Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Forever Remembered and Cherished

A year has passed since this wonderful father, husband, grandpa, son, friend, and boss passed away that late afternoon on Monday, May 20th. It was a day that none of us will ever forget. I claim it was the worst day in my life. But at the same time after having a year to ponder and organize my feelings and thoughts, it was a day of so much gratitude. Yes, we had to say goodbye to our beloved Dad and friend but what wonderful memories we have of him. I’m grateful everyday that I had such a great relationship with my father. He knew me so well and loved me so much. Up until his death and probably still now he worried about me. He knew my struggles and heart breaks. He hoped for so much for me. And for that I am the luckiest to have a dad who did all that and so much more!

From an early age my Dad taught me to reach for the stars. He taught my sisters and I the importance of achieving personal goals. He shared with us a strong work ethic and the importance of making something of yourself no matter your circumstances. I remember being a child and wanting to become a teacher so badly. Many told me that teaching wasn’t the best field to go into as teachers don’t make much money. But my father stood behind my goal and supported me all the way through college and then into my first teaching job at Pony Express Elementary. He bragged to his buddies about his baby girl becoming a teacher and teaching those 4th graders in Eagle Mountain. You would’ve thought I had become a famous movie star because of the way he cherished my profession. He spent many hours helping me with my classroom and listening to my teaching stories. I will always take a little of my dad with me to every school I teach in because he was a huge part of me becoming a teacher! I learned from him how to make differences in other people’s lives. He served others so well and I know by watching him that I hope to continue to do the same throughout my life and in my career.

Family was so important my Dad. Many of my friends growing up loved coming to my house and being a part of my family. My dad loved his wife and children and wanted to spend as much time with us as he could. I remember when Jon and I started dating and how surprised Jon was when he would come to family functions and we would all just spend hours and hours laughing and enjoying each other’s company. Many families don’t have that and I know from my father that cherishing time with your family and loving one another is so important. 

My Dad loved having fun. Whether it was a day on the tennis court or a weekend at Lake Powell, my dad loved doing fun things and being active. We as a family travelled and vacationed to many places. If it meant getting his family together we would go anywhere! My Dad loved his toys. He had a boat, motorcycle, 4 wheeler (well technically that was mine.... I think), BMW and the list goes on. There wasn’t one thing my Dad never tried! His one love was tennis! During the last 5 years of his life he lived on the tennis court. He made so many friends with his tennis buddies. He was made the president of the Trilogy Tennis Club and did so many wonderful things for the community and tennis players. He tried to teach us how to play tennis and I can say I do love to place tennis but I don’t think I’m very good! Sorry Dad!

I have so many memories of my Dad and will forever hold those close to my heart. But one things that I have that is only mine, is my adventure with my Dad to China. At the time I was very nervous about traveling across the world, being away from my husband, and going to a very small town in China where they have nothing! Now since my Dad has passed, those memories I will cherish for forever! I am so glad my Dad took me to China and showed me that country. It softened my heart and taught me how lucky each of us are. Not only did it give me a humility check, it was an adventure only I was able to do with my dad. I walked on the Great Wall of China with my Dad. I sat by his side as he treated dental patients in Suquin, China. I tried disgusting food with him. I got to spend almost 2 weeks just him and I together as father and daughter! I will never forget those times. 

Nor will I ever forget any memories I have of my Dad. He is such an inspiration to me! Everyday I wake up and think of him. I think of the way he would react in certain circumstances. I try to act like him because I know the good man he always was. He was such a dear friend to so many people. I hope to be that same kind of friend to those around me like he was. As the years pass by and we go on with our lives, I will forever hold my Dad close to my heart! I have things around my house that remind me of him and of the amazing guy he was! I know without a doubt he is so happy right now! He is cheering me on through my life! I know he is up in heaven playing with my children! I know he will have a hand in helping us have that family that Jon and I have hoped and prayed for so long! This past year I have been made a stronger person for going through these trials of losing my Dad, but I have gained so much confidence in my knowledge of what happens after we end our earth life. I know he is looking down and protecting me and my family every moment of the day! 

Included is a link to view my memorial video I put together last year for my Dad's funeral.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Leaving Colorful Colorado

In less than two weeks Jon and I will be heading out on yet another adventure. Answers to our prayers have led us back to our "home" of Arizona. This past year we have been faced with many trials and through it all what has helped us most is our family and friends. We know being closer to them will help as we begin new things in both of our lives.

If you would've asked me 3 years ago if I would ever go back to Arizona, I would've said, "I wish!" But, now it's actually happening. Before we go and before the craziness of moving is among us, I wanted to sit down and write my thoughts down of our experiences in Colorado.

Four and a half years ago Jon came to Colorado by himself to begin graduate school at University of Colorado Denver. He got himself a VERY small studio apartment in the ghetto of Aurora, CO and began our adventure by himself. I stayed back and moved in with my parents in Gilbert to finish out my year teaching in Arizona. That was at the time the hardest thing we had been through, living 600 miles apart. I joined Jon in June 2010 and we started our new life in Colorado. We fell in love with this place. We loved the beautiful summer weather and quickly we found out unexpectedly I was pregnant! We were so excited to be in a place and with baby on the way!  That summer I made friends at school. We both got great callings in our new ward one in young women and Jon in primary.  However, later that summer we quickly found our lives weren't exactly going the way we hoped. Not being able to control anything, we lost our baby girl due to a neural tube defect only being 13 weeks along. That began our toughest trial as a couple. We tried again to get pregnant for another 2 years and nothing happened. It weighed on both of us heavily and we both bargained with our Heavenly Father hoping and praying something would happened.... it didn't. I began seeing a fertility specialist and both Jon and I seemed to have nothing seriously wrong with us. Minor complications but nothing that was going to cause infertility. For a year I went through ups and downs of trying different methods to get pregnant.... nothing but surgery after surgery! My frustrations began to take over my life. I felt so inadequate and a failure to Jon as a wife. I would be promised by my doctor that this time it would work and it never did. Finally getting ready to start a round of IVF that seemed to be hopeful my body wasn't responding and they didn't even get to the shots. I was so upset a year ago back in April 2013 asking why wasn't my body responding. A month later I realized quickly there was a reason to why I couldn't handle a pregnancy or the IVF treatments. Another life altering event happened unexpectedly. My father passed away May 20, 2013 due to heart complications and it sent me into a whirlwind as it did to all my family. I already wasn't stable but this caused me to become a different person. I was filled with anger, rage, resentment, doubt, and so much more. I longed for myself. I wanted to be that girl I knew I was. The Ashlyn who was happy and always smiling. During a Thanksgiving dinner with my family and having a heart to heart with my sister, I realized I needed help. I was suffering from depression and I wasn't willing to admit it. I was digging a deeper hole and all my family knew I needed to start talking to someone. I always said it was like I was outside of my body seeing a totally different person in myself.

It's now almost a year since my Dad's death and I can finally say I'm feeling like myself again. I have the strength now to get through things. I've been through a lot these past few years but I'm grateful every day for what I have become through it all. I am a stronger woman now. This journey in Colorado has taught me so much. I truly know Jon and I were guided to come here for those exact reasons. It made us grow closer to one another through our hard times and has prepared us for the future. I met some of the most amazing people while living here who have been my stability and have helped me along the way! I've realized that family even though we are related, sometimes we don't see eye to eye. I've learned who truly cares about me and want whats best for Jon and I. I wouldn't take back any of our experiences here in Colorado because they have given me strength to overcome anything. I'm strong because of what I've been through during the last 4 years. Colorado I will miss you. I will miss the fun memories. I will hold close the last friendships I have made. But most importantly I will remember what I have become through this all.