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Saturday, June 20, 2015

21 Days

21 Days

According to numerology the properties of 21 are:

Creation-Beginning, Destruction-Ending, Renewal-New Beginning.

My husband died 21 days ago.

As I type those words, I whisper them out loud. They still feel strange in my mouth, unreal. If I say them again and again I start to choke on the consonants and vowels and letters, words, the things that have always been my sanctuary become unfamiliar.

So I go back to the numbers—pesky things I’ve never liked, whose points and values and symbols used to float off the pages of my math books in school while I tried desperately to catch and hold them in my hands.

Trevor is the only reason I passed the last math class I took. Statistics in college. We’d lie on our stomachs in his dorm room and he’d make me perform the formulas again and again and again.

I wasn’t actually learning, just memorizing which buttons to push on the calculator, which values to drop into the equations. And I could remember them until 7:30 a.m. when Trevor would drive me to campus, so I wouldn’t have to walk up in the snow and I’d take the test and I passed.

21 days.

If I ever decide to try and have a love affair with numbers I’ll probably look too deeply into them and still miss the equation because I’ll be so busy making up stories to try and make them make sense.

That is what Rene Allendy did. The father of numerology. French frenemy of Freud and a dedicated homeopath. He said that 21 holds the elements of Creation-Beginning, Destruction-Ending, Renewal-New Beginning.

He also said, “This number contains the ratios of the principle of individuality 2 with the cosmic differentiation 20. These ratios would constitute an act of organization wherein 2 +1 = 3. Thus the principle of individuality, placed between the world of the spirit and that of the matter flesh, realizes in itself the meaning of both.”

I feel like I have been walking between two worlds in these 21 days, a floating individual between the place of death and life, between the world of spirit and the world of matter.

I don’t know if I can say yet that I’ve found meaning.

But I’m looking.

In 21 days there are at least 21 things I have learned:

1. Grief is a sharp-clawed creature you cannot out guess. I’m continually surprised by the things that send me into a tailspin, and the things I don’t blink at. Cleaning out Trevor’s office? Strong as steel. I open his pajama drawer and am suddenly weeping on the floor of our closet.  

2. How are you?” is the single worst perfunctory greeting that exists in our culture. This isn’t a critique – because I don’t know what else we would say to one another. But over the past 21 days I keep struggling with the right way to answer this question. I come back to “a million things. I am a million things.”

3. People are really, really, really, really, really, really good. I cannot count the acts of service so many have given. I have been so overwhelmed—and sustained—by the goodness around me.

4. Our brains are really, really, really really, really good at protecting us from too much emotional pain most of the time.

5.  The handful of times our brains are not good at protecting us from emotional pain make it really, really, really, really, really easy to self-destruct. You cannot unpack your bags and live in those moments.

6. How to turn on the sprinkler system. I’m still learning how to run all the electronic things in our house. Starting the lawnmower, backing up the trailer and tying the right knots for rock climbing are still on my list to learn.

7.There are a lot of things I used to think mattered a lot that don’t matter at all.

8. We take too many things for granted.

9.  How much my husband loved—loves—will always love—me. And how much I loved—love—will always love him.

10. That when you are grieving you get “a pass” on behavior that you are tempted to beat yourself up about. My dear friend J.—living through her own loss—reminds me almost nightly that I’m not crazy. That I get a pass.

11. That like J, there are a lot of women who walk this road. Of the 13.7 million people in the US who have lost a spouse, over 11 million are widows. Seems disproportionate, no? I have so many sisters in grief. They are my tribe. I watch them everyday to figure out how to lift my head up.

12. People think one of three things when you wear black for 21 days straight:

a.     You are a hopeless romantic
b.     You are off your rocker
c.      You are a Charles Dickens fan

13. People want to help you desperately, but don’t know how to. And you cannot tell them, because you do not know how they can help either. But you need the help. It keeps you alive. I’m continually grateful for the friends and neighbors and colleagues who call or just stop by. Who are brave enough not to tip-toe around me. I’m equally grateful that they understand when I can’t commit or cancel plans at the last second or cry at random things…and that they still keep calling.

14. Sleeping after losing your spouse is something that seems like a universal struggle. For ten days I could not sleep beneath the covers of our bed. I’d lie on top of the comforter with a blanket wrapped around me. I’m under the covers now, but sleep is still often elusive and the bed is too big.

15. That no one is perfect. And at some point the things we do or don’t do become someone else's story: "can you believe he did that?" or “I can’t understand why she doesn’t _____.”  There will be judgments, misinterpretations, misunderstandings. And that's ok. It happens when we're feeling messed up or sad or lonely or confused or bored or desperately looking for a distraction.

16. The only thing consistent from day to day is the blank piece of paper that we start with. You have to keep trying to tell a good story and turn yourself into the sort of character that dances across the page. 

17.  Family is the sinew and strength you always have. Friends are the family you get to choose. Neighbors are the family geography chooses. And incredibly kind strangers who meet you in passing are family by kismet.

18. Everyone searches for closure in different ways. It was important to me to bury my husband by myself out at the cemetery. It was something I had to see through til the end. And even though they worried, my family and Trevor’s family supported my decision to do this—and when my dad drove to the bottom of the cemetery and parked his pickup in the shade every so often for the two to three hours I was shoveling, I pretended not to notice he was checking on me.

19. It can be unbearably hard to focus. At the graveside, Trevor’s uncle who lost his oldest son in 2005 gave me a hug and told me that for the next 3 months I’d stare out the window, that in 6 months I’d start to function again. I remember nodding and not completely understanding what he meant. Now I do.

20. Even though your world has stopped spinning, the rest of the world doesn’t quit moving. And if you don’t move with it, the paralyzing sadness will destroy you.

21. That you are stronger than you think you are. And when you aren’t strong, you are pretty decent at faking it—so good, in fact, sometimes you fool yourself.

21 days.

Creation-beginning, destruction-ending, renewal-new beginning.

Sometimes I think I might live the rest of my life in this 21days cycle—learning 21 new things about how to navigate this new life each time. And I think I can do it. 21 days at a time.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Trevor Barton Linderman: Feb. 1, 1984 - May 29, 2015

Trevor Barton Linderman ran home on May 29, 2015 just as the birds began to sing outside the windows of the home he shared with his family. He packed a lot of heart, adventure, wonder, love, and generosity of spirit into his short 31 years. Trevor spent 13 of those 31 years on a difficult journey with cancer—a journey that he undertook with astonishing dignity and style.

On February 1, 1984, in Burley, Idaho, Bart and Sandra Linderman welcomed their first child, Trevor Barton Linderman.  He had a wonderful childhood growing up in the small Idaho towns of Oakley and Moore. Eventually, the Linderman family settled in Rexburg, Idaho. It was there that he honed his skills at teasing and loving his three younger siblings, Justin Robert, Hillary Rae and Stacey Renee.

From the very beginning Trevor was an avid and passionate learner, excelling in academics as well as scouting. He spent every summer from the time he was 14 working at Scout Camp. By 15, Trevor had earned his Eagle award. He attended Cedar Badge National Junior Leader Training Camp for nine years and served, at various times, as Chairman of the Board, Senior Patrol Leader and Assistant Scout Master. He would go on to receive a Vigil Honor in the Order of the Arrow. 

During high school, he participated  in student government, leadership clubs, orchestra, tennis, and drama. But it was in speech and debate class at Madison High School that he would meet Chelsi--the girl that would change his life. What began as a beautiful friendship would later evolve into an epic romance. 

During Trevor’s senior year in high school he was diagnosed with a brain tumor.  After undergoing successful surgery he spent nearly a year learning to regain movement and mobility, having been left with partial paralysis on the right side of his body from the surgery. Though this first test seemed more difficult than any could imagine, Trevor never lost his smile, or his depth of will to live and explore. He triumphantly walked across the stage at his high school graduation ceremony and then quickly moved on to Utah State University to carry on his family's Aggie legacy. 

While at USU, Trevor and Chelsi reconnected  and became inseparable as they hiked, camped, rock climbed, attended classes, studied and excelled as top performers on USU’s speech and debate team--and--after debating it long enough, they were married and sealed for time and all eternity in the Logan, Utah LDS Temple on August 17, 2006. 

A year after their wedding, Trevor's brain cancer was back. Trevor bravely completed a second brain surgery, radiation and chemotherapy treatments while finishing his bachelor's degree in corporate communications and public relations as an Aggie. Trevor was recognized as the "Outstanding Graduate" in his graduating class.  

After graduation, Trevor and Chelsi moved to Saint George, Utah, where he began and completed a second bachelor’s degree in accounting at Dixie State University. Once again, he graduated at the very top of his class. During this time, he also began working for OveractDev Technology Partners as an intern who would go on to become the manager of operations--though his favorite title was, STGBC (smooth talking, geeky, bean counter). Bestowed on him by the president of the company, STGBC, appeared on Trevor's business cards, courtesy of the president. 

In March 2010, Trevor and Chelsi welcomed the most perfect daughter into this world, Ivie Thelma Linderman, and as Trevor held her in his arms for the first time he said, “Now we are a family. 

At the request of his past professors, and now dear friends, Trevor eagerly agreed to teach accounting courses as needed for Dixie State University from 2012-2014. He loved his students and colleagues. 

He also began his advanced studies at Southern Utah University, and earned master degrees in Business Administration and Accounting. He spoke at SUU's graduation ceremonies as the top graduate of his class. Trevor never earned below a 4.0 GPA in any of his academic endeavors. 

On June 8, 2013,  a son, Liam Barton Linderman completed Trevor and Chelsi’s family. Shortly after, the Linderman family left the red rock desert  that they loved and moved to the mountains to begin a new adventure in Pleasant Grove, Utah.  Trevor joined the Vivint Solar Family as a regional manager of the CAD department.

After celebrating their first Christmas in their new home, Trevor and Chelsi learned that Trevor's cancer had returned. In January 2014, Trevor began a very physically demanding part of his journey, all the while continuing to live life on his own terms--as a traveler and a wanderer, soaking up every second on this big, beautiful planet. 

During the past year, Trevor explored his interior and exterior worlds by becoming a traveler, adventurer and philosopher. He kissed his wife at the top of the Empire State building, flew his family's American flag over Fort McHenry, walked with siblings on the beach in Mexico, sampled every kind of salsa to be found, played a lot of chess, hiked mountains, climbed peaks, built campfires, sang songs, cooked Dutch oven dinners, walked his dog, played with, read to and held his babies, made new friends, began an affair with a motorcycle, reconnected and celebrated life with so many friends from new and far, enjoyed the beauty of sound as members of the music community played in private home concerts just for him, and embraced everything and everyone he came in contact with. 

Trevor meant different things to different people. To his friends, he was an always-ready hiking buddy and the life of the party. To his colleagues, he was an intense team member and kind mentor. To his students, he was an instructor who challenged and inspired them to do more and be more. To his grandparents, he was their on-call “IT’ guy and devoted grandson.  To his cousins he was always up for pizza and a night of talking and fun. To his mother, Sandra, he was a hero and a pure joy. To his, father, Bart, he was a practically perfect son who could do almost anything. To his siblings, Justin, Hillary, and Stacey, he teased with love and offered support in only the ways that a big brother can. To his daughter Ivie, he was the silliest and most handsome Friday night date. To his baby boy, Liam, he was the greatest narrator of bedtime stories short and long. To his wife, Chelsi, he was a kindred spirit, a confidante, and a love that will last an eternity.

And now Trevor is a spirit exploring new and wonderful wilderness.

He is survived by his wife, Chelsi, daughter Ivie and son Liam Linderman
Parents, Barton and Sandra Linderman
Brother, Justin (Mikelle) Linderman
Sisters, Hillary LInderman and Stacey (Ben) MacAffee;
Grandparents, In-laws, Cousins, Aunts and Uncles that he loved
Friends near and far too numerous to count
And the best dog in the world. 

A viewing will be held for family and friends from 6:00-8:00 p.m. on Thursday, June 4, 2015 and on Friday, June 5, 9:45-10:45 a.m. at Walker Sanderson Funeral Home: 646 E 800 N, Orem, UT, 84097. Funeral services will immediately follow the Friday-morning viewing. On Saturday, June 6, 2015, another viewing will be held from9:45-10:45 a.m. at Flamm Funeral Home: 61 N. 1st E., Rexburg, ID, 83440. Internment will take place at Sutton Cemetery after the viewing.

For those inclined, in lieu of flowers, donations can be made at any Zion's Bank to The Trevor Linderman Donation Account, or in person at any of the services. These funds will be used to provide scholarships for students on the Utah State University Collegiate Speech and Debate Team, and in the Accounting program at Dixie State University, so that Trevor's deep passion for learning may live on and on and on.