Sunday, February 28, 2016

Just a little bit of fall...

October started and along with it came General Conference, which is one of my favorite weekends of the year.  This time, Jen and Jason came over for brunch, and it was so great!  I love living by them.  


The month kept rolling along, and the weather stayed very warm, and the leaves were changing, and I found myself falling in love with Virginia.  It is beautiful here!  This tree is in my friend Stephanie's neighborhood.  I may have used a filter, but the color was there!  


And, I need to point out this: My seasonal obsession with Reese's has worked its way over to Twix, since they have those in shapes too!  I was in pre-Halloween heaven.  


As I have explored my new world here, I learned that I live by a Masonic temple, and it is beautiful.  And for a little while I worked by the US Marine Corps War Memorial.  It was a gorgeous day, and I was out walking on my lunch break. Discovered it practically across the street.  I had one of those moments I've had so many times in NYC, when I see something in real life I have only seen in pictures or movies until then.  "I live here!  That's so cool!"


What an iconic site; I just couldn't get enough of it.


I went on two separate dates, one day apart, in which I had different, but amazing views of the Washington Monument.  Seriously.

The DC mid-singles conference happened, and some of my great friends came down from NYC to attend.

Rob, Angelique, Rachel

They kind of made my weekend.  It was so fun, just like last year!  And I laughed so hard and stayed up till all hours debriefing with my girls, as usual.  We were exhausted all weekend, and case in point:

Brook, Dave, Kristi
Every girl needs that.  Good, solid girlfriends. These are some of mine.  There were guys there too, I 
 shouldn't fail to mention.  Like Dave, our stalwart friend who is always up for an adventure and back-seat-nap with the girls.  He's no dummy.


 Shenanigans ensued, that's for sure.  That's what we were there for, right?  It was great. Except I was in my own bed this time, which made it eve more fun. :-) 

We spent SAturday evening at a farm out in Maryland.  Much colder than I expected, but beautiful, and when we started the contra dancing, all thoughts of being freezing left as I didn't stop moving for hours.  It was awesome. 



Creepy.  That's all.

My NYC crew.  I still 100% consider myself a part of that New York place.  I think it will be a while till I fully let go of my life there, in the way that lets me really settle in to my new home.  And I'm OK with that.  And, naturally, Brook and I have our customary amazing selfie.  This girl has skills.  She's always holding the camera.  I sure like her.  

A great weekend to really welcome the fall season.  I was ready.

Monday, February 15, 2016


Sometimes you go on a hike with a boy as a second date.  And it's awesome. Because, you know, fall on the east coast, warm weather, and good company.  And that date lasts for 12 hours.  And you even wear the camo shorts, and he still thinks you're cute.  Columbus Day for the win.

Some small child lost their boot, somewhere.

We are both pretty terrible at taking selfies.  So there's that.

That Moment We All Dreaded Came.

September 22nd, 2015, I got the call from Teresa.  She just said, "Layne's gone."  I could believe it, and I couldn't.  I had known it would be any day now.  So I was waiting for this phone call.  But it was still so surreal.  We talked for a bit and cried a bit, and laughed a bit, and talked about a few immediate things I could do to help.  I sent an email to the extended family.  Then I got on a plane the next day.  I needed to be there, immediately.   I was fortunate that I wasn't working yet, so I could just pick up and go.  

I got in late Wednesday night, and met Becca to head up to Teresa's on Thursday morning. 

Maggie, being super helpful

 I spent the next two days there, helping with funeral plans, accompanying T to the funeral home for some final arrangements, taking the kids to Laura's to get hair cuts, and just other things I could do to help.  I was so glad I was there.  I would have gone crazy if I couldn't be there doing something.  It was so good to be home, and welcoming family as they came, helping, reconnecting.  I connected with Teresa and Layne's amazing kids in a way I haven't really before, I feel. 
I loved having some quality time with them.

Friday night, Dave and Becca came and we all looked through boxes and boxes of pictures, finding ones that Becca could use for a slide show.  Teresa takes tons of pictures.  TONS.  And we all kind of tease her about it.  Well, this was complete vindication for her, because she had so many great pics of her family, and Layne, from so many years!  We just sat on the floor in the basement while Jonny and Jake watched a movie, all laughing so hard over so many great, classic pictures.  And what was so fun, is that the boys were right there along with us, laughing and talking too.  Probably the best aspect was discovering how Jonny always looked just a little mischievous in pictures, like he knew something no one else did.  It was awesome.

Side note: 


A major silver lining to the whole experience was that I ended up being in Utah during two of my very dear NYC friends' wedding, Ty Mecham and Emily Harris. 

Another Brook/Nicole selfie.  Nailed it, as usual.
Obviously, I didn't plan on going initially, with it being in Utah and all, and I actually moved the day of their NYC wedding party.  But I love Ty and Emily so much, and was so happy to get to crash that reception, I can't even tell you.  Ty's sister Brook is one of my dearest friends, and our other really good friend Dallin had flown in for the wedding as well. #nycreunion

 They are beautiful and I'm so happy for them.


Back to the real purpose of my trip.  It's interesting- none of us wanted to be there for the reason we were there.  But since we were, we were so happy to be together as a family.  So the whole weekend felt very bittersweet.

My sanctuary, much needed on Saturday morning.

One really fun moment was the chance for all of us who were in town to go to the Women's General Broadcast together.

 I loved sitting there watching with my mom, a few sisters, some sisters in law (who really are just sisters to me), my beautiful nieces, and my cousin Kelly, who I want around me basically always.  It was a moment that certainly rarely happens, and I don't take it for granted that opportunity.

On the way up to the viewing, Mom showed us where she was born, in a little house in West Provo.  And Ally was pretty fascinated, clearly.

The viewing.

It was great to see so much family, and feel so much support and love for Teresa and the kids.  Both during the viewing and the funeral, it was evident-no question- how much Layne was loved, how much Teresa and their family are loved.  It's also incredible how much Layne's body truly was just a shell.  What a testament to the truth that we have spirits, souls that give us life!  Our bodies are only vessels that carry them, and while essential, our bodies are not our identity.  He was there but not there.

Sunrise on Monday
The day of the funeral, Monday, was a gorgeous day.  We really scored with the weather still being so nice for so late in the season.  But more importantly, it was a peaceful day. 

See what I mean about Jonny??

A day to be with family, and to grieve, laugh, cry, hold people close, reconnect, and just be.  I found it interesting that of all the kids, Megan was the one I kept seeing taking private moments with her father.  I don't have thoughts about it, but I noticed it throughout both the viewing, the funeral, and the graveside service.  Sorry for the morbid picture, but the moment was important.

The pallbearers
Our lifetime friend, Margaret Barfuss, and her daughter Rebecca


I sang a few verses of Amazing Grace at the graveside, at Teresa's request.  It was a blessing I got through it. There are many verses; these are the three I sang, a Capella.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found
Was blind but now I see.

Through many dangers, toils, and snares
I have already come
'Tis Grace has brought me safe thus far,
And Grace will lead me home.

Yet when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil
A life of joy and peace.

After the service, we all just gathered in Mapleton for the rest of the day and spent time together.  It was wonderful to just be with my family.  We Ridings.  We know how to love each other.  It was a true Circling the Wagons weekend. Capped off by a gorgeous sunset. 

I wrote pretty extensively in my private journal about this experience, and my thoughts about Layne's death.  So I don't have too much more to say.  But it was a sacred experience.   I miss Layne.  I still cry sometimes.  He was far from perfect, but aren't we all?   He was my brother.  I've known him over half my life, and he's my family.  I will miss his smile, his laugh, talking to him about movies and TV shows, eating his yummy desserts.  I'll miss playing Ten Crowns with him.   I don't get to see T, Jake, Jonny, Megan and Rachel much, but I pray for them all the time.  I pray they can feel Layne's presence, and God's love for all of them.  Layne's love for them.  And our love as a family.  I pray for them to have moments of happy, moments of peace, and moments of sadness when they need it.   I just pray, and hope the Lord brings them what they need that day.  It's all I can do from here.