Sunday, July 13, 2014

#30 - Living Like I'm Dying (Journal Entries Through July 2012)

I rested with the kids today (a rare moment for me) and we watched Calliou, a show about the daily adventures of a cartoon 4 year old.  At one point in the show, I found myself just zoning and then tuned in to hear Calliou say, "I'm a plolice man.  I'm going to put you in jail for 100 years because you're a bad guy."  In my gut I felt sick.  I wanted to erase what they had just heard - what I had just heard.  I don't like that my kids think bad people go to jail.  It's something that would have never bothered me before, but it does now.  I am not a bad person.  I have done nothing wrong, yet that's what's staring me in the face. 

Also recently, the Cub Scouts took a tour of the old courthouse in town.  Hunter and Sawyr came home with stories about what it looked like and the freaky jail in the basement.  It's an old building, so it was more like traveling back in time for them.  It wasn't reality in their minds.  The following week they contrasted it with a follow up of the new courthouse.  I prepped them about what it would be like.  They have never seen a courtroom other than the movies.  I explained that when Dad and I go to court, I sit at the table that says Defense.  They were actually excited to see this real place that we go every so often that causes such discussion in our home.  When we go to court, we have family members that come to visit and MaMaw that watches the little kids.  In their 11 and 7 year old way, they know court is a big deal. 

Sawyr isn't old enough to be in scouts yet, but he was intrigued with the fieldtrip and there aren't many scouts in our area, so he tagged along with Hunter and the group.  The boys came home bouncing off the walls and talking a mile a minute, trying to explain everything they had learned.  They told me they saw my chair (to have them refer to it as 'my chair' was a little humbling) and then they sat in it for me for good luck.  I kind of wanted to cry and laugh at the same time.  These poor boys have been exposed to way too much!  After a tour of the courtroom by an officer, they showed them a section of the jail.  If I would have known the jail was part of the tour, I don't know that I would have let them go.  The boys blabbed about how they saw a real inmate in solitary confinement (the kids didn't know he was staged, but a scout leader told me later) and how he looked and acted scary.  Sawyr was as much intrigued as he was freaked out by it all.  The officer leading the tour explained that our county is the best jail to be in, but they didn't want to give the kids the idea that it was a fun place to be.  My boys raved about the free food, computer time, open jail cells, it didn't look too bad - until they added this creepy guy in lockdown to remind them that it was a place they didn't want to come to.  As he was telling me all about it, Hunter said he asked the officer the question, "What happens when people are here that didn't do anything wrong?"  As he told me the question he asked, my heart hurt for him.  This poor 11 year old, expected to be strong, the leader of the kids in his family, was taking his own stand, questioning the officer in the most respectful way.  The officer that was leading the tour is completely aware of our situation and said they have a process through the courts to be able to tell.  That was a good enough answer for Hunter.  If I had not been in the situation I am in, the tour would have been fine.  But as it stands, with me trying to defend myself against that possibility - however impossible it may seem - it's still too real.  Too close to home.  Too much in my boys' heads now.  I feel violated, even if I shouldn't.  I want to go back to our little bubble where people could say whatever they want about us and it just wouldn't matter.  In a court of law, it does matter.  And no matter how innoscent I am, it really is about how well I am represented.

We have decided to move and have made an offer on a house closer to the bigger city where we take Bryer for appointments.  It seems so cut and dry.  We should be able to just pick up and move.  But my heartstrings are tied here.  I love this little town - this place I was so scared to move to just out of college with 2 little kids.  Our business has grown here.  Our family has grown here.  I have grown here.  I love driving down the street in our no-stop-light town and people wave at each other.  I love that people watch out for each other, even if it's gossip-y.  I love that when we check books out at the library, my 3 year old can scribble a W on the card and the librarian knows exactly who that book is checked out to.  I love that (most) people are supportive.  I love the fundraisers that have been done,  the friends that have cried and laughed with us through it all.  So to pick up and leave is not as cut and dry as I would hope.  Heartstrings are hard to cut. 

April 28, 2012
Last week Piper asked in her sweet, patient 5-year-old voice, "How long before Bryer isn't a baby anymore Mom?" The question caught me off guard and I struggled to get out, "I don't know honey." 


I turned around from washing dishes to see Piper resting her folded arms and her chin on the front of Bryer's high chair, just watching her little sister.  I found enough courage to leave the dishes and sit down to have a conversation about this subject that's hard for me to understand, let alone her.  Since we still don't know what happened, I am cautious with how I approach it.  I explained that Bryer's brain is what helps her learn new things and tells her body how to move.  Her brain is working different than other kids her age.  Piper had asked months earlier why a boy at church, who is months younger and inches shorter than Bryer, is walking now and Bryer isn't.  I explained the same thing with the brain, not really knowing if that was an acceptable answer for her or not.  It's a lot to understand for a 5 year old. 

In the past week Piper has since asked other questions about brains and messages that our brain sends to our body.  We talked about a man in a wheel chair at church who also has cerebral palsy, but is much more severe than Bryer.  Piper and Walker asked so many questions about his brain - and asked more the next day.  It intrigued them, but I don't know if they understood the connection to Bryer.  He sits in a wheelchair and has uncontrolled arm movements, grunts, and has a feeding tube.  Yet he seems to know enough of what goes on in his world.  His mom has said if his schedule is off, he gets upset with it.  He smiles when I have let my babies pull themselves up on his wheelchair to see him.  There are some similarities, but also lots of differences.  Bryer smiles, she laughs at her siblings, she interacts, eats like a baby, but she's not walking, crawling, or sitting yet.  She's just Bryer to us - she progresses as she does and lots of times we don't question it until we see someone her age that is developmentally on a different path than what she is on.  Then it prompts the questions like "How long before Bryer isn't a baby anymore?" or "When will Bryer sit up by herself?" or "When will Bryer walk?" 

I went back to the scripture that says, "The soul shall be restored to the body, and the body to the soul; yea, and every limb and joint shall be restored to its body; yea, even a hair of the head shall not be lost; but all things shall be restored to their proper and perfect frame."  Hmmm.  Their proper and perfect frame.  I wonder what that's like for Bryer.  Her brain will perfectly transmit signals to her muscles to tell them when and how to move.  When and how to dance.  When and how to sing.  For that moment, I hope to have a front row seat in Heaven.  I want to be there when her legs dance her way through the pearly gates (or whatever the entrance to Heaven looks like).  I will sit in awe as she is restored to her proper and perfect frame - a proper and perfect way that I may never know her as, in all the time on this earth. 

May 10, 2012
Our house still hasn't closed.  No word from the underwriters.  Frustrating to say the least.  We have heard bits and pieces of info from our expert witness, but he's still going back and forth with the radiologist, so he hasn't given us enough info to go on.  The judge has decided to allow the enhancement to my original charge - carrying a possible 10 years in additional to the maximum 10 years.  20 years in prison.  Do you know what happens to a family in 20 years?!  An August trial is coming too soon.  As I packed and prepared to move to a new place from the only place 4 of my children have ever known, I can't help but wonder about a few things.  Will this new place be he home Jason raises our children without me?  Am I preparing to move to a home I may not be living in 3 months from now?  Am I preparing my children to be more responsible for the event that I am not with them?  Could I possibly be denied this opportunity to raise my own children?  I received a priesthood blessing that said, "Though you will see evil all around you, you will be able to keep it from your family."  As we went through our trial with Health and Welfare, I felt that I really was seeing evil all around me.  We were spared and able to have our kids back.  Now will that evil all around me be jail?  Inmates?  Felony criminals?  Could God spare my children's devine potential and delicate spirits as a trade for me in prison?  As a mother with an eternal perspective, is it worth it?  Really, is it worth it?  If God made a deal with me and asked if I would give up my life for my children to be protected, would I do it?  Where I sit today, I say Absolutely!  If I can come full circle and ask that His will be done and fully know that He has my best interest and my family's best interest at heart, then I will try my best not to question it.  In the meantime, the home we have picked out has a full basement apartment.  Our thought is that if I'm not here then we may need family to move in to help Jason. 

I hope for the best and have faith, but I have to prepare for the worst in this temporal brain of mine.  After all, the scriptures say, "If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear."  Last week I ordered a special journal with a picture of Jason and I on the front so I could write little notes to him in the next few months of things I admire and appreciate about him.  Court is coming in August.  If after August, I am not here with my family, then he will need something to carry him.  He will need to know that I appreciate when he gets up with Bryer in the middle of the night, or helps me clean up throw up when one of the kids are sick.  He will need to know all those quirks that I love about him and cherish.  He will need to know that I love when he helps with the dishes or folds the laundry with me.  He will need to know he is fulfilling a divine responsibility in providing for our family.  He will need to know how much his touch means to me.  It will be a happy day if I can sit down with him at the end of August and read the things to him aloud, in person.  Otherwise, it will be something to buoy him up when he needs some nudging and help from me if I am not here.  Successful marriages do not just happen.  We have to work and appreciate each other and grow together and be supportive.  This journal is my way of doing that if I'm not here. 


As I fixed Piper's hair this morning, she whined that it hurt.  And the words came out of my mouth, "What are you going to do if Dad has to do your hair?"  She quieted down, I'm sure thinking that was the most absurd thought of me to have.  And I did too.  I am her Mom.  I am the one to do her hair, fix her breakfast, teach her to read, encourage her craft ideas, point out when she feels the Holy Ghost, sing with her, teach her how to jump rope, cook dinner side by side with her.  And a million other things.  But I just read another news article where someone was convicted of hurting their baby.  Same 3 triad of symptoms.  It's maddening.  How can person after person be convicted when, in fact, some of them are innocent?  By going headstrong into trial, I feel like I'm preparing for my death, my life as I know it. 

I have checked one of those 'Bucket List' things off my list.  It arrived in the mail today!  All my adult married life, I have had our extended family pictures on my wall.  It consisted of Jason's family - matchy-matchy, the ones who make it a priority to all be together for holidays, and monthly family nights.  The picture, all 27 of us, is updated every year without fail. 

All these years, next to that picture on the wall was not just one picture of my family, but two.  A constant reminder that I come from a divorced home.  Never a picture with both my Mom, Dad, and Step-Mom in the same picture.  Never a Christmas party where every person of my family gathers, never a monthly family night like the Hansens have, never a whole, big, happy family picture...  Until now.  Because this sweet baby girl has entered our lives and turned us upside down and made us all work together....  Today in the mail, arrived a picture of my WHOLE family in one 8x10! 

Yes, maybe we are 'Slytly Dissfunkshunal,' but we are together.  In one piece.  Or at least one picture.  Since this all started, there have even been family gatherings and meetings that every person from my family is in the same room.  Who knew a sweet baby girl could work such miracles?! 


This past few weeks we have been able to do so many fun things.  Things we meant to do sooner, or have been in the back of my mind, but until we had planned to move, were just not a priority.  I feel like I am living in the last months before a death.  You know those people that go sky diving and travel to foreign lands and see the sights?  My version is a picnic with other moms and kids, having friends over to lunch, starting a workout plan, eating healthier, impromptu cookies and breads baked by my kids, walks and bike rides with only 1 kid at a time.  It's those essential relationships that get my time and energy.  I don't want there to be any doubt in my kids minds or Jason's of how I feel about them.  And yet I'm forced to prepare things in my home in the event that I am not there - getting my baby girl to go to sleep on her own instead of nursing to go to sleep.  Teaching my kids to wash dishes and make bread and be responsible for their own things.  I am finding a way to dance in the rain and prepare my kids for the storm.  These are things that would be taught anyway, but it's now a necessity, not just a learning process as it happens.  I laid in bed last night awake thinking.  And I laid there long enough that Bryer woke up so I brought her to bed with me and nursed her back to sleep.  I felt comforted in that.  It was something that couldn't be taken away from me in that moment.  I suppose it's a reason why I have held to nursing so long.  We worked so hard at it while we were separated and it's created such a bond.  Maybe it's not just that she can't drink enough from a cup yet.  I'm not ready to let go and risk losing her again.  Risk losing my family.  So somehow mentally I feel that if I keep nursing, they can't take them from me again.

I know I shouldn't worry about Jason with the kids if I am not here.  But I do.  He's a wonderful Dad!  He loves nothing more to come home after work and wrestle and play and sing and dance with them. But that's after traveling to our other offices all day and coming home to refresh himself after a long day.  Being with them all day long and conquering all the battles that come up in a day - clogged toilet, water mess, arguing, lost toy, missing piece, broken doll, 'he took my...', 'she touched me....', then it's not so refreshing by 5:00.  May the Lord know what He's doing!   

Bryer's Progress Notes:
Bryer's progress in the past few weeks has been amazing.  She is holding her own cup with assistance now, and we are teaching her how to put it down when she's done, rather than just letting go of it.  It's easier if she's on my lap to practice.  She's also good with eating a variety of textures now.  Once in a while she'll spit something out, but rarely does she gag anymore!  Amazing little miracles that I would never have thought would be a big deal.  (I actually texted her OT when I successfully fed Bryer taco soup - the corn, meat, broth all mixed together was something she would have choked on before!)  She also seems so much more social and her eye therapist has noticed the same thing.  She pulls back when someone is too close or about to take a toy from her.  She searches for a face to look at, not just the body of the person walking into a room.  She understands and reacts to words like outside, shower, kisses, and up.  She started waving bye-bye last week.  First at her eating therapist, and now to almost anyone we prompt her with.  She was casted for her foot braces today so they can make a mold from it and specialize it for her.  The braces will help stretch out her heel cords so she can stand better.  She is an amazing little girl.  I am so blessed to be her Mom!

May 13, 2012 - Mother's Day
I look at my kids differently now.  I struggle between wanting a clean house, which includes training my children to take responsibility for it, and the probability of argueing with them over chores; and just wanting to enjoy them and spend fun time with them while the opprotunity is here.  Today the fun won out. 

After lunch, I looked around at the kitchen.  How nice would it be for my boys to take charge and make it all go away?  And then the fun gave in and we decided on playing Settlers of Catan instead.  After Bryer woke up, we went outside so I wouldn't have to look at the mess.  As I sat there in a folding camp chair, I turned on Hilary Weeks, "Stand Still," and the emotions got to me again.  The song is all about how kids just grow up too fast and how I should just enjoy them while they are little.   

As if in a movie, slow motion, I watched each of my children's personalities unfold as they played in the water.  And the haunting thought hit me again, "What if I am not here next Mother's Day?" I watched Hunter, with his engineer-minded brain, create a 2 story spout of water flowing from the hose secured up high.  Sawyr controlled the flow of water at the spicket, turning it up and down to hit the inclined board just right to send the water cascadeing down into a mud hole.  He is my cautious one who likes to be in control - running the spicket and making sure not to get wet himself were right up his alley.  Piper let loose and actually splashed and played in the mud - something she hasn't been willing to do before.  She admitted it was on accident that she fell in, but decided she liked it, as with most things that are new to her.  I counted it as a blessing to be able to witness a small miracle.  Walker, with his trademark, pure, reckless abandon, played joyfully in the mud hole and then shivered in his cold clothes afterward.  I peeled back the blanket that draped over me as I fed Bryer the best of the best I can give her.  She pulled off and smiled at me.  As as my slow motion movie came to a close, I basked in my children's laughter.  The song echoed in my head, "If time stood still...."  Just what I needed to hear, while my dishes sit in the sink and I watch them build a hose fountain down into a mud pit to play in.

May 2012
After all the 'hurry up and wait' paperwork to go through, we closed on our new house!  The month of May has been filled with boxes and bubble wrap and tape guns.  It's also been filled with tears for leaving friends and giggles for our new house and a million other emotions on opposite extremes. 

Our first Sunday at church, I felt like I was a middle school girl again.  Will they like us?  Will I make friends?  Will my kids make friends?  Going from a congregation of 50 to over 150 was a big leap - for our whole family.  Will they even notice that we're there? 

We had exactly 11 days of trying to settle in before I went to my first Relief Society monthly get together, an evening just for the women.  I sat at a dinner table with women that were actually about my own age - a change from our older congregation.  They had kids similar ages and talked about schools and sports and community activities.  They filled me in on the transitions happening between school and summer break.  And then... they invited me to play basketball with them later that night.  Great!  Other women who play!  (I guess they like me?!)  I was ecstatic!  I have tried to stay in shape running, but having a purpose to run up and down a court is more of my style! 

I made it home and managed to dig through enough moving boxes to find my basketball shorts, a t-shirt, and tennis shoes.   I went back to the church and was surprised at how easy it felt to fall back into the workout routine. 

Toward the end, we decided to play 'just one more game.'  I should have known.  Toward the end of the 'one more game,' I stepped forward to make a pass.  As I pushed off my back leg, I felt a brick hit the back of my leg, an internal pop, and I went down.  I looked around, fully expecting to see a brick or at least a loose ball or something that had hit me.  My leg felt funny and I tried to get up, embarrassed at falling on my night to make friends.  My leg gave out and I couldn't stand.  I remember saying, "Just scoot me off the court, it'll just take me a minute."  They didn't buy it.  When I was ready they helped me out to a car and a friend took me to her house to be inspected by her husband, a doctor.  He confirmed by 1 squeeze that my Achilles tendon running up the back of my calf was no longer in one piece.  Kneeling on the car seat in an awkward position, he asked me to point my toe.  I did.  He said, "Go ahead, point your toe."  But I was pointing my toe... until I looked and my foot hung, no pointed toe at all.  After a knee surgery in high school, I knew too well that this was no good. 

Surgery was 2 weeks later, followed by a cast for 6 weeks.  My kids had fun 'decorating' my leg for surgery so the doctor would know which one NOT to cut open - complete with a message to the doctor written, "Do not hurt her." 

No walking, no bearing weight, but more importantly - no lifting Bryer. 

I didn't journal much during this time, so I'll tell in my own current words the miracles that happened...
I should have realized by this point that the Lord works in mysterious ways.  This was His way of introducing me into our new community.  A girl was hired to help me for the summer, as I hobbled along on my knee scooter.  She became a great friend of ours and was patient with me as I tried to teach her how to do my job.  In turn, I got to relay my feelings to her of her worth and have great gospel discussions with her.  She met her future husband while she served our family, after I encouraged her to attend a church activity that she was less than excited to go to. 

My mom also had foot surgery, so we had time to sit together and laugh at what a pathetic sight we were.  Bryer recieved her foot braces about the same time, so we had 3 generations in 'boots.'  There were many days of just sitting out on the lawn and watching our kids play in the water, filling up every square foot of our yard with their giggles.  It was too easy to just cry and ask, "How much can one family take?"  But I remember how depressed I felt in not being able to do my job, it was those giggles that carried me and helped me be happy in the midst of our trials.  It gave me an 'excuse' to just sit and watch them in action - in a way that would never be the same again.  To savor every moment.  And forget what grown-up problems I have. 

One lady from church (who tried her very best to remain anonymous) arranged for a month of freezer meals with help of others at church.  In the scriptures it talks about how Christ blessed the five loaves of bread and two fish.  He used it to feed a multitude of people that had gathered to hear Him teach.  He fed over 5000 people with those five loaves and two fish - and still had some left over!  What happened in my freezer was a modern day version.  We counted the meals and tried to plan out.  Those meals that should have lasted a month lasted us three months! 

Another way the Lord blessed us was by getting to know individual families.  It would have been easy to slip in during our move and just blend in, take our spot.  But the Lord knew we still needed help through this trial, even if we would have rather been prideful enough to just take it all on ourselves.  Recovering after surgery gave others an opportunity to stop by and talk, get to know our family, ask questions, and yet again - learn enough about us to be willing to bear our burdens with us.  I had worried about how to tell my new friends that I would be on trial for child abuse.  I would completely understand if they weren't supportive.  But these conversations happened so naturally as people stopped by, brought cookies, came to check in, help with our kids.  I just had to sit and visit. 

There were rough days of not being able to do my job.  Getting Bryer downstairs to her highchair in the morning proved to be impossible without help.  The simplest things like getting her to/from appointments, moving her to the floor to play, even preparing her food took me twice as long.  It made me even more frustrated, thinking that my time was so limited as it was - and now I couldn't even do the simple things a Mom is supposed to do. 

July 2012
I have spent most of this year in preparation.  It's not fun, but a necessity.  I must prepare for the worst and hope for the best.  I am trying my best to prepare my children in the event that I'm not here.  They will need skills to carry them - carry this family - without a mother.  Would it be easier if I were to die and Jason could marry someone else?  A horrible thought, but it's almost worse to have a mother there, that's not really there.  There seems to a line in my mind that's getting more and more clear.  The line is between those things that are temporal (that we can't carry with us after this life) and the eternal (those lasting things).  As much as the world would teach us the things that are important, those things just aren't.  When time is limited, priorities take care of themselves.  We can't take 'toys' with us to the next life, a nice home, even the hobbies we enjoy.  What we can take is what we've learned - what's in our minds - the relationships that we have built - our relationship with God.  With this in mind, I'm trying to instill a routine of scripture study, of chores, family prayer, the essential things that will carry my family if I'm not here.  I turn my wheels with How do I prepare food months in advance?  How do I teach them to run a household of 7 - oh wait - 6 - without being told what to do?  Routines... Homework... The important gospel learning... They are not getting it.  I don't want to sit down with them and tell them my plan of attack.  They are 5 kids, all 11 and under.  They shouldn't have to learn how to be grown ups.  Is this all for not?  What is Hevenly Father's plan for our family?  This is a righteous desire I have - to stay here - in my home - and raise my family.  I have never felt this before - to be so desperate and heartbroken to want something so bad and I don't know if He will honor my desire.  I do believe He makes up 10 fold for each tear we shed.  Could He promise me my children in the eternities?  Could He ensure they grow up to be productive, healthy, good citizens in the community, protected, and active in church?  Ultimately that's what I hope for.  If it takes me being 'gone' for that to come to pass, is it worth it?  I always thought I would be the one to teach them all of that.  Could I be content with God's Plan if it doesn't work out how I hope it will?  Could I just be limited in my sight of what's to come? 

We have learned about 'switches' for Bryer to use.  For this one, she can turn the mixer on and off to help make cookies with me.  She's learning about cause/effect and being a part of the action! 

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