Laura

A Visit With Auntie N


Yesterday evening, Nathan was at class until a little after 9:00 p.m. so Dominic and I were on our own. We went on an outing together. We went to visit Aunt Natalie, our Auntie N.

The problem, though, was that she wasn’t really there. When we first arrived, a friend of hers was just inside the door and told us that she was sleeping. We talked with this friend (sorry, I forgot her name) for a while and then went in to see Nat before we left. As we went in, she opened her eyes. She was staring somewhere, but it wasn’t anywhere in the room. It seemed that her spirit wasn’t really there. I looked into her eyes and didn’t see my Aunt Natalie. She wasn’t smiling so clearly, it wasn’t really her.

She mumbled a few things that I couldn’t understand and neither could her friend. Then her friend asked her, “Did you see the baby?”

She turned to the side, looked at Dominic and said, “Hi, Dom.” Then she stared off again. Eventually, she asked for something. After having her repeat it a couple of times, I understood that she wanted the blinds opened, so I pulled them open and the sun brightened her room. She rolled to her side, facing the windows, and closed her eyes again.

I knew that I already missed Nat. I knew that wasn’t really her in that body anymore. I wondered what it was like to already by in limbo because tumors have taken away the desire to be physically connected to her body and because the medicine must numb things as well.

I also knew that I would forever be glad that Dom and I could make that visit last night. He won’t remember it, but I will. He won’t remember her, but I will.

So I will teach him about her and how she always looked out for me and took care of me.

I will tell him about what happened when he wasn’t even a month old yet. I was at home on a Sunday evening waiting for Nathan so that we could go to dinner at my parents. We would be late and I didn’t know how late because I didn’t know when Nathan would come home from church meetings. And then I talked to Natalie on the phone. She was at my parents for dinner as well. She didn’t usually go to Sunday dinners, but I suppose that she wanted to this time because she had just found out that she had cancer. I couldn’t even imagine what she was dealing with emotionally, but she was more worried about me.

I didn’t want to admit it to anybody (let alone put it on the blog, even now after I’ve already been through it), but I was in a dark place and had post-partum depression. I had this beautiful little boy and I was so very sad so much of the time. And she knew. We were only talking on the phone, but she instantly heard it in my voice and knew exactly what to do. She told me to get in the car and come over. Nathan could come later. She knew that being home with just a newborn, watching the clock, and waiting, was not where I should be. That instead, I should be surrounded by family. She knew.

The next week, she called to check on me. She was dealing with doctor’s appointments and finding out that there was so much cancer in her body that they would tell her she had six months left. And yet she was checking on me. She had also told my cousin, Laura, and my Aunt Annabel because she knew my sister and Mom were already checking on me, but wanted plenty of support. Because of her, I was able to admit that I should call up my doctor. I had an appointment. We could take care of this depression and I could better take care of Dom and be a happier wife for Nathan. Nat helped me be happier for my family.

I will tell Dom about how Nat has always taken care of me like that. About how she knew I was struggling with money in college and so she came up with “work” for me by having me help her with computer issues. She kept track of the time I spent helping her and paid me for it. I tried to refuse, but she wouldn’t let me. She made her living as a violinist so I knew she wasn’t rich, but she was still more concerned about her “starving-student” niece than her own cash flow.

I will tell Dom about how she would commiserate with me about the times when I couldn’t stand living in a condo with so much neighbor noise. About how she spent hours with me on several occasions organizing my life to fit into a small home. About how she was always there to talk to about dating and the single life. About how she was very straightforward with me about depression and other emotional struggles for both her and us, her family members.

I will definitely tell Dom about when she lived in Palo Alto and invited Maren, Laura and I to visit her for New Year’s. Maren and Laura were freshmen in college and I was a sophomore. We borrowed the Suburban from my Dad (because none of us really owned a reliable car back then) and drove out to San Francisco. We slept on the floor in her living room on air mattresses she’d purchased just for our visit. Somehow, we were locked out once and she had me break in through her kitchen window (which I don’t remember very well now how I quite managed, but it worked). We experienced “the coldest day of our lives” as she warned us when we went out on the ocean in a ski boat to look for whales early one morning. We put on all the layers that we had packed and eventually Laura and Maren were sweating buckets and had to take off five or six layers. We didn’t see any whales, but we did see porpoises and man o’ wars. We celebrated New Years at some friend of hers from her ward and forgot to countdown until midnight. She was too concerned that if we went into the city to celebrate, it wouldn’t be safe. We did ride the train into San Francisco on our own one day while she was working. We met interesting friends. We rode the trolley; we took pictures; we spent a little money; we laughed the whole time. Then we went back to her condo and told her our stories. We still laugh about things from that trip, especially the coldest day of our lives.

And I will tell Dom that I always knew that Natalie loved me. She didn’t marry nor have her own children. She didn’t feel like another Mom to me though, but more like the big sister I didn’t actually have.

When we visited her yesterday, my big sister didn’t look or act like my big sister. It seemed that her spirit may have already started moving on. And I already miss that spirit, but when I saw the body it was leaving, I knew that this would be a release for her. Cancer is awful.

And I’m glad that I have this picture of Natalie and Dominic from an afternoon sitting on the backporch at Maren’s. Grandma DeeDee also joined us while Campbell played in the sandbox, making Dominic giggle and giggle. Nat took a video of his giggling on her cell phone. I didn’t get a copy so I will have to count on my memory to recall it. We were all very happy. We were all smiling. Natalie has a beautiful smile.

Blessed


blessing

Nathan blessed Dominic in church today and little man was very reverent. This time, I remembered to take pictures (unlike Christmas, but I suppose I blame that on being really sleepy after a very rough night). Mom and Dad Elkins are up here for the week for the holidays and to spend time with their new grandson. We love having plenty of family time and have been lucky enough to get that on both sides of our family this holiday. I am sure that I take for granted how fabulous my family and in-laws are. I am one lucky girl, but mostly I feel happy that Dominic will grow up with such amazing aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents. Hopefully we trick him into thinking that his parents are pretty amazing, too.

blessing2

A few thoughts on the day for my future reference:

I was worried this morning that I wouldn’t be able to “schedule” things correctly. Dominic nursed at 9:30 so that would mean he’d be hungry around 12:30 and the meeting started at 12:50. It’s funny, I suppose, the things that you worry about as a first-time mom. Maren came over a little after 11:00 so that I could jump in the shower while Dom took a nap, then he woke up around noon just as Mom and Dad Elkins arrived with Aunt Janeen. I nursed him while Mom helped get things together for me and then get Dom dressed in his little white outfit after he finished. By the time we got to church, he was a content little boy, which was superb because he’s been quite fussy this last week regardless of how well fed he is or diapers changed or well slept.

I was a little sad that some of my family wasn’t able to be there (because of sickness and being out of town), but the small circle of priesthood holders that stood next to Nathan were plenty and men that we love. Not every little boy gets to have both of his grandpa’s holding him for his blessing so that made me happy. After his blessing, Laura came up and sat next to me on the bench and held him, wrapped tightly, sleeping. Like I said, Dominic is blessed to come to an amazing family and because of a recent phone conversation, having my cousin Laura come and sit next to me for part of the meeting was quite appreciated.

After the blessing, for the sacrament meeting, we had several youth speakers and a “missionary farewell”, but they finished quite early so Brian, the first counselor, asked me to share my testimony. As I walked up to the podium, I was pretty nervous. I definitely rambled while I stood up there, but hopefully I shared a little bit of what I was thinking about this Christmas with becoming a mother. I’ve been thinking a lot about Mary. I have such a new perspective of her now. We often focus so much on the baby Jesus at Christmas, which, of course, is the right thing to do as He is the Savior. But, I know now, really, so much more about the incredible role that Mary played and how difficult her calling was. Raising a child–raising your first child– is not easy. At least, it’s not for me. It hurts. It’s exhausting. It’s emotional. I am so thankful that I don’t do this alone. And now, I have so much more awe for Mary and her sacrifice to bear the Savior and raise him in righteousness–with Joseph’s help.

After the meeting, Mick and Tracy hosted for food. Great Grumma Campbell gave the opening prayer and we are all very happy to have her there after time spent in the hospital just after Thanksgiving this year. Really, it’s been a bit of a tough Thanksgiving-Christmas for family members with hospital trips, car accidents and a beloved aunt with a cancer diagnosis. It reminds me that we live in a very imperfect world and sometimes I wonder why we said yes to how difficult this would be. But then I can remember all of the positives that we have in this life as well. As difficult as it has been to be pregnant, bear a child, figure out how to nurse, rarely sleep, cry and feel frustrated or worried, it really is amazing just to look at Dominic and think, “wow, he’s mine.” I know that I’m the mom, but I think he’s mighty handsome. If we didn’t have the darkness, we wouldn’t realize how bright it is when in the light.

 

My First Elkins Christmas


Last year, Nathan and I shared our first Christmas, but we were a few days short of being married so I slept at my parents, then drove over to our condo to exchange gifts. It was so nice this year to wake up next to him for our first married Christmas.

I could go on and on about everything that we did to celebrate, include all sorts of details and go off on tangents, but then this blog would be too long for Nathan to read 🙂

Instead, here’s the summarized list of a beautiful Christmas:

  • Having a real pine tree in the house smelled festive.
  • Dinner on Christmas Eve with Ryan, Laura and Bears was tasty, relaxing, and fun to open gifts from them and Mom & Dad.
  • I’m really blessed to have such wonderful in-laws (besides giving great gifts, they’re also just great people that I love spending time with).
  • Christmas morning, Nathan and I opened gifts from each other and everything was just what we needed.
  • My favorite part of Christmas was going to church–Nathan spoke in our ward and brought the spirit to the meeting, then I had the chance to accompany my Mom who was a special guest playing an arrangement of Silent Night on the violin. Mom, Dad, Grumma, Pete, Genny, and Cat all came to our ward with us so we shared the meeting with family as well as ward family.
  • After church, we went home to wrap gifts and call Mom and Dad Elkins to wish them Merry Christmas in Texas!
  • Sunday afternoon was the traditional lunch at Grumma’s where she served lil’ smokies on an orange because we all told her it wouldn’t be Christmas without them! The great grandkids had a blast with a white elephant and then the grandkids (which includes me and Nathan) received a special book this year that Grumma made for us. I love it.
  • Christmas evening was with my parents and the entire family where we spent a long time opening presents because of the number of people exchanging gifts we got for each other. Good thing we draw names so we’re not opening even more gifts. Grumma would just love that.
  • At times, the get togethers would get really loud with so many people in one room and so many excited children, but it reminded me of something Nathan told me he’d been thinking about in preparation for his talk: that when Jesus was born, we sing about it being a Silent Night, however, it probably wasn’t silent at all up in heaven. I don’t know about you, but I’d like to think that I at least tried out for the choir of angels who sang at his birth 🙂

Bring On January


Do you remember what you were doing the afternoon of New Year’s Eve? I remember one of the items on my busy* agenda: stopping by Laura’s with Maren to make up a song about the depressing month of January with Annalisa as well. That’s my sister and my two cousins and I must say, our free-style song absolutely caught the glorious depression that is the month of January.

Welcome to the funk that is the first month of the year.

And right now, I have nothing inspiring or funny to write.

I blame January.

What a let down. Seriously.

So instead, how about I’ll just tell you that I received a gift in the mail today that briefly brought me out of the funk (oh, and I played dodgeball and worked out so that helps, too). Rich Stowell sent me a signed copy of his book, Nine Weeks. I read one chapter a few months ago when I helped edit it so I’m excited to read the entirety. I’ll let ya know what I think when I finish.

Did I mention I love owning books signed by the author?

*Thanks to Maren, Megs, Steig, Steph, and everybody at Christi’s for keeping me busy and entertained on a holiday that I’m not so much a fan of.

Tales of 4th Grade Softball


Okay. My blogging hiatus is over and I’m back with a winner of a blog entry from WAY back in elementary school. It’s one of the last times I had played softball. I know this because the last mitt I owned would only fit the hand of a fourth grader’s. It’s still at my parents’ with my name written on the side in permanent marker.

This entire entry is written in cursive, in pencil.

March 22, 1991

Today is the last school day of March. Next week is Spring Vacation. I had an easy day at school today. First when we got to school Mrs. Floyd, my fourth grade teacher, did the usual morning stuff. Then we had our final spelling test. There were only a few 100’s in the whole class. Then we played softball for Fabulous Friday. I hit two “groundy” homeruns. Still my team lost. Afterwards it was recess. I spent that drawing a map. When recess was over we went to see a play called, “Hurricane Smith.” It was a good play. Than school was over.

Maren invited Laura and Megan to play. Maren, Megan, and I had a fight. When it was settled I went out to play with Krista, and Rachel. In the game Krista wanted to play that we were enemies. Then she started to truly be unkind. We managed to sort of settle that one over the phone. It was a pretty wild day. I’m glad it’s almost all over. Signing off.

A Little Narcissicm is Good For You


The “good” DOC is not in today. Even though I have to work, he seems to think he can take a holiday for Pioneer Day. Fine; be that way. I will then take the time to talk about ME. Like I never do this on my blog, right? But guess why I know you’ll want to read through this whole list? Because you are FASCINATED with me. I know by some of your survey answers. Yes, this is the same survey that I told you to take before because you will, SERIOUSLY, get a kick out of it. (Link to the left if you haven’t noticed.) On to ME…

100 Things about ME.