My first experience with death was when my Grandmother Ririe passed away in November of 2010. Little did I know that a few years earlier when my parents and I paid a visit to California to visit my grandparents that that would be the last time I would see her. My last conversation took place while she was in the hospital. She asked all about me and my life even though she was in pain. Her death was not a shock to me. I had felt strongly weeks prior that it was her time to go. She led a good life and she will always be a part of me. I learned so much from her and we were both creative and loved sharing what the other was working on. I still think of her often anytime I create something, imagining her smiling and happy that I take time to be creative.
My Grandmother Shurtliff almost passed away shortly after my other grandmother but pulled through. The doctors told us that she wouldn't make it to the end of the year (2011). Tom, my parents and I made a trip out in March of 2011 to spend time with her and to say our goodbyes. Her death was not a shock to me. She passed away in November of 2011. We were all so blessed that she lived as long as she did. She almost died a couple of times over the years but kept pulling through. I was able to make it out to her funeral which was really like a huge family reunion. I went out a week before, so I got to spend some time with my grandfather and other family members. It was a bittersweet time. Little did I know that on the day of her funeral that it would be the last time that I would see both my grandfather and Uncle Wayne. My grandfather passed away in January and my uncle in April. Both took me by surprise. Even though it was hard I was glad that my grandfather didn't have to live many years without my grandmother. My uncle's death still makes me sad when I think about it. I feel like his death has left a big hole in my mother's family. He left behind an amazing wife and amazing kids and grandkids. I can't even begin to imagine what they have been experiencing since he left this earth.
As I have written before I was not looking forward to saying goodbye to Paige, Bryce and Josalyn. I tried my best in my circumstances to make the most of their time left. Heavenly Father gave me the perfect afternoon with both Josalyn and Bryce. I got to play with each of them seperately and together. That was the day that I first heard Josalyn say my name. That was the day that Bryce asked me to make him a peanutbutter and jelly sandwhich even though his mom was home. Something I have done countless times ever since I started watching them. I couldn't have planned a more perfect afternoon with them. I am so thankful that I listened to the inspiration to keep on biking that day, for I would have missed out on something precious and something that I will always hold onto.
I had mentally prepared myself that I would be saying my goodbyes on their last Sunday at church. I texted Paige that morning asking whether it was okay if I sat with her at church. I wasn't taking any chances that I wouldn't be able to entice Josalyn to come and sit with us. That is when I gave Josalyn and Bryce their photo albums of some of my favorite pictures of them from our time together (I have hundreds). After sacrament meeting I went into Nursery where Josalyn was, not planning on staying there too long, and another little girl attached herself to me. She wouldn't let me put her down. In our Primary when it is a child's last Sunday with us we sing their favorite Primary song to them. I didn't want to miss that, so I ran off to the Primary room with the little girl in my arms. I made it just in time. Bryce picked "Do As I'm Doing." Tom was playing the piano and all of a sudden he ducked down. I knew he had lost it. I walked over to him and we both shed a few tears. I spent the rest of church running back and forth between Primary and the nursery with the little girl in my arms.
After church I went to the Relief Society room with the kids planning on saying goodbye to Paige. Many of the women in our ward were saying their goodbyes so Tom and I took the kids outside and he flew Josalyn around and carried her on his shoulders. We eventually walked them all to their car. We got our hugs, kisses, and I love yous. We were about to head to our own car when Paige invited us to come over later in the evening. Both Tom and I were unsure if we were up for that. We had said our goodbyes and felt like we were ending things on a good note. But at the same time how could we pass up a chance to spend more time with the kids?
We went over around five and stayed till nine. We played outside and had a wonderful time. Loved every minute of it! Once again we got our hugs, kisses and said what we believed was really our last goodbye. We were glad that we had spent that extra time with them and were able to capture some pictures of the four of us together. Even though it was hard walking away from the house and I shed a few tears we both felt that it was a good ending to a difficult day in many ways.
Now that I had made it through that I had to make the decision if I was going to make a trip home or not. Monday I was exhausted and spent most of the day in bed. I'm not sure if I was fighting a bug or if I had overdone it with the bike riding the week before. Well I got a text from Paige asking if we would watch the kids Tuesday night. Both Tom and I looked at each other wondering if we could say our goodbyes for the third time! Of course we said yes. I was still weak on Tuesday, so Tom headed over there first and I joined him an hour later. We played outside with the kids once again. I followed Josalyn down the street while she pretended to be an airplane (she loves planes and airports). We walked down to the river which is right outside their backyard. Tom and Bryce enjoyed throwing rocks in and trying to skip rocks. Josalyn sat right at the edge with her nice sparkly shoes in the water throwing in rocks over and over again. It started to get a little chilly, so we went back inside. Tom helped Bryce get cleaned up and I got Josalyn cleaned up. Tom then read Bryce a goodnight story while I laid down with Josalyn in the bed she was sharing with her mom. It brought back memories of the many nights where I would go through the night routine with them. Josalyn and I cuddled and just looked at each other. I knew she was tired but then Paige came home and she heard her so she got up.
We then talked to Paige for some time while Josalyn sat and played between us. They then walked us to the door. This was for sure our last goodbye. Paige was leaving for Utah the next day and then Ben (their dad) was going to fly out with the kids later in the week. I gave Paige my first hug ever. We wished her safe travels and she wished us the same. That took us off guard a little since we live within walking distance and she smiled and said she meant when we come out to Utah next. I think it was more of a see ya later for Paige. She thinks we make it out to Utah often. Probably because I actually did go to Utah three different times last year, though that is unusual. In the past we would only make it out once every two years. But now that we have a more reliable car Tom and I were even thinking maybe we would have to make a trip out when he is done teaching this summer. Yeah to see his family but especially to see the kids. There is a chance that they may come out this August to spend a week with their dad who is living in the house now, but I have to be honest and say I'm not a big fan of him and I'm not sure he is a big fan of me. If they do make it out hopefully we will at least get to see them.
Now I'm not expecting any of them to pass away anytime soon but since Josalyn is only two I have to come to terms with the fact that the next time I see her she may not remember who I am. That will be hard. I hope and pray that there will be more memories to experience and more pictures to take of time spent with them. But for now I have past memories, videos, and photos to return to. And yes I'm sure I will shed more tears. Possibly even this Sunday when I don't hear Josalyn before I even see her. That she won't be there to sit with us. That Bryce won't be in Primary. That I can't call on him to answer a question or help me with part of Sharing Time. That they won't be there. And as I've learned over the last couple of years you can't rush the grieving process. It takes time.