Yesterday marked three years since Justin passed away. I remember when it was hard to be away from Justin for just a couple days. It was even hard just not communicating through phone after a couple of hours. It’s been three years now and its still shocking to me that he is never coming back. I feel grateful to have the boys in my life, but also angry that Justin isn’t here. I spend half my life feeling sad and the other half trying to move forward and be happy for my kids. This is my life now.
If I could send a message to Justin today this is what I would send and what I would tell him. Watch the video below.
I thought I would share the original post I had written the day Justin passed away. Continue reading below if you want to read that. I also love to share parts of the letters I received form Justin’s close friends and family. I think it will be so great for my boys to read those some day. I added a part of that letter at the bottom.
The original post I wrote to inform our friends and family that Justin had passed away (July 7, 2018)
“I’m writing a post I thought I would never have to write. I believed and hoped so badly I wouldn’t have to. Justin had been in a lot of pain the last couple of days. This morning when we went to check on him he wasn’t breathing. We got him comfortable enough last night to fall asleep. Justin and I read a scripture together before going to bed and that was the last time I saw him. He was home around the people he loved.
I did get a sweet moment with him yesterday where he and I were able to talk. He was so weak and could barely say anything, but we shared some thoughts with each other. He told me he was so tired and was trying so hard to hold on for me and the boys, but he didn’t know how much strength he had left in him. He said we had done everything we were suppose to and it was in Gods hands. I think he knew it was time and was ready to let go. He has suffered for so long and he is free now.
I kept thinking this morning that I wish he wrote letters to the boys or did things to prepare for this, but we had so much hope, it was hard to have those conversations. We lived each day talking about things like when he would take the boys fishing. When he would go back to work. Even last night he was saying how when this was over he wanted to go to the Tetons again.
We believed he would get better and lived each day to that belief.
For a moment I was angry at that hope. We could have planned better and had letters for the boys. But then I thought how that hope was the reason he lived so long. That hope was how he sat next to me while I gave birth. That hope was how he saw his boys. That hope was how we had a couple of months as a family. We never lived a day thinking he would die and I think that was the best way to live.
I feel an ache and pain I have never felt before in my life. I’m scared to wake up tomorrow and the next day. He was my person who treated me like a queen, even when he was so sick. He knew exactly how to make me feel better and make me laugh.
I don’t know how I’ll keep going, but I’m grateful for these two beautiful boys to keep me living. I’m so grateful for the knowledge that I will see him again. I keep having to remind myself that this life is just a moment. I will be with him for eternity. It’s easy to say that, but the ache of each day without him will be unbearable. I’m hoping it will get easier.
Last night we watched Remember the Titans. He was too weak to watch, but listened to the whole movie. He would smile at his favorite parts and wished he could sing some of the songs. It was meant to be because it reminded me of his Facebook post when he was in the hospital. He said “Coach I’m hurt, I ain’t dead” He truly had that attitude up until his last breath. He was the strongest person I know! He fought so hard to be here for me and the boys. He was a beautiful soul!
I held his hand one last time this morning. Whenever we held hands we would give each other hand squeezes meaning “I love you.” We did it yesterday when he was to weak to speak. He squeezed my hand twice. I squeezed his hand this morning for the last time. I love him more than anything!
Thank you for all you’re prayers and love!”
“Funerals are an important ritual in the grieving progress. They don’t just recognize that a life has ended, but they recognize that a life was lived. It can be a celebration of the person they were and the life they lived.”From the movie Love Happens
The funeral was by far the hardest day of my life. I honestly feel sick just thinking about that day, but it was also so beautiful to be able to talk about what an amazing person he was. I still have people come to me and say that day changed them for the better. They wanted to be better and live better because of the person Justin was. It truly was a special day to recognize the person he was and the life he lived. You can read more about the funeral HERE.
Letter to Marshal and Everett
I was always too scared to have the hard conversations with Justin and I regret it. I wish so badly Justin would have written letters to the boys. I asked Justins friends and family to write letters to the boys and tell them more about their dad. Write things down that Justin would have said. I wanted them to be able to get to know their dad better through the people who knew him.
I wanted to share just parts of the letters I received and post them here. This blog is a journal and a way for my boys to have a place to look back and read my thoughts and memories. I’m hoping they will enjoy reading some of these letters that people have sent me.
Here is a part of a letter I received from one of Justins friends from college:
“Your dad loved the Lord. He loved the gospel. He lived his life so that he would be worthy to marry your mom in the temple and to see you and her again. I know and he knows that you will see him again. I promise you that your dad is watching both of you grow and become most awesome young men. He is so incredibly proud of you. If you need to feel close to him now you can say a prayer and ask to feel a bit of that love that he has for you. It works.
I’ll try and say a few things that I think he would want you to know: Be strong, boys. Be brave. Be kind. Be worthy. Love your mom and help her as much as you can. Laugh! A LOT! Ask for help when you need it, people want to help. Stick together. Love each other. Pray, especially when you don’t want to. Be grateful. Try to be a little better today than you were yesterday, just a little. Trust people, trust is a gift you have to give. Don’t stop smiling, your dad never did. Be a friend to everyone. Listen; everyone is trying to say something but so few take a turn listening. It’s okay to be different. It’s COOL to be different. Love the Lord. Love YOURSELF! You are worth it and you always will be, no matter what.
Your dad was and is a great man and I know that both of you will be as well. He loves your mom with everything and treated her with devotion, compassion and respect. Do the same. He loves you more than anything, more than everything.”