Saturday, December 31, 2011

My Year In Review with Pictures!

What a year it's been. It's been FULL of ups and downs - probably the most emotionally compact year I have ever had, and might ever have. Even though I've been through a lot of very sad a devastating events - I am able to look through this year with joy and peace - knowing that the time I spent this year was worth it all. It was filled with happiness. I am SO glad that I am able to say that. I'm so glad that this year wasn't filled with regrets and disappointments. Are there a few things I wish I could go back and change, go back and do differently? Of course - with the loss of my husband, of course I wish we could have done a few things differently and changed a couple of things - but I'm happy, overall, with how things went this year. And I have been very, very blessed this year. So here is year 2011 (the major happenings) - with pictures! =)

So we discovered the reason that Spencer was getting so sick so frequently was probably due to mold in his mom's house. We didn't want to move out until we got married, but his health was declining so very fast. Fungus started to grow in his lungs again as well and that was our sign that we HAD to move out of his mom's house as soon as humanly possible. Two weeks later, after a hospitalization, we were able to clean out and move into a basement apartment. We moved into a friends/old RT's basement and boy did it suit us perfectly! It had about everything we needed. The most exciting part? It was the first time Spencer had ever lived away from home =) I knew it was what he needed to start taking charge of his life and improve his health. To start taking some responsibility. So March 12th we packed up everything (in just about 4 hours!!!) And moved from Bountiful to Layton to start building our lives in our first place!!!!!
The above picture is of the living room as we were trying to dry the carpets after shampooing them. It was a pretty big living room. We put a bigger couch on the right wall, a chair next to that, the TV in the far left corner of the picture, and a smaller couch along the wall just outside of this picture! The bottom picture is of my territory =) The kitchen. It was small, but had just what we needed. There wasn't too much counter space, but when it was all cleaned of (haha) I had just enough room to cook us a meal.
I started seriously looking into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints at the beginning of 2011. As I said, Spencer really wasn't doing well and we were worried that the possibility of transplant was going to come up rather quickly. I was scared beyond belief of losing him because I saw him decline so fast. I had always been interested in the Mormon church and after talking to my wonderful friend, Christine, who is also a convert and is VERY similar to myself, I decided to take a trip to temple square with her one day while Spence was in the hospital. I had some amazing feelings while we were there.... I knew that I really wanted to look into it much deeper. So Christine so kindly helped me get set up with some missionaries from her ward and I started having a couple of lessons at her house. I was a little sad Spencer couldn't be part of these lessons - I was learning so much and I was so excited about it, but it was hard for him and I to share the same level of excitement and have the same discussions about the lessons because he wasn't there. So we met in Spencer's hospital room a couple of times as well. Spencer and I had some very spiritual moments in his hospital room during the evenings as we would read the scriptures together, listen to hymns. We would stay up until the wee hours of the morning, me just asking him questions. Man he was the BEST person to answer any question I needed. What a great missionary he was. <3
After he was discharged from the hospital I met some missionaries from Spencer's ward in Bountiful - The Mercers. What an absolutely lovely couple with such a strong spiritual connection. Even after we moved to Layton - they came to give me lessons every week and Spencer and I called upon them several times for blessings and questions that we had. They taught me so, so much - never pushing. I am not one to ask many questions, and they respected that, they let me lead, mostly just teaching me. Spencer would chime in so many times, giving his way of helping me to understand. Those moments were so special to me and I cherish them all so deeply.
After weeks and weeks of discussions, I made the decision to become baptized into the LDS church. I was worried about the criticism, what my parents would think... etc etc. But let me tell you - it was the best decision I've made. I believe and I KNOW this church to be the true church of Jesus Christ. I have felt the love of my Heavenly Father more times than ever since making the decision to join the church. I know He loves me. I know He lives. I know we have a living Prophet to share the words of the Lord with us today. I am SO comforted with the thought that we can be with our families not only in this mortal life, but for ETERNITY. I can be with Spencer, even though he's gone, forever and for all eternity.
As it says in Matthew 16:19 --
"And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."
What a comforting feeling is that?!?! I am so happy to be a child of God and to know the truth, and to be a part of the Church that is true. <3
So I was baptized into the church I believe it was in May. (times run together since SO much has happened) And the best thing about it - Spencer was able to baptize me =) How special <3
This is a picture of Spencer, myself, and Elder and Sister Mercer, my missionaries and forever friends.

Thank you, Mercer's, for EVERYTHING you taught me. Thank you for being such a big part of our lives. You helped me not only grow in my own faith, but you helped our marriage grow and become rooted in Christ. Our relationship with Christ as a couple may have stumbled many times because of all of the trials that we faced, but every time we saw you we regained our ground again and remembered what was important. Thank you. I am forever grateful that I could, and still can, count on the both of you to give us blessings when we needed it, To give us a pick me up here and there, to be an ear to listen when I needed it. I feel so blessed that you two have come into our lives and I am grateful that I KNOW our friendship will not end when we die, but will be forever and all eternity. I love you both so deeply and sincerely.

The next big event?! Well our marriage, of course!!!! Spencer and I tied the knot in Kansas on June 3rd, 2011. What an absolutely beautiful, amazing, wonderful, and perfect day. All of our planning and stressing over our day being flawless 100% payed off. It wasn't sweltering hot like we expected it to be; the wind died down for our day even though it was blowing like crazy the previous day. I am so happy that so many friends and family were able to witness our big day. We had friends and family from Texas, California, Nebraska, and Utah able to make it to Kansas. It was a perfect day <3. The day I married my love, soul mate, and best friend.
My favorite memory from the whole day, and I have so many, was the way he looked at me the very first time he saw me. We did our "first look" photos before the ceremony so that we could spread things out so that Spencer wouldn't get sick and feel run down. So we cheated a little and saw each other a bit prematurely. =) I am so glad we did. The moment was so private, just our moment to share. I walked out of the church for the first time and covered up Spencer's eyes. He was so ANXIOUS to turn around and see me... But I will NEVER forget his look. The way he looked at me said it all. His eyes just lit up and you could read every expression on his face. He could not remove the smile... his smile said it all too. I was, and still am so deeply in love with him, even more so than the day I promised to be with him, no matter what. I was the happiest girl in the world on that day.
We chose to write our own vows - I thought it would be easy for me, and difficult for Spencer. BOY WAS I WRONG! Spencer typed his own in 10-15 minutes flat about 5 days before our wedding day. Me, on the other hand, spent HOURS and HOURS trying to write them out. I didn't get them done until 1:00AM the night before our wedding day. Holy cow. I don't believe I've ever shared our wedding vows - so here they are, a great reminder of the promises we made to each others. Words I'm going to cherish forever.

Spencer's Vows To Me:
Nikki, because of you, I learned to live again. You brought me out of my self imposed darkness and brought me into the light and as I stood there, startled and blind in the brightness, you continued to hold my hand as I again found my sight. My footing was, and continues to be, unsure and I stumbled.
Your strength kept me upright and continues to do so today.
I marvel at your compassion and beauty, both inside and out. I look forward to our lives together. Our love so strong that even the hand of death will only part us for a moment, until our spirits can again join each other on the other side
I take these vows before God to be faithful, supportive, and to cherish you unwaveringly.
I vow from this day forward to stand beside you through the good times and the bad.
I vow to constantly strive to be the husband and protector you deserve me to be.
You hold my heart now and for all eternity.
In Christ may we be together as one.

My Vows To Spencer:
Spencer, because of you I'm strengthened in every way.
When we come upon difficult times, the qualities I lack shine through you.
When you have patience, I have none. When you are courageous, I am scared. When you are confident, I'm unsure.
Together, we make our relationship whole.
I take these vows before God to be true to you, to love you, to encourage you, and to be a shoulder to lean on.
I promise to respect you and be sensitive to your needs; to always be the best wife I can be.
And I promise to be your best friend and never forget the love that we share on this day.
You hold my heat now and for all eternity.
In Christ may we be together as one.

And of course - A picture of the first kiss as husband and wife =) We didn't take a honeymoon after. We were planning on doing that at our 6 month or year anniversary. I'm really disappointed we didn't get that opportunity to share with one another. We also had plans to get sealed in the temple on our 1 year anniversary. To get sealed to each other forever and all eternity. I'm very sad we didn't get to share that either. But I am SO blessed with the time we did spend together. Not only did we have 6 months of marriage, we shared 4.5 BEAUTIFUL and loving years together.
As we were still in Kansas, trying to soak up as much time with my family as we could before we went back to Utah to start the rest of our lives together, we got the very sad news, one week after we got married, that Spencer's dad passed away from stage four malignant melanoma. This was a very rough time on Spencer. The bliss and happiness that we were supposed to be experiencing was consumed with shock and greif at the loss of Spencer's dad, and my father-in-law. We knew that he didn't have much longer here on Earth with us. He had fought a very long and brave fight with cancer and survived much longer than doctors expected him to. It just came as a blow to both of us that it happened so soon after our wedding day. June 11th, 2011. Spencer and I cut our trip a couple of days short to go back to Utah and be with his family.
Spencer had a really hard time with his dad's death, though I thought he handled it very well. Spence and his dad had recently started becoming very close ever since Mark found out he had cancer. They would spend long amounts of time on the phone talking and discussing various things. Spencer and I tried to visit Laurel and his dad as much as his health would let him. Spencer also started becoming much closer to Heavenly Father, and Mark was the source of that. He would always call his dad up to ask about scripture references and long discussions about the Lord. Mark's death was so hard on Spencer in that way. Rest in peace, dad. I am so happy that I was able to call you my father. I wish I would have gotten to know you better and to have spent more time with you. The relationship that you and Spencer built made me want you to be a big part in my life. I wanted to look up to you for Spiritual guidance just like Spencer did. Spence looked up to you. You are greatly missed.

Going in and out of the hospital consumed a lot of our time together. Spencer was able to finally have a pretty positive outlook on our life. He really did a huge change. He strived to be better. He wanted to be healthy. He really jumped on his treatments, did every single one of them - even if he thought he couldn't. We really thought he was making progress, and he was.... until September 19th when Spence woke up and couldn't breathe. He was admitted into ICU with a severe collapsed lung and sepsis infection. No one expected him to make it - but by the power of prayer and miracles, he survived..... but little did we know - that frantic trip to the hospital was the last time we'd ever do that again. That episode would forever be a memory engraved in my mind as the last time we walked through those hospital doors together. A moment in time that Forever changed the rest of my life.
I won't go into details since everyone reading this blog pretty much knows what happened. We had so many ups and downs. So many scary moments. But let me tell you what - those last 3 months he spent in the hospital were some of the most precious moments I have EVER spent with Spencer. They were hard. SO SO hard - but I quickly learned to CHERISH every moment I had with him like they were the last. I didn't know that my hopes about Spencer getting to come home with me again, to even just go to Christmas in Kansas with me were going to be shattered. But I held onto hope, up until the very, very last week he was alive.
I love this above picture of us. The last picture we took together. He was actually happy. He was working SO hard to get better. To get off that vent and to GET HOME. We had long term goals the whole stay. Be home for Halloween, Be home for Thanksgiving... And then to be home for Christmas. Unfortunately that didn't happen. We didn't even get a Christmas together as a newly wed couple.
I learned so much about myself during those 3 months in the hospital. I learned so much about our relationship as well. We were meant to be together. I believe we really were soul mates. We made it through the hardest thing all in one piece. How special our relationship was. It was such an HONOR and a PRIVILEGE to be able to care for Spencer through our relationship. To be his girlfriend, fiance, and wife. To be able to help him. to love him unconditionally and so deeply. Such an honor to be able to care for him in his last days of life. I wouldn't have it ANY other way.
I am in love with the above picture of Spencer. It was one of his last days with us here on Earth. He loved that sock monkey that was made for him. He was barely able to open his eyes up, he was SO weak. But yet when I asked him to smile for a picture - he did. He smiled until the very end. Until the very last moment he was able. What a precious soul.
Spencer passed away about 3:30 PM on December 11th; exactly 6 months after his dad passed away. He went so very peacefully, his hand in mine. It was the hardest thing I have EVER had to go through - but I am such a different person now than I was. I have a different outlook on everything about life. I know that Spencer is in a better place. Sitting with our Heavenly Father and his dad, his friends who have went before him. He is BREATHING and that is the most important thing of all.
Breathe Easy, Spencer.... <3

As I said - this year has been crazy.... but despite everything.... I am still alive. I'm here. I'm as happy as I could be under the circumstances I am under. I have a passion for life that I have never had before. I have new aspirations and dreams because of this year. I am thankful for everything that has happened to me... Granted I am deeply saddened and hurt that my best friend is in Heaven now, but what I learned through our relationship together is worth more than anything in this world.

The next year to come is going to present a TON of challenges. I am just now getting over the denial and shock of his death and so I am just now starting to grieve. It's the worse feeling one could have. It's very, very difficult. But I am so thankful I can be surrounded by the love of my family through it. I am going to experience new feelings all of the time... My emotions will constantly be changing. But I can do this. Somehow I will get through it and become stronger because of it.
I am looking forward to the new year - though I am also very scared. I don't know what to expect. But I know there will be so many new things and new opportunities for me and I'm ready for them. Bring it on 2012!!!!!! =)


  1. Wow; So I am 18 And I have CF everyday, & with all honesty this blog as touched me more than anything! I've cried, I've smiled, and I've laughed ready this blog!! I believe with everything you all were meant to be together. I am so happy to know that Spencer had such a wonderful woman in his life to care for him like you did. I just hope and pray that one day I will have a Man walk into my life and care for me like you did him! You and Your stories are a real inspiration to me. I just wanted to let you know you've touched my life and I'm sure so many others!!!
    God Bless You! :)

  2. Wow! Thank you so much for taking the time to comment on my blog. It really means a lot to me. I am so glad that through my own writing and journey through life I can touch others along the way. Spencer was an incredible guy and his story doesn't stop here =) I hope to continue his story through a website, book, and possibly a foundation. I hope you continue to follow my blog. Again - thank you for taking the time to post a comment. You will be in my thoughts and I look forward to reading your posts on your own blog. Happy New Year and I wish you only the best!!!!!

  3. Thank You! I'm new to the whole blogging deal :) but hopefully i'll get a-lot better and a-lot more people will follow my blog; every CF'ers story is different! By the way you are so very welcome, if you ever write a book be sure to let me know!! I'll be one of the first to buy it! ;)
    It gives me great pleasure to know you still cherish his memories, and his love! Love is one thing that will never fail no matter what!

    Happy New Year to you too!! Wishing you the best! :)