Sunday, May 25, 2014

Funeral Recap

Dad's funeral was a special day.   We sure cried a lot, but that's only because our feelings for Dad are so tender.  Kristina, Mom and I are incredibly grateful that Dad is free of a body that constrained his talents, abilities, and just everyday livelihood so much.  It was an honor to celebrate a life so well lived.
Nate Boyce: ND Boyce 2014 &emdash;
So many people who love and care about us came to give their support as we celebrated Dad.  Mom's teacher friends, my teacher friends, high school friends -- it was amazing.  There was an outpouring of love from the ward that Kristina and I are in.  They wanted to be there for us.   It was especially sweet to see Dad's coworkers from many years ago who came and expressed how much they admired him personally and professionally.

We were all a bit surprised how word spread through the Farm Credit/Ag banking world.  I sent an email to one person and before long we were receiving emails from a number of states.  My mom received the most beautiful flowers from Farm Credit of Utah, where Dad last worked 33 years ago.  Pretty amazing. 

It was a priceless gift to hear people express such tender sentiments about Dad, because it meant that so many others recognized how special he was.  Chris Oswald, a long time friend and former coworker of my dad summed it up perfectly when I talked to her on the phone by saying, "Your dad was a tremendously special human being."  Another long time friend's daughter laughed with me and shared that "Your dad was my mom's favorite person next to my own Dad.  You wouldn't believe how often we heard her say 'I wonder what DeWayne would do.  Let's give him a call.'" 

Kristina and I were assigned to speak.  It felt like a burden only because I felt like I could never capture in words the feelings that were in my heart.  But it really was a special opportunity to share Dad's life and goodness with others, and it forced me to go way back into my memory and recall so many sweet times that we've had together.  It also helped me remember him in his prime, which has been hard to do sometimes in the past few years.

We were thankful to be surrounded by so many loved ones.  Uncle Dean, Aunt Susan, Charlie, Uncle Denny, Joshua, Gram, and Aunt Linda were just who we needed to feel the love of family.   I am so grateful Dad's brothers could come.  They are good men who love my mom dearly.  
Nate Boyce: ND Boyce 2014 &emdash;
Dad loved his daughters' husbands.  He wanted us to be loved like he loved Mom, and Nate and Jason are truly taking good care of Dad's girls.  They have also stepped in to help Mom with whatever she needs.  We are so blessed. 
Nate Boyce: ND Boyce 2014 &emdash;

Nate Boyce: ND Boyce 2014 &emdash;

The McDowells, our practically lifelong friends, were such a support throughout the week. Lynette was knocking on my mom's door at 7:30 Monday morning to see what she could do,  Kristen brought us a much needed dinner, and I was in tears as I read a message from Tamra that said she was coming to the funeral all the way from North Carolina. 
Nate Boyce: ND Boyce 2014 &emdash;

Years ago we started calling ourselves the "McHall" family because we're just that close.  I love these girls, and am so grateful to call them 'sisters.'
Nate Boyce: ND Boyce 2014 &emdash;

Noah doesn't say much about it, but I think he misses Papa.  Sometimes he wants to talk about him.  He'll be playing with a toy and say something like, "Hey, Mom, you know Papa likes trains."
Nate Boyce: ND Boyce 2014 &emdash;
Just today on the way home from church he asked, "Mom, why did Papa have to die?" So, we talked about it again. I'm so grateful that this little boy got to experience just a tiny bit of Papa's goodness.  They were true buddies.
Nate Boyce: ND Boyce 2014 &emdash;
Luke looks at pictures all of the time, points to Papa, and says his name. Every time we see someone using a walker or wheelchair he says, "Papa, Papa."
Nate Boyce: ND Boyce 2014 &emdash;
He won't remember their time spent together, but Papa is very alive in our conversations and memories, so I think Luke will get a pretty good grasp of how special his Papa is to us.
Nate Boyce: ND Boyce 2014 &emdash;

Nate Boyce: ND Boyce 2014 &emdash;
It truly was a beautiful day.  It felt like every second, from the moment I walked into the chapel until I went to bed late that night, was infused with love.  There was so much goodness, so much love, and so MANY hugs from dear, dear friends.  Dad would have been touched, and maybe even a bit surprised, that he was loved by so many. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Monday, May 12

Monday. 1:20 a.m.

When your phone rings at 1:20 something is definitely wrong.

It was my mom.  She was on her way to Eskaton after receiving a call that my dad had fallen and wasn't breathing.  Looking back on that, we all kind of laugh a bit, because my mom asked the worker if she should go to Eskaton or meet the paramedics at the hospital.  Given the time and nature of the call I would have said the same thing. I didn't say it, but in our phone conversation when my mom told me that Dad wasn't breathing I thought, "So, he's dead?  I mean if he's not breathing then..."  

Turns out that since the staff isn't medically certified they can't make a declaration of death, so saying he wasn't breathing was the best they could do. He had indeed passed on.  As far as we know it was relatively quick.  The staff check on each resident every two hours.  Dad was fine at 11 p.m., but by just after 1 a.m. he was gone.  Such mercy.

Nate was out of town (of course!) so his mom came over to be at home with the boys.  Kristina picked me up, and we headed to Eskaton as quickly as we could to meet up with my mom.  After hugs and a few deep breaths, we entered Dad's room.  He was laying on the floor looking more peaceful than I've seen him in years.  I knelt down next to him, closed his eyes, gave him a kiss and said, "You did it Dad!  You got out of this body!  I am so happy for you!"  Sometime after that the tears started flowing, but in those first moments I really did feel only joy.  All of us experienced something special in that room as we knelt around Dad.  There was a closeness to Dad and Heaven that really can't be explained in words.

After saying our goodbyes and spending a little time together in Dad's room, we called the funeral home.  It took about an hour for someone to arrive, but we didn't mind. We spent most of our time counting our blessings and being grateful that Dad was at rest.  On Mother's Day, Mom had visited Dad.  During that visit she reassured him that Jason, Kristina, Nate and I were taking good care of her. And, if he got the opportunity to go, to die and move on, he should take it.  About eight hours later he was gone.
Nate Boyce: ND Boyce 2014 &emdash;
(The last picture I took of Dad, three days before his passing.  He and Luke loved sharing a bag of chocolate chip cookies.)

Dad's physical and mental condition could have become so much worse.  He was just losing his ability to walk and likely would have been confined to a wheelchair in a matter of weeks.  His 'good days' were becoming fewer and fewer.  For him to go now, before his condition deteriorated even worse was merciful for him and us.  It has been heartbreaking to watch this disease progress, and it has been even worse for him to experience it.
Nate Boyce: ND Boyce 2014 &emdash;
From the beginning Mom has done all she could to make sure Dad had the best care possible.  It has been exhausting in every way for her.  But if his condition had continued to worsen it could have put her in financial ruin.  She was willing to do that, but, wow, I'm so grateful we're not facing those hard decisions sometime down the road.
Nate Boyce: ND Boyce 2014 &emdash;
In our waiting for the funeral director we cried tears of gratitude and love.  We knew this day would come, I just don't think any of us thought it would be quite so soon.  I definitely felt feelings of loss and sadness, but they were balanced and even outweighed by relief for my Dad.  We have been grieving him for years as we've watched death come slowly.  There would no longer be tears as I drove away from Eskaton wishing things were different.  I knew this journey for Dad was the best thing for him at this time. 
Nate Boyce: ND Boyce 2014 &emdash;

Once Dad was taken to the funeral home, Mom wanted the room cleaned out.  We removed everything but the big stuff, which Jason took care of later that day.  I arrived home around 6, just as the sun was coming up.

At breakfast time I explained to Noah what had happened to Papa.  In between bites of oatmeal he said, "That makes sense Mom.  So does Papa get to see Grandpa Boyce now?"  Indeed, he does.  I love that boy.
Nate Boyce: ND Boyce 2014 &emdash;
Luke and Noah spent the day with Grandma Shauna while Kristina and I joined my mom at the funeral home, followed by the cemetery.  It was a LONG day.

Nate was supposed to be in Vegas until Thursday, but surprised me by changing his flight and arriving home late Monday.  I could have made it through the week without him, but, oh, it would have been a challenge.  Having him home to help with the boys at night or pick them up in the evening wherever I had to leave them that day made all the difference.  Not to mention that I needed a few good Nate hugs at the end of those long days.

The rest of the week was spent notifying friends and family, making and confirming travel arrangements, and finalizing funeral plans.  My goal was to say yes to anything my mom needed.  It was busy and long, but a wonderful week spent completely focused on my family.  

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Funeral Program

My talented friend Annie did an amazing job on the program.  She didn't hesitate when I asked for her help, and the end product was exactly what my mom wanted. 

Nate Boyce: ND Boyce 2014 &emdash;

Nate Boyce: ND Boyce 2014 &emdash; innercopy

Monday, May 19, 2014

Dad's Obituary

There's so much to write about from the last week.  I'll get there, I'm just still in funeral recovery mode.

Nate Boyce: ND Boyce 2014 &emdash;

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Cousin Cuteness

We took a little picture to give Nana for Mother's Day.  Look at these color coordinated darlings.

Nate Boyce: ND Boyce 2014 &emdash;
I can't get enough of that sweet Kate.  Oh, she's scrumptious and such a little miracle. I'm so grateful that the eternal blessing of motherhood has happened for both Kristina and me.

Motherhood really is my dream job.  Sure, there are hard days and challenging moments.  Isn't every job like that?  But there are so many more amazing days and precious memories that I get to be a part of. I wouldn't trade this Chief Inspirational Officer role for anything.  It is so worth it in every way.

Friday, May 2, 2014

I'm learning...

I knew the question was coming.  I just didn't know when.

But earlier this week when I was talking to an acquainance there it was:

"So are you going to have more kids?"

Maybe it's because I have two boys, but it's surprising how often I get asked that question.  It's usually accompanied with the second question, "Are you going to try for a girl?"  It happens at the grocery store, the library, a random mom at the park -- and definitely in conversations with people at church.

I can't take the question too harshly, because she, like most people, has no idea what when down in April. 

That's a loaded answer though if I'm going to be honest about it.  And, my guess is that most people are expecting a simple, "yes, no, or maybe."

While any of those three answers is appropriate, none of them feel accurate or satisfying at all.

Yes: Um, my health situation is so up in the air right now that I just can't confidently say yes.  There are a lot of things to consider once I'm in the clear: my age, gearing up for the possibility of another miscarriage...the list goes on.

No: I am not quite ready to declare that we're done. It feels too final.

Maybe:  That just sounds indecisive, which the planner in me can't stand.

I'm going to have to settle with one of those, because my bet is that most people don't want the ten minute explanation that ends with something like, "Yeah, so it turns out I wasn't even pregnant with a baby." :-)

But the question itself was actually a really good reminder for me that I have no idea what kind of a load other people are carrying.  Simple questions sometimes have quite complicated answers.

The day after surgery I headed off to the store to pick up a few things.  I hadn't been there more than five minutes when a lady came around the corner and crashed into my cart.  She was apologetic, and it really wasn't a big deal.  But did it have to be a super cute pregnant lady that ran into me?  She had no idea how not thrilled I was to be seeing her, and it had nothing to do with our carts colliding.

I started looking at the people in the aisles and wondering who else was dealing with a gaping emotional hole like I was.  It instantly made me feel more love, more compassion and more empathy for every kind of sadness.  I also felt immense gratitude that I have an incredible support system, a faith that gives strength, and past experiences that have made me strong and worked together for my good. 

Not everyone is that blessed.

And speaking of a support system, my life is just filled with caring, loving people.  There have been so many big and little acts of service that have eased my load and, oh my, have I felt loved.  My mom took the boys for two days so I could heal and just be ready to be a mom again.  The morning of my surgery Lindsey showed up at my door with dinner and a hug.  She knew even more than I did that I needed both.  One of my visiting teachers brought over Magnum bars.  My sister had lasagna delivered to my door.  It fed us for three days, and there were still leftovers.  I'm pretty sure everybody needs that kind of comfort food at a time like this.  My friend Wendy was out of town, but still had the most beautiful tulips delivered to my door.  Becky sent me a 'package of sunshine,' which totally brightened up my day.  And then there have just been the sweetest texts, emails and conversations that have reminded me I'm not alone.

It's impossible to be angry, frustrated or disappointed when I'm surrounded by so much goodness.  The loved ones in my life have reminded me that the time is always right to do good.  If an idea or prompting to serve comes, I'm going to act on it.  It won't always involve taking dinner to someone or watching their kids for the afternoon.  Sometimes my own full plate won't allow for that.  Sending a text or writing a card might have to do.  But I'm going to do something.

Feeling an extra measure of love has made all the difference.

It always seems to come back to how grateful I am for right now.  Last month was one of my least favorites, and I'm not a big fan of continuing to manage my current health situation either.  But if all of that hadn't happened, I wouldn't be learning these lessons right now.  And since I'm a believer in divine purpose and direction, there must be a reason I need this instruction in this moment.  I'm learning, and even though it's hard it really is a beautiful process.