Thursday, September 19, 2013

Two Years

Believe it or not, tomorrow will be two years since Kevin passed away.  Last month, I had a nephew finish his two years of missionary service in Arcadia, California.  At an open house celebrating his return home, a guest commented, “I can’t believe how fast those two years went!”  I couldn’t even politely pretend to agree with her.  The only thing that has gone fast for me the past two years is my sanity.

There has definitely been a lot of change over two years.  I am now the mother of a college student, a 16 year old driver who wears make up instead of braces, a confident middle schooler, and a baby who is turning ten years old.  The most recent (and painful) adjustment has been Josh venturing out into the dangerous world of Provo, Utah.  Just as I was getting used to only five people around the dinner table, or five piles of folded laundry; I find myself once again mourning the empty spots.  

But reflecting on the past two years, many things have remained the same.  We still live in our beautiful house in San Clemente, that thanks to kind hearted neighbors and friends remains intact, clean, and functioning.  The treehouse Kevin built in our front yard is still visited daily by little explorers, and miraculously, all of Kevin’s koi are still alive, despite my complete negligence.  The love and support of a community continues, and is deeply felt in our home and in our hearts; although the depth of my gratitude seems to have increased.  Most importantly, we remain in awe of the love the Lord has for our family and the amazing healing power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  

 I am especially grateful for the vivid memories we have of Kevin; which makes us miss him all the more.  People frequently comment to my children - “You look just like your dad!”  I’m used to it.  My contributions are all under appreciated and unnoticed when they flash their Hegewald smiles.  I have resigned myself to the role of creating a happy and positive life so each of them have sufficient reason to use their smiles often.  When they smile, I see the best of Kevin’s legacy:  his children, and his smile.  

In memory of Kevin tomorrow, I hope you will smile, and dedicate one of your smiles to him.  It’s a simple thing; but someone whom I love and miss demonstrated what a powerful thing it can be.  

The Hegewalds are about to embark on another two year adventure, as Josh will be opening his mission call next week to see where he will have the opportunity to serve and love for the next two years. (The letter is sitting sealed on my fireplace mantle anxiously awaiting Josh’s arrival next weekend.)  I can only hope and pray that I will be able to say on his return, “I can’t believe how fast those two years went!”  

Sending you my sincerest smile,

I was inspired this week when I watched, “Hope for Hegewald,” the touching video Walker Boyes made of the San Clemente youth honoring Kevin.  If you haven't seen it, watch it - it will make you cry & smile.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

One Year

I am President of an elite secret society.  Elite, due to our membership being fewer than ten; secret, due to the fact that we don’t have a name nor a purpose.  What we do share is an acute awareness when the 20th of each month rolls around.  My sister-in-law, Jenni, is a member. She is ever so cognizant of the date because she has been marking the milestones of her family’s latest addition, Amelia, born September 20, 2011.  Last year, Sam found comfort in the visual that Uncle Kevin and little Amelia “slapped five” on his departure from and her arrival to the world.  While I have been marking each month as one more month survived, Jenni has been marking the monthly milestones of sitting, crawling, eating, walking, and talking.  I think we would both agree that the past year feels like a blink.  Jenni blinked and probably wonders where her little baby disappeared and when this moving, babbling, little human being appeared.  I blinked and wondered how it possibly could have been one year ago when I still feel as broken as it were just yesterday.  However, there are signs that healing is taking place. Someone finally removed the cinder blocks that were attached to my legs and I’m actually able to run again.  Much like Amelia, I’m still babbling, but I’m moving.

One of the themes from this past year has been, “What was I thinking??” Top of the list, obviously, is two funerals.  Please, no one ever attempt to do that.  Seriously, just don’t.   A smaller one was attending a pressure cooker cooking class, only 3 weeks after Kevin passed away. That was wrong on so many levels, foremost being I didn’t even know what a pressure cooker was.  Purchasing tickets for the five of us to see Wicked during Christmas break seemed like a fabulous idea to create a memorable and uplifting experience.  Turned out Kevin joined us.  Unfortunately, he was sitting right on my chest because I was unable to breath for 2 1/2 hours.  The most recent “what was I thinking?” happened on Monday night during Family Home Evening. Earlier that morning when I got back from a run (yes, read that sentence again with great awe), I sat down and wrote a list of 26 things I have learned from the last year. I thought with the one year mark just a few days away, this would be a great way for my family to reflect back on the past year and hopefully see some of the positive lessons we’ve learned.  Now how this exercise played in my head and how it went down were two different things.  That evening, I pulled out the big white board ready to write down the list of all the things my kids would share, and instead, all I heard were four heart broken children sobbing because their dad was gone.  I added one more item to my lessons learned list:  It might take a life time for my children to see the positive effects of such a devastating experience. For a 17, 15, 10, and 8 year old, all that has been learned came at much too great a cost.  I threw out my list and joined my children in their sorrow.  Lessons such as “Life is unfair” and “Crying doesn’t always make you feel better” don’t need to be written down. When I hugged each of my children that night, I thought about how blessed I am.  I am grateful that I know the Atonement heals, the Spirit comforts, and the Lord provides.  I am grateful for the four little people who gave me a reason to get out of bed every day for the past 365 days.  And now, I am grateful that we survived September 20th, which started with an inspired rainbow and ended with a fabulous sunset.  For those of you in my secret society, and for those of you who are not, thank you - thank you for remembering.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Probable Cause Rocks Again!

When I met Kevin I was teaching 5th grade in an inner city school in Salt Lake.  I was assigned a class of what outsiders would consider the products of the derelicts and rejects of society.  My only survival skill was crying.  But then I started hitting the bars at night.  Too bad I didn’t drink.  I was there as a loyal “Probable Cause” groupie.  I’d nurse a diet coke and let “Miss Cannon” slip away as I watched Kevin tear it up on the electric guitar. 

“Probable Cause” was an American boys dream: start a band with your friends in your garage, enter the “Battle of the Bands,” win the “Battle of the Bands,” then have people pay you to do something that you would do for free.  “Probable Cause” had the hearts of heavy rockers, but the looks of an 80’s boys band.  As a groupie, I became familiar with the 80's covers play list and the looks of the girls with the big fluffy hair dancing closest to the stage. 

Then Kevin decided to grow up and go to medical school.  Well, one of those two goals.  At his final gig playing for a high school Prom, the Probable Cause band members saluted Kevin and dedicated the next song to me:  Social Distortion’s “Ball and Chain.”  “Take away, take away, take away this ball and chain.”  Yep.  I was Yoko Ono: the girl responsible for breaking up the band. I guess their song choice could have been worse; REM’s “It’s the End of the World as We Know It” and AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” were both songs in their line up.  I’ve since forgiven them, and looks like they’ve forgiven me too, because . .

Probable Cause is getting back together to perform a benefit concert as a tribute to Kevin!  My kids are seriously concerned what the band will look like and sound like.  I said, “Oh come on! Think of Dad on the guitar - he’d look cool, right?”  Their silence confirmed that time has slowly erased the memory of their dad being able to pull off “cool.”  But if you’re in the Salt Lake area on October 12th, come and check out the band that rocked my world.  And who knows, maybe Kevin will make a guest appearance on the guitar.  Now THAT would rock!

Check out the facebook page event: Hegepalooza

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Faking It

Every Monday morning I start my day helping little people check out books from the school library.  A couple of weeks ago, Sam’s teacher pulled me aside and said, “Can I ask you a question? You seem to be doing remarkably well, and I wanted to know . . are you really doing that well, or are you just faking it?”  Without any hesitation the words, “Oh, I’m faking it” flew from my mouth. Honestly, despite it being perhaps one of my “most real” moments, I’ve felt badly about it ever since. (Well, I’ve felt badly about it whenever I’m not laughing about it.)  When it comes to really faking it, I should receive an Oscar for my “I am totally capable of flying across the country with my four children for a week in DC” and (here’s the clincher) “It’s fun!!”  
We had the most amazing trip to Washington DC. for Spring Break.  I took 85 pictures in 5 days, which is nothing compared to my sister’s 385, but a whole lot more than the pictures Kevin came home with in 1992.  We were newly married and Kevin went back to DC to interview for a medical school spot at George Washington University.  After a weekend in the city, he returned home with FOUR pictures - one of the couple allowing him to sleep on their couch, and three of “the biggest squirrels” (according to Kevin) he had ever seen. He claims he saw them on the grassy mall.  I told him that story would be much more convincing had he chosen to perhaps include one of the national monuments in the background.  
Well, now we have photos to include of all of the national monuments.  And we experienced so much more.  Here are a few of our highlights:
Witnessed a live action event at Colonial Williamsburg - runaway horses pulling a buggy with the driver yelling, “MOVE! MOVE! These horses aren’t stopping!!”
Rode insane roller coasters at Busch Gardens
Flew through space in the Hubble 3D movie at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.  Josh fell sound asleep, exhausted from our late nights, and woke up distraught that he had slept through the most interesting thing of the day
Was drawn to tears in Ford’s Theatre
By the 3rd Smithsonian, had the kids bored to tears
On Easter Sunday, attended Catholic mass, in Latin, in Chinatown
Illegally touched the Ronald Reagan statue in the US Capitol, only after the encouragement from our awesome tour guide, Michael - “You only live once”
Observed Monets from a distance after being told there was to be “NO PHYSICAL INTERACTION WITH THE ART”
Spent as much time in the National Gallery of Art gift shop as we spent in the museum
Took on secret identities at the International Spy Museum
Performed baptisms in the Washington DC temple
Devoured TLC famous “DC Cupcakes”
Observed the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier with reverence.  Then spent the rest of the day trying to imitate the guard’s walk.
Saw the wonder of the Lincoln Monument at night (and the Vietnam wall, Korean War memorial, and WWII memorial), only to have them completely upstaged by 3 baby foxes frolicking in the grass. . . .Which brings me full circle.  Foxes.  Giant Squirrels.  I agree with Kevin - there is a lot more to DC than just the monuments.  

Best part of DC: Being with GG and cousins

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Staying Home

Quite a few years ago, in the days of little Joshie and Sophie, I stepped out on our way to church to find that our water heater had flooded our garage.  With Kevin at work saving people’s lives, I knew the task was mine to save the garage. A neighbor soon knocked on our door offering his assistance.  He told me he was concerned when he still saw my minivan parked in the driveway at 9:15 am on a Sunday morning.  That taught me a valuable lesson: never skip church, because the neighbors ARE watching. (or at least have the sense to pull my car into the garage) Well, twice a year we get to legitimately skip going to church.  Our church holds a broadcasted General Conference, which translates, we get to stay in our pajamas all day long and watch church on tv!  Honestly, they are the best two Sundays of the entire year!!  Yes, the talks from our church leaders are awesome, but isn’t everything more awesome when you’re in your pajamas? They are always held the first weekends in April and October.  Last year, we were in Salt Lake City for both.  In April we had scrapped our Washington DC plans, and traveled to SLC instead to be with family after Kevin’s recent diagnosis.  In October we returned to bury him.  In my mind, General Conference has become “book ends” - marking the beginning and the ending and the incredible everything that happened in between.  
So what are we doing this Conference weekend?  We are staying home.  We’ll be watching conference and thinking about Kevin; but it will be extra nice to think about him because we will be wearing our pajamas.  And I’ll make sure I pull my minivan into the garage.  

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Milestones.  Events that mark a significant change.  Kidney stones.  A hard mass formed in the kidneys.  Miles apart in meaning; but both can be painful to pass. 
Today marks 6 months.  Odd to think we have been without Kevin the same number of months he was ill.  Not sure which 6 months felt longer; guess it depends if you ask me, or Kevin.  Since September 20th, we have been hitting some big milestones pretty fast.  The first one was three days later to be exact.  We celebrated Ben’s 10th birthday at the beach the night before Kevin’s funeral.  Then came Sam’s 8th birthday and baptism.  Survived Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s, but what I dreaded most was that special holiday in February . . .President’s Day.  We are so passionate about George and Abe that every year we celebrate their births with a ski vacation.  Kevin loves this vacation.  We escape to the Utah ski slopes where we spend our days skiing and our nights recovering.  Kevin is infamous for his ski lift interviews.  Any one who has the pleasure of riding the lift with Kevin also has the pleasure of a video camera in their face.  That night we would watch the video and laugh and holler at Kevin for his ridiculous footage which usually showed more sky or snow than skiiers.  
Fortunately, we have friends who really liked Kevin, and kind of like the rest of us, who invited us for a President’s Day ski weekend.  Three days of skiing, snowmobiling, sledding, ping ponging, eating, playing, and very little sleeping - My kids loved it.  Kevin would have loved it.  I imagined Kevin with the video camera.  And even though there was still a lot of snow and sky, I know his eyes were on us - watching me drive his big manly truck in the snow, and his four kids carving (& falling) down the ski slopes; and I know we made him happy because we were doing something he loved.  
Looking ahead to the next 6 months, we have some big milestones.  And though feeling a little apprehensive, I need to remember, that just like kidney stones, “this too shall pass.”

Celebrating Ben's birthday with a new board and Uncle Andrew
September 23, 2011

Sam's baptism performed by his big brother Josh
November 5, 2011

Sophie rhino riding & dirt biking with cousins in St. George
Thanksgiving 2011

Temple Square Christmas lights in Salt Lake City
Christmas 2011

President's Day ski trip in Brian Head, Utah
February 2012
(also pictured: my 4th son, Tanner Maready)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

SUPER Premium

One of the stark realities of losing a spouse is the weight of feeling like now you’re IT - you’re all your kids have. This feeling prompts you to invest in life insurance; enough life insurance that your kids won’t burden someone else, but not enough that they will be tempted to kill you. Part of the application process includes a physical; nothing alarming expected.  In fact, it was predicted that due to my “good Mormon living” I would most likely achieve “premium status.” When the home visit EMT strapped my arm in the blood pressure cuff, pieces of a conversation I had with my dad about “failing a blood pressure test and needing to take a prescription to help lower it before taking another blood pressure test” flooded my mind.  I started to panic.  I tried deep breathing and calm thoughts.  The lady looked at me very strangely.  Trying not to break into a sweat, I asked her if anything was the matter.  She said, “Is your blood pressure usually this low?”  I didn’t have the heart (ha) or the desire to tell her that my heart had recently been broken, and was actually quite relieved with the news that it was still in fact beating . however slowly.  Well, my slow beating heart and my good Mormon living earned me not “premium” status, but “SUPER premium” status! I didn’t even know there was such a thing. Here are a few of my super premium secrets. 
  1. drink alcohol
  2. smoke, chew, or like the smell of tobacco
  3. use, nor ever did use,  any of Kevin’s fentinyl lollipops
  4. drink caffeine, unless it’s diet and served over pellet ice
  5. exercise, except walking my kids to school in my pajamas
  6. go to bed without first having a bowl of icecream
  7. stand in front of the microwave
  8. own an iphone
  9. snore
  10. text and drive (duh)
Oh, it’s wonderful to be me.  Now I can look in the mirror, past what is staring back at me, and think about how I look from the inside . . and I look SUPER premium.