Video

Twenty-three years.

I’ve had the sacred privilege of sharing the last 23 years with a man that I love, respect, and adore.

It’s been a great ride with many ups and downs, but the roller coaster is what keeps it exciting. The challenges are what make us stronger.

In the last couple of years, it’s been especially tough, as my husband has struggled with connection. It’s left me very lonely, but I am grateful that he continues to choose me. Even if he doesn’t show his choice how I want for the majority of the time, I know at the end of the day, he’s doing the best he can.

It’s THE MOST BEAUTIFUL THING in existence to choose the same person over and over again.

Now, if you are happy at that sap, stop reading here.

Next, I am going to share with you my poem from last night. I’ve been writing a poem a day for the past two weeks. I plan to write one every day for 365 days straight. I am trying to think of the one moment that I found the most significant and write about it. Last night’s poem is depressing. It captures the loneliness I feel while my husband is mentally and emotionally checked out.

Now, don’t be mad. It is what is. It’s part of the roller-coaster. Even among the pain, we choose each other, and that is what makes our marriage beautiful.

Ignore the bullets. I couldn’t figure out any other way to get this poem to be single-spaced.

The Light He Never Sees

  • I wear a head lamp
  • to illuminate the
  • graphite scratches
  • containing all my hurt and loneliness
  • made to the rhythmic interruptions
  • of
  • slurping and
  • muzzling and
  • choking and
  • blowing
  • of his snores.
  • It seems it should be
  • impossible
  • for him to sleep.
  • Yet, he’s dead to the world
  • as I know it,
  • He’s oblivious of this small consideration
  • as he’s oblivious to the large services and the even greater care.
  • But, at least at night,
  • he’s got snores to blame.
  • During the day, it’s just neglect.

Dear Dad,

It’s 4 days until Christmas. You’ve been gone for what feels like forever. I miss you so much, dad. You’ve been with me so much this month. In the Walgreen’s aisle with Almond Roca. In every bad dressed-up Santa. In the bicycle aisle at Wal-mart, and as I drove past the Harley store and heard your gut-busting laugh as I reminisced about running into the front door. With the Old Spice and the shaving cream I bought for Caroline’s slime. The rootbeer that I got just to think of you. In my feather pillow. In the measuring tape I needed at work and just happened to have in my car. When LG and I somehow managed to fix our own washing machine, the miracle belonged to you, and the moment wasn’t near what it could have been if I could have called you on the phone to hear your pride.

I wish I could see you just for a second. I want to see your smile. I want to feel your rough weathered hands. I want to smell you and feel the whiskers on your face when you try to give me a kiss and I turn my cheek to your greedy lips. One of the last things I said to you is that I don’t do kisses except for with LG and babies. I grew out of those a long time ago, but it never stopped you from trying. Ha. Unfortunately, as real as the memories are, because you aren’t actually here, I have to be satisfied with the memories making you alive in the sights, smells, and sounds that are here. When Mr. Bing Crosby whistles in “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas,” I just pretend that you are right upstairs. And I know you are.

Last month I went to the temple. I prayed and pleaded with God that he would let me see you. I waited in the Celestial Room for a long time, but you never came. I didn’t understand. I forced myself to my feet and walked toward the door dejected and disappointed. Outside the Celestial Room, I threw my fifty tear-soaked tissues in the garbage and got a drink of water for my perched throat, and then I noticed a burly man in his prime wearing a white suit watching my every move from where he stood at the top of the stair-case across the breezeway.

As I walked straight toward him turning to ascend the stairs back to my stressful and crazy lifestyle, I felt a peace permeate me. The peace was a literal thing, and it pierced straight through my entire being. As I turned back to make sense of this feeling — this weapon of peace — that could entice me to do anything and everything to keep it, the man smiled and said “goodnight.” I returned with an automated “goodnight,” like a Walton’s episode, while also automatically turning back around to let the goodnight of peace propel me back to so much drudgery below. After two steps, I realized that this man (if it wasn’t you) represented you. You had chosen to offer me the greatest thing you had to offer — peace. And out of all the things you could say, you chose “goodnight.” As if you were really saying, “don’t fret, Alice. I’ll see you tomorrow.” Upon my recognition of what had transpired, I jolted my head back to catch you, dad, but all I got was the back of your suit headed back into God’s abyss. You had other stuff to do, and at that moment I knew you were just fine. Busy, but fine. You stole the moment for your grieving child. You stole it just for me because you are way more than fine. You are busy in a place of white. You will always be watching, but not necessarily 100% present except in memory. You didn’t even wait for me turn back because it would have been too hard to say goodbye instead of just a simple goodnight.

Oh dad, you are everywhere that I am. I take you with me wherever I go. I know you’re fine, but I sure wish I could feel that peace all of the time.

Dear Mom [Week 6]

Hi mom,

Wow, it amazes me at how much your voice has become a healing balm for my soul. I wish I would have recognized that more for dad before he was gone. Thanks for my pep talk on Wednesday night. Oh, how validating it is to just talk with someone over the phone who can see straight through the cellular airwaves. “Alice, you sound so tired. I hope you can get to bed  early tonight.” Even if I didn’t, just hearing that you wished it for me gave me greater strength to endure. Thank you, mom. For Wednesday and all the thousands of other times just like it. How fortunate I am to have you in my corner.

I was out walking Olive last night at 10:30 PM and a truck hauling a trailer full of stuff drove by. I had to sit down on the curb for a bit because my heart and mind felt like dad had just passed by showing me that he is still hard at work and happy. Then, I had a dream last night. It is my first I’ve had of dad since he passed away. I was showing a friend a video of my dad of how healthy he was on the day he died. He reached out from the cell phone screen jumping and hopping, waving and smiling. He was laughing. I never recognized the  full value of his smile until he was gone. While I dreamt, his smile filled my whole soul with light. It illuminated from his eyes and mouth to his face and everything beyond.  I woke up so happy. I felt like dad was telling me not to worry because he is right back to his old healthy happy ways. How much fun we always had with you and dad! Compared to our neighbors’ possessions, we had next to nothing, but we sure did have everything. I felt like we really got the best of both worlds. A third-world country carefree closeness combined with so many first-world conveniences.

I’m sorry these letters are getting harder to decipher.  I am so tired all of the time, and it is hard to write. I can’t even seem to think straight. When you called last Friday from the DI crying, it truly broke my heart. I wish I could take away your pain, mom. I hated (and still hate) that you were (and still are) lonely, but then when you said, “I feel better, just hearing your voice,” it made me so humbled and grateful that even though I can’t take it away, I could provide a little comfort in the moment. I am so glad Adam could come visit. I am partially jealous that he has the kind of freedom to do that, but I am more grateful than anything. I need to make it a priority to come visit very soon, no matter how crazy busy I am. Adam is just as busy, if not more so.

It’s Friday, therefore I should be getting homework done. It’s 1:13 PM, and I have yet to even start. I’ve had a great day. I woke up and listened to President Uchtdorf’s talk from Women’s Conference, and consequently I just wanted more. I then listened to Elder Holland’s talk from the Priesthood Session. In between my new visiting teacher came over. God has been with me today. He answered my prayers. He never answers in the way that I want Him to, but He does answer. I’ve been really preoccupied with LG and Abigail lately. One of my questions going into conference was how I could help both LG and Abigail with their individual struggles. I get so impatient, and I know a majority of the time I just exacerbate stuff. When I asked the question, I hoped God would tell me exactly how I could MAKE them do what I know is best. Ha. God has never answered me one time, in all my almost 43 years, to tell me anything about anyone else. Today, has been true to God’s pattern.

Between Sunny (my visiting teacher), Holland, and Ucthdorf I got three witnesses all telling me that same thing. I need to have more faith, I need to love better and deeper, and I need to be patient and kind. They all sounded just like you, mom. Maybe someday Abigail will actually write me a letter that says, “Hey, mom, thanks for telling me what I didn’t want to hear. I know you love me. And, you were right. My entire life.” Well, there you go, mom. There is everything you ever wanted to hear. You know me well. I know that you love me. And, I hope I can learn to love like you do, more devoutly and patiently. Why does it have to be so hard? I wish I could just make everyone else change to my liking, instead of having to work on making myself more like-able.

As I sat pondering how I could make the changes I needed to make, I saw a video a friend of mine posted on facebook. It was a song by Andrea Bocelli and Katherine McFee called “The Prayer”. As I watched and listened to the beautiful lyrics, I started praying along.

I pray you’ll be our eyes
And watch us where we go
And help us to be wise
In times when we don’t know

Let this be our prayer
As we go our way
Lead us to a place
Guide us with your grace
To a place where we’ll be safe

I pray we’ll find your light
And hold it in our hearts
When stars go out each night
Remind us where you are

Let this be our prayer
When shadows fill our day
Lead us to a place
Guide us with your grace
Give us faith so we’ll be safe

We ask that life be kind
And watch us from above
We hope each soul will find
Another soul to love

Let this be our prayer
Just like every child
Needs to find a place
Guide us with your grace
Give us faith so we’ll be safe

Need to find a place
Guide us with your grace
Give us faith so we’ll be safe

I almost felt like I was praying to both God and dad. I hope that doesn’t come across sacrilegious. When I got to the part where it says, “Let this be our prayer, just like every child, needs to find a place” I got a fourth witness. It was an answer from God, about me, about you, and about dad. It was jetted straight through my skin and brain and arrived straightway to my heart. “Create a place for every child, just like your mom and dad. Be their place. Be their safe place.” That means, I have to do that for everyone. Not just my kids, but my husband, too. It’s a daunting message. How can I ever do that when I am still such a child needing such a place? But, I will try, mom. I will try. How I love you and dad. You both have issues, but you both keep trying. You are children who need a safe place, but despite your own needs being met or not, you always created that place for others. You know how to love. Thank you for showing me what that looks like. I will try to be like you, mom. And like dad. Because ultimately I know I will end up looking like God.
Two more songs followed as I typed to you just now while listening to “The Prayer” again trying to muster my strength to get up from my laptop. I don’t want to. I just want to stay here where it is safe, and I won’t mess anything up with my controlling, impatience, criticism, or aggressiveness. The songs were “Time to say Goodbye” and then “Hero.” I could hear dad’s voice singing. He told me we will go together again in a ship, and that even though he knows he’s my hero, he was just an ordinary dude who kept trying and loving. I could hear him say, “Alice, you can keep trying. You can keep loving.”
It’s not Wednesday night. You aren’t on the phone. It’s Friday morning, and for the second time this week I got a pep-talk from my parents. My dad called all the way from heaven. How about that? I didn’t even have to ask you to talk to him. He just knew I needed him.
I love you, mom. Until next week… here are the lyrics. I hope you get to hear dad telling you about the ship you will sail again, too.

 

Excerpted from “Time to say Goodbye”
When I’m alone
I dream on the horizon
and words fail;
yes, I know there is no light
in a room where the sun is absent,
if you are not with me, with me.
At the windows
show everyone my heart
which you set alight;
enclose within me
the light you
encountered on the street.
Time to say goodbye
To countries I never
Saw and shared with you,
now, yes, I shall experience them.
I’ll go with you
On ships across seas
which, I know,
no, no, exist no longer,
with you I shall experience them again.
I’ll go with you
On ships across seas
Which, I know,
No, no, exist no longer;
with you I shall experience them again.
I’ll go with you,
I with you.

“Hero”

There’s a hero
If you look inside your heart
You don’t have to be afraid
Of what you are
There’s an answer
If you reach into your soul
And the sorrow that you know
Will melt away

And then a hero comes along
With the strength to carry on
And you cast your fears aside
And you know you can survive
So when you feel like hope is gone
Look inside you and be strong
And you’ll finally see the truth
That a hero lies in you

It’s a long road
When you face the world alone
No one reaches out a hand
For you to hold
You can find love
If you search within yourself
And the emptiness you felt
Will disappear

And then a hero comes along
With the strength to carry on
And you cast your fears aside
And you know you can survive
So when you feel like hope is gone
Look inside you and be strong
And you’ll finally see the truth
That a hero lies in you

Lord knows
Dreams are hard to follow
But don’t let anyone
Tear them away
Hold on
There will be tomorrow
In time
You’ll find the way

And then a hero comes along
With the strength to carry on
And you cast your fears aside
And you know you can survive
So when you feel like hope is gone
Look inside you and be strong
And you’ll finally see the truth
That a hero lies in you
That a hero lies in you
That a hero lies in you

The moment we dread. And after.

1423622445101

My oldest daughter will be a senior in high-school next year. Look at her. Isn’t she just every mother’s joy!? I find myself in the middle of the day just rummaging through her things, trying to learn more about her. (I hope she doesn’t read this or that might kind of freak her out.) When she is zoned in on her phone, I sneak in more peeks just because I can. I think of her, and mentally check to see if I have her memorized. I think about the cans of Spaghetti O’s she forages. I mentally replay her body in motion racing around a track. I trace every line of her hairdos. At homecoming. That choir concert. That morning when she just got out of bed.

Favorite candy=hot tamales. Check. Most proud moment=hmmm. I’m not sure. I better ask her. Favorite color=green. Check. Biggest fear=birds. Bigger fear=being judged as less than. Talents=soccer, design, hair, fashion, math, anaylzing, singing. There are too many. I think about her voice and how it sounds when she sings next to me at church. I smile. I think about her voice when she was 10, 5, 2. Then I have to stop because it hurts too much.It makes me cry, knowing that she will never sound like a two-year-old ever again. She will never give me sloppy kisses again. She will never come crying because she just scraped a knee and she believes my kisses will make it all better. She will never navigate a new high-school or be at the wheel for a first time or learn to walk.

I don’t want her to leave. I don’t ever want her to go because part of me will go with her, and I am not sure how I will manage having part of me wherever she ends up. I know from observing others that I will figure it out. I just don’t want to. Not at all. I want to keep her all for myself. But, there is a world that needs her. A world I’ve prepared her for. A world that she needs. There are things she can’t learn from me. It has to be someone else to teach her physics and quantum life. I don’t know that stuff. There are jobs just for her. There are people waiting to know her and love her. There are people she is meant to love. There are little monkies of her own that she gets to recycle this  life experience with. All I can hope for is that she lets me visit once in awhile. Maybe she will even come home when she can,  and give me a hug. I will like that.

But honestly, every time we part ways, I will feel a little like Jane Goodall. Appreciated. Happy. Proud. And in excrutiating torment to see her go. She will take a part of my heart with her. And the day I die, after giving her one small piece at a time for decades, I will leave the last piece of it with her, so she will have more heart to give to her own monkies.  And I will wait in heaven to hug her on the other side when she comes stumbling through the veil with her own empty heart. And when we hug, in the touch, somehow, our hearts will miraculously ressurect. And the torment will be no longer. All that will remain will be the Pride. And the Joy.

Your Field Day

Field Day = life
Matt = you
Matt’s determination = your faith
The track = your life
Cerebal palsy = your personal battles
The spectators = also you

Sometimes we are the runner.
Sometimes we are the spectators.
Every field day should look like this.
Keep trying.
Keep encouraging.
Stop competing.
Everyone gets to finish.
It’s not about who wins.
It’s about who shows up,
and who loves each other.

Each One of Us

He computes, analyzes.
So intelligent, but has no confidence.

She toils and serves.
So capable, but doesn’t believe she really makes any difference.

She is beautiful, talented.
So phenomenal, but doesn’t trust herself.

She is artistic, and a symphonic joy.
So welcoming, but she shuts the world out.

She is bold, and kind.
So forceful, but she loves everyone but herself.

They won’t find their part in the symphony
until they believe
each one of us
is glorious.

Our family rocks!!

We decided to make the most of our Saturday after a really high-stress week. We took a short road trip in the rental van. We’re still in negotiations with the insurance company.

We went up to Antelope Island and out to dinner at the close-by Cracker Barrel. We haven’t been to a Cracker Barrel since it was right down the street in TN. It was so fun to see the girls get all sentimental in the shop. (photos to come)

After a short stop at IKEA (2 hours is short) we cranked up the toons for the remaining hour long drive.

I busted out the camera because I wanted to capture the moment. My joy was full. (Glad I didn’t crash trying to multi-task – save your lectures)

Our family rocks just like they do on one of our favorite movies: Bandslam. If you haven’t seen it, you can’t possibly be complete.

Braxton Richard Lane Wills

Today is an emotional day for me.
My nephew Braxton,
who passed away in May,
would have been 13 today.
The loss a whole family feels
is so profound
and lingering.
We miss this little guy
so much.
He was so full of life.
He is known for being
sensitive and caring
kind and loving
and
all boy.
He has
a great
sense of humor.

I have seen several

miracles
since his passing
but one that sticks with me
the most
is the day
that Braxton found me on
my running trail.
He just ran right along with me
until I stopped
at the top of a hill.
His presence was
so profound,
I had to stop to see if
I could see him with my own eyes.
I talked to him
and told him how much
I love him.
When I started to cry
and tell him how sad I
was that he was gone,
he immediately ran off the other way.
He turned back with a smile
as if to say
“Don’t be sad,
I’m happy,
I’m busy,
in fact I have to run right now.
I’ve stolen away enough time
to find you today.
I just wanted to tell you
to be happy
because I love you too.”

I am giving myself permission 
to sit around today
and cry
because sometimes
tears are the best way to heal.
I thank my beautiful niece Dani
(Braxton’s oldest sister)
and her band
Roatrip Romance
for writing and recording
called 
“Wait on you”
It’s balm to my soul today.
 I guess heaven
couldn’t wait on
Braxton.
And I guess I better
quit crying
and get out on the
running trail
like I would normally
to show Braxton
that I am honoring his wishes
to not be sad
and to
live my life to the fullest.
I know he wants
me to
appreciate life
for all that it is.
Another thing
he told me
on the running trail is
how blessed I am
to have this mortality.
I love you Braxton.
Thanks for
teaching me so much.

Here is a great talk
by a living apostle
about
finding
joy in life.
Braxton would
approve of the message.
In fact,
it’s the same message
he delivered
to me
in about
300 less words.