Thursday, July 7, 2011

$23, 400!!!!!!!!!!!!

Today I wrote two checks in the amount of $11,700 each - one to CureSearch and one to First Descents. This is the total amount of money donated in honor of Nick in the past six weeks. Emotions are overwhelming and gratitude is in abundance!

The past week in Denver was so much fun! However, on the long drive home, I could slowly feel my heart ache stronger and stronger, the closer we got to home. On the 4th of July, before I even got out of bed, I had a complete meltdown. With Scooter by my side, I stayed in my pajamas and watched about 37 episodes of Grey's Anatomy and cried through most of them. Sweet Lee gave me a kiss and off he went to release stress in his own style by taking a much needed bike ride that included visits to Nick's gravesite and then to several of his grandchildren. By about 4:00 p.m., I finally mustered up the courage to go to the grocery store, although uncertain if the tears had stopped and completely not sure I wouldn't cause anyone physical harm because I needed to smack someone. By the time the fireworks started, Lee and I sat on our back deck and watched the beautiful display, wondering if Nick was watching them, too. The peace in my heart has returned. I just wish I had a warning, like a soft bell letting me know I had about an hour before the emotions bust loose so I can let my family and friends know to lock me in my room, but to bring in candy every hour or so. Get the comfy pillows out, tissues nearby, remote firmly in hand and get Scooter, of course.

We are getting ready for the first annual CureSearch Walk in Salt Lake City on Saturday. There will be a little memorial ceremony for those that have passed, by releasing a balloon. I'm considering this my "soft bell" warning.

In Denver, we played at a park right next to the Columbine Memorial. We took some time to go and read all the lovely sayings, beautifully inscribed in stone. Here is one that brought a tremendous amount of joy to me:
Although we will be continuing on with WACKY events - the CureSearch Walk, the Leadville 100, the Sarcoma Walk, the charity softball tournament, etc., I have decided to stop writing on the blog after this entry. This blog has always been about Nick, his story. I feel any more writing from me ends up about it being my story, my feelings. It doesn't quite feel right as all those that knew Nick have been going through their own story in dealing with his death. Perhaps I need to have some closure in this chapter, too. We will continue to post various updates on Facebook (WACKY) and the website:

On a final note, I just received a card that resonated immediately with me. It said,

"This is what passes for hope. Those we have lost invokes in us feelings of love that we didn't know we were capable of. These permanent changes are their legacies, their gifts to us. It is our task to transfer that love to those who still need us. In this way, we remain faithful to their memories."
Gordon Livingston, Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart

The waves of emotion are random and intense. The beautiful thing is that I have witnessed and continue to witness the wonderful acts of kindness that take my breath away. The generosity, the kindness, the empathy, the PURE love of all those that surround me, are gifts I would never have known without being Nick's mom. Not just for Nick, but for many others that are in need. Because of these acts, I will remain faithful to his memory. Because of Him, I am able to do so.

With love,


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

Monday, May 30, 2011


Nick's WACKY Warriors donates 100% of donations received to both First Descents and CureSearch (50/50). We write often of First Descents because Nick has been a camper and counselor and the friendships with other campers and counselors we have formed are priceless. I can't possibly express the positive impact FD has had on Nick, emotionally, physically and spiritually.

But today, I want to write about CureSearch. This foundation is totally dedicated to childhood cancer research, including clinical trials like the one Nick was just enrolled in. Once I'm able to focus, I will post more information on this blog, the WACKY website ( and Wacky's Facebook page. Until then, I'd like to share a story:

Yesterday, Nick received a large envelope from the Salt Lake City CureSearch Committee (Nick and I are on the committee, too, to promote the first annual CureSearch walk in Salt Lake City on July 9th). Inside were precious handwritten notes from their own group of children (local CureSearch) - all with cancer - Nathanael, Cami, Skyler, Izzy, Millie, Ellie, Brinley, Carson, Jade, Kaidan and Koda. They colored sweet notes that said,

"Tank You!"

"Dear Nick, Thank U for caring for childhood cancer. It means a lot for everyone. Good job fighting hard and being tough. Thanks so, so much!"

"Dear Nick, thank you for helping cancer kids. We love you. Bye. XOXO" (each letter written in a different color crayon.)

One mother showed her 3 1/2 year old daughter with cancer a picture from Nick's blog and that he had cancer, too - what would she like to tell him. She said, "Tell him I love him!"

Another note said, "nIck, I (heart) u" with a dollar enclosed.

This was one of the most tender thank-you packages we have ever received. How beautiful is a message from a four-year old thanking Nick for helping fight cancer? You can bet we will have a team of WACKY participants out on July 9th!

Also, if you visit Wacky's facebook page, you will see pictures of Larry Linne participating at the Ironhorse bike race with Nick's picture pinned to his glove for constant inspiration. Larry is gearing up for the Leadville 100 in Colorado on August 13th. You can bet we'll be there, too!

Finally, Nick is pretty sleepy all the time and gets confused between dream world and real world. He'll ask me randomly about chocolate (atta boy!) or my Ebay bid coming through (never been on Ebay). But then he will answer a question someone in the room will ask ("How old is that athlete? or "What is the prize money for winning the game show?") and he'll know the correct answer, all with his eyes closed. We ordered take-out from Wingers last night, although Nick requested his favorite meal from Chili's. When it arrived, Nick was the first one to wobble over to the kitchen counter to sit down, oblivious he hasn't eaten a thing in the past two days. I said, "Nick, are you hungry?" and he replied, "Well, isn't this what we are supposed to do?" So we all sat down by him, blessed the food and dug in. He ate one teeny, tiny piece of chicken and closed his eyes while the rest of us finished up. Too cute.

He had a rough night last night. This morning as I lead him from his bed to the couch, I teased him that his pajama shorts were inside out. "Aw, dang it, how can you tell?" he said sleepily. "Well, your pockets are on the outside." "Geez, I even looked for that..., will you help me change them back?" I said, "Don't worry about it." But he said, "No, I don't want to be talking in my sleep with my pockets inside-out. Too much." We changed them back.

More later,
Love, Lori