Saturday, July 9, 2011

Well, it's Been a While.

Not just since I last posted.

I'm talking four years here. Four years and two weeks to be exact.

Four years and two weeks ago began the biggest life lesson I have ever learned. Travis, my brother, was killed in a fatal car accident on that day, and I have never been the same since. It isn't something I share with everyone all the time anymore. In fact it tends to shock a lot of people when I do tell them. But really, it's okay. I've had a while to learn how to best cope with it.

A little over two weeks ago I participated in an incredible thing. To summarize it as a ten day leadership camp would be an understatement. The Governor's Honors Academy was ten of the best days I've had in a long time. I won't go into too much detail as that deserves it's own post. Nonetheless, on the second day of the academy my dad showed up, completely unexpected. He was in the proximity of Cedar so he stopped by to surprise me. And trust me, surprise me he did! He went to The Pizza Factory with us, and at dinner we had a really good conversation with Melinda, the GHA Coordinator. As she began asking about our family, I felt it approaching, we were going to end up talking about my brother.

Whenever people ask about family, they ask, "how many siblings do you have?" "Where do you fit?" "How old is your older brother?" "Is he going to school too?" and other questions that lead to what have become scripted answers on my part. I always answer honestly, and try to direct the conversation in a direction that will stay away from being awkward, or embarrassing for the other person. Whenever they ask how old Travis is, I just answer as if we celebrate his birthday every year. He would currently be 22. As we made it past that question she inquired if he was going to school somewhere. When you make it to this point it's harder to dance around, so we ended up telling her the whole story. From the accident, the letters written to our family, the funeral, to the legacy he's left. Virtually the whole package.

We wound up the story, and told her that the coming Saturday would commemorate the four year anniversary of his death. I told her of my plans to give a presentation based upon him to my group, and we discussed ideas to make it even more special. When the conversation was winding down, Melinda thanked us for sharing with her and then excused herself so we could continue chatting. I said goodbye to my dad, and we carried on with our activities for the evening.

The next day I was approached about giving out a daily award at GHA to a student that was being inclusive, enthusiastic, and that helped bring smiles to the other students. The award would be in my brothers honor. Touched by the idea, I consented and we called it the "Deen of the Day" award. I really loved it, and I am especially thankful to Melinda for coming up with it. She has such a good heart.

Four years is a long time. I have grown in so many different facets. My life has been led in new directions, I've had extraordinary experiences, met incredible people, learned to love life so much! While all four years haven't been a cake walk, I can honestly say I am grateful for my trials for they have shaped me to be who I am today.

I have such a strong testimony of the Plan of Salvation, I absolutely know I will see Travis again. I know that death is a necessary part of life. We live to die, and die that we might live again, all through our Savior, Jesus Christ. The mercy of the Lord is great, and I am thankful to be a partaker of the love it offers. As my brother would advise:
"find joy in the journey"

Life is good.


Alma 46:39 "And it came to pass that there were many who died, firmly believing that their souls were redeemed by the Lord Jesus Christ; thus they went out of the world rejoicing."