“Will I be happy again?”

Will I ever be happy again? A question that goes through my mind constantly. A question that people answer for me and say that I will. A question I don’t currently know the answer to.

Do I have moments of laughter? Yes I do. I laugh when I see the boys smile at me. I laugh when I watch a funny movie. I laugh when I’m around others. For a split second I feel happiness again.  I forget everything that has happened and for that split second I feel normal.  I have moments of happiness, but they are just moments. I don’t feel the way I did a year ago when Justin was in my life. Even when Justin had cancer and the future was scary, I was still happy. I was happy because he was with me.

I don’t think grateful is a strong enough word that would express how blessed I am to have these sweet boys. They really are the reason I laugh and get up each morning. They are the reason I am able to have moments of laugher and happiness.

Documenting their lives is a good distraction for me. It brings me joy to do their fun photoshoots. I have always loved making videos and taking pictures. It was important to Justin and I to document our family and make home videos. A couple months before he passed he bought a new canon camera for us. With the camera and the light he got me for my birthday I feel like its important to keep documenting. I’ve expressed this before, but I feel like he is apart of them in someway. Instagram has become my personal journal, a way to look back and remember the boys growing up. I enjoy posting things and it’s brought some joy into my life.

Will I ever be happy again? I honestly don’t know, but I pray that I will be someday.

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Most of you know I have been working on a fun project where I post a picture each month. This is the one we have done for the month of August. My cute cousin helps take the pictures and she edits them for me. Its been such a fun project and something to look forward to.

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“He is climbing mountains now”

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My best friend has been in heaven for a month now. The only thought that helps me keep moving forward is knowing he is no longer in pain. I imagine him looking like he dose in this picture. I imagine him hiking and climbing mountains. I imagine him  without pain.

Since we got married the longest we had been apart was two weeks. Even when we weren’t together we would text or talk each day. I was very lucky to have been with him so much during the last months of his life. Even though he was sick and slept a lot, we were always together. I often go to my phone hoping to see a “Hey pretty girl” text from him. His name is quickly moving to the bottom of my messages, where before it was always at the top. I find myself still opening a text message to send him a funny cat video or show him something cute the boys did. He was my person and we did everything together. I still feel like I’m on vacation and he is home working. Somedays it hits me that he is really gone and other days I feel like he is just back home in Utah.

So far the hardest part for me have been the dreams. I thought initially that having him in my dreams would be a way to see him again. They would give me a chance to have him with me and remember how I felt when he was around. I thought wrong and I would prefer I have no dreams of him at all. The pain that comes after waking up is to unbearable. The reminders of how my life was and how my life could have been is to hard. Those days are the hardest for me. In those hard moments I think of this picture and I have to remind myself he is no longer in pain. He is no longer restricted from doing the things he loves. He is climbing mountains now.

“There are some people in life that make you laugh a little louder, smile a little bigger, and live just a little bit better”

There is a scripture in The Book of Mormon that says “Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort.” – Mosiah18:9

This scripture frequently came to my mind this weekend. My closes friends came and spent the weekend with me in Estes Park. We all met when we studied abroad in Jerusalem and our friendship has only become stronger over the years.

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The event that brought us here was not how we envisioned our next get together, but I’m so grateful they came. We spent the weekend crying together as they listened and we talked. They truly felt my pain and cried with me. They gave me strength when I was so weak. They made me laugh as we talked about old memories and made new ones.

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We talked about the Savior and how much of a role he plays in our lives. At the end of the weekend we had grown so much. We were all strengthened and spiritually uplifted to be better and do better. We even talked about Justin and how he was such a great example to us all. Sometimes it’s hard to imagine us being like Jesus because he was perfect. At times it seems impossible to be like him, but I can try and be like Justin. It seems reachable in my eyes to be like Justin and he truly was as close as you can get. He was radiant in every way and tried his best to be like Christ.

My sweet friend wrote me a note that described Justin perfectly and it meant so much to me. She said:

 “Justin was a man who saw others as God saw them and treated all with respect and grace. Even when they might not have deserved it, he never saw it that way. My life was touched by a titan among men. Thank you for brining a new friend to my life. An example of who God wants us to be. And thank you for being an ever present reminder of holding to the rod of hope and faith. I mourn with you and I’ll rejoice with you when you see him again.” 

Friends are the ones that rejoice and mourn with you. It is not by chance these beautiful souls were placed in my life. I know they were hand picked by the Lord to give me strength during my hour of need. To be here to cry with me. To be here to keep me going. To be here to remember Justin and keep his legacy alive! We all left wanting to be like Justin and be better daughters of God.

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They all showed up wearing wolf shirts and even brought some for the twins. They knew Justin and I loved wolf shirts.  True friends! I thought it would be fun to share!

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I’ll Be Alright. One Day. Someday. Just Not Today.

A week ago today I made it through the second hardest day of my life. All day  thoughts of denial crowded my mind. Moving from one part of the day to the next I kept thinking over and over.. “is this really happening?” So many people crying with me and sending their love. How is this my life? I hear of these stories, but that would never happen to me.

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  The stories were so beautiful and amazing, but they made me miss him even more. It reminded me of how great my life was. How lucky I was to have such an amazing man at my side. How great our story was and our love for each other. It reminded me of a life I could have had. The things we would have done together as a family. The way he would have continued to treat me.

I can’t be left alone because those thoughts continue to flood my mind. I dread sleeping at night because my brain won’t shut off. Waking up in the morning is the hardest of all. Its unbearable to have to remember each morning I no longer have the love of my life by my side. He is no longer here to hold me. He is no longer here to comfort me. Even though I’m not a lone I feel alone.

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   I guess I have to accept that I am now a widow. That word makes me feel sick to my stomach. I’ve heard that word my whole life and always associated it with 80 year old women. How is that my label at 30 with two new babies. How is this my life?

  I often find myself thinking I could have done more. We should have tried more options or shouldn’t have done certain treatments. I have this battle in my mind on how things should have gone. I just can’t accept that this is my life.

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  It has been over a week now since Justin has passed. I keep replaying that morning over and over in my head. We knew he was sick, but it was such a surprise. I hope those images fade over time. I don’t want those to be my last memories of him. I hope there will be a day I don’t think of that morning.

   I remember the first time I realized I was talking in past tense. It was another reminder he was really gone.  I do hope that I can continue to talk about him as if he was still here. I find myself saying “he would have loved that picture” or “he loved to do that as well.” I think that will help my boys know him even more.

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  All I’ve heard is time will heal. So now I just need to give it time. Each day is painful and I wonder if there will be a day I don’t cry. I hope that I can be happy again. I hope I can keep doing the things I love! I’m trying to remember that he would want me to.

“Love is intended to last longer than time, to span the veil of death and continue everlastingly” – Robert L. Millett

The service was so beautiful and I was blown away by how many people came to support us. It meant so much to me and I felt so grateful. I’ve heard so many people say “because of Justin I want to be a better person.”  That was the best gift I could have been given.  I loved how he was able to touch someone in some way.  He was able to help them become more like Christ. That is what he would have wanted.

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The only thing that got me through the funeral was knowing he is no longer in pain. That reminder gives me strength and keeps me moving forward. He is free of pain and climbing mountains now!

I was able to spend some time with him the night before the funeral. I’m glad I was able to take that time and say my goodbyes. I spent the week looking through old photos, he was so handsome, strong, and healthy looking. It was hard to see him in that casket, all I could think was who was this person. It was hard to think as well that the cancer was still there, just sitting in his body. Its scary to think how fast the cancer aged him and made him look so sick.

I was really anxious to have to talk to so many people. I so badly wanted to go sit in another room until the day was over. But it was important to me to feel all the feelings and go through each step of the day. I really feel like he was with me that day because I was able to make it through.

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I was so happy with how the service went and the stories that were shared. He truly was an amazing man. I feel grateful we were able to change a sad event and bring some happiness by blessing the twins.

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I was able to smile a little when I saw the spot of where he was going to be buried. It was on the edge of a hill looking out over the valley. I couldn’t help but think he was there smiling to. Some of our friends brought Colorado dirt to put on top of the casket. They also brought a Big City Burrito (his favorite burrito place in Fort Collins). It was another tender mercy of being able to put a smile on my face during such a hard time. We also put pine cones on top of the casket because he loved nature and being outside. As hard as the day was, I was so happy with how everything went. He deserved the best and that is what he got.

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I can’t say thank you enough for all the love and prayers I’ve received. They gave me strength to get through the funeral and they continue to give me strength to get through each day. Thank you so much for all your love and support!

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I also don’t know how I would have made it through that day without my family. They have  both given me so much strength. I know they will be the reason I keep getting up in the mornings. They will be there to help keep Justin in my life and the boys lives.

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How life brought us together! (Our story)

I worked on this the last couple weeks. I thought it would be fun to go through our story and how we met. I finished the project two days before he passed. He was able to look through it and smile. We laughed and talked about all the drama that eventually brought us together. After I shared it on my Instagram he wanted to know what everyone was saying about it. He kept asking me to check and read them to him. He loved our story so much! So I thought I would share here as well!

I keep thinking about how lucky I am that we grew up together. I didn’t just have those 5 years of marriage, but years before of great friendship. I feel so blessed to have that! He truly was my best friend! I love and miss him so much!

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“Until we meet again”

 

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I’m writing a post I thought I would never have to write. I believed and hoped so badly I wouldn’t have to. Justin had been in a lot of pain the last couple of days. This morning when we went to check on him he wasn’t breathing. We got him comfortable enough last night to fall asleep. Justin and I read a scripture together before going to bed and that was the last time I saw him. He was home around the people he loved.
I did get a sweet moment with him yesterday where he and I were able to talk. He was so weak and could barely say anything, but we shared some thoughts with each other. He told me he was so tired and was trying so hard to hold on for me and the boys, but he didn’t know how much strength he had left in him. He said we had done everything we were suppose to and it was in Gods hands. I think he knew it was time and was ready to let go. He has suffered for so long and he is free now.
I keep thinking this morning that I wish he wrote letters to the boys or did things to prepare for this, but we had so much hope, it was hard to have those conversations. We lived each day talking about things like when he would take the boys fishing. When he would go back to work. Even last night he was saying how when this was over he wanted to go to the Tetons again. We believed he would get better and lived each day to that belief.
For a moment I was angry at that hope. We could have planned better and had letters for the boys. But then I thought how that hope was the reason he lived so long. That hope was how he sat next to me while I gave birth. That hope was how he saw his boys. That hope was how we had a couple of months as a family. We never lived a day thinking he would die and I think that was the best way to live.
I feel an ache and pain I have never felt before in my life. I’m scared to wake up tomorrow and the next day. He was my person who treated me like a queen, even when he was so sick. He knew exactly how to make me feel better and make me laugh.
I don’t know how I’ll keep going, but I’m grateful for these two beautiful boys to keep me living. I’m so grateful for the gospel and the knowledge that I will see him again. I keep having to remind myself that this life is just a moment. I will be with him for eternity. It’s easy to say that, but the ache of each day without him will be unbearable. I’m hoping it will get easier.
Last night we watched Remember the Titans. He was to weak to watch, but listened to the whole movie. He would smile at his favorite parts and wished he could sing some of the songs. It was meant to be because it reminded me of his Facebook post when he was in the hospital. He said “Coach I’m hurt, I ain’t dead” He truly had that attitude up until his last breath. He was the strongest person I know! He fought so hard to be here for me and the boys. He was a beautiful soul!
I held his hand one last time this morning. Whenever we held hands we would give each other hand squeezes meaning “I love you.” We did it yesterday when he was to weak to speak. He squeezed my hand twice. I squeezed his hand this morning for the last time. I love him more than anything!

Thank you for all you’re prayers and love!

Happy First Fathers Day Justin!

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Feeling blessed to have Justin here today to celebrate his first Fathers day. I’ll never forget the day we went into our first ultrasound after I found out I was pregnant. We were not expecting to see two little circles on the screen. My first initial reaction was panic and worry, I had so many thoughts going through my mind. We were already taking a big leap of faith by getting pregnant with one, so it was really scary when we found out it was two.

I didn’t say much walking back to our car, all the scenarios of two were running through my head. Two car seats, two cribs, two babies to feed, etc.. I had already started to worry and Justin could tell. It didn’t take long before Justin was the one calming me down and assuring me it would be okay. He kept saying how much fun it will be to have two kids at once. He was so excited and his enthusiasm helped me come out of my worried state. It didn’t take long before we were both really excited and couldn’t imagine anything else.

   Justin has been a great father before these kids were even born. He took such good care of me during my fertility treatments and pregnancy. Each morning before he went to work he would get up extra early so that he could give me my morning shot. He would also make sure I had breakfast before he left because I was too sick to do it myself. He did all of this while working, going to school, and doing chemo on the weekends. In my eyes the “father” title starts when the pregnancy does. He was there to make sure all three of us were okay.

Justin was excited from day one to be a father. I’ll never forget the day I found him in the nursery staring at the cribs. He had tears in his eyes as he expressed how excited he was to meet these two boys. I’m sure sitting in the nursery that day he was imagining things being different than they are now. It hasn’t been easy for him to watch everyone around him do things he wishes he could be doing. When the boys first got home from the hospital he could barely hold them long enough before he had to pass them back. As he has been getting a little stronger he has been able to do more with the boys. Its not easy for him and it takes every extra breath to do the simplest task. He tries so hard to get the strength to tend to one when they are crying or help with a feeding. Even the days he feels so sick he tries to spend quality time with each one.

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Justin can be really hard on himself and wishes he could do more. I’m just so grateful he is here and every little thing he does means the world to me and the boys. I can tell how hard it is for him to do things with the boys and thats what makes him an even better father. When he is in pain he suffers through so that he can hold one of the boys or feed them a bottle. Thats a great father in my eyes! I couldn’t ask for a better husband and a father to Marshal and Everett.

 

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Our gift to Justin for Fathers Day!

 

 

“We made a wish..two came true!”

I feel like God truly answered a prayer and performed a miracle on April 10th, 2018.  Having Justin with me during delivery was a miracle and something I knew if God would allow it,  he would let Justin be there. This blog has been a way to share updates, but it has also been a personal journal. I wanted to write this post mostly for me so I can remember that day. I also wanted to share this video and story because so many of you prayed that Justin would be able to be at the hospital.  Prayers were answered so thank you! 🙂

Birth Story

I had a doctors appointment on Friday the 6th and everything looked great and normal.  I woke up the next day and I could barley walk my legs were so swollen. I kept checking my blood pressure over the weekend and it started getting higher.  By Monday morning nothing had changed so we decided to go straight to the hospital to get it checked out. We were pretty sure I would end up staying at the hospital so I brought my hospital bag.  I knew it was hard for Justin to not be the one driving me there.

Once we got there they checked my blood work and sure enough I tested positive for pre-eclampsia. That was enough to induce me that day. I was so uncomfortable I was happy to hear I didn’t have to wait another week to have these babies.

(I gained 40 pounds of water weight)

It was sad and hard not to have Justin there, but I’m so glad my mom was able to be with me during labor. Before I was induced I asked for an ultrasound to make sure both boys heads were down. I did not want to go through hours of labor to end up finding out one or both were breech. I was super relieved when it was confirmed both heads were down and I was able to try for a vaginal birth. Labor lasted 28 hours and I made sure to facetime Justin the whole time. I updated him on how things were going and tried to make him feel like he was there as much as possible.

 

With everything going on with Justin’s health we decided it would be best if he came to the hospital when it was time to go to the OR. Justin was on standby anxiously waiting for my call to come to the hospital. My doctor and nurses were amazing and knew my situation with Justin.  My doctor said it would be fine to call Justin once I reached 10 centimeters and I would be ready to push as soon as he got there.  His parents helped him over and as he entered the room I felt a calm come over me. All those prayers said for us the last two months to get Justin there had been answered.

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Twin pregnancies are high risk and it’s hospital policy that I delivery in the OR. Even though I was trying for a vaginal birth they want you in the OR just in case something goes wrong and you need a c-section. The hospital is very strict on who they let in the OR. If there is a chance I go into an emergency c-section they don’t want a lot of people in there. The doctors and nurses knew our situation and let Justin and my doula be in the room with me. They even let my mom stay in the NICU room behind the OR. Everyone was so amazing and understanding of our situation.

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The room was not very inviting with its surgical tables and big lights overhead. I was nervous and the sterile operating room did not help. But as soon as they wheeled Justin in next to me, I felt a peace come over me. His fragile hand held mine and didn’t let go the whole time.  There were a lot of people in the room supporting me through each contraction. There were many voices in the room, but all I could hear was Justins faint voice saying “you can do this Jenn!” I focused in on his voice and it gave me the energy to keep going.

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My contractions were  long and the wait in-between them were even longer. My doctor mentioned after that he had never see contractions like mine before. During each contraction I could push four or five times. Everett had been posterior so it took awhile to get him out. I pushed for a little over an hour before I heard that beautiful cry. They cleaned him off and brought him over to Justin to hold. I was so exhausted at this point and I kept thinking to myself,  “how the heck I am going to have the energy to do this again.”  Seeing Everett in Justin’s arms was a good motivation to keep going. Once I knew Everett was okay I really worried about Marshal. I worried he would turn breech and I’m sure I was annoying asking the doctor multiple times if his head was still down. It was such a relief when he said his head was still down and he just needed to get him in position.

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I think it was a good distraction that Justin and Everett were next to me because I didn’t realize my doctor starting to get worried. They tried multiple times to reposition the heart rate monitor on my belly and they weren’t able to find Marshal’s heartbeat. I heard the nurse say his heart rate was low and the next thing I heard was my doctor saying “I’m sorry Jenn.” I knew exactly what that meant and within seconds the room went into panic mode. I could see someone quickly grabbing Everett out of Justin’s arms and escorting him out of the room. I saw nurses moving things around and rushing across the room. I turned to my doula and I remember just saying “no no no I didn’t want this”  as my body was getting moved over to the operating table. I remember feeling tons of pressure and then feeling really nauseous. My doula was able to stay by my side through out the procedure and explain to me what was going on. With all the drugs in me and everything happening so fast I kept going in and out. There was a time my doula got worried when I didn’t respond to her or wake up. She said the anesthesiologist had to pinch me to wake me up.

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The next thing I remember was being wheeled back into my room. The nurse was explaining to me on the way that Marshal was okay, but still in the NICU.  I felt so relieved when I heard that.  It was so great to see Justin in the room waiting for me. They brought Everett in the room and I was able to hold him for the first time. I was still in shock and trying so hard to stay awake, but I will never forget that moment. Marshal was only in the NICU for five hours and they brought him in later that night. Our little family was complete and together and I’ll never forget that feeling of happiness. It’s probably a good thing I was so out of it during surgery because my mom said Marshal was blue when he came out. I feel so blessed to have had so many great nurses and doctors there to help keep my baby alive.

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This was not how I originally thought my birth would go. I always imagined Justin holding my hand and helping me through hours of labor. I imagined a birth without surgery. I imagined skin to skin as soon as my baby came out crying. But thats not how it turned out and I’m learning to be okay with that. It was really hard to accept how my birth turned out. The last thing I wanted was to be recovering from two different births and it was a worry of mine from the beginning.  It was a really traumatic experience and was causing me a lot of anxiety. Whenever someone started talking about it my whole body would start to shake. I  had a really hard time accepting what happened and I struggled with it a lot. The first week I was home from the hospital I cried every night. I hated that I wasn’t able to get up right away to tend to my babies. I hated that I couldn’t carry them when they were crying.

I went to my follow up appointment with my doctor the next week and we talked through what happened. There was no way we would have known Marshal’s heart rate would start going down. He said knowing what he knows now he would have done things the same. When he was doing my c-section he saw that my uterus was  way overstretched. He had to fold it in half and stitch it so that it would be able to contract back down. Ether way he would have had to do some type of surgery on my uterus and if not noticed it could have prevented me from having more kids in the future. After he told me this I felt a lot better about how things turned out. God has a plan for everything and I believe this was my story and it was suppose to be.

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   Despite how they got here, God blessed us with two healthy beautiful boys and thats what matters most. I feel incredibly blessed that Justin was able to be at the hospital when they arrived. There were a couple times when Justin was in the hospital that I really didn’t know if he would make it. I pleaded with the Lord multiple times to let Justin be there for their birth. I wanted him by my side during that special day. I feel so blessed and lucky that Justin made it. I feel so blessed that our boys are healthy and happy!

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“Thus God has provided a means that man, through faith, might work mighty miracles” -Mosiah 8:18

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Justin has been home for one week now and I am so glad to have him here. I think he and I both had different expectations from him being home. We both realize now that we still have a long road ahead to getting his strength back. I think we thought by him being home it would go back to how he was before, but we aren’t quit there yet. He told me even though he is home, he still feels connected to the hospital.  He is still on oxygen 24/7 and has nurses that come to the house a couple times a week. We had to learn how to give him his IV antibiotics each day and he is still on a lot of medication.

We lived at our place for a couple days and realized it was unrealistic to get Justin up and down the stairs. The last night we were there it took him 30 minutes to make it up to his bed. Before all of this happened we were looking for a place to take care of the twins and have room for our parents to stay and help. My aunt is amazing and offered her basement apartment. So we decided to move there early so Justin could get around easier. We are forever grateful and it has been a huge blessing. Being able to stay here has been one of those tender mercies along this hard journey.

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We have been taking this most recent journey by steps. The first step was to get Justin out of the hospital on an antibiotic that worked.  I can tell by looking at him that he is having a battle within himself. He struggles with depression and the will to keep fighting. That’s why when he has a good day I say a prayer and thank God for that tender mercy. It keeps giving him strength to keep going.  I cherish those days because I have my Justin back with me. When he feels good he is himself again making me laugh and smile. I could try and write for days in detail about how it really feels to watch someone you love go through cancer, but unless you have been through it yourself I could never portray how it really is. My crying sessions are mostly out of helplessness.  He is in so much pain and discomfort and I can’t do anything about it. I just wish I could take it away.

The second step is to get Justin well enough to be at the birth of these boys. Just like the hospital we are taking it a day a time. He will have one great day and not so great the next. It’s especially hard because each bad day that he has, seems like a step backwards to getting him to the delivery room. I think I have started to mentally prepare myself for him not being there and it kills me inside. I’m mostly sad for Justin that he won’t be able to experience that first cry and the happy emotions that come from that special moment. Its hard for me to imagine meeting these boys for the first time and not being able to look over at Justin and share that moment. I want more than anything to share that moment with him.

Its been really hard for me not to be angry and ask the “why” questions. Why would this all happen months before the babies come. Justin had been doing fine on his chemo before and could have been well enough for the delivery. Its hard not knowing all the answers. I have to work extra hard to pull myself back to faith and God. The last step is to find a cure to this cancer and help him raise these boys. I still believe and hope for that miracle, but right now I’m focusing on him being in the delivery room. There is a scripture in the book of Mormon that talks about miracles. It says “Behold I say unto you, Nay; for it is by faith that miracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men; wherefore, if these things have ceased wo be unto the children of men, for it is because of unbelief, and all is vain.” –Moroni 7:37

I think it will take a miracle to get Justin to that delivery room. So if it’s Gods will, I will pray and have faith that Justin can be there.  I believe in miracles and we have seen many along this journey. I pray and hope Justin can be there and he can start to get his strength back.