Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Missing her

Dear blogger friends-- this is my therapy tonight.  Typing out some memories from last weekend, and some feelings.  It's pretty personal, so bear with me.

Dear Chrishel,

If I could talk to you right now, this is what I would say...

Julie and I miss you something fierce.  I can't even imagine how Tim and the kids are coping.  And Julie and I have had some significant trials in the past couple of months as well, and we both look at each other and say, "I wonder what advice Chrishel would give."  I'm so glad I have Jules.  You'll always be in our hearts.  I miss everything about you.  I don't cry much anymore.  And since my grief therapy session, I haven't had anymore anxiety/panic attacks that plagued me after your funeral.  But I think about you every day.  The doctor started me on some anti-anxiety/anti-depressant meds.  I think they are helping.

Last weekend, I received a text that made me giddy with excitement.  It was from Tim, letting me know that he was on his way to Idaho Falls and would be here in a few hours!  I also felt a sense of dread, because I was afraid of the emotions that seeing them up here would trigger for me.  After all, the last time they were up here, so were you.  And we had a grand time.

I knew it would be hard for Tim, because at the time of her funeral, he didn't ever want to come back up here... too many memories.

But when I told Julie he was on his way, she screamed happily and we were so excited to love on those kids and see Tim again!

Tim had some business to take care of over in the Boise area, so he left Grace and Isaac in my care Friday night and Saturday.  And it was a bittersweet experience.

Did you know that Isaac lost a tooth while he was here?  He saved it and put it in a plastic bag to put under his pillow.  But the tooth fairy kept forgetting to remind him to place it there, so we decided that the he/she/it would have an easier time finding him in his own bed.

His hair is lightening up into a beautiful golden brown and his permanent teeth are coming in so straight, Chrishel!  You'd love his smile.

It was such a delightful surprise to have "the Littles" (remember how you and I referred to our two youngest kids that way) with us for a visit that Julie and I spoiled them.  I even took Caleb and Lizzy out of school Friday at lunchtime and Jules and I took the Littles to Chick-fil-a for lunch.  Isaac couldn't get enough of the milkshakes:)

Since Bishop Hansen put Tim up in his hotel, I took the kids swimming there Saturday afternoon since he was out of town all day.  Julie was in Utah picking up a new van, so I was on my own with six chitlins on my own.  We had a blast.  We went to Arctic Circle (I miss how you used to pronounce it Arktic Circle, instead of like us locals pronouncing it 'artic') and guess what?  Isaac wanted another milkshake.  Cookies and Cream.  How could I say 'no'?  I did, however, require a hug and a kiss from him for payment, which he reluctantly rendered.

When we were swimming, Isaac proudly announced that he wanted me to text his Dad and tell him that he swam across the whole width of the pool without any floaties for the first time!  I took a picture and sent the text.  You would have cheered him on.

In the course of that day, Isaac only called me 'mommy' twice.

Sierra got a few more ear piercings since we saw her last.  I wondered what you would've thought about that.  Julie gave her a piece of her mind, though.  And I think you would have been just fine with that!

Once when I was drying off a Pampered Chef cool and serve tray in the kitchen, Grace came in the kitchen and stared at it.  I noticed and asked her if her Mama had one of these.  She slowly nodded her head.  You had tons of PC products, and I think it sparked a memory.  I'm guessing Tim hasn't pulled the appetizer tray out much...

Did you know that Grace is the spitting image of you?  She has your spunk.  She can talk my ear off.  She let me snuggle her many times and I cherished it deeply.  I rocked her in my bedroom rocking chair (the same one you sat in when we had our 'deep' conversations when you were up here last) and I snuggled and kissed her.  I didn't let her see the moisture forming in my tired eyes as I held her.

"Do you miss your mommy, Gracie girl?" I asked as I rocked her.

"Yes." she answered with determination.

"Do you know where she is, honey?"

"She's up in heaven and I bet she's rocking our little baby right this very minute!  Plus, I bet she's rocking Megan's baby Layna, too.  She's taking care of them for us."

"I think you're absolutely right, Gracie.  I miss her, too.  But I know she's okay.  She showed me that in a very special dream.  She's keeping an eye on all of us, and helping us from her side of heaven."

Several times throughout the day she asked for her Daddy.  She's pretty attached to him right now, and I guess she has since stopped asking for you.  I guess that's a good step.  But what a heavy burden for Tim.  We all wish they were closer so we could help them out more.  Tim says the ward still brings in a meal every week, and his mom does some cooking and leftovers get them by.  But Tim has lost a lot of weight.  I'm sure he doesn't have much of an appetite these days.

Grace let me put a pony in her baby fine hair (sorry to say it hasn't grown in any thicker yet) and Tim made some comment on Sunday that he needed to learn how to curl her hair so she didn't look so 'orphaned' on Sundays.  She's so dang cute, nobody would care.  Remember how you loved to do Lizzy's hair?  You used to bathe Grace and Liz together and then do these extravagant hair dos in her hair because Grace just simply didn't have enough?  I miss the curls you'd do in her hair to make it look so feminine.  I should've had you teach me how to do those cool braids.

We fed Tim and the kids dinner over the course of the weekend, and of course, we missed you.  Remember how last time you came up, you brought chicken noodle soup and rolls from Ruby's restaurant to feed us???  And a cheesecake for both Julie and me for our birthdays?  You silly.  We were supposed to be feeding and hosting you, but you were always making sure everyone else was taken care of.

Remember all of our combined meals?  We'd plan a menu and throw together a feast for our families.  Chaotic delight, no?  Remember how we used to joke about being sister wives?  (Well, except for the ... uh... bedroom part.  Because we shared just about every other responsibility!)

Taten didn't come up-- he had some other commitment.

Tim is being such a good daddy.  I know he doesn't feel very strong, but he is doing a great work with your babies.  I hope you'll let him feel your love for him and your presence somehow.  To say he misses you would be such a gross understatement.  You were his life.  You were all he had known since he was 17 years old.  He's trying very hard to move forward.  He's done what I would consider, very brave things.  He and I visited for a while Sunday afternoon.  I'm so glad he's so easy to talk to.  It was good to see him smile and joke around at dinner.  But I know those moments are few and far between in his life right now...

I think the ward was happy to see Tim and the kids at church.  Everytime I saw Tim, he had people surrounding him.  In fact, Joseph and I held a little open house for him before he left Sunday night.  It was fun to chat with the ladies, and Tim and JP chatted with the men while the kids ran wild throughout the yard and house.

I hope they'll come back to visit.  They are our link to you.  And we love them.  More than ever.


I have always, and I mean ALWAYS loved a good dill pickle.  Even when I was a kid, my friends' moms would give me pickles by the gallon with a ribbon on top for my birthday.

Chrishel knew this, and a few years ago, she raided her grandmother's food storage and found the holy grail of delight:  homemade, canned dill pickles!  She brought me every last 10-year old jar.  And not only did I eat every soft, salty pickle, but I drank every.  last.  drop. of.  pickle.  juice.  Bottoms up!

Fast forward to the Fall of 2012... Tim was up here doing some work on the house and she asked me to  send him home with a dozen quart jars because for my upcoming birthday, she was going to bottle her grandmother's homemade dill pickles for me.

And she did.  She came up later that month and proudly delivered them to me.  I gave her the biggest hug.  We used to joke that she was like my drug supplier.

She told me to let them sit until Christmas time, and then they would be ready to eat.

 I opened my first jar during the holidays and savored my birthday present.

And ever since she died on January 16, I go down to my basement and see my 11 unopened quart jars of lovingly pickled cucumbers.  And it is painful.  Because I want to eat them, but I simply cannot.  I start to feel guilty.  And sad.  Because what happens if I start eating and then get down to the last jar?

The pickles are the only thing I have of hers that are handmade.  I have jewelry she gave me from Ruby's Inn for my birthday, but her canning... she loved to garden and to can.  At her viewing, on one of the display tables in the church, her family had put symbols of all of her hobbies and talents... her gardening spade still grimy with last fall's hardened soil, her well worn hiking Keens, and a few jars of her beautifully canned fruits and vegetables.  (She was the one who taught me how to can applesauce.)

So last night, I was craving one of her pickles.  (I have been a pickle snob my entire life, and I can unabashedly say that hers are THE BEST I have ever tasted.  Ever.  Maybe it's that red jalapeƱo pepper she adds with the garlic...)

I went down to the basement and gingerly took a bottle of the pickles and brought it upstairs to the kitchen.  The house was quiet.  Everyone else was fast asleep.  And like a drunk, I sat in the dark at my kitchen table and ate pickle after delicious pickle as I stroked the smooth glass bottle.  I tried to imagine her with her hair pulled back, lovingly packing those cucumber spears into the sterile bottles.

Today I told my husband that I had made progress and opened a jar.  But tears started to spill onto my cheeks as I described what I was feeling.

"Am I going crazy?  Over some damn pickles?!  Why am I so sentimental over this?"

He quietly smiled and wiped my stray tears and replied, "Maybe you should go see the counselor again, honey."

But then I mentioned how Julie soothingly told me recently, "She would want you to eat her pickles and enjoy every last drop.  She wouldn't want you to keep a shrine of those for her.  Enjoy them, and remember her."

He said, "I'm glad you have Julie."

Tonight before our couples prayer, I shared one small spear with the Mister.  He savored it.  He smiled in appreciation.

Maybe, just maybe, things will get a little easier.