Saturday, June 16, 2018

Two years & one full heart

How full can one person's heart be?!
Grief, excitement, celebration, loss, hope, darkness, gratitude, light, old and new love all at once...

Today is JJ's second birthday, the same day that my wife and lost love gave her life for his. Also in less than two weeks, I'm getting married to the most wonderful, beautiful, kind, good, compassionate and fun person and I cannot wait to begin our life as a family.

It is SOOO difficult to process all of this at once...

JJ is two and awesome. He is very excited for his birthday and all the exciting presents and good times it brings. His vocabulary is constantly growing. He is my favorite age so far. He can be stubborn and mind numbingly exhausting yet at the same time melt my heart, bring such wonder to the world, and be so incredibly cute and fun. I sometimes hate being a parent but for every moment like that I have 10 that I love and that ratio is only getting better all the time.


I very much love and miss Sharry. I cannot believe that it has been two years. Two years ago the culmination of our amazing twelve years together was about to enter our world. We cuddled in the hospital bed waiting for our baby to enter the world only to have our lives torn asunder by her crashing blood pressure and the following hospital "code blue", that had her rushed to the surgery room where she gave her life for her baby son. I miss her voice, her smile, her touch, her love, companionship and friendship. I do hope and believe that she is our guardian angel and has brought amazing people and things into the lives of her two boys.

No, I do NOT believe that "things happen for a reason", but rather know from having lived the absolute best of times and worst of times (multiple times) that beautiful, magical, and priceless flowers can, at times, blossom from the loathsome dung that life flings. 

Katie. My heart spills over with love and gratitude for this amazing and extraordinary human being. At one point not too long ago the "for sure" future plan was to be a single monk dad for the rest of my days. Thank God that sometimes our plans don't come to fruition. I LOVE Katie Lounsbury and am thrilled to be a family with her. She is good, fun, hilarious, beautiful, wise, smart and already such a good mama to JJ. She is my best friend. How the hell did I get so lucky two times?? It completely overwhelms me when I really think about it...but I embrace it fully.

Our present and future are bright yet I know there will often be a bit of bitter with the sweet...especially this time of year. I also know that there is nobody that I would rather travel the rest of this road of life with than Katie and JJ.



Saturday, April 21, 2018

Letter to Sharry at 22 months

Sharry,

I cannot believe it's been 22 months since I last held your hand or heard your voice. I wanted to write you a letter to update you on how life is going. I hope you are already completely aware and if that is the case then this is for me and JJ more than anything. I sincerely believe you still "are" and have had too many amazing coincidences to let doubt overcome. I think that is mostly thanks to you and I wanted to express my gratitude for those profound experiences if that is the case. I pray wherever you are, you are well, that you have meaning, love and goodness perpetually embracing you.


I miss you. Spring is the time of year where I think back to all the anticipation and excitement that we had two years ago. We had just purchased our first house and were a myriad of preparations for our baby boy. Never would we have ever guessed what heartbreaking tragedy would befall our little family. I hope that you always know how deeply you are loved and missed by so many, myself more than all. I sincerely hope with all my heart that we will be united someday and that you continue to be our family's guardian angel.

I am currently in the middle of the second year of "Sharry's treasure", a memorial scholarship and treasure hunt to complete the very last item you added to your bucket list. Students are participating in it and loving it. This activity I hope will teach students to cherish education and nature just a little bit more. I also had the wonderful opportunity to write a children's book, "My angel Mama" with a soul friend who generously did the amazing art, I think and hope you would love it!


Your family is doing well. Lisa just had another baby named Jase! I have yet to meet him but I'm excited for JJ to meet his youngest cousin someday soon. I thoroughly enjoy seeing your parents two days a week when they watch JJ. I think he kind of tires them out but brings so much love and vitality to their lives. It is truly a sacred time when I drop JJ off in the morning with your mom. He loves her so much and snuggles into her immediately. He does tend to boss her around a little bit though. I still do game night with some of your brothers every week which I always look forward to and think they do too.

Lola has more people in her life than she knows what to do with yet she does not get a fraction of the love that you gave her. My mind sometimes goes back to those first few nights when she would just wait by the door for her mom to come home and it absolutely wrecks me. But she is good. She is happy and healthy and has lots of good windows to look out of. Often with other little kids she has no patience but with JJ she is uncharacteristically kind. I think you would love that. She loves Katie too and always wants to sit on her right up against her face haha.

JJ. Just imagining making a report to you about your baby makes me weep. I hope and choose to believe that you know all of this better than I can imagine but I will share a relatively brief update regardless. Sharry he is amazing. I love him so so so much. I never imagined I would love and like a little kid this much.  He is freaking adorable. Some highlights. He has beautiful brown eyes with streaks of blue, long eyelashes, curly strawberry blonde hair, pale skin, and a cute little belly. His personality makes my spirit smile. He loves being outside in nature as much as possible. His favorite activity is throwing rocks and watering plants. He loves reading. He was obsessed with Thomas the Train but has moved on to "bigger kid" stuff like Paw Patrol, and Puppy Pals. He loves playing with other kids. He is a tease. After bath he'll grab his PJs from me and run away giggling his little head off so I chase him. He loves hide and seek and drawing and circle cheese. He plays Nintendo with me and when I beat a level he'll yell "YES" and give me a big high five. One of my very favorite things in life is brining him in from the car when he is asleep as he cuddles into my shoulder...absolute bliss.


I also never knew how stressful a kid could be haha. He just recently started sleeping all the way through the night which has been a huge blessing. He is a bit spoiled and we are working on that. Time out is a heart wrenching activity for both of us. But the good far outweighs the bad and he is definitely at my favorite age so far.


He is surrounded by love. I already mentioned your amazing family. My mom has been his proxy mom and I know you would be pleased with the love, compassion and support she gives him. They have a very special relationship. He loves my dad too and they definitely bring out the crazy and cute in each other. Uncle Josh is one of his favorite people in the whole wide world and I think Josh is a big softy for JJ but I also think living with a baby has probably delayed Josh's having his own kids by a year or two haha. He has an amazing babysitter named Britney that is so so good with him and I never feel at all nervous that he is lacking for care or love in her hands. He also is lucky enough to have a third family that is entering our world. Katie and her family. He loves her and calls her "Mama" already which brings me so much joy. Katie has a younger sister, Maureen or "Mo" for short and she is on the fast track to becoming the favorite aunt or uncle. She plays hide and seek with him and is giving him baby harmonica lessons (kind of haha). Katie's mom, Grandma Jane, also is extraordinary with this unexpected first grandchild in her life. They love to water plants together.
I really cannot imagine a two year old that has so much love in his life and I hope that brings you a measure of comfort and joy.


Katie. Sharry, obviously, this is definitely a bit of a tricky subject but in a world where cataclysmic tragedies and surreal love and magic happen in equal measure I feel I can be open and totally transparent with you. I will always share a profound connection of love with you AND I love Katie from the very depths of my heart. I love you both and seriously consider myself one of the most fortunate people to ever live on this Earth to have two such amazing women grace a silly man like me. LoveSharred continues to expand. I really believe that you, from a higher realm where true and pure love is not tainted by Earthly jealousies, had a hand in bringing her to mine and JJ's life, and if that is the case you chose exceptionally. She is so perfect for your two boys Sharry. She has brought love, light, hope and goodness back into my life in spades. She is beautiful, good, compassionate, fun, adventurous and already a better parent than I am. We have already had many wonderful adventures together and are excitedly planning many more for the years to come. She truly values what is most important in this life, relationships, experiences and learning.

Katie loves me and she loves JJ as her own. We are a complete family with a hopeful and exciting future. I am her person and she is mine. We're getting married June 27th and going to Norway for our honeymoon. I am thrilled for the trip and even more ready to move into together as our little family. There are moments, Sharry, when I watch JJ cuddling up to her that I am just completely overcome by tears. It fits so well. She is a stable loving rock for mine and JJ's more emotional souls. I am so excited for my future with her in this life and beyond which is such an amazing, magical and unlooked for miracle.

Sharry early on in my grief I read somewhere that over time you will be able to think back and remember your lost love and instead of having tears for what is lost you will have a smile of joy and gratitude for what you had. At the time I found that to be incredulous. Now, yes tears still visit at times but more than that a smile and goodness for the life we shared. Thank you for everything. I hope and pray that love, goodness, meaning and light abide with you and that you continue to watch over JJ, Katie and me.


Friday, March 9, 2018

Engagement

Early on the morning of January 31st, I proposed to Catherine Anne Lounsbury. It is astounding to me that 20 months after Sharry departed this Earth on JJ's birthday I have found somebody that I love so completely and hope to spend the rest of my days with. And I know it may seem completely unbelievable to the majority of people who have not had to endure such loss but as my deep love for Katie continues to grow my love for Sharry is not diminished in the least.
I have known the greatest of losses and experienced such depth of suffering and agony that I truly thought I would never recover. If it wasn't for JJ there is a good chance I would not have survived. Sharry saved JJ and he saved me. I still miss her everyday. Yet despite all of that I sincerely believe I am one of the most fortunate people in the world when it comes to love. I had twelve extraordinary years of love, joy, and friendship and an ongoing relationship with a guardian angel. And lightning strikes twice. Katie is the unexpected, missing piece of my heart. Neither Katie or I were looking for love. Yet love found us and brought us together. She is generous, compassionate, wise, talented, beautiful, funny, sarcastic, patient and intelligent. After being lost at sea tossed by waves and storms she is the warm home that feels so right. She is perfect for JJ and me.
Katie and I entered each other's lives at an absolutely divine time. If it would have been even a little bit earlier I would not have been ready at all for a friend like her in my life. Yet at the same time, it was early enough where she can form a deep meaningful relationship with JJ, somebody that before the age of two he'll always remember as his Mama. I LOVE that. Just like me, JJ is incredibly fortunate. He has two amazing mamas who he will know, learn about and learn from as they will always love and watch over him (and at least twice that if you count his amazing Grandmas).
Two days before I proposed we were hiking in Snow Canyon state park. We hiked the petrified dunes trail and when we reached the very top of one of the peaks we set JJ's backpack down so he can walk around play and throw rocks. Our normal hiking routine at the turn around spot. After playing for a bit we decided to pack up. As we picked up the backpack Katie noticed immediately underneath where we just happened to set it carved into the stone was the name "Deckers" a few inches to the side the letters "KT" were carved out and above that there was a carving of a couple holding hands and off to the side a few inches a little kid and not 5 feet away a "J+S" was carved into the rock. In my post-June 2016 life, I have become a big believer in signs and whether this was a pretty cool coincidence or more than that it was an excellent confirmation to my heart that asking Katie to walk this road of life together was a good idea.


The morning of January 31st was a very rare celestial event. It was the first lunar eclipse of the year and also happened to be the magic trifecta of super-moon, blue moon, and red moon. The last time all these events occurred at the same time in North America was March 31, 1866, and the last time anywhere in the world was the day after I was born December 30, 1982. Needless to say, it doesn't happen very often and I thought that was the perfect fit for Katie. She is an extraordinary person in a myriad of ways entering a very unusual circumstance with love, confidence, and light. 

At 5:30 AM we went to one of our favorite Snow Canyon overlooks to take in the sight. We cuddled under a cluster of blankets and drank delicious hot coffee. Then at approximately 6:29 AM I reached down to where I had hidden the practice ring (we hadn't picked one yet and I wanted it to be a surprise) and got down on a knee. I told Katie how she brings such profound love, goodness and wholeness and how incredibly grateful I am to have her in my life (among other more specific cheesy things) and asked her if I could merge my life with hers and she agreed! I am overjoyed and ecstatic to start our family this summer and continue to count myself as one of the luckiest.

And as a happy finale...JJ dancing! 😀



Saturday, January 27, 2018

Letter to JJ from Katie

I wanted to share my very favorite Christmas present. A week before JJ was born Sharry and I both wrote our hopes and dreams for our new beloved baby boy. I cherish Sharry's letter so so much and know it will someday mean the world to him. This Christmas my top gift request I asked of Katie was for her to write JJ a letter with her hopes and dreams for JJ. I realize this was a high pressure one time gift request and was half expecting her not to do it but she totally delivered. Katie continues to surprise and amaze as our love and relationship grows. I also asked her if it would be ok with her if I shared it on the blog and she approved. Lovesharred continues to expand.

Hi baby boy,

I'm writing this to you during the last week of 2017. It is unbelievable to me that we hadn't even met when this year began, and now I can't imagine my life without you in it. Over the last 8 months, you and your dad have become the people I cherish most in the world. Before you were born, your dad and your beautiful angel mama wrote down their hopes and dreams for you. This year, your dad was thoughtful and generous enough to ask me to do the same. That is what this letter will be, but the first and most important thing I want you to know is that I love you so much. I can't express how grateful I am that you came into my life and filled it with more love, meaning, and purpose than I could have hoped for. When it comes down to it, finding love, meaning, and purpose are my greatest hopes for you as well JJ (but I'm still going to write a whole bunch more so bear with me).

Your very first day on earth, life already tested you in ways that many people can't even imagine. Life showed you how unfair it can be, how heartbreaking, how cruel, how unpredictable. And yet...I know you today 18 months later as a sweet, smart, funny, curious, healthy and loving little boy who brings so much joy to us all. Before you even left the hospital, you became an example of what else life can be. All of the beauty, magic, and promise that will always be there to balance out the darkness, as long as you are able to let it in. You are so strong JJ. I pray you will always remember that as life continues to challenge you in the million different ways that it will. I hope that you are able to remember in your darkest times just how much you can bear. I hope that you never lose hope, instead using the strength of your spirit and the support of those who love you to always fight for the happiness you so deserve. The genuine happiness that I want for you above anything else.

My dream for you is that this happiness comes through honest and deep love for others and for the earth. You already have so many people who love you so completely, and a guardian angel who will carry you in her heart for eternity. I hope that this well of unconditional love is something you never doubt, and that it will lift you up and inspire you to spread peace and love to all the lives you touch. Your angel mama's legacy and your dad's example will help you to learn that compassion and empathy are your greatest guides for living well and making a real difference in this world. I hope that your dad and I are able to help teach you these traits by example and through stories, art, religion, and all of our family travels and adventures.

I want you to find your people and form lifelong friendships full of love, humor, and generosity. But I also hope you are able to see pieces of the divine in all people, even the ones you share nothing in common with. I want you to someday find a partner whose soul connects to yours in a way that is everlasting and fills you with courage and contentment. This is what I have been lucky enough to find with your dad, and what your dad has with your mom as well. I hope this love extends to yourself too. I want you to always be able to recognize your value and embrace the wonderful, flawed, beautiful person you become. I pray you'll find your passions in life and never stop fighting for the people and things you care most about.

I hope that you continue to nurture your connection with nature. Right now you would be outside 24/7 if anyone would let you. You are continually fascinated and delighted with dandelions, piles of fallen leaves, any and every rock you can throw, bubbles, water, dirt...and so on. I pray you hold on to this, and that it brings a deeper level of gratitude and wonder to your life every day.

Finally, I hope you always feel the strength and power of your angel mama's love and support. It will never be ok that she doesn't get to hold you here on earth, but she will hold you in her heart forever, as you will hold her. Your mom left behind so many different pieces of herself that will help you get to know the kind of special soul she was. Your dad can't wait to share that with you. I hope you are able to embrace that connection, and that it helps you to carry the burden of your loss. I also hope you never doubt that though nothing can replace what you lost, in me you will always have a mother here on earth who sees you and loves you as her son.

Truly JJ, I want you to have a fun, adventurous, passionate, meaningful life full of love. However that looks for you, I will always be there to support you, cheer for you, nurture you, and love you for the rest of my life and whatever comes after. I love you JJ.

Sincerely,

Katie


Saturday, January 6, 2018

One year can make a world of difference

It is amazing the difference a year can make! Christmas break 2016 I did not want to be on a break. It was a time of grief, darkness, mourning, and loss. I would have much rather been at work which was my refuge from the catastrophic storm of life. I even spent a night sleeping and freezing in the cemetery! A year later, of course, I still desperately miss Sharry but along with that this time there is light, excitement and joy.


I had the therapeutic experience of sharing our story on a podcast in 2016. Strangers is a podcast with the expressed mission of connecting people and growing empathy for its listeners which is very much in line with my life goals. You can listen here to the podcast from a year ago where I was able to share mine and Sharry’s love story and the tragedy that tore us apart.

They reached out to me one year later to do a follow-up story on where I was at. This time in addition to me they interviewed Katie and my mom. There is a clear distinction in the tone. It is more hopeful, positive and full of love and light. Both podcasts continue the Buhanan-Decker family mantra of Lovesharred and are available on podcast apps as under the podcast Strangers.

Now for holiday updates via pictures!



JJ developed quite a fear for "real" Santas hohoho



Then on December 26th Katie and I traveled to the birthplace of western civilization...Greece. We had a fabulous time and thank you to Grandma Decker for watching a cute but demanding baby JJ for a whole week! 












We amazingly were promoted to business class free of charge for our 13 hour flight back...never flown so good! We both attest it to angel Sharry pulling some strings. (o:



Friday, November 10, 2017

LoveSharred, Love Expands

I miss Sharry. She is my lost love and not a day goes by that I don’t think of her. I have learned over the past 17 months to find her in the world around me and remain deeply connected in one way or another. I feel her presence in the desert, the night sky and nature. Music, her songs and those of others, have on many occasions brought me to tears of loss, gratitude and love. JJ of course is a living gift from her where I will continually find connection to his angel mama as I see pieces of her in his face, personality and being.


I know that as my life continues these gifts of connection to Sharry may diminish in their frequency but never in their entirety and that makes my heart both ache with loss but also shine brightly with hope and gratitude. I am forever grateful beyond words to have had 12 amazing years with such an amazing person (I try to focus less and less on the bitter side of that coin, being robbed of decades). I was lucky to be in a relationship of such depth, love, friendship and connection and know that that will continue forever.


Yet I am thrilled to share that I now know love, true love, expands. I long thought and planned on being forever a monk dad who never would even consider dating or looking for someone new in my life. It would be unfair to Shar, to the new person and to me. However life, sometimes fortunately, does not always go the way we planned.


I have met a new amazing person who has not only helped me stop crying myself to sleep at night but brought authentic joy, love and hope to my life. Her name is Katie and she is a miracle in my life. We met, at work, when neither of was seeking out any kind of romantic relationship. She had no hope for small town Utah guys and I had my “monk dad waiting until death plan” in full force. When I met her for the first time I felt a slight tremor hit my soul. To be totally honest I have felt this with a handful of people since Sharry has passed and they are always people that have had a positive impact in my life in one way or another, so that was my thought that this person was going to somehow bring light and goodness to the BD3. And she has, just in a greater way than I ever could have imagined.


Over a short time mine and Katie’s supportive co-worker relationship grew into a friendship and then from that into something scary...I started developing deeper feelings for her. Katie was (and is) an incredible person; beautiful, funny, adventurous, supportive, strong, compassionate and smart. We share similar values and goals. She is a feminist who loves animals, cares about the environment, puts family first, enjoys good music and two of her favorite shows are Gilmore Girls and Always Sunny in Philadelphia (a weird combo and two of my faves as well)! Honestly, this totally scared me and freaked me the hell out. This was not the plan. I was supposed to figure out the single parent thing and meet up with Sharry in a few decades.


I talked this out with Sharry...a lot. As you might expect, it is somewhat difficult to have a clear conversation with someone who is no longer physically here so my heart and mind have had a lot of back and forth. I will share a couple of experiences though that I found somewhat profound and insightful. One of our chats came at night in the cemetery (as they often do) and when I got into my car I had my phone on shuffle with over 400+ songs and two songs came on that seemed like a sign to me. The second of which especially hit me hard, “Long live the queen” by Frank Turner. The song is one about losing a loved one and in the chorus the dying woman repeats “You’ll live to dance another day, just now you’ll have to dance for the two of us, so stop looking so damn depressed - sing with all your heart, the queen is dead.” It’s somewhat cliche among widows, but too often when “one person dies two lives are lost” and this song really drove that point home.


Fairly recently I was laying in bed and once again talking aloud to Shar about Katie. I told her how I was grateful to have her in my life but I wanted to be sure Sharry was ok with this. I then had the idea, maybe inspiration, pop into my head that “she (katie) is one of the only people who you would love who would also encourage an ongoing relationship with Sharry.”  And that is totally true. Not only is Katie amazing and well above average in all the typical ways one might find a dating partner attractive but she is truly extraordinary with how she handles my relationship with Sharry, my grief and JJ. The baby boy loves her. Already I think she has passed me up on his hierarchy of favorites.




I know people might be curious how it is to love two people, hell I would have not understood it not long ago. It is complicated and magical. Love is expansive. My love for Sharry has not diminished in the least which one might think leaves little room for somebody else but that is not the case. I LOVE Katie. She is amazing and if we continue on our current awesome trajectory I hope to share the rest of my life with her. I cannot imagine a better partner to face the joys, sorrows, wonders, adventures, trials, frustrations and magic of life with. JJ will be lucky to have two amazing moms, one angel mama watching and protecting from above and one here with him on earth loving, teaching and guiding.





I know that there are many out there who have not yet found that deep amazing love and my heart aches for them and I pray that they will find it. I know that I was extremely blessed to have 12 years with an earthbound angel and now fortune smiles again to have found Katie a literal godsend of goodness, healing, friendship and love. Sharry named this blog using a combination of our names with specific meaning, LoveSharred, I’m sure neither of us would have ever guessed how true that has become. Lovesharred has grown from Sharry, Lola (the cat) and I to include JJ and now Katie. I plan to continue this blog with the same mission that Sharry once had. I will share our love and adventures; adventures in parenting, loss, giving, love, memories, travel, communing with angels, art, family, grief and all about finding magic and beauty on this journey through life.


JJ and Lola both love Katie's attention

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Our Book, My Angel Mama

Sharry and I shared a goal of writing a children’s book together, in fact, you can see that mentioned twice on her bucket list. I was going to write the book and Sharry, the talented artist, was to do the illustrations. I can now say that we have checked one more item off her list and you can find the product of this goal on Amazon, My Angel Mama. Sharry’s name is listed as an author of this book and she very much helped write it. I am very proud of this book and know that Sharry would approve. It is the labor of a broken heart and powerful connections that come from love and loss.



The primary audience is JJ, I want more than anything for our baby boy to grow up knowing all about his Mama. Already he loves this book, although truth be told not quite as much as his Thomas the train books but that is one high bar to reach! He kissed one of the pictures of Sharry and my heart melted. This is my exact hope, that JJ will have one more way to stay connected to his angel mama. Beyond JJ I pray this book can touch and inspire others with the universal themes of love found in family, the preciousness of life, dealing with loss/suffering, and savoring those we are so fortunate to hold dear.


I must also express my love and extreme gratitude to the amazing illustrator of this book, Sarah Barley. Sarah is a very talented artist (as I’m sure you can see for yourself), incredibly intuitive and I consider myself fortunate to call her friend. This book would not have happened without her. She put much creative energy and countless hours into a project, that for her, was a selfless act of charity and compassion.


Sarah first reached out to me, as so many others have, to offer her condolences with kind words of compassion and support. Then later, unexpectedly, she sent me one of my very favorite Christmas gifts which I blogged about last December. It was a set of cards entitled “We Brave Women” featuring important women from history and on the very top of the deck was a custom made card of Sharry! Needless to say, I had a very emotional and positive response. Then a bit later I felt inspired to ask Sarah about helping with our book. Here is a journal entry I made from 11/27


“While rocking JJ idea popped into my head to ask Sarah Barley if she would do the art in our children’s book. She had been thinking of writing a book that same day!
Her response:
Funny timing, I was thinking about a children's book yesterday too. (it's on my bucket list as well)

Yes I'm super interested.  Do you want input on the art? Or would it be left to me?

If we decide to do it, I'm going to pray throughout the process to try to connect to Sharry. Wouldn't that be amazing if she was a part of the creation?”


And from mine and Sharry’s goal to Sarah’s intuitive act of compassion the book is complete. I sincerely believe like Shar was in fact “part of the creation,” to use Sarah’s words, and hope that if you get a chance to check it out you will feel her influence through my words and Sarah’s art.. I miss my love and best friend now and forever but am grateful for opportunities like this to share her love and legacy.


Here is a sneak peek of a couple of the pages from the book. To see the rest you’ll have to buy a copy 😇 and if you love it like I hope you will, please share with a friend!