I created this blog when my sweet little girl, Kristen, was diagnosed with cancer, for the third time. After fighting for almost 3 years Kristen was called home to that same God who gave her life. I've contemplated on many occasions rather I should quit this blog or not. Each time I am inspired that I should not. One of my favorite quotes comes from Neal A. Maxwell- "Those who "plow in hope" not only understand the law of the harvest but they also understand what growing seasons are all about. True, those with genuine hope may see their proximate circumstances shaken like a kaleidoscope at times, yet with the "Eye of faith" they still see divine design." Kristen blessed lives and continues to do so. Her light continues to shine. As for me, I continue to "plow in hope" knowing well that Kristen is mine for eternity. Families can be together forever! This I know. Our family continues to live and to love and this is our story...

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Wedding Fun

I so need a break from this whole flood thing. I thought it was a perfect time to share some wedding pictures. For those who don't know the story, a quick recap... Last Christmas Kamie and Kim both became engaged. They both were thinking about getting married in August. Kristen had just relapsed in November and we were facing a bone marrow transplant if we could get her into remission. In January, Kristen amazingly went into remission after the first round of chemo. The bone marrow transplant would take place sometime in February. I told both the girls that I didn't want to do any wedding stuff until after the transplant. I jokingly told the girls that if they were both going to get married in August that it would have to be a double wedding as I couldn't care for Kristen and pull off 2 weddings in the same month. The more we talked about it the more it sounded like a great idea. A double wedding it would be..August 18th. Then on June 4th we received the shocking news that Kristen had again relapsed. Only this time things would be different. There was nothing the doctors could do, no more chemo, not much hope, they gave her 4 to 6 months to live. Our world stopped. After a week of tears, heartbreak and disbelief my husband suggested to both Kamie and Kim that August would not be a good time for a wedding. Kristen would be too sick. He gave them the option of either moving their weddings back a few months or moving them up in hopes that Kristen would still be well enough to attend. Both girls knew immediately that they wanted to share their special day with Kristen. The weddings were moved up to July 7th. We had just 3 weeks to prepare. Somehow we pulled it off. It was a beautiful day and Yes, Kristen was able to attend. Just 13 days later she passed away. I had 2 weddings and 1 funeral in the same month. I don't recommend it, however we are thrilled and feel so blessed that everything worked out the way it did as far as the weddings. It was a bitter sweet day. I am so very proud of Kamie and Kim for not only sharing their special day with each other but
also sharing it with Kristen.

Kamie and James were married at 10:30 in the morning in her grandparent's backyard

Kim and Dave were married in the early afternoon in the Draper Temple

Later that evening a double reception was held

My 2 sons, Rick and Ryan

Yes, I ended up making both of the weddings cakes. Don't be surprised if they show up on "Cake Wrecks"
And Yes, those are bobble heads on Kim's cake. They look just like her and Dave.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

It's just things. Right?

The flood is turning out to be rather devastating. My daughter and her husband are living in the basement apartment or I should say were living there. They have only been married for a few weeks and everything they own got wet. When I say wet, I mean soaked. 5 feet of water came crashing into the basement ripping doors off hinges, breaking out windows, turning dressers upside down, even the fridge was floating. Kamie had just loaded her cupboards with new wedding gifts. They were all found floating. Her sewing machine, toaster, blender, mixer were all covered in mud. Her wedding dress was even soaked and covered in mud. All of her and her husbands clothes and shoes were soaked. Their mattress, their blankets, computer, television, play station and the list goes on and on.
Then there is my stuff. Oh and I have stuff. 30 years worth of stuff. I have a concrete storage room under the front porch. That door was also ripped off. Everything that was on the bottom 3 shelves is pretty much a loss. Crafts, files and files of office papers, files of the kids school work, toys, books, food storage, Halloween costumes, Easter decorations, Christmas decorations are all in the dumpster out back. I finally shed a few tears as I walked a box of my favorite Christmas ornaments over to the dumpster. Kristen's notebooks, her school papers, some of her toys and stuffed animals are now also in the dumpster.
As for the house, we had just put new tile and carpet in the basement. The walls were freshly painted. Now the sheetrock has been cut 5 feet up around all the rooms,the insulation tore out and the carpet ripped out. We are still working to clean mud off walls, out of the bath tub, and off of the shelves. We have been blessed with great families and friends as many helped for hours. People were loading their cars with garbage bags full of soaked clothes and blankets.
They were all returned fresh clean and dry. Thank You to everyone who stopped and helped.

In the midst of this madness I received an e-mail from Kamie's photographer with a link to her wedding pictures. I have been waiting as I knew there would be some pictures of Kristen. I was right. I'll share many pictures later but wanted to share 2 of my favorites.
Over the past few weeks I have suffered quite a loss. My heart continues to hurt. I find myself at times putting on a mask of contentment just to make it through the day.
I'm not even going to ask when the madness might stop.
Looking at these pictures makes you smile and cry at the same time.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Is it morning yet?

I am continually reminded of the finality of my loss. I stopped by the mortuary to pick up Kristen’s death certificate. I sat there alone in the car afraid to open the brown envelope as I knew well what was inside. For a moment I found myself unable to move. Then I slowly opened the envelope to see, “Certificate of Death”
As I kept reading the thought kept coming into my head, this isn’t real, when is someone going to wake me from this nightmare?
 “Cause of Death: Acute Myeloid Leukemia.”
By now the tears were flowing freely as I drove up the hill behind the mortuary to Kristen’s grave site. Hers is easy to find as it is always adorned with flowers, angels and windmills. I could not help but notice the windmill swiftly turning as there appeared to be no wind. I smiled through the tears and thought, ‘That’s my girl.” She always had a way of comforting me when she was here why would it be any different now. I have decided that Kristen was too pure,
too lovely, too delicate, too radiant, and too perfect to stay here.
Now I am left here to figure out for myself how to enjoy life once again
rather than just enduring it.

…weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.
Psalms 30:5

This past weekend we met at my mother’s house for dinner. As you can see I have been blessed with wonderful children and grandchildren. I am thankful for family who give me reason to try harder as I wait for morning to arrive.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Missing my girl

I’m missing my girl. Everything I see reminds me of her. Today while at Costco I saw the previews for a movie, I thought, “Kristen will love that.” Then it hits me again. Nope, I can’t buy it for her. I finally came up with a plan. Whenever I see something that I know Kristen would have loved, I am going to purchase it and give it to someone.  Kristen loved markers and colored pencils and with school supplies being dirt cheap right now, I bought markers, lots of markers, I am going to put some kits together for the cancer kids at the hospital. Whenever a new release movie comes out that I know Kristen would have loved I am going to buy it and drop it off at the hospital for the cancer unit. Today I signed up to make a Christmas tree and donate it in memory of Kristen for the Festival of Tress. One more thing I did today, I actually printed off volunteer applications for 2 different hospitals. I have found that being busy is best. I have found myself home alone on many occasions, something that I haven’t encountered for 24 years. It feels odd. I find myself turning on the radio or the television just to break the silence.
I have carried this central line emergency kit in my car for the past 2 years. It contained supplies for Kristen’s line as well as a change of clothing for her. I have replaced this emergency kit with something I call my cemetery emergency kit. Seems I spend quite a bit of time there and I find myself looking for something to put water in to fill Kristen’s vase or I need some grass shears. I thought of the many things I might need at the cemetery and put together this kit. I even bought a small bag of grass seed to fill in a
 few bare spots around Kristen’s grave.
Thank You for your kind words, your letters and cards. They help as I continue to try to pull myself out of this fog. My heart continues to harbor deep sorrow. Even so I continue to learn from Kristen as she had always shown strength, fortitude, determination and the sheer power to survive all that life dealt her.
If she can do it, I can at least try.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Half Moon Lake

For the past 30 years I have had the privilege of attending the Kirton family campout. It’s held every year at Half Moon Lake in Wyoming. My in-laws are great! Richard has 3 brothers and 4 sisters, so it is a really BIG party.
I have found in the past that going really isn’t an option.
Everyone goes, no matter what.
I have gone 8 months pregnant, with a 7 week old baby, and with a little girl who has been sick as she battled leukemia at different times for 8 years of her life. We camp in a beautiful pine and quaky covered campground which sits on the most beautiful lake. In the morning and in the evening, without fail, the lake is glass. You can literally see the reflection of the surrounding mountains and the sky in the lake, perfect for morning or late night skiing or wakeboarding. Every evening we all gather around the campfire to share laughs and sometimes tears. We lay on the sandy beach late at night enjoying the fabulous stars and the Milky Way. We stay until each has received their own falling star. We ride four wheelers, motorcycles, we fish and go hiking. We have encountered, on several occasions, mountain lions and bears. It is a family trip that we talk of and prepare for all year.
Kristen also loved to go camping. She would often start making her stack of things to pack weeks in advance. She looked forward to this trip as much as anyone.

This year was to be different. We knew Kristen would be too sick to attend. Kristen and I would stay home as well as Katy and her family as her baby was due July 26th. . Richard would go for a few days and get things set up for our other children,
then he would come back home to be with Kristen and I.

Things change. With Kristen passing much sooner that we had expected and Katy having her baby early, the question arose, now what? I knew it was too soon for me to leave home. I didn’t feel ready. I felt as though I would be abandoning Kristen if I went. Katy didn’t want to take a 2 week old baby camping.

I’m not sure how it happened but we all ended up going. Not for the whole week but for a few days. It is 250 miles from our home. Rich and I went up on Thursday night. He brought me back home Friday morning. We were going to stay home for a few days and then if I was feeling up to it we would go back. It seems that once I got back home I realized that It wasn’t fair to my other children, especially my 16 year old son, that I was home, basically feeling sorry for myself. Whenever my children seem to be acting selfish I always say, 
“Life isn’t about you.”
Now it was time I took my own advice.
Richard and I went back to Wyoming Saturday. We traveled 750 miles in just 2 days. Once I got back to camp and got settled I soon realized that this was actually a good thing for my family and for me. I had the chance to sit on the side of one of Kristen’s favorite lakes and read and just think. I read 2 books in just a couple of days. One of the books was about grieving and I actually learned a lot. I was able so sit and ponder things and set some goals for myself. I still cried often as everything there reminded me of Kristen. You can tell from the previous post that I did have a little time on my hands and took up
painting some rocks and writing in the sand.
Later in the week all of my children and their families arrived.
It was sad as everyone was there except Kristen.
Early one morning Richard went for a walk and came back and said that it felt like
Kristen was walking with him. 
She probably was.
I am including lots of pictures of my children, my grandchildren and a few of the in-laws. The last few pictures are of Kristen enjoying herself at the lake the past few years.