Monday, May 30, 2011


I read this in some little quote book (my favorite kind of book) 
Our best work is done with the heart breaking, or overflowing.
Now, I’m not sure that I’m really doing any official “work”; but since Brad’s death it seems like I go back and forth between those two extremes. Sometimes many times a day. Sometimes many times an hour.   
This weekend was a “heart overflowing” weekend.  
I have always loved Brad’s family. I really didn’t know most of them all that well before the accident. I knew one family a little better because Brad and I hung out a lot with them while we were dating.   We got married and two days later jumped in the U-haul and drove to Florida. We never lived close to family in our married time together. We always visited a few times a year; so I saw them over holidays and in the summer a bit. I always thought they were so fun and kind and Brad loved them more than anything and I loved them too; but I was still just getting to know them.  I don’t think I had had a conversation with many of them without Brad being with me.  So, after Brad’s death I could almost feel their fear. That they would lose their brother - and maybe not see his children anymore either. Saying that now seems a little strange; because they are such a big part of our life; but I remember feeling that they were worried about that at the time.  
Well, skip forward three years.  I remember talking to Brad and planning holidays - your family on Christmas eve, my family Christmas day, etc. Now it is “OUR” family. Everyone is our family. I really feel like that. I am overwhelmed by the love and support they show us.  I am so grateful for them. I feel like through them my littlest girls get to know a bit of their father. There was a time that some similarities were kindof hard.  Brad’s oldest brother, Lance resembles Brad a lot. Addie would just light up when she would see Lance. It was sweet and heartbreaking at the same time. Sophie; who usually takes a while to warm up to people; took right to Lance as well. She would insist on being with him.  She was old enough, and had enough memories of Brad to know that this wasn’t her father; but their were enough similarities that she was very comfortable being with him.  I had never really noticed the resemblance until after Brad’s death. It’s really more to do with mannerisms and the way he says things than physical resemblance I think.  There would be some times when it was hard for me to be around him because he would say something and sound just like Brad. I used to have to leave for a minute and get composed. I remember him playing with Addie when she was just starting to walk and he was trying to get her to walk to him. He was so excited and happy about it. If I closed my eyes it could have been Brad I was hearing. The exact same mannerisms and words Brad used doing that with Sophie. It would freak me out for a minute and I would have to take a little walk and get myself together.   It’s a good thing though. I love that each of my girls have Uncles they can see their father in.  They get to see uncle Clark once a week and I love it (they hang out up there all day and I get a “me” day.  I’m certain that my brother and sister in law are the reason I have not gone totally insane yet.)
this weekend we all got together. We went to see the play Les Miserables. That play is a special one for the Funk family. Their mother, Loni, loved it. I’m not sure if they ever got to see it all together. I know they had tickets when she was sick with cancer. She didn’t make it long enough to see the play; but I think all the kids still went together.  Brad loved the music from it.  (I would always joke with him that he was a total enigma. Type A fighter pilot one minute; singing Les Mis songs the next )  We would listen to the soundtrack while driving around and Brad and Tyler would sing every song at the top of their lungs. I had never seen the play, so on one long drive to Utah I got the 4 hour explanation from Brad interspersed with he and Ty performing every song. (It’s a very fun memory)  I was so excited to go and see it. and I was so excited that so many of Brad’s family were coming as well.  Being Memorial weekend i thought it was very fitting.  The play was wonderful and it was so great to be able to see it with them.  
When we got back from the play I walked in to this sparkling clean house. Brad’s sister Cheryl had stayed home from the play to help with the kids. (even after much attempted persuasion from me) She had cleaned and her husband Ralph had even done all the windows. Inside and out. Even the crazy high ones that I am certain have not been cleaned in 10 years. It was one of those overflowing moments and it make me cry. She said that it was my “Saturday before Mother’s Day”.   OUR family is amazing. 
Afterward, we wrote on balloons and gathered our flowers and went to the cemetery together. It was cold and rainy and the balloons we let go ended up a few yards away in a tree. Brad’s little brother Clark said that he thought that meant that Brad was really just closer than we thought. I think he’s right.
We came back and ate and hung out. It was great to see everyone and I am so grateful they made the effort to come. 
That night they divided up some of Brad’s clothing.  It’s been a process for me to get to the point where I could share it. It’s been a process for me to know that his “stuff” is not HIM.  When I moved in here I just put everything of his back in the same drawers and in the same place in the closet. (my closet is about half the size, so it’s been interesting over the years....ActualIy, I guess It’s really just been the same as always. - his side perfectly organized and my side a giant mess:)   
I gave all of his older clothing to his siblings pretty quickly; but If I had a memory of Brad in something; I kept it. It took me about two years to be able to take some of it out of my closet and put it in boxes downstairs.  About a month or two ago it flooded under my stairs; where most of Brad’s stuff was kept. I freaked out a bit. But it was out, so I started going through it. I think I just needed some time with it still around me because this time going through it I was so excited to share it with his brothers and sisters. He has some really nice things that they should be using. It shouldn’t be sitting under my stairs.  Of course, I saved my favorite things; uniforms and my favorite shirts. I saved enough for the girls to have some and I’m going to make a jean quilt out of his old jeans. The rest of it I was really excited to give away.   
One thing that makes me happy about it is they love it because it was Brad’s. They are honored to wear it because it was his. Lance said they wear shoes that are too tight and shirts that are too big - because they were Brads. I know it will be meaningful for them to have his things; so it was really fun to give them to them.  It was also good to go through everything and talk about our memories of Brad wearing it.  Those are the best days for me; when they are filled with memories of Brad. So this weekend could not have been more perfect. 
Lance and Sharley had come up early and they ran around and fixed up things that needed fixing in my home and hung things up for me. That was fun because I got to have a little glimpse of “Hurricane Brad” while they were here. Hurricane Brad doesn’t wait to be told what to do , he just sees something that needs to be done and does it - very, very quickly :) It was nice to have that for a few days. They got done in two days what would have taken me a month to finish.
I am so blessed to be part of this amazing family. Where lots of us aren’t even blood relatives and it doesn’t matter one bit. Everyone is the same. They come in and overwhelm you with love and support. I know why my sweet husband would light up every time he talked abut his amazing family.  I mean, OUR amazing family.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Swim. Bike. Run . FLY

Just got home from the St. George Triathlon.  I am tired, so this will be short - but I just have to say that we have the greatest family ever.   This is our third year doing the Tri in honor of Brad. The first year I was scared to death - even with the broken toe and not really being prepared to run the race; I was easily much more terrified of the news cameras that were there.  But it turned out great. Their story on Brad and everyone running in his memory was wonderful and it was so fun to see his handsome face on t.v.  (When I figure out how to post a link to the story I will add it )

I did the relay this year. Tyler ran like a champ (it's the first time she has really run since her ACL reconstruction) Aimee biked and shaved 7 minutes off her time from last year. I swam. Not very quickly. I was getting a little claustrophobic in my wetsuit and had to stop a bunch to just try to breathe.   I added a minute from last year - so that is kindof a bummer, but that's not really that big of a deal to me.  I'm not doing this thing to get a good time. The thing I love the most about doing the Tri is that I can feel my sweet husband with me every step of the way.  It's like he's right there whispering that I can do this.  I feel that from him every day. Whispers that I can do this and to just keep going.   This year we had bright green t-shirts with Swim, bike, run, FLY. In memory of Major Brad "Gyro" Funk on them. So I got to come out of the water to a sea of green shirts jumping up and down and cheering for me. That is the best part of the race. It is also a literal representation of what I feel from our amazing family on a daily basis.  It is overwhelming. ( in a good way, which is nice for a change)

Doing the relay might be wussing out a little; but then I get to go cheer for everyone else in our little clan running it and that is the other best part.

I know that Brad loves that we do this.   And that part makes me the happiest of all.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day

Mother’s day is another one of those holidays that I loved so much when Brad was here - but is difficult now without him.  My first Mother’s day without him was the day after his funeral. That was a bad one. The other’s have been...o.k.   I struggled with it this year and tried to just stay distracted. We put on a little Grandmother’s Tea Party Friday - that was really fun and was a great  distraction. Ty and I went on a “turn” on Saturday that was really fun too. We went to Salt Lake and ate lunch and shopped around at a bunch of cute little stores.  Ty is my best little buddy. She is such a great kid. She makes me laugh my head off.  
I was telling the girls today at dinner about how special Brad always made mother’s day for me. He would clean the house from top to bottom the Saturday before and take me out somewhere fun. I always loved my date with him; but I LOVED that he cleaned every square inch of the house. He would tell me to leave and run errands or whatever I had to do that day and I would come home to find every single thing clean. We’re talking: bathrooms, kitchen - every room, spotless - even the garage.  He knew that I didn’t really love to clean and he didn’t really mind it, so he would actually surprise me like that every few months. He was so cute about it.  One time I came home early and opened the garage door to find him just finishing up in the garage. - and he was so funny because he was so bugged that I got home early and, as he put it, “ruined” his surprise.  I tried to tell him that although I did witness him sweeping; the surprise was not ruined - that the house was still clean and that I was still overjoyed. Ha! That is such a fun memory. :)  
Mother’s Day morning I would get breakfast in bed, flowers, a fabulous dinner made and a sweet card. When asked what I wanted for any holiday; I would tell him that I just wanted a card. - but that I wanted him to actually write in it. I loved those when they were given to me; but I can’t even express in words how much they mean now. I have this stack of priceless cards from him that I get to read when I need to hear his voice. I was  reading through some of them the other day. It is amazing to me that in nearly everyone he speaks of spending eternity together; How he can’t wait to be with me for eternity.  I even remember thinking that is was a little odd that he didn’t talk about growing old together - he just talked about spending eternity together. Well, I don’t think that’s odd anymore.  It’s just one more example to me that my sweet husband was very in tune. Reading those words from him on those cards is the greatest gift he could give me.
It dawned on me today that Brad went many Mother's Days without his mother.  And he got to spend this one with her.  That thought makes me happy. I never got to meet her. She passed away from cancer years before I met Brad. I do think that, from what I have heard about Loni, Brad was a lot like her.  If I could meet her today, I would thank her for raising such a wonderful, loving son.   and I'm sure that she's getting a great breakfast in bed in heaven today.
So, I’m a little ashamed to say that was having a little pity party for myself this morning; missing my Mother’s Day with Brad.   I was a little put out to be working and cooking and having no help on “my” day.  When I start to go into that “poor me” mode I have found usually only one thing that pulls me out of it. And it is totally cliche to even say it out loud; but it’s the only thing that works - And that is counting my blessings . (I know, I know... It sounds like I am making that up...but it really does work for me.) There are many nights that I actually have to start listing them outloud. I list them until it sinks in and I FEEL as blessed as I really am.    So today I had to start a list of why I am grateful that I have 3 crazy girls to care for everyday; even on mother’s day.   And you know what? That “little girl” list is pretty dang long.  :) Every night while putting Addie to bed I say  - “I love to be your mommy”; and she always replies with; “I love to be your Addie” and I always walk out of that room in awe of how happy those girls make me. I can’t even imagine how I would deal with losing Brad if I didn’t have my daughters. They  make me laugh and remind me to be happy. Sometimes they make me want to scream, but they are my biggest source of Joy. They teach me to have faith and be strong.  I am so grateful I get to be their mother.   

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Be Brave

Beginning 2.0

I have started a blog entitled One Widow’s Might. An explanation of this title is my first entry titled Beginning.  For about one year, I have been writing about my current circumstances—being the widow of my sweet, wonderful, heroic husband Brad.  Writing on this blog is therapeutic to me and provides a record of my thoughts, feelings and experiences that I want to be able share with my daughters. And, more than anything, I want to help my children get to know their amazing father as much as they possibly can. I want them to know how happy he made (and makes) me and how much he loves them. I feel that writing down my feelings may be a good way to convey this to them - and if my computer blew up, I would still have it - so the blog began.
 As I began to write, I did not necessarily intend to make this blog public. I wrote a few entries, and one day while attempting to locate my blog (- obviously computer savvy is not one of my strengths)  I stumbled upon a few blogs from other widows. I found myself reading, and reading and rereading. Many of these blogs were like reading my own thoughts. I think I  cried the whole time, but it was good to feel like somebody, somewhere knew a little bit of what I was feeling. It made me feel less alone.  They had dreams and plans and a whole life that seemingly got ripped apart one day.  And they are picking up the pieces and going forward. Their words are inspiring to me. Since reading these other blogs and having them affect me the way they did, I’ve felt like maybe I should be brave and put my words out there.  Although I have approached this with much hesitation, and many of my experiences with my sweet husband are too personal and sacred to share with others, there are some experiences that I feel may be appropriate and perhaps beneficial for others to read. Maybe someone, somewhere will read and it will be just what they needed to hear for that moment. Maybe someone will feel more understood and not as alone, like I have sometimes felt.  I have been hesitant to make this public for months, but I keep feeling like I should share. So this is me trying to be brave and put my ramblings out there. 
As I mentioned, the title of this blog is “One Widow’s Might”. Although I certainly do not believe myself to be mighty, I do think that we are all asked to do mighty things in our lives—and confront our daily challenges with everything we have (with all our might).  It has become increasingly clear to me that everyone has their own set of significant and, at times, heart-wrenching, challenges they deal with on a daily basis. We each have our own set of experiences and it is difficult to really know everything a person goes through or has to deal with. These experiences can sometimes challenge us to our very core—to the point that we are completely dependent on the intervention of a loving Heavenly Father and His administering angels. I like the name “One Widow’s Might” because I love the story of the Widow’s mite in the bible. She is truly mighty. Because she casts in all that she has and has faith that she will be carried and sustained. She knows her Savior will provide her with everything she needs; so she can give all she has. But, her giving is not the end of the story. I know that she received much, much more than she gave. She is an example to me. I hope to develop faith like her faith. She knows that she is mighty—not because of her own strength or power, but because of the strength and power of the one by whom she is carried. In this sense, we can all become mighty as we place an increased confidence in our Savior and draw upon his power to heal, comfort, and teach us—as we face our greatest challenges. 

Today marks three years since Brad’s death. I thought today might be an appropriate day to share this blog with others. On the morning of May 1, 2008, I was making pancakes for my girls. Tyler, who was 13 at the time, was already at school. Sophie was 2 1/2 and Addie was 6 months old. My doorbell rang and as soon as I opened that door; I knew all of our lives would never be the same. Standing there were about six Air Force personnel all dressed in their blues (something you never want to see if you have a husband serving in the Air Force). My husband, Brad was an F-15 pilot. He was an exceptional pilot and had boxes full of awards to show that it wasn’t just me who thought so. He was an even better husband, father and priesthood holder. He was my best friend, and I thought that our life together was perfect. The people standing on my porch that morning were there to tell me that Brad had been killed in a plane crash. He was flying with a student pilot and the engine had failed on approach. When they tried to eject, the seats collided in the air and because of that they hit the ground before the parachutes opened and both Brad and the other pilot were killed. 
Although, I don’t know that I will ever get to the point where I can say that I am grateful for this trial (I may need to get to the other side before I can say that), I can say that because of this experience I am a different person, and I am grateful for that. My relationship with my Father in Heaven and with my Savior is forever changed. When you have no earthly way of receiving comfort  you begin to learn to rely totally on your Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ.
I know where Brad is, and I know that he is not far. I feel him near me and our girls every day—in a very real way. I know that we will be together again. I have this knowledge and I am so grateful for it. But, that knowledge alone does not help much on the days that I find it hard to breathe without my sweet husband by my side. The knowledge of wonderful, joyous things to come is not enough. It is all so far off and sometimes, even with all my knowledge, I can't see it.  So on those days when everything I know doesn't help me out of bed, I am so grateful that I have something else. Something stronger and more immediate and real. (and something that is always constant - on good days and on bad days)  I have my Savior and his love. He lifts me and carries me and He is healing my broken heart. Sometimes I wish it were a faster process, but I know everything is controlled by Him and I have come to trust Him and His ways completely. He is the only one who has perfect empathy. Because he has felt every single thing that I  have felt. So along with my knowledge of happiness later with Brad,  I need my Savior personally today, and everyday.
 I am grateful for the role that Brad has in this healing process. He remains very involved in my life. Somehow, Brad continues to provide me great comfort—similar to how he did before, but through a different means. Little by little, the Savior heals me and little by little I learn that as I do His will I am blessed and strengthened far beyond my own capacity. I once believed that my life had been ripped apart. Now I am confident that my life has just altered course. Although I do not always appreciate the path I have been asked to walk down, I know that I would never be asked to walk this path alone. Over the past three years, I have witnessed how the Lord can help me walk this path, and that He mercifully allows those who have departed this life to remain very close by—in a very real way. Burdens that have felt like the whole world is crashing down on me and that no earthly remedy can cure have helped me more fully see that we have a kind and loving Heavenly Father who has a perfect plan that, if we allow it too, can make us happy and heal our hearts; even in the midst of our greatest sorrow. This plan can give us peace even in the midst of our greatest fear. It can give us amazing joy even while in the midst of our most unimaginable loss. One thing I know for certain is that we are never doing it alone— not ever.  As I write and read other’s experiences, I continue to realize that very fact—we are never alone. In addition to not being alone, we have a loving Heavenly Father who provides us tender mercies that help us understand what is going on. I have found that these tender mercies often manifest themselves in my life through the kind and thoughtful actions of others who have gone through what I am going through or who can, somehow, relate with a portion of my experiences. In short, our Heavenly Father tells us that we are not alone and, then, if we allow Him, provides evidence of that fact. I hope that perhaps this blog may help show others —irrespective of the gravity of their challenges and of the depth of hurt they feel in their souls— that they, like me, are never alone.