Saturday, January 24, 2015

January 6-23, 2015

We just got back from Utah about an hour ago.

Everyone in this house is fast asleep, except, as usual, me.

I can't sleep yet. I have too many thoughts in my head that have been rolling around over and over again since we left Utah. I think the only solution is the get them out so I can move on to the next mountain of thoughts I have to process.

So, right now I'm just going to write about my perspective of the incredibly beautiful, sad, difficult, and uplifting events of the past week.

Let's start at last Saturday, the 17th.

No, let's start a little sooner than that.

Early in January, the 6th, actually, Sam came home unexpectedly early from teaching a class for a mutual group. I came out of our room and asked what was up and he just looked at me, choked up, and said, "my sister is dying and she only has a few days to live."

That is when our world pretty much stopped. We spent the next 11 days focusing every available ounce of energy and time (and most of the unavailable energy and time) on worrying, praying for and trying to find ways to help family. We made a fast trip to Utah for Sam to see Becky and say good-bye to her. I don't want to share the details of that trip because they don't belong to the internet, but they were moments that will be precious to both Sam and me forever. We kind of went through the motions of doing what we absolutely had to do to keep the house rolling and our sanity intact. Our phones were on the highest volume and next to us at all times so we wouldn't miss anything important.

Then, on the 17th, Sam's mom, Gretchen called and let us know that Becky had passed. We thought we would be relieved as we had both been worried that Becky might be hurting and neither of us to could really bear that thought. But, instead of relief, we were just sad. So very sad.

As we were taking in our sorrow, I got online and very quickly I was informed that Becky was trending on facebook. Wow. I took a picture of it with my phone because I wanted to make sure I could share it with family. (Aside fact: I can't figure out how to do screen shots on my cell phone. I can do them with my cheek on accident when I don't want to all day, but I can't, for the life of me, figure out how to do one on purpose.)




Friends started sharing news stories, which I am grateful for, because I was trying to collect links for family to find.

Fast forward now, to 2 days ago, Wednesday. The state memorial service for Becky was Thursday morning, so we needed to leave Wednesday. However, Sam had a court thing and I had a board meeting, so, we were leaving in the evening. We had been planning on staying in a hotel, but my niece Hannah, Gretchen both kindly suggested we stay over at Stan and Becky's house. I was a little (a lot) nervous about that idea, but, I told myself it was time to be brave and do something hard and scary and outside my comfort zone. So, we (okay, I) drove to Provo that night while the kids and Sam slept. Sam was awake here and there, but, he has been exhausted, so I wanted him to sleep. As we drove, I listened to music, sang way too loudly, and lived in my head with way too many big thoughts that I'm still sorting out. We got there later and everyone just flopped into bed and fell asleep. Except, of course, for Henry. He felt like it was party time. So, I stayed up with him.

About 4 hours later, I woke up. It was 5am and I had decided the night before that I needed to run for Becky. So, I got out of bed and tip toed out the door. The Lockharts live on a steep hill, so the beginning of the run was pretty easy (if you like your knee caps jostled off, hee hee). It was still night outside, but the streets were well lit. It was freezing and I had forgotten my gloves, so the pain of my hands kept me moving at a quick pace. I managed to scare the crap out of a fellow runner as I made my descent down that hill. That was fun. I ran exactly a mile, where I landed in front of a church. I took a moment to take a crappy picture. See that white stuff on the right? That is my breath. It was cold. So cold.



I turned around and ran back. That uphill was a bear! I probably would have wussed out and walked, but, there was a guy hanging out on the side of the road who was making me nervous, plus, the security detail for the Lockharts wasn't quite available to save me where I was, and, just in case he was a serial killer who only hunted short, ginger runners, I decided I should attempt to sprint up the hill. I reached the top and my run for Becky was done. Two frigid, hilly miles. I hope she was amused.

As soon as I got back, I cleaned up and got dressed. We had a drive to make and we needed to drop our little kids off with my family. My cousin in law (okay, that is annoying, she's my cousin, okay?) Bree took Xander, Oz and Henry for the day while Sam and I took Belle and Buddy with us to the Capitol Building.

Sam drove this morning because I get ragey when I drive in Utah and I think he didn't want me to go to jail before noon. Solid call on his part. As he drove, I was trying to get a shot of the Utah electronic billboards. They kept rotating a picture of Becky on it and I wanted to get a shot. (Fun fact: Over the course of 2 days, we saw Becky on the billboards 24 times. It was really amazing to see.)



I finally got it. 


No, it isn't a great shot, but at least I got it. I was very proud of myself.

At this point, we arrived in SLC and were heading for the Capitol Building.



It is such a beautiful building. When we arrived, there was special parking for family. We got parked and then I asked Belle to take a picture of Sam and me.


Sam hadn't been sure if he should wear a uniform or not, so we asked some family for their thoughts. He didn't get very solid answers at first, so I went to Hannah and Emily for their wishes and both said uniform. So he wore his uniform.

We went in and were escorted to The Gold Room.

That room was kind of (extremely) overwhelming. Besides family, many great leaders of the state of Utah and other states were in that room. Religious leaders were there. Men and women of great influence. I won't lie, it was almost too much to process. I found myself seeking out a corner to hide in because there were so many new people who I had nothing in common with. As I found my corner, I watched the crowd and really pondered on Becky's role for Utah. I'd never given it much thought. She was just Sam's sister to me. But, here, she was a history maker, revered by men and women alike. It was humbling and it also made me very proud of her. Of course, while I was having these and many, many other more personal thoughts, Stan introduced me to L. Todd Christofferson of the quorum of the 12 Apostles in my church. He shook my hand and I was quite please/relieved when I didn't burst into flames. Sam had a similar reaction. That was a wow moment.

We were ushered into the memorial service. I have to tell you, it was incredible. I was fighting back tears more than once. When Emily got up and spoke, I was so impressed by her poise and proud of her. As I listened to professionals praise Becky, I was in awe of her abilities. My admiration for Becky grew, but more so, my regret was mounting because I hadn't bothered to learn these things until right then. That was some difficult inner dialogue. Ugly truth be told, when Sam and I were alone an hour or so later, I asked him if I could go home. He gave me a quick break to be quiet, but, he didn't let me buckle and let my overwhelmed and stressed and self-loathing feelings win.

When we reached the end of the service, we were escorted back to the Gold Room and from there, we had some lunch together at a beautiful place. Buddy and Isabelle were in awe of everything. It was fun to see them take it all in.

That afternoon and evening, I helped prep for visitation. I was very honored when Hannah and Emily asked if I would play piano during the two hours when people could come see the family and offer condolences. I had reorganized my books and gone over a few things to make sure I would do a good job. But, I felt like I wasn't really doing enough to be useful (and you all know how I get when I'm not useful). I was so very happy when I was able to help set up the rooms and make sure things ran smoothly. Finally, I was able to do something I am actually pretty good at and be of use to others! When I visitation started, I hopped on the piano and got to it. One hour flowed into two, then, three. There were so many people. I've played the piano for a few hours before, but, I was starting to feel that sprint up the hill at this point and my pedal leg was cranky. Thank goodness for my cousin Destiny. She was there to help me and she relieved me on the piano for the fourth and final hour so I could help clean up and make sure the game plan for the next day was ready to go. This entire time, Ambrosia and Bree had the kids, so Sam was able to spend time with family and friends at the visitation and I was able to play without any worry. It was such a help.

This morning, I got up early to get ready. As I threw on my dress, I thought about all the flowers we needed to move (there were around 25-30 large arrangements to manage), and, in a moment of genius, I threw a pair of leggings (they count as pants to me) on under my dress. I can tell you now, that decision is one of the most brilliant ones I've ever made. As we loaded flowers, we quickly realized we didn't have a good way to keep them from falling and splashing and breaking was we drove the arrangements to the larger church we were using for the funeral. So, I climbed into the back of a truck and I took the vases handed to me and packed them in as tight as I could. Then, I had managed to block myself inside the truck, so I just stayed in it as we drove to the church. It was a covered cab, so that was good. I tied my skirt in a knot so it wouldn't skim the ground and then I rode in that truck in a squat position with one leg out and to the back, holding up half the flowers in place, an arm extended, holding the next set, and my other arm hanging on for dear life so I wouldn't tip over. Some of the vases tipped and water poured out as the driver turned, but, by some miracle and the power of my currently ultra sore thighs, I managed to not get a single drop on my skirt.




This was one of my very favorite moments of the past few days. 
I know I looked ridiculous back there and I envisioned Becky looking down at me and laughing at the predicament I found myself in, all for her flowers. I certainly hope she was amused, I know I was.

We got everything inside and set up. A quartet from the Utah Symphony arrived and I was grateful to get to spend a little time making sure their needs were met. I spent some time with the Utah Highway Patrol who were serving as the protection detail for the family. (Sidenote here: I was in awe at the professionalism of Ut Hwy Patrol. They have taken such incredible care of the family through this and were just so very kind. I felt so at home when I was among the group of up to 30 armed men. Of course, I'm always more comfortable in a room full of armed men at this point in life...) I was very amused at one point to overhear someone ask a funeral director a question and his response was along the lines of, "ask the little redhead right there. She seems to be one of the chiefs." Gave me a good inner chuckle. The truth was, I was so happy that I was able to be of service to everyone. I felt like I was finally a contributor.

Once things were set up, I went to to family area. It was profound and private and that is all I have to say there. 

Bree came to the church and watched the kids and I sat with Sam at the funeral. It was beautiful. The things that were said just hit me so profoundly. I was so proud of everyone and so humbled by their grace as they spoke. I must confess at this point that before Becky passed, I was very angry one day. I was doing some of my advocate work and as I was working, I was thinking to myself, why is it that this rotten person who hurts others gets to live a long life and someone like Becky, who has changed the world, who is so loved, has to be handed a horrible disease that will kill her? Those angry questions had lingered in my mind. But, as I listened to her children and husband speak, those feelings dissolved and a deeper understanding and knowledge has started to take root there. I'm not ready to talk about it yet. But, I might sometime.

Once again I was humbled by the magnitude of what Becky meant to the state of Utah. She was loved, so very loved. She served so many and she did so much good. Sometimes I have wondered if the world is ever smart enough to appreciate someone who changes the world for the better, and, through this experience I now see that sometimes the world really is that smart. Becky deserved every bit of this attention and love and respect that was shown to her. Something very moving was a letter written about Becky that was from our prophet and his counselors, Thomas S. Monson, Henry B. Eyring, and Dieter F. Uchtdorf. Take that in for a moment. The First Presidency wrote a letter praising Becky and had it delivered personally by Elder Whitney Clayton. 

Sam was a pall bearer, so I held his hat as he did his duty in the church. We walked out and got ready to head to the graveside. Bree had the kids ready and we took them with us. 

Because Becky was a state official, Stan and the girls were presented with a flag. But, then, I was surprised as the Utah Highway Patrol presented a second flag to Sam. It was not at all expected, but, as Sam and I were well aware, we weren't merely at a funeral for Sam's sister with our family, we were also being protected and care for by our second family, our Blue family and, Blue family shows love for their brother, especially when he is hurting. I think that moment would make Becky very happy and proud. 


Sam was very moved by it. 



There were some moments here that are dear to my heart. I think they are just for me to know, but they were important to me and will affect me the rest of my life. 

After this, we had a few things to do, like load up so we could give the Lockharts some space. Sam and I were both emotional and the kids were emotional too. They are so young compared to most of the family and it was really hard on them.

We saw family once more. I again, managed to not be dressed appropriately for a family picture (this is my lot in life), and we got on the road to go home. I confess, now that the work was done and I was alone with my little of family, most of whom were sleeping, I cried. Oh, how I cried and cried. So many thoughts and emotions and they aren't done yet. But, I need to think more and make sure I understand them before I let them out.

Okay. Whew.

That was our experience.

I know there aren't many details about others, but, those stories aren't mine to tell. I know there aren't many deep thoughts here, but, I need to think more before I share. I just needed to get the experience itself out and written down. 

I will share one special thing. 
This was the first time that I have ever felt comfortable calling Sam's family, MY family. That is important. It made my heart hopeful. Sometimes beauty comes from our deepest pain. I can't think too much harder on that because my nose is already too stuffy from crying driving and now crying and writing. But, I'll think more later. Probably for a very long time.

I do have one thought I feel that I can share with certainty. Something I know for a fact because of these events I have shared. 
Love is so much stronger than death.

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