Friday, November 18, 2011


**Just to warn you, this post is very long.

As most of you know, my little brother, Trevor, was hit by a car and killed riding his bike while on an LDS mission in Texas.  He was supposed to come home a week prior to that, but chose to extend and stay for a special project until November 23rd, the day before Thanksgiving.
I've been trying to decide how to do this.  How to talk about what has happened over the last week.  Part of me doesn't want to write this down, but I know that years down the road, I'm going to want to see this.  And I might as well do this while it's fresh in my memory.  Also, to be quite honest, it's hard re-living this over and over again.  So for any of you who may have some questions, here are some answers.
Let's start at the beginning.
Tuesday, November 8, 2011:
I was chit chatting a bit late after a ward Relief Society dinner {as usual}.  9:33 pm I received a call from my Mom & Dad's house, which I ignored.  I figured I'd call her back in a few minutes after I left the church.  9:37 Bryan called, which I also ignored.  I thought he just wanted to know when I'd be home.  Immediately after he called, he sent a text that said "Call me!!"  I immediately knew something was wrong.  I called him, and he told me my mom had just called.  Something was wrong, but she wouldn't tell him. I needed to call home right away.
I left the church, dialing my parents' number, it just rang and rang, no answer.  So I tried my Dad's cell phone, which he answered right as I pulled into my garage.  I could tell in his voice something was seriously wrong.  He said "I have really bad news.  Trevor was killed on his bike....."  I know he kept talking, but all I could do was scream.  I remember sobbing and saying "what about Scott" {Trevor's twin brother, also serving a mission in Tucson}.  I remember trying to get into the house, but the door from the garage to the house was locked.  Bryan heard me and came running to open the door.  I don't really remember a lot about the next few minutes, but I somehow managed to tell Bryan what happened, and I do remember telling my dad that I was coming over and that I loved him.
Until that moment, I had never felt true despair.  That is the only word that I think can describe what the feeling is.  I felt like the ground below me was completely destroyed, and I had no idea what to do.
I couldn't stop freaking out, and it felt like an eternity before we could get a hold of someone to come and watch our kids so that Bryan & I could go to my parents' house together.  Thank goodness for Shara & Darrell, who dropped everything at 10:00 pm to rush right over.
When I got to the house, my dad had just finished telling Scott.  I'm glad I wasn't there to hear all of that conversation.  My older brother, Davis, and my sister, McKell were there.  My younger brother, Andy, had gone to Provo to pick up my other brother, Jeff.
The next 3 hours were filled with crying, hugging, and so many questions.  My parents decided to have Trevor be a donor, and I am so proud of them for that.  My dad had to answer a lot of questions from the hospital, and I know it was so hard for him to do right at that moment.  We had no idea when they would be able to send him home, so we weren't sure what to do.
Scott decided to come home {he was supposed to come home Dec 17 anyway} - thank goodness for that.  All my family wanted was to have Scott come home and be with us.  Being Trevor's twin, we knew it would be hardest on him, and we wanted him here with us.  We wanted the rest of our family to be together.
Andy got home with Jeff, there were more tears and hugs.  Scott talked to each of us and we tried to console eachother.  We finally tore ourselves away around 2:00 am.
Awoke to Scott calling me around 7:00 to let me know he was coming home that evening.  Right after I got off the phone with him, we got a phone call from a news reporter.  I don't even know how they found our number.  We had no comment.  I then checked KSL on my phone, and the first thing that came up was a close up picture of the car that hit my brother and his companion, and the despair came again.  I have a completely new perspective on the media after this.  Nobody should have to see a picture of the car that killed their loved one when that car is missing half a windshield and is covered in blood.
Started making phone calls to get our temple recommends renewed.....we had accidentally let them expire, which I will never do again.  We really felt we all needed to go to temple together as a family.
The texts, phone calls, and FB messages started pouring in.  We were constantly checking the news websites, because they were getting information faster than we were.  We still didn't have much information at all, which was incredibly frustrating.
Around 2:00, went to my parents' house to help get Scott's room ready for him to come home that night.  My parents' phone was ringing off the hook - some calls coming from family, some from the Mission President and Church officials, some from the hospital where Trevor was to ask more questions about organ/tissue donation.  We had no idea when we would get him back, no idea when we could start to plan things.  I was going insane - I just wanted something to do.  So I did the dishes at my mom's house and tried to clean until it was time to leave and meet with the member of our bishopric and Stake President to get our recommends renewed. 
Then off to the airport to pick up Scott.  We tried to make it as "normal" of a missionary homecoming as possible - balloons, banner, and all.  But I'm sure everyone at the airport thought it was the weirdest welcome home ever.  Lots of tears, and most were obviously not the happy kind.  We were so happy, though, to have Scott home, to have our family all together. 
Met at the funeral home at 10:00 with my family to start planning.  My parents decided they wanted the viewing Tuesday night, and the funeral Wednesday.  We still didn't have a set time or even day when we would have Trevor back, so we were just trying to play it safe.  While we were looking at caskets, we were told it would have to be a closed casket service.  It was devastating news to all of us.  I had thought that would be a possibility, given how he died, but to hear it was really difficult.
After making the arrangements, we had lunch and then drove to my grandma's house in Alpine to be with her for a while and to choose a burial plot.  After leaving there, I came home to spend the evening with my kids & Bryan.  After hearing it was going to be a closed casket, I realized we would want a big picture of Trevor for the viewing.  My mom wasn't sure if Inkley's {where they had his mission pics taken} still had the digital images, so I called and luckily they did.
My parents were informed Thursday night by Church officials that we needed to move the funeral to Monday because Elder Nelson wanted to be there and speak.  So absolute craziness began.  Every deadline was moved up by 2 days, so we went to work.  I never knew how much planning went into a funeral.  First thing in the morning, we all sat down & I typed out the obituary because it needed to be submitted that afternoon.  Then, my sister, sister-in-laws, and I all went to get Trevor's mission pictures and others we wanted for the viewing printed off.  The photographer that had taken the pictures didn't do a great job, and they were kind of blurry.  The sweet man I had talked to the night before had spent hours sharpening and retouching the pictures.  The end result was perfect.  It took us a while to get things all situated and decide what we wanted to print out - it felt like we were there forever.  We then raced back to double check the obituary and get it submitted with one of his mission pictures.  I just kept thinking to myself "Am I really doing this?  Am I really typing out an obituary for my brother?  How is this happening??".  By then, we had heard that his body would be back here by that evening, and we decided to go to the temple that night.  Even though there was so much to be done, that was our priority, and it was incredible.  We all had such a spiritual experience, and it was a little comforting knowing that as we were there, his body was arriving here.
After the temple, we went to dinner, and then I dropped Bryan off at home and I went back to my parents' house to finish picking pictures and music for the video we would be showing at the viewing.
We dropped the kids off first thing in the morning at a friend's house and went to pick up the prints for the viewing and drop off the stuff for the video at the mortuary.  While we were out, my sister called to tell me Trevor's stuff had arrived from Texas, and everyone was coming over to go through it.  His mission president's wife was also at the house.  What a wonderful lady Sister Trainor is.  She cleared up a lot of the confusion we had, and talked about what a great missionary he was.  Trevor's emails were always short & sweet, and we haven't seen him in 2 years, so it was so great to hear about some of his experiences and what kind of missionary he was.
We all kind of decided to take Saturday night "off" from the craziness and spend some time with our own families.
My plan was to sneak into Sacrament meeting a few minutes late by myself, sit quietly in the back, and try to take a moment to decide what I was going to talk about at the funeral.  It didn't quite turn out that way, so I left part way into the first speaker.
We had talked to the funeral director {who is also my little brother's father-in-law} and he said it would be OK for just our family to see Trevor if we wanted to.  He wanted us to come to the mortuary so that we would see him in the best lighting possible, and also to be able to watch the video in private.  It was difficult, but there's some sort of closure that came for me to see his body.  I think it's because it was so apparent that there was no spirit left inside.
We then headed home to grab a quick bite before heading over to the church for the viewing. 
Setting up for the viewing was very emotional.  My brothers and sister were in charge of the stuff we were displaying, and it turned out awesome.  Putting everything out on tables like that just made it more real to me, and it was really difficult.
The viewing was supposed to go from 6:00-8:00.  We knew it would go a lot later than planned, but I don't think we were quite prepared for the amount of people that came through.  By 5:40 we started having people come through because the line was wrapped around the church.  Hundreds of people stood in line for hours to pay their respects, it was very humbling.  At one point, all of us siblings went out and tried to pull the people out of line that were there just for us to try and alleviate some of the wait for the people who wanted to see my parents.  The last people finally came through around 10:30.  By the end of it, we were all exhausted.
Monday, Monday, Monday.  It was strange, because we knew that after that day it was over.  No more preparing, no more news stories, no more stressing about pictures and talks.  We met for a family prayer at 9:30 and then another viewing started at 10:00.  I'm still amazed at the amount of people that came out to show us their love and support.  Elder Russell M. Nelson came into the room to meet all of us.  What an amazing spirit an apostle brings.  He asked all of our names and talked to us for a few minutes before he went to get seated.  We then had a family prayer and headed into the chapel.  It was so overwhelming to see all of those people.  I think one news report I saw said something like 600 people where there.  Unreal.
We all spoke, and I think we all did a wonderful job talking about Trevor, the role he played in each of our lives, the kind of young man he was.  We all talked about different things, but we also all talked about the Atonement and how we know we will see Trevor again.  My dad read the last sentence out of Trevor's journal that he wrote 2 days before he died: "I love being a missionary!"
We heard some wonderful, comforting words from Elder Nelson, then about 50 missionaries that had served in the Texas McAllen Mission got up and sang Called to Serve in English and Spanish.  It was so amazingly powerful.
After the closing prayer, the pallbearers took Trevor out to the hearse.  It was strange to see a line of camera crews across the street.  Luckily, they never approached or bothered any of us.  But it is so weird to see pictures of my family on the news and see quotes from our talks in the paper, especially because for us those were very private moments.  But we knew after the funeral we wouldn't have to see or hear from them anymore - yay.  
Trevor was buried in Alpine, close to my grandpa and other relatives.  

I am so grateful for all of the people who let us know they have been praying for our family.  I'm grateful for my neighbors and friends who showed up the day after it happened, tears in their eyes, just to give me a hug and let me know they are here for me.  I'm grateful for every phone call, text, email, FB message, card, and all the flowers.  I'm grateful for our friends who braved the line to come to the viewing and the funeral.  I'm grateful for Bryan's mom & sister who took our kids countless times.
I'm grateful for my family and the knowledge we have of the Gospel.  I don't know how I would have made it through this without the support of my siblings and parents.  We have been together every single day since it happened, helping eachother through it, talking, crying, hugging, reminiscing and laughing.  We have just been there for eachother.
And last, but not least, I am so grateful for my husband.  Bryan has been such a strength to me.  He's been supportive in whatever way I need him to be.  He's been home with the kids if I need him to be, and with me & my family if I need him to be.  If it weren't for him, our house would be {more of} a disaster, our kids would have never been bathed, and I never would've eaten.

It has now been 10 days since my baby brother died.  I had heard from other people who have lost loved ones, that the hardest time is the "after" part.  It is so true.  In the days after he died, up until the funeral, there was so much to do.  We were together as a family all day, every day.  Now, life has to go on.  My kids have school, we have work, laundry needs to be done, the floor needs to be cleaned.  All these things need to be done, but what seems to be my every thought is my brother.
It is such a comfort that he died doing what he loved - he died serving the Lord faithfully.  There is no doubt in my mind where Trevor is right now.  I know he was called home for a purpose, and only the Lord knows what that is.  And I KNOW I will see him again someday if I do my part.  But it doesn't change the fact that I'm sad.  I am so sad.  I miss my brother.
I will miss him for the rest of my life, every single day.  I will miss his sense of humor, that wonderful smile, his hand gestures and his body language.  I will miss California hair, and his love of shoes.  I will miss his aviator sunglasses.  I will miss everything about him.
I know it will get easier.  I'll go to bed one night and realize that I didn't cry at all that day for the first time since it happened.  I will wake up and feel like myself again.  I know this.  But the road that leads to that place, to be honest, sucks. 
I love you, Trevor.
And I will see you again.


Terra said...

Wow...I had no idea. I am sooo sorry for your loss and for your family's loss. I had heard all about this on the news but just didn't pay attention to the names, I guess. I can't even imagine the pain and I know that with the Gospel in your life that you feel the peace that you will be with him again. How lucky are we to have that knowledge. I'm so sorry.


Melinda said...

Oh Kiersti, you're breaking my heart. I tried to find you at the funeral, but there were so many people there I didn't get to talk to you. You and your family gave amazing talks.

I know how hard it is to lose someone you love. I'm so sorry for you. I'll keep praying for you and your family.

Love you!

Lindsay said...

Oh my gosh-when I saw that your blog had been updated, even before coming to it, I started crying because i knew what it was about. And now I can't stop. I am so so sorry. That is so lame, I know. But I am so so sorry. I can't imagine it and I just ache for you. I think it was really really good to write it down. You did a good job of it. Love you Kiersti.

j. said...

i am sitting here crying after reading your words. you did a great job telling the story, kierst. you are a great writer & i know you will be so glad you can go back and read this someday.

ever since hearing the news my heart has been so heavy for you. i just can't even imagine what you must be feeling. i am so so sorry.

i liked what you said at the end: that you will feel better again someday, but that the road to get there sucks. even though i can't personally relate, i think that's so true. the sadness you feel just means that you loved him.

love you, kiersti. xoxo

Heidi said...

I'm so sorry Kiersti.. Your post must have been very difficult to write but it is very inspiring. I'm so sorry you're going through this. I can't imagine the pain but I can definitely feel the love you had for your brother.

Jennie-O said...

Oh kiersti, I'm so sorry. I can tell how much your brother means to you. Thank you for posting this story and giving me a lot of perspective about life and family. I love and admire your positive outlook, you are an inspiration to me.

Kristy said...

I'm so sorry Kiersti, this makes me cry. I can't even imagine. You will be so happy you did write this down so you can look back one day and read it. Hang in there.

Kristy said...

I love you Kiersti!

BreeAnn said...

Thank you for sharing these personal and heartfelt thoughts and words. Somoetimes it feels really good to write things down. You are so strong and a wonderful example to me. :)

Tukuafu's said...

Loves and hugs to you sister. It was fabulous to see you at the viewing and jsyk- we woulda waited the extra 2 hours to see you.. You are amazing- What an amazing tribute! xoxoxo

Ken M. said...

I am so grateful .you took the time to write this down. It was great to read it and to have a glimpse into the week. Over the last little while I have had the opportunity to tell people just how good a person Trevor is. I recall the many acts of service he performed out of the lime light and without the knowledge of many people. He truly went about doing good long before he wore the little black and white badge. I still am amazed at his ability to sleep on the cement in the basement of my house after a late night of Halo or Guitar Hero it was tough to wake him up. I know Simi misses him and I am glad to call them my sons. It is good to have Elder Scott Strong home at our house too.
May god continue to bless you and I am glad I know you and all your siblings and your spouses you are all great people. You have added a lot to my life.

Love Ken M.