Sunday, June 18, 2017

PART 3 of 3: My Dad


GRIEF. We all grieve differently, this I learned. I have been through minimal trials up until that point in my life so I didn't know how I would grieve. I wouldn't consider myself an emotional person, and I wouldn't say this experience made me overly emotional. I, of course, cried a lot. I cried in Nephi's arms, in my bed with my back turned so he wouldn't notice, in the shower, during conversations -- but I wasn't sobbing uncontrollably at any point. 

When we got home we went straight back to normal life. I think we got back on a Saturday and I had work on Monday. I am the sole provider in my family right now so there was no choice. There was no time to sit at home and "grieve" in a traditional sense of the word. I can remember going to work that morning and taking the stairs and before opening the door taking a deep breath annnnnnnnd I was on the wrong floor! Ha. But everything was the same? I was new to the office and my boss didn't tell anyone. It was super awkward. She only told people that I had a family death so when a co-worker mentioned something and then I said something about my Dad she gasped because she didn't know it was a parent. Awkward.

It was hard at home because I didn't know how to bring it up and talk about it when I wanted to. I wanted to talk about it all the time, really. Not in a sad way, but talk about him and his memories and how I was feeling during certain situations. I went from being knee-deep in family time and talking about Dad to nothing. It was strange and awkward. Nephi was so so unbelievably supportive, but he couldn't read my mind. 

Some days were hard. They were hard because I was going through a lot of "firsts" but also had a little resentment. I couldn't be home with my family and be near my Mom to help. I couldn't just take a day to decompress, I had to keep moving and working (2 jobs), changing diapers, making dinner, church responsibilities and keeping my home in shape. People wouldn't talk about it or bring it up and they made it awkward. I would see people for the first time since it had happened and they would say NOTHING. It was so hard for me. The world kept going. I felt like I was just jogging at a slow pace behind it, with lava chasing me so I had no choice but to keep going. It felt so unfair so many times. 

There were a lot of firsts that were hard. His birthday was hard because I realized how young he was (58). My parents anniversary was rough thinking of my Mom without a spouse. Father's Day was hard scrolling through social media seeing everyone worshiping their Dads (it is still hard). I ran into a few work issues and career decisions that totally made me breakdown. He always had the answers and best guidance for me - I still feel very lost without him to counsel on those issues and to this day are my hardest moments. 

When good things happen it was hard, too. When I would have a major success at work, I couldn't call him. When I got called to be the president of our women's church group I cried thinking that he wasn't there to tell me that I would be able to handle it. Even when I ran my first half-marathon since having Marlo, tears filled my eyes when I thought of how he would have been so proud - he loved when we challenged ourselves physically. He missed some good vacations too! Like Telluride and Hawaii when we went to honor him. 

Now I look back at the first year and I am grateful we had things to come home to. What forced me to keep moving, made me stronger. I felt my Dad so often in the first year. It's been a major blessing to be busy and be needed. I feel it's made me a better Mom, wife, friend, Relief Society President, co-worker, etc. 

In January we lost Nephi's Dad and that was so hard. It was interesting to be on the other side, to see how I can comfort my spouse the way he did me. It was hard because it brought back more memories than I anticipated. It was even harder to see my spouse go through the trial, Nephi's Dad was an amazing man. We now both have lost our fathers and Marlo has lost both her Grandpas, and we are only 30 years old. It's crazy to think about that, but we have compassion for each other. 

Overall, time has been the most haunting. Some days move so slow and others so fast. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think of him, but there are days where it's more seldom. One minute I am looking back and thinking of all that has happened since he has passed and think he has missed SO much and then next I am thinking that life will feel so long and boring without him. 

I am grateful I got to spend 28 years of my life with him. He was my biggest fan and I couldn't have asked for a better Father.

PART 2 of 3: My Dad


My Dad went into the hospital on December 10, 2015 with a high fever, feeling very fatigued. Up to this point, he had been to the hospital many times. My Mom would usually send out a text or an email to tell us. It felt fairly common for our family and we would just waited for updates from Mom. We had meant to call him the next day as he was admitted overnight but were out late so we said we would call the next day. When we tried to call my Mom explained that he was in a lot of pain and not in a position to talk. They had sedated him. 

A few days later, not a lot of updates, we decided to FaceTime my Mom. She looked exhausted. She has been battling this along his side for years, but this exhaustion seemed off. I remember after us talking for a bit and getting updates I asked, "Mom, is this serious? Is he going to die or something?" and she quickly assured me no and that they were getting more updates. She did say he was in a lot of pain and that scared us. 

My best friend Emily went to visit my Dad in the hospital with her family. She told me it was bad - that he didn't look - and that I should try and make it home. She even offered to pay for my flights (did I mention she is the best?). I was so conflicted because we had been in the position a few times and I never knew what to do. I was also new to my job and had little PTO so I was trying to use it wisely because we were suppose to go to Idaho for Christmas. We were also poor students! I was so stressed about it. At one point I had thought to just fly home to visit for a few days and then meet Nephi in Idaho. It was a stressful few days.

On Thursday, December 17 I went to the office. I had meetings in Pueblo (2 hours away from Denver) so I left with a co-worker that morning. We chatted about personal stuff the whole way there and back. About an hour outside of Denver we started talking more about family stuff. I talked about my Dad and his sickness. I told her how eye-opening it was to see a parent be sick but about what a great Dad he was to us. About 30 minutes away from Denver I got a text from my Mom in a group text saying that Dad was not doing well. She said things were not getting better and that she was waiting for more updates from the doctors. 

We pulled into the office, my stomach was churning from being car sick plus worried about my Dad. I got into my car and called Nephi before I left the parking garage. I told him that I probably need to go but again, I was conflicted. Before I hit the first stoplight my Mom was calling on the other line. I hung up with Nephi and answered my Mom. She was quiet and I heard a sniffle. "MOM????"

She said she had just spoke with the doctors and they told her there was a 90% chance Dad wouldn't make it through the night. I pulled over. I said we would get on the next flight possible. She then sent the text to the family asking everyone to get to the hospital now. All my siblings were in AZ and they all rushed there. 

I walked in the door and Nephi embraced me. I couldn't believe this was happening. Marlo was playing, she had no idea what was going on. He had already looked up flights and we booked them to be on the first flight in the morning. We went and sat on the bed and waited for what would come next. I was getting texts from Emily this whole time. She was there. She was telling me everything going on. Describing it so I felt I was there. I am so grateful she was there. It meant more to me than I have been able to explain to her. 

We got a FaceTime call. He popped up. He was hooked up to machines and he looked awful. My siblings and Mom surrounded him. I told her we had booked flights and would be there by 9am the next day and she said the doctors said not to wait, they were going to take him off life support. He had fluid in his lungs and kidney and organ failure - he was in bad shape. He was still heavily sedated. We said our goodbyes. I still have screenshots of that call. I scroll past them in my phone every once in a while but never click on them. They are scary, but I still keep them. 

We packed up, we were not ready to leave town. We weren't suppose to leave to Idaho until the next week. I told my bosses and we asked the Bishop for a ride. I did actually sleep that night. We woke up really early and caught our flight. Emily picked us up. 

Usually when we come to town my Dad loved to greet us. It was strange pulling up and him not at the door waiting. It was so nice to see my Mom and siblings. It felt so surreal. From the moment we got together, we started with the planning. Throughout the whole time we were laughing and crying - recalling memories. Although it was a sad time, we were so happy to be together. 

It was a Friday and the funeral was on that next Tuesday. The love and support we got from family friends was unbelievable. My Mom has the greatest friends and members of our church. I grew up with these people - these are family friends of 20+ years. Many people knew my Dad in the community from his work and reputation. That love and support from them carried us - I will never forget it. 

Watching my Mom was hard. She tried to be positive, but it's really hard to grieve with all those people. There were always being in the house, we were never really alone. But I think that helped a bit too. Grief is different for everyone so we were all learning what each other wanted. For now, we wanted to all be together as much as possible. 

I got a lot of texts and calls from friends that I SO appreciated it. A lot of people said "You don't have to text back" but I did because it was so nice to hear from them. And then there were people who you would think that would reach out that didn't. A few instances really bothered me, but I now realize that they probably felt awkward. I have learned that when in doubt, reach out. Even if you feel abnormal or out of place doing it. 

Before the funeral we had the chance to dress my Dad in special religious clothing. This would be the first time I would see him and I just wasn't sure if I wanted to. My Mom told me I should, and I am so glad I did. We walked into the room and he was on a table in a white button-up shirt and white pants. When I saw him my whole body filled with warmth and peace. I couldn't help but smile. He looked so good. He didn't look sick. His stomach wasn't bloated. His shoulders were broad instead of narrow and thin. His hair was long- he said he wasn't going to cut it until he got a transplant! I could have stayed in that room forever. 

We did stay for some time. We shared memories of him and laughed. We did a lot of laughing those few days. He was such a fun guy to talk about and a major part of all of our lives. We really felt carried throughout that time, and I know that's because of our religious beliefs. Without going into too much detail (if you have questions, ask!), we believe there is life after death and that we will be able to be reunited with our loved ones. This concept has always been something I have had faith in but it felt so real and brought me SO much comfort. It's so important to hold on to those beliefs - without them I know I would have handled this all differently. 

The funeral was beautiful. We were very particular on the music, he loved music, and I got to share a few words about him. It wasn't a place where we were all sobbing. There was a little anxiety going into it, but I just didn't want it to end. The whole time, talking about my Dad, there is nothing better! Nephi made this beautiful tribute to him: 

We stayed in AZ until after New Years. I got bereavement and only had to use 2 days of PTO. It was a miracle that my office shuts down Christmas Day until New Years Eve - that's unusual and it's what allowed us to stay so long with not a lot of stress. Nephi, being a student, had even more time off and the day he passed away was Nephi's last day of classes that semester, so it worked out well. 

That was the best Christmas I can remember. Although Dad wasn't with us, we felt him so much. We all dropped everything to be together. We were together from early morning to late evening every day. We all made sacrifices. Talked a lot. It brought us closer together.

PART 1 of 3: My Dad

It's been 18 months since my Dad died. And about that long since I last blogged.

I have wanted to write my thoughts about losing my Dad for a long time. Part of my delay is because life has been crazy since then and blogging has been put on the back burner and also I feel I have still been learning from the experience. After getting through the first year I feel I can put some thoughts to it on "paper".


The beginning of this health journey goes many years before this. I can remember most of his health issues stating in 2007 when he had back surgery and then in 2008 he had a heart attack. I was in college and on a date when I got the call. I'll never forget that. 

His health declined but he pushed on. He "retired" from his "desk job" in 2007 to pursue his hobby of designing custom homes. He was self-taught and incredible. Most of his life was filled with high stress jobs and taking on a lot of responsibility. I have never met anyone who works as hard as he did - he was a great example of a solid work ethic. 

In 2010 after experiencing gestational issues he was diagnosed with IBS. I was on my mission from 2008-2010 and I remember him writing about the pain and discomfort. Most people say that your family is "blessed" when you go on a mission but with the drowning economy and his health updates, I felt differently. But he was my biggest fan. Not too long before he passed away he kind of showed me his journal on his computer. I had no idea he had written so much. But I found out that he put all my emails in the journal and would talk about how my emails lifted his spirits. 

In 2011 he was finally diagnosed with Cirrhosis of the Liver. There was a lot of confusion around the diagnosis but he had liver doctors and specialists. His whole medical portfolio was so frustrating and confusing for all of us. We'd get updates from my Mom and saw a lot of frustration and heartache. He'd spends days in bed and then he would be out doing yard work. He would eat pizza and feel great and then he would have a slice of bread and be violently ill. 

During this whole time I have lived away from home. I'd go home occasionally and dynamics for sure had changed. He wasn't able to do as much and was usually in his room. The first time it felt super real was during a family vacation to Oceanside in May 2014. He neglected his medications and it landed him in the ER. If he didn't take medication to fight the toxins (because his liver wouldn't) he would basically get poisoned in his brain and cause confusion. It was strange seeing him that way. He hated that medication. 

Honestly, I don't do well with sick people. I can't stand the sight of blood. I usually hold my breath when I go to the hospital. It was hard to see him like that and then adapt to this new way of life for us and our Dad - he was a new person. Although the last few years of his life was fairly miserable, we saw a lot of humility. He was loving. He always wanted to get a hug or hold your hand. We would lay in bed with him and watch movies with him - it was normal for us to spend time with him in his room but you can imagine how lonely this was for him. My experiences with him this way are limited due to being away. My siblings who were home and my Mom can vouch for more of the details and they are all SAINTS for being there with him, especially my angel Mom and sweet sister Rachel. 

We went home for Christmas in 2015. and for Caitlin and Zachs wedding. Marlo was just a few months old and Dad was having fun with her, even though he didn't love tiny babies (similar to me - he always felt like he was going to drop them). We had our cousins in from South Africa, the wedding was gorgeous and it was an amazing Christmas. A few days before Christmas he experiences terrible pains in his stomach. He was literally rolling on the ground, grabbing his gut, in the most pain I had ever seen him in. We all took turns with him. I rubbed his feet and his belly with essential oils doing anything I could to help. It was awful. I remember him saying that he felt like he had been shot in the stomach. He was in tears. 

He ended up in the hospital and on Christmas Eve, him and his partner in crime snuck out of the hospital. Literally, he still have IV's in his arms! Thats explains a lot about him - he did not like being sick and he did not like being away from his family and did anything to be together. Mom had a meltdown (it was funny, actually) - this did not look good for getting on the liver transplant list! 

Before we left to go back to Idaho we were talking with Dad and making plans to see him next (we was always begging for us to come visit). He was laying in bed and said "let's go to Hawaii". He loves Hawaii. We, of course, were all about it! But he wanted to go soon. So we went the first week of March and it was the best trip! Of course he had limitations, but he tried his best. He even went kayaking. Him and my BIL Chase ended up tipping the kayak and Chase literally saved his life. The shock from the cold water and lack of muscle from not being active, he barely had the strength. That was a little scary to watch. 

I went home in the summer for about a month while we were transitioning into moving to Colorado. It was so nice to be with him so much. He wanted to take a trip with just our family so we went to Sedona (his favorite) and the Grand Canyon. I remember one night watching a show with him in his room with Marlo and she just leaned over and gave him a kiss. I'll never forget his face! He loved how friendly and social Marlo was. When he met her when she was born he kept saying his special she was. 

I went to a doctors appointment while I was there. I wanted to see why things were so confusing! His doctor was nice. She gave him a hug and tried to empathize with him. He had a lot of discomfort, for many reasons, but one of the reasons was the toxins that would build up causing ascites so he would go in for a paracentesis procedure. This become more frequent as time went on. It would make it hard for him to even breath. 

In October I made 1 more trip to AZ before I started my new job in Colorado. I am so glad I did. It was a short trip but just nice to have more time with him, and for Marlo to be with him. Throughout the next few weeks we would talk on the phone and text. Most of them about work and about Marlo. Our last conversations were about me accepting a second job. He told me about how some risks and sacrifices are worth it, it was great advice and because I took that second job, I now have my current job. 

In November he started undergoing tests to get on the liver transplant list - finally! A lot of the hold up over time was figuring out whether his body could handle an actual transplant process. They want to give livers to those who can survive the surgery, obviously, so there was concern. I think they had concluded that if he got on the list, he would have to have it done at a special transplant center to handle this sort of trauma, but I don't remember all those details.

On one of our calls a few days after the tests he said he had a dream that he didn't get the liver and that he died. He said he really hoped it wasn't true, but that it felt so real. A few days after that they got the results and he had failed the heart and oxygen tests and he was discouraged. They started making plans of what to do next.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Thanksgiving 2015

It was our first Thanksgiving away from family and we were lucky enough to have family come to us! Nephi's parents drove up from Idaho Falls and spent the week with us here in Denver. We went to IKEA, watched Christmas movies, cooked (well, I cooked), ate, looked at Christmas lights, and Marlo played hard.

She must have played a little too hard because she ended up getting sick - saddest thing I have ever seen! She got sick in January this year at 4 months old and was just rhaspy and stuffy but didn't act very sick. This time, she was lethargic, cuddly, stuffy, sleepy, and did I mention cuddly? It was a whole new baby and although it made us sad, we were happy to cash in on some overdue cuddles from that baby. She got to a temp of 100 so we did a luke warm bath (she hates baths now apparently), essential oils, humidifier, diffuser with essential oils, and kept her in blankets all day. It was really only a day before we started seeing improvements - we survived! She is just about 100% now but still has been giving us some cuddles so I think she sees the value in them now :)

Don't get me wrong, I love to cook, but I think after doing all the cooking (besides the rolls) and all the dishes (Nephi helped a little bit) I don't know how I am going to cook anything this week. I am sure everyone feels the same way so I feel validated in my complaints. Also, we are ready for a major sugar detox! I ended up feeling a little sicky last night from all the junk food and lack of sleep from a sick baby so I stayed home from church with Marlo, took a long bath, drank lots of fluids, Nephi made turkey noodle soup (I made homemade turkey broth), and I am feeling better. Tomorrow will be rough though.

2015 Thanksgiving Menu:
Turkey - (18 lb. turkey that Nephi's parents got for free) Squeezed a fresh lemon over it, rubbed it with fresh rosemary butter and stuffed with onions, apples, rosemary, and lemons - I will repeat this every year!

Stuffing - I have never made homemade stuffing so I read through the basics of making it but made up my own recipe. I made homemade multigrain bread (dried it out in the oven), added italian sausage + ground beef, celery, onions, fresh parsley and fresh rosemary. It was SO good, but, next time I won't cook it as long in the crockpot.

Crockpot Mashed Potatoes 

Sweet Potato Souffle from @cleansimpleeats on Insa - SOOOO good and healthy (except I did rice krispy cereal with butter + brown sugar on top so that part wasn't so healthy)

Gravy (Nephi's specialty)

Connie's Rolls

Veggie Platter

Apple Crumble Pie (my Mom's recipe and SOOOO good and quick to make!)

Pumpkin Pie with the best crust

Also - for breakfast I made this banana pumpkin bread (minus the glaze) - can you tell I love this food blogger? She's my fav.

Nephi did such a great job carving the turkey! It was a big one - 18 pounds! But I am so happy to say that it did NOT burn and that we used the leftovers to make turkey broth (I ended up making 8 cups) and used that in our turkey noodle soup today. PS - If you aren't making broth with your leftover carcasses, you are missing out! I am a believer now. 

Got out the fancy dishes. We got this set for our wedding and it still looks great - timeless.

Fun group picture - thank goodness for self-timers on our iPhones! We loved having time with Boyd and Connie. 

This was Marlo pretty much all day on Friday. Whoever was holding her she was cuddling. 

It was weird to decorate a new space for Christmas (after being in out other place for 3 Christmases) but we are happy with how it turned out! We love our mini tree. I am so happy we don't have to haul a huge tree and store it with us wherever we go. And every year I get a few new ornaments and this year I found them in the dollar spot at Target! They are actually present tags - they are the perfect ornaments too for pretty cheap (they came 2 to a pack). So I'm using almost all my ornaments from the past 4 years and I have kept them matching and timeless colors and style to use for our future big tree OR just use it on this tree in a different part of the house. 

Drove to downtown to look at the light on all the buildings! This was our favorite one. When you come visit us (When I say you I mean my Mom because she is the only one that reads this) we will take you downtown and it will remind you of a mixture between San Fran and NYC - I love it.

My sweet sicky baby. Let's pray she doesn't wake us up a million times tonight...

Monday, November 23, 2015

Bunco Night

In Idaho Falls we used to have a group of girls that played bunco every month and it was my favorite! I loved the time I had to be around other women and loved the game - it's easy and literally anyone can play it and that's MY kind of game.

I got a few of the ladies I have met here (who I LOVE) to come play with me this week and it was a blast! We only ended up with 8 girls but we played anyway and I think everyone loved it. Hopefully we will be able to keep it up for a monthly or even every other month tradition!

I decided to do a waffle bar because I reeeeeaaaaallllly wanted to make some liege waffles after I had some legit ones in AZ. Not quite the same, but pretty close!

Toppings: PB, Nutella, Whipped Cream, Syrup, Buttermilk Syrup, Salted Caramel Sauce, Berries, Chocolate Chips, Sprinkles, and Cinnamon Sugar. 

The black paper is chalkboard wrapping paper from the dollar section at Target. I may never do a buffet any differently - it was perfect. 

And of course a blog entry from me wouldn't be complete without pictures of my Mina (new nickname, don't know where I came up with it but she responds to it now). 

We went and hung out with some friends on Friday night and had dessert and Marlo flirted with her friends Milo and Tyler - she loved it. I got these boots for her this summer and they *almost* fit! They make her look so old though! 

Snaps from Nephi are the best.

Went to Burger King with Daddy and loved it! All the workers kept coming up to her and giving her toys and the crown and couldn't get over how cute she is - that's my Mina!


We had such a great long weekend because Chelsea came in town! We are still rookies here in Denver and haven't had a chance to see the sights (we've mostly been waiting for guests to come to go with them) and we had a chance to check out a few things with her.

Ate yummy donuts at "Beyond the Glaze"

Marlo slept in the Pack n' Play next to our bed and we brought her in bed with us for some early morning snuggles. 

Went to a Nuggets game! We ended up going on "Family Night" so our tickets included dinner and a drink. I think next time it's worth splurging a little more to not sit in the nose bleeds. Hiking up there is the WORST! But, it was a good game and the Nuggets won! 

Went to the Red Rocks! It is GORGEOUS! Chelsea and I zig-zagged and jogged the steps and then did some butt-kicks and climbed back up to the top. It was a great workout. 

Went to the capital so we could sit on the "ONE MILE ABOVE SEA LEVEL" step. Downton Denver is AMAZING. And to top it off, it was a beautiful day so no snow and no jackets. 

We are so grateful that Chelsea took the time to visit. We are looking forward to her next visit in January - Marlo loves her Aunt Cha-See!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Do We Look Alike?

Marlo and I were playing on the couch wrestling the other day and of course we got out the phone to send some SnapChats to Nama.

I looked at the picture and thought, "Do we look alike?" When she was first born everyone always said how much she looked like Nephi (it was the big eyes). But now that she is getting older, I feel like she is looking more like I did when I was a baby. 

Then there are days when I just look at her, look around at other people, and think, "I doubt anyone thinks this is MY baby". But witnesses of my baby pictures disagree. 

One thing we know for sure is that she is a daddy's girl! Nephi claims that he let her pick out her outfit and this is what she came up with. Although she does love her cat shoes (she brings them to us every time we are going out), I am not sure about the socks. 

Marlos is now 14 months! She is crazy active and never slows down. I have now had a handful of people comment to me about her energy and style. Are we "those people" now? Church is impossible. And that is saying A LOT coming from me. I used to be pretty harsh on those Moms and Dads roaming the hallways, on their phones, claiming that their kid couldn't sit still during sacrament. That is ME now. But, I did get my steps in on my FitBit - thanks babes! 

One thing our crazy church circus is good for is a hard nap afterwards - for baby and us. After only 5 minutes in the car, she was dead asleep with remnants of a granola bar (some wet with saliva) all over her car seat and eyes shut tightly.