Saturday, July 19, 2014

My Brothers

I have five brothers.  This has been a source of both pride and disappointment throughout my life.  I have always enjoyed telling people that I have five brothers and no sisters.  That automatically paints me as someone who is pretty tough and also someone who has people watching her back.  I do wish that I had sisters, and that is where the disappointment lies, but that is another story for another day.  I fall in the middle with two older and three younger.

This picture was taken four days before my oldest brother Jordan was killed in a car accident.  There aren't a whole lot of pictures of just me and my brothers, especially since we all grew up.  I insisted on having this picture taken at our recent family reunion.  I'm very glad I did.

My relationship with each of my brothers is very unique.  Anyone who knows me knows how much I love all my brothers though.  I have often told people stories of what it was like growing up with five boys.  I have often shared, with pride, the accomplishments of my brothers.  They are all, indeed, great men.  I admire each of them for different reasons. 

But of all my brothers, the only one who ever expressed this same kind of appreciation to me by telling me of his appreciation and sharing his admiration of me with others was Jordan.  Not one of my other brothers ever told me that I looked beautiful, but Jordan did.  Not one of them (to my knowledge) ever told anyone about me with pride that I was his sister, but Jordan did.  I didn't even realize he did as often as he did until after his death.  I have had many, many people that knew him, but not me, tell me how he spoke of me often and how he admired me.

When I was in first grade, Jordan was in fourth grade.  We had recess at the same time.  He introduced me to some of the girls in his class.  Those girls continued to be kind to me, even into high school.  I remember how nervous I was the night before starting junior high school (7th grade).  He was starting 10th grade that year, which was at the high school.  I was so afraid I would get lost in the hallways and not be able to find my classes.  He sat down with me and went over my class schedule and mapped it all out for me.  I remember going to many stake dances with him and his group of friends once I had turned fourteen.  I have a lot of these kinds of memories with Jordan that I don't have with most of my other brothers.

In the last few years, we hadn't talked as much as we used to.  When we were both in college, we talked often on the phone.  After college and when real life started, we still talked a few times a month on the phone.  But as his life got complicated and difficult, we didn't talk as often.  Oh, how I wish I would have been better about calling him.  It had only been in the recent two to three months that we began talking on the phone more often again.

I will miss Jordan tremendously.  I will miss his friendship.  Yes, friendship.  His phone calls, his Facebook comments, his comments on my blog posts, random emails and instant messaging and texts.  It wasn't often, but it was more often than I communicate with some of my other brothers.  I guess now I know what I need to work on with my other brothers.

Jordan, I love you.  You really were a good brother to me.  And even though when we were little, you sometimes teased me, you were never really mean.  I hope and pray you are in a happy place.  I know the last few years of your life you had an immense struggle.  I hope you passed your test.  I love you, my brother.

Friday, July 11, 2014


It was the afternoon of Wednesday, July 9th, and I had spent the morning visiting with friends at playgroup and then having lunch with my sister-in-law in American Fork.  My husband was gone to a meeting at work and the four older kids were at a park nearby playing with each other.  The younger two had just woken up from naps and were playing in the living room with me while I wrote up a blog post about watching my children grow up.  I finished my blog post and then got my memory card out of my digital camera to start uploading the pictures and videos I took at the family reunion we had with my side of the family over the weekend.

That's when it happened.  The home phone rang.  I rarely get calls on the home phone.  It's usually either my parents or a solicitor.  Being that it was 4:30 p.m., my parents don't usually call at that time, so I figured solicitor.  But I went and got it anyway and saw on the caller i.d. it was coming from my dad's line at the house.  "I wonder why he is calling at 4:30 on a Wednesday, so soon after we just spent a weekend with each other," I thought, frowning, as I answer the phone.

My dad's voice came through on the line.  He was on speaker phone.  He told me that my mother was on the phone too (she said hello) and that they had some news.  My stomach sank.  This couldn't be good.  He didn't say they had good news.  Only that it was news, which is code for "bad news."  I instantly had thoughts flash in my head of someone in the family dying, perhaps a cousin, aunt or uncle.  Perhaps it wasn't a death, but an accident and someone was in a hospital.  I was not ready for what came next.

I was told that my oldest brother had been in a car accident early in the morning and had passed away.

"No!  That can't be right!" I said.  I said that into the phone more than once, with my parents assuring me that it was and that it was real.  They asked where my husband was and whether I wanted them to call him.  I told them he was in a meeting and wouldn't answer his phone, even if it was them calling.  They said they still had others to call and would talk to me more later.  The call ended.

I burst into tears, screaming and crying.  My two little ones looked at me. I got them into the car to pick up my other kids.  As I was buckling my 1-year-old into her car seat, I screamed, "Why, Heavenly Father, why?  Why now?"  I couldn't stop the tears.  I picked up my kids and told them why I was upset.  They all screamed with upset too, some even cried a little.

They didn't know my brother very well.  In the last decade, we have only seen him about once a year, sometimes less.   The reunion we'd just had over the weekend was the first time I had seen him since Thanksgiving of 2012.  It had been twenty months, nearly two years, since my husband, the kids, or I had seen him.

We came home, I called and called my husband's phone.  Eventually he called me back to see what was going on, since I don't usually bother him during meetings.  He came home right away when I told him.

I wanted to write all this down so I can accurately remember what happened and how I felt the day I found out my oldest brother had been killed in a car accident.  It was the most horrifying, awful day of my life, second only to the day his ex-wife called me the previous April (2013) to tell me they were getting a divorce.  I have cried so much in the two days since (has it really only been two days because it feels like normalcy was a lifetime ago) that my eyes are constantly hurting and my head and neck and throat hurt.

I alternate between calmness with acceptance of this change and downright, distraught, deep, deep heartache demonstrated with wrenching sobs and endless tears.  I don't know how to handle this.  I don't know what to think or to feel.

I know the rhetoric.  I even believe it.  It is comforting to have a knowledge of eternal families.  It is comforting to know of Heavenly Father's merciful plan.  It is helpful to recall all of the tender mercies that have been happening surrounding this tragic event.

It is still so very, very painful and I feel so very, very raw.  I do appreciate people's suggestions for scriptures or hymns or temple visits or priesthood blessings.  They are helpful and comforting.  But they don't stop the pain.  My heart aches deeply.  I didn't know it could hurt this badly and not have an actual physical ailment.  It is a constant, deep ache.  My stomach is upset and I am having trouble eating.  I can't sit still.  My mind and its ramblings are ceaseless.

I will probably be talking more about this in future posts.  I feel it will help me grieve, not only to write it down, but to share it.

I will miss my brother tremendously.  I cannot believe that he is gone from this mortal existence. 

This is my brother playing with one of our other nephews at our family reunion.  
His little daughter (one of six kids) is the blondie right next to them.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014


My oldest child turned eleven two months ago and my youngest has been one for four months.  Eight more months, which will fly right by, and she will be two years old, no longer really a baby.  I remember my oldest when he was this age.  Of course, I was expecting his brother already, due in a few months (they are seventeen months apart).  With each little step my little one makes in her development, I think back to when her older siblings hit those milestones.  She just figured out how to climb onto the kitchen chairs.  Next will be the crib.  One of her brothers climbed out of the crib at sixteen months.  She is fifteen months, almost sixteen months.  She is so quickly moving away from the baby stage.  And it makes me sad.

But I am also happy to watch my kids grow up.  It's wonderful watching them develop into who they will become.  I love that my oldest child is a fantastic artist who can whip out amazing drawings at request.  He is also able to play the piano by ear, which then he will figure out the music for his trumpet also.  He has even written some of his own music.  I love that my second oldest can fold any paper into any shape or design you want him to.  My third child is very athletic and strong and it is fun to watch him play and do any sport.  My fourth child loves to sing and dance and has natural ability there.  My fifth child is good with his hands and it will be fun to see what he does with his talents (he is only three).  I have no idea what my baby's strengths are yet, but it will be such fun to find out.

It is still sad that they are growing up so quickly.  The innocence of their faces and the sweetness of their questions is disappearing so much more quickly than I imagined.  I remember when my oldest was a newborn, I thought about him being in elementary school, second grade specifically (I had been a second grade teacher before he was born), and how far away that seemed.  Now he is going to be starting middle school and in a few short years, high school, and then he'll be gone.  And the kids following him will just be even more speedy.

Watching your kids grow up is a bittersweet experience, indeed.


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