Saturday, May 7, 2011

Reflections on the past year

I don't even know where to start. When I look at the last post I wrote a year ago with the title, "Some days are better than others" little did I know how profound those words would become.
It's hard to believe an entire year has passed and I am sitting here trying to find a way to share a little of what I feel.

Last year at this time Nick had just received his mission call. We were all so happy and thankful for the decision he made to submit his papers and accept the call to serve in the Oregon Portland Mission. We had a great time preparing for his departure and ultimately spent some time in Southern California as a family before he left for the MTC. We had a great time and enjoyed each other immensely. I can't help but think of that time with joy and sadness. So many mixed emotions. So many memories.

If I close my eyes I am there. I can hear the boys (Mike included) singing the song rapper style, "I left my wallet in El Segundo." Robbie is the driver of Scott and Angi's big "bus" van they let us borrow so we could be altogether. Of course Nick rode next to him in the front passenger seat. That is where he belonged and wanted to be. Next to Robbie exploring everything. Nick was of course in charge of the music. He was so good at it and could find something for everyone. Nick would say hilarious things to cute girls on the corner as we drove down PCH and would do the best monkey imitation ever just to amuse Jack. At times he was quiet and contemplative. I know he was thinking about what was coming up. How his mission would change him. I think he was looking forward to it and it scared him too.

When we returned home from our trip, life turned into a whirlwind. Within a few short days he was giving his farewell talk. It never sounded like a farewell talk to me. After he spoke, I turned to Mike and said it felt like that was a homecoming talk. I was so proud of him. So grateful he turned his life around and had the courage to take all the necessary steps to become worthy to serve a mission. I knew he was ready for whatever the Lord had in store for him.

He left for the MTC on July 21st. That morning as we drove him to the airport I was both sad and happy. I was going to miss him terribly. I tried so hard not to think about that. I tried to hold back my feelings as I didn't want to make it harder for him. When it was time for him to go, he wanted to go quickly. He wasn't one for long, heart wrenching goodbye's. When I go back to that day I try to remember everything. I know I can't. I'm not supposed to. We said our goodbye's he started down towards security then turned and waved. He never looked back. I never took my eyes off of him. I followed his tall lanky self and his beautiful brown wavy hair until it was no more. We waited until the plane he was on took off. I even took pictures of the plane going into the air. We drove the other two boys to the MTC but Nick didn't want that. He wanted to be home with his family, his friends and with Alex until he reported. He liked having the people he loved near him. It was a great day and a sad day because I knew that we would miss him terribly. Our hearts ached for him just like they do for any loved one when they are away but mostly we were grateful for this miracle.

We were continually worried about him and prayed day and night that things were going ok for him. He wouldn't say much in his letters. He sounded discouraged but I knew he knew he was where he needed to be. Because of that, I was certain he would be ok, but I still worried. I worried about him every day and prayed day and night that we would have the strength necessary to do what the Lord needed and required of him. I felt this way every day he was gone until the Wednesday before. The libraries were closed due to a holiday on Monday. They had their P-day on Wednesday. I was sitting at the computer when his email for the week came in. I quickly replied to it to see if he was still on the computer. He replied that he was there but wasn't doing very well. That was it. He was gone. I immediately called Mike to tell him about it. Almost 2 hours later Mike arrived home from work with the biggest grin on his face. He said, "We don't have to worry about him anymore. He is good. He is really really good." He shared with me what they talked about and how thankful he was the Mission President allowed him to call home to talk to his dad. He told me how the last thing Nick said to him was "It always helps to talk things out with you. I know what I need to do. I just needed to hear it from you too. Thanks Dad. You're my best friend." For the next few days we didn't worry. Not one little bit. Not. at. all. I was sad I didn't get to talk to him too. I wanted to hear his voice and tell him how much I loved him. That was Wednesday.

It was Saturday night we received the news that changed everything. Forever. When we received word that Nick was in the ICU and had suffered a brain aneurysm it felt like everything went into slow motion. I remember being shocked. stunned. confused. scared. scared for him. We talked with doctors and President Dyches and heard the words that no parent should ever hear. That he would not survive this. To come as soon as possible and they would do all they could. We were comforted by those that have become our Arizona Family. They helped us make necessary arrangements to get to him. Call our parents and probably the hardest of all, tell our kids. As parents we do everything we can to protect our kids and try to keep pain and sorrow out of their lives. How do we tell them this kind of news? It was the next day we called from Oregon to tell them that our Nick was gone.

For now, that is as far as I can go. I feel so blessed to know where Nick is. To know that he was happy doing the Lord's work and that he made a difference. He made a difference in all of our lives and I was glad to see that he did the same thing for the Mt. Tabor Ward in Portland, Oregon.

I've been having a hard time these past few days. Maybe it is because it is Mother's Day on Sunday and every missionary on the planet has made arrangements to call his mom. That's because Mom's need to hear from their missionaries. As much as that breaks my heart and makes me so very sad, I have to remember the beautiful thing is that I don't need a phone to hear from Nick. I know he is always close by. I have the many cards he wrote me. Most were funny with very sweet heart felt things said only the way Nick can say them. I have our memories and can hear him laughing and loving life. I hope he knows how much I love him. How proud I am of him. I know if I were to do it all again, I would probably make the same choices all over again but sometimes I wonder. Would I have been a little more patient? I little less stressed out and demanding? I know I would have hugged him longer, cooked his favorite meals more often and made sure I never held back on telling him how much I love him.

This is the poem he wrote to me in the second grade. It has been next to my bed since he gave it to me. I thought it was the cutest thing ever then and I cherish now more than ever.
(This picture was right around the time he would have written this. )


My mom is loving and nice
She is there for me when
I get sick
She helps me when
I need it the most
Her heart is soft and caring
She reminds me of a bird
singing in the trees
I smell her sweet perfume
As I give her a hug
She makes my day complete

by Nick Ferrin

I am so thankful I was given the blessing of being your mom. You have always brought joy and happiness where ever you go. I know you are doing the same thing now.

I love you dearly and miss you more than I have words to describe.

I can talk up a storm but I have a hard time getting my feelings down on paper. After Nick died, my sister Jana who does a fabulous job of expressing herself posted the following 3 posts on her blog. I asked her if I could post a copy on here. Enjoy.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Nizzy Feen.

Yesterday will probably be one of the saddest days of my life. My nephew, Elder Nicholas Taylor Ferrin, passed away due to a brain aneurysm while serving a mission for our church in Portland Oregon.

Nick was the life of the party. His friends and family called him Nizzy Feen. He was bigger than life and lived his to the fullest! He was funny and goofy and uninhibited. He had an easy, contagious laugh and when you were with him you were instantly wrapped up in the fun! He took his mother's mantra of "You gotta make your own fun!" to a new level and it is what made him who he was.

Nick loved like no one else. He did not judge others and because of that he was an incredible friend and successful missionary for the few short months he served. He kept things real and accepted you for who you were and where you were at. His decision to serve a mission was not an easy one and came with great sacrifice. I will always respect him for the courageous decisions he made to set his life right so he could be worthy and able to serve. I believe it was because of his courage and conviction to be at his best - in a most perfect place both physically and spiritually - that our Heavenly Father chose to take him home. I believe he has a greater work to do and had arrived at a place in mortality that would allow him to go on and be successful in that work.

While my heart aches for my sister and her family, knowing how close they are as a family and the pain they must be feeling, I rejoice in the gospel plan that teaches us that Heavenly Father knows each of us. He loves us. I do not grieve for Nick but rather feel much peace in knowing where he is at and who he is with.

I told Rod yesterday how much I wish the veil could be parted for just a short time so we could see him, with his smile, with his Grandpa Ferrin and all of our loved ones. He is probably cracking jokes about being the young one stuck with all the old people! I have no doubt that he has brought them much laughter and is ready for his next big adventure.

My children do not know Nick very well since our trips to Utah did not always coincide with the Ferrin's visits from Mesa. But my kids certainly know and remember the time they've spent with him. Erin met Nick two years ago for the first time at my mom's 70th birthday. She called him "the Creeper" because of his big curly black hair. She was initially scared of him but they grew to be the best of buds. Last year at our family reunion she clung to him and loved being in his presence and subsequently nicknamed his brother, Robbie, "Creeper #2".

Today we all grieve for our earthly loss, but know that Nick's spirit lives eternally and that Families are Forever! I love Nick and and I love his family. My prayers are for them and I mourn with them over his passing. We will surely miss him until we meet again. Please keep them in your prayers.

Friday, October 22, 2010

In Remembrance.

Nicholas Taylor Ferrin, 21, passed away October 17, 2010 after suffering a brain aneurysm. At the time of his death Nick was serving as a full-time missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Oregon Portland Mission.

Nick graduated from Mountain View High School in 2008 and was attending Mesa Community College before his mission. Nick had a natural love and compassion for people and a desire to help and be of service. He was a friend to all and had many cherished friends he loved like family. Nick was a light that brightened the lives of all who knew him. He had an infectious laugh and a sense of humor that he used often as he brought joy to those around him. Nick’s passions were listening to music, dancing and fly fishing on mountain streams. Most of all he had a passion for life and had a heart as big as his personality. He was very close to his sister and brothers and loved them dearly.

Nick is survived by his parents Michael and Sharilyn Ferrin of Mesa, AZ; brother Cameron (Cecia) and nephew Jack of Minneapolis, MN; brother Robert and sister Madison of Mesa; grandparents C. Robert and Karen Sanders and Wilma M. Ferrin, of Ogden, UT. He was preceded in death by his grandfather Luan H. Ferrin.

Visitation will be Friday, October 22, 2010 from 6-8 PM at Bunker’s Garden Chapel, 33 N. Centennial Way in Mesa. Funeral services are Saturday, October 23, 2010 at 11 AM preceded by a 2nd visitation from 9:00 – 10:30 AM at the LDS Central Stake Center, 925 N. Harris Rd. in Mesa. Interment will be at the City of Mesa Cemetery.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Grief and Joy.

Rod and I returned home from Nick's funeral Sunday evening. Despite the circumstances, it was such a JOYFUL experience.

I said that to someone at the funeral and they kind of looked at me funny, like I shouldn't have used that word to express the events of the day. But really, it was the only word I could think of to describe how I was feeling. Even now, thinking back through the experience with tears in my eyes, I feel full of joy.

After receiving the initial news that Nick was not expected to live through the night and then later the news of his passing, we did not know many details. I was so worried about Shari and Mike, what they were experiencing in Portland, and how they were handling it. I worried about each of their children. I worried about Nick's missionary companion and the other missionaries. And I worried about the circumstances surrounding his death, mostly if he suffered.

Our whole family stalked Facebook, "liking" any thought or sentiment that was posted regarding Nick. As we were forced to live our lives, it became a strange and unique lifeline among us. I don't know how many times I read Shari's Facebook wall, reading and rereading all of the heartfelt sentiments written for her and her family. While the words were meant for them, I don't think her friends will ever know the comfort they brought all of us, knowing that Shari would see their kind thoughts, wherever she was. To know that others were praying for her with the same intensity as we were brought much hope to my heart. In those moments the spirit taught me what true love feels like.

During several of my prayers offered in their behalf, I was blessed with the knowledge that they were being attended to and their needs were being met. And when I heard that they were able to spend time with the missionaries in Nick's mission, I knew they would be fine. While I will probably never have the opportunity to meet those individuals who were with Shari and Mike while they were in Portland, I will forever be grateful for them and the kindness with which they ministered to my loved ones in their hour of need. They did for them what we as their family could not.

Upon our late arrival in Arizona Friday evening my whole extended family, minus Shari and her family, gathered together in one of our hotel rooms. It was the first opportunity we had had to be together and talk. Through our tears we were able to learn about Nick's final days and the events of the week. And just like Nick would have wanted, our tears soon turned to laughter as we shared stories and memories of what made Nick Nick. We ended the evening with a family prayer. It is what I will always remember as good grief.

Now that I'm home my mind is having a hard time wrapping itself around what my heart knows and is trying to accept. I have the mental capacity of about the size of a pea and a pit in my stomach larger than the seven seas. Often the smallest of things will set me to crying which makes me think of my sister and then I am consumed with grief so enormous that it leaves me breathless because I know her pain is so much more than I could ever imagine.

And yet as these moments of despair come and then surely go, I marvel at the clarity I feel after. I think of my sister and the strength with which she presented herself throughout the funeral proceedings. She has said to many that she is being carried through this experience but I told her the other day that while I know she is being lifted in ways we will probably never understand on this earth, I know her strength comes from her faith and the choices she made before this experience. I also know that the joy we have felt comes directly from the Holy Ghost and never before have I been so grateful for his CONSTANT presence in my life. It truly is a gift.

The events surrounding Nick's death were so full of miracles and tender mercies for him, his family, the mission and the church at large. His story is not mine to tell but will forever inspire me to live my life to the fullest. His courage to make the necessary changes in his life so he could return honorably to his Father in Heaven will forever be an example to me. My Savior Jesus Christ and His gift of the atonement has never been more important to me.

After the dedication of Nick's gravesite I stood by my sister and told her of the joy I was feeling. I apologized if it was not appropriate for me to say but she told me it is how she wants me to feel. She shared that it was what she felt when she was in Portland after spending time with Nick's fellow missionaries following his death. This joy, in the midst of our grief, confirms to me the knowledge that Nick is where he is supposed to be, continuing on with our Father's work. And, I bet he's got a huge smile on his face while he does so with joy!

Elder Nicholas Taylor Ferrin
Born: August 4, 1989
Ogden, Utah

Transfer: October 17, 2010
Portland, Oregon


Kaeley said...

Oh how I love him and all of you....i found out one of my friends got his call to the OPM I told him my cousin would be watching out for him.... Love you -kaeley

Troy said...

This was beautiful, Shari. I have no doubt Nick has double-duty assignments: Watching over the OPM and watching over you. You continue to be in our prayers!

Karen said...

Happy dang Mother's Day. Gosh.

I will treasure my phonecall more fully because of you and Nick. I think maybe we're all doing things a little bit differently, a little bit better because of this story. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Tia Juana said...

Today I'm hugging by kids a little tighter and am grateful that our calling of motherhood is an eternal one! I love you so much!

Wende said...

Shari - I love you! I'm thinking of you and your family today.

wesley's mom (sue) said...

Oh Shari! I've been thinking of you all day. I love you. This is beautiful.

karl and kacey reed said...

I still think about Nick and you all the time. I know he's close. Love you!