Tuesday, January 3, 2012

HCM and Ben Breedlove

Ben Breedlove made the news when he died Christmas day 2011.  He left some YouTube Videos before he died.

Here's a link to the news report that includes a couple of his YouTube links.

His message brings tears to my eyes.  Thank you Ben.

With love,

One More Christmas

I recently found a stack of unopened Christmas cards from last Christmas (2010).  Our first Christmas without Jesse physically here.  I didn't realize just what a hard time I was having until I found those unopened cards.  It hit me hard just how difficult it was.

Part of what makes it hard is that Jesse's birthday is Dec 17 one week before Christmas Eve.  He came home from the hospital in a Christmas stocking.  It was wonderful to have some of our other children here this Christmas. The pain is easier to escape when we have them around ... and our sweet little granddaughters, what a joy they are.  And when they all left the loneliness hit doubly hard.

It helps to keep busy. I feel so blessed to be able to do the work I do -- helping others, what a blessing it is to me!

It is my desire to live each day to the fullest -- to be able to serve God and my fellow man in a way that will make it so that at the end of my life I can stand before God and myself and say "I did my best",  every moment of every day I did my best -- even when it was hard and hurt.  I keep working on my brain and my thinking. It can be quite the challenge especially with dark forces whispering all kinds of lies in my ears trying to take me down.  I'm learning how to take my brain back and not listen to those lies.  I'm learning how to focus on the many blessings in my life, to focus on the 16 years that we got to have Jesse with us.  That we got to have him at all.  I am blessed in so many ways.  I'm so grateful for our 7 children who are still here with us.  I'm so glad that I listened to that feeling that told me to focus on my children.  I knew I had a short time with Stefen and Jesse while they were finishing up High School.  They were my main priority and I'm so glad I listened to those promptings.  Even though there were still regrets, not enough time or hugs.  Not enough I love yous.  I do my best to never miss an opportunity to say I love you and give a hug.

I'm so grateful to be able to have beautiful family, friends and women in my life who I know understand my pain, my joy and my heart.

Thank you all for all the ways you bless me, my life and my family.


Monday, May 9, 2011

Learning at Women's Conference

This year I was blessed to go to the Women's Conference at BYU.

We lost our youngest 16 year old son Jesse this last July 7th.  It was a healing and needed break to go to the conference this year.  There were many wonderful classes but I will mention only two that impacted me the most.

The first class I will share was entitled "Choosing Joy : Lift Up Thy Heart and Rejoice" was a young woman Meg Johnson who at the age of 22, in 2004, had an accident that left her paralyzed.  Her fall broke both legs, both arms, her collar bone and her neck at c 7 leaving her a paraplegic - paralyzed from the chest down.  She is a beautiful young woman, exuberant in her love for life.  I cried and I laughed as she shared her story and her spirit.  We all laughed,  she has the funniest sense of humor and an amazing faith.

She shared how her 17 yr old brother went and prayed earnestly that he might take her trail, he didn't want to she his sister suffer so.  He was chastised and told by the spirit  "What gives you the right to take her challenge?"

Meg told of a dream/ vision where she saw herself in the preexistence sitting at a table with a man who was telling her what it was like to be paralyzed and she was so excited she could hardly wait to get to experience being paralyzed, and to learn all the lessons involved with that experience.

Meg sees the humor in her life and the challenges she faces as she lives with her rag doll body, as she describes it.  She had us all laughing as she described trying to get into her car during a rain storm and how she fell, her wheel chair rolled away and she feel into a puddle on the ground.  It was hilarious to her tell of a tiny little old lady coming to her rescue.   What a beautiful and delightful young woman.

She talked about having tubes coming out of every part of her body .. two coming out of her lungs draining the liquid that had accumulated in her lungs due to her injuries.   They thought she had brain injury and so they had tied down her hands -- the only thing she could move.  As she lie there suffering and crying she started to pray -- she prayed to love the ceiling, and then the window, and the car outside the window ... etc etc. everything she could see, and her tears turned to tears of love and gratitude.  She said that gratitude from your heart is "I love you".

It was very humbling to hear her. She has such a funny sense of humor she could be a comedian -- she had the whole room laughing.

She talked about how serving is what keeps her going and happy.  Meg has married and serves once a week at least.  She drives a car and lives an amazing life despite her challenges.  Meg says "Service has healed me in a way the hospital can't."

The other class I want to share was by Dennis and Joyce Ashton -- Facing Grief and Disappointment  "In the Quiet Heart is Hidden"  (hymn # 220)

I was going to share the website they gave us .. but it doesn't seem to work.   I'll share it anyway -- maybe it's temporarily down -- jashton@mstar.net .  Shar tole me about the Ashtons, their work and their books.  I got their book "Jesus Wept".  I was so happy when I saw their class at the Women's Conference -- it took me a bit to make the connection.  I wish I'd realized before I would have taken their book the first day for them to sign.  I had hoped that there would be a class at Education week on grief but there wasn't and so I was happy to find the Ashton's class.

A lot of what they shared was not new rather a reaffirmation -- but so good to hear.  There were things that touched my heart deeply.  I sat there and cried and cried.  You know how it is when there's understanding. I'll put my thoughts in quotation marks.)

I heard some things that really stood out to me.  It was Dennis Ashton that talked about the things that made me cry

We don't grieve less with time -- We grieve less often with time.   ( Now my words and interpretation -- we will never miss them less -- and the pain of missing them will never go away,  but times lessens the amount of time we spend grieving)

Grieving is not a lack of faith.

The pain is directly related to the amount of love ... (just like Kahlil Gibran says ... and the scriptures.)

Shakespeare said -- "Everyone can master a grief ... but he who has it."

Spiritual Injuries happen when life's realities contradict and /or conflict with previously held spiritual assumptions.  Dennis talked about a woman who refused to get help .. for fear that if others who thought she was so faithful and strong found out that she struggled and needed help it would shatter their faith.
He quotes some scriptures from Job that are excellent -- Job 21:34   Job 16:2    Job 16: 4-5

Here's Job 16: 2-5  (1-5)  Then Job answered and said,  2)I have heard many such things: miserable comforters are ye all. (this one made me laugh :)) 3)Shall vain words have an end? or what emboldeneth thee that thou answereth?  4) I also could speak as ye do: if your soul were in my soul's stead, I could heap up words against you, and shake my head at you. 5) But I would strengthen you with my mouth, and the moving of my lips should asswage your grief.

Dennis talked about the many things that people say because they don't know better.  Well meaning but how they can hurt.

He talked about how our trials refine us.  The refiner's fire.

Listen to understand .... not to be understood.  :)

He talked about our baptismal covenants and how we are to bear one another's burdens. .... mourn with those that mourn.  I'm sure we could each talk about the perfect cards we received ... or those times that someone said the perfect thing to us -- that touched our heart and brought tears to our eyes because of the compassion and love we felt.

He talked about Victor Frankel ..  I love his writings -- What is the name of his book?  He talks about finding meaning in life and suffering.

The last experience that Dennis related brought me to tears.  He was walking his dog and his friend came over  and the reminisced about experiences they'd had with his 14 year old son who'd died.   As they were finishing up he said  "Dennis I want you to know I'll never get tired of hearing you talk about Cameron."

I sat there with tears running down my face remembering that first email I got from Sharlen -- her telling me that she'd never get tired of hearing me talk about my boy -- my Jesse .... and even now as I write this it brings me to tears ... it did the first time I read/ heard those words and it will every time I suppose.  I think about what Sharlen shared with me just recently --  A dear friend who had someone ask her if she was over the death of her dear son.  The pain of the comment hurt so deeply she went to our Heavenly Father with her pain and asked if she was wrong for wanting to remember and talk about her dear son.  The answer that came to her was "Now you know how I feel -- I want my son to be remembered and talked about."  May we all remember not only our earthly sons and daughters but our Savior who gave his life for us.  Who gives us hope of eternal life, and reunion with our sons who have gone on before us through the Atonement and Resurrection. 


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Donation -- The gift of sight ....

When we were at the hospital with Jesse's body they asked us if we wanted to have Jesse be a donor.  The question caught me off guard because I didn't realized that one could be a donor after they were already dead. The questions hit like a punch in the gut.  The shock of being with his lifeless body was enough without the thought of the invasive and seemingly irreverent procedures that donation would involve.  We asked for a little time to think about it. We had never thought about it,  let alone discussed it.  

We had to stop and ask ourselves the question "What would Jesse want us to do?  What would Jesse want done with his body?"  We felt that he would want to help another.  So ... as hard as it already was we decided that we'd let Jesse be a donor.  I guess there's a lot that can be donated even after someone has passed away.  They can't "harvest" the organs, but there's a lot that they can use.  The corneas,  the skin, and other tissues.  My dear friend Ranelle Wallace who had a near death experience and wrote the Book "The Burning Within" (amazing book by the way) told me that they can make a large graft from just one inch of skin.  They can also use the long bones and other tissues.  

One of the most difficult conversations I ever had was talking about what was to be taken or not, and harvested.  I don't know if there's a way to prepare for such a experience, maybe to be more informed before hand.  To understand how it works, and also how it blesses lives.  The people who worked with us were helpful and kind. 

I wasn't prepared for just how invasive the process would be on Jesse's body.  He had over 16 feet of incisions on his body.  They also did an autopsy, as his death was unattended by a medical Dr, so there were those incisions as well.  The incisions were leaking and so the put cotton bandaging over then and wrapped his body in plastic.  I hate the whole embalming process.  The body feels like plastic to me after it is embalmed. 

Here's a poem I wrote for Jesse and those who have donated or been the recipient of a donor, and for all the families who are touched by this process. 

Angel Eyes

Your beautiful eyes, 

Laughing ~ Shinning Bright

With Joy and life,

Suddenly --

Too quickly, too soon,

Your physical eyes -- forever closed. 


The question stings. 

We don't know .... 

What would you want?

You'd want to help another. 

Yes, ... as hard as it is ~

We honor you -- your life,

what we feel your wishes are. 

Your beautiful eyes ~ 

a short life of glorious sight,

Now .... 

can go on, blessing the lives of two, 

that were blind,

who now can see. 

Tears of grief and joy are shed

for the gift of sight

given from your bright and shining eyes.

Angel eyes,

now watching over us 

from heaven. 

(c) Elizabeth M Allen
Written in Honor of H Jesse Allen
by his mother

Thanks to the Utah  Lions Eye Bank, the John A Moran Eye Center and the University of Utah School of Medicine, for kind and loving support at a most difficult time.   

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

One Day Closer - Part 3

It was 8 months ago today (March 7, 2011) that Jesse passed away.  These mensaversaries can be harder than I think they will be. Here's the poem that came to me today as I was reflecting once again on that enemy - time.

One Day Closer 

Feeling like time
the enemy
was pulling your further away
from me,
my memories of you ...

the realization 
Each day - each moment,
brings me closer
one day - one moment at a time
to when I will see you,
feel you,
hear your voice,
hug you,

Until then
I pray
Let each day be blessed
with strength and Love,
fond memories
of you and our love. 
Lead me to serve
those in need.

May my life be blessed
that when I see you again,
I will hear you say ~
"Thanks Mom -
For living with Love 
for the way you honored me,
my memory,
the way you lived 
with passion and courage."

A breath, 
and I hear my heart,

That same prayer 
I humbly offer
to my Savior Jesus
Son of God.
My hope ~
That when I behold thy face
I might hear ~

"Well done,
Thou good and faithful daughter."

Each day a gift,
a chance to love and serve,
bringing us closer
to meeting once again,
those we love,
in realms above. 

(c) Elizabeth M Allen
March 7, 2011

One Day Closer - Part 2

This next poem - Life Goes On -  I wrote the first day of school.  Stefen's senior year and what was supposed to be Jesse's junior year.  I attended the assembly that morning as they were doing a little memorial for Jesse.  I got the message that I could have said something much later.  I was just too out of it I guess.  It meant a lot that they did what they did.  Mrs Anderson the principle at the time was wonderful with me - us.  Mr. Welton Jesse's debate teacher and coach spoke about Jesse and did a wonderful memorial for him.

Life Goes On 

Life goes on ~ 
or so it should 
I'm told. 

But how? 
When my world, 
turned upside down
since you left 
will never ~ can never
be quite the same,
for me,
your father,
and siblings,
those who loved you,
whose lives you touched. 

Today the first day,
back to school,
without you,
You not here.

Yeah, it was touching
and sweet,
a wonderful tribute,
a moment of silence
in memory of you.
A cheer for you,
for who you are 
and your life.

Then -- not missing a beat
as if nothing had happened
the fun and frolicking 
laughter and cheering continue --

Life goes on. 

(c) Elizabeth M Allen
August 24, 2010