I knew it would be hard to say goodbye, I didn’t know it would be this hard! There is no way to prepare for the pain and loss I felt. Our family spent Tuesday night together and I’m so grateful for every minute that we had. We went for a walk and watched the video of our family together. A couple of friends stopped by, it was perfect! Earlier in the day I was in such pain I thought it might break me so I decided to go for a drive to clear my head. As I pulled up at home I saw my sweet friend Janessa at the house, I broke down in tears. Janessa worked for me for many years, she is an angel! At such a young age Janessa has already suffered her own deep loss, her kind heart is exactly what I needed.
Jace and Sarah came over a little later so we could all be together as a family. Sweet Shelby didn’t leave my side the whole day. We were all laughing and talking when my friend Dustin Topham stopped by. Dustin is a videographer and was kind enough to shoot our first family video. He has been a close family friend for years. He told my children a story from my wedding photography days, (he did a perfect crazy Portia impression:) Dustin explained, “We shot this high end wedding reception in Olympia, Washington, of course your mom had to be back for a wedding at the Salt Lake temple the next morning by 9:00 am. The problem began when we let one of the other shooters drive and we both fell asleep in the car on our way back to our hotel in Seattle.” He told my children, “I knew we were in trouble when I woke up and saw a road sign that said Portland ahead but that was just the beginning of our problems.” To make a long story short, I barely made it on the plane to slc that morning, I had to run through the airport with all of my equipment then ended up getting a standing ovation from everyone on the plane. Just as I sat down to relax I realized my car keys were still in Seattle. Lets just say I had an out of body experience due to the stress. By some miracle Dustin called a friend and airport security got me to my wedding.
A little later my sister Misty and her husband Josh stopped by, I was so grateful to see her before I left. Misty has a large family of her own so it meant a lot to me that she would come. It was so good to have her there with my children, she has a bubbly personality that everybody loves. Later that night Shelby commented on what a good spirit Misty brought.
Chad wanted to give each of us a priesthood blessing before I had to leave. It was CJ’s turn first, what an angel she is. It was almost more than Chad could do to bless her sweet spirit to be comforted without her mother. Through the power of the priesthood Jace assisted Chad, they bless each of our children with comfort and strength. I cried as they asked our father in Heaven to help them feel me near while I am away. When all the kids were done we asked Jace to give both Chad and I a blessing, what an honor it is as a mother to feel your son invoke the power of heaven on your behalf. What a sacred moment it was for us all.
I slept until 4:00 am and woke up with CJ between Chad and I and I quietly sobbed until 6:00. I decided to get up and clean my house one last time, I will miss so much taking care of my family and our home. My sister Kira called me while I was cleaning, her heart was broken. She wanted me to know how much she loves me and how sorry she was for the pain I was in. My friend Lisa Bearnson stopped by for a few minutes, she told me she would be there in every way for my family. I will always be grateful for her strength and kindness.
Sadie’s friends all took the day off school to be with her, they came over about 10:00 am to pick her up. Sadie started sobbing when her friends walked in, It was more than I could take! I held her as tight as I could and Chad held both of us while her friends stood by waiting for her to be okay. I finally had to tell them to take her, I couldn’t do it anymore. Sadie has amazing friends! They come from the best homes and their parents are truly surrogate parents to her. Shelby was planning on keeping CJ and Jackson with her for the day but she had to go to work for a few hours. I called my mom at the last minute and she came right down. In my family we don’t cry so when she walked in and I was holding CJ she said, “oh no Portia, I can’t do this.” My mom isn’t a person who is big on hugs but she hugged me and sobbed and told me how sorry she was. CJ was so brave! She had tears streaming down her face but told me that she loved me and she would see me soon. It is too tender for me to describe having to leave my sweet baby girl.
After my mom took CJ I knew it was time to go, I really couldn’t live through much more. When I hugged Jackson I sobbed out loud, I hurt so deeply that he has been so hurt through all of this. About 2 years ago early one morning at our town house Jackson came in and asked me if I would help him start a paper route. He wanted to save money so he could bail me out of jail if they ever put me in. I explained that you can’t bail someone out of federal prison, Jackson’s love for me has been so hard to watch. He is so loyal and strong, I want to soften his heart but understand why he has been so hurt. I love all of my children, each are special. As a mother you know when your children need you most. Jackson needs me right now, I held him tight and didn’t want to let him go. He told me that he loves me and I had to let him go. Shelby hugged me and promised to take care of the kids, I felt like she was a little girl again and wanted to make it all better for her. I told Shelby how grateful I am to be her mother, how proud I am of her!
Chad was so sweet, I thought his heart was broken the day I was sentenced. When he stood to plead with the judge to give us time as a family it took him several minutes to compose himself. That day I realized what a blessed woman I am! I thought what we have already been through was enough. There are things in life you should never have to do. My sister reminded me how lucky I am to have a love like ours, She said, ” Portia, many people wait their whole lifetime to have a man love them the way Chad loves you. You are a blessed woman indeed.” I know she is right but the pain I feel is unimaginable right now.
Sometimes it feels so unjust to have received such a harsh sentence. A good friend stopped by the other day and said, “Portia, I don’t want you to get bitter. It would be understandable and even justified but it wont help your family.” I am trying to focus on the good right now. I am ever so grateful to have shared this experience with all of you! I feel connected to you. I know I am loved and their is purpose in my suffering.
Thank you for suffering with us, real strength comes from walking through your suffering and coming out on the other side. It comes from humility and love even when you know you will be hurt. I knew it would hurt to leave my family, I didn’t know I could hurt so deeply! I can’t imagine doing this without your prayers, I can’t imagine if we didn’t have the promise of being together as a family again. I will be starting a new journey and I will share it as I go, I thank you in advance for your love and support. Especially for Chad and our children. I look forward to the time we will meet again, I want to make you all proud! Much love from us to you.