I have been waiting for many years for the right time to tell my story. There have been times when I felt I was ready, but my kids were not. I have waited to be in a space where we are healthy and healing and realize we are all on our own journey and healing will be over a lifetime. When a friend of mine asked early this year if I would write my story for his book, Oola for Women, I thought about it long and hard. It felt like the time was right to break my silence. Only a tiny portion of my story is in the book and now I am writing more. Many close family and friends have asked why I would want to do this now or ever. My answer is I am compelled to. I am following my gut and it says now is the time to be vulnerable, open and honest. In doing so maybe I can help someone who is suffering. I pray as I write this that those whose hearts are hurting from loss may be given a glimpse of hope. My heart understands and I want you to know you are not alone.
DAY 1: July 30, 2008, Jay went hiking. He sent me a text telling me he was going hiking at his favorite place.
DAY 2: The next day I hadn’t heard from him, which wasn’t too unusual, but then I started to worry as the day went on. Jay’s brothers and dad went looking for him when none of us could get ahold of him. My heart dropped when his brother called me to tell me they had found his car, so they knew he was still there and started looking for him. Jay was diabetic and I knew he couldn’t go long without food and it was 103 degrees- of course, record heat this week. Utah Search and Rescue told them that they would help the next morning since it was late in the evening, so the guys slept over. I kept thinking, “this isn’t happening.” I dreaded going to my bedroom to sleep alone, but I knew in the morning my children would wake up early to see my parents who came to sleep over and realize something unusual was going on. I went to my room and called one of my best friends who always put a smile on my face. I knew I couldn’t talk to her all night and make this go away and finally hung up and laid in the darkness. I couldn’t do this. This is like a bad dream, no complete nightmare. Even though my husband and I didn’t have the best marriage, this was devastating. I rolled out of bed and onto my knees knowing the one who is always there for me would be there to listen. I prayed, “Heavenly Father if I ever needed you, I need you now.” Instantly I felt my room filled with angels. I could feel their love and comfort and could also feel those who were sent to guard me, my kids and my home. I then said, “Thank you, please stay here while I sleep- even just two hours.” I got back into my bed and as I was falling asleep I heard the voice of Jay. He said, “I’m ok, Marc. Marc, I’m ok.” I felt he was gone. The thought crossed my mind that he couldn’t be ok if he was stuck in the desert somewhere. Much to my astonishment, I fell right asleep.
DAY 3: 2 hours later I woke up to a horrible thud in my heart and gut. Is this really happening? I could still feel the angels there and thought, “Why didn’t I ask for 4 hours?” This was the beginning to many nights of very little sleep. I thought if my parents are on my couches then this is really happening, so I walked downstairs and looked. Oh no- Yes. My parents were asleep right there in my family room. My mom heard me and asked if I was ok. I said no. She told me to come and lay by her and she held me as I sobbed.Â I could still feel the angels there surrounding my home. At 7 am I called my neighbor and asked what I should do. He came over with another neighbor and thank goodness they took over as the headquarters for the family in this search. We planned to have different people in charge at different locations. I got my 4 kids off to school telling them dad was missing, but people were on their way to get him. I knew it would have been really hard to keep them home from school when their minds could be busy and having fun on the best day of the school week- Friday. My best friend, oldest daughter, and church leaders were on a girls camp and didn’t know anything and I couldn’t get ahold of them either. My sister in law was over the media. Hundreds of people came to help search for Jay when the news stations reported the missing hiker. I couldn’t believe this was happening to me and my 6 kids. This is the kind of stuff I heard on the news, not what happens to anyone I know. It is a really helpless place to be. I will forever feel indebted to those who searched for Jay. My family and I could not have done it alone. There are countless stories of people who served me and most of them I don’t even know. Even a family who was traveling to Utah that day for leisure decided to look for him instead of the fun they had planned for the day. People are good. That afternoon my kids came home from school, my daughter and best friend were home from camp and it felt like the entire neighborhood stopped at my house. It was chaos at it’s finest- finest because I know the people there were there to help me. It was so noisy though and I couldn’t even think or cry or have a meltdown.