After working feverishly to get Garrett's practice open by February 17th,
I came down with mastitis (which kinda felt like a breath away from death), Lila began reverting in the potty world (a cry for some attention and normalcy, I think) and cut her hair giving herself a mullet and bangs, Kenadie developed a huge stye on her lower eyelid, Soren got a cold and lost his little voice, and we all came down with the stomach bug.
We were kind of a rough-looking bunch for awhile there and I remember thinking one morning after cleaning up puke, wiping up pee, and trying to suck boogers out of Soren's nose that this day could only go up from here. At least we were getting all this crap over with before 10am.
Later that afternoon I looked out our window as my grandparents' barn burned down. Though so so sad and a hard loss to take, I reminded myself that at least no one was hurt. No one died. All was well.
A few days later, my family received the news that my dear Aunt Peggy (who lived in Texas) had suddenly passed away.
I felt a little disgruntled.
Garrett was working so hard and long that I hardly saw him (the kids saw him on Sundays and maybe a few days in between for a few minutes at a time--Kenadie began asking me why he had moved to his office and wasn't living with us anymore).
We were all sick in one way or another.
My car was broken down (again) and in the shop.
My grandparents' barn was gone.
Many of our possessions were gone.
And now Aunt Peggy was gone as well.
|Soren, tuckered out from our crazy trip|
It had been a doozy of a few months for our family where one thing after another wasn't going according to plan, and now I was making arrangements to fly out of town with Soren for my aunt's funeral.
After a whirlwind few days, I was on an airplane first to Texas for my aunt's funeral and then to Utah for her burial. We spent 3 out of the next 6 days on airplanes or in airports, even experiencing a cancelled flight that stranded us in Phoenix for 12 hours. Despite the exhaustion of the trip, it fed my soul and helped me to re-ground myself amidst my "woe is me" thoughts.
Upon landing in Texas, we had a chance to go see and dress Peggy's body for the funeral. It was a very emotional and hard but beautiful and personal experience. Though I have had multiple similar experiences as a nurse with death and preparing a body, it was always my least favorite part of my job. However, this was one last thing I could do for my aunt. She was a very special person.......
Blind since birth, Peggy thrived and never let her handicap slow her down. She got her college degree in Ancient Roman history, and even traveled to Jerusalem by herself. She worked for Southwestern Bell her entire adult life until retiring a few years ago. She loved music and owned thousands of old records that she would listen to in her room. She was fiercely independent and stubborn, never wavering from what she knew to be right and true.
A few years ago, Peggy's health took a turn for the worse and we thought her mortal days were coming to close. However, she made a miraculous recovery and shortly after began feverishly working on family genealogy and attending the temple weekly with the names she had prepared, convinced that her life had been spared to serve others by completing this work.
She was such an inspiration and an example of how much one can accomplish despite a significant handicap, and even after recovering from an illness just a few days before passing away, she was making arrangements with friends to have someone drive her to the temple the following week.
I loved this woman.
At her funeral service it was wonderful to hear from the many people who were touched by Peggy's life and kindness.
One woman made a comment of how Peggy once asked her what she looked like. She said she told Peggy that she was a very beautiful woman, and then this woman chuckled through her tears, "Now Peggy can see, and now she knows that I lied to her!" But she added how refreshing it was to be around Peggy, someone who could not and therefore never would judge someone by what they looked like or how they dressed, and this woman remarked that Peggy loved her like she was the most beautiful person on the planet. Peggy's perception of people was based 100% on their conversations with her and kindness towards her, and she loved people so well and in a manner that I believe the Savior loves us.
During the service, I realized what a nearly perfect life my aunt lived:
She was blind but she did as much as she could, served others, loved others, and didn't have to leave this mortal life with any shoulda-coulda-woulda's. What a great accomplishment. I am so so happy for her.
And now that she can see and see me for the first time, I hope that my actions--whether in the public eye or in private--are reflecting the kind of life that she led. I hope that I can make her proud.
|Writing notes to Peggy as we said our final goodbyes in Utah|
We get sick.
We will be tired and overworked.
Barns burn down.
Cars break down.
Loved ones die.
Life may go pretty smoothly for some, but I get the hunch that for most of us, it will usually be just "one thing after another" where things don't seem to be going right.
Instead of trying to optimistic during difficulty by saying, "Hey, at least _________ (insert trial) didn't happen!", I think I'll try to make a habit of saying, "Hey, at least I have the gospel of Jesus Christ to help me through and make sense of all of this", because we never know what trials or curve balls will be thrown our way next. The only guaranteed blessings we can keep are a) what we know and b) our ability to choose what to do with what we know in the face of adversity (or even in the absence of it!), and Peggy's life was a perfect example of taking full advantage of those blessings.
(All my siblings with our two cousins, Wally and Dawn, on our Willardson side of the family.
We aren't a big family, but if Peggy has taught us anything, it is that we don't have to be big in numbers to make a big difference.)