Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Trip to Washington--Spending Time with Family in Cour D'Alene

For those of you still reading this blog, thank you for being so patient in my continual quest to update and document our past adventures...

My previous post told all about Daxton and my adventures in Ephrata with family this past April.  We had so much fun visiting family and playing on the farm, especially Daxton.  One of the days on our trip, mom took Daxton and I over to Cour D'Alene to visit two of my favorite aunts and extended family members.  Some of my favorite memories growing up were with my Aunt P (Pauline) and Aunt Carol.  I loved watching Aunt P and my dad make each other laugh hysterically as they reminisced about all the mischief they got into as children.  She always had the best stories and best ideas for gags.  Aunt P has an incredible gift of making everyone she interacts with feel absolutely loved.  Uncle Jim, her husband, is one of the most loving and sweet men I've ever met.  I always joked that hugging Uncle Jim is like hugging a big teddy bear.  They are such genuine and loving people, which they obviously passed on to their children, because my cousins are the same way.
I also have wonderful memories with my Aunt Carol.  She has the kindest smile.  When I was a child, she would always bring bright colored nail polish whenever she visited.  She would paint my toes and fingernails and I loved being pampered by her.
Needless to say, I was very excited to be able to visit my extended family, even for only a short while, after so many years.

Mom, Daxton, and I drove over to Cour D'Alene in the morning (about a 2.5 hr drive from Ephrata) and met up with everyone at Aunt P and Uncle Jim's house.  We were welcomed with a yummy home cooked lunch and gifts for Daxton.  Aunt P and cousin Hannah had picked out the most silly toys for Daxton to explore.  We couldn't stop laughing as he opened his bag and found all the classic gag gifts, including a whoopie cushion!  We spent a few hours catching up with everyone, laughing, eating, and watching Daxton adore their dog, Bear.  It was an absolutely perfect afternoon!

(L to R) Aunt Carol, Me, Daxton, Mom, Uncle Jim, Aunt P, cousin Hannah, and cousin Dana

My aunties, Aunt P and Aunt Carol
Love them to pieces!!

Daxton was madly in love with them within five minutes of meeting them!  

(L to R) Aunt Carol, Me, Daxton, Mom, Uncle Jim, Aunt P, cousin Jodi, and cousin Dana

I could not get over how much this sweet boy loved their puppy, Bear!  And I have to admit how refreshing it was to not be sneezing and have my eyes start to water or scratch while being around him! Bear is a hypoallergenic puppy with hair instead of fur and was so sweet with Daxton.  Wherever Bear went, Daxton followed.  At one point we were all eating lunch outside on the patio and found the two laying under one of the tables together.  It was such an adorable sight seeing them interact...almost made me want to get a puppy...almost :)

After visiting with family for the afternoon, we drove up to Sandpoint, Idaho to visit my friend's gravesite.  I first met Jason when I was a student teacher at Sunset View Elementary back in 2004.  That following year I was offered a permanent teaching position in fourth grade, where I taught for the next four years before marrying Dallas and moving to California.  Over the course of those four years teaching at Sunset View I made some of the best friends in my life, including Jason.  We were neighbors for several years, in the same ward, and had several of the same friends outside of school.  Jason quickly became an older brother to me and one of my closest friends.  After I got married, Jason and Janelle came to visit Dallas and I in the bay area several times (usually at least a couple times a year) and I got to visit them back in Utah several times.  I have some of the best memories with them both.

When Daxton was 3 months old, Jason lost his ongoing battle with depression and took his life.  The devastation and pain that followed; losing someone in that way; is still hard to process at times.  My heart hurts to this day for his family and friends.  I take comfort in the gospel; in a loving Father in Heaven who has provided us with the knowledge that we will see our loved ones again.  I know our Savior, Jesus Christ, has encircled His arms around Jason and taken his pain away.

Jason's memorial in Utah fell on the same weekend as my cousin's wedding in California.  Dallas and I tried desperately to find a flight that would allow me to attend both, but we were unable to find anything, especially with a newborn baby in tow.  Missing Jason's memorial was an incredibly hard thing for me.  I found the lack of closure very difficult throughout the following months.  I wanted to make sure I had a chance to say goodbye and was so grateful to my mom for being willing to make the journey up to Jason's grave while we were home in April.  

Sandpoint is an additional 1.5 hours north of Cour D'Alene, so after visiting family we made sure to get to Jason's gravesite before the sun went down.  It's located in the most gorgeous clearing, nestled up against a beautiful forest with pops of color from all the wildflowers.  Right when we arrived, my mom immediately bent over to pull some of the weeds that had grown and brush off the fallen leaves.  My heart broke a bit watching her.  She has too much experience with taking care of loved ones' graves.

We wanted to leave something special from our family; the two symbols of our family's angels.  A butterfly for my niece Mara and a pinwheel for my nephew Liam.  Jason's headstone is stunning.  I've never seen one quite like it, with so many details from his life.  I loved telling Daxton about each of the pictures and sharing stories from our past.  As I was taking pictures, I looked over and noticed Daxton had sat down in front of Jason's headstone and placed his arms on his knees.  He had never sat this way before, and hasn't sat this way since.  To the regular person it would mean very little, but to me it was a tender mercy.  This was one of Jason's favorite poses in almost all the pictures of Jason I took.  It makes me smile every time I look at this picture.   

Some of the beautiful details of Jason's headstone...

It's weird to think that Jason never got to meet Daxton and vice versa.  It brakes my heart when I think about it.  But I did love the chance to tell Daxton about Jason and further explain Heavenly Father's plan for all of us; to return to Him someday.

It was such a beautiful evening visiting Jason's grave.  I miss him and his friendship, but count myself lucky that I was able to call him a dear friend.  I'm so grateful that I had the chance to visit his beautiful and peaceful gravesite and to find a bit of closure after these past few years.

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