What is this?

What is this? I don't really know, other then a continuation of my updates and writings that I was sharing previously on Caringbridge of this journey through cancer and now widowhood and single parenting.

Maybe it won't end up being anything at all, or maybe it will be a glimpse into my heart, my life, my current situation, my testimony.

Whatever it becomes, I am touched that you are interested.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Hometown Glory!

I wanted to take a moment to write about the amazing benefit that my hometown friends organized for me this past Friday.

When I was told that there were a few people that wanted to do a fundraiser for Aria and I, I assumed that it would be maybe an online thing that would get forwarded around.

But oh how wrong I was!

My goodness, they rented a hall and had a team of 15-20 local friends organizing the event with spreadsheets & planning meetings.

Many individuals donated time, money, raffle gifts and services. Then local businesses, small and large, donated services, products and raffle gifts.

There was a WALL of food and beverages. Then there were T-Shirts for sale, music, product consultant tables, craft tables, balloon animals and face painting for kids and a caricature artist. There were probably nearly 50 items being raffled off; artwork, a Kindle Fire, full NYC weekend getaway package, baskets with hundreds of dollars of swag, sports tickets, cosmetics...you name it, it probably was there! Then additional games and activities.

Hundreds of people were in attendance. I was truly amazed not only by the support from my fellow classmates, but also from their families, friends and coworkers and from the local community.

It was wonderful seeing so many people I have not seen in so long. This definitely can show the positive side of social media. It was strangely awesome to not have actually spoken to some people in 13 years, but because I was let into their online life, I knew of their children and jobs and were able to pop right into easy conversation.

Quite a few people snagged me and introduced themselves and offered me their condolences as I dashed from here to there to try to chat with as many people as I could. Thank you to those who I met, and I'm so sorry if I didn't get to personally speak with each and every one of you!

Unfortunately, it was all a bit overwhelming for Aria and she would not let anyone hold her but me, so I definitely had some sore shoulders after that! But she hung in there, that was a lot of activity for her little baby eyes and ears.

While we were in the Nursing Facility Brandon had said, 'I have never felt so loved by so many people.' I wish I knew what words he would have to top that statement if he had been able to see the outcome of Friday's event too.

I don't know how much or if any of our earthly doings our loved ones are aware of in Heaven. I believe they longingly and with excitement anticipate our arrival to join them. We are not forgotten just because we remain on the other side of Heaven. So I like to think that God allows those that precede us to know of the blessings we receive, and how He is providing for us until we are reunited. If so, I can't even imagine the tears of joy Brandon shed knowing of such amazing community support and love shown to Aria and I, as he lived in the area for 8 years himself.

I know I am missing other very noteworthy details about Friday that I am going to kick myself for not mentioning. Forgive me, I am exhausted. :)

But once again, THANK YOU to everyone who came, donated and contributed. A HUGE thank you to the lovely group of ladies (and many of their men too!) that sacrificed so much of their time and efforts to make that evening such a huge success, bringing in about $8,000 that I am putting towards Aria's future, (as long as I can cover the medical bills otherwise).

And to top it off, they want to do it again next year! How blessed am I?!?!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

This is Grief

A lot of my posts I wait to write until I am seeing things more optimistically or I have been inspired or am feeling lifted up.

I don't know what I am about to write, God just put it on my heart to write as I a sit in 'darkness' this time.

Many days I try to just focus on the fact that many people have told me how our story has impacted their lives. Inspired their marriage. Redefined their faith. This uplifts me in indescribable ways. It makes me feel there is purpose to this suffering.

If we get to walk this earth and effect the life of just one person, pointing them towards God, then in my eyes we have accomplished the meaning of life. If we get the chance to be used by God to touch many more, then we truly are blessed.

I have spent most of my days this past month since Brandon has been gone focusing on Heaven. Reading scripture and stories, imagining what Brandon is seeing and doing. Consuming my thoughts with his joy, not my pain. Knowing that he is eagerly anticipating my arrival someday.

With a daughter to raise on my own, I have been trying so incredibly hard to find joy in the day amid the emptiness in my heart. Find more 'sweet' in every bittersweet moment. Show her laughter and smiles, and interact with her when all I want to do is sleep the days away in a dreamless slumber.

But no matter how hard you try, there are just days that none of it works. Days that you can't wait til the sun has set and you can count yet another day behind you, and one closer to that glorious reunion. Days that thoughts of Heaven only magnify the misery of this life. Days that no words of encouragement can penetrate the cloud of depression and fear that has clung to your innermost being.

Today was one of those days. For no reason at all. It isn't an anniversary or holiday. Nothing in particular 'set me off'. It's just another day without my husband.

So, I'll remind myself that every day His mercies are new, and hope that tomorrow I'll better receive His blessings.

This is grief.

Monday, October 20, 2014

A note from myself

As I lay in bed, unable to sleep I decided to poke through my notes and delete old grocery lists and to-do lists.

I came across this note from January 10th, the beginning of my second trimester:

"Tonight I was absently thinking about the new chapter that lies ahead of Brandon and I. Lord willing, one kiddo in July and hopefully another in a few years. My mind trailed off to this dream future I was imagining, then all of the sudden I was hit with the dreadful thought of 'reality'. My mind spun off to all the 'what if's': What if Cancer comes back? What would that look like with a child? What if I am a single mother? What if my Mom's cancer progresses soon? What if my lupus gets worse and I can't care for my family? What if it all happens at once?

I started to panic and wonder if this desire to start a family was foolish b/c all of this is very possible. Why would I dare to dream of that life?

And all the sudden I just felt this wave of calm come over me and I realized that if I lived in that fear until the day that any or all of it happens, I would be robbing myself of the joy in today. Yes, we need to be aware of the reality of our situations, but it does us no good to live in that and steal the opportunity for us to be hopeful of the possibilities in our lives. God will provide and He has a plan, no matter how much I worry now.

I have enjoyed dreaming of our future and how I hope it looks."

Wow - that one took my breath away. It's funny how your own words can minister to your heart sometimes. God gave me that wave of calm and the thought to jot it down at 1:52 am on January 10th, probably knowing that not too far off I would need this reminder of His love. I needed that tonight and wanted to share, maybe someone else needs that reminder right now too.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


Well, reality is starting to set in. As I take baby steps towards my new path in life, I realize more and more how difficult this journey is going to be.

I keep praying 'God, I just don't want to. I'm sorry, but I don't. You have gotten me this far, and I have to trust that you will allow the pieces to come together to help me through this next part. Help me to believe when the fear and pain are too much and I start to doubt.'

I still need to do a post about God's perfect timing, it's just going to take me some time to write that one. Time that I have not had.

But because He had aligned so many things to meet my needs in such a perfect way in all this mess, though I get scared and doubt because I can not see how, I still have faith that He will continue provide for me.

Please pray that God gives me much wisdom and guidance with many difficult decisions I will have to make. I ask that you specifically pray for my living situation as those decisions are some of the first that need to be addressed.

Do I look for a roommate? What does that look like with an infant? Who would want to come into this situation? Do I need to sell our home? Can I even take care of a single family house with an infant? These are just the beginnings of the questions that are spinning in my mind.

Despite these questions I have to say that I am incredibly grateful to the generosity of so many people to the fundraisers for us. Because of you I don't have to rush this major decision, and have some resources to bridge the gap of a single income for a couple of months as I put the pieces of my life back together. I am trusting God implicitly to provide for this, deliver me the right person or situation, as I am pretty confident I can not afford it on my own. But, truly, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for giving me the peace of mind that I don't have to settle for whatever immediate resolution I could find and take time to pray and wait for God.

I apologize if this post is scatterbrained, been trying to get the prayer request out there for days now.

Thank you for your prayers for wisdom, guidance and mercy for me. ♥️

Saturday, October 11, 2014

How to 'be' around me

'I don't know what to say or do' is what I have heard often. Honestly, neither do I. This is completely foreign to us both then.

I have tried to put myself in your shoes. Yup, it would suck to be you around me too. Probably feels like walking on egg shells, afraid to say the wrong thing, bring up the wrong topic, wondering if it's ok to laugh?

So I thought I would just share my thoughts at this stage of grief. I hear it changes often as you get through the 'phases'. Maybe they are unique to me, or maybe I can be a voice for others too. I don't know.

So, I'll start off what what NOT to say or do:

-Please don't use harsh terms like: dead, dying, grave and such. I can't handle them yet. Passed away, resting place...these are softer words on open wounds.

-Please don't tell me how difficult this is for you. I don't have the strength to comfort you right now. Share with me your hurt and sadness, but at the same time please recognize that there are few others who will experience the same level of loss as I am experiencing in Brandon's passing. I need to cry with you, but not be your shoulder to cry on yet.

-Don't worry too much. I put my foot in my mouth more then anyone I know, so if you feel you may have 'offended' me or said something stupid, oh well, you're human. This is hard for all of us. I don't expect perfection. It's the blatantly oblivious and habitually ignorant ones that hurt.

-When I am crying or very upset (and I realize this is more unique to me), please don't hug me. A quick squeeze of my hand, pat on the shoulder, or short acknowledgement of my hurt is all I can take. Just sit with me, hand me a tissue or cry with me. I know it may be awkward for you, I truly am sorry, it's not my intention, but I'm just not a hugger when I'm upset.

-When I tear up, which is often, and at the strangest things, don't ask me if I'm ok. I'm not. Someday I will be, but it's not going to be anytime soon. Again, just sit with me, hand me a tissue or tear up with me. I may share what got me all salty or I may just keep it to myself.

What TO do or say around me:

-Just try to be yourself. You are in my life because I love you, and I know your heart, and I know this sucks for all of us. Especially for those willing to be around me, a shadow of who I used to be, at such a crappy time.

-Tell me what's going on in your life; the good, bad and ugly, but just be sensitive to what is going on in mine. Please use perspective when discussing the trials you are facing. If you had just lost your other half, and are now facing single mother and widowhood at 31, would you want to hear the term 'My life is so hard right now' about things not quite as finite as death? I'll be honest and say I have thought many times 'I wish that was my problem.' By no means do I want our friendship to become a one way road, but for a period of time I may be moving slowly with hazard lights on. I do acknowledge what you are struggling with as real and difficult, but please just consider sharing it with me in an empathetic way.

-Don't be afraid to laugh and joke around. I need distraction from grief. Brandon would never want me wallowing and refusing to find some joy within loss.

-Forgive me if I am absentminded or not focused. My head is still spinning, my world has just crashed down, and the person who stabilized me is gone. It takes an amazing level of brain power to make myself do anything, then add being a new mother to it all. I am in the ultimate survival mode. And it breaks my heart when I realize I forgot to ask how so-and-so is recovering or how that event turned out. You know I care very much, and I hate feeling self-centered and out of touch with what is going on in my friend's lives. It is still very important to me.

-Go ahead and make some decisions for me. And if you don't know, ask someone close to me if they think this or that would be helpful. I can't decide if I am able to shower today or not, so my head spins when faced with decisions. I have accepted so much help and I feel like I am a burden and inconveniencing everyone at this point. If it's on your heart to 'do' something (within reason) :) , go for it. I thank you.

-When in doubt, just ask flat out. You know I'm a very direct and honest person (to a fault sometimes!), so just ask. I'll tell you the truth, and hopefully with grace. :)

We will get through this together.

I hope this does not come off as anything but an expression of honesty with the intention of helping you help me, as many have voiced a desire to know how to do. And this may change, and when it does you know I'll be sure to let you know! Brandon always loved that he didn't have to read between the lines with me. :)

Thank you for taking this journey with me, and extending me such love, support and grace as I navigate my new normal.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Walk by Faith

Yesterday was two weeks since Brandon passed away. Gosh it feels like so much longer. The ache gets worse every day. I don't know at what point it starts getting better, not worse. From what I hear it will be a long time.

I've started looking into things to help me through. Books and support groups. Bereavement counseling. Guides for widows and single mothers. Yet another set of vocabulary I never wanted to be familiar with.

I have never in my life had to COMPLETELY walk by faith before. A lot of times it seems we only do when we have no other choice left. It's a scary yet magical experience. But as I look back over these past 3 1/2 months of walking by faith alone, I can say without a doubt that God was right there walking with me. He provided for my needs in His absolute perfect timing. (That's a whole different post sometime).

In this walk I have many moments where fear overtakes me. How I am going to be a single mother with Lupus? How do I be a fun parent? Brandon was the one who could be silly and carefree, and I am the disciplinarian. How will I learn to be both for Aria? How do I go on without Brandon's love and support? How do I live the majority of my life without him? These fears circle my mind constantly. The littlest things, a picture on FB, a commercial of a daddy and daughter, a love song, all start a domino effect of fear, reality, pain, sorrow, envy, anger, confusion. But I try to always end on Faith.

So far it's been challenging. Sometimes I have immediate peace for the future. Sometimes I have to work for it. I have to remind myself of all the ways God has already provided for me and how much worse this situation could have been, but God loves me so much and he met my needs in every way and will not stop now. He has a special heart for widows and orphans. I have to remain strong in faith and hope in that.

Brandon always said we have little control over our situation, but we have complete control over our actions and reactions to our situation. It all comes down to perspective.

And the perspective I have to constantly choose is to walk by faith. It's terrifying to surrender the map you drew up of your life and give it to God. But the magical part is when you can look back at what you just came through and see where God aligned everything just perfectly. Often at the last minute and in no way how you would have done it, but perfect nonetheless.

So when those fears consume me the only choice I have is to surrender them and put one foot in front of the other down His path, not mine. It's one of the hardest things I've had to do, and I sometimes wander off on my own, but God has always led me back.

Please pray for continued strength and peace and the ability to walk by faith. I truly believe that I am hanging on by your prayers that are carrying me through.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Not where I belong

My parents and I went up to the burial site today. It was a beautiful sunny day, unlike the day of his service. The warm breeze blew through the memorial site, giving good reason for the area's name 'Whispering Pines'. It was so serene.

Fittingly, Building 429's song 'Where I belong' played on the radio on the mile and a half drive up Mt Lindo.


'Sometimes it feels like I'm watching from the outside
Sometimes it feels like I'm breathing but am I alive
I won't keep searching for answers that aren't here to find

All I know is I'm not home yet
This is not where I belong
Take this world and give me Jesus
This is not where I belong

So when the walls come falling down on me
And when I'm lost in the current of a raging sea
I have this blessed assurance holding me.

All I know is I'm not home yet
This is not where I belong
Take this world and give me Jesus

This is not where I belong

When the earth shakes I wanna be found in You

When the lights fade I wanna be found in You'

It's a shame that it takes tragedy often to get one to that perspective. When we feel an earthly loss so great the only thing we can do is look forward to completing our own job here on earth to get to the other side. The eternal side. The side with no more pain and no more suffering. The only thing we'll loose there is our sin and all the baggage that comes with it. Knowing this calms my heart.

Despite this peace, I expect this to get harder, not easier.

As I hit a golf ball into the trees at the site today it hit me that the last time I swung a golf club we were in ignorant bliss, together, having no idea what turmoil lay ahead of us.

I wish so bad I can go back to those days where all our dreams lay ahead of us and not be in this reality of crushed dreams and bittersweet moments with our daughter.

I feel like I am just trudging through life, collecting the days without Brandon in a trash bag that I am dragging behind me. And yet, as I mourn death, I am also embracing the fascinating new life in Aria. It's so hard to toggle between these emotions.
This is not where I belong. I have clung to this truth to get me through so far. I feel numb to the world right now. Nothing matters much other then the people in it.
God has given me unimaginable strength and peace throughout this whole ordeal. Even now, though I am walking around in a numb fog, I have peace. I can't explain it. And the only credit I can take is for receiving it. None of this is of me. It is all of your prayers and God hearing those prayers and giving me grace and mercy.

So I remind myself yet again 'One day at a time', and try to remember that God made me for this purpose. I will somehow get through, but ultimately, this is not where I belong. And that gives me hope.


I'm grateful that Brandon and I truly did not take each other for granted. Yeah, we disagreed sometimes, rolled our eyes at stupid things the other did and didn't always make the best use of our time together. But we told each other daily things we were appreciative of in each other. And not in a forced way, but authentically.

If one word could sum up how Brandon made me feel it would be cherished.

To him I was everything he needed on this earth and he would do nearly anything to make me feel loved and happy.

Oh how he loved golf, but he always said he loved it most when I was there sharing the experience with him. Driving the cart, taking videos of his swing, or hitting a bucket with him at the range.

He would call me 5 minutes after I left the house to tell me something he just saw the cat do and had to share with me, about a great idea he just had, or about a funny post on Arfcom.

He researched extensively to find only the best for me; best coffee for the espresso maker, best earphones for the gym, best dessert places in Denver, best app for breast feeding.

He made the bed every morning. Not because he cared if the sheets were tucked, but because he knew it made me happy. I never asked him to do it, and he never complained about doing it, he just did it.

More often then not he still opened the car door for me after 8 1/2 years of marriage.

He sucked it up and went with me for the hours and hours of registering for the baby, researching every major product we put on the list, insisting on certain items over others, because his baby girl would only have the best and the safest.

He knew my limits better then I did. When I was pushing myself too hard he would make me rest to keep the lupus at bay.

He told me how beautiful I was to him. Every day. Multiple times a day.

He delighted in providing for me, protecting me and making me happy. He cherished me.

I'm so grateful I can write these memories down and not be wishing I had told him thank you. I did, often. He knew how much I appreciated all he did for me. And I know without a doubt how how fulfilled he also was in our marriage.

I hope our daughter settles for nothing less in a man then her daddy was. It was always his plan to show her how she should be treated by men by her seeing how he treated me. And he was so excited for daddy-daughter dates.

My dad says he had never worried about my well being with Brandon, and that says a lot as my dad is a worrier for his only child.

I miss everything about Brandon. The good, the bad, and the ugly. Because no matter how angry it would make me to have two open milk jugs in the fridge or how many toothpicks I had to pick up off the floor, I loved all of him, completely. And I am so thankful that he always knew that...

Take a moment every day to acknowledge something you are thankful for in your spouse. No matter how silly it may seem, or even how hard it may be to find some days, that little act can leave an impact forever.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

A huge thank you

As the days monotonously pass I am at a loss for words. I'm not quite sure what I have to share. But God has put it on my heart to continue to share our journey and many of you have encouraged me to continue writing updates, so I will do my best.

I want to thank you all for your support. I was amazed at how many people came to Brandon's Memorial Service and was repeatedly blown away at the sight of quite a few people who took the time to come and honor Brandon's life that I never would have expected. I'm sorry I did not get a chance to greet each of you before or after the service. If you didn't sign the guest book, and I didn't get to say hello, please send me a message so I know you were there.

I'm so grateful that Brandon's parents arranged the live streaming. There were so many who could not physically attend, but with over 3,000 views I know how far Brandon's life has reached. And thank you all for sticking with us through all 2 1/2 hours of it! Though it was long, I am glad that so much of the impact of Brandon's life was able to be shared, and that was only a small handful of the people who would have loved the opportunity to speak. I only wish we could have incorporated a short intermission!

I'm quite nervous to watch the service video as I didn't know that the camera would be on our faces at all, and I can't imagine how many of my awkward crying faces you all had to see. But can you believe that Aria made it through the entire service?!? She is such a good baby.

It rained and was cold and windy up at the burial site, over 8000 feet in altitude. A one lane dirt road winds up Mount Lindo to where Brandon's earthly body is laid to rest. There could not be a more perfect place for him. The road up is reminiscent of the roads we drove on camping trips, and there is a view of snow capped Mount Evans from the site. I'll share with you part of the description:

The beauty of it is that our home is nearby, and Brandon commented to me practically weekly about how much he loved being able to see that illuminated cross so near our house and know the love story it represented. And now I know that all I have to do is look upon that cross and know where he is, both in body and in spirit.

I want to take a moment to say thank you to all who donated to Aria's Hope Chest in lieu of flowers. We are going to open her a bank account this week and 100% of what was given will start an investment for her future that you all have given to her and I, and to Brandon.

Once all the medical bills, nursing facility costs, funeral expenses and service fees are paid, I hope to be able to contribute a portion of what is left of the fundraisers to her account as well.

As I look at that looming list of financial responsibilities my heart aches with gratitude that they are that, responsibilities, not burdens, thanks to everyone that selflessly has given to us. Thank you to each and every one of you that has given the priceless gift of immediate financial peace to me. Not only have you relieved a huge worry from me, but you have also taken some of the weight of worry for Aria and I from my parents and Brandon's parents and brother. But most importantly you gave that gift of assurance to Brandon in his final days. He was able to release that concern, that heavy burden, and concentrate on the beautiful things of this world. You will never know how deeply your gifts have reached.

Your prayers for strength have been heard and multiplied. God is sustaining me in ways I never could imagine. He remains faithful, and I am doing my best to remain hopeful.

Thank you for continuing to walk this path with me, and forgive me for the choppiness of this post. I have been trying to get the time to update for days now and my brain is still quite foggy.

"As you look to the west of Denver in the foothills in the evening, you will see the Olinger Mount Lindo Cross illuminated. The cross on Mount Lindo began as a gesture of love between two people in the early 1940's. Francis Van Derbur once owned the land at Mount Lindo. He decided he would put a light at the top of the mountain so his wife, Pearl, would be able to see where he would rest after he died. the Cross began construction in 1963, and was lit for the first time on Easter morning in 1964. It is the largest electrically lighted cross in this country, possibly in the world. The cross measures 393 feet vertically and 254 feet horizontally. It can be seen from a distance of 80 miles."