I know I promised a post, but there's too much for just one. This is the first, and it's from Ciera.
Its been a year without my mom.
A year without hearing her voice and talking to her everyday to chat, get advice, share funny things, vent, etc. But is hasn't been a year where I haven’t felt her, I still can feel her love for me. There has been several times this last year where I know she's been watching out for me and my family and I’ve felt her love still. Yes, its different, yes my heart still breaks at times, and sometimes I’m ok. I want to say that I’m strong all the time but I’m not; who really can be? There are times I still just cry at the pain of loss I feel. There have been times each of my children have cried hard at different times through out the year. No one knows when it will hit them, the pain of grief, but it comes and goes in waves. We know her spirit still lives on, we know we can see her again, but we also have our grief and that is just as real; Also just as real is her capacity to bless us still.
In June of 2016, 4 months after my mom passed away, Bryant was horse riding in the mountains with a friend. He was on a horse that just the month before we had all ridden, even my 10 year old son, and at the time we really liked that horse. While on the horse ride the horse began to act strangely and tense up. He started to get very upset about his bit in his mouth and Bryant got off as the horse started to buck. He calmed the horse and fixed the bit and rein which happened to be twisted. Then he climbed back on and kept going. His friend was in the lead on another one of our horses. They came to a fallen tree on a narrow trail and had to dismount to take the horses around the tree. Bryant’s horse was tensing again and Bryant felt its energy turn sour. He went to dismount and asked his friend to hold the horses bridle. In the matter of a moment, Bryant had gotten one foot out of the stirrup as his friend reached for the bridle, then it all went wrong.
The horse felt Bryant lift off his back and saw a hand reaching for his face and bolted. The sudden motion of the horse bolting sideways off into the thick forest flung Bryant onto his back and locked his remaining foot in the stirrup. Bryant kept his head and realized if he didn’t get out and get out fast the horse would drag him through the forest thick with downfall and he may not make it. He reached up with all his might to grab the stirrup and pull his foot free. As he tugged on the stirrup the horse felt the pull and kicked back full force at Bryant’s head. The kick to the head sent Bryant flying backwards again free from the stirrup and now profusely bleeding from his skull. He never lost consciousness. He called out to his friend and yelled he’d been kicked. His friend appeared breathless as he had seen the horse start to drag him and was in pursuit. Bryant asked him if it was bad and all his friend could muster was, yes and ask where’s the first aid kit? Everything for Bryant went black as the blood gushed from his head covering his eyes. He reached to his face to futilely try to wipe away the blood, but there was too much. He tried to tell his friend where in the pack the first aid kit was as the horse had now stopped, but laid back onto the ground. Blackness as his only view, he felt himself start to drift away and was thinking about me and the kids and what we would do without him. In that instant he felt arms encircle his body and warmth flow into him as he heard a voice say, “You’re going to live. It's time to get up.” It was my mother’s voice as clear as he had ever heard it.
He was given the strength and sat up. His friend saw him sit up and said, “Lay back down. We’ve got to get that bleeding stopped.” Bryant replied. “We’ve got to go. I guess we’re done trail riding now.” His friend took off his shirt and tied it around Bryant’s head to stop the bleeding. He asked if Bryant was ok to walk. Bryant thought his leg was broken but they had to go. His friend hoisted him up and they began limping their way back down the mountain to the truck about a mile away. Bryant felt the support of his friend, but his other side was supported as well by someone he could feel but not see. After getting to the truck Bryant was placed inside, given a priesthood blessing by his friend, and then his friend had to go back to get the horses. His friend later told me he was so afraid Bryant was going to be dead by the time he came back to the truck and he tried yelling and talking to Bryant as long as Bryant could hear him. After getting the horses in the truck they sped back to town 3 hours away and got a flat tire. Miraculously 2 men immediately pulled up seconds after the tire blew and they had it changed in under 7 minutes. When they got to the small Wyoming town they were close to, there was a parade blocking the way to hospital. They found a police officer and were escorted quickly to the hospital.
I got a call about that time, 10am, now from Bryant’s friend that they were at the hospital and Bryant was ok but the horse had kicked him. Thankfully he gave me no details and I left right away. Bryant’s nephew and his wife happened to be visiting that weekend and were able to keep the kids. My dad started driving to the hospital the moment I called him as well.
The ER doctors and nurses were amazed at Bryant's presence of mind and that he never lost consciousness. He told me later he was afraid if he did black out he would have never come out of it. The leg wasn't broken. The CT scan revealed only a small fracture in his frontal sinus. The specialist we saw later said that Bryan’t skull at that exact point was twice as thick as a normal persons bone and that by all accounts he should not have survived or had severe brain damage.
The wound on his head was cleaned and sutured very skillfully by the small town ER doc and we got to come home the same afternoon. The same day later on Bryant’s parents left their mission in Salt Lake City to come and see him. The only symptoms he ever had were severe concussion symptoms and weakness from the trauma and loss of blood. His leg was sore and he also had three ribs that were dislocated, which turned out to be a more painful recovery than his head injury.
Visitors flooded the house and he was able to re-tell his story details never wavering. The experience he had with my mom he kept to himself at the time and he told me later. As he recounted what had happened I asked if he remembered the last thing my mom had said to him before she passed away.
I reminded him that she said, “Next time you are in the mountains listen to me. Listen to me.”
She always worried about him hunting so he took the council to mean just that.
Now as we remembered again her last words to him the power of her statement hit us to the core. She knew somehow as her body was dying and she was so close to the veil that separates this life from the next, that she would be protecting us still from the spirit world in an even greater capacity than she had been able to on this earth with us.
Bryant has had no lasting effects from the accident; only a small scar as a reminder and a broken baseball hat that acted like a shield from the greater part of the hoof.
2 weeks later we were visiting my dad at his house. I was in the back yard looking at everything my mom loved about it and thinking of her. I prayed in my heart thanking her for protecting Bryant and I got to feel her arms around me for a brief moment, knowing then she could hear me when I needed her still.
Caringtyn being 7 and my mom’s buddy, like all her grandkids, was having such a hard time understanding death and why, like all of us. But being 7, sometimes the answers I gave were hard for her to understand. One morning she told me she had the greatest dream. I asked her what it was about. She told me it was about grandma. Caringtyn said she was riding a horse through a forest and a big white door appeared. The door opened and grandma came out. Caringtyn got off her horse and hugged grandma so tight for so long. She said grandma didn’t say anything but she could feel grandma’s love for her. Then she said grandma went back through the door and Caringtyn got on her horse and rode away. I hugged Caringtyn and cried as she told me this. I told Caringtyn I was so glad she was able to have that dream and that grandma did love her and that dream was her way of showing Caringtyn she wasn’t gone forever.
Bryson when he has been sad has prayed and received comfort and Ashelynn as well, but neither have related a story to me of their own. But Bryant’s and Caringtyn’s experiences have brought tears to their eyes as well as they have felt the spirit of them.
The milestones that have happened since she has been gone have been the hardest. Our Aunt Ellen helped my mom make birthday cards for us while she was sick and the grandkids and they have been so nice to have this year. In the big life events that come we will feel her physical absence acutely. Visiting her grave on the anniversary of her death last week was very good but hard too. Hard to see her name in stone, hard to walk away from it, but laying flowers on it felt right as she loved flowers so much. The flowers in my own yard last summer were more profuse than they ever had been. Some flowers she gave me the year prior to her sickness that weren’t supposed to come back, did come back and bloomed profusely, so every time I saw them I thought of her as well.
I’m so blessed that I had/have and amazing woman for a mother; for her legacy is a life lived so well that I can only hope to be as good as she. And so I mourn and grieve at the loss of association with her on this earth but; the hope of the morning, the hope of the life yet to be, shines bright through the dimness of sadness and loss. I love you mom.