Because it has been a while since we have posted, I will do a quick review of the last three weeks.
General Conference Weekend: April 5 - 7
We were able to get permission from our mission president to go to Connecticut to spend the weekend with Scott's family. We left Utica about 2:00 in the afternoon and arrived at their home at 6:00. It is an easy drive, and with GPS we were able to find their home easily. We could not have found it without the GPS -- too many small roads, lots of turns, lots of trees, and no way to get our bearings as to whether we were going north or south. It surprised us that we were able to manage the roads so easily. Melissa had prepared an awesome spaghetti dinner, and we enjoyed being with the family. It was so cute to have the kids tell us that we were not supposed to do anything but rest -- no clearing the table or doing dishes -- just relax. We were so very glad to be there with them. We so needed that time.... We relaxed at home that night while Scott, Melissa and Audrey went to the junior high production of "Once Upon a Mattress". Jack was participating in it and we planned to see it the next day.
One of the highlights of the weekend was getting acquainted with the new little addition to their family: a very small dog named Pepper. She is one adorable dog and we fell in love with her.
The whole family is totally smitten with her, and they are doing a very good job of training her. They have to be with her all of the time while she is outside, as she is so small that the hawks would get her in a minute.
On Saturday morning Scott fixed an awesome breakfast. We went to Matthew's LaCrosse practice, but it was so so cold that we did not stay -- he was very excited and did not seem to mind the cold. We prepared to watch the morning session of conference at noon. Each one had his/her place mapped out as to where they would sit.
We watched the morning session (most of us) and then had to get ready to go see Jack's performance in the school play. It was great! He is growing up too fast, I am afraid. He had a great time and enjoyed the cast party after. We made it back home in time to watch most of the afternoon session.
Scott prepared a dinner of baby back ribs that was so incredible!!! I am including the picture of Matthew, as this is one of his favorite dinners of all time.
Dad, Scott and Jack went to Priesthood Meeting and the rest of us went to bed early. On the east coast the sessions are two hours later than Salt Lake City, so we had late mornings and late nights. We enjoyed the spirit of conference. Sunday Scott prepared a great breakfast again -- we were so spoiled by their wonderful meals. Matthew, Scott and I went on a walk. They live in a beautiful area, have a great house, and a big yard that will keep them busy for a long time. Matthew is very happy as long as he has a ball of some kind in his hand. Audrey loves her ballet lessons, and Roman just loves everything. Great family.
It was sad to leave on Sunday afternoon. Melissa stocked us up with her jam, some frozen spaghetti and frozen stroganoff, drinks and such that we felt like a couple of college kids going back to school all loaded up so that we would have some good homemade meals. We so appreciate the love we felt in their home.
The sun was shining brightly, so it was hard to keep eyes opened without squinting, but pictures are needed as the weekend meant so much to us. We love our mission, but we have definitely missed our family. Little did we know about the following week.
Monday morning, April 8 we awoke to three inches of snow. Had to put on our winter coats again.After listening to conference and being with Scott and Melissa and family we were refreshed and ready to get to work. I was working well ahead of myself that week and was more than caught up, and Dad was busy again trying to find apartments for the new missionaries. He is having the missionaries, and particularly the zone leaders, try to find appropriate apartments in the areas of their zones that the mission president wants to open. It is working quite well, as they are able to email pictures and it is easier for Dad to approve the housing arrangements if he does not have to travel to the areas. The mission covers a large geographic area, so this method is working out quite well.
Wednesday afternoon we knew that Claire was not doing well, and by Thursday afternoon we knew that the end was probably very near. I woke up about 3:00 on Friday morning and could not get back to sleep. We received the word that Claire had passed away at 3:38 am. Heartbreaking, to say the least. We do know God's plan, and are grateful for our knowledge of the atonement and Christ's mission on earth. That does not make this easy for us. We went into the office about 9:00 and tried to wrap things up so we could be gone for the next week. We were able to get a flight out on Sunday and then needed to go back into the office on Saturday to finish some more things that needed to be done.
Melissa and Scott were at the Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15th. This picture is right after Melissa finished the race and at the very spot where one of the bombs went off. Scott and his friend Jess were right there during the race. It give me chills to realize how close they were. Scott felt that they needed to get out of the area, and they were one block away when the bomb went off. They hurried to their hotel, packed up, and were about the last car to get out of the parking garage before it was closed down. Text messages were going back and forth through the family -- and of course we are so grateful that they were not harmed.
The week of Claire's funeral covered a huge range of emotions for me. Dressing her in the baptism dress I had made for Julie was sweet, sad, heartwrenching, precious, and an experience I will always keep close to my heart. Melissa had bought some beautiful little white shoes that were perfect for Claire to wear along with some white tights. My dear friend Rhea had altered the dress for Claire to wear, and she made her a shocking pink tutu to wear under the dress. It was so sweet. She was covered with her "Cozy" and had her favorite pink minky in her arm along with a new stuffed animal (dog) named Pepper. She looked so peaceful, and Debbie put a pink bow in her flowing red hair that was perfect. I will never forget kneeling in prayer around her coffin and praying for strength and comfort as we did this difficult thing. It was a beautiful and sacred experience for me. Heaven has gained a fiery redhead who can walk, run, climb and stand without pain. How she will be missed by us all.
The funeral was beautiful, a wonderful tribute to Claire and her family. Each one who participated had carefully prepared, including prayers and talks. It was an inspiration. It was a tender time to be together as an extended family, and I so appreciated the efforts of each one to attend. Our immediate family had a good time together. On Thursday we went to the Paul Allen Music Museum in downtown Seattle, to the Food Court at the Space Needle, to the Space Needle, out to the wharf and onto a ferry and ending up at Cutter's for dinner that night. On Friday we celebrated the 14th birthday of Mark Trammell by going bowling, to a sky diving center, then to dinner for pizza. That evening the girls had their "spa" time by getting their nails done by their Aunt Lenessa and their hair fixed in special rollers. The cousin time was awesome.
Leaving Seattle was not easy for me to do, and after being with family it was hard to think of going back to New York. There was no question about whether we would leave and go, but needless to say it was difficult. I was emotionally drained and physically tired. We were grateful to dear friends Bob and Patty Folkman who let us stay in their home that week.