Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Damon is ONE! (-ish)

So, in my previous post I mentioned that some things I used to think were important (like blogging) were put on the back burner the last couple of months. I think that's not exactly what I meant... because I do think blogging is important... it's the only record that I have (besides tons of undeveloped digital pictures) of my babies' lives and of Rich and my life. So... even though my big boy had his BIG birthday two and a half months ago... let's just pretend it's fresh! ;)

Here's my sweet little man on his birthday... check out that open-mouth grin. He's always been such a happy guy!

Hi. I'm one. :)

And I'm a handsome Son-of-a-Gun.

Check out how we celebrated my BIG DAY...

Mommy and Daddy paraded into my room and woke me up singing "Happy Birthday"... because they're thoughtful like that.

I ate some cheerios for breakfast and Mamma played paparazzi.

Then we did a photoshoot on the bed.

And after that... the fun started.
I got a package in the mail from Aunt Robyn, Uncle Cori, and Ella and Alice.

Daddy helped my open it... the anticipation was killing me.

Oh my gosh, how did they know!?
Now I can be just like Mamma. ;)

We went to the Farm Grill for my birthday dinner! It was $FREE.99
(Plus I got to wear this super-cool birthday pin).

We waited for our family to get here from Utah to have my party. Aunt Mimi, Uncle Goran, and Aunt Jolene all came! Mom made me wear a party hat (just because it's your birthday doesn't mean you can do what you want to, p.s.) that I wasn't too thrilled about...

...but that's okay because next, she gave me THIS:

Strawberry Cake with Rainbow Chip frosting.

Mamma tried to squeeze in a quick family photo... but we were really too excited... and I'd already done enough posing for the day.

And then, I got more presents! I was so excited to get my hands on those beautifully wrapped gifts so I could...

... stand on all the BOXES!!!

I got a new ball popper, a new V-Tech singing school bus with balls in it, some new clothes, and a singing toy puppy!
Birthdays are the best.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

My Inspiration

I don't even know how to begin. In the past few weeks, a lot of things I used to think were important (like blogging) have been put on the back burner. They seem trivial in the wake of the trial I am wading through right now. My daddy is gone... sort of.
At least gone from this realm.

My testimony and my family are my strength. I am so grateful for them both. Words truly seem inadequate to even begin to talk about his passing, and so I don't even want to try, (don't even know if I can, emotionally) because I'm afraid it would end up coming out wrong, or weird, or maybe too sad or uncomfortable for someone to read. (But let me say that even though I'm dealing with a kind of grief I've never been faced with before, I have a strange and unexplained peace that keeps me from losing it constantly.)

I will say that I was so incredibly blessed to be able to be there when it happened... to sing him hymns, to stroke his hair, hug him, kiss him, hold his hand, and speak words of comfort to him as he passed from this life into the next. I am so thankful to my Heavenly Father for granting me that opportunity. I had told him a couple of months before that I wanted to be there when it happened. Rich promised me that he'd get me on the next flight out whenever we got "that" call. And yet, we knew that I still probably wouldn't make it in time.

How thankful I am.

I was also there the day prior to his passing. He knew I was there ... in fact, I wiped a tear from his eye while I sang "Oh My Father" to him, when I thought he was sleeping, and he reached his arms up as much as he could to embrace me in a hug, and even tried to speak to me a few times, although the words wouldn't come out.

While I'll probably always experience a little sadness around Christmastime in the future, (my Daddy passed on the 21st of December) I am so very glad I was in Idaho visiting him for the holidays when his time came. Had it happened before or after then, I would have arrived too late. And I would never trade my experience for anything, (as morbid/painful as it may seem... it was truly one of the most, well actually, it was absolutely THE most spiritual experience I've ever been a part of).

Me, Rich, my sister Jeanne and her husband, and my brother Jarrod and his wife, my Dad's wife, Arlene, and my dad's Bishop were all present at my Dad's passing. My poor sister Robyn was trying for all she was worth to get there in time all the way from Louisiana. Unfortunately, he passed while she was on the plane. But her heart and spirit were there. He was encircled in love as we held his hands and helped him cross the veil into the loving arms of his friends and family there, and he knew we were there by his side, and that we loved him as deep as any children could possibly ever love their Dad.

I've had good days and bad, (more like good hours and bad) but I think that's all part of the grieving process. I wake up in the morning and the realization that he's gone washes over me with a blow. I load the dishwasher and think for a fleeting moment, "Oooh, I should call Daddy today and see how he's doing." before my conscious mind reminds me of reality. I took a shirt out of his closet before I left. Whenever I smell it, my eyes brim with tears. I'm sure this is normal... it's just going to take some time. Time seems to dull pain. And with all this sad talk, you're probably going to think I'm sitting here in my sweats, with 3-day old make-up, greasy hair, and nasty teeth. But I'm not... and I'm ok. Because I know that families are forever. And I know that I was sealed to my family, and that we'll be together for eternity. And that, my friends, makes all the difference. I would be inconsolable without that knowledge.

The viewing and the funeral are already seeming like a big blur. It was so hard the think, plan, arrange, etc. when our hearts were breaking. I am awestruck by the great lengths our extended family and friends went to in order to make it there for Daddy. The weather was terrible for them to travel in. There were long flights followed by long drives. And the mountain passes were snowy (lucky for Rich and I, they were clear the days we drove). And yet almost our enitre family and extended family were there.

(This is my sweet Uncle Bud. My Daddy's big brother. Isn't he cute?)

So many of my Dad's friends and my friends came to give love and support. I've never felt so loved. And it felt so good to feel how much everyone must've loved my Dad. Everyone shared stories with me and intimate exchanges they've had with my sweet Daddy, most of which I was unaware. I've said before that he was my hero... but now I know he was truly everyone's hero. And all my cousins' favorite uncle. The glue that held the Olson family together.

Oh I miss him so, so much.

My brother gave the family prayer, my sister Robyn and I gave my dad's life sketch, and then my sister Jeanne, my brother Jarrod, my sister Robyn and I each spoke a little about our favorite memories with Daddy and lessons we learned through his example and wisdom. Robyn and I sang his favorite hymn, "Oh My Father" to the tune of "Come thou Fount". His best friend, my "Uncle" Wally spoke, as well as a member of the bishopric and another friend of my Dad's, Bill Owens. At the end of the service, Bill also sang a song that my daddy requested during the last visit with him when he was still lucid, "I am a Mormon Boy".

My daddy rode in the Cassia County Mounted Sherriff's Posse.

Posse members attended the services in uniform, and lined up as the casket and procession made its way out of the church building and into the car.

And then again, at the cemetery as Daddy was carried from the car to his final resting spot.

"Uncle" Wally (my Daddy's best friend since highschool, not actually my uncle) presided over the posse, and at the conclusion of the grave dedication, given by my cousin, Kent, my sweet Uncle walked up to his best friend's casket, fought back tears, and gave Daddy a final, solemn salute.

Enough to break my heart all over again.

Throughout this whole ordeal, I've felt my sweet dad very near. Especially immediately after his passing, during the viewing, the funeral, and the grave dedication... and then again, very strongly, in the SLC temple, where my sister and I attended a session together the day after the funeral.

I am sure he was there at all of those places, standing by us, watching over.

I know he'll be forever watching over us.

I feel like I've been reborn, in a way... like I want to recommit myself to living my life as close in line with the Savior's as I can... because now I have someone rooting for me on the other side, and I want to be sure I'm able to be held tight in his arms again. I want to make him proud of the choices I make, of the way I serve others, of the kind of wife, mommy, sister, and daughter that I am.

And so, in death... just as in life... my Dad is being my inspiration.

I love you Daddy, you know how I love you.

Your Cryssie (Your "Sweetness and Light Girl")