Cason – is a Boy Scout! He pushed hard this fall to earn his Arrow of Light (Equivalent to Eagle in Boy Scouts) just before he turned 11. He continues to do well in school and had another fun season in the Upward Flag Football league and otherwise fed his college football addiction. He enjoyed a great progress with his basketball skills last winter as well. He’s excited to play churchball this season. Cason continues to read a lot and enjoys learning. His biggest achievement this year was mending a broken arm. The attention from family and friends seems to have more than made up for the six weeks of no fun due to the cast.
Abram – continues to tackle increasingly challenging books and is now reading the same Percy Jackson (modern mythology fantasy mashup) series that his big brother is reading. His hard work in school is showing as well – the most recent interim came home all A’s so that’s got to count for something! Abram played basketball again this year and did great. Instead of flag football, Abram opted to play soccer this fall – and beat out about 6 of his teammates to be the team’s goalie. He had a number of shutout performances and impressed us all with his athleticism. More to come from our own little Tim Howard.
Declan – is loving his new pre-school where, according to his teacher, he’s already attained “celebrity” status. Everywhere we go, he’s making friends and leading the fun. He’s constantly demonstrating creativity through drawing or his latest Lego invention. “Dec”, as he’s begun to call himself, took on soccer this year. What he lacked in aggressiveness, he made up for in smack talk. Although we had to threaten to take him off the field if he didn’t stop yakking, he turned it around and eventually won a sportsmanship medal. If you ask, he’ll be happy to show it to you.
Silas – has apparently decided to be our only lefty. He has got to be the most introspective 2 year old I’ve ever been around, carefully taking in everything around him. He’s a loving, sensitive kid, who loves his brothers and hero(ine) worships his mom. He gives great hugs for his age too – great squeeze. He can usually be found at the train table, coupling traincars together and softly singing a primary or Christmas song. When not with his trains, he’s usually launching a Neft baskeball at a hoop and shouting “shoot it, Jimmer.” Like his brothers, he’s a good looking, smart and funny kid.
Fidesco – is still in Louisville KY and we miss him a ton. He did well playing football this year for his school and has been active in Church and Boy Scouts. Since he moved to KY, he has served as President of his Deacon’s Quorum. He was able to visit VA this summer and will be with us again this Christmas. We are so glad he wants to be with us and that we are able to rely on good people in KY to help him while he’s so far away. Despite the distance, we are able to communicate several times each week using phone, Facebook, Instagram and texts. Crazy world we live in, huh?
Ginny – hasn’t stopped this year. She’s been to Costa Rica (fun), South Carolina (visiting family), Utah (for her brother’s BYU graduation) and seemingly everywhere in-between. She ran her first race last month, burning up an 8k down Richmond’s Monument Ave in 20 degree weather. We are so proud of her hard work and dedication. She even got to give Declan an autograph when she got home. She’s already talking about when she runs her next race. Aside from her travels and racing, Ginny continues to be a Super-Friend to many and to expertly herd her litter of little boys to and fro (Luder included).
Luder – achieved a longstanding goal of returning to Costa Rica to visit friends he made on his mission and was thrilled to share it with Ginny. It was a trip filled with great food, beautiful beaches, jungles, exotic animals and some of the best, most loving people on earth. 15 years away didn’t dim Luder’s love for Costa Rica and its people. Seeing the Ramirez and Avalos families was a definite highlight. Capital One is still a great gig and we feel blessed to have a job there. Luder was released from on the Stake High Council earlier this month, a calling he loved. While he’ll miss working with the Spanish Branch, he’s looking forward to what is next.
As a family we were very excited that we finally finished reading the entire Book of Mormon from cover to cover. We also read the Pearl of Great Price and have started on the Doctrine and Covenants of the Church of Jesus Christ of LDS. While our boys are regularly subjected to demonstrations of our (mostly Luder’s) imperfections, we hope they are learning how much we love the scriptures and our Savior. We continued to be honored by your friendship and love and plan to work hard again this year to be worthy of those blessings. Merry Christmas!
It's been three weeks since Sara passed away. Each day that goes by, the pain is the same, I think He just carries a little more of it. Someone said to me, "You will never get over something like that, you just learn how to deal with it."
It seems so wrong that she is gone. When I have a moment to stop and think, I picture her Mom and Dad, her husband, her sister and her children in the places we have been together, trying to go on. I cannot imagine their pain. Their tremendous pain is matched with an insurmountable amount of strength. I have seen it.
I love these words:
Nobody will protect you from your suffering
You can't cry it away
or eat it away
or starve it away
or punch it away
or even therapy it away
It's just there,
and you have to survive it.
You have to endure it.
You have to live through it
and love it
and move on
and be better for it
and run as far as you can in the direction of your
best and happiest dreams
across the bridge that was built by your own desire
I have learned that death is a part of life. Tomorrow is not promised. Death waits on no one. We do not know the time or place that we may be called home. Sara has taught me many things both with her life and with her passing. I have seen hearts softened, I have seen perspectives changed for the better. Grief is a real emotion that feels like a tremendous weight of emptiness. It can consume us if we aren't careful. Everyone must grieve in their own way, moving through the different stages at their own pace.
I am so grateful for my testimony in Jesus Christ, that I know I will see Sara again and that she is in a peaceful place forever. As I continue on this raw journey that is sometimes so painful, all I can do is let Him heal me, reach out to those who hurt and try to see the miracles that are here in front of us.
Sara was born in July and then I was born in September. We were born into a large close knit family. There were four sisters, our grandmothers, who would rather be together than do anything else. It was a blessing for us because when they were together, the cousins were together. Sara and I went to elementary, middle and high school together. She was a year ahead of me.
We spent the better part of those years having fun together. We spent days and nights in her pool. We loved to ride the four wheeler, we rode it in the snow and in the summer. If you knew Sara, you knew that she was always laughing and being silly. We were on the four wheeler and she was looking back at me-laughing and she ran right into the fence. She threw us off, her mom saw the whole thing and almost had a heart attack. We were fine.
We baked and experimented with our hair and makeup, we talked about puberty, boys, ate ice cream and spied on Sasha, her older sister. We rented movies, went boating and camping together and Ted and Becki took us to basketball camps and games. We made up dances to pop songs and spent countless weekends together.
As we grew up, we both moved away (me farther than her) I had a million boys and she had some too. Distance and life got in the way. Our visits were more spread out. When we came together we picked right back up where we left off. I felt tremendous love for her and from her.
Looking back, I can hear her laugh and see her smile and those two things for me are the true representation of her character. Sara was love. She was fun. She was light and laughter and all good things. She was a phenomenal mother, her legacy will live on in those little boys forever.
As we went through these last few very very hard days, I saw the way that she touched people. I experienced her force for good as people came from every where bringing gifts for her family, all this while reliving her memory over and over in my mind.
The comfort I have is that as I continue to try to walk with my Savior and lean on Him, I know that I will feel closer to her. I know I will see her again. I know that she is with Him. I know that God lives and He loves her and He loves me. I know that He will put our family back together one day, person by person when it is His time. For that knowledge I am so grateful.
It will be a mighty reunion.
In the meantime, I will miss her so much it hurts. I will pray for peace for her family. I will think of her when I see a rainbow and when I hear a silly cackle. I will do everything I can to have our boys have some good times together, just like we did. I will hug my boys and slow down and thank God for the wonderful times we had together and for the lessons sweet Sara taught me.