Friday, March 30, 2012

Goodbye Holland :(

 Oh - This month has been filled with change for me. It has also been filled with many tender mercies from the Lord and cherished time with family! 

I've known for many months now that Evan, Madison and Holland were moving to Boston I know, Boston of all places!) at the end of March. I just didn't want to think about it.

Well, the day has come and I said goodbye to them tonight (and yes, tears were shed on my part!), but I have been so fortunate to spend a bit of time with Holland over the past couple of weeks. She is a true joy! She is all smiles with her cute, chubby cheeks. She is one happy little baby. When I've taken her to do errands, she always gets the attention of the cashiers and others in the store. She has these pretty blue eyes and just radiates charm and cuteness!

Pictures don't do her smile justice because the flash scares her! But, I did catch her off guard once or twice.

 Sitting up is a new step for her!
 Look at those pretty, pretty eyes!
 Of course, smiling while being fed! 
She's one healthy baby!

 She radiates cuteness... just like her mom!
(Her shirt is wet b/c she likes to chomp on it!)

 Here's a smile! I love her so much! 
Fortunately Boston is only a short flight away!
But, she has stolen my heart :)
and I feel so blessed to have been able to live
by her these past 6 months of her life!

Things were a bit crazy last weekend at the funeral. But, I did get pictures of my two favorite nephews playing pick-up sticks! They were such troopers. There wasn't much for them to do all day, but they were so patient and creative! We ended the evening with dinner at the Cheesecake Factory... one of my favorite places and I was so happy to be there with both my brothers and their families!
 And, just a random picture, but on Monday I went to FHE at the Tidal Basin. The cherry blossoms were almost gone, but I was standing on the Jefferson Memorial and just wanted to take this picture. I feel like I am so fortunate to live in an area with so much history and beauty!
I do LOVE America!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Why Not? Tell 'em you love them.

Back in January, I wrote this post. Ironically, as events have happened in my life over the past few weeks, my thoughts on this topic have changed.

Why not tell someone I love them if I really do? Ok – maybe not in a pre-dating situation… it might still be a bit awkward for me, but here are my thoughts.

I would never say I am an outwardly affectionate person, especially in public. I tend to shy away expressing my affection verbally for others… such as by saying “I Love You”. Why, I don’t know. But, even among family members I shy away from it. And, why? I am not worried that my statement will be rejected. I know they love me.  Maybe it’s because it lets my guard down in a way, and shows that I am vulnerable and needy because I would like for them to say it in return…?

My little brother, however, has always been great with this. He’ll always be the first to say, “I Love You” whenever we part, whether it’s on the phone or in person. Because he says it so often, he’s started to get me more in the habit of doing so, but really only after he says it!

However, over the past few weeks as my mom’s voice became weak, or sometimes she wasn’t very coherent, I knew that she would always recognize my voice. Sometimes I would tell her things and she just couldn’t reply, or she would be confused about a simple everyday thing I was telling her, but whenever I looked her in the eye and told her I loved her, she would look me back in the eye and tell me she loved me… and I knew she knew what she was saying and that she meant it.

Because she was so fragile, I never left her without saying those three words… sometimes a couple of times. And, whenever she could talk, she would reply the same three words. Even when she was unresponsive and in a medical coma the last day or two, I told her this while squeezing her hand and I truly believe she knew it was me and knew I meant it.

I will treasure that experience  - FOREVER

But, that got me thinking. Life is fragile. We can’t tell what’s going to happen five, ten, or 1500 minutes from now. Why not tell someone how we feel about them (if it’s a good feeling!)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Mary Louise Rider Fitzpatrick (July 8, 1946- March 17, 2012)

 Mom - When the pain isn't so great
 I will write more about why I loved you so much.

 But, please know that in my eyes you were an angel
 You were my mother and my best friend.

You sacrificed so much for us
And, you led by your actions more than your words

I promise to do my best to make you proud of me
And you will be truly missed.

Thank you
Thank you for everything.

I Love You More Than Words Can Say

Friday, March 16, 2012

A campus & school near and dear to my heart

 I spent some time on Georgetown's campus when my dad took us on a trip to D.C. when I was probably 10 or 11. I don't remember too much of our time here because it was so long ago, but I do remember that we walked around the campus. I remember that it sat on a hill and that some of its buildings were REALLY old! (It was established in 1789... so it's been around for a few years!) I also remember that it was spring and cherry blossom season. 

My dad attended Georgetown as an undergrad, and given my strong sentimental feelings towards BYU (where I did my undergrad), I imagine it's the same for him. There's just something amazing about where you first lived on your own... away from your a new city...with the rigors of academics... and friends from all over the country/world... and everything else that comes with being in college :)

I didn't realize then the special place this university would come to have in my heart many years later. 

For the past two years I have traveled over the Key Bridge to see the tall spires of some of Georgetown's older buildings. I've admired the beauty of the campus from afar (the road!), and admired those that are smart enough to go there :) I have kind of felt that this university was greeting me to the city each day as I drove to work.

Recently, however, I have been able to spend quite a bit of time on its campus simply because my mom is in it's hospital. Since I can only take the hospital scene in short 2 hour bursts, I have taken the opportunity to enjoy the recent spring weather and walk around the campus. Again, it's spring time, and that means the trees/flowers are in bloom, the weather is sunny and warm, and I have just been in awe of some of its buildings and the beauty of the campus in general.
More than anything, I have a special place in my heart for all the doctors, nurses, medical students, and university employees who have done their absolute best to care for my mom. I have come to get to know some of them quite well as I have spent hours here and words can't express my gratitude for their quality of care, as well as their compassion. No matter what happens with my mom, I will forever hold this university in my heart and have gratitude for its beauty, history, and academics (especially in medicine!).
My heart still cheers for the Cougars, but I think it's found room for Jack, the Bulldog (the current Jack is actually alive!), and the Hoyas as well!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

"What doesn't kill you makes you stronger... stand a little taller."

Warning: This is not a happy post. If you're wanting to read something happy - Skip this! 

             I have tried to sit down and write this post every day this week, but I can never get through it, or I don’t like how it turned out so I start all over again.  
              This week has been one of the longest, and the hardest, of my life, and I have a feeling the hard part isn’t here yet.
              Over the past few months, my mom has increasingly succumed to an illness that is baffeling doctors, specialists and all of the science-related individuals she has met. It has been very difficult to watch her go through this. First, from a distance in the early stages while she was still in PA, and then from Virginia after we had her medically transported down here in late January. 
             However, I can only imagine how difficult it has been for my mom. She has not been in too much pain overall, but has slowly watched herself become similar to a quadrapalegic with severe liver problems over the course of five months or so.
             We had her medically transported a few miles from my brother and I so we could better manage her care. It has been heartrenching at times, but it has also been the sweetest, most tender experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything at other times.
She has been in and out of more hospitals than I care to mention over the past few months, so when I got a call on Monday that she was most likely going to the hospital again, I didn't really think too much of it because they didn't make it seem too serious. However, when I got word a few hours later that she was in the ER at Georgetown and that she was VERY sick, I got nervous. Her vital signs were all going in the wrong directions and they didn't know the cause. They were definitey going to admit her and most likely to the ICU. It was about 11 at night. I thought about going to the ER, but the doctor reassured me that he would call if things got worse. He suggested I get sleep and come in the morning.
Well, I didn't sleep a wink. I was afraid I wouldn't hear my phone ring and I was worried about her.
I got up in the morning very tired, but the adrenaline kicked in and off I went to the ER. She was still there, but they had regulated her for the most part. 

              My mom was conscious, but very tired. She recognized me and felt relieved I was there. She asked me a couple of questions as best she could, but I just reassured her that I was there and the doctors would help her feel better. She would doze off every now and then. Once, when she woke up, she turned to me and with a scared, but serious expression, said that the night before she had felt like she was dying. She then asked me bluntly, “Am I dying?” Ugh. How do you reply to that. I didn’t want to lie to her, but I didn’t know really what was going on. I just simply told her, as I unsuccessfully tried to hold tears back from my eyes, that she wasn’t dead because she was there talking to me and that I would stay with her. 
              She felt reassured and dozed off again. As she rested I just stared at her with tubes and things coming out of her everywhere, beeps and noises going off from the machines, and the pale skin of my mom’s fragile body. I couldn’t help but weep with thousands of thoughts running through my head and prayers for comfort, peace and understanding from the Lord. 

             Just as I had gained control of my tears, the ER doctor came in to talk to me. He reminded me of one of my friend's dads from high school. Tall, skinny, dark hair, but also patient, gentle and supportive. However, it is his job to be honest and frank with me, and he was. My mom is, and was, very sick. There was a 50/50 chance the treatment would work, but the bigger problem was that they still didn’t know the underlying cause and that meant the ravaging infections would most likely return. He discussed her case with me and gently brought up that they needed to know her will concerning health care and end-of life saving wishes. I broke down again and said I had the paperwork was in the car and that I would go and get it. He was very nice and told me to take my time, hang in there and that they would do the best they could to help my mom. I thanked him, grabbed my cell phone, and started to walk to the car to get the papers. As soon as I got out the ER door I called Evan and just bawled yet again. I am pretty sure he didn’t understand a word I was saying, but listened patiently, offered comfort and said he would get on the train that afternoon to come back to be there with me. I felt bad asking him to come back from his job, but deep down I knew I needed him here. 
             I can only take the hospital in short bursts, so after I got the directive, I told my mom that I had to go to work and that I would be back later in the day. Of course my employers would have given me the time off, but I told them I needed the distraction. So, for the afternoon I was on duty. However, it was hard to keep from tearing up and staying strong while I had the kids. I think they knew something was up, despite my efforts to appear normal, but they didn’t pester me about it.  
              I got off work very early and headed home to help Evan get the car so he could spend the evening with my mom. I needed sleep and a break. I fielded phone calls from doctors during the afternoon and evening, but it was reassuring to know Evan was there. I went to bed around 8 PM and Evan told me that he had informed the doctors that they should call him if anything happened during the night or if they needed approval for anything. Well, they didn’t get the message because I got calls at 12:30 AM and 3 AM asking for verbal approval for something they needed to do to my mom. I know I sounded so groggy on the phone and don’t even remember what I gave verbal approval for, but I figured at this point, they needed to do what they needed to do to save her.   
         I had to get up very early for work to take the kids to school on Wednesday, but I knew I would be free after that. Sleep definitely helped my spirits. And, fortunately, the kids had a good morning and didn’t test my patience! However, on the way, they were silent in the car as we drove. This NEVER happens, so I am sure they knew I still wasn’t myself. 
I was encumbered by my own thoughts when I heard A. say “I love this song. Can you please turn it up?” I tuned it to what the song was and immediately agreed. It was Kelly Clarkson’s song “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger… Stand a little taller” and I almost started to cry again as I wanted to shout out the lyrics with Kelly! I knew that if I did the kids would think I really had gone completely nuts, but this song has  now taken on a completely new meaning for me. 
 Watching my mom go through this and being a strength and support for her… really is going to kill me or I know in the end I will come out of it a much stronger, hopefull, faithful individual who can stand a little stronger in the face of trials. It has also helped me realize just what really is important in life. It's love, our relationships with others, the gospel, and keeping an eternal perspective. This doesn't mean we won't experience pain - sometimes excruciating pain - but what doesn't kill us makes us stronger. And, most of the time we have the choice as to how we will react to that pain... another post to follow. In the meantime - enjoy 

Sunday, March 4, 2012


I am so fortunate to live minutes away from my brother, his wife and their beautiful little girl! Every time I see her, she just makes me smile! She's just about 6 months old, but she knows how to bring on the charm to win over the heart of anyone she meets! 

On Friday I took her in a store with me, and she got SOOO much attention from all of workers and customers! They even gave her a cute stuffed little dog! I wish I could claim her as my own.... except when she has those very stinky diapers :)

She is a very happy little girl (unless she's tired or hungry :) and she just brings so much joy to her parents and those who meet her!

I can't even think about what's going to happen at the end of this month... (they are moving to Boston (of all places!) for my brother's new job. I lived there for 6 years and begged family members to come live near me!) I am going to miss them so much, especially this adorable little girl!

So, when they were over for dinner we took a few shots. Granted, these were taken an hour after she should have gone down for a nap!

 Her beautiful blue eyes! 
And, that smile melts my heart!
 The flash kind of threw her off
 Oh - I just don't want to ever let her go!
 The proud and amazing daddy with his little girl!
 Again, the flash was shocking!
 So cute!!!
I am one proud aunt!