Today I had a great opportunity to attend another funeral.
A dear friend and co-worker lost his wife this past weekend. His wife, Vickie, suffered pancreatic cancer. She fought a courageous battle! My friend, Kim, is equally strong and determined. Kim suffered quietly as he watched his wife endure. Kim has always had a smile on his face and a sense of humor that even the humorless found funny. Through all this he has only become more determined to be better, to honor his wife. Kim is an incredibly joyful person. After hearing so much about his wife, I can see that Kim and Vickie are very deserving of each other.
You know what? I think that's amazing. I admire that about him. I admire that about his three children. They bragged, and rightly so, about how optimistic, kind, and determined she was. I thought it was incredible! Here is a woman suffering from pancreatic cancer and on her license plate is "Celebrate Life".
Another thing I thought was incredible was that before she passed she had planned her funeral. We were told she had asked the speakers to speak, gave them the topic they were to speak on, and even picked the music. That is...so awesome! Her children stated that she had wanted a party instead of a funeral! What an incredible woman!! What an incredible family!
Every talk and piece of music was just beautiful. I was sitting next to my other dear friend from work, Christy, and after the talks were given we were both teary-eyed. All we could say to each other was, "Wow". I mean, this was such an uplifting, joyful funeral. It was full of hope. It was full of memories. It was full of LOVE.
...it took me back to my sweeties funeral...
I am so grateful I went. I am so grateful I was able to go with Ashley, Megan, my amazing mom, and Christy.
As I've said before, I have come to LOVE funerals. There isn't anything like them in this world. I almost feel like I'm attending the temple when I go. There's so much peace. The spirit of love, joy, knowledge, and support is overwhelming!
I have a deep love and respect for the Gardner family. It is obvious they want to be better because of their mother. They want to honor her. That's admirable. It's going to be hard, but if they're as determined as their mother is (I'm sure they are!) it will happen.
I am so grateful for my religion. I am so grateful for hope. I am grateful for the wow-type messages I heard today at Vickie's funeral. God bless that good family.
I'm going to end this update the way Vickie's funeral started:
"Have I done any good in the world today? I have I helped anyone in need? Have I cheered up the sad - or made someone feel glad?"
If not, go and smile at someone. Hug someone. Laugh with someone.
I have been feeling a bit of the sorrow end of things. It hits at random times, unexpectedly. I was just thinking about my baby and aching for her...so I did a little searching and this is what I found. CLICK HERE
Be sure to turn up your volume! It's the most beautiful, tender sound in the world. (you'll need to scroll down and push play)
I don't know where to begin. Without sounding melodramatic (sp?) I have been able to seriously dwell on my life, my priorities, my beliefs, my habits...there's so much my precious girl changed in me. I have never been so grateful yet so full of sorrow in my life.
I am not Mercydez's mother..although I claim Mercydez is mine. I would NEVER take that dignified calling from Ashley. I could never claim to be Ashley's equal in that regard. I can say I have tasted of the fruit of motherhood and I'm aching for more. How sweet. How fulfilling. How absoulutely, thoroughly beautiful.
Many may be wondering what's up with the title of this post. Since day one I have called Mercydez my favorite desserts. Why?! Because she has always been the sweetest, most delicious, satisfying dessert I have ever had! I called her "my little fudge brownie" a lot! Except I would pronounce it the way I wrote it in the title! Whenever I'd call her that I'd say it in my highest pitch possible. It just fits her personality!!!!
I, like Ashley, can't visit too many memories which have come about the last month or so. While I have sworn I will never forget the hard (yet sacred) moments I can't visit them too often. They are too...emotional right now. I find myself driving in the car on my way to school or work randomly holding back tears. I could easily pull over and sob and sob and sob. How I miss my sweetie. Yet at other times I am so happy, so excited. I know my niece is so happy right now. I know she is safe. I know she is keeping busy with my Grandpa Gourley, with her cousin McKayla and Aunt Heather and Uncle Mark. She is surrounded by family and friends. I know it. I know she has earned her salvation. I can't help but smile when thinking about these truths.
Man...I have so many thoughts. I have thought a lot about those in this world who hold back love and relationships because of fear. I am not thinking of anyone in particular. Just thinking. I am so deeply sad for those who, because of fear, selfishly stand back...never offering any love, concern, or connection. This happens with those who are sick and those who are elderly. Unfortunately the world has the mentality of, "if it's going to hurt, I don't want to be a part of it" and so they don't. I have so much pity on the poor soul who not only thinks that way, but ACTS that way. It's pitiful. It's selfish. It's disgusting. It's wrong. It's sad.
I am grateful for the many many people who didn't let fear hold them back from meeting, loving, and appreciating my Mercydez. Was it hard? Yes. Was it painful? Yes. Was it worth it? A million times over, YES.
I think sometimes we focus so much on the sickness or the age, we tend to forget that in that body is a soul. That person is so much more than a diagnosis or age. THEY ARE A HUMAN. With all the suffering Mercydez experienced and the sorrow we felt in her suffering, there were many more moments of joy, laughter, love, and unity. There were soooooooo many sweet moments in 14 1/2 months!!! I am so grateful I didn't hold back. I am so grateful I knew my niece as more than a diagnosis. I knew her mannerisms, her cries, her coughs, her expressions, her smell...I miss it all. I'm so grateful I was able to live in the moment, not looking to the dreaded day. Every day was an adventure. I literally treasure EVERY day. I'm so grateful I didn't hold back because of fear. I can't imagine the many regrets I'd have to live with had I allowed fear to run my life.
My niece is incredible. I know she still lives.
Yesterday I had the wonderful opportunity to attend a funeral. One, of the many things I love about the LDS Church is the funeral service. It is a service of hope, light, laughter, joy, and celebration. I love that the church teaches us to look at the good in death. I love that I have a knowledge of the plan of salvation. There is life after death. There is a plan. We are here for a reason.
At the funeral yesterday, for Mike Smith, I was inspired. The Smith family is incredible. They made so many poignant points. I was struck so many times. Who would have thought I would learn so much at a funeral?! I loved every moment of it. But then again, so much has happend and I've been changed so much that I am at the point where I can truly appreciate a funeral. I don't dread or dislike them anymore. In fact, without sounding morbid, I actually ache for the spirit found only at a funeral. I was watching the family of Mike - wife, children, grand-children, siblings as they smiled at the memories being shared from the pulpit, as they cried in their loss, as they laughed at the man they called father, husband, brother, friend.
I am determined to be better. I hope to be remembered as Mike and Mercydez will be remembered. I want to be worthy of their presence. I want to be kind to everyone, regardless of how rude, hurtful, or selfish they may be. I want to accept and love everyone, after all, when has kindness ever been inappropriate? I want to be slow to judge wrongfully, but quick to judge righteously. I want to inspire people.
...I have a long way to go! But I'm determined to get there. I have to. I have to have my niece again. I can't be without her. She is mine for eternity as long as I live the life worthy of her, of salvation. I love my niece so much. I have to meet my goals. It'll take a life time. But I have to.
While this has been such a hard, almost dreaded day, I feel so blessed and grateful. I have come to realize how much joy and happiness my baby brought. Because I realize this I want to do better at focusing on the joy. Did she suffer? Absolutely, more than she should have. Did she experience love and happiness? I like to think so. Nic and Ash did EVERYTHING to make sure she was comfortable, clean, and happy. If Mercydez coughed her adorable cough, Nic and Ash were there in an instant trying to figure out what was causing her frustration. That girl knew what she wanted! And mommy and daddy knew her well enough to give it to her. Quickly.
I want to leave everyone with one of my "tender memories". One afternoon Ash gave Mercydez a bath! How she LOVED being bathed!!! Ash would put her in nice warm water, with her feet under the faucet as warm water ran on her cute little feet. After this particular bath Mercydez was fussy. She was a little cold coming out of that heated bathroom. Ashley gently dressed her..and me being the obsessive auntie, I just couldn't bare to hear her cry...I miss that cry. So I went in Nic, Ash, and Mercydez's bedroom and cuddled with my sweetie. I picked her up and put her against my chest. She cuddled up to me so tight! It was because my skin was warm and she was cold. I held her for quite sometime. In fact, she fell asleep cuddled up to me. I remember living in that moment. I remember just loving have my sweet little baby in my arms, so tight, so genuinely happy. I will never forget. I can't wait to experience that with her again. I smile in my hope that Nic and Ash will share her with me in the after life as they raise her!!
Nic and Ash have truly inspired me. I was talking with Nic last night (Ash was out serving others, doing what she does best) and I told him how strong of a bond I feel with him and Ash. I feel like we have a relationship stronger than words. I feel like what we have is unique, to the fullest extent. We sort of have an unspoken respect, love, and admiration for one another. While we respect and understand how important privacy is, we can't help being together ALL THE TIME. We never tire of being with Nic and Ash. I told Nic that when we say, "Where Nic and Ashley go, we go" we're 95% serious.
Nic and Ash, Trav and I love you so much. We love your sweet little girl. We are so grateful for you.
...my sweeeeetiee! I miss you so stinkin' much. Every time I go in your room I breathe deeply because I can still smell you. I still go in and check on your mommy every morning. While I know her arms ache to hold you close and cuddle with you until late morning, I know she rejoices in your happiness. Your Daddy and Mommy deserve you. I'm not surprised you chose them and that they chose you. I promise I will always check on your Mommy. Always. I promise I will love and respect your Daddy. Your Daddy is incredible. I have such a deep admiration for him. He loves you so much. He is wise and strong. He will protect your Mommy and together they will live the kind of lives you would be pleased with. I know because they're that type of people.
Please continue to pray for Nic and Ash. Please continue pray for my family.
I know this is long. The crazy thing is, is that I could continue typing for hours. I have so much going on in my head. So many experiences, thoughts, moments of growth I want to share, because they've made me better. Maybe another time, if appropriate. With that said, I hope I haven't already said too much.
I love my Heavenly Father. I love my Savior, Jesus Christ. I love my sweet sister, Ash and my incredible brother-in-law, Nic. I love my perfect niece, Mercydez. I love and admire my incredibly strong and loving mom. I love my amazing, perfect husband, Travis. My heart is full in so many ways.