Sunday, December 3, 2017

Stockton's Blessing

Today, my brother was able to bless his new baby son, Stockton.  It seemed quite strange to have my baby brother blessing his own children.  I swear he was just in Kindergarten!  He did a magnificent job and it was neat to have Stockton be blessed in his dad's blessing outfit and wrapped in the blanket that was made by Kelsey's great-grandma that Kelsey was blessed in. 

A few other highlights were:
*Micheal's favorite hymn as the Sacrament hymn (There Is A Green Hill Far Away).
*Perfect weather when we got to the luncheon and scraping snow off cars when it was time to go.
*A lady in my home ward talking to Kimberlee and thinking it was me. 
*Eating loads of M&M's before getting lunch.
*Kim's indecent dress mishap.

Congrats Matt, Kelsey, and Stockton!


Thursday, November 23, 2017

10 Years Later....

Dear Micheal,

I'm writing you this letter because I didn't write you one on the anniversary of your passing and I don't want to go back and try and conjure up what I felt.  I can barely remember what I ate for breakfast this morning, let alone what happened over nine months ago.

Today marks an entire decade since we decided to join the military.  10 huge years!  I realized that it was also the last Thanksgiving that you were ever home for.  By Thanksgiving 2008, you were in Iraq, and in 2009, you were gone.

Occasionally, I don't know how to feel about time.  In some ways, I want it to slow down, and it others, it needs to speed up.  You've been gone for over 3,000 days but it feels like you just left and you've been gone forever.  The days bleed and blend into one another that I can't remember if you were here for certain events.  I have to go into the back files of my brain, and you and I both know how dangerous that can be.

I've pondered a lot about what today's significance means and how far I've come since then.  I remember you laying on mom and dad's couch after Thanksgiving dinner, reading a book, and eventually falling asleep for a little bit while Kimberlee and I decorated absurd sugar cookies.  We took some family snapshots in front of my parent's house with the Wellsville mountains in the background.  The pictures weren't taken with the kind of technology that we have today.  Oh man, you would love today's technology!

It was the last day that life was normal.... well, as normal as life can be for us.

I can't lie, I've spent the majority of the day in tears.  We set you a place at the table and I wished more than anything that you were sitting there for real, excited to eat your lumpy mashed potatoes.  The holidays are a real suck-fest to get through.  I try to be positive, I really do.  Some days, it's just way harder than others, though.  Today was one of those days.

I know that people are trying to be kind and complimentary when they tell me things like "I have no idea how you do it," but there are times I want to scream "Well, neither do I, but I have to!  I have to.  It must be done, so I suck it up and I do it."  However, most people see me when I have a level head.  What is not seen are the days that I cry, the racking, sob-like kind, the times I scream, curse, and have to beat the hell out of my punching bag.  The times that I curl up in a ball and want to disappear.  Sometimes, it still hits me in the gut like a sucker-punch that you are gone.  It will probably always be like that.

Regardless of the good or bad days, I still stand by our decision.  I know we were doing what the Lord asked of us.  The bad days are just a natural reaction to the trials of life.  I will always miss you!  That will never go away.  The most important part is that I am so proud of you!  Never forget that.

I was reading through some of my journal entries that I wrote since your passing and this one struck me as right on the head (written May 2, 2010):

"When will I realize it's the Lord's timetable and not mine?  The hardest part is not doing the funeral or burying Micheal (though that was hard).  It's getting up every single day after.  Trying to find happiness in a day where I don't get to have him walk in the front door and kiss me, or watch him play with our boys.  Some days, I really struggle.  The Lord knows I'm going to have really hard days; days that I'm going to need him to carry me.  What a blessing to know I have the Lord on my side.  Micheal... I wonder what he's doing right now.  I miss him so much."

I love you my sweetheart.  You and our boys are everything to me.  Our reunion will eventually come, and it's going to rock!

Love,
Forever Your Amy

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Happy Halloween From The Guardians!

The boys and I noticed that we tend to do themed Halloween costumes on odd years, starting with Lord of the Rings in 2013, Harry Potter in 2015, and Guardians of the Galaxy for 2017.

I opted to be Gamora (Drax may have been to much for the world to handle), Kai as Star Lord/Peter Quill, and Kennet as Yondu.

Let it never be said that Kennet isn't dedicated to his craft.  For his role as Severus Snape in 2105, he grew out his hair for an entire year.  This year, he did the exact opposite and we shaved him bald --I mean BALD-- for his role as the blue baddie Yondu Udonta.  We decided to save time and shaved him the night before Halloween.  Wow, that boy has one white noggin!  Rules at the middle school prevented him from wearing face paint  so he went as George Washington --albeit a bald one-- for the day time, but the moment he got home we painted him up like a blue smurf!

This was my best Halloween makeup yet.  I tried the water activated Mehron (for both myself and for Kennet) and it was AMAZING!  It brushes on like a liquid but it dries like a powder, and it dries fast. It didn't smudge or rub off on anything.  And I didn't have to scrub off a layer of skin to remove it.  I'm sold! 

Kai's Star Lord costume was.... unique.  We found one at Target for only $20... best we'd seen so far.  Only problem, it was a Child Large.  I told him he'd just have to squeeze into it for one night.  Due to the costume's suction to his body, Kai decided to go as a greaser again for the school portion of the day. 

One of our neighbors dressed up as Rocket and another was Baby Groot.  The only person we were missing was Drax.  Now that's what I'd like to see Micheal dress up as.... what a beautiful sight.  Sigh.  We also loved seeing friends and family costumes like a dead student (Jess), hamburger (Ryn), cat (Ash), princess (Abbey), trophy wife (Madie), Anna (Eleanor), Ice Ice Baby (Matt, Kelsey and Stockton), gum ball machine (Chloee), crazy cat lady (Halle), pirate (Liam), Teen Maleficent (Jenny), Harry Potter (Paul), angry baby (Lydia) and a zombie (Sam). 

Happy Halloween! Can't wait for next year!





























Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Hope

Today, I was reading in my new Sarah Eden book 'For Love or Honor" (yes, I'm a sappy regency romance reader; let's just get that out of the way now) about a soldier who lost his leg in battle talking to the girl he loves and she confesses that she feared for his life in the months he was gone, and sometimes still feels it pressing down on her.  But it was her next words that struck me:

"I could not have lived if you were gone."

Multiple thoughts and feelings went through me at once....  

Understanding, resentment, empathy, envy, and even a small bit of hatred for this fictional character.

I said those exact same words; said them so many times I believed them.  I no longer have the luxury of saying those words, and haven't for quite some time. 

But, it's amazing what one can do when you are pushed --shoved is more like it-- far beyond the edge of what you thought you could not do. 

In November 2008, while Micheal was on one of his days long missions, I wrote him a four page hand-written letter (the only letter of all the letters I sent him that returned with his personal effects), telling him how much I missed him and that not hearing from him for days felt like what it would be like if he didn't come home.  Just the thought of never hearing his laugh or sarcastic wit again, never seeing him play with his sons or feeling his arms wrap around me again... it felt hollow, cold, and sterile.  It broke my heart.

Three months later, that fearful thought became my reality, and it didn't just break my heart.  It broke me.

That sentence I read in my book today vividly took me back in my mind to eight and a half years ago.  I'm standing in front of Micheal's casket in the RS room, 10 minutes before his funeral is supposed to start.  There are literally only a handful of people in the room with me.  We've said the family prayer, I've placed all his favorite things (M&M's, socks, shorts, book, and his Country Bear; it's a long story) in there to keep him company.  I want more than anything to just crawl in there with him and not face what is ahead of me.  Instead, I summon the courage to lean down and gently kiss his forehead.  His skin is cold and stiff, and I leave a small imprint of my Apricot Glaze lipstick on him; one last piece of myself I can give.

I stand back as they close his casket.  The barely audible noise of the lid settling sounds like a sledgehammer in my ears.  It is the sound of finality.  Everything inside of me splinters, and I want to run out the door and never stop.  

But I can't.  I'm one of the speakers on the program and I owe it to Micheal to honor his life, his sacrifice, and what he means to me. So I straighten my shoulders the best I can and walk in the chapel to do just that.  Micheal was a soldier, valiant and true, and in my own way, I feel like a soldier heading into the hardest battle I will ever have to fight.... and it will never stop until I am dead as well.  

Because the phrase "I could not have lived if you were gone," is what we say when we still have EVERYTHING to lose.  We cannot imagine it because we have not been placed there. 

When you find yourself on the other side of those words, you realize you can, indeed, still live.  Don't get me wrong; it sucks, big time, and there are moments, some short and some lengthy, that shove you underwater where you feel like you can scarcely breath.  But there are moments of beauty, tender mercies, compassion, and love that make it bearable.

The greatest one of all, though, is HOPE.

That is what the Savior does.  He gives us hope.  He gives me hope.  

He picks up all the broken, wounded pieces of myself and holds me together.  He gives me the strength to push on, always moving forward, always forward.  He gives me the hope of a sweet reunion on a distant day, in a far better world. 

That is a hope that is worth living for.







Saturday, October 14, 2017

First Pathway Reunion


I can't believe it has already been almost three months since our last Pathway Gathering!  Our very first week there, Brother Cannon (our missionary dad) told us that there are no coincidences and that we are here at this place, right now, for a reason.  Not that I ever doubted him, but boy, was he right!

I love these people and didn't want to lose contact so I decided to do a semi-annual get together.  We had a smaller turnout but that's the beauty of doing two a year continuously.  We can always meet up another time.  We had a great time, laughing about things from our class and catching up on what we've been up to lately.  The Lord truly blessed me with this group of friends in my life.  Till next time!!

Amy, Troy, Amy, Brother Cannon, Sheila, Sister Cannon, Ellen

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Region!


 Today was Region XC!  I can't believe it's already Kai's last race for the season.  He has really improved since he first started.  The alumni race took him about 36 minutes (lots of hills and it was HOT!!) and he finished Region at about 25 minutes and it was 0.1 miles longer than the usual cross country courses. 

I love this time of year!  I can practically smell xc in the air.  It brings back a ton of memories for me; when I was in high school running, going with Micheal to watch my brother, Jordan, run.  How I wish I could be cheering Kai on with Micheal next to me (yes, I know he is there, but when I say things like that I always mean in a physical sense). 

Way to go Kai Kai!!  (Thanks also to my sister for getting these amazing shots)








Kai took Colt with him on his big run! 


These pictures were posted on the local newspaper, The Herald Journal.  We noticed an enthusiastic fan with long hair leaning over to get a good view of the Varsity girls finish. *Jamie* hahaha!



Jamie and I both noticed at earlier meets that the kid in the middle with the white hair sprints like crazy at the end.  It's insane how fast he goes in!  His hair color makes it so easy to spot him so we always joke that it looks like we have a creepy obsession with him because we are always watching him as he runs.  We used to call him "Blondie" but that was quite obvious who we were talking about and only upped our creepiness factor, so we let Jimmy Fallon make the final call and he's now known as Clint Gannon.