Friday, September 25, 2015

Waterfalls and sharks, oh my.

Luckily Bridal Veil Falls has wheelchair access. Once we reached that point, arm strength came into play. 
Uncle Brad even carried Max to the base of the waterfall. 
Most the time, Max just sat and threw rocks in the water. See the speck between the two falls?  That's Summer! Sydney was still on her way up. 
We made almost daily trips to the cemetery. It's such a beautiful spot. Especially at sunset. 
We enjoyed a day at the Dinosaur Museum. 
Sydney and I even put Max and his wheelchair on the dinosaur scale. 
That's one cute group of grandkids that Grammy and Pops sure know how to spoil. 
2 very silly boys....
with two very silly (and scared) little girls. 

We're enjoying every second!!!

Keeping busy

What do you do right after a funeral?  We were spoiled enough to get unlimited access to Provo Beach Resort in the Openshaws honor. 
Being wheelchair bound made most things off limits for Max. He ended up winning 1,000 tickets at one of the arcade games. I think that more than made up for it. 
We learned to have a huge appreciation for handicap accessible rides, doors, name it.  We spent the next 3 weeks seeking out wheelchair friendly excursions. 
We toured BYU museums. 
Max played tricks on his cousins. 
Max cuddled and enjoyed the extra attention. 
Everyone was all over him!!!
We even toured BYU's news desk. 
We loved Summer's soon-to-be new home. 
Rachel Libby (a sweet friend of ours from Sedona) was the ultimate tour guide for us at BYU. No family has more Cougar Pride than the Libbys. It was a great way to stay busy and enjoy each other. 

The funeral of 4 loved ones.

There are certain sites that you can never prepare yourself for. My first emotional blow of the day was pulling into the church parking lot and seeing 4 hearses lined up, knowing full well they carried 4 of my dearest family members. 
A second sight that's heart crushing is the four caskets that hold the remains of your sister, your brother-in-law, your 15 year old nephew, and your 12 year old niece. 
There are a few sights that bring comfort and solice during such a difficult time. 
These faces. These are my rocks. My best friends. My reason for being strong. This photo was taken as we pulled into the cementery after the funeral and were heading to the burial site. The men (Jason, Brad, Zane, and Ty) were already at the hearses preparing to assist. Pops went and joined them to do that final physical act of love for those four family members. 
I love this photo. It says so much. It shows the beauty of their new resting place, it shows the love of 2 sisters, while showing the heartache of them losing their best friend. 
This photo is another example of a photo saying a thousand words. A mother saying goodbye to her daughters physical remains, and a cousin saying a temporary goodbye to her two best friends. 

I am so grateful for a mother and father that raised me as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I'm grateful for the truth that gospel has taught me. We are an eternal family and we are sealed together for time and all eternity. There is a great work for them to do in heaven. This is not goodbye, but 'till we meet again. Families are forever. 

Gathering together

This photo of Porter was date stamped 4 days after the accident. A couple serving in his mission forwarded it to the family. I cannot tell you how much that smile meant to us at the time we received it. That 18 year old boy quickly became a man. We are so proud of him and the strength he has shown his brothers. 
We spent most evenings at Steve and Kalleen Lund's house having dinner. They were so gracious to always include us. 
The Kaufusi's came over a few times, especially Michelle. She was one of Amy's best friends. We agreed that Corbin and Bronson would be Summer's personal bodyguards at BYU. Corbin is almost double Summer's height. :)
My best friend from childhood, Pam Prine Lacher, came to the funeral with her parents. She runs a home organizing business and I knew she would appreciate 'Amy's Store' in her basement. Amy was always so prepared and organized. Always the example. 

It was amazing how many friends came all the way from California for the funeral. So many people sacrificed so much to be there for our family. We are forever grateful. 

Court of Honor and YW Recognition

Tanner Eli Openshaw had earned his Eagle at the age of 15. His Court of Honor was scheduled for July when we were all returning home from our Idaho reunion. They ended up doing one in proxy and also honoring Ellie a couple days before the funeral. 
Ellie received her Young Womanhood Recognition from the ward. Even though she never had a chance to complete it, she was already working hard and excited about it. 
Both Grandmas got a necklace and plaque, as well as Zane on behalf of Ellie. Savannah (Ellie's best friend) spoke and shared some wonderful Ellie memories.  It was quite beautiful!
Then Max and the grandpas joined them on the stand to receive Tanner's Eagle. I was proud of all of us. We had dry eyes until they had all the Eagle Scouts in the room stand. They raised their arms to the square and received it in proxy for Tanner. I was so proud to have my husband and brother-in-law surrounding me and doing such an honor for Tanner. That's when the tears really started flowing. 
They got their pins and a beautiful plaque for Porter, Zane, and Max to keep in honor of Tanner. 
It was a beautiful moment. 
One that we will always remember. 
My parents stood very tall that evening. 
There was a beautiful display at the back of the cultural hall to honor Amy, Mark, Tanner, and Ellie. It was also displayed at the funeral and luncheon. 
Tarea and Willie worked tirelessly on it and we are forever grateful for them!  Family is everything!!!

Arriving in Provo

The accident happened on a Tuesday, but Summer graduated the following Friday. My family headed up to meet Max at the airport on Wednesday when he was flown in from Missouri. Zane arrived late that same evening from Germany. We left late Friday night and stayed the night in Vegas. Gary, Marie, and Aunt Jenny joined us for a 'Graduation Breakfast' Saturday morning at Sam's Town before we hit the road to Provo. 
It was a nice visit with our loved ones who offered us so much love and support during such a difficult time. 
When we arrived in Provo, instant chills filled my body as I saw American Flags lining the streets and adorning the Openshaws entire yard. They were truly the most patriotic people on the planet and the love of their community was evident. 
We were so happy to see little Max finally and wrap him in our arms (carefully). He had a shattered leg, arm, ribs, and a stitched up mouth. That kid never once complained of the pain!
We were the first ones to sign his cast. 
I love this picture that shows their street with the large flags!
Jessie (Porter's girlfriend) brought by same delicious treats she had baked. It was fun to meet her. The girls went to lunch with her a few days later. They strongly approve. ;)
For 3 1/2 weeks, this was the scene. Max and Ty were joined at the hip. Never would you find them apart. Max always insisted Ty pushed his wheelchair, sat by him, and hang out with him. It was sweet, but it took its toll in Libby and Lexi. Max didn't quite have the patience he should have with them. Luckily, over time that has improved. We were just glad to be together, in Amy's lovely home, surrounded by the ones we love!

Monday, September 21, 2015

June 12, 2015...worst day in history

I will forever be grateful for our Easter trip to Palm Springs with our entire Foster family (besides Porter on his mission). I didn't know it would be the last time I'd see 4 of my favorite people here on earth. 
Shortly after 6am on June 12, 2015, I answered the telephone to hear my mothers shaking voice on the other end of the line. She said, "Jen, there's been an accident!"  At first I was confused, thinking something had happened with my dad. Then I hear her mention the plane. I instantly knew it was the Openshaws. We were grateful to have had Porter on his mission, Zane in Germany, and little Max survive the crash. That morning, we lost my beautiful sister Amy, my brother-in-law Mark, my 15 year old nephew Tanner, and my 12 year old niece Ellie. Lives taken far too soon. Only our Heavenly Father knows why. 
I'm so grateful that I still had this text from Amy on my iPhone from Mother's Day. Those words aren't just words. It's the love behind them. They were like a giant hug she was giving me after the crash. (I'm obsessed with deleting texts and keeping my inbox clean. It's a miracle I still had that text)

She was like no other. Amy was a dedicated wife, mother, sister, and friend. 
Tanner was a man of few words, but the words he spoke were meaningful and deep. His sense of humor was AWESOME!
Ellie was a lover of life. She was always up for anything and always with tons of positive energy. 
Mark was a doer. He was constantly doing things for others. He never stopped serving others. 

Life as we know it has changed. Drastically so. I am so grateful that I know they are together and all worthy of the celestial kingdom. There aren't better people on this planet. That I know!  I will miss them every day until we meet again.