My Funeral Talk

Here is the talk I gave at my dad’s funeral. I wanted to post it here.

My dad wasn’t like all the other dads. He is the one who stayed home. He is the one who got me breakfast, made sure I took my Flintstone vitamin every morning, and sent me off to school. He is the one who was there when I got home from school. He kept track of when my library books were due, when my appointments were, and if I remembered to take my lunch card to school. If I’m honest, I was less than grateful for these things as a child, but as an adult, I see that this was how he showed his love. 

My classmates soon learned who my dad was, and I would frequently hear, “Taya, your dad is here!” in class. I would then turn toward the door to see Dad peeking in, holding something I forgot. He just couldn’t handle the thought of me not having something I needed, even if it was embarrassing for me to have him show up.

Dad was very organized. If I forgot when something was happening all I would have to do is look at Dad’s detailed calendar that laid out everything happening in the family, complete with a to do list for him. He was always working to make sure things were in order, whether it was in the house or outside in his meticulous yard. He took good care of his things. 

He was often outside tinkering on the cars. He kept the cars in great condition. He  tried really hard to get me to learn how to maintain cars. He would ask me to come hold his light for him, and explain what he was doing. I would roll my eyes and pretend to be paying attention. How I wish I had paid better attention now! He was trying to teach me some valuable skills that I could definitely use as an adult. 

Dad’s health was not good as long as I can remember. This caused some stress in all of our lives. But, through it all, I never remember him losing his temper, shirking a parenting responsibility, or making me feel less loved. This week, as I have compiled many memories of my dad, I have noticed that people say similar things: He made me feel important; He cared; He was interested in my life; He was gentle and kind; He gave of himself. When I think of Dad, the words loving, gentle, kind, and patient come to mind. Those words are the words that embody who he is. What an amazing example of true Christlike love he is to all of us. 

Dad wasn’t always good at saying the words, “I love you”. But he showed his love with his actions. He was always there. He was at my gymnastics meets, diving meets, piano recitals, etc. He was at my kids’ events. He never missed an important event, and he was always one of my biggest cheerleaders. He worried about us kids more than he ever did himself. Even when he didn’t feel good, he was there. He gave more than he physically could often, and he would pay for it later. I don’t remember him ever telling me no when I asked him for help. I’m pretty sure he was the same for everyone. Always giving. Not thinking of himself. When my family experienced the devastating loss of my husband and my children’s father, he was there by my side through it all. He helped me with funeral arrangements and paperwork. He came to my house and made house repairs, fixed a leaking sprinkler line, and was always there if I needed to talk. This fall, I asked him to come to my house to give his opinion on if I needed to replace a window. Instead of just telling me yes or no, he was soon in the window well investigating and cleaning things up. 

Dad had a way with kids, and he loved to have fun. You would often find him playing with the kids instead of being with the adults. He loved the chance to break out his old toy trucks. My earliest memories of Dad are of him playing with me, tickling me, and swinging me around. He never claimed to be an artist, but he could draw a good tractor. My siblings and I would often ask him to draw a tractor for us during church. When one of his kids or grandkids got a fun new toy for Christmas or a birthday, he would be one of the first to help them set it up. 

Dad also never claimed to be a great cook, but he made the best macaroni and cheese. He added just the right amount of extra cheese that made it delicious. My kids love his mac and cheese too. Other specialties were ramen noodles, frozen burritos, and fried eggs.

Dad was a tease. He loved to tickle, tease about crushes, and of course point out how his teenagers had “selective amnesia”. I asked my 6 kids, separately, for one of their best memories of Papa. They all talked about how Papa was funny and would joke with them. He would pretend he didn’t know where they were, which was quite hilarious to them.  Four of my kids immediately talked about how Papa would joke with them about eating their toes. He had a thing for feet. He loved playing with my feet, and he always told me I have the cutest feet in the world. Thankfully, that’s not the best compliment he ever gave me. 

He was a proud Dad and a proud Papa. He relished in everyone’s’ accomplishments and would often be found bragging about his kids and grandkids. The last text I have from him is one expressing pride in how his grandsons performed at their Rubik’s cube competition. 

It is heart wrenching to think of not getting his sweet texts, talking on the phone with him, or going on lunch dates. It is heart wrenching to see my mom’s sorrow that the love of her life is no longer with her. My parents are examples of true love. They have been through so much together, and have withstood some hard things. It has been beautiful to see my mom’s tender love for him this past week, as she has had to make decisions she didn’t dream she would have to make for years. I know he is proud of her.

One thing I always wanted as a child was for my Daddy to be happy. When we were young, Doug and I planned to save up all of our money to buy him a motorcycle. Of course, we didn’t know how much a motorcycle cost or how long it would take us to save up. We only wanted to make him happy.

The times I saw him the happiest are the times I will never forget: going to Lagoon as a family, going bowling, playing with his grandkids, spending time supporting his kids and grandkids, riding ebikes, bantering with his good friend, Brent, spending time with his Love, Kaye. He would always ask me if I’m as happy as a clam. I’m not really sure how happy a clam is. I’m very sad to say goodbye to my daddy. But if a clam is happy, I hope you’re happy as a clam now, Dad. You deserve it. 


I Wish I Could Turn Back Time

Have you ever wished you could just rewind a week or two and have a redo? I wish that so much right now. I wish we could rewind to March 29, 2023, when my dad first went to the hospital. I wish we could have a different outcome. One that my daddy survived and was making a speedy recovery. Instead, today we had his funeral. Today, everyone who loves him gathered together, sang, cried, and laughed. It was beautiful. But it wasn’t supposed to happen. I want him back. 

My family has had so much loss. It feels like the hard things will never stop hitting us. One of my kids’ doctors told me that warriors don’t usually get breaks. I don’t want to be a warrior. It’s totally overrated. It doesn’t feel fair that we have to say goodbye to yet another important person in our lives.

My sweet kids…I worry about them. It was traumatic for them to see their Papa in the casket. Maybe more traumatic than it was for them to see their dad. Maybe it was just too soon for it to bring any semblance of peace. But today they were brave, and they all said they were glad they were able to honor their Papa. I’m proud of them.

My kids worry about me too. Levi said the dinner prayer tonight, and he said, “Please bless that Mom can be happy.” They know I have a heavy burden, and sometimes they try to help me carry it. I wish they didn’t have to feel that way. We had a good talk about how it’s okay that I’m sad because my daddy died. They get it. Their daddy died too. And their Papa. But they just want things to be okay. So do I. I would really love that rewind. 

On a happier note, something I am grateful for this week is the time I have spent with family, and for the many people who have reached out to us all. This week has been a reminder that we are cared for. It feels like I need frequent reminders these days because life is hard, and it’s easy to feel alone. Thank you for that reminder.

What People Don’t See

People tell me I’m strong. They even go as far as to say I’m the strongest person they know. They tell me I seem so put together. But I don’t show them everything. They don’t see my weak moments. People don’t see the times when I’m in bed at night, remembering how it felt to have Greg’s warm body beside me. And then my mind remembers that he is now cold and buried in the ground now. I cry almost every night when I am finally alone to remember. Sometimes I can’t sleep because the emotion is too strong.

People don’t see the times that I cry out in the car. The times I let myself show the intensity of what is inside of me. The rage, the sadness, all of it. 

People don’t see that after all the trauma I have gone through in the last 6.5 years, I am actually weaker. I have grown in some ways as a result of my circumstances, but I am touchier and more sensitive. I have flashbacks that send me reeling. I still clearly see the horrendous moments after August’s birth. I see Greg’s body lying on the hospital bed, dead. I see my kids gathered around the casket. It is too much. I never know what will make these feelings and thoughts come up. I am weaker and stronger at the same time.

I’m scared of loss. I am hypervigilant with my kids. When Kayla goes driving, I hope I don’t have to plan her funeral. I still won’t let her drive on the freeway (though I know she actually does and doesn’t tell me). I have a kid with his driver’s permit, and he has driven a total of 20 minutes since May. I can’t do it. It causes me too much anxiety. When one of my kids screams out in pain, the worst case scenarios come to my mind. I have started planning my kid’s funeral at doctor’s appointments because my mind went that far. I worry about burial plots all the time. People don’t see that. 

People don’t know that even though things were complicated with our relationship, that doesn’t mean I can just be grateful Greg died. It is a special kind of torture to have so much unfinished between us. I am not relieved he is gone, and I’m not happy about it. As the anger toward him subsides, I only see that it is covering intense sadness and heartache. People don’t see that. I don’t let them see the heartache. 

People don’t see my kids’ sadness and grief. They don’t see all that my kids have dealt with and are dealing with. My kids have gone through more than a lot of adults have. They don’t even show me all of their pain. They will be dealing with their childhood for the rest of their lives, and that is difficult for me to swallow. 

People don’t see that my cares and worries are so very different from theirs. I can’t comprehend having the same things occupy my mind now that once did. I have too much on my plate. I don’t have the capacity for all the extra things and the fluff that other parents get to enjoy. We just survive. 

People only see what I show them. They only see the mask that covers the devastation, anxiety, anger, and grief. Sometimes the mask slips down in public, but usually not. I protect people from what is really there. The mask protects all of us from the reality of what I am carrying.


Earlier this week, the kids and I went to A Center for Grieving Children. It is a support group for kids who have lost a parent and the adults who are left behind to care for them. It has been very good for my family, and I usually look forward to it. This time, though, was not as great for me as previous meetings. The facilitator started out the meeting asking everyone about Easter this year. She wanted us to reflect on our beliefs and traditions, etc. I was so put off and angered by this question, and it was confusing. Most of the people (most who have had years since the passing of their spouse) talked about their religion and their beliefs and what they were doing for Easter this year as a family. I told everyone I didn’t really care about Easter this year, and I have more pressing concerns. I didn’t want to even talk about it. The facilitator told me I should at least do something for the kids for Easter, which made me even more angry. Of course I was going to do something. I just would have rather talked about other things. I noticed that another woman who lost her husband days before Greg died seemed angry with the question too, and I was grateful I wasn’t alone. 

This week was rough. Really, really rough. One of the hardest I have had. I have been hit hard with the fact that I’m on my own as a mother to six kids. I am tired, overwhelmed, and have struggled to know how I can keep doing this every day. And then add on Easter. It just feels like one more thing I have to do. One more emotional day to get through. I have been thinking about my reaction to the question about Easter. 

Easter is a meaningful day. It means that we will all live again. It means that we have a Savior who knows us and understands our pain. I believe these things, and I am grateful for my Savior and for what Easter means. Why would this anger me so much? I think it’s because in a way the message of Easter minimizes my pain and what I’m going through right now. It tells me that things are okay because Jesus was resurrected. It tells me I’m not really alone. It tells me I should just be happy because of this. Those are all beautiful messages, but I don’t know that I’m in a place where I can be given peace by them. I feel alone a lot, and I AM alone. It is comforting to think that Greg will live again, but he isn’t here now to spend Easter with us or to help with parenting tasks. He’s not here, and who knows how long it will be until he is. I’m not happy today, and I think that’s okay. It’s okay to be angry with Easter. I was angry with Christmas too. Bah Humbug. 

Last night, I told my kids that what I really needed from them was for them to not wake me up in the morning. The Easter Bunny would come, but he wasn’t going to bring anything more exciting than candy and a stuffed animal. Could they please just watch TV until I woke up? Thankfully, they let that happen, and we have had a relaxing morning. It hasn’t been like other Easters, but that is okay. It’s what I needed today, and the kids are happy. 

In reality, I am grateful for Easter. I am grateful for my Savior who was resurrected and who truly understands me. I’m also grateful for the messages of Easter. I think I’m just not ready to celebrate it. Maybe next year will be better.

Finishing an Unfinished Story

So much is unresolved in my relationship with Greg, and that has been unsettling. It has caused confusing feelings and compounded things for me as well the kids. As I have mentioned before, when Greg died, things weren’t amazing in our relationship or in our family. We were dealing with some big things, and it was very important that they were resolved. Then he just died…It feels unfair for so many reasons. It’s unfair to the kids, to me, and to Greg. The story ended abruptly in the middle of a very difficult time. We didn’t get to finish writing it. We will never know what could have and would have been. 

I have tortured myself wondering what would have happened if Greg had lived. I have questioned some of my decisions and wondered if I would have made the same choices had I known Greg was going to die. It is easy to ask questions about what could have been. The hard thing about these questions is they are not possible to answer. We will never know what would have happened. The same goes for a lot of things in life. For example, it’s easy to wonder if things would be different for August if I had chosen to have him in the hospital instead of at home. Maybe they would, and maybe they wouldn’t. Maybe they would be worse. We will never know. 

I was talking to my therapist about my confusing feelings (she seems to be getting a lot of mentions here lately), and she asked me what the fairytale ending to the story would be if I could choose it. I told her that if I could choose how I wanted things to go, the changes that needed to be made would be made, our family would be able to heal, and we would live happily ever after. “Why can’t you just believe that?” she asked. This question has been life changing for me.  It sounds so simple, and it really is because I can choose the story I tell myself. 

The reality is that Greg died. That is how the story ends. We were in the middle of some junk, and then he died. I will never know what would have happened had he not passed away, only what did happen. Believing that things would be happy in the end gives me a lot of peace and has been very freeing for me. If I choose to believe that, I don’t have to wonder and worry about it. I believe that Greg can continue to progress where he is, and that with his different perspective, maybe he has better insights into how to do it. I can continue to progress here on the Earth as well. We can both do what needs to be done so that when we are reunited things are happy and beautiful. I am happy to believe this beautiful fairytale ending, and I believe that I will get it. I’m grateful for the peace that choosing the end to my unfinished story has given me. 

Settling the Estate

Even though I had had some time to wrap my head around the possibility of being widowed, I didn’t ever think about all the things that would have to be done after Greg died. After Greg died, I was overwhelmed with all the things I had to do. I needed to plan a funeral, find health insurance, submit all kinds of paperwork, have Greg’s name taken off of things, and the list goes on. I am almost done settling everything now, three months later, but it has been a big job to do it all. I have spent countless hours on the phone, sent death certificates to who knows how many places, cried some tears, and done a lot of detective work to figure things out. 

Greg and I knew there was a need to be prepared in case he passed away suddenly. When the possibility of vEDS was first presented to us, he was in the ICU at the U of U with a dissected renal artery. This was his second dissection and second hospital stay in 6 months, and the doctors felt he needed to be tested for vEDS. Considering Greg’s and some of our kids’ history, we knew it was true before the genetic testing results came in.

We didn’t know if Greg would make it through that hospital stay. He had some dangerous complications that prevented him from coming home quickly. I was very unsettled with the thought that we hadn’t taken the time to write wills or do any planning. We had recently refinanced our home, and I wasn’t even on the title to the house (long story). I felt a lot of anxiety about what would happen to me and the kids if Greg died right then. Greg and I decided to call a family member who is a lawyer, and he came to Greg’s bedside and helped him write a will. 


We were grateful Greg was given more time and we had some time to prepare. We were young and had never thought about what would happen if either of us died. This was an opportunity to figure that out. A couple months after Greg’s hospital stay, we met with an estate lawyer to create a trust. Having the trust filled me with a lot of peace, and it continues to bring me peace because I know that through it my children will be taken care of in the event of my death. 

Here is a list of things you can do now to prepare:

  • Get life insurance! Get as much as you can. Greg had life insurance through his work, and that felt like enough for us at the time. After the vEDS diagnosis, Greg was uninsurable. We had never signed up for private life insurance, thinking we had time to make that a priority later. We tried several times to get him private life insurance, but never had success. If Greg had been disabled or unable to work, he would not have been able to have any life insurance. It’s always a good idea to have private life insurance that isn’t attached to a job.
  • Create a trust. 
  • Buy cemetery plots and plan funerals in advance. Losing a loved one is disorienting and stressful. It just compounds things to have to plan a funeral on top of it all. This is something we started to do but didn’t get too far. It was hard to think of going to the cemetery to choose burial plots. Greg wrote a program for his funeral, which was very helpful, but we could have done more to plan ahead. I wish we had done more as far as the funeral plans because then I would have had less running around and decision making to do in the days following Greg’s death. 
  • Keep track of all bills and how they are paid. Greg took care of all of our finances. It took me some time and detective work to figure out which bills came out automatically and if they were paid automatically through the company or the bank, etc. I ended up double paying some things and missing a payment or two in the first month as I figured things out.  It complicated things even further when the banks took Greg’s name off of our accounts and cancelled his cards. It would have been very helpful to have a spreadsheet that listed the bills, when they were due, and where they were coming from. 
  • If possible, make sure both partners are listed on all bills, including utility bills. Make sure both partners are on the titles of homes and cars. Greg was the only one on most of our bills. Each company has their own process for changing things over to someone else’s name. For some of them, it was as simple as calling them and telling them about Greg’s death. For others, it was a process that meant filling out paperwork, sending in a death certificate, and even opening a brand-new account in my name. Some companies do not have the most compassionate ways of handling a situation like mine, and there were multiple times I cried on the phone and hung up because I couldn’t handle it. I don’t know that this could have all been completely avoided, as every account has to have a primary holder. But, in some cases, it would have been helpful if my name was on the account somewhere. 
  • Make a spreadsheet of accounts and passwords and keep it updated. Greg did this at one point, but by the time he passed away, the list was too old, and passwords had changed. Thankfully I knew him well enough to be able to guess most of his passwords. I also had his phone and computer that had saved some passwords, which was helpful. But having a spreadsheet would have saved me some time and stress.

Getting everything settled is a process no matter how prepared you are, but there are some things you can do to make it easier. I’m grateful that we were somewhat prepared, but there are some things we could have done to avoid some stress.


Anger is something I have felt a lot since Greg’s diagnosis. It seems like our brains have to blame someone or something for the bad things that happen. Otherwise, it’s harder to make sense of them. So, we put our anger in places that aren’t always appropriate. 

When Greg was diagnosed with vEDS, I was very angry with him. I realized that this was irrational, but it was something I had to go through. I was angry that he was eventually going to just leave me and the kids. It seemed like he got the easier way out (and I still think that maybe he did). I was angry that he had given this terrible illness to half of my kids, and that he didn’t seem too concerned about it. At first, the news that Greg had vEDS caused him to go into a deep depression. He wasn’t able to see anyone else’s pain because his own was so deep. He did eventually feel some grief over the fact that our kids have vEDS as well, but it took him some time. He didn’t want to stay on the earth, and that made me angry. I was so angry, and I felt very abandoned and betrayed by him. I have felt anger toward him since his death as well, especially for abandoning me and the difficult timing of everything. 

I have also felt angry with God. God is an easy place to put blame for practically anything. My anger with God started when August was born. I chose to have him at home because I felt that if it wasn’t right, I would feel prompted to have him at the hospital. That didn’t happen. I never got a warning. The whole time, I felt like whatever I chose was okay. Why did God let this happen? Why would He put such a huge burden on me and my family with the consequences of August’s birth and then the vEDS? It’s not fair. My view of God and His part in my life has had to change for me to find peace with Him and continue to have a relationship with Him. That is something for another post. 

When we were first processing the vEDS diagnoses, I felt angry with Greg’s parents. I hesitate to include this because they will read this, and I love them dearly. But it’s true. I was angry with them for having genes that mutated to create vEDS in Greg. This is a very irrational (and laughable) place to put blame because they had absolutely no control over their genes. But anger is irrational. It doesn’t always make sense. I am over this anger now. 

Earlier this week, I was talking to my therapist about my anger toward Greg. She suggested that instead of being angry at people, I could be angry with vEDS. I think this is a much healthier place to put the anger, and it’s weirdly exciting. I have never once been angry at vEDS, even though it is the cause of most of my big problems in life. It makes so much sense.

VEDS is what caused August’s birth to go haywire. Because of vEDS, his cord ruptured, and as a result, his nerves were injured. VEDS can be blamed for the fact that his arm is still very affected by what happened at his birth. It can be blamed for all of his surgeries, all of the therapy appointments we go to, and all of the heartache that I have felt for my baby. 

VEDS is what took Greg away. He didn’t choose to leave. He is just as innocent in all of this as I am. I feel that he wishes he could still be here with us, though I am sure there are some perks to his current existence. 

VEDS is part of what causes me to stay up at night worrying about my kids. All of the scary fears that could be a reality. It is responsible for the fact that when I chose plots, I wondered if I should just buy five plots instead of two. It is why I still consider doing this. It is the reason for so many of my concerns about my children.

I really hate vEDS, and I am looking forward to many more years of being angry with it.

What Happened to My Brain?

Shortly after Greg’s death, I found myself stopping my van in the middle of the road. I still don’t know why I did it. I looked up, and realized that I was about to get hit. If I were the person in the other car, I would have been annoyed with me and wondered what I was thinking! I don’t think I was thinking anything. My brain was full past its capacity, and it just wasn’t functioning right. I remember thinking about how important it is to not judge people when they do dumb things like that. You really don’t know what they’re dealing with.

My brain and memory has been very affected by Greg’s death. This phenomenon actually has a name. It’s called widow’s fog, and it happens to most people who have lost someone very close to them. It can last days to years, and it is a very real thing. There is so much to process, and your brain can’t handle it all. Just this past week, I logged onto the computer to sign my kids up for a summer camp. I realized that all of their info was already in the system. I called and asked the people how they already had all my kids’ info. They told me that I must have inputted it myself. I don’t remember that. I am usually quite sharp, but I find myself forgetting things that were just said to me, appointments, and all kinds of things all the time. Sometimes I don’t remember big chunks of time. I struggle to focus. It’s difficult for me to read or listen to books. I was in graduate school before Greg’s death, and I worry about my ability to continue anytime soon. 

My best explanation for how this fog feels is a sense of profound disorientation. Greg and I were the center of each other’s lives for 19 years, and then suddenly he was gone. I not only lost my husband and best friend, but I lost my identity as a wife. We lost our family traditions and some of our family culture. There isn’t an aspect of my life that hasn’t changed in one way or another because of his absence.  In the first month after Greg’s death, I found myself asking what our family even does. What are our traditions and routines? The nights were the hardest because they were the times that Greg would have been home. What do we do with ourselves after dinner? None of us seemed to know. It felt so chaotic and confusing. Losing him changed everything for us. It’s no wonder I am disoriented. 

It has now been three months, and I still feel quite foggy, but it has gotten better. I really hope my brain comes back and can function in the same way it used to. However, after losing someone so central in my life, I’m not sure if it will ever be exactly the same. Nothing else is.


It’s interesting how important things become after someone dies. I look around at all the things that belong to me, and don’t feel that they are all that special or important. They are just things. But when someone dies, the things they leave behind become the things that prove they existed. They become more valuable.

The first things that I had to decide what to do with were the clothes Greg was wearing at his death. They came to me from the ER, cut up. His shirt had been cut off of him, and his pants had been cut up the legs. His garments had burn marks from the AED defibrillator that was used when performing CPR. I threw them all away without much thought. I didn’t want to think of the trauma Greg had gone through. Now, part of me wishes I hadn’t thrown them away, but in the end, I think it was a healthy choice. 

I left Greg’s things alone for a while. I didn’t do anything with them. It took about a month before I started to feel smothered by them. I started to think about how it would feel to have more space in my bathroom and closet. At the same time, I was afraid of how it would feel to open the closet and not see Greg’s clothes and shoes. I also felt guilty for not wanting his things around me. It felt like choosing not to be surrounded by Greg’s things meant I didn’t love and care for him. It took me some time to get past these thoughts and realize that keeping Greg’s things around me did not prove anything about my love for him.

After thinking about it for a couple weeks, I decided to move Greg’s things out of my bedroom and bathroom. I didn’t want to get rid of anything. Eventually, I will have some mementos made out of his clothes and let the kids and close relatives go through his things. But for now, they will stay in storage. 

Greg’s clothes in our closet

 I took some pictures of the closet, just in case I missed seeing his clothes there. Then, I got some storage containers and carefully folded his clothes and placed them inside. It took me a few weeks to go through his things because it was so emotionally exhausting. It is amazing the memories that are attached to things, and I wanted to remember and be present as I folded his clothes and put his things in storage containers. 

I took his glasses out of the case one last time as I remembered him wearing them every night for so many years. There was still an eyelash on them, and that brought me to tears. I was devastated when the eyelash fell off of the glasses, and I couldn’t find it again. It was the last part of him that wasn’t buried in the earth. 

My Bedroom

With only my things in my room (with the exception of just a few of Greg’s things), I started to think about what my room might be like if I decorated it however I wanted. Greg always cared about how our house and bedroom was decorated, and he would never go for some of the things I wanted to do. Our room was also covered with pictures of us, and it wasn’t helpful to me to look at them all the time. It started to sound fun to redecorate my room. I decided to make ‘our’ room my own. It is now a space I love that feels like my own. I know Greg would be supportive of me making it mine, even though he would probably not be thrilled about some of my decorating choices. 

I’m not sure what Greg’s things will mean to us when we open the storage containers again. I imagine they will still hold sentimental value and bring back special memories. They are more than just things to us.


Seventy-seven days. Eleven weeks. That’s how long it was this Friday. It’s hard to believe it has been that long. Greg passed away on a Friday night, and every week on Friday, I can’t help but replay the events of the night of his passing in my mind. I always say to Kayla, “___ days”, and she says, “Yeah.” She knows exactly what I’m referring to. She’s like me, and replays things in her mind every Friday as well. 

Friday night is a night that my family looks forward to, and it’s different from any other night of the week. We make our homemade pizza and enjoy each other’s company. Now, making pizza takes me back to that night. The night of December 10th, the kids and I had planned to make gingerbread houses. Our elves on the shelf, Charlie and Candy, had left a gingerbread house kit, and the kids had been begging to put them together all week. I promised them it would happen on Friday night. 

We had finished dinner and were getting started with the gingerbread houses. Just as all the supplies were out, I got a phone call. It was from an unfamiliar number, but I felt like I needed to answer it. It was a police officer. This was confusing and disorienting. She told me that my husband had collapsed at the church (he was at his cousin’s ward Christmas party), and his heart and breathing had stopped. There were doctors there, and they were able to get him breathing again. The ambulance was there, and they were going to take him to the hospital. I tried to explain vEDS, and the police officer repeated what I was saying to the paramedics. I wished I was there. I asked the police officer if she could talk to Greg about his vEDS. She paused and told me that he wasn’t able to talk. 

I hung up, and the kids were all looking at me with concerned looks on their faces. They had overheard enough to get an idea of what had happened. I knew I needed to get to the hospital quickly, but I also didn’t want to leave the kids alone in such a stressful time. I called my parents, and they agreed to come. It would be about 30 minutes until they could get to the kids, but the kids said that was okay. 

The moments at the hospital are both clear and hazy. I remember things clearly, but I also question the accuracy of my memory. I was grateful Greg’s cousin and her husband met me at the hospital so I wasn’t alone. When I told the front desk at the ER who I was, they took us into a private waiting room. That should have been my first clue that something was seriously wrong, but for some reason, it didn’t ring any alarm bells. The surgeon peeked his head in with a sad look in his eyes. It had only been a few minutes. He should be working on Greg, not talking to me. I shot a glance at Greg’s cousin. I knew this wasn’t good. He came and sat next to me and put his hand on my leg. He then told me the news. It was surreal to hear the words. I was given the chance to see Greg. I didn’t want to, but I was afraid I would regret it later. I walked in the room while holding Greg’s cousin’s hand. I deeply regretted seeing him for over a week, as Greg’s body on the table was the first thing that I saw when I closed my eyes to try to sleep for quite some time. Now, I wish I had spent more time with him. It’s interesting how time changes things.

I got home and the gingerbread houses were together. Things had been cleaned up thanks to my parents. I don’t know if we can ever make gingerbread houses again without thinking of that night. I gathered my kids together, and simply said, “He died.” I probably could have done better, but that’s all that came out. They had a variety of reactions, some loud and some quiet.  It took a long time to get everyone to sleep. I never went to sleep. Sleep was impossible. I couldn’t stop crying. 

Every week, things get a little more distant and my perspective changes a bit. I imagine that soon these thoughts and memories will be brought on by the month marks, and then maybe yearly. Friday now feels different than other nights of the week for more reasons than our homemade pizza nights. I wonder how long that will be the case.