Come See What Hope Looks Like

21 July 2014

It’s been about six months since I’ve even logged into this blog.  I haven’t felt the desire or any event significant of writing about.  The saying that ‘time marches on’ holds true for us, as it does for the rest of the world.  New days come and go, and lives move forward.  I’ve said before, sometimes it feels as though Darren and I are stuck in a time warp.  There still isn’t a day, not really even an hour that goes by, that Tyler doesn’t creep into my thoughts.  I know that Darren feels the same, probably even more intense than I do, because I find myself busying every waking minute to avoid ‘idol’ time.  When I have too much time to think, it isn’t good for me.

But, nevertheless, we are finding ways to move forward.  We are loving our grandbabies and enjoying the paths that our children are choosing.  Tanner is almost ten months into his mission in Paraguay and enjoying his life of service there.  Things are not easy for him, but he has learned how to do ‘hard’, and is finding great satisfaction in the challenges.  Taylor is enrolled in school up in Rexburg at BYU-Idaho and is content with his new social life, a good job, and progressing in school.  Erika and Brian are still living close and are kind enough to bring the grandkids up and let them help heal our hearts and our minds.  Indeed, our lives are still very blessed and we realize that.

One of the projects I keep myself busy with is the Giving Trees.  I don’t write about them much because I feel  the need to protect privacies of those who are going through difficult things and want to keep them to themselves.  Since Tyler’s death, we have given over 100 Giving Trees to those suffering with life-threatening illnesses, mostly cancer, and I have found great satisfaction in seeing a measure of joy on the faces of those who have been fighting life’s toughest battles.  I had the amazing opportunity to meet one such fighter this past weekend, and with her mother’s permission, I want to share her story – hopefully so those who are fighting hard battles of their own will find strength in her story.

Occasionally, because of our time in Primary Children’s Medical Center, I will be fortunate enough to make contact with another cancer fighter who we feel could use a little smile – some hope that life doesn’t have to be all about pain and suffering.  I was put in contact with Nicole, a single mother of a three-year-old little girl with Neuroblastoma, Stage IV, who is fighting to stay here on this earth.

Sunday morning, I took a few of my sweet teenage-aged friends to PCMC to meet up with this family.  All we knew is that mom had three little girls – five-year-old twins, and Keanna, the little one with cancer.  We stood in the lobby watching for someone with three little girls to come in, when we saw her.  My heart skipped a beat as we walked to her.  I could feel her spirit and her strength before we even met and exchanged names.  The twin sisters were every bit as charming as well, holding hands and so quiet and sweet as they were introduced.  We only chatted for a few minutes before we gave Keanna her Giving Tree, this time not a real tree, as she is post-bone marrow transplant, and they cannot have living things like that in close proximity because of their extremely vulnerable immune system.  We bought darling silk branches and made our own ‘tree’.  We had filled it with gift cards and a bit of cash for this family.

We visited for only a few minutes, because Keanna actually had to go in to the hospital with a few complications.  As we got ready to say goodbye, Keanna, with her giant eyes, motioned for us to come down to her level so she could tell us something.  As we put our heads close to hers to hear her tell us goodbye, she whispered, “I’m so strong”.  That’s all.  No goodbye.  No other words.  Just a reminder to us of her unfailing spirit and strength.  That is so something that Ty would have done, probably not as sweet and tender as Keanna, but more like a roaring lion!  He always liked me to take pictures of his ‘muscles’ while he was in the hospital.  I think he actually posted one on Instagram when he had been admitted, demonstrating how ‘strong’ he was as well.  Maybe that’s why it hit me so hard.  I quickly said my goodbye’s and cried all the way to the car.  I couldn’t stop thinking about her all day.  I know that these trees cannot pay off medical bills, buy a new car that is probably needed, or make a rent or house payment.  I do hope that they bring a measure of peace, knowing that there is still good in the world today, and that people are always willing to help when asked.  This little sweetheart will be in my constant thoughts and prayers, as are so many I have met along this journey.

Thank you so much for all you do to help us continue to provide these trees.  The 5K coming up on August 9th should be able to fund a years’ worth of trees!  Our registrant list is well over 1200 so far, with almost 40 teams of warriors to run in honor and celebration of!  I am so excited to share this event again with so many who need a great cause to celebrate their loved ones also.  I think Ty would be proud.

If you are looking for something to do Saturday morning, August 9th – it’s not too late to register online at, or just show up the morning of the race.  It’s not like any other 5K you’ve ever been to.  There are no ‘winners’ – just ‘finishers’…as we all have the responsibility to ‘Fight to our own Finish’.  Come find out what Hope looks like!!

Jasmine, Keanna, and Nikita - sweet sisters


Keanna - Diagnosed on Christmas Eve, 2013

Sweetest Little Fighter


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