wednesday. Between work and other stuff I won’t have time to do it tomorrow. I love you, mom. Thank you for so many things. So, so, many things. I sit in my living room and smile. I look ever every thing that you carefully chose, just because you wanted me to have a nice room that was presentable. You didn’t want me to have to be embarrassed ever again. You gave me nicer things then you have ever given yourself. And when I get overwhelmed, I just sit on one of my two leather sofas and I look at my buffet table, and my rug, my pillows, my coffee table, and my colorful artwork above my mantle. I smile, not because it is all so lovely, but because I can feel you there loving me and cheering me on. I smiled yesterday thinking about how one of dad’s last gifts to you was bringing you up two weekends in a row, and letting you go crazy. He never said a word of reprimand. Then I got up, and keep at my life. Just like right now.
I’ll write you again next week. I wonder if I will ever be able to write one of these letters without crying. I hope so. I hope not. Our crying is what connects us. Big boob babies.