Monday, October 31, 2011

I've Got a Bag of Popcorn & I'm Not Afraid to Use It!

On Friday I was struggling a bit. I was trying to be motivated and productive, but I wasn't really either of those. It took me all day to shower, get the house tidied, and clean out the fridge. With a list like that you'd think that I was actually caring for a newborn. Nope. Just one of those days.

Some days I can pin-point the thoughts that are making me feel a certain way, but Friday wasn't like that. I just felt kinda "blah." I'd even done the normal make-you-feel good things like pray and read my scriptures and even prayed again. Still felt "blah."

Well thank heavens for friends! We'd been invited to go to Cornbelly's at Thanksgiving Point with some of our friends from Washington. At first I still couldn't get over my "blah" feeling, but after some time, some distraction, some laughter, and even some screams I felt a lot better.

Thanks for the fun time guys!

Janessa and me in the giant wooden semi-truck. I'm pretty sure I want one for our backyard now. See the cool slide coming off of it? Yeah, awesome. I know.
Scott and Trevor in the guillotine. Not sure why this was there, but still a fun kodak moment. 
I'm pretty sure the funniest thing that happened all night took place in the haunted corn maze. I had bought a huge bag of kettle corn and was munching on it all evening. There was at least half of the bag left so I tied off the top right before entering the haunted corn maze. Before we entered a lady had to go over the "rules." She informed us that we were not to touch the people and if we were real flinchy to just keep our hands in our pockets. If we didn't follow the rules, we would be dismissed from the maze. We enter the maze and before I could even look around this guy in a mask pops out of no where! Instinctively, I swing my bag of popcorn and hit him in the head with it! It wasn't until after the fact that I realized what I'd done. I gasped and started to apologize profusely and begged him not to kick me out. It was all pretty funny ... until a few seconds later he comes after me with a chainsaw. Yeah, that's the last time I go around whacking scary guys in masks with popcorn!

 All in all I was grateful for a fun time to lift my spirits.

Friday, October 28, 2011

I Am The Face

You may have noticed the button I added to my side bar.  I came across this website/foundation recently. The goal of I Am The Face is to spread awareness of pregnancy/infancy loss and raise support for those who are affected by it. 

They have a page about Myths Vs Truths concerning infant & pregnancy loss. I particularly related to following Myth Vs Truth:

Myth: A woman who has just lost a baby wants to forget it ever happened and move on with her life.

Truth: While this may be true for some, many are dying to talk about the child they lost, especially if it was a late-term pregnancy loss or infant loss. The chance to talk freely about their baby(ies), without feeling like they are making everyone uncomfortable, is something many, many women who have lost a baby wish for. 

It's true. I want to talk about Luke. I want people to know that I have a baby boy that I love. I want people to know that I am at peace with our situation. I want people to know that I know this is God's Will.

It's strange though --going through life in my day-to-day business. People don't know. The cashier in Provo probably thinks I'm just like any other college student running errands. But I'm not. I've been through a lot. I've given birth. I've buried a child. I'm not that same, young college student that I was years or even months ago. 

I wish people knew.

I know I'm not the only one that has faced trials that have forced me to grow in ways I never thought imaginable. Since Luke's death, people have shared about how they too have lost a child, a father, a mother, a brother. My heart literally changes towards these people when they share this part of their lives with me that I had no idea about. 

My sister-in-law, Maryanne, shared this video with me. During part of the video people are holding signs describing their trials. In my surreal life of wishing people knew what I've really been through, I had recently thought, what if people had signs above their heads informing you about their challenges, heartaches, and griefs. I found it interesting that this video does just that.  

I recommend watching the video a second time with your eyes closed so you can really hear the beautiful message of the song. I couldn't take it all in the first time around! 

I know not everyone may want others to know about the pain that they experience. For me, it eases my burden to know that others share in my tears and in my prayers. I am grateful that you have taken the time to show interest in my life, my journey, and my Luke.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Withheld for a Time - Greater Appreciation

When I was in 9th grade I auditioned to be on the high school dance company. I had been on the middle school dace company, selected to be a guest performer with the middle school company the year before, and had 11 years of private studio training.

When I found out that I did not make the final cut for the company I was heartbroken. I came home and cried, and cried, and cried. I wanted to be a part of that company SO badly.

So what did I do? I worked my tail off! I refocused my commitment in my studio training and I signed up for dance class at school and worked as hard as I could at it. It was a hard year. Each time the Dance Company would perform I would ache to just be a part of it. I would hear some of the girls complain about rehearsals and everything that was required of them. I hated that. I would have given anything to be in their shoes.

The next year I auditioned again and was thrilled to have made it onto the company! Because I had wanted it so badly, once I was on the company, I never complained about long rehearsals, vigorous tasks assigned to us, missing lunch period every other day to rehearse, or being sweaty and gross during school. I dove in and loved every bit of it! Not only did I love it I even excelled. I was given the opportunity to be one of three "dance company officers" the next year.

Dance Company photo shoot in Arches National Park, 2004

Would I have loved Dance Company the way I did if I had not had to wait and work for it?

I think the same will be true with motherhood.

Being a mother* is something I want more than anything right now. Like the dance company, I would even consider myself qualified for this right now. I'm married, have the desire and willingness to commit my time to it, and I LOVE children.

But now is not my time. Not yet. Hopefully, one day, I will have the opportunity to raise children. Because I'm spending this time yearning and longing for it, I think I will love every bit of it --dirty dippers, messes created before I can clean up the previous one, sleepless nights, etc. I can't even imagine how hard it will be, but I know it will be worth it. And if I ever forget or start to feel bogged down, I will just have to remember this time, right now, when I want it so badly that I weep.

For now this quote brings comfort:

As prophets have repeatedly taught..., ultimately "no blessing shall be withheld" from the faithful, even if those blessings do not come immediately. In the meantime we rejoice that the call to nurture is not limited to our own flesh and blood. (Jeffery R. Holland, "Because She Is a Mother")

*I know I am a "mother", but doing the day-to-day mom stuff, reaping the joys of selfless service, and having a little one that loves you more than anything is what I want. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Trust Him

"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." 
     -Proverbs 3:5-6

When we [trust in the Lord], we will come to realize that we have been on His holy errand, that His divine purposes have been fulfilled, and that we have shared in that fulfillment.  
         -Thomas S. Monson, Becoming Our Best Selves

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Missing You

Luke, today I missed you. I just wanted to hold you in my arms. I long for you. I know your mine forever, and for that I am grateful, but today I just wanted to be with you. I wanted to nuzzle up next to you, hold you close to me, and smell that sweet baby smell. At church, seeing the other babies, especially ones your age, just made me miss you more. I'm sure people that don't know me wonder why I stare. I just can't help it. I love you so much and feel so incomplete without you here. I know, I know, in the whole scheme of things life is short and I'll be with you again one day, but today it hurt. Waiting can be hard. I can't wait to hold you in my arms, kiss you, and tell you how much I love you. I'll smoother you in kisses, you'll giggle, and it will be wonderful day. In the meantime, be a good boy and don't get into any angel trouble. I love you. Love, your mommy. 

Friday, October 21, 2011

Luke Ray Fitzgerald

In April, Trevor and I went to Seattle to see his grandpa. He wasn't doing well and he wanted all of his grandchildren to come and be with him. At this point I was about 5 1/2 months pregnant.

As Trevor's sister picked us up from the airport she gave us a run-down on Grandpa Ray's status. After a surgery, his health was deteriorating by the hour and she was giving us the details. I sat in the back of the van listening. I knew at that moment that I wanted our baby to have Ray as his middle name in honor of Trevor's grandpa. With Grandpa Ray so near death and Luke so near birth I just felt like there was a connection. Little did I know that their connection would be so much more than that. I, of course, had no idea that Luke would shortly be leaving us and joining his grandpa.

Throughout the week that we were in Seattle I felt like I learned so much about Grandpa Ray. Below is an excerpt from an email I sent to my family a couple months after returning home from Ray's funeral:

With each story I heard and each picture I saw I realized what an example Grandpa Ray had been to everyone -especially his family. I learned that Grandpa Ray was an honest, hardworking man. This made me realize that because of his example, his children and grandchildren were able to learn from him and also obtain these qualities (among many other great attributes). I started to see that the wonderful people who are my family and that I admire for being such great people are who they are in part because of Grandpa Ray. I learned that Grandpa had made his family a priority and because of that I know that Trevor's parents also made their family a priority. And in turn Trevor makes our little family a priority, and for that I am so lucky and blessed.  I am proud and grateful that our son (who’s almost here) has a great-grandpa that was so influential in shaping all of his family into wonderful people. I will be forever grateful to Grandpa Ray for his role in our family and how his great character has directly blessed me in my life. What a great man he was during his life on earth and I am honored to now be a part of his family legacy that will continue on. (June 5, 2011)

Grandpa Ray with Trevor, Scott, and Laura
Grandpa Ray was a handsome man!

Luke, I hope you get to hang out with your Grandpa Ray! He was a wonderful and loving man. We're so glad that your name can honor him. We love you! Love, your mommy.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Easter Flowers for Luke

Yesterday I spent the afternoon working in our yard. I weeded the entire flowerbed in the front yard in preparation for planting flowers. Then I planted one-hundred-thirty-nine bulbs. That's 139! That's also 139 holes that I dug. My hand is so sore from shoving the shovel into the firm dirt that many times! Hopefully it will be worth it. If my bulbs survive the cold winter my yard will be full of flowers like these:

more tulips

I can't wait until spring!

In a way, my spring flowers are to commemorate Luke.

When I spoke at Luke's funeral I shared some of the following thoughts. Anyone that know's me knows that asking "What's your favorite (insert noun here)?" is always a question asked in vain. I like a variety of foods, a variety of ice cream flavors, a variety of colors, a variety of music genres, a variety of flowers, etc. You name it, I probably won't have a favorite. Until now. Now I have a favorite holiday.

Easter. I love Easter. I love that this holiday is a day to celebrate the atonement and resurrection of Christ.

Because the scriptures teach that "no unclean thing can dwell with God" (1 Nephi 10:21) I know that I need to utilize Christ's atonement in order to be with my son again. I know that through Christ's atonement I can be made clean and pure. I love that Easter is a time to rejoice in this and remember that His atonement will allow me to live with Him and with Luke again one day.

The scriptures also teach of Christ's resurrection. Luke 24:34 reads, "...The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon." The book of Matthew also teaches of the resurrection of the saints. "And the graves were opened; and the bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many" (Matt 27:52-53). I know that one day there will be a time that all are resurrected like the saints of old. I look forward to that glorious day that my son's body will have life in it again.

My spring flowers will be a reminder of this resurrection, of my son, and of the Son of God.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Fall Flowers

Luke, whenever we come we always bring you fresh flowers. Your Grandma Banks wanted to come see your headstone and bring you flowers too. She selected some nice cheerful ones and even brought you some little pumpkins for Halloween.

I decided to bring some flowers from our yard. They're simple, but I really liked the rich fall colors. 

The rose we brought for you when we first came to see your headstone dried so nicely I decided to leave it here for now. 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Change Your Questions - Change Your Life

I wrote this post just over a month ago. I finally have taken the time to proofread it for all my grammatical errors :-0 So here are some of my thoughts on life...


Our dear Aunt Colleen sent us a book as a gift. She said it wasn't necessarily pertaining to our situation, but it was a book that she has enjoyed and has been really impactful for her. The book is Change Your Questions, Change Your Life by Wendy Watson Nelson.
Today, September 9th, I sat down on the couch, picked it up off of our coffee table (aka wooden crate), and started thumbing through it. It fell open to a chapter that is all about the question "What is on my premortal list of things to do while on earth?"

I am grateful to have stumbled across this today. This week I have started to feel a little depressed. I don't feel like anything I do really makes me happy. I even have had a hard time doing much of anything. Yesterday I spent time reading some stuff online, attempted to do some household chores, but didn't do anything really satisfying or fulfilling.

Reading through the chapter of this book was what I needed.

Thanks Jim and Colleen for the book, I think it was probably a little bit inspired. 

The author, Wendy, talks about how differently we would live our life if we could see a glimpse of what life was like before we came to earth. We know that we are each here to receive a mortal body, be tested to do what God commands us to do. And then she reminds us of a third thing we are each here to do.

Find and Fulfill My Mortal Mission

She talks about how we won't be happy until we do that. When I lived with God what did I promise Him that I would do while I was here on earth?  What do I need to be doing now and throughout my life that will bring me joy? Am I spending my time doing things that are of no worth?

One question she writes really stood out to me: "Will your life's mission require you to sacrifice in a particular way for the mission of another?"

Tears came to my eyes as I imagined what life was like in Heaven. Perhaps I was told that Luke only needed to come to earth to get a body and I was asked if I would be willing to be the vessel to allow that to happen. Did I agree to this? Perhaps. I can imagine myself lovingly saying with conviction, "Yes. I'll do that for you." 

It seems as though I've already accomplished part of my mortal mission. But what now? What would the Lord have me do while I am here on the earth? What does He need me to be doing?

I know that through prayer and even fasting we can discover what our Heavenly Father wants us to do. I am anxious to put this to the test. Hopefully I can have the strength, courage, and commitment to do His Will. 

Have you taken the time to pray to your Heavenly Father to know what He would have you do?  

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Funerals Bring Family Together

Trevor's brother, Scott, considered flying out from the east coast for Luke's funeral. After consulting Trevor, they decided that Scott would come out and visit a little while later, once things had kinda settled down, and tons of other people weren't here.

We had a great weekend packed with fun events! We played so hard that I was ready for bed by 9pm every night, even though we stayed up well past that! A few highlights...

Ate lunch at the BYU Cannon Center with Scott's sister-in-law.

 Toured BYU campus and all of the great updates and new buildings since Scott had graduated six years ago. Isn't that pathway with the small stream beautiful? 

Had to show Scott my claim-to-fame on BYU campus. Yep. That's me. And no, it's not photoshopped.

Spent an afternoon at the Provo Temple
Picture from this gallery

Went to Payson Cinemas. Interesting movie. Can't say that I loved it, however; for the not-very-into-professional-sports kinda gal that I am, I guess that's sayin' something. 

  Survived the cold rainy morning waiting for the Payson Temple groundbreaking ceremony to start. If you're not sure what this is all about you can read this article about it.

We all got a chance to "turn some Earth." Probably the first and last time I'll use a gold shovel!

 The boys took their long (about 20 miles) bike ride that they planned in spite of the rain! Aren't they tough?! 

 We got front row tickets to a winning BYU game. I'm not sure which part of that sentence is more impressive. (I may have stuffed my face with delicious kettle corn and hot chocolate at the game, but opted not to include that pic.) 

Enjoyed a delicious dinner and played games at Scott's in-laws house. So fun!

Oh and I made most of our meals ahead of time so we got to eat great, even late, with little time or effort! Well at least no time and effort while we were hosting our guest. I only mention this because this is sooo not like me or at least not like the old me. Now I'm taking action to be prepared! Let's just say it's a work in progress, but this time it was a success! 

All in all we had a great weekend. We were so grateful to Scott and especially to his wife who stayed home with their children without him to help. It was good to spend time with family that we love so much. We wish it could have been a weekend to show off a new baby, but quality time with a brother is a good 2nd. 

Ok, one more picture...

I love Cosmo! How could this not make you smile? 

Saturday, October 8, 2011

There are worse things . . .

During my scripture study on September 11th, I was reading in the book of Matthew. I came across a verse that reads:

And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matt 10:28)

Of course we are so sad to not have the opportunity to raise Luke, here, in this life, but there are worse things than death. There are so many evils in this world that Luke has bypassed and totally avoided. I love the words of President Joseph F. Smith (who burried 9 of his own little children):

It is a very difficult matter to say anything at a time of sorrow and bereavement like the present that will give immediate relief to the sorrowing hearts of those who mourn. Such griefs can only be fully relieved by the lapse of time and the influence of the good spirit upon the hearts of those that mourn, by which they can obtain comfort and satisfaction in their hopes of the future. ... I have learned that there are a great many things which are far worse than death. With my present feelings and views and the understanding that I have of life and death I would rather follow every child I have to the grave in their innocence and purity, than to see them grow up to man and womanhood and degrade themselves by the pernicious practices of the world, forget the Gospel, forget God and the plan of life and salvation, and turn away from the only hope of eternal reward and exaltation in the world to come. (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, (1998), Chapter 15: The Salvation of Little Children)

Yes, it is hard to not have Luke with us. Yes, we cry. Yes, we long to meet our son and wish we could be with him. But how reassuring it is that he has been taken in "innocence and purity."

Now we must work to be with him. We, of course, have always strived to keep the commandments, but now we have an additional motivation to do so. We want to be worthy to be able to be with him again. I am reminded of the words of the apostle, Richard G. Scott, from the 2011 April General Conference:

Our seven children are bound to us by the sacred ordinances of the temple. My precious wife, Jeanene, and two of our children are beyond the veil. They provide a powerful motivation for each remaining member of our family to live so that together we will receive all of the eternal blessings promised in the temple. (The Eternal Blessings of Marriage)

How grateful I am to have a knowledge that there is life after death and that I can work to be able to be with my little son again!

Luke, thanks for the additional motivation to live my life the way that Heavenly Father wants me too.  I'm trying every day to follow the example of our brother and savior, Jesus Christ. I'm not perfect, but I'm making my best effort to be able to live with you again one day. I love you! Love, your mommy. 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

2 Months

It's now been two months since I gave birth to Luke. Has it been that long already? It all seems much more recent than that.

Time is already flying by! Don't worry, Luke, we won't forget you and we still can't wait to meet you! I love you so much and are so grateful that you are part of our family even if you're not here with us. Love, your mommy.

Monday, October 3, 2011

You Are Not Forgotten

Last weekend I was able to attend the General Relief Society Meeting in Salt Lake with my mom. I always love listening to the counsel of the Relief Society Presidency and to hear a member of the First Presidency speak to just the women.

Like so many others, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf's talk was my favorite. Below are some of the words that were the most touching.  

As a child, when I would look at the little forget-me-nots, I sometimes felt a little like that flower—small and insignificant. I wondered if I would be forgotten by my family or by my Heavenly Father.
Years later I can look back on that young boy with tenderness and compassion. And I do know now—I was never forgotten.
And I know something else: as an Apostle of our Master, Jesus Christ, I proclaim with all the certainty and conviction of my heart—neither are you!
You are not forgotten.
Sisters, wherever you are, whatever your circumstances may be, you are not forgotten. No matter how dark your days may seem, no matter how insignificant you may feel, no matter how overshadowed you think you may be, your Heavenly Father has not forgotten you. In fact, He loves you with an infinite love.
When he spoke these words I was overcome with the truthfulness of them. I knew that my Heavenly Father knows me. He has not forgotten me. He knows what I am going through. He loves me. I already knew that, but at that moment I felt that truth so strongly in my heart. I am not forgotten. How grateful I am to have that reconfirmed to me.

Having the opportunity to be in the conference center full of other women was such a blessing. I loved being surrounded by women like me. Women who believe in God and are striving to be steadfast in keeping His commandments. Women who honor and uphold the sanctity of family.

Being there, I wondered how many other women there were that really are like me. How many of these woman have also experienced the death of their own child? I'm sure I was not the only one. I felt connected with these thousands of women that I don't even know. Just as I felt my Heavenly Father's love and admiration for me I felt love and admiration for these women! What a glorious group to be a part of! I nearly gave a hug to the stranger next to me, but I thought she might think I was a little bit I refrained.