Friday, June 24, 2011

Wandering, wallowing & wondering

Wandering through the house as I put things away, getting distracted by a card, thought, tv commercial or phone call. Wallowing in loneliness when I realize he isn't coming back from camp as his room has stayed clean for three solid weeks now. Wondering if Carly and Kelsey are doing all right, if Scooter is ever going to quit sleeping in the closet now, what is going to happen to Meridith & Dr. McDreamy, if tomorrow will be better day.

Tomorrow always brings a better day. I have a couple of pictures to share: first are a few of the colorful ribbon display that our neighbors did for us. Still trying to figure out how to post the video. That falls under "wondering"...

And Nick's initials on the helmets of each Bukoo softball player:
I finally took off the mother's ring Nick gave me for Mother's Day to go have it redone (there was some miscommunication with the jeweler but he agreed to make it right). It's a big correction - Nick's birthstone is to be the largest, but it isn't so it is important to me to get it done the way Nick wanted it. I wasn't willing to take it off while Nick was still with us, but yesterday I got it all repackaged, receipt in hand. I could only make it to the front door of the jewelry store. After "wandering" around in the parking lot for a good five minutes, I tearfully got back in my car and headed home. Just couldn't do it, couldn't talk to a stranger about my son, about what the ring means to me, about how heartbroken I am, about the other two birthstones that represent his sisters and how they are sad, too, about how could it be that my son, just 22 years old, is gone. So, I've asked Lee to do it for me. He'll at least make it to the counter.

For Father's Day/birthday, we gave Lee a bobble-head doll in his image, dressed in the outfit he wore when he ran the Ogden marathon, WACKY shoes and all. It had been Nick's idea to begin with so it had extra sentimental value, too. Kelsey likes to ask the doll questions, "Can Kelsey get a brand new car next year?" and make the head bobble, "YES!" Good one.

We are getting back into a routine again; Lee is coaching in Chicago next week; Kelsey and I are off to Denver for a softball tournament (Lee will join us mid-week); Carly is in Moab working for Colin at his hotel resort. She is enjoying being referred to as "Nick's little sister". That won't last long, though - she very much likes her own identity. She hopes to learn how to ride horses; I'm hoping she develops a cowboy work ethic.

We are looking forward to the CureSearch Walk (visit for more info). We are also having a big family party tomorrow to celebrate a late Father's Day and Lee's birthday. Having lots of children around will definitely be fun!

As of today, we have received over $20,000 in donations this month!!!!! I can't wait to write the checks to CureSearch and First Descents next week!!!!

With love,


Thursday, June 16, 2011

CureSearch and First Descents

The days are passing in a blur and I can't stay focused for very long. My laundry, however, is done - go figure. God bless my two daughters, who are now bonding in a very loving, yet silly way. Carly is convinced we have ghosts - not Nick, mind you, but others; add her very colorful imagination and flair for drama, she has decided she can't sleep alone and has coerced Kelsey out of a deep sleep to make her come and sleep in Carly's bed for the past week. Kelsey thinks we have ghosts too, she just doesn't mind them. A few days ago the girls came back from the store with a dance video game for the Wii. I laughed myself sick watching them together and darn near peed my pants when Lee and I gave it a try. I thought I was dancing like Michael Jackson, but apparently I am only sufficient at the potty dance. The laughing felt great!

I finally got a WACKY team registered for the upcoming CureSearch walk in Salt Lake City on July 9th. Since we will be donating 50% of all the money WACKY received these past few weeks, in memory of Nick, to CureSearch, this walk is strictly for awareness purposes. The committee that is planning this (which I'm supposed to be part of) has done a marvelous job in making this a really fun event to come and support. I am inviting all of our WACKY Warriors to visit and register to be a participant on our team. The cost is only $10. Of course, we are encouraging everyone to dress WACKY; there will be loads of children (many with cancer) and being WACKY will be a great treat. WE WILL FIND A CURE!

On a very sentimental note, Corey Nielsen from First Descents led a small group on a mountain climbing expedition on Mount Hood. He had asked me if he could have Nick's favorite pin - a gold star that he liked to wear with his cowboy gear - it said, "Sheriff Nick". Corey had a plan for it, so I gave it to him after Nick's funeral. On June 9th, I received the following email from Corey:


I just wanted to let you know that we reached the summit of Mt. Hood this morning at 7:20am. We hiked and climbed from midnight to dawn and it was an unbelievably beautiful sunrise as we came up the mountain and on the final pitch for my group, we looked back over our shoulders and saw the shadow of Mt. Hood on the ocean of clouds about four thousand feet below us with a perfect corona of sun around the peak shadow on the clouds. It was extraordinary and I was with a few really amazing campers and that made it so much more profound.

Anyway, because of safety and the nature of the climb we were the first up to the summit and the only campers for a while and so I ducked away for a little bit and looked off the north face of this amazing mountain at dawn and "saw" Nick as I remember him best and I know he was there ABSOLUTELY in spirit and his presence is our lives is so profound that I suspect he will be with all of us in our big moments from now on. I dug a hole in the snow and with some serious frozen tears, I placed his sheriff's pin in and buried it.

I just wanted you to know, that it was a pretty emotional week here and amongst all of our campers that knew Nick and I hope that you and your amazing family are finding some peace in Nick's "ripple effect."
Love and Light,

He later sent me a link to view some of the pictures taken on the mountain:
Impressive, touching and memorable. Thank you, Corey.

Today I received a lovely letter from the University of Utah, along with a Certificate of Academic Achievement in honor of Nick. Moments of surprise continue to surround me. Thank you, Nick.

Tears come at random times; I wish I had some sort of a warning system, though. Going in to his room and seeing all the pictures - his goofy smile peering back at me; going grocery shopping and still thinking about what might make him feel better; watching the last game of the hockey playoffs without him; wanting to say, "Hi, Nicholas!" and waiting to hear, "Hi, Mom!" as I walk past his bedroom - I really need him to say, "Hi, Mom" today. He needs to be careful, though - could scare poor Carly to tears. Smiles are random, too....

More WACKY events coming up through the summer. I hope to have Thank You cards mailed out soon. I have completed one. One. Geez. In the meantime, we are back to softball tournaments and Kelsey just celebrated her 15th birthday on the 10th. Yep, that means she got her driver's permit. Consider yourself warned.

With loads of love,

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Is today Wednesday?

That seems to be the question I have asked myself and countless others today. I finally have a few quiet moments so I can update the blog.

Planning Nick's funeral was done with enormous help from family and friends. Everyone we asked to speak accepted immediately; Alane Macrum graciously and without blinking an eye agreed to take care of the musical selections (I can't carry a tune in my pocket); Cindy Speters went above and beyond my wildest expectations and designed the floral arrangements; the staff at the funeral home proudly wore Nick's WACKY pins on their suits; food continued to be dropped off at our home; family and friends arrived from all over the country, ready to help and give their support. The weather had finally turned nice; it took Nick going to heaven for us to get some long awaited sunshine!

The visitation (a closed casket viewing, so to speak) was held on Sunday evening. The turnout was impressive. Kelsey's entire softball team showed up (it is such a treat to see them all in dresses with their hair down), giving her a hand-made quilt done in her team colors, with all the names of her teammates included - gorgeous! Carly, Lee, Todd and I were constantly and wonderfully surprised by those that come by with hugs to share. Makelle had made a DVD with pictures from his baby years all the way through to the pictures taken of him last month at her wedding. It was amazing.

We were able to place Nick's cowboy hat, kayaking paddle and a hockey puck (given to us from one of his high school hockey teammates) in with him, feeling the three items represented his passions in life.

Finally, around 9:00 p.m., Lee and I were able to head back home, exhausted. As we drove down the highway and prepared to turn into our neighborhood, we noticed there were many ribbons tied to trees, bushes, mailboxes, sign posts, etc. in bright yellow, red, blue, purple, orange and green ribbons. "Aw..." I said, "someone graduated!" Then we turned left towards our home and the ribbons continued, on both sides of the street. A hundred yards further, we saw Kelsey walking on the sidewalk waving to us; we pulled over and she jumped in and said, "Oh, wait till you see the rest - keep going!" We turned right on to the street we live on, and the the ribbons continued. As we pulled into our driveway, there were 6 brightly colored flags, matching the ribbons, placed in our front yard. Behind the flags were a few family members grinning from ear to ear with a camera in hand. Although I had held it together extremely well during the visitation, there was no holding back the tears now. Turns out our ENTIRE neighborhood had gathered together and decorated streets they knew we would be driving by on our way home. The colors were done in the WACKY logo colors. There were countless volunteers that pitched in to make this happen, all spearheaded by Jamie Skinner - a very sweet and dear friend and neighbor. Jamie and her sisters joined us when we participated in Relay for Life and when Nick received the Les Schwab, "Do The Right Thing" award. We took a short video that Lee took but it really doesn't do it justice. We were pressed for time in getting to the church or we would've taken the time to drive the streets again with the camcorder. It is going to take someone smarter than me to figure out how to load it, but we will, soon! What a wonderful, touching, clever and creative way to express love for our family. Beautiful!

On Monday morning, the surprises continued. I was stunned and absolutely thrilled to see nurse Tauny, nurse Katie and Huntsman's #1 scheduler and clinical trial assistant, Kelsey. Clinic is always extremely hectic on Monday mornings, but for some reason (not because of Nick), Dr. Gouw didn't have clinic so they made arrangements to come.

Lee wore his WACKY shoes - the same ones he ran with in the Ogden marathon last year.

Under Bishop Davis' direction, Aunt Chris led our close circle of family and friends in a beautiful prayer. Alane's selection of piano music was perfect. Nick's entourage of cutie pies - Kelsey, Carly, Morgan, Caitlin, Kelli, Kailey & Makelle, sang a brand new song that they had been practicing under the careful tutelage of Kelli's mom, Angela, who knows her music. The song, but especially the girls, were pure joy.

Uncle Stan led in speaking; followed by Brad Ludden and Corey Nielsen from First Descents. Lee delivered his talk in flawless form as did the prior three speakers. Sara Krauss sang "Godspeed" by the Dixie Chicks and I think you could actually hear hearts break in the congregation; I know I heard mine. Mike Macrum offered his concluding thoughts; the messages of all the speakers were immeasurably touching. Makelle had offered the opening prayer and Jake offered the closing prayer. The congregation sang, "God Be With You Til We Meet Again". There is an audio recording of the service on Lindquist's website: I am (we are) so grateful for the power of the Holy Spirit and His grace as our speakers talked, friends and family prayed and the music played.

There was a short graveside dedication and then a luncheon held back at the church.

As of today, there has been a total of $14,805 in donations made since May 15th. This takes my breath away. This amount will be divided equally between First Descents and CureSearch by the end of this month.

Family and friends are filtering back home now. The ribbons have been taken down. We are still exhausted. I have much more to post but will just have to do it later. We cannot adequately express our sincere and genuine gratitude for the enormous outpouring of concern, love and prayers - we can FEEL it and it has helped us immensely. Even Scooter is doing a little better, but still spends the majority of his time underneath Nick's bed.

With love,
The Brower and Raitt Families

PS: We have been asked to be sure to watch "Good Things Utah" on ABC's channel 4 this Friday at 10:00 a.m.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Funeral Information

There will be a visitation opportunity for family and friends on Sunday, June 5th from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at Lindquist Layton Mortuary - 1867 N. Fairfield Road, Layton, Utah.

On Monday, June 6th, there will be another visitation opportunity from 9:45 to 10:45 a.m. at the Northridge LDS Stake Center, 2375 E. 3225 N., Layton, Utah. The funeral will begin at 11:00 a.m.

I will post Nick's obituary tomorrow. For those that are interested, we are asking that in lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to Nick's WACKY Warriors by visiting

Thank you all so much for your messages! The love is very healing. I'm missin' my boy.

Love, Lori

Nicholas William Raitt

...born January 17th, 1989, earned his angel wings on June 2nd, 2011 at the age of 22.

Tuesday didn't start out well for Nick as he took a tumble trying to walk from his bed to the bathroom. Gave himself a bloody nose and gave us quite a scare, but he promised to ask for help when needing to walk somewhere. By Tuesday afternoon, he was on his cell phone talking to one of his buddies, "Just waiting for dinner, so if you come over, come hungry!" I was cooking spaghetti and he could smell it. Turns out he invited a few of his friends over to watch the NBA playoffs. He was mostly confused and sleepy but contributed to the manly conversation of statistics and athletic skill sporadically throughout the game. He would look at his cell phone often with a curious gaze, not sure what that contraption was supposed to do. How he actually made phone calls is beyond me. He declined eating anything and started to drink less and less water. He was so alert at some points, I kissed the top of his head and told him he looked down right healthy. He'd respond, "I know!"

By bedtime Tuesday, I told him I may or may not sleep in his room, but if he needed help, he was to call for me. He said, "Ok, I'll call for you, or... (lowers his voice softly) whisper for you if you are sleeping next to me." He ended up needing help often - we were up four times for restroom runs. Then about 4:00 a.m., he began throwing up - a lot! We finally just got up at 6:00 a.m. and moved to the couch and he said he was having severe pain in his left shoulder. Hospice came over Wednesday morning around 9:30 a.m. His vitals were just barely beginning to drop and we gave him some liquid morphine for the pain. And then he took quite the nap.

I sat by him all morning and afternoon, as did Lee, Todd & Carly. By 8:00 p.m., his breathing became a little labored and I couldn't get him to respond to me if he was in any pain. I became upset and called for the hospice nurse again. His vitals had dropped significantly and she advised us we had anywhere from now until 72 hours left with him. Lee gently carried him back into his own bedroom so he could be comfortable. Lee was able to have a special conversation with Nick while I consoled the girls. Then Lee, Carly, Kelsey and myself all went into his room and had a family prayer. Just as we said "Amen", Nick opened his eyes and said, "Hey, what is going on in here?", just like he had walked into an intervention. We smiled and said, "We are praying," and he said, "Oh, ok."

Todd came back and we all sat in Nick's room, recalling various stories while holding his hand or touching his arm. One particularly sweet moment happened while we were trying to scooch Nick up closer to the headboard so his long legs would fit on the bed. Todd was on the side of the bed and I was behind Nick on the bed. Todd was trying to lift Nick and put his arms around his body, while Nick draped his arms around Todd's neck. Then all of a sudden, Nick said, "Oh, hug..." and embraced Todd. Todd was so surprised as Nick never likes to hug and embraced him back. Nick didn't want to let go. It was such a touching gift Nick gave his dad. It is amazing how blessed we all were to have our own special one-on-one moments with Nick.

By midnight, we were all pretty tired and decided to take turns. Todd took the first shift and we all went to our own beds. At 2:19, Todd called for me and I came into Nick's room just as he had taken his last breath. Todd said it was very peaceful. We woke the rest of the family and called hospice again.

Nick's dog, Scooter, is so sad. He sat by Nick's spot on the couch, placed his face between his paws and just looked towards Nick's bedroom with the saddest eyes. He stayed in Nick's room when we were all in there together and he came out just after Nick passed looking for some love. This is unusual because he is such a teenager when it comes to sleeping - he needs about 12 hours a day.

I know our angels are still here as when my hatred of cancer comes boiling over for taking Nick away, the rage dissipates immediately and I only have an overwhelming feeling of love for my sweet boy. There are so many more stories but will keep them with our family for now.

So much to do... Funeral information will be decided later today. Thank you all so much for your love.

With enormous gratitude,

Lori, Lee, Carly, Kelsey and Todd
and Scooter, too