Friday, November 8, 2013

An Update on Hope

I definitely would like to write more about Hope, where I am now, how I handled it (or didn't), etc. But I'd like to set aside more time for that than I have. Right now, I just want to let you know about what we think happened.

The evening that she died, my parents had said that she had been really tired, wasn't able to take a full breath, and was a bluish/gray color. During her embalming, the coroner called to say that he found a blood clot a couple of inches long near her lung. So, from all accounts, it looks like she died from a pulmonary embolism. Apparently Hope's symptoms are all classic signs.

Why my parents didn't take her to the ER that night? They had already been to the ER several times after Hope's surgery due to breathing pains, but nothing had been found to be wrong. My parents didn't recognize Hope's signs that night and figured that if they went to the ER again, they would just be sent home.

Anyway, that's what we are 99% sure happened.

ALSO. I still will never be able to thank everyone enough who donated to Hope's funeral service. We were able to have a beautiful service. I've tried sending thank you messages to everyone individually. If you didn't receive a thank you from me, the only reason is because after going back in after I closed the fund, I could only see the information for the 50 most recent donations. Anything earlier than that, I haven't been able to figure out how to see. Please know that I was able to see every single donation during the process and was able to read your messages of love and that my parents were able to as well. They were touched beyond words. Thank you so very much :)

With love,



Wanting. We all want something. We're all waiting for something. Well, at least a lot of us. There are some of you who may be blessed with the ability to be grateful and satisfied with everything you have now. But the rest of us are always wanting for more. I find it interesting that in every phase of life, there's always something I desperately want. When I was a teenager, my overall desire was to graduate high school, never look back, find a great man, and stay at home raising our children. For the most part, I got those things. Except that I have trouble "never looking back". Now that I'm at home with three kids, I find myself wishing for the giddy surprise of those wonderful days of freedom. Ah, freedom. I digress.

When I was 12, my parents gave me $100 in spending money when I took my first solo trip to visit my grandma. I went to Toys R Us and felt like the richest kid in the world. Spending spree! The most important item on my wish list? A Tomagotchi.

When I was 17, I desperately wanted "black-girl" braids, as I called them. And so I got them. Twice. I paid a pretty penny for them, too. $400 both times, if I remember correctly.

Today I want to slap my 17 year old self in the face. "You idiot. Four hundred freaking dollars on braids that didn't even look that good?" Today, I could use that $400 to buy the matching ottoman to my sofa. Or those Tory Burch shoes I've been eyeing. Or you know. Other things that are important to me now. It seems I've always got something "important" that I need to have. And I spend my days thinking about how to get said things. 'All I have to do is book another wedding, and then I can get this, this, and this!'

And the spending begins again. If I have an extra $500, you can bet I'm going to spend it. All of it. For some reason I've developed this pathetic way of thinking that says to spend whatever I have. I know better, but I don't do it. No matter how much extra money I have, I'm going to spend it all.

During my latest conquest to get my next obsession (the aforementioned shoes), I realized that I'm always going to want something. There hasn't been a time that I didn't want something with the same intensity as everything before it. I recently read something on a blog that said it's human nature to want more than we have or can afford. That hit me. It's just part of the human experience. Another thing that hit me: the more I spend, the more I want. It's insatiable. As long as there are things to buy, there will never be an end to wanting, thus never being satisfied.

Several days ago, I was praying/thinking about what I needed to focus on in life. Should I do more with photography, exercise more, or focus on getting our house in order? Et cetera. I was kneeling in front of our bedroom window, hoping that being able to see nature would help me feel closer to heaven. It was snowing. Not hard, but in the softest way possible. Flakes were floating slowly, gently down. I watched some of them and became mesmerized. In that moment, I felt like the thing I needed to learn how to do was to find the joy in the little things. Not in "things" things, but "little" things. Think of all the books I can get lost in, art I can create, ways to bring joy into the kids' lives. An old friend mentioned that experiences were always better than things. I couldn't agree more. I may look back on those high school days with fondness, but I'm not longing for the things I had. It's the experiences and the happiness they brought that I cherish. I don't care about the Tomagotchi anymore, but I do remember the thrill of navigating the airport and flying all by myself to go hang out with my grandma who made the best meals ever. In the future, I'm not going to care about or remember many of the things I bought. I'll care about and remember the life I lived and created. I may always want things, but it's just something I need to learn to live with and accept and overcome. My new goal? To see the "little" things and find the more subtle yet lasting joy they bring.

...and maybe to change my way of thinking about money :)

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Hope's Funeral Services

-- viewing --

Sunday May 5, 2013

Jenkins-Soffe Mortuary
1007 W South Jordan Parkway
South Jordan, Utah 84095

-- funeral --

Monday May 6, 2013

additional viewing starting at 10:00am

LDS Chapel
1239 West Country Creek Drive
South Jordan, UT 84095

Contribute to Hope's funeral fund here

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Hope Noelle Chance: What Happened

This post is about my sister, Hope, who semi-unexpectedly passed away in her sleep during the morning of April 29, 2013. I have three younger sisters. Of those three, Hope was the oldest, although she was five years younger than me. Hope was born six weeks early on November 17, 1990. Prayers were answered and she fought through, even though the odds were against her since she was also born with muscular dystrophy.

According to my mom, Hope was an easy baby. She would pat my mom on the back while my mom held her. She never went through her terrible twos. When she was three years old, she got a viral skin infection that produced these little nodules or sores. To remove them, the doctors had to take tweezers and basically pull these pieces of skin off. It was painful, but my mom told Hope she would get a treat afterwards. Once it was over, Hope got her treat and was put in her carseat. She held the treat, but didn't open it. My mom asked if she wanted help opening it. Hope said yes, but that she wanted to wait until she got home to share with her sisters. "That's just how she was," my mom said later.

I could go on and on with stories to illustrate just how easy-going she was. How quick to befriend others, how slow to judge. But that could fill a novel.

A few months ago, Hope was in a minor car accident. She was driving and needed to make a U-turn. Unfortunately, she forgot to look behind her and was hit by a car that was coming up behind her. She suffered some minor bumps and scrapes, including a broken nose. While having her nose evaluated, it was discovered that she had a deviated septum. A surgery was scheduled and performed. Several days afterward, Hope began having pain (either in her head or her nose, I can't remember exactly which). At any rate, she was taken in to the hospital and given an MRI. In that MRI, the doctors found something else entirely: two brain aneurysms located on her brain stem.

After that, we realized what a blessing it was that Hope had gotten in the car accident and that she had to get nose surgery. Without those sequence of events, we would never have found out about her aneurysms.

The location of the aneurysms was an extremely delicate area. Usually, aneurysms can be fixed relatively easily because they're sitting along a straight blood vessel. The problem with Hope's aneurysms was that they were both side by side on the part where the blood vessel curved up and then back down, right at the brain stem. There are very few neurosurgeons in the world who are able to perform the procedure needed to fix this. However, it just so happened that the man who pioneered that exact procedure and his protege would be in town for awhile. They studied Hope's situation and were confident they could perform the surgery. It would be risky. The procedure was very new, but they could do it.

And so they did. On March 8, 2013, Hope went into the hospital for brain surgery. We were worried, but also felt that it would be successful.

There was a little scare during the surgery, when one of the blood vessels that led to Hope's brain lost blood flow for about an hour. The doctors were able to restore flow, but it wasn't up to its original capacity. The doctors said there was nothing they could do about restoring better blood flow, but that she would be okay.

The rest of the surgery went well, and Hope came out just fine. We were so grateful and thought the worst was behind us.

Hope continued to have pain, although at first we just though it was part of normal recovery. The first time she got a headache, my parents rushed her to the emergency room, thinking the maybe it was a blood clot/possible brain stroke. It turned out to be nothing serious, they said, though she kept getting headaches.

Hope would also complain of back pain. This was normal for her, though. She had struggled with back pain for a year or two previously, but it seemed it was getting worse.

A few weeks ago, she was at the movies with her boyfriend and had to leave early because of "back and side pains". She called my parents saying it was hard for her to breathe. Again, she was taken to the emergency room. Even with severe pain, the doctors found nothing wrong. She was sent home.

Last Thursday, April 25, Hope seemed fine. I asked her to babysit my kids while I went to photograph a wedding. She said she would, but she was sorry because she was tired and in pain, so she probably wouldn't be able to play with and entertain the kids very well. "Don't worry about that, Hope," I told her. "Just plop them in front of the TV for awhile. They'll be fine.

During a two hour break that day, I came home to find Hope and my daughter Elizabeth cuddled up together watching Elizabeth's favorite (my least favorite) show, Yo Gabba Gabba. I thought it was so sweet, watching them cuddled up together. I remember thinking, 'I should take a picture of this.' But I didn't. I was too tired from the first part of the wedding, and just wanted to lay there on the couch. I still kept thinking that I should take a picture of them, but kept pushing the thought aside. 'There will be another time. Next time they cuddle together, then I'll take a picture' was my thought.

I got home late that night and hadn't had time to get cash out to pay my sister. I told her I'd bring it to her, no later than Sunday night.

Sunday night came and went and I still hadn't brought her money over. On the following Monday morning (yesterday), I had a missed call from my parents' house, where Hope and my other sisters live. No one left a message and I figured it was Hope calling me to find out where her money was. I didn't call them back. Instead, I just jumped in my car, ran to the ATM, pulled out some money, and started driving over. That's when I got a call from my husband, who was at work.

"Your dad just called me. He wants us both to come over. He sounded pretty shaken up, but didn't say what was going on," Mike told me.

Instantly, I felt that something was wrong. I was less than five minutes away from my parents'. I told Mike I needed to get off the phone right away. I started to brace myself for something bad.

When I pulled around the corner to my parents' house, I saw a group of neighbors out on the front lawn. There were three police cars and an ambulance. Fear and sickness hit me. There was no room to pull into my parents' driveway, so I pulled into the neighbors'. I started getting my kids out of the car, watching the neighbors and everyone else the whole time. They were coming over to me. The first lady who came to me put her arms around me and said, "I'm so sorry".

"What's going on?" I asked. I saw a paramedic nearby. "Is there something going on with one of my sisters?"

"Who are you?" he asked.

"I'm the daughter of the people who live in this house," I said, pointing to my parents'.

He looked at the house, then at me, with an unsure look on his face. He told me to stay here. He'll be right back.

More neighbors came up to me. One said he was so sorry about my sister. The other neighbor said, "she doesn't know..." and they all looked at each other.

I don't remember who said it, but I heard someone say: "Your sister passed away last night".


We don't know exactly what happened, but assume it was related to the brain aneurysms. Apparently Hope had been in extreme pain the day before, just lying around looking gray and occasionally throwing up.

Because of all that had happened previously, what happened isn't completely surprising. It was a shock to all of us nonetheless. My parents are, of course, taking it the hardest. That's the worst part about it, watching your parents go through the loss of a child. There's nothing you can do to make it better for them.

Funeral services are tentatively scheduled for Monday, May 6, 2013 in Salt Lake City, Utah. We would like anyone to attend who would like.

Things like this are unexpected. No one expects or is prepared for their child to die. My parents have selflessly served all four of their children unceasingly. My dad works hard, but I know it's hard for him having three (now two) almost grown daughters who will most likely be dependent on him for the rest of their lives. My dad was let go from his job awhile ago and when my mom wondered aloud, "How are we going to pay for a funeral?", I felt like I needed to do something. So, if you would like to donate to my sister's memorial service, you may do so here. I would never, ever be able to express how much it would mean to my family. I just want my parents to have the means to provide a funeral for their daughter. They would never ask something like this, which is why I'm doing it. 100% of all proceeds will go directly to them. Thank you so much.

Click here to donate to Hope's fund.

Hope's Facebook here.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Why Latter Day Saints Think The Way They Do About Gay Marriage

We believe that before we came to live on earth, we lived with our Father in heaven. He still lives there now, with his son Jesus Christ, and all of those souls who are still waiting to come to earth and receive a body. Why did we need to come to earth, anyway? The answer: to learn things we could never have otherwise learned while in the heaven or without a physical body.

We believe we were told we would be organized into families, and that through those families, we would receive the nurture and guidance that we would need in order to successfully navigate this earthly life. What does "successfully" mean? Well, it means that we make the right choice instead of the wrong choice (yes, we still believe in the concept of "right and wrong"). It means that when we diligently make the right choices, that eventually we can return to live in heaven with God again. We have been told that we will be given all that He has. We've been told that we can't even begin to comprehend the joy we will have there. And that joy will be never-ending. It's difficult to even imagine joy that won't ever end, since we're always experiencing things like sadness, disappointment, anger, despair, etc.

We believe that God has given us commandments. You've heard that Mormons shouldn't drink alcohol or coffee. That we shouldn't smoke. But we've also been told that for optimal health, we should go to bed early and arise early. We've been counseled to eat lots of fruits, vegetables, and grains and to eat meat sparingly. All of that is in our book of scripture.

Do we always do these things right? No, of course not. We skimp on our fruits and vegetables just like anyone else. Because meat tastes good. And so does junk food. Do we drink alcohol or coffee? Yes, some of us do. Even though we know we shouldn't. But it's not the end of the world if it happens. We just have to try a little bit harder.

These are just a few of the many commandments we are given by God. And everyone already knows that following these principles will help us to achieve our most optimal health.

Back to families.

We believe that marriage is meant to be between a man and a woman. We believe it because of the revelation given through scriptures. Just like any of the other commandments. Just like the Ten Commandments. Sometimes we don't even know why we should follow a specific commandment. For example, the scripture that tells us we shouldn't smoke? It was given to us many years before scientists discovered smoking was bad for you. Therefore, we believe every commandment has an important purpose, even though we may not fully understand what that purpose is.

We believe in the existence of Satan. We believe that his purpose is to prevent souls from coming to earth to receive a body. His ultimate goal is to keep us from returning to heaven to live with God and to make us as miserable as he is. So, he seeks to ruin the plan that God has for us (his children), which is to have us come to earth, receive a body, learn from experiences, and prove ourselves worthy to return to return to heaven and receive a fulness of joy and glory while living with the one who is our true Father.

The world's population replacement rate has already declined dramatically. Google it, if you want. It's pretty interesting how drastically it has decreased. We believe this to be a "sign of the times". That means that we expect that one of Satan's priorities is to prevent children from being born. Obviously, gay marriage would further this problem. Yes, of course, gay couples could and would adopt children. But it wouldn't be enough to help the fertility rate to increase from it's already steady decline.

Gay marriage. We don't support it for many reasons. Reasons that even WE don't understand. But we continue to support traditional marriage because we trust that God's ultimate desire is for all of his children (you and me and everyone) to be as happy as we possibly can. Not just in this life, but in the life to come. We believe that God knows us better than we know ourselves. We believe that he knows exactly what will bring us our greatest happiness. It may be hard for us to follow all of the commandments He gives to us. We may suck at it. We may even rebel. A lot. But that doesn't make us bad people. It just means we don't truly understand God's love and plan for us. We think we know what's best for ourselves. We think we know exactly how to make ourselves happy. But maybe, it's worth listening to His words. Because if there's one thing we need to understand about His words, it's that they are not there to limit us. They aren't there to keep us from being happy. We're getting it all wrong.

God's commandments are given to make us even more free and to bring us even greater happiness than we currently believe is even possible.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

jeff + alysse

Woo hoo! Loved this couple. Jeff and Alysse were both so sweet and obviously in true love. Thanks for reminding me why I love what I do, you two!

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OK, don't you just love their expressions here?
"Here we go!"

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