Wednesday, February 17, 2016

I want to be a window to His love, so when you look at me you will see Him

The last post was by my husband, Will. This is one by Ciera's husband Bryant. Ciera and Bryant got married when I was 17 and I'm 35 now, which means he's been in my family for more of my life than he hasn't. This is his to share.


I'm not sure where to even start. My heart is full this day and I have so many things running through my mind. First of all I want to apologize for my inability to write like my wonderful sister in law Angie, her husband Will and my wife Ciera. They truly have gifts that I just have never been able to strengthen; that of being able to write eloquently and describe events and feelings that capture the essence of the situation.

Lets go back to the beginning of February 1998, right around Ciera’s 19th birthday. The setting would take place in Rexburg Idaho. I was going to meet a person who I later would call “mother in law” and would be one of the greatest Christ like examples in my life. I was so nervous to meet her knowing she would probably be my future mother in law due to the fact that Ciera and I had been talking about marriage. I wanted to put on a 1st good impression. We went to dinner and I was so nervous to not make a mistake and say something stupid. As we were finishing up dinner I reached across the table and knocked over a very large glass of lemonade that was completely full right into the lap of poor Ciera. Thats it, I had done it. I knew there was no way this wonderful lady Sara would ever let me marry her daughter now after that inexplicable mistake I had just made. Sara in her perfect way, laughed so much and calmly made a plan. Sara always had a perfect plan, not everything went as was expected and this was certainly one of those times. She said, “ok Bryant I will walk in front of Ciera and you behind as we leave that way no one will think she peed her pants and everything will be alright.” Ciera was so embarrassed and you can only imagine how I felt, but I knew from that day on I was going to blessed with a exceptional mother in law. She has always exemplified patience, kindness, strength, love and most of all spiritual power. I knew I would be in good hands joining the Newman family and boy was I right.

I have so many stories running through my mind of why she meant so much to me for the past 18 years and I would like to share a few. I hope someday to exemplify the life of Sara so my future daughter in law and sons in law can feel the same way I do for Sara. This will be my ultimate goal in life, to return with honor to my maker as Sara will be doing very soon.

I have never met a more service oriented, humble, giving person than Sara. I remember a very cold afternoon when we were visiting Sara and Mike in Utah one winter, and siting in the Smiths parking lot we noticed a homeless person walking who looked by first judgment, dirty cold and unfriendly. That is what I saw. Sara on the other hand saw a child of God. A man who just needed a helping hand. Someone whose luck had run dry and needed an angel to touch them. That would be sweet Sara. She without thinking stopped the van and ran to the back, opened the tailgate and pulled out an expensive sleeping bag she always carried just in case it would be needed for a “rainy day”. This was the rainy day she was always looking for. I always thought she was a bit crazy carrying all these items in her car for the just in case moment. It wasn't until that day that I realized why she did it. She was always looking for opportunities to help another soul who just needed a “pick me up”. Why hadn't I thought of it first? Because she has always been at a level of spirituality that we all hope to achieve some day. The look on that mans face when she gave him the sleeping bag I will never forget. He was so grateful for her gift and I knew from that moment I truly was witnessing an angel at work.

For any of you who know me especially by own parents know I am as competitive as they come. I was an athlete out of the womb. I lived for moments of competition and thrived on the win. I played every sport I could get my hands on and usually excelled in most of them. I really didn't know much other than sports, church and school. When I met Ciera- and you all know Ciera is one of the least competitive people I know- I would always beat her in everything we ever competed in. I wanted to win no matter what and hated to lose. I was gracious in the win or the loss, but I did everything I could in my power to make sure I won. I know what your thinking, wow Ciera how have you lived with this crazy for so long. I too have asked the same question but thank goodness she has been extremely patient with me all these years and just let me get my wins and never really complained about it. One afternoon we were at Sara's house playing croquet and for any of you that don't know, I love playing croquet and my brothers and I had some ferocious battles in Cokeville, WY at my Grandmas house growing up. We hated to lose to each other and that was just how it was. I don't think we talked to each other that much after a game of croquet, basketball or football. We loved each other but hated to lose to each other. I guess that just gave me a drive of exceeding in everything I did. 

Back to the backyard in Payson. I was going to show the family a thing or two about the game of crochet and no matter what, I was going to win. So I proceeded to set up the course and tell everyone MY rules of the game. Everyone agreed to my terms and we proceeded to play. I went through the course in a timely fashion and knocked out each player one by one in the only way I knew with much enjoyment. As I was doing my thing I didn't realize what Sara was doing during the game. She was helping every player go through the game so they would have every chance to win. She didn't care about anything else but to make sure all players had the pleasure of going through the course and winning. I was so caught up in my world of destroying all in the game that I missed what was really going on. She was once again up to her ways. She only had one purpose that day and all other days of competitive games we played and that was of making sure everyone won. It was her duty to keep a fair playing ground so as to not have any one get there feelings hurt. She was so perfect in doing this and the effect it had on me was tremendous. She always wanted to see others succeed and would do anything and everything to make sure that happened.

I always wondered why and how I deserved such a special person to come into my life. Sara never once treated me different than her own children. I felt like one of her own. She was so gracious and kind to me. I can’t remember a time she didn't give me a hug when I saw her. At first I wasn't sure how to respond since I'm not a touchy-feely kind of person but I always made sure to give that hug to her. Sara never missed a hug to me that I can remember. It became just one of those things we did when she or we came to visit. It don't think she ever missed giving me a hug and making me feel loved. I will miss those hugs so much and wish I had only returned the favor more over the years.

Sara had a love for her children and husband like no other I had ever seen before. It was just different. Its hard to explain, but she had only one purpose in life and that was to make sure her children knew the gospel, served their Father in Heaven, and become Christlike. It was never about worldly possessions, money, prestige or power. She wanted only her family to be successful in the Gospel and testimonies embedded in Christ our Savior. She served every moment of her life and gave so much to others. I don't need to explain how because you who know her and understand what I mean. She truly is an angel on this earth for one purpose to touch the lives of those whom she knew. To make them better. That was what she wanted, that we left her presence every time a better person. That was her success and competition to see others win around her. I believe that I was meant to come in her life so I could see where I need to be when my day comes.

Sara's yard, oh how perfect it was. Over the years I would relish in visiting Sara and talking about her yard and garden. I remember the first time we gave her a pond for her backyard for mothers day and she was so excited to put it in. Over the years we both loved making it bigger and better and she had the most beautiful yard on the block. When we went to visit she couldn't wait to show me the new projects she finished and I began to cherish those moments and learn from her. I have always loved yard work thanks to my father who taught me that. She knew my love of the outdoors and we both became yard work buddies. I loved helping her and giving and taking advise so we both could share what gave us so much joy together. I will miss those moments we shared together in the yard and over the phone. As I visited with her on Sunday which most likely would be my last conversation on this earth, I promised her I would take care of her yard and have her pond up and going this summer. I can't wait to fulfill that promise and hope she smiles down on me from Heaven when I do it. I will be waiting for her helping hand each summer as I make sure I fulfill that commitment to her. Her yard will be and is now and forever my new competition and I will win no matter what. For any of you that don't know me, when I commit to something, it will get done and be much better than it was before and I can promise you that this is no exception.

Sara had a love for skiing and horses. We both in fact spent hours talking about both together over the years. It was an easy match for Sara and I to do these activities together and couldn't wait for those opportunities. I remember skiing with her at Alta one day when her back was so much better and stronger. We both were so excited to go. She was brave to enter the hill with me because she knew I loved challenging hills and she made me promise I would be nice and take her on easier runs. By the middle of the day we went on a run that seemed easy but as we approach the end of it, it turned into a double black diamond. There was not way to turn around and go back. I knew I had made a mistake of taking her to this spot when I really didn't know where I was going and now we had to somehow get down the hill without major injury. As we approached the most difficult spot and there really was not other way out I apologized to her over and over and she was cautiously nervous but braved through it. I went down the hill first and waited at the bottom removed my skis and stayed where I could see her come down just in case she needed my help. She side stepped her skies the entire way down the hill of which took at least 1 hour to go probably 200 yards. I felt so bad for her and knew I would be in so much trouble once she got to the bottom. As she approached me I braced myself for a good whooping. She gave me a hug and said, “I did it!” with so much excitement. She did say to never take her on that again but she was so proud she had accomplished something she had never done before. I couldn't believe how she treated me and never held a grudge against me for doing that to her. She had every right to be mad, but that just isn't who Sara is. She would never want to tear into someone to just make herself feel better but on the contrary she always looks for the good in others and build them up. I deserved a whooping that day from her, yet that was far from her mind. She cherished being with me skiing and I loved going with her also. I will truly miss those sweet moments of watching her smiling face of accomplishment as she descended that vertical hill with such patience and power and celebrated with me instead of chastising me. She truly is an example of perfect kindness.

I remember the day we bought a corral and two horses. We had always talked about going on rides together and how fun it would be to own one. When both Mike and Sara came to visit us one summer day, we surprised both of them by taking them to our new corral to meet the horses. She lit up like a lightbulb. We talked about how fun it will be to ride them and she couldn't wait for her chance. Any time she visited us from that day on she always volunteered to go with me early in the morning and late at night to shovel manure and feed them. There is just something special about being with a horse and we both knew what that meant and loved being down with them. I could always count on her helping me every time they would visit. This last summer June 2015 things changed forever physically for Sara. We were enjoying a wonderful family reunion with Angie, Will and their family, Stephen and Judy, Mike and Sara and our family. Everyone was together. We decided to go to the horses to enjoy a ride through the trees and couldn't wait to spend that time all together. 

 It was Sara’s turn to go for a ride and she was excited but cautiously concerned that the horses would do well. I assured her that everything would be okay. All my horses are gentle and kind but like any animal things can happen when you least expect them. As we were just turning back home after a good 30 minute ride, a deer jumped out in front of my horse and caused him to jump to the side. I quickly looked back knowing her horse would jump also and she did. Sara wasn't quite ready for the sudden movement and tumbled to the ground shoulder first. She hit the ground hard and I dismounted like lightning to attend her. She moaned in so much pain and I knew from that moment on, life was about to change for Sara. She was later diagnosed with a broken back and it took months of recovery and she never was the same again. She was unfortunate to be in a car accident 3 months later but that horse accident was the start of it all. I blamed myself for the accident and to this day I can hardly talk about it without choking up. Sara, physically has never been the same since that accident. Everything that happened to her seemed to stem from that accident and I will always wonder what might have been if we hadn't gone on that ride, but I do know things happen for a reason in life.

I have always looked to Sara as that person who could overcome anything. She was so strong, she never let anything hold her back. I will not describe the events that occurred from August to now since Angie and Ciera have done so in previous blogs entries. What I will do now is describe my personal experience post cancer knowledge this last December. After receiving the horrific news from Ciera that she was diagnosed with the terminal disease brain cancer stage 4, we were trying figure out how we would cope with this and be strong together. I would eventually go through a very difficult time personally. My faith would take a hit like it had never had before. I have always had a strong testimony of the gospel and of my Savior Jesus Christ but this was different. I couldn't understand why someone so perfect and righteous was given such a challenging trial. Why her? Why now? Why terminal? Why haven't prayers been answered the way we thought they would or should be? Why did she have to be burdened with this trial? Why Why Why? That is all I could ask and think of. 

 I was going through my own battles and I was now mad. Mad at the world, mad at my God who had never let me down, left me or failed me. Mad at cancer and the even thought of what it was doing and would do to Sara. I was just mad and emotionally frustrated to the point of complete numbness. As I was sitting discussing this with Ciera, she brought my world into perspective so flawlessly. She said, “ How can I deny the God that will soon hold my mother in his arms?” She said it so perfectly. It hit me with a ton of bricks. I was experiencing something I had never been through before. I had lost my Grandparents and a wonderful hunting friend in the past who had lived both long lives and it was there time. I just couldn't understand why at 59 years old it was now Sara's time. She was and is perfect in my eyes. It was time for our Heavenly Father to have her and I was being selfish in not seeing this. She has completed her mission on this earth and how beautiful it was. 

 I don't remember a time in the 18 years of knowing Sara that she ever spoke ill of someone, didn't look for a service opportunity, gave her all to the Gospel and her Savior and loved her incredible husband Mike with a more unselfish love than I had ever seen before. They both are perfect examples of what I want and need to be some day. I am grateful for the opportunity I have had to love this lady and be loved by her. She is perfection at its best in my eyes. I will never know why this had to happen to her, but I do know that she is needed across the veil to a place that only my imperfect imagination can comprehend. A place of holiness. I know that she has a place set aside next to God. How couldn't she have one? She did everything she was asked to do physically spiritually and mentally on this earth. It is now my responsibility to be more like her that I may return to where she is and be with her again. Until that day comes a day will not go by that I will not think of her and will miss her immensely. I love you Sara and thank you from the depth of my soul for who you are what you are and your undeniable faith in all that was good. Until we meet again, your loving son Bryant.


  1. One thing I admire her for is the way she always talks about her family. She always updated us on everyone including her son-in-laws. If someone had an interest that her son in law had, she was sooooo excited to talk about how that is something that they love to do too, and how good they were at it, and if they needed any advise she would love to get it for them. She ALWAYS found ways to bring her children and their spouses and her grandchildren into conversations and talk about their talents and interests. She definitely loves every single person in her family. She is such a wonderful example of love!

  2. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, experiences and feelings for Sara

  3. Bryant,
    I can't imagine a lovelier tribute to a much loved mother-in-law.
    I didn't have the privilege of knowing Sara, but I know I would have loved her.
    Mike and I are friends from high school.
    May God bless all of you in your mourning and adjusting to life without this angel here beside you.

    Coleen Toone