Friday, January 29, 2010

Can it get any better?

Rose, my sister in law, and her little boy, Tyler, are in town for a few weeks and on Tuesday I spent the entire day with them! I had the best time, our day started with going to my mom's grave and updating her on everything that has happened since she's been gone. From the stories that Rose and Jared have told me Tyler has a connection with my mom that is so incredible. He mentions her often and I feel like she's watching over him, like his guardian angel. Here are some videos of the event.

He is so adorable and a light in our family. After updating my mom we went to Chuck E Cheese and played like crazy then went to lunch. At lunch Rose and I had a really great talk. It's been nice to spend time with her because I don't get that very often. She is so sweet and it's wonderful to have another girl in the family. Later we had dinner with my Grandma and Grandpa Gardner who were on their way to Saint George, my dad, Aaron and Andrew. After dinner we sat in the living room and were entertained by Tyler the entire night. He played instruments, sang us songs and Grandpa Kim gave him a truck with a trailer on it that he would not put down!

It was one of those nights that wasn't complete without my mom. Her laugh and her smile were missed more than I can explain. I felt the void but I knew that she was glad that we were together and having fun. On my way home I was listening to the radio and a song came on that was talking about the loss of a friend. There's a line that says "I'm not crying because I feel so sorry for you, I'm crying for me" and I started bawling. I'm having such a hard time with my mom's passing because I miss her not because she passed away. I miss her and my sadness is purely selfish and I'm okay with that. My counselor wanted to make sure that I understand that being selfish is okay when it comes to grieving and I believe it. I didn't  at first because I'm not a huge fan of selfish people but I fully believe it now. Be a little selfish, it's worth it.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

My story

I decided to write down my story about my mom’s cancer battle so I can have it in one place. I have the entire saga written down in my journals but this will be more of a synopsis of the whole thing through my eyes. If the dates or details are a little off please forgive me, I’m doing this without the aid of my journals or anyone else's memory. This is just a small portion of the first day or so of the beginning. Forgive the spelling and grammar, I'm not an English major :)

So here we go…

In early 2005 I was a Freshman at the University of Utah studying Marketing. School was good but I missed being home so I would drive down to my parents house once or twice a week just to hang out and do laundry. My little brother, Aaron, was on a football team for Lakeridge Junior High so I would drive all over the place, mostly to Heber, to watch his games too. It was really fun. I loved being on my own but I loved the option of going home when I wanted. My parents were really supportive of my schooling and loved to hear about my classes, new friends, running for student government, etc.
In the early Spring of 2005 my mom called me while I was at school to see if I could come pick Aaron up from the hospital. She had taken him to our pediatrician to get a prescription for his strep throat. A few days before she had been noticing the whites of her eyes becoming a little discolored and it wasn’t going away so she casually asked him about it and he sent her directly to the emergency room. They had waited in the ER for a while and since Aaron was only 14 at the time he couldn’t drive himself home and my dad was out of town for a few more days. So when I got the phone call that my mom and Aaron were in the ER I assumed that Aaron had gotten another concussion snowboarding or from football or that he needed stitches for one reason or another so I wasn’t too concerned until my mom told me that it was for her that they were in the ER. Then I started to panic. When I was younger my parents never got hurt or sick, or so I remember. The only thing I remember as being a little scary was when my dad’s appendix burst when I was 7 or so and I didn’t know anything besides “Daddy needs some rest” “Don’t jump on Daddy, he’s still getting better” “Daddy will be just fine in a little bit”. I had so many people reassuring me that he would be fine and now, I had no idea what was going to happen.
So in my panic I rushed down to the Provo IHC where Aaron and my mom were waiting. I ended up taking Aaron somewhere, I think to our neighbor, Lil’s, house where he could play with Eliza, the girl his age, but honestly I don’t remember. I dropped Aaron off and went back to the hospital where my mom was getting ready to go into a procedure. She could probably feel my apprehension and continued to tell me that everything was going to be okay and tried to make light of the situation. I tried to be strong and sat by her side in the recovery area until they were ready for her. I wasn’t able to go into the treatment room so I had to wait right outside and watch through a little window. They gave my mom some medicine that was supposed to relax her throat so they could put a tiny camera on the end of a thin cable down her throat. It’s called an endoscopy, I found out later, and they could see where the blockage was with the camera so they could do further testing.
Those two words, further testing, became the bane of my existence over the next 3 years or so. I hated those words. Why can’t you just tell me now so we can all move on with our lives? Anyways, the medicine they gave my mom didn’t work very well so she had a hard time not gagging. That was painful to watch but she got through the procedure. The doctor found the blockage and pulled the camera out then went to discuss with his collogues while we waited. They wheeled my mom out into the patient recovery area where we were separated from the other patients by a very thin curtain and waited for the doctor to give us an update. While we were waiting my mom got really nauseated and started throwing up all of the orange medicine they had given her. Luckily she didn’t get too much on her because I have quick reflexes and held the throw up bucket for her.

I can’t tell you how hard that moment was. Normally it was my mom who held my throw up buckets for me, not the other way around. I am grateful I was there though, I wanted to be there for her like she had been for me all those years. Mom’s are supposed to be sick, they’re indestructible right? She was so fragile and that scared me. This experience completely shifted my paradigm when it came to the immortality of my mom. I realized that she was really sick or else they wouldn’t be doing all of these tests and no one was reassuring us that she’d be fine. The reality of the situation hit my like a ton of bricks and I was just doing what I could not to cry.

The doctor's ended up holding her at the hospital overnight, or a couple days, I can't remember, but Aaron and I hung out and my dad came home so I went back to school.

That's all for now, more to come later!

Monday, January 18, 2010

what would I do without you?

I got so many incredible responses about my first post, you guys are too wonderful. I feel like your comments deserve a more prominent place on this so here are some of the responses I've gotten so far. Next to all of your names I've put how I know you and underneath your comment will be a little something from me!

Danielle (one of my sweet, lovely friends from high school who I still stay in touch with)

Vickie was always a sweetheart. I didn't know her that well, but I always felt a connection with her. She was your mom and I was your friend and that was good enough. I remember her always being so caring and wonderful. When I came over to carve pumpkins with you and your family and she roasted the seeds, I remember thinking what a wonderful family you had. Every time I was at your house she made me feel so welcome, even if I only saw her for a second. I feel lucky to have crossed her path. She was a blessing to all that met her and I am sure that she thinks about you all the time, even when the butterflies aren't around. I love you, Krystal!

Thanks Danielle, you're story about the pumpkins always makes me smile because it was so not a big deal to me growing up. It was just something that we did every year. It really reminds me of all of the wonderful little things that made her so special. 

Whit (my best friend and the closest thing I've ever had to a sister since I was 12, we've known each other since we were 2)

I love that you have started this blog, I am grateful to have another way to remember your mom and the amazing person that she was. She was my second mom and our confidant. I am always here if you need anything. Citra and Star bursts are just one grocery store away :)
-"Wee Wee"
I don't even have words for this girl. She has been my right hand woman for so long and I don't know what I'd do without her.

Lisa Michelle (Another lovely junior high-high school friend. We were even chosen for the Great Kid Award together in elementary school. We were always meant to be friends!)

So beautiful, it makes me ache. Love you, Krystal! Oh, definitely just broke into tears writing that because I can't imagine the pain you feel. I wish my tears could help take away some of your pain. I feel anything I tried to say to comfort you would just belittle what you're going though. Just know that you are so, so loved!
-Lisa Michelle
Lisa, nothing you could possibly say would belittle what I'm going through. Your sincerity and love come across through the little things like this. You are wonderful and I'm grateful to call you my friend. Just remember, you'll always be a Great Kid :)

Hannah Liz (I've never met Hannah (I don't think) but as you can tell by the comment she works with my dad and obviously she is an incredible person and one of my newest friends!)

Thank you for starting this blog! I didn't know your mom, but I work with your dad and anytime anyone at work has mentioned him or your mother they always mention what amazing people they are! This is such a great idea! As you have said everyone is hurting for one reason or another and I appreciate this opportunity for a support system! Thank you for allowing all of us to cry, laugh, and smile with you!
Hannah, I am so excited you found the blog. I don't think you know how much this comment means to me. At first I felt kind of ridiculous for doing this but after this I'm going to keep it up! You give me a reason to continue so thank you!

Emily (I met Emily on the Mormon Pioneer wagon train reenactment when I was in 4th grade. She quickly became part of the family and I am so glad for it!)

I don't even know what to say but that I love you so much. Your family holds a very special place in my heart that will never be forgotten. I'm up for pedicures ANY time. I'll find some pics from the trek and post them for you. I LOVE YOU, KRYSTAL!!!
Emily, that is so kind of you to go get pedicures with me, I know it's a lot to ask but I'm grateful for your sacrifice :) I love you so much and you made me and my mom so happy. I think she was grateful to have more girls in the family, I sure was! Thanks for your comment, love ya!

April (I don't know April but she knows all too well how I feel)

I don't know you. I can't even remember where I ran across your blog. My mom passed away from pancreatic cancer 5 years ago. I enjoyed reading about your mom. I'm a crier too!
April, I am so sorry to hear about your mom and that you're a crier too. Isn't it just exhausting sometimes? :) If you don't mind I'd love to hear more about your experience. You can email me or post it on here. It makes me feel better knowing that other people can go through something like this and be okay. 

Amy (Another person I don't know but who knows all to well how I feel)

Hi Krystal. My name is Amy, and i lost my mom to pancreatic cancer in June 2009. I am older than you; i have two children of my own. So, i think i'm going through this differently. I'm not a crier. I feel like i'm going through this alone because i lost my father to lung cancer 11 years ago and I have no siblings. That's the hardest part. Feeling that there is no one left but me. So I have immersed myself in my kids lives (ages 12 and 14) and this brings me happiness and peace. I have also reconnected with cousins and this helps me feel connected to my parents.

I have focused on being thankful for the time I did have with my mom after her initial diagnosis. Her pancreatic cancer was found early by accident (she had gall stones.) She was very healthy, so it was treated aggressively with surgery, chemo and radiation. But, I think what gave her 6 cancer-free years after treatment was her participation in a cancer vaccine trial at Johns Hopkins. I will forever be grateful for that doctor. My kids had the opportunity to really get to know their grandmother and will forever remember her and carry a piece of her in their hearts.

I went to a cancer support center just before my mom died and found it really helpful to talk to others in similar situations. I found that I really had something to share; I realized that I have a lot of experience that others find helpful, having been through cancer with both my parents. And it helped me to help others. You might find joining a group at a cancer support center to be helpful, too.
Hi Amy, I'm sorry about your loss. Losing both your mom and your dad to cancer would be heartbreaking. I've been thinking about joining a support group at our local hospital but I guess I'm nervous. I'm so glad that it was a help to you, that makes me a little less nervous. Thank you so much for sharing your story. Even though you aren't a crier like me I feel like we have a little too much in common.  I feel like I could learn a lot from you. Thanks again!

Kristin (Kristin is my cousin and the daughter of my Aunt Wana, the aunt I mentioned in my first post,  who passed away from bone cancer about 2 weeks ago. Once again, someone who knows all too well how I feel.)

Hi Krystal, I just found out about this from Halli, and you are such a sweetheart. I have thought a lot about you the past couple of weeks, and you need to know that us girls do know what you are going through and that you are now part of "us girls." I can't imagine the last two weeks without my sisters, and my sister-in-law. Lean on Rose and any other sisters-in-law that you have on Andrew's side. They can help you like a real sister. Girl cousins, such as myself, can also help you. I know what you are saying about your dad and your brother. Men just don't feel and think about things like women. They just don't. It doesn't mean that they don't love us. They just aren't women. So, know that you have us girls to lean on any time you want. And when we do our next girls' weekend, you need to come with us. We love you.
Thanks Kristin, you are too sweet. I'm so sorry to be part of "us girls" I wish neither of us was but that's life I guess. Your support and love is felt even though we are a bit away. I would love to have a girl's weekend, there's nothing better! And if I can do anything for any of you don't hesitate to let me know, I love you all so much and my heart aches for you. I just feel so lucky to have such a wonderful family that I can lean on through all of this.

Well those are all of the comments that have been left as of today. Once again, thank you. I get so excited for each comment, you should all know that you do so much good for me. Even those people who haven't commented but have written me emails, called or sent letters, I love you. I love feeling like I'm apart of something bigger than just my little world of school and a part time job. Just know that there is a place to go when you hurt or feel all alone or need a place to just be yourself. It's okay to cry or to not cry, to smile or frown, to be happy or not. I just hope you come away feeling better because I do every time I read your words. So here's to good friends and here's to a good life.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Into the Looking Glass

I absolutely adore Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. When I was little my parent's gave me a beautiful version of the book and I just treasured it.

One day I was browsing Esty's jewelry and came across a little designer called The Mymble's Daughter. (to browse this site just click on the name) They have sooo many cute, whymsical pieces!!! These are a few of my personal faves...

"I wonder if I've been changed in the night? Let me think. Was I the same when I got up this morning? I almost think I can remember feeling a little different. But if I'm not the same, the next question is 'Who in the world am I?' Ah, that's the great puzzle!"

How could you not love that story??? I surely don't know.
Is anyone just as excited as me for the new Alice in Wonderland movie? I surely don't think so!!!

Alice in Wonderland Movie Trailer #1
Alice in Wonderland Movie Trailer #2
Click to see the trailers, I like both of them.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, she became a butterfly.

April 2009 my mom passed away after a tough battle with pancreatic cancer. Since I am now the only girl in my immediate family, I am feeling very alone. I try to talk to my dad and my little brother, Aaron, but they just don't give me anything. Don't get me wrong, they are beyond sweet to me, but they aren't feeling what I'm feeling. They don't miss the girls-only lunch dates with her or the afternoon pedicures or the once a day "how was school?" phone call like I do. There is this void in my life that can't be filled by my sweet dad or my crazy little brother or even my amazing husband. My mom did leave me with a wonderful support system of women consisting of her sister, Valerie, her best friends, neighbors, and massage clients who shoot me fun e-mails and call just to check up. Their support has been very much needed on my end and I am grateful for them. But even though I do have a wonderful family, husband, and support system behind me it's still hard. I still miss her and I still feel very much alone sometimes.

That loneliness is what prompted me to start this blog. I know that I'm probably feeling the same way that many of you do. The loneliness, the void, the sadness, this greiving stuff is miserable but we'll get through. About 6 months after my mom passed I realized that I wasn't happy with the way I was handling my loss. I had become depressed and angry and I was ready to pick myself up off the ground and try and work through this. Since then I have been trying to be kinder to people, I'm seeing a greif counselor, I'm making more of an effort to be a good friend in an effort to try to reconstruct my shifted reality.

Since I am a woman I feel the need pretty much all the time to express how I'm feeling but living with a boy and having no sisters really has put a damper on my self therapy sessions plus, I don't want to cry all the time and when I talk about her, all I want to do is cry. Normally, I would simply write in my journal about all of this but since many people I know (and don't know) are going through this process with me I thought we could make this like an online support group.

It doesn't have to be...  me: "Hi my name is Krystal"      group: "Hi Krystal"      me: "And I'm a crier"
I want this to be our memories, our hardaches, what's helping or not helping, our thoughts, our feelings, our little celebrations (or big), our love that is spread out all over the world can convene in one convenient place as long as you have the internet.

So what's the deal with butterflies? Outside of my house growing up my mom had planted and cared for a butterfly bush. I have no idea what the real name of this butterfuly bush is but I loved it. It was right outside of our living room window and I would patiently wait to watch the butterflies gather to eat. Like any little girl I loved butterflies, their beauty, their grace, their delicate wings and the fact that they had once been furry little caterpillars.

Now everytime I see a butterfly I think that it's my mom saying hi. I know it's ridiculous but it makes me feel better and there is nothing wrong with a little hope. :)

Then at my Aunt Wana's funeral on Sunday (she had bone cancer) her daughter showed me a little card that one of their friends had given them. It said "Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, she became a butterfly" and at the bottom she had written "Damn Cancer". Cute and very fitting.

On the three and a half hour drive back to my house from Parker, Idaho on Sunday, I cried (I told you I'm a crier) and I thought alot about my Aunt Wana's daughters and how they must feel just as broken and alone as I do. But knowing that they are suffering too doesn't make me feel better, it just reminds me that there are so many other people suffering with us. Even if we can't fix anything we can at least listen to each other. I don't know if this will help anyone besides myself but I hope it does. I love you and I don't want you to feel alone.