Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Past Month and a Half

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas Season and Happy New Year!
I am trying to get caught up on my blogging, so Warning: This is LONG!
This past month has been wild. Here is a map of where we have been since November 16:


View Larger Map
Once again, The Clarks trekked the globe.
Though these 15,000 miles of traveling looks fun and exciting, it was not necessarily by choice. This has definitely been one of the most difficult month and a half of my life thus far, but we made it, and made the best of it!.

1st stop Calgary:

Brooklyn and I flew out to Calgary November 16th. During our stay, we got to see several of my childhood friends, and surprisingly a ton of family! Of course we got to spend a lot of time with Ama and Grandpa Greg and Brig, but Grandpa Sevy surprised us and came to visit, then Brooke, Mike and Hannah drove up for Thanksgiving, and then for the cherry on top, Uncle Geoff and Kelty were in town for the Grey Cup, so we got to see them as well!
Unfortunately, I had was suffering from health problems the whole trip, but it was an excuse to just sit and visit a lot, so it was fine. I got my second bout of Bronchitis of the season right before we flew out. I was unable to get enough oxygen or sleep because of it. My Mom doctored me up with "Magic Juice" (Onion, Garlic, Ginger, Lemon, Lime and Honey Juice) and other natural remedies, but before I could get better, I cartilage in my coughed and cracked the cartilage in my pelvic/tailbone area. This happened a few days before we were supposed to fly home as it made it impossible to move or sit for a few days. Trey and Brooke's family arrived on Thanksgiving day and the 'crack' occurred 2 days later.


A Flames Game! Bath time at Ama and Grandpa's - Harris Style

We were so lucky to have Grandpa Sevy come out from the Okanogan for a few days to see us!
Uncle Brig was absolutely amazing with Brooklyn. She would run and exclaim "Uncle Brig!" every time she saw him. Thanks for the fun swim at the Glencoe!

Time with Ama and Grandpa was priceless. There was a lot of it as I was mostly incapacitated!

Brooklyn's best friend was her Auntie Brookie. They made cookies and Brooke played with her for hours!
When my back went out, Trey and I were figuring out if I could even fly home to Indiana when we got news of his Mom being in the hospital. Trey boarded the next plane out of Calgary and arrived a few hours before she passed away.
I got on the plane the next day and flew to Chicago where our friends here went above and beyond helping me. Melinda picked us up at the airport, Sabrina met me at my house to help me pack, Nikki took Brooklyn while we packed and The Thomas' picked us up the next morning at 4:30am to take us back up to the airport to arrive a few hours before the Viewing.
The flights were hard, but bearable due to such wonderful friends and Trey's incredible planning on organizing it all from Chattanooga!

2nd Stop, Chattanooga
The Funeral:


The Friday Family Brooklyn was a delight - she loves her uncle Clay!

Our Little Cabin in the woods!

Though it was the saddest time of my life, it was also a time where we got to reconnect with family and friends who we love so much. The love and support given and felt throughout this time has been overwhelming and taught me a lot about charity and service.
A wonderful couple in the Branch let us stay in their cabin behind their home during our stay for the funeral. It was a dream to have our own space where we could talk and cry as we pleased. They had a cat and 3 dogs, so of course Brooklyn was in heaven.
Brooklyn was actually a real breath of fresh air during the entire event. She was her happy, playful self and added a real sweetness and lightness to the funeral.

3rd Stop, Ila Georgia:
Ddaddy and Nana's!
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The Quiddler Champions!
We had nightly battles. Ddaddy, next time...

Like always, our visit with Ddaddy and Nana was delightful! Abundant with Food, Family, fun and much needed rest. Nana went above and beyond insisting on taking Brooklyn in the mornings so we could sleep in and reminding me to take a nap while Brooklyn did each day.

This was hilarious! Ddaddy was handing out $100 to each of the Grandchildren for Christmas, and Brooklyn went up to him and said " DDaddy, I want Money!" Of course DDaddy had his famous stack of $2 bills and gave each of the great-grandchildren one. They were thrilled!

4th Stop, Atlanta
We Spent one night at Trey's step-brother Phil's house before starting our road trip.


5th Stop: Pensicola FL

We decided that we would do a road trip down south before heading over to Memphis for Christmas. We rented a car and headed down to the beach. Phil actually was going to be down there for business and had a nice hotel room he let us share with him! We were so grateful for his generosity and great company! It worked out perfectly and was fun to spend a bit more time with him.

Our first day was rainy, but we still ventured out onto the beach!

The next day was nicer though a little chilly. Brooklyn still loved finding shells, chasing the seagulls and playing with Daddy!

6th Stop: New Orleans

This is a place I have always wanted to go. The full experience of music and food and exploration was a little difficult with an opinionated 2 year old, but we still had fun!
We went on a bus tour of where the Hurricane Katrina aftermath was the worst and most of the rest of the city.

I found a real deal on a 41/2 star hotel - Le Pavillion. It had the nicest lobby of any hotel I've ever stayed in, but the room and service was ridiculous. We do not recommend this hotel.

Despite the poor hotel experience, we loved Cafe Dumont, walking through the French Quarter, eating lots of sea-food like Oyster Po-Boys, Soft Shell Crabs and Craw fish and other yummy Cajun, New Orleans food.

7th Stop: Memphis
One of the major highlights of our trip was when we went a Grizzlies vs Pacers NBA game in Memphis. Fred got FRONT ROW tickets, along with Valet parking, free food and opportunity to meet the players after the game! It was an opportunity of a lifetime!

Can you believe where we were sitting!?

Here are a few of the players we met

Definitely the way to watch a game!

Christmas:

Brooklyn had no complaints with being at Papa and Didis! 2 Kittens that would let her terrorize them and an Uncle Didi that would do the same!

Though it was terribly sad not to have Judy with us, we made the best of it!
The boys went Paintballing, Phil drove over for about 3 days - bringing his PS3 and beautiful Dog Zoe, and Brooklyn and I kept busy. Incredible neighbors brought meals regularely, including a full Christmas Dinner!

Though Judy wasn't with us, she was definitely there in spirit. She had done almost all her Christmas shopping before her surgery. One last time, Brooklyn and I were spoiled rotten by our Nai Nai! Judy went all out on the Elmo theme (;

So, though it was a difficult time, we have so much to be grateful for! We hope you all had a wonderful Christmas Holiday. I wish I could have gotten Christmas cards out, but please know of our love for you and thank you for yours!

Oh, here are just a few more pictures - they are just so good I couldn't not post them!

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Judy


As many of you have already heard, Trey's Mother, and one of the most incredible women, my biggest supporter and dearest friend passed away December 2nd. She died of bleeding on her brain a few days after neck surgery.
Just stating that she is gone and how she died just doesn't seem right. I don't know if going into why she was so wonderful, and how I don't know what we will do without her, or why I haven't been able to write this till now will help, but I just don't know what else to do. So, I will try to somehow express myself.

To say, she was my "Mother-in-law" never felt right. She was so much more. she was my second Mom, my advocate, my angel who would just show up, or say exactly what I needed, She was one of my closest friends, by business partner/boss, my reminder, the mother and biggest fan of my husband and most incredible Grandmother to my child.
We used to talk several times a week, and almost always, she would remind me of something or think of something that was really important in our lives that I have completely not thought of. She had a focus on us that was amazing and needed and I don't know what we will do without her.

She was adoring, intelligent, capable, so easy to be around and talk to. She was the most generous person I have ever met. I was more spoiled in my 5 years with her than by anyone over my lifetime. She was completely selfless with her time and resources with us.
From the beginning, we could talk for hours on end because we shared the same favorite topic: Trey. Brooklyn naturally made that list and just made our conversations that much more fun!


She was the perfect Mother-in-law and Perfect Grandma/Nai Nai. I have never dared to imagine what life would be like without our her. She was the only other person on earth that looked at Brooklyn the same way Trey and I do. She adored her the way I know she adored her boys. She would always assure me that Brooklyn is brilliant and more beautiful than any other child(; She spoiled her with the most adorable clothes and all her love. I actually never had to buy her clothes! Last visit she showed up with her entire winter wardrobe, then took us shopping at Target for more clothes!

All my friends would say to me "I want a Judy!" or "everyone needs a Judy". I agreed and was so glad I was the one that had her.

When Trey got the call when we were all still in Calgary, Trey ran out the door in less than 5 minutes to board the next plane. Brooklyn and I were left in my parents Condo alone. I couldn't stop sobbing, I just knew she was gone. Brookyln didnt' know what to do, so I sat on the floor and held her to me in a tight hug as I wailed. I was amazed at how still she became and just became the heartbeat I needed to hear as I cried. She just let me hold her and hug her for at least half hour as I sobbed before a Sheila, our friend came over. Over the next few days, she wasn't quite as understanding as she would just say "No more crying Mommy!" every time I would start sobbing again.

When Judy passed away, it felt like there was a lighted path in my life, full of joy and love and memories that was suddenly extinguished. That's just the best way to describe it. As I walk through my days, I think of how I'd like to call her and tell her something, or now that we are here at her house, what I would be saying to her and it is just so heartbreaking and lonely. I miss her so much it hurts. We are now learning to live in the world without her.
This entry is all about me and my feelings, but Trey and Logan just lost their Mom, Fred his wife and helpmeet. She was their Rock and they are dealing with it in thier own ways. Part of the pain is knowing how much they must hurt.
Through this experience I have learned an incredible amount about how to serve and help others in the grieving experinece. The outpouring of love and support has been overwhelming and each call, note and shared tear has been felt and appreciated.

God Bless in the New Year and Thank you for all you have done.