Loved you yesterday
love you still
This is our happy ever after.
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Here is a summary of our last eight months. We've enjoy Tyson, Natalie, and Alivia's birthday parties with friends and family. Nikki has accomplished numerous runs/walks around town and CV. We usually do a 5K loop around the school during preschool time. This Smiths and the Kings have had many BBQs, babysitting, and family nights out together.
We took a short trip over to Depot Bay where the kids LOVED the pool and sea lions. Tyson is in the middle of baseball season where he and his friends have a blast tagging out the other teams. He is quite the baseball player. Eric goes out with his Dad often to golf and enjoy the sunshine. I sent him on a scavenger hunt for his birthday in full Navy whites. I loved it, he wasn't a big fan.
The weekend I turned 30 was Epic. Eric told me for weeks that he had a surprise for me. I asked him if we were going out of town. He said yes, sooooo I packed a bag and we were off to the airport. Eric had to tell a few white lies to keep the surprise quiet but it was worth it. We drove up to departures and Cindy (my twin sister) comes towards our car and I immediately thought, "There’s a crazy woman with a baby trying to get run over by being in the parking lot." Well, that crazy lady turned out to be a great surprise. I was pretty dumbfounded and told Eric that we need to go to a restaurant to sit down so I could process not going on a trip and that Cindy and her family is here. I then start making plans of my own by telling Eric we need to get a hotel in Portland and go shopping and make the most of our time together. Everyone kept telling me that didn't need to happen that plans are already made for that night. Eric has me call my friend who lives in Salem (Melissa) to find out what the plan is for the night. Again more lies! I was told to go home and put on 80s clothes because we are going 80s bowling with the girls. Okay, let's do it.
We headed back and waited for Melissa to come pick us up. I found out later that the pictures we took at my house were a staling technique. Eric and Andy (Cindy's husband) take the kids to the Souther's house and were going to "hang out" while we had our ladies night. I thought that was weird, but okay. Melissa picks us up and we head to go "pick up" Robyn at her house. We get there and since I felt like we were being so slow I volunteered to go get Robyn. The gals said, "Don't worry we’ll just go together to show her our outfits." So I walk into Robyn's house and there are flashed of lights. I'm confused cause I see Jared Hale hiding with a cell phone pointed at me and then everyone jumps out and yells surprise! It was awesome. I had NO IDEA.
The place looked amazing. My favorite colors and foods. It was gorgeous. Melissa, Robyn, and Lydia must have worked on it for soooo long. We had salad, soup, sparkling strawberry lemonade, and chicken cordon blue. YUM! We eat and visited for a while then took group pictures. It was all my favorite people from our ward under one roof dress ridiculously--I loved it.
I then figured out why I was band from going downstairs. As we walked downstairs there was neon signs with 80s jargon on them. Downstairs was a dance floor with a disco ball and neon lighting bolts on the ceiling. The 80 music was going and 80s just dance was on the Wii. The best part was just about everyone dancing to Thriller.
In the next room Pac-man cartoons were hanging from the ceiling (personal favorite). There was even a splatter paint backdrop for pictures set-up. Then a bar of 80s candy was displayed with crazy toys from the 80s (rubics cubes, slinkies, etc.) The candy had everything from our childhood including: big League Chew, bottle caps, poprocks, razzles, SunnyD, etc.
We had sparkler candles on cakes which made it almost impossible to blowout. I love cheesecake so that was perfect.
So Friday was amazing and the fun just kept going. Saturday would have been Taylor's 2nd birthday and Eric knew how hard this day could be for me, so he did everything he possibly could to make it an easy day. He went and got balloons for us to release at the cemetery. He had us there by 8:30. We sang her Happy Birthday and released the balloons. When we arrived there was already a balloon and flowers there with a note from the Freemans. It was so sweet. Cindy brought a pair of white tennis shoes for Taylor and she hadn't even known that those same shoes were on the headstone. I found out later that day that Nadine, Averyl Sealy, and Jan Baumgartner had gone out to the gravesite with flowers for her. Amazing women.
Eric then took us out to breakfast (another staling technique I realize now) and then dropped Cindy and I off for a day at the spa. Full body massage, facials, manicure, pedicure, private lunch, hair wash and style, and makeup application. WOW.
Then what did he have in store but us going to the multi-stake dance as chaperone (which really means just dancing and having a good time). Eric knows that I love to dance and even though I know very few songs that are popular now I was carded (dance-carded) there and that made me feel good.
I really thought that the weekend was done with surprises and yet one more was yet to come. A movie was put together by the Carleski family of many families letting balloons go and wishing Taylor a happy birthday. We were so moved. We watched it over and over again and cried (happy tears, grateful tears) for those who are truly Christ like friends.
Eric read a poem he wrote about Cindy and I:
10 years ago I met the twins
A day I know for sure
Cindy sat down on my lap
And I slid to the floor
The next day was filled with fun
In the swimming pool this time
A game of water polo with the twin
Who'd eventually be mine
6 weeks later I asked Nicole
If she would be my wife
And thankfully she said yes
And it's been a wonderful life
Then came the wedding reception
And the twins they traded places
Then Cindy's boyfriend came and kissed her
You should have seen folks faces
Of course I knew what they had done
For all of us were laughin
And everyone of us is glad
That Cindy found Andy Rafn
The Eichelbergers as they were
Are two terrific women
I'm just glad one sat on my lap
And with the other I went swimming
So for my favorite set of twins
Most beautiful and flirty
We celebrate this day with you
The day you both turn 29 again
I've pretty much followed Eric wherever he goes on business trips. We've been to Orlando twice and Anaheim once in a five week span. We met one of Eric's clients. They showed us around Disneyland (for free because they work there) and we ate at one of the Disney hotels while watching the fireworks. It was so fun! While he was in meetings I stayed in and did a bunch of writing for my book. I've enjoyed writing and having that as my outlet. It was a nice brake from life. I planned on getting some sun, but what would you know it rained most of the time. I did get to hang out with John Vanravenhourse's wife Kathy. She is great. We did some shopping and checked out Orlando around the Peabody Hotel. The Peabody is famous for their ducks that walk through the hotel each morning and evening. It was really cute.
Our trip to Anaheim a week later was fantastic. We really enjoyed California Adventure. Tyson LOVED Cars Land and the girls loved a Bug's Life. We watched the Aladdin show, World of Color, Disney Parade, and the Firework show. Loved it all. It was a bit cold so we bundled up and trucked on. Cindy, Andy, Bell, Mom and Dad were with us for a couple of days. It was fun to see them. Then we ran into the Barlow's on our last day there. Natalie and Alivia had a great time seeing their Princesses and getting their autographs, which they proudly display in their room. Tyson liked Goofy and Donald. He tried not to show how much he enjoyed the Arial ride, but he loved it. His favorite was the Toy Story ride by far.
Then the kids got to stay with Grandpa and Grandma King again. We headed off to Orlando again. It was a short trip but a nice one. The best part was swimming with manatees. This is something I've wanted to do since 5th grade. I LOVED it. They were scary at first because they are so big, but once you get up the nerve to touch them you realize what gentle creatures they are. If you rub their tummies they roll onto their backs like a big fluffy dog. They move so slowly and wouldn't harm a thing.
Almost six months exactly from the accident.
I have a new inspiration in life due to Stephanie Nielson. If you haven't read her book or followed her blog you must check it out. www.nieniedialogues.com
Today I went to the funeral of a new found friend of mine. Her son just passed away from Leukemia about a week ago. I hurt inside for her. I weep for what she is experiencing and what she will go through in the next 6 months. I hate that I know how to help her and yet I love that I know how to help her. I can help her understand the "normal feelings" of grief. The daily aches and pains, depression, guilt, and regrets. Grief to me is a feeling. It can be more than one feeling at a time.
I am still figuring out about guilt associated with death. The "what ifs" of July 27th will be forever unanwered. I DO however understand the guilt assoiated with being happy. I visited my parents a few months after the accident and remember laughing and having fun, then feeling this horrible guilt take over. How am I able to smile? How dare I find joy when my little girl is gone! This is real and getting over it is something that has to be delt with. There is also a guilt that comes with life becoming easier after a passing. We planned a trip a week after the accident to get away from all of the saddness and let the idea of three children to raise for now sink into my conticous mind. We realized we didn't need a car seat, diaper bag, stroller, van, bottles, binkies, and the list went on. Packing seemed easy. There was no need to buy diapers, and I felt awful. The reality is that yes life is easier in a way and much much harder in other ways. So the focus needs to be on realizing that we need to except the bad and the good that goes with it and not beat ourselves up for what we don't have control over. Easier said than done.
My dear friends who suffered the loss of their son felt a feeling of releif being freed from the nine month prison of Dornbecers. This feeling shocked them. This feeling is very normal. Yes, you miss your son, but you don't have to miss watching him suffer everyday at the hospital.
Now comes the reality of redining yourself. For Shelley her identity as a mother of a sick child, care giver, medic, life-line for her son has all changed. She has lost her identity and I completely understand. As women we tend to introduce ourselves as first a wife, then a Mother, then a runner/gymnast/biker/reader/couponer/desinger or whatever takes up your spare time. Well, to the mother of a sick child your life becomes swallowed up with the health of this child. That is your identity. That is who you are. If that child has any chance on surviving an illness it is because of the late night medical treatments, the handholding during the pain of vomiting, the kisses after injections, her shaving your head so her son wouldn't feel different when his hair fell out, all the encouragement to get well is do to the love offered by parents. How do you find yourself once this is gone in a instant. She is still the mother of three children. One of which is in Heaven and the other two she has the privaledge of raising on Earth. I am and will forever be the Mother of four beautiful children. I'm raising three for now.
To hold a lifeless child is unmistakingly difficult. It is amost knumbing to the soul because you feel so broken that you don't know what to feel. I remember in a therapy session we had we were asked to build a building out of legos. I slowly build up a foundation to make a home. We almost had the house finished and I kicked it over. For as silly an exercise it seemed to express exactly what I was feeling. I realized that I felt like my world was just about perfect and then in an instant my whole world came crashing down around me.
How do you redefine your life? You start by asking yourself, "who would my child want me to be?" I know who she'ld want me do be and I promised her I would be that person. The sad reality is that we are human and we do fail at times, but what is most important is that we try everyday to become who we want to be and one day we will be that person. Taylor would want a Mommy who is patient. She would want a Mommy who is kind, nonjudegmental, and does what she can to make it to the Celestial Kingdom for us to be reunited for eternity. To one day run into each other's arms and for me to spin her around and to never be separated from each other again. I refuse to let myself miss this opportunity to be a family again. I work hard to teach my other children how to live and to be worthy of eternal blessings such as this. I wait for the fullness of my joy to be found when our bodies are reunited with our spirits in perfect form and pain will never ail us. This thing called grief will be gone. I'm not certain that we won't mourn for those who do not choose to except the gospel in the here after, but I know that there will be peace found in Heaven.
After reading about every book Deseret Book and our local library has on tragedy, finding joy, and the power of the human spirit I realized I too have a story to tell. Mine different from all the rest. As I reflect on life experiences I realize just how important fun, joy, tears, laughter, songs, love, heartbreak, and mistakes are to our very existance. We all have a story and mine starts in late June of 2003 when I laid eyes on the man I was going to marry. I was one who would never settle down and date just one man. I liked dating. I liked attention from all the men I could get it from. I was picky to say the least. My biggest fear was to settle. So, I used my college years to the fullest a Mormon woman could. I switched schools every second semester to "keep my options open" on men, oh and on school if my parents are reading this. Was this a good thing for my college credits? No way, but I can say I enjoyed those college years to the fullest. When I met Eric he was home off his mission only a few weeks and was out to Provo to visit his sister. He was offered a promising job in Corvallis so he put his BYU enrollment on deferel for another semester to feel out this job offer. He still had his plane ticket out to Provo so he joked with his parents saying, "I have one week to find a wife." Who knew it would come true. Well, we met over a playful game of water polo. Actually the game was, see how uncormfortable I could make this return missionary feel by snugglying up to him whenever I could and make him fall in love with me and move on. Yes, I was that girl. Cruel and insensitive to these poor return missionaries. I justified my actions by accnologing the fact that the boys were always having a good time when we went out. Good clean fun. In fact I am an identicle twin and we often went on double dates. If the conversation ever lagged or we thought the date wasn't going as smooth as our dates anticipated, my sister and I would slip into the bathroom and change clothes. We would switch dates and wait to see how long it took them to notice. We always had a good time.
I felt like this silly immature stage of life would last forever and then I met my Eric. He wasn't the tall dark, haired man I was use to dating. He was shorter but just as handsome. I still remember seeing him for the first time, though he doesn't remember me, and thinking how cute he was. That's okay. He held my hand on the first date and I didn't mind at all. He was only here for a week and then I was sure it wasn't going anywhere from there. Though after that week I felt like talking to him every day. I couldn't go to sleep until I heard him say "goodnight." We talked on the phone for five weeks and then we were engaged to be married. I know what you're thinking. Five weeks, are you crazy? Yes, we were. It was great. We married two months later and realized after the wedding that we really only had one official date before we got married. Our dating was all over the phone. Thirteen months later we were blessed with a baby boy. Did you notice I didn't say, "a healthy baby boy."
Our son Tyson was born with a diaphragmatic hernia, essentially a hole in his diaphram which made his intestins and splene settle in his chest cavity instead of the normal positions within the stomach region. I didn't really get to hold him until he was three days old, which you Mothers out there know that is a lifetime. His first surgery was unsuccessful, but the second surgery took and he was our boy. I was so happy to be a mother. I loved his little face and his ability to eat anything we put infront of his face. He is boy through and through. We were blessed with a sweet little tiny girl two years later. I was induced five weeks early due to complications and weighing in at a woppen 4 pounds 15 ounces she's stayed tiny ever since. We named her Natalie. She is our little princess. Alivia was born two year after Natalie. She came sunny-side up (her face up instead of chin to chest like most babies). Last and never to be forgotten wis Taylor. Our daughter who came on her due date and infected our heart to the greatest degree of love a parent can imagine. Each child was born two years apart and was a new adventure for us. We love our children and how different each one is. I'm constantly amazed at how children can grown up in the same household and have completely different personalities, dreams, and needs. Tyson needs to run everyday. He wants to wrestle and have a ball in hand at all times. Natalie is our picky eater and loves to talk. Alivia is quiet and cunning. Taylor is happy and always wants to keep up with her brother and sisters. She loves to be chased and to give kisses. She loves go-gurts and frozen waffles.
July 2012 we had a crazy summer. It started out with swimming lessons. We had cousins around for most of the summer months. We fought with each other and made sweet memories too. Family times are like that around here. My life was placed in a wirlwind on July 27th as our lives was changed forever. We were about to drop my kids off at a friends house as my husband and I were invited to go dancing. One of my passions is dancing and I spent the morning cleaning my house with an odd filling that it would soon be full of family. It was an odd thought but I shook it off thinking that was weird. Since I knew I would be heading out that evening I made sure to take time to play with each child. I played a board game with the older children and ticked Taylor and fed her her favorite meal. Frozen waffles and go-gurt. Yeah I know but she loved it. So I had made one waffle for Taylor and one for Alivia. I set Taylor in her highchair and handed her the one I made for her. She emediately put it in one hand and with the other hand held it out to take the other waffle to. She was so funny and cute I gave her both. I'm so glad I didn. I had a feeling when I was playing Pollyanna (the board game) that I should give Taylor some attention, and so I did. I felt like I had accomplished my "mother duties" nicely that day and was going to spoil myself with a night out with my husband. I had unfortunately brushed my kids off when I was getting ready for the evening. I actually did my hair and makeup to the full extent and dressed in my cutiest clothes. I remember telling Taylor not to be on the counter cause it was dangerous and she kept doing it. I finally had to get firm with her and place her outside the bathroom so I could get ready. I kept thinking having a feeling that makeup was not important, but it was so rare that I dolled myself off I went ahead and took time for myself.
We got the kids ready and stopped off to see some family who just arrived that day before we headed to the babysitters. I had placed Taylor inside the house. We were outside visiting and I went inside to tell those who were going dancing with us that we should get going, and to get Taylor. As I headed inside I heard Eric say, "I should move the car to make more room." I remember thinking, "I should tell Eric to not move the car until all the kids are safe." I brushed the thought away and justified that I would just be a minute and besides only the older kids are outside and they are on the grass. Well the next thing I know my husband runs in and screams call 911. I freeze. I literally short circuit. My body wouldn't budge. The crazy part is everyone in that room which was probably 10 people could do nothing but try to process what they just heard. I knew it had to be one of my kids as they were all at their Grandparent's home, but to be honest I didn't know where exactly which room they were in or if they had slipped outside to play with the dogs. Tyson is 7 and I was sure he was playing a video game like he always did. Natalie was 5 and I knew she was outside playing in the grass. Alivia was just with me, but where was Taylor my 16 month old? I know I brought her in the house and when I left she had stayed inside. I screamed at a cousin to go outside and tell me who it is cause I can't do it myself. She reluctantly did so and came back and told me it was Taylor. I immediately was in denial and kept saying, "no that can't be right." Just then Natalie came in crying. She had seem the whole thing. Eric had moved the car to make some room in the driveway and Taylor was hit by the front of the car. Her little body wasn't big enough to be seen by her Father. Eric and his uncle were both in the car. They pulled her little body out from under the car and raised to the hospital. Inside the house I was holding my children who were all crying trying to figure out what just happened. As I sat on the couch holding my three kids singing Primary songs, do the the request of Natalie, I received a phone call saying I better get to the hospital now. I remember walking into the waiting room and my husband crouched in a corner saying over and over, "please don't blame me, I'm so sorry, I'm sorry." I didn't know what to do. I kept pacing saying, "this can't happen again." When I was a sophmore in highschool my younger borther was hit my one of my classmates. At age 14 he was riding his bike and she hit him with her car. This scene was all too familiar to me. I was so much in denial that I seemed to stare at the wall for what seemed like hours. A nurse finally came in and said, "I'm so sorry we did all we could." I couldn't believe it.
The Bishop had sent his couselors there and I fell into their arms as I couldn't feel my legs anymore. We were a mess but I made my way over to Eric and promised him right then and there that we would be okay and that we would never blame each other. I had family member tell me to go hold her for that last time and I just couldn't do it. I just couldn't. Just as I couldn't say "goodbye" to my little brother in the hospital I couldn't do this either. After much coaxing she was wrapped up in a blanket, with her face covered, and I held her. It was the only way I could. I didn't feel her spirit around like family members said they could. I remember thinking, I'm her Mother I should be able to feel her spirit but I couldn't. I think I was still very much in shock.
As I road home I kept thinking how do I tell my children that their baby sister died. There is no soft way to say these words to children who don't understand what death means at all. My Natalie had a hard time sleepying while Alivia kept asking how Taylor was doing? Natalie woke up several times in the night as is was a scary scene when she closed her eyes. She asked about Taylor and I had to tell her that she is in Heaven now. She just cried and tried to process. We all held each other tight and in the morning we told Tyson and Alivia. Tyson didn't say much he was holding it all in. Alivia just cried and then distracted herself with toys. In the morning the house was full of church members, food, tears, and flowers. The best thing that happened that day was the kid's primary teachers came first thing in the morning to distract the kids with new toys and someone new to talk to. I will be forever indebted to these church leaders for helping my children get through these rough days. The next few days were full of family flying into town and me being asked, "what do you want for the funeral?" I kept thinking, I don't want a funeral. I was my baby back. I somehow felt clear headed enough to give instruction on who was to do what and what was to be said and read at the funeral. To this day I can't believe a funeral was put together in two days. All I wanted was to have it over with. I wanted it behind us. Without the help of church members and family printing out pictures and making the programs it would have never happened. With no public announcement or obituarty Taylor's funeral was wall to wall people. The accident was on a Friday and the funeral was Monday. Wow this church is amazing. The members pulled together to make the most beautiful lunchen for our family and helped in so many ways.
The days that followed were so crazy. I didn't sleep or eat for days. I held onto Eric and he held on to me. We were so bombarded with family and reminders of Taylor that we actually packed up our little family and went on a vacation. We had to get away from it all. We had to get away so we could start to grieve as a family. We were being pulled in all different directions. My kid's weren't even sleeping in the same house. As much as family ment well, all I wanted was to lay in bed with my husband and kids and just cry. So we left. We went to a family vacation spot we had been to many times. We cried, played, wrote letters, and let the reality sink in. We needed it as a family.
When we returned home our home was clean and smelling of sweet flowers. I was given some time to go through each room and gather anything that reminded me of Taylor. I didn't want anything of her's lost or misplaced. I wanted everything she ever touched. I was obsessed with gathering ever last binking and sock. You never know how you are going to react in a situation until it happens to you.
I then tried to rearange beds because Alivia and Taylor shared a room. She wouldn't go it there, so something had to be done. I took pictures of current bedroom set-ups and started to rearrange sleeping quarters.
I thought going to church would be spiritually uplifting, but I was wrong. I felt like the whole ward was watching me, and they were. This was okay to me, because I could understand the human curiousity of how a family handles a situation like this. People were so sweet and genuinlly caring. But, being at church was the hardest place to be as it reminded me that we weren't a whole family anymore. There was no little girl to make noise and chase around church.
Meals were brought in for months. I had letters and emails that I couldn't get through in one day becuase of the volume. It was on the local and state wide news. It spread like wildfire. Our trial was so public and embarrising. The accident was told by word of mouth all over the country. We received phone calls, emails, gifts, and letters from people we have never met, but heard about us. Even though the story may have been jumbled up a bit by so many people passing it on, all parents can understand how easy this can happen. It a split second your world can go from almost perfect to what seems like a broken world.
In reality if I step away from what happened to me and focused on what's been given me, I am blessed by the Lord who allowed me to have this sweet child for 16 months. This 16 months will last me a lifetime of good memories. I just have to step away from the sorrow and focus on the 16 beautiful months of raising this celestial being.
I AM more than my trial. I actually found myself introducing my family as the family who recently lost a 16 month old daughter. From that day fourth I try not to focus of my family being what we lost but being who we are now and what we're grown to become. We are a strong family. We are stronger than we think. We have passed those hard days by pulling together. We can't let our struggle become our identity.
I was in the Primary presidency at the time of the accident and I told the President that I will check back with her in two years from now more inlove with Eric and my kids than ever before. I know that tragdy ends many marriages and I refuse to let that happen. The couples that are "ment to be" are the ones who go through everything that is ment to tear them apart and come out even stronger than they were before. You have to believe that your were given this life because you are strong enough to handle it.
Disneyland was so fun. We really enjoyed our time together. It was a bit chilly but we bundled up and enjoyed the rides. Grandma and Grandpa Eichelberger and Aunt Cindy's family joined us. We rode about every ride in Disneyland and we were able to have our friends Gabe and Nang join us for the last day. Then surprise we ended up being in the same hotel as the Barlows. We visited with them for a bit before leaving. It was a bit tricky when the girl's kept hearing,"when you wish upon a star you're dreams come true." The girls were saying, "Mommy if we wish hard enough Taylor can come back alive." So, I had to crush a bit of their childhood fanstacies and explain what is make-believe and what is reality. That was tough! Other than that we are doing really well. Natalie is sleeping better at night and we don't have any major breakdowns anymore. We are still very blessed as a family and try to take in all the precious moments as parents.
So this has been a year full of ups and downs. Eric traveled more this year than ever before and yet it's been his best year for work. He's staying busy and really loves what he does. Tyson had baseball, basketball, swimming lessons and football. All of which he loved. He was baptized, started boy scouts, and is now working on his Faith In God award. Natalie started Kindergarten this year. She is learning so fast and says her favorite subject is recess. Natalie also got to go to Safety Town with Brooke and Sabrina (her cousins). Alivia and Natalie also did swimming lessons during the summer. During the spring they enjoyed ballet, and they keep asking when they can do it again. I think Alivia was in it for the tutu. Alivia is trying to keep up with Natalie. She wants to do homework and chores at age 3. She is my little helper. We lost our Taylor in an unfortunate car accident in July. Before she passed she was talking and just starting potty training. She could say the following: thank you, Mom, Dad, brobro for brother, and Nana for Natalie. She was signing too, though she usually signed "more" for just about everything. We love our little angel and try to be the people that she would be proud of. We still have some sleepless nights but mostly we are doing well and enjoying each day as a gift from God. We miss Taylor everyday and now live for her older siblings and we still have so much to be thankful for. We are grateful for all the family and friends we have. We have been so blessed with so many people who care and have shown their love and support through a tremendously difficult time for our family. Merry Christmas to you all. Love, Kings