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.


Jay Paterson said...

Anne and I could not attend, regretfully.
During the week I was up in Ottawa and proudly displayed my WACKY pin close to my heart every day.
On wednesday Night I had an opportunity to sing a couple of songs in front of a very lively Quebec based family orchestra, Le Famille Painchaud. 2 Fiddles, one guitar on bass fiddle. Very lively music.

I sang an extremely popular French Canadian ballad, but I sang it for Nick, it's very plaintive.

"Ma chere Nick, C'est ton tour
De nous laisser parler d'amour
Ma chere Nick, C'est ton tour
De nous laisser parler d'amour"

translated means;
My dear friend Nick, now it's your turn
To let ourselves talk about your love
My dear friend Nick, now it's your turn
To let ourselves talk about your love"

Thankyou so much for keeping all of us up to date, and so engaged.

With WACKY love,

Chris Ulvin said...

Blessed Thursday Lori and family,
My daily devotional challenged me with "Our loving ways can make people want to know God better." Nick's funeral made me trust God's promise and inspired to seek God more. Thank you to all the serving hands - both seen and unseen - on the days following Nick's earthly departure. May God bless those who look to Him for help in the days ahead. Amen
love, aunt Chris

Smiles said...

Thank you for sharing Nick's story. He has inspired me more than you know.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing. It sounds truly beautiful and comforting. Though I only know you and Nick via the web, I am awed by you...your positiveness, your strength, your giving way. God Bless.
- Amy Goodner

Lorin Decker Buck said...


Thank you for taking the time to write such a heartwarming update for all of us who wish we could've been with you at Nick's funeral. You all were in my thoughts Sunday evening and all day Monday. It sounds like the service was a very fitting expression of all the love and admiration so many feel for Nick.

I've added you to a newly created Facebook group called "The Road Less Traveled," for parents who have lost a child. The DeHaans, who lost their daughter Hannah to rhabdo, invited Gene and me to join. The core group is from western Michigan, but the membership has become somewhat more diverse as others have signed on, including Archie and Judith Wilson. Please join the conversation if and when you feel ready.

Please know that I'm walking with you on this difficult journey from afar.


Chris Ulvin said...

Blessed June 15th Wednesday
The Ulvins are back in California. We have received many cards of sympathy which reaffirms how Nick was a vessel of God's love and promise to so many he never met on earth. I can't help but smile when picturing Nick welcoming to heaven the multitude who followed My War With Cancer.
Dear Lord, thank you for never leaving Nick and making his funeral a celebration of life and faith. Please fill the void created by Nick's earthly departure with love and joyful memories. May you grant Carly and Kelsey special favor in their days ahead. Amen.
Love, aunt Chris

Chris Ulvin said...

Blessed June 22nd Wednesday Lori,
As the days have now become weeks since Nick's passing I reflect back on Nick's thank you letter to the Ulvins. His last words to us were "thank you for all the continuous prayers".
These were words from a wise soul in a young body. Jesus modeled for us the purpose and power of prayer when he asked his disciples to pray at the Mount of Olives. Nick is in good company.
Dear Nick, I will try to continually pray - with help from the Holy Spirit - until the day I am reunited with our Heavenly Father. Godspeed to us all.
Love, aunt Chris

Chris Ulvin said...

God bless this first Wednesday in July 2011.
It amazes me how fast I live life as do others around me. In the month's time since Nick left us to be with the Lord, I can think of dozens of things that have happened that are life altering. Just in my immediate family Kelsey got her driving permit, Carly took a job in Moab, Stuart returned from Iraq and celebrated in Vegas, Stan was given a new puppy for Father's Day. In these things I realize I can let worry rob me of the joy God created us for.
So in all the choices I must make in my life time I am thankful for the guiding words found in the Psalms. Nick's cancer journey inspired me to focus on verse 5 in Psalm 25 - "Lead me in your truth, and teach me, for you are the God of my slavation; for you I wait all day long."
Dear Lord, may you bless all of Nick's family and friends. Use our choices to seek You and teach us through their consequences. Amen.
Love, aunt Chris