Saturday, April 25, 2015

My Little Angel Baby

Today marks what would have been my angel baby's 8th birthday.  I've been contemplating, and perhaps, even dreading this day.  Although it doesn't change anything to focus on "what if's," on days like today, I just can't help it.  I begin to imagine all the "what if's."  What if John was still here with us?  What would our family be like?  What would he be like?  Would we have been preparing for his baptism this morning, instead of visiting his grave?  What if...
When I reflect on our experience with John, I feel grateful that I'm able to now obtain a sense of peace.  There were many times, especially at the beginning, I wasn't sure I would ever feel that again.  With peace, however, there's also still those feelings of sorrow and grief.  I don't expect that I'll ever be free from that, and that is alright.  I know my heart will always ache for my little boy. There are times that still catch me off guard.  The mention of his name sends those familiar sensations, my chest tightens, tears sting my eyes, and I feel like I cannot catch my breath. I see his tiny face in my mind, and I think, "what if..."
Along with a sense of peace, I can also truly say that in some ways I find I'm grateful for my experience with John.  I certainly wish he was here, and going through the grief was the most difficult thing I've ever done, but I recognize that the experience shaped and helped me, and many others, grow in ways that I don't think I would have otherwise been able.  The tender mercies that God granted to us during such a difficult time were sweet and undeniable.  The family support and love that was extended to us demonstrated what incredible people I have in my life.
There have been times that I have felt John's presence in my life.  There are also incredibly sweet moments when I've witnessed that presence in the lives of my children, especially Adell.  Despite never knowing her brother, she has been able to forge a unique and very real relationship with John.  Those sweet moments, most too sacred to share, reaffirm my belief that John really is part of our Eternal family.  He is still here, and is as much a part of our family as anything.  He touches our lives in unexpected ways, and watches as we strive to grow and progress.
Today, I indulge in my "what if" scenarios.  As a mother, I can't help but grief for those lost possibilities, but as I reflect on the Lord's tender mercies, and I remember that my little angel baby is here in our lives, I see can see past the "what if's" and look forward to the "what's coming."

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Remembering Lynzee

"I'm a Dog, too!"

Remembering Lynzee
By, Kari Gardiner

"If being a dog means you're like (Lynzee), who never turns her back on you, and who's always there to pick you up when you fall, and loves you no matter how many times you mess up; if that's what it means to be a dog, then, yeah, I'm a dog, too!" - Quote from Mr. Peabody and Sherman (altered slightly).

For nearly 14 years I've had a loyal companion, always quietly there in the background of my life. If only people could more accurately emmulate the unfailing qualities of a dog. The world would certainly be a better place. Lynzee had all of those qualities and more. She was everything that made up a fabulous dog. She was loyal, good natured, patient, extending her love unconditionally, always there for me when I needed her, and perhaps her most endearing quality - she was pocket-sized.

Saying good-bye to my unfailing friend is one of the most difficult things I've ever had to do. Since I turned 18, she's been a major part of my life. It astounds me to think of all the major life changing events Lynzee has been witness to in my life. She meet my future husband on our first date, she watched our relationship progress, and then came with us when we got married. She was there when I was a newlywed, trying to figure things out. She watched me become a mother - she greeted my children with that same unconditional love she always gave to me. She served as a comforter when I lost my son - patiently letting me cry and stroke her in my lap. She endured moving many times - happy, as long as she had a place to sprawl out in the sunlight. She watched me grow and change, she watched the family grow and change. And through all the changes, she remained my faithful, loyal pet.

I realized that part of the reason it was so difficult for me to let her go is because she has been there through virtually all of my adult life. She is as much a part of me as anything could possibly be. Losing her, it really feels like losing a part of myself. It's impossible for me to imagine life without her. The house seems unbearably empty without her. I think it may be quite some time before I stop looking for her - expecting her to be there. It's hard for me to accept that she's gone. I simply cannot picture it. For now, and for a good while, the household will be missing something vital. It has only been these last few years, when she really started to slow down, that I've stopped taking her everywhere I went. It was hard when I had to start leaving her behind. It was hard to admit she was growing older, and she wouldn't be around forever.

It's always amazing to me that in this world of constant change, we still tend to resist profound changes. We know things cannot possibly stay the same forever, but we still cling to the hope that they might, or perhaps that we won't have to face difficult changes. Months ago, I knew Lynzee was slowing down, and I suspected she might be in pain, but I didn't want to think about the decisions I might have to make regarding her decline. I put it off as long as I could. The fact that I didn't want her to suffer, or endure a long difficult death, lead me to understand that I needed to let her go. She wanted to be free. I could provide her this kindness. I pray she will understand that I acted out of love.

Dogs really are extraordinary creatures. So giving, so trusting, so kind, so gentle. I wish I could be more like that. If I can live my life loving others the way Lynzee loved me, then I will feel I have lived a successful life. If I can teach that concept to my children, then I've taught them all they need to know.

How I will miss that eager little body, shaking with excitement as I walk in the door. I'll miss the little noises she made in her sleep. I'll miss stroking her soft cotton fur. I'll miss those big eyes, gazing at me with unfathamoble trust. I'll miss the way she warmed my lap. I'll miss how gentle she was with my children. I'll miss watching her chase after the birds in the springtime. I'll miss watching her soak up the warm sun by the window. I'll miss her tiny bark of excitement when she'd play.

I'll miss my friend. It's so hard to say goodbye. I cling to the belief that someday, somehow, I will see my little friend once again.

Goodbye, Lynzee. Thank you for everything.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Yearly Interviews 2015

Keeping with tradition: here's the annual yearly interview with all the Gardiner children.

Name: Adell Marie Gardiner
Birthday: September 3, 2005
Present age: 9
Birthstone: Sapphire
Favorite color: Blue
Favorite food: Baked ravioli (still!)
Favorite beverage: Rootbeer or cream soda (hasn't changed!)
Favorite treat: Sticky Mango
Favorite animal: Jaguar
Best friend: Addi and Tyani
Future occupation: Author
Greatest fear: Anything sharp
Favorite movie: Big Hero 6
Favorite television show: Uncle Grandpa
Favorite game: Any boardgame
Loves/Favorite things: Nature, journal/writing, camera, trampoline, family
Favorite subject in school: Science
Hobbies/Talents: Photography, writing (comics, stories, etc.), art, dance
Dislikes: Spiders, vegetables
Greatest challenge: Getting along with difficult people
Words that describe personality: Independent, strong-willed, energetic, funny, happy, smart, creative
Biggest accomplishment of 2014: Competing on the Lehi Swim Team over the summer
Name: Hannah Claire Gardiner
Birthday: September 17, 2008
Present age: 6
Birthstone: Sapphire
Favorite color: Pink
Favorite food: Ravioli noodles or potatoes
Favorite beverage: Soda
Favorite treat: Donuts
Favorite animal: Bird
Best friend: Rachel
Future occupation: Firefighter
Greatest fear: Ghosts or being alone for a long time
Favorite movie: Frozen (of course!)
Favorite television show: Teen Titans
Favorite game: Ghost in the Graveyard or Old Maid
Loves/Favorite things: Frozen toys, scented markers, Frozen blanket, her books, family, friends
Favorite subject in school: Centers, recess, reading time, all of it!
Hobbies/Talents: Singing, dance, art (drawing, coloring, painting)
Dislikes: Broccoli, getting hurt
Greatest challenge: Learning to read
Words that describe personality: Bright, good friend, sweet, kind, beautiful, artistic, silly
Biggest accomplishment of 2014: Starting kindergarten!
Name: Mia Lynn Gardiner
Birthday: June 3, 2011
Present age: 3
Birthstone: Pearl
Favorite color: Pink and purple
Favorite food: Soup
Favorite beverage: Rootbeer
Favorite treat: Baby Bottle Pop
Favorite animal: Sheep
Best friend: Devyn
Future occupation: Grandma
Greatest fear: Ghosts
Favorite movie: Frozen or Cloudy with Meatballs 2
Favorite television show: Team Umizoomi
Favorite game: Barbies or fairies (her words)
Loves/Favorite things: Soft baby blanket, angel kitty, Ba-bas (bottles with milk), sisters, Cael
Favorite subject in school: Playing with friends (joy school)
Hobbies/Talents: Dance, art, gives the best hugs
Dislikes: Being bored, being cold
Greatest challenge: Giving baby brother some personal space
Words that describe personality: Independent, optimistic, sunshine girl, affectionate, joyful, brave
Biggest accomplishment of 2014: Making new friends at joy school

Name: Richard Cael Gardiner
Birthday: October 17, 2013
Present age: 15 months
 Favorite color: Whatever Mom decides to dress him in
Favorite food: Anything!
Favorites beverage: Water from his sippy cup
 Favorite treat: Anything!
Favorite animal: Lynzee
Best friend: Mom or Dad
Future occupation: Athlete
Greatest fear: Being left out
Favorite movie: Toy Story 3
Favorite television show: Whatever the girls are watching
Favorite game: Throwing balls down the stairs
Loves/Favorite things: Balls, blue puppy blanket, Mom, Dad, Sisters, Grandma, eating
Favorite subject in school: Not yet
Hobbies/Talents: Throwing, wrestling with Dad, playing with sisters
Dislikes: Being constantly pestered by sisters who love him too much sometimes
Greatest challenge: Learning to talk
Words that describe personality: Cute, smart, energetic, happy, good natured, fun, sweet
Biggest accomplishment of 2014: Learning to walk