Sunday, November 25, 2012

Remembering Meagan

Dear Meagan,

Seven years ago my mom called to tell me that you were gone.
 That was the worst Black Friday ever. 
We have missed you everyday since you left. 

Do you remember the last afternoon we spent together?
We watched Boy Meets World and Charmed
I made you a bowl of cereal for lunch.
If I would have known that would be our goodbye I would have stayed longer.

I just wanted to tell you thank you for helping us take care of our mom when she was sick. 
We know you, Alex, and others from our family were there helping us from the other side of the veil..
It may seem strange to thank you this way, but I have to believe that if I put these words out in the universe that they will find there way to you. 

Thank you for teaching us:
 that enduring to the end means doing everything that you can as long as you can.
that cancer doesn't define who you are or your life.
that spirits have special features.

I miss you, your laugh, the mischievous twinkle in your eyes, and your sense-of-humor.
I love that every time I go through family pictures I find a new picture of you that no one has seen before. Sometimes pictures like this:

(Meagan is the blonde on the right side making the funny face.)

Oh and for the record, Newsies is still the best!!!

When I hear this song I always think of you:

Meagan Thompson Robbins
 3/9/1982 - 11/25/2005

You can learn more about my cousin Meagan's battle with cancer here.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

30 Days Of Thankful: Day 14

I am thankful for chicken nachos from Costa Vida, Diet Coke, and good dinner company in the break room on a closing night at Target.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

30 Days Of Thankful: Day 13

Today I am thankful for my job. 

There is never a dull moment at Target. There is always something to do and always something going on. We have fun and there are moments of hilariousness (not sure that is a real word, but oh well) that I would never get to experience anywhere else, like last month when a little boy came up to me and asked, 
"Is this jacket made of real leopard?" Oh the things kids say while shopping. After answering the little boy with, "No we don't use real leopard fur," I laughed so hard that I teared up.

I transferred to the store in American Fork a little over a year ago and I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to do that. When my mom got sick it was a blessing that I was so close to home when my family needed me. Most days I get to play with clothes, which I love. I get to work with a great group of people and it has been so fun to see all of the people that I know in the area when they come in to shop. 

30 Days Of Thankful: Day 12

I am thankful for the veterans that I have had the privilege of knowing.

One veteran that I always think about on Veterans Day and Memorial Day is Ken Turner.

When I first met Ken I was a little afraid of him. At first glance, he was a washed up, grouchy, old man.
One could tell by his appearance that he didn't have a lot of money. He wore old clothes, always a dirty tan and brown plaid jacket, and drove around town in an old Ford Ranger.

Ken would come into the Round-Up Chevron many times a day for a cup of coffee. He would sit quietly in the last booth towards the northwest corner of the building, most of the time alone. Every now and then someone would recognize him and sit down to have a visit with him.
When I worked at the Chevron I became friends with Ken. We had good conversations on quiet Sunday mornings when there were no other customers around.

One Sunday Ken came in a little earlier than usual for his second cup of coffee.  I told him that I noticed he was early and asked if everything was okay. He told me that he had been to church and that during sacrament meeting the Bishop had stood at the pulpit and said, "Brothers and Sisters many of you don't know this but we have a hero in our midst. Brother Turner  fought in World War II and has the medals to prove it. I would like to invite him to come up and share his experiences with us." Ken then recalled how he stood up, but instead of walking toward the pulpit he walked right out the door. He then walked out to his truck, started the old truck up, and drove to the Chevron.

Ken told me that he didn't want to talk about the war and definitely didn't want to speak publicly about his war experiences. He did tell me that he served in the Army  and about his box of metals that he kept on a shelf in his house. A few days later he brought his box of metals in. He told us what each one was and where he was when he earned them. Then he got to the last one. It was a metal for the highest military honor the British gave out at the time. Winston Churchill himself had presented Ken with this one.
We were truly in the midst of a hero.

The man that I had watched for months, sitting in the corner invisible to all of us around him, was a hero.
He had proudly served his country, bravely defended others' freedoms, and he didn't want or expect any recognition for what he had done. The way he saw it he had just done what he had to do in the situation, what any other person would have done placed in that situation.

I was there on Memorial Day 2000 when the Veteran's Memorial was dedicated at the Lehi City Cemetery
As we stood waiting for the ceremony to begin I saw a familiar red Ford Ranger pull in to the cemetery. Through the crowd I watched  Ken Turner get out of his truck and find a place in the back of the crowd where no one would notice him. He would dodge the recognition himself, but he was still there to pay tribute to all the other members of the community who had risked their lives as he had done.  At the end of the ceremony I looked back to find him and he was gone.

 A few years ago I heard that Ken died. This spring I was happy to see him counted as the hero that he is on the Honor Wall at the Lehi City Cemetery.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

30 Days Of Thankful: Day 11

I am thankful for my Uncle Ric and his example.

He was always doing things to help out his family and friends. Even as he was facing cancer he was serving others. He served in his LDS ward's bishopric and babysat his cute little grandchildren. When bad things happened I never saw him turn away from the Lord, instead he whole-heartily embraced the gospel and learned all that he could about it.

I saw my Uncle Ric with his family at the store in October 2010. He was happy to see me and gave me a great big hug. At the time I thought it was weird, I hadn't quite converted to the "our family hugs" mentality that we have now. Uncle Ric died a few weeks later. I am thankful that he gave me that great big hug now. I like to think of it as our "goodbye for now" moment.

30 Days Of Thankful: Day 10

I am thankful for Alex. My youngest cousin. My little hero.

She was the first one who had to be brave and strong. A little girl who had to fight big, bad brain tumors.

I went to see her about a few weeks before she died. At that point she could no longer walk or verbally communicate. I held her little hand while we looked at pictures of her on the beach that were taken on a trip to Texas for cancer treatment.

At some point during our visit she started stroking my arm and continued to do so until we got ready to leave. I have often reflected on that moment and thought that it was her way of letting me know that she was glad to see me. Sometimes I wonder if Alex wasn't comforting me during that time, trying to let me know that she was going to be okay.

No matter her intentions I learned a great deal from her in those moments. Something in my soul was awakened. I am still not sure that in this mortal state that I truly comprehend what my spirit learned. The best way I can describe it was I learned that compassion wasn't just  making a donation to a humanitarian aid organization or choosing an ornament from The Giving Tree at the mall. I learned that in its most powerful moments compassion is sitting next to someone and holding their hand, giving them simply a little bit of your time and all of yourself.

Friday, November 9, 2012

30 Days Of Thankful: Day 9

Today I am thankful that we woke up to this:

Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!

It's funny that I found so much pleasure in this today. I hate things that make me cold & wet. It was exciting to see snow this morning though. It made me think of all things warm & cozy; hot chocolate, fuzzy socks, and cable knit sweaters. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

30 Days of Thankful: Day 8

Today I am thankful for a day off.

A day to sleep in, relax, and hang out with James.

I love it!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

30 Days of Thankful: Day 6 & 7

I didn't post yesterday. After work I came home to watch the Election Day coverage with James. We watched the results come in state by state on CNN and stayed up to hear Romney's concession speech, President Obama's victory speech, and then watched the local coverage as Jim Matheson won the 4th district congressional race. It was exciting to watch this historic night unfold.

That being said, yesterday I was thought about how thankful I am for modern communication technology. From our very own homes we are able to get up to the minute information about what is going on in our world at any given time. That is so incredibly cool. 

Today I am thankful to be an American. 
 I know we as a nation have our problems right now, but I also know that America is at its best when everyday, average Americans come together to solve the problems of the day.

Looking at my social media feeds this morning I can't believe how negative a lot of people are about the results. According to my Facebook friends the world is ending today.

I don't share their same feelings of doom and gloom.. 

I don't believe that one man will determine America's future, even if it is the man that we elected as our leader. I believe that we can all drive the change that will shape the future of this country. 
Our quest for a better America may not take us to Washington D.C., but we can all make a difference in our homes and in our communities. I believe that America is only as strong as its citizens, and I know we are strong. So to those of you who find yourselves negative, hopeless, and depressed, chin up. 

Now roll up your sleeves, we all have some work to do.

Monday, November 5, 2012

30 Days Of Thankful: Day 5

 Today I am most thankful for my comfortable bed.
After a long day of putting together and filling cardboard Christmas trees 
I can't wait to climb under my covers and rest my weary body.
I can hear my bed, it is calling me now.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

30 Days Of Thankful: Day 4

Today I am thankful for quiet Sundays I get to spend with James and our family.

Today we sat on the couch reading our books with the TV turned to football for background noise. 
We have a little reading competition going on at our house.
 James is four books ahead of me, I will never catch up at this point.

Jimmy called from New York. He is doing well and has to return to work tomorrow.

Later we went to the Riverton to have a quiet Sunday dinner with Randy, Dina, and GrandDad.
Good food and company as always.

I love my Sundays off.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

30 Days Of Thankful: Day 3

It's no secret to any of you that I love music. I have loved it for as long as I can remember. 

I truly believe that everyone's life has a soundtrack. 

Sometimes a good song can take you back to a specific moment of your life.
Every time I here "Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys" I am three years old riding in my Dad's black Chevy pickup singing along with the radio.
 A good song can fill you with hopes and dreams, comfort you when it feels as if your heart is breaking, and turn the everyday mundane into a celebration.

That being said,
 today I am thankful for the music of Brad Paisley. 
Over the past three or four years his music has truly been the soundtrack to my life. 
I have been lucky enough to see Brad in concert twice. The last time with my family just a few weeks before Mom was diagnosed.

 "When I Get Where I'm Going" has been a part of my life ever since Grandpa Neel died eight years ago. Every time I hear it I think of him, Alex, Meagan, and Uncle Ric. My mom even quoted it during a discussion we had at some point during her last week of life, 
"Don't cry for me down here."

 I love Brad's "Welcome To The Future" that he wrote after experiencing Election Day in Times Square four years ago. I have listened to it over and over again No song defines our time better.

 "Waitin' On A Woman" reminds me of my sweet Grandma and Grandpa Black. 

"Then" was released around the time we got married. Just two crazy kids looking forward to our future together, looking forward to the day when we can say to each other, "...and I thought I loved you then."

Yesterday I couldn't get Brad's new single "Southern Comfort Zone" out of my head, it's still stuck in my head this morning and I love it!

Friday, November 2, 2012

30 Days Of Thankful: Day 2

Today I am thankful for the right to vote.

I stood in line for 2 1/2 hours today to participate in our country's democratic process. I almost left. Then I remembered the women who fought long and hard for the right to vote. They didn't wait for just a few hours, they waited for years.
Today I feel blessed that because of their efforts my voice matters in our democratic process.

The 2 1/2 hour line that I stood in to vote. Is it just me, or is the lady in the yellow scarf posing for me?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

30 Days Of Thankful: Day 1

November is not my favorite month of the year.
 To be honest, it always makes me a little sad when November comes.
It has been over the past nine years that two of my cousins and my uncle have passed away after their own courageous battles with cancer.

So this year I am going to try something positive. 
I need to count my blessings because I can't let myself dwell on cancer and the people that it has taken.
Especially this year where feelings of loss and grief are still fresh after losing my mom six months ago.
 In an effort to do this I am bringing the positive with a gratitude journal here on the blog for the month of November. 

30 Days of Thankful starts now!

Day 1

Today I am thankful that my younger brother, Jimmy is safe after hunkering down in his Brooklyn, NY apartment during the wrath of Hurricane Sandy. I am thankful that communications technology has not failed us and we have been able to communicate with each other over the past few days. We have been able to check on him and he has been able to update us on his situation. It just feels good to know that your loved ones are safe and have what they need. 

The Graphic above is from one of my favorite scrapping ladies, Cathy Zielske. She has a great printable gratitude journal available right now and some other freebies to go along with it. 
You can find it here: