please say a prayer for this mom who lost her husband and son
Here is her story
March 17, 2012
I can’t believe I am writing this, but two weeks ago my husband and son died. My handsome husband and sweet son fell out of a canoe in Lake Limerick in Washington. They didn’t make it to the shore. The water temperature was too cold and they weren’t wearing life jackets. It was my birthday, March 17, 2012. We were supposed to go to a church party at 6:30 that night and the next day we had reservations at the Great Wolf Lodge to celebrate my 31 st birthday.
Jace and I spent a normal day together. He watched some television, we played with his train set, we colored, and even played with some play dough. We even ate some cupcakes and we sang Happy Birthday. Jace went down for a nap around 2:30 and I read my book on my new Nook that Sheldon had bought me for Christmas. Sheldon came home from work around 4:00pm and he wished me happy birthday. He brought home a chocolate cake and said we would eat it later that night after the church dinner we were planning on attending. We talked about how I turned 31. Sheldon turned to me and said that I looked beautiful and he thought I looked amazing. He gave me a big hug and a kiss.
We decided we had better wake up Jace so he wouldn’t take such a long nap that it would be hard to get him to sleep that night. We both went into Jace’s bedroom and woke him up. Jace was upset to get woken up at first but then started being his playful self. We both sat on the bed watching our son. We tickled him and I remember how happy I was at that very moment. Sheldon told me that he wanted to let me finish my book and that he would take Jace out on the canoe for a quick ride while I relaxed a little more. Jace’s face lit up and he said quickly, “Bye bye Mommy.” I gave Jace a kiss and they left at 5:30.
At 6:30 I noticed they should have been home. I went outside and saw the orange canoe. I thought it looked like no one was in the canoe, but it being so far away I thought maybe I just couldn’t see them clearly enough. The boat turned around and I thought Sheldon had seen me and was turning the boat to come home. I went inside and packed the diaper bag. After about 15 minutes, I went outside to greet them at our little beach, but I couldn’t see the canoe. I got in my car and drove to the club house since there was a better view of the lake. I saw two police men at the water’s edge looking through binoculars at the canoe, which was now all the way on the other side of the lake. I asked them if anyone was in the canoe. They said no and I said my husband and son should be in that canoe. I gave them my address and phone number and told them I was going to drive around the lake to look for them.
I thought maybe Sheldon had tied up the canoe poorly and it had gotten away from them. I fully expected to pick them up on the side of the road somewhere and bring them home. After driving around the lake I went home to see if Sheldon and Jace were there. The police had come and immediately set up a search team. It all happened so quickly. They sent a chaplain from another denomination to talk with me. He asked me if he could call someone I knew to come and be with me. I told him I didn’t know anyone. I couldn’t think of a single person I knew. I think I was in shock. It took me about half an hour and finally I could remember some of my friend’s names. I called my parents too. The search started at 7:00pm and by 10:00 I was still holding onto the hope that Sheldon and Jace were lost someone and they were not in that water.
When the Sherriff came in to tell me they had recovered Jace’s body in the lake, pure terror and sorrow hit my body with such force I screamed uncontrollably. I told them I had to see Jace. They took me to the mortuary where I saw my son, lifeless on a white table covered with a white cloth. He looked so beautiful and looked as if he was sleeping. When I felt him he was so cold. My little baby, who I have always worried endlessly about keeping warm and out of danger, was dead. My husband was still missing and my life was gone. I was able to hold Jace in my arms one last time and tell him I loved him. I was able to kiss him and his wet body soaked my clothing. I didn’t care. I wanted him to open his eyes and still be alive. I wanted him to say hi mommy and wake up from this nightmare. Walking away from his body was the hardest thing I have ever done. How do I walk away from the baby we had sought and prayed for, for seven years?
Through the blessing of adoption we were able to become parents to little Jace. Our world revolved around him. My world revolved around our little family and it was taken for me in one hour, while I sat reading a book. Sheldon was struggling in the lake, trying to save Jace, while I sat and read a book. My family needed me and I wasn’t there. I should have been on that canoe. I should have been given the opportunity with Sheldon to try and save Jace. I should have been there to have Jace sit on my lap and hold him tight. He would have never gone in the water. I can just imagine a little fish catching his eye and he put his arm in the water a little too far. I can imagine Sheldon’s terror when he realized Jace was falling into the water and realizing he did not put the life jacket on Jace. I can imagine Sheldon jumping in and scooping little Jace up very quickly and trying to swim to the shore. Both Sheldon and Jace had very little water in their lungs, leaving us to believe they were both unconscious before drowning. I think when little Jace fell in he passed out immediately from the shock of the cold. I believe Sheldon was swimming with our unconscious son in his arms. How far he made it, I will never know. Was I watching when they were swimming? Could they have been on the other side of that boat while I watched it turn toward me? I will never know? Why Sheldon skipped that important step of putting the life jacket on Jace, I will never know. What I do know, is that Sheldon died trying to return our son to me. He died trying to save Jace. He died during a heroic act. He would never have returned to me alive without our son.
After two and half days of searching the search was called off without finding Sheldon. Many people wondered, I saw from the news reports, if Sheldon had somehow caused Jace’s death and disappeared. Those people did not know my husband. He was an honorable man who loved me and our son. I knew he was in the lake and it made me sick that such mean things were being said about him. I only read one news report, and that was enough. I knew he was in the lake and we had to find him.
We decided to go forward with a viewing and funeral service for Jace and a memorial service for Sheldon, since his body had not been found. That was on March 24, 2012. As we went forward with the day, I felt such profound sadness that Sheldon was not there. I prayed that volunteers would continue to search and that we would find him. After the funeral services were over, family and close friends congregated at our home on Lake Limerick. Multiple volunteers came out that afternoon and evening to look for Sheldon. I kept having the feeling that Sheldon’s body was close to where I had seen the canoe turn so quickly, the time when I thought Sheldon had turned the canoe and was coming home. I told multiple people this in hopes they would search there, and they did. I was counting down the minutes until it was 6:30, exactly a week ago when I first realized they were late and hadn’t returned home. Sheldon’s mother received a call from her husband, who was on a search boat, that they had found Sheldon. Tears were shed and prayers of gratitude were said as well. How could I feel grateful that they found the body of my husband in a lake? I was grateful because, we didn’t know if we would ever have his body. Would people be able to know, as I knew, that Sheldon would never have caused intentional harm to our son? Yes, they would. We loved our son, and we loved each other. Our marriage was happy and full of laughter. Having, that sacred trust, from Jace’s birth mother, when Jace was placed in our arms was something we took very seriously.
A week later, on March 30, 2012, we were able to have one more funeral service for Sheldon and Jace. Kind words were spoken, words of comfort were spoken, and happy memories were retold. Saying goodbye to my little family is the hardest thing I have ever experienced. I want so badly to hug them and kiss them again. I know I will, just not now. They were laid to rest in a beautiful spot overlooking the Salt Lake valley with the University of Utah “U” in the background. During the grave side service the breeze was blowing and I felt their spirits were free from this mortal life and they are happy together.
My earth life has been altered forever. I know that we will be together again, just not now. Moving forward with that knowledge helps, but it doesn’t make it better. I felt, in a way, that the funeral services, was my funeral too. I am saying goodbye to the life we made together and having to move forward without them. The hurt is so raw and so overwhelming most of the time. I look at the faces of people who love and care for me and I know they have no idea what to say to comfort me. I know they want me to feel better, but I can’t and feel that I won’t until Sheldon and Jace are in my arms again. I miss them and I love them. I take comfort in the Savior and His resurrection, for the knowledge that we can be together forever someday. That song was sung at both funerals and I felt strongly that was the message Sheldon and Jace wanted me to remember. Tears streamed down my face, when that song was sung both times. I do believe the words are true and that is what I am barely hanging onto when the minutes, hours, and days seem unbearable without them.
Well it's hard to say Goodbye and Let go And it's hard to see it end When the memories we've just made may never happen again. But it's harder for time to ever erase the together times we've shared So when we're apart, remember All the Love we've shared together And for all that love thank the Lord Above who shows us the way That, we can be Together Forever someday We can be Together Forever someday We WILL be Together Forever someday...
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