I know you're probably curious, Mom..But just stop. Now. Probably you too, Amy.
Also, this is the longest blog I've ever written, and it's SO for myself more than anyone else. So if you don't want to read it, either, totally fine. Probably preferrable.
I love to read. Like really, really love it. I could do it all day if I didn't have anything else to do-and I'm really into the book. On Monday I read a book called "Guide Me to Eternity." It's by Christine Tuttle Monsen and it's a true story about a woman (the author) whose husband drowns in a lake in Utah while she had to watch. (She went after him but realized almost too late that her young children were coming in after her and they would die if she didn't get them out.)
I know what you're thinking.
1.) That's absolutely horrible. How could anyone go through that?!
2.) That's absolutely horrible that you'd read a book like that. How were you able to read something like that when you had to deal with a lot of the same things?
(For those of you that don't know, my sister, Catheryn, and her husband, Steve, both drowned in Strawberry Reservoir in Utah in 2006. It was not fun.)
I don't know why I wanted to read it...Tami told me about it and said that in it, the husband visits the wife after his death and it tells about it in the book. I think that's why I was interested. I think having something like this happen is absolutely awful, but if you get to see them again, or hear from them again, just for a second, it makes it so much better.
There were so many things about this book that made me read it one day, but mostly it was because it gave me so much anxiety. I had to keep reading in the beginning because I knew the guy was going to die. Then when it happened, there was so much detail about how it happened it made me re-live what happened to Catheryn not so long ago. There was a LOT alike. And I think I handled it pretty well. I didn't even cry (at that part at least). I made myself read it in the living room, so there were always people around. But when they talked about volunteers coming to the lake to search for this man, police questioning her and having to deal with the people that ran the little dock area, finally finding the man that drowned, having to go through funeral lagistics, having the visitation and the funeral, and it goes on and on.
I haven't ever talked about what happened that day on my blog because I feel like it's not something to just put out there. I've never wanted to be big and showy about it (if you have talked about it on your blog, I'm not saying you're big and showy...I just didn't want to do it myself) and be like-I'm grieving, be sad for me. That's just not how I am.
But after reading that, I felt like I should really write down everything that happened and have a record of it...It is pretty important after all.
I actually did write down a lot of it a long time ago (I think it was the day or two before my birthday in 2006--so like the day after the funeral perhaps?) but I put that online on a different journaling website..And I didn't want to be big and showy then, either, so I don't think I really put down anything except the facts.
I think maybe I should write down the things I'm afraid to write down.
When we were driving to Utah, Pat Bailey called me. Ha ha. Pat Bailey. I was so shocked and amazed that he would be calling me. It was awkward. I didn't know what to say. I didn't know that Dan had posted something about it on Facebook, and that's how he had known. I didn't think it was ok to tell people how I really was when they asked, so I just always said fine. I said that to everyone.
I didn't eat anything all day. While we were driving Cody made me eat half a yogurt because he said I wouldn't be able to search for them if I hadn't eaten anything yet. Then when we got closer we stopped at KFC and I downed a chicken burger of some kind...I don't know if it's because I was hungry by then or because I wanted to be SURE I could look.
When we got there, I met up with Amy at the little Inn place. She told me where Noah was and to go help him and his team search. We drove and found them and stood outside for like 5 minutes, waiting for Noah to get back to us to tell us what to do. The whole time I was outside I kept thinking about how dang cold I was and how much I wanted to get back inside the car. I don't know if I've ever felt like a worse sister.
I honestly, honestly thought Heavenly Father wanted me to find her. I honestly, honestly thought that He would have me do that. I honestly, honestly thought that because it took us so long to get there, it was probably my fault it ended how it did.
When the search and rescue guy came in to tell us to stop looking, I had picked the worst seat to be in. I was on the stairs behind the guy, looking at my siblings and all the volunteers that had come. They were all crying. It sucked.
The worst part is when the guy said, "You should stop searching; they're in the water." and Noah said, "What if it was your kid?" And then the guy just said, "I'm so sorry.." and he walked away. I still think about that a lot.
I don't think I could've found a better husband than I have. He was so so amazing the whole time and just wanted to make sure I was ok. The first night was the worst. We stayed at the lake with Seth and I couldn't go to sleep. I just felt so guilty for being warm and in bed. The next day I was looking at Cody's phone and Alyssa had texted him asking how I was. He said I had just fallen asleep. I have never felt more love from my best friend and my husband than I did when I read that. I don't know why it touched me so much, but I cry even thinking about it now.
The first night, Cody, Seth and I drove to one of Seth's friend's houses that was kinda close by. Seth sat in the front and talked to Cody while we drove. I sat in the back and cried.
When we got there, Seth's friend wasn't there so we hung out with her parents. We watched a basketball game in the basement which didn't take my mind off of ANYTHING. They made us a huge cookie sheet full of nachos to eat but I don't think any of us were really hungry. One of their little boys tried to eat some and the dad quietly disciplined him-telling him those were for us. I suddenly realized the new position I was in as a kind-of-charity-case. I told them they could eat the nachos too...I didn't want charity because that meant something bad had happened.
Becky Brady called me. We both cried together, even though I was a little embarrassed. She was the only one I really told my true feelings too that day...The only one I didn't just say-I'm fine-to. I told her, "The one thing that I hate is that I'm safe, and warm, and they're so cold. She's so cold. And maybe alone, and scared." And she, crying, said, "Stacey, she's not. She's warm, and happy, and not alone. She's safe."
I didn't say anything after that because I didn't want to think it was true.
After a few days I was able to pray, "Heavenly Father, let them be with you."
I hate that my job made me come back. Seriously? My sister and brother-in-law are missing and my whole family is in Utah and you're going to make me come 5 hours back to Idaho to do your stupid billing? None of us realized at the time that it was totally not ok. It was TOTALLY not ok.
My co-workers were amazing though. Really, really amazing.
My dad called me at work to tell me they had found them. He was talking to his dad on the other line, so he just said, "Stacey, they found her. They have Catheryn. I need to go." I stayed at work like another hour, waiting for my boss to get back so I could tell her I was leaving. Then when I got home, Cody was getting his hair cut. I swear it was the longest hair cut in the history of hair cuts. I didn't know if I should go there and tell him to just leave, or if that would be inappropriate. So I just waited.
I was so happy to be able to talk to Nate and tell him all the things I was thinking about how it happened and have him correct me. Drowning is just so scary, I hated thinking about her being scared. But he told me, "She's young. I don't think she would've been scared. She never would've thought they weren't going to make it." When I asked about how it really happened, he explained she just fell asleep. I came back with, "But if I fell asleep and started breathing in water, I would wake up." He just said, "It's not like that. It's like when you have surgery. They can cut you open and you're asleep and you have no idea. You feel nothing and you're just asleep and happy. It's exactly the same." That made it a million times better.
I was really, really scared to dress her. Catheryn is a really private person, and I thought she was just going to be laying there, with no clothes on, and I didn't think that would be the most appropriate time to see her naked. Cody kept telling me I didn't have to do it, but I did. I did have to do it. She's my sister, and she would've done it for me.
She wasn't naked. I was really glad.
While we were in there, I knew she was there. I could feel her and I kept looking around the room, daring her to let me know where she was. There was this chair by the table and I kept looking at it, thinking-are you sitting there? Just let me know. I don't know where she was...But she was there.
I was scared to touch her. But I'm glad I did. I wasn't scared to take off her shoes and look to see if her toenails were painted.
They were. Red. With a flower.
I'm glad I totally messed up my song at the funeral. I sang it for them, and I kept telling myself, "Just sing like you're singing with Catheryn at the piano. You're doing this for them." If I had been singing with Catheryn at the piano, I would've messed up. So that should've happened.
Afterwards, it seemed so perfect to me that Alyssa walked out with me and hugged me while Cody was acting as a pallbearer. Then when he came, she just passed me over to him. I didn't even really realize what had happened because I just kept hugging someone the whole time. But I remember thinking-this is right. This is how it should be.
I was really mad that Cody was told to not ride in the limo with us because there was no room. We made room.
I still have the rose I took off her casket.
Watching Wesley with those balloons, making his wish, and letting them go was the sweetest thing I've ever seen. Seeing them joined together, going towards the sky was the most amazing, and having all the balloons together form a S, a C, and then a heart was just a miracle.
I got most of Catheryn's clothes. We were the same size....We're definitely not anymore...And I took most of them with me. One night while Cody was at work I was trying them on-if something didn't fit I wanted to take it back to Utah with me to give to one of Steve's sisters- and I found Catheryn's grocery list in the back pocket. That was the worst. I cried and cried. I composed myself and called my mom. I just wanted to be with everyone. She seemed happy, so being sad infront of her seemed just that much more awful. I didn't want her to be sad, too. Eventually I couldn't hold it in anymore, and I told her what I had found. I cried and cried and luckily Cody walked in right then and I told my mom I had to go. She yelled, No! (She knew I was alone) but I told her Cody was home and hung up. He held me and I cried for a long time. I still feel bad I made my mom sad and just hung up.
The night I got the call from my mom when it first happened, I was in shock. Seth called and told me, "Even if it's the worst thing, it's still the best thing." We talked about the temple and being sealed. That's when I realized it was probably one of the biggest blessings ever.
On the back of the book I read, it says, "Guide me to Eternity is an affirmation of hope and sure comfort. It is a witness that the Savior lives and cares for us- that his love transforms every sadness into joy."
How true is that?!
At the funeral, my family laughed. A lot. Especially during the visitation part. We were ready for this whole ordeal to be over and be able to move on. I loved laughing with everyone and thinking, this is how it's supposed to be. You're supposed to laugh in your sorrows. That's what Heavenly Father wants. You're not supposed to always be sad.
I've never felt closer to Heavenly Father than I did during that time. I've always known that He knows me, hears my prayers, and loves me, but during that time, I not only knew all of that, but I KNEW He was thinking of me. Multiple times. He was thinking of me-not just the other way around. He was wanting me to be happy, wanting me to feel peace and comfort.
And I did.
I just want to say, I have such a testimony of sealing powers. I have such a testimony of the blessings that come from getting married in the temple by someone with the priesthood that can seal you to your someone forEVER. In this book, it talks about the spirit world, and I love to think of both Catheryn and Steve there, holding spirit hands, loving each other, being happy together, teaching people about how wonderful Heavenly Father is. Because that's really what it's all about.
I've re-commited myself to be good. To do better. To become the best I can be. I want to be there someday with them, and I want Cody next to me, and all our kids all around us. I don't want to give in to anything Satan has for me, because it doesn't matter. He doesn't matter. I matter, Cody matters, our family matters.
Self, don't forget.