Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Letter

Today was our home study with the Office of Licensing. Ellen said to expect it to take 3 hours; it took 3 1/2. The home inspection was a breeze and lasted maybe 15 minutes. The rest of the time was a study on us as individuals, a couple, and a family. Instead of a true/false or multiple answers test, it was an oral essay, so to speak.

Ellen asked us how our community support was. Immediately I thought about all the amazing kindnesses shared with us yesterday. Two years, 24 whole months, had gone by since Josh passed away and still people were showing true compassion to us. We explained that to Ellen. And then the doorbell rang. There stood my Primary friend, Ashley, and her mother, Mindy. I got a beautiful homemade card with a picture of what I assumed was me and Ashley enclosed in a heart as well as chocolate and a hug from Ashley. We also received a dozen red roses and a letter to treasure from her mom.

Do you remember on that Chevy Chase movie when they were trying to sell the house and someone says, "Cue the deer." During our interview, it seemed that we were trying to 'sell' ourselves as a wonderful family that had strong family and community support and after receiving the timely gifts at the door. I sat down and said to Enos, "Cue the deer." He smiled, knowingly.

During the interview we were asked many detailed questions about Josh's death and how we have been coping with that sad reality. It was exhausting, especially after the emotions from yesterday, the day that marked two years from Josh's passing.

Enos and I were asked to talk about each of our boys, all three of them. What were they like?

After Ellen left, I opened the envelope and read the letter from Mindy. What was Josh like? She answered the question for me and tears streamed down my face. Among other things she said...

They (the memories I have of Josh) are something that I feel impressed upon to share with you. He was always so well behaved in primary. He was the one being reverent, listening. He was the one I could count on to give an appropriate answer in sharing time (and it was always the right answer). He was always one that we could go to if we needed the prayer or scripture in a pinch. He was always so respectful.

When he turned 12 and made that great transition into the Aaronic Priesthood, we still got to see those fine qualities of Josh's. The way he passed the sacrament, so reverently, always looking so handsome, was a quiet reminder of how I needed to be during that ordinance.

My children are another story...

Mindy's sweet family

(In Sacrament meeting) it seems as if their selection process when it comes to the bread or water goes on a bit too long, and I grow impatient. I had the thought in my head that those young men probably felt the same way, just needing to get on to the next bench, the next family, and my girls take their time. One Sunday, as Josh was passing to us, these thoughts were running through my head, and I looked up at him, just expecting to see an exasperated expression. It wasn't there. It wasn't at all what I had expected. He was standing there, doing his duty, and smiling down at Ashley. Not a bit of impatience in his face. It was so sweet to me. Just another great lesson taught to me by an incredible person.

Another time, when I was pregnant with Peyton (and I remember that because the pregnancy and that placenta sucked out just about every fully functioning brain cell from my head...I forgot many things as you will soon read.) Still in the Primary, I had brought some treats for teacher appreciation. After getting them to all the primary workers, I had leftovers and thought I'd take them to sacrament meeting in the box I brought them in, just in case I thought of someone else that could use the uplift. By the end of Sacrament meeting, I had totally forgotten that I brought them into the chapel with me. They stayed underneath the bench. Josh and another boy (I think it was Connor) went in afterward and cleaned up the chapel. I was in the primary closet when Josh brought it to me and asked if it was mine. I was so impressed! I would think that most boys would find an abandoned box with candy in it and claim it for themselves. Not your boy. (I did give it to them anyway; they deserved it.)

Just another small example of how his life has touched mine for good. I know he is doing even more incredible things where he is now. Hopefully he found my relatives, especially my grandpa, and is teaching them of the truth. Josh had that capability too, I learned that from a few sharing time role-play sessions.

Mindy will never know (even after reading this post) how much hearing about Josh in such a personal and poetic way meant to me at that moment. I'm so grateful she listened and acted upon her impression. I know that Josh is involved in our foster to adopt journey. (I will share more details about that at the right time.) But reading that letter helped me feel so close to him. I needed that. So, Mindy, thank you for following that prompting and taking the time to write and deliver that letter. It is sweet that you let Ashley also have a gift to deliver. That's what mothering is about. Oh, and the roses were nice too! :)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Can you see our light, Josh?

An entry from my Tender Mercies Journal dated Aug. 22, 2008

We had family home evening last Sunday. It was the first time since Josh passed away that we had an official family home evening - with someone in the 'conductor's chair', with an opening hymn, prayer, lesson, refreshments and an activity. There are some things that are emotionally difficult to go back to. After Nate finished the lesson, we talked about how different it was without Josh (less interruptions and less entertainment) and being so tender hearted, Nathan and Enos both cried a bit.

We took a bag of bread and headed to Beus Pond to feed the ducks for our activity. We felt Heavenly Father's love for us as we soaked in the natural beauty all around us.

We stopped at the cemetary on our way home. As we stood around Josh's grave, Cody pulled a little white plastic 'tea candle' out of his pocket. He turned the switch on underneath and the little flame on top started to glow. He placed it by Josh's memorial. Just then the nearby line of sprinklers shut down and correctly anticipating the closer ones would quickly turn on, we ran for the car.

We drove up and around to the top point of the cemetary and there Enos stopped. We were in the little red Cabriolet convertible and could all look down and see the dim glow of the candle. I found myself grateful to be able to see the light from that distance and I wondered, "Can you see our light, Josh?"

Enos interrupted my thoughts by pointing excitedly in the other direction and saying, "Look!" There were two deer standing just north of us. Directly above the two bucks, a star suddenly blazed brightly. We followed it's brilliant dive earthward. None of us could speak for a moment.

(Nathan made this sculpey art to remember our experience)

We all felt Josh had seen our little light and sent a sign. I told Enos when I could speak, "It's just like Josh to outdo us!" Nathan shared with us that the last time he had seen a shooting star, he was with Josh laying down on the trampoline looking up at the night sky. Cody declared that he had never in his life seen a shooting star so bright and brilliant and what a long streak it made!

We walked back into our home that night feeling like we had received an amazing gift. Instead of feeling sad and weighed down, we were in a celebratory spirit.

This week I've found myself singing, "Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket, never let it fade away...Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket, save it for a rainy day."

Some people may see the falling star as a coincidence, or the timing of all four of us paused and looking in just the right direction as happenstance, but I will always see the heavenly light as a message of love from Josh.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Tulips and Daffodils

Within weeks of Josh's funeral, green stems pushed up from the ground and vibrant tulips and daffodils greeted us.  Josh planted the bulbs back in the fall. The spring flowers will be a reminder to us every year of Josh and the miracle of the resurrection.