Two days before Thanksgiving, the doctor told us that she wanted Tiffany to have surgery and start with chemo shortly thereafter. I asked the doc if we could wait until after Christmas, to which she torted a quick no. We had a window of opportunity to nip this in the bud, so to say; She was healthy, more viable when going through bouts of chemo.
She sent us right then to see the spleen surgeon, and with him and his nurses, set the time for the splenectomy - two weeks from that day. Not exactly what the doctor wanted us to do. We wavered with the time a bit. We wanted to follow the doctors orders, but we wanted something else. We were scared. We were scared for us - Tiffany in her situation, I in mine. What happened to her would directly impact how I would need to act and react. And what happened to Tiffany would also impact the children.
Mom is their life. I often work from home, and in many ways, I can be counted on being home more often than Mom when they get home from school. But every day they come in from being dropped off it is not me they are trying to find. Usually, within seconds of opening the door, someone yells out, "Mom!?, Where are you!?". If they can't find her, they will usually knock on my door after a quick search around the house and ask, "Do you know where Mom is?".
In the same vein, the corollary is true as well. Tiffany is very protective of her little ones. She is very concerned for their education, physical well being, emotional status, and most important to her (and to me), their spiritual stature. She will more often than naught be found helping them succeed, and to her credit, openly acknowledges that she hates to see them struggle to such a point, she gives them added guidance (which I take as meaning 'too much' guidance).
Me, I am here merely as some guy bringing in the cash and occasionally picks up after himself. She will pay me off from time to time with a smile or a meal or two. :)
So as we contemplated on the timing of the surgery, Tiffany quickly decided that she needed time to spend with each of her kids in a way that she could help them understand that she loved them, and, that no matter what happened down the road, that there was a plan already in place that would give them guidance and help throughout life. This required time, time which the doctors didn't want her to have; Too bad, her children always come before doctors. The surgery was scheduled a week later than the doctors had indicated they wanted.
The simple plan; Take one child and spend one night with them, taking them on the train to Salt Lake City and to Temple Square, where they had ample opportunity to eat, have a little fun, see the lights, and converse one with another. This allowed her to enjoy her children before what looked like a bleak future as far as time spent having fun with her children. It also gave her that chance to share her love and testimony for each of them before the surgery started.
The love came in the appearance of a small key. A keepsake that the children were given to wear around their necks as a reminder of the love their mother had for them. They were to keep them, because, around moms neck would be a lock. A lock that their key would figuratively unlock. As part of the presentation of the key, Tiffany would not only talk about her love for them, but help them understand the 'keys' to life - mainly, do what it takes to get to the temple (hence, the Temple Square visit).
She gave a quote of one of her forebears, Frederick William Jones, Sr, the Patriarch to a family of five who became deathly ill as he was crossing the plains of Wyoming in the Hodgett Wagon company, which was the wagon company accompanying the famed Martin Handcart Company (see here for more details on this inspiring story of the Westward expansion). Just before he passed on, he gathered his family around and offered this epitaph,
"I have pointed you Zionward and I want you never to turn back. God is in his heaven and all is right with us whether we are in this earth or out of it. God will be with you. If you stumble and fall back, pick yourselves up and go on again."
In essence, this was Tiffany's war cry, her motto through this and all trials. With the future unknown, though peace was spoken to our hearts, the children may not have understood. She hoped that this, if not now, will one day stand as their motto to live by. That they have been pointed in the right direction, and no matter what happens, they too can know that the God in the heavens is in charge and all is right because of this. And that no matter what, they can always get back up, no, that they should always get back up and go on again.
The keys became instant prized possessions. Emma proudly showed hers off to her friends at school the next day. Dallin and Logan did the same. Porter, well, we are happy that he understands it's a key.
We find one from time to time around the house, not really where it should be, but knowing it was being used by its owner to get to where it was found. Knowing also that they had the opportunity to spend time with mom in a crucial moment of both their lives.
We hope that you all have 'keys' in your life that help you through life's trials.
She never gave me a key. Well, not true. I got mine 11 years earlier when we were sealed for time and all eternity.
I just hope I can live equal to her amazing faith in spite of uncertainty found in life.