Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas in Heaven

Christmas morning feels much different this year. An empty stocking, a name missing under the tree, and a bed unslept-in. We are missing him a little extra this morning... but we know he's having a very special Christmas in heaven this year.

Merry Christmas everyone. Don't forget what today is all about-- send a little Christmas prayer up there for us.

... and Merry Christmas to our angel Bobby, we love you buddy. 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Bobby Lee

I believe a person's name says a lot about them. Robert was the name he was born with, but he was always Bobby to us. He was named after our grandpa who goes by Bob. I always wondered if Bobby would ever go by something else as he got older.. I think Bobby suited him perfectly. I wanted to write a little bit about the person he was to me and what I think of when I hear his name.

“People with this name tend to initiate events, to be leaders rather than followers, with powerful personalities. They tend to be focused on specific goals, experience a wealth of creative new ideas, and have the ability to implement these ideas with efficiency and determination. They tend to be courageous and creative, unique individuals." 

B -------  b r a v e. 

Bobby was always the first one in line to take risks and try something crazy. He loved the adrenalin rush and feeling of accomplishment... okay, and showing off. On a family road trip we stopped off at Lava, Idaho to swim in the big hot springs there. As we were pulling up to the parking lot we spotted three diving platforms. They were REALLY high. Instantly, Luke and Bobby and I started talking smack and making bets on who would chicken out at the top. Next thing I knew the three of us were climbing up the never-ending ladder getting higher and higher. The second we reached the top I admit, I wanted to climb right back down. Before I even had a chance to change his mind, Bobby had ran off the edge and jumped. I couldn't believe he actually did it. I turned around to see Luke climbing back down the  ladder (that was my plan) but I couldn't be shown up by my little brother. With shaky legs and poor judgement, I jumped-- but ONLY to prove to Bobby that I could.

I think back to the last night of Bobby’s life. I imagine him there that night, as brave as can be. I can’t imagine what he was thinking, seeing or feeling but I do know he had a very brave heart and I'm confident that he wasn't scared.

O ------- o b s e r v a n t. 

Bobby paid close attention to everything in life. He always kept up on the latest music, movies, video games, styles and anything that was “in”. He took notes from his big brothers on how to handle crazy teenage girls, he learned how to work on cars and build things from watching his dad, he learned compassion and how to make friends from his mom. He also learned how to defend himself thanks to me- his big sister.

Bobby knew how much he was loved. He knew this through watching our family love each other- through the good times and the bad. He knew we would always be there for him no matter what and that we would do anything for him.

B ------- b r o t h e r. 

With two older brothers, an older sister and four older brothers in Colorado, Bobby was the baby. We had him to rock and hold as a newborn, as a diaper changing chore, as a little minion and as a friend. He was so funny, anyone around him was guaranteed a laugh. I loved when he would ask me for advice and listen to my sisterly words of wisdom. He was fun to pick on, to learn from and to spend time with. I can't believe how much I already miss him.

Our family will never feel complete without him. A sibling is someone who can never be replaced.. we won’t try to. We’ll be the best brothers and sister to each other that we can, for us and for Bobby.

B ------- b r i g h t. 

What 16 year old turns down a trip to Disney World for school? And then Hawaii? Bobby was extremely committed to keeping his straight A’s. He had somehow found the perfect balance between class and his social life. I was impressed every time that report card made it under the coveted spotlight on the refrigerator. Bobby had book smarts, common sense and wit. His brightness was more than just intelligence.

He had the biggest, brightest smile. Though you were lucky to see it the past few years.. He had the cutest little smirk paired with his notorious dimples- that was usually the smile we saw until someone made him laugh.

While looking through old pictures recently, I've found a few where Bobby is wearing white and he is literally glowing. He has a light all around his body that is undeniable. I can only imagine that light today... the brightest of angels.

Y ------- y o u n g. 

Bobby told my mom that he “never wanted to grow up”. He wanted to stay young forever.. he turned 16 in May. I teased him about his ‘sweet 16’ and he made sure I knew “those are for girls”. I’ll never understand why he had to go so young but I will always have his perfect 16 year old image in my mind. If he could choose how everyone would remember him I’m sure he’s pretty content. Handsome, athletic, great smile, mastered hair flip, and the body builder physique I've never seen on another teenager.

I've been having a lot of dreams about Bobby since he passed away. A few of them he’s a little boy when I see him. I wish I knew what that meant, I guess I’ll always picture him very young... too young. Even though his time was short, I know that Bobby had a very full life- full of friends, family, fun and surrounded by love.

-- thank you for reading and please, if you have siblings make sure they know how much you love them. Hug them often and love them always. "Hold tightly to those which you cherish."

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Embrace Life

I would give anything to have been there to hold Bobby, to keep him safe that night. I know we all would. Wear your seat belts, think of your loved ones. Cherish the beautiful life you live.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thinking of You

Missing you little one. There is so much I wish I could tell you and so many little things I wish we could talk about. I miss your sense of humor and getting your silly text messages... Being home for the holidays is going to be so weird without you. I love you Bobby. Thinking about you every day, always.  

Friday, November 9, 2012

Two Months Too Many

I can hardly believe two months have passed without you... 
we miss you buddy.  

(video quality seems best left minimized)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Amazing Love

The love shown for Bobby throughout Idaho and specifically the Treasure Valley, has been truly amazing. It immediately became obvious that he had impacted many lives and had created relationships with everyone he knew. On September 9th around 7 PM, a large group of students, friends, family members, and Mountain View staff gathered in the football field to comfort one another.

I had just gotten into town from Moscow after the longest five hour drive of my life. Once I heard that everyone was at the school, I headed straight there. I didn't hear anyone when I first got there, I wasn't sure where to go until I finally saw a big group of people on the football field. I ran to the field and a few seconds later I was in the middle of a group hug between my parents and Tiffany's mom. I finally found Luke after repeatedly searching through the crowd of teenagers. For a long time nothing was said, everyone just sat in silence... crying and unsure what to do.

There was a prayer circle with family members in the middle, surrounded by the students. Everyone held hands and Luke's friends were right beside him with hands on his shoulder. Losing Bobby and Tiffany has been very hard for Mountain View high school along with Centennial and a few others. They have come together and shown such tremendous love and support for our two angels. 

Bobby's candle lighting ceremony 

Bobby's Memorial Service-- during a song honoring he & Tiffany 

Thank you to Centennial High for this special tribute to Bobby 

The day we first saw the accident site was such an emotional experience. I sat between my brothers Luke and Matt as we drove to the foothills, higher and higher. They each held one of my hands as we continued driving. We joined Tiffany's family where we prayed together and tried to understand what had happened at that very spot. 

We released pink and blue balloons as we said our goodbyes. Where we stood was holy ground. Two very beautiful souls were taken to heaven from exactly where we were.

Tiffany's mom & our mom sharing their moment

After Tiffany's memorial service, we had a special moment honoring Bobby from home. Our family joined one another in our backyard under the stars where we released 16 floating lanterns. We had 16 years with Bobby that we will never forget. This will be a family tradition as the years go on, we will honor him, love him and always remember the wonderful person he was. 

Big sis loves you Bobby 

The week of Bobby's service had filled our house with flowers. I have never seen so many beautiful flowers in one place before. After they were admired and enjoyed by everyone at the funeral, we displayed them in the living room for a day or two until we were overtaken. We took them to Bobby's grave and gave him a blanket of flowers and love. We shared the many flowers with our Uncle Wayne who passed away last December. As the rest of the flowers began to fade, my family took them and laid them around the two crosses in the foothills. They were so beautiful, if only they lasted forever. 

This arrangement stood taller than me-- for my parents 

Bobby was so very loved, he always will be. 
Thank you for loving him and for being apart of his life. 

A Perfect Day

There are so many memories bouncing around my mind at all times, I'm constantly looking for moments with Bobby to hold onto. There's a specific day that stands out, a perfect day from this past summer.

It was late June in McCall, a handful of family members were spending a couple of weeks at the lake house to celebrate the 4th of July. I had finally gotten a day off and was very excited to have my family in town. We spent the day in the lake; laying around on tubes, enjoying the sun, and just hangin' out.

Our uncle loaded everyone into the boat and we headed to Shore Lodge until the sun went down. They have one of those huge water trampolines which was instantly calling our names. King of the trampoline began almost immediately. We took turns launching our little cousin off the 'blob' and pushed each other into the water... laughing uncontrollably the entire afternoon. On the side of the trampoline there is this long inflated arm type thing, it was plastic, flimsy and extremely slippery. We took turns seeing who could run and make it the furthest before falling off into the water. We laughed so hard that day, it was a blast. We were all exhausted so we hit the pool and played with my waterproof camera, trying to take pictures of each other underwater was way too entertaining.

That night we roasted marshmallows and stayed up late watching movies. It was the perfect summer day. I remember Bobby smiling, laughing, goofing off and having fun. I'm so thankful for that day, and for McCall where we had so many fun times with him. Our grandparents bought the lake house 16 years ago,when Bobby was just a baby. Every year since then, we have grown up spending lots of time together there.

I will always picture Bobby in McCall. If there was snow on the ground he was out back building jumps with Luke or flying down the driveway on a flimsy orange sled. If the lake wasn't frozen, he'd be in the water or persistently asking grandpa to take us tubing behind the boat. I can practically hear his laugh when I picture him trying to stay on the tiny green tube, or trying to jump onto Luke's tube without falling in.  Numerous times he'd be passed out in the t.v. room after a long night of channel surfing with the guys or hiding under the blankets when mom came around for the wake-up call. I'll think of him on the 4th of July, setting off an impressive display of illegal fireworks with Luke and Jake... one year they tossed the used fireworks into the fire pit-- and as we were all gathered around making s'mores, one of them came back to life and popped off right next to Bobby. It burnt off some of his leg hair and melted part of his basketball shorts. Boys will be boys.

McCall has always been a special part of my life, even more so now. I'm so thankful for all of the fun weekends and many memories made there. Bobby loved spending time in McCall, I'm so happy for the times I had with him this summer and throughout the past 16 years. If they go boating in heaven, that will be at the top of my list with Bobby.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Please Don't Take My Sunshine Away

Every time I see a sunflower, I think of Bobby. When we visited the accident site for the first time, the only color I remember seeing was that of the surrounding sunflowers. Someone at Bobby's graveside service laid three sunflowers on his casket. They are bright, wild, and in unexpected places. When I returned to Moscow about a week after his accident, I saw them everywhere. To me, they are a small piece of him and for that, I love them. 

Thank you Mom, for giving him something from me-- even when I can't be there.
  I love you

Sunday, October 28, 2012

An Unbreakable Brotherhood

There is something truly special that comes from the bond of two brothers. Luke is 17 years old, only a year and a half older than Bobby and they had a wonderful friendship. Countless times someone would ask if they were twins, as they got older they stayed close in height and build and I'd even find myself calling them by the opposite names. It became a habit to say "LukeandBobby" as one word since they were always together, a packaged deal. Unlike some teenage siblings, these two were best friends.

Bobby was the little brother to six of the coolest boys I know. He loved hanging out with them and doing whatever it is boys do. During a visit from the Miller boys (from Denver) an airsoft war erupted in the backyard. Bobby spotted them from his room and showed no mercy as he shot them from his window. The older boys came running into the kitchen looking for shelter, we tossed them a few cookie sheets and shoved them out the door. They used the pans as shields and chased each other around the neighborhood for what seemed like hours. This was the first time they had ever met Bobby. Needless to say, he fit right in. For anyone who knew him for his muscles, you have his big brother Matt to thank for that. Matt was nicknamed 'buffness' among the household in high school. Bobby was quickly Buffness junior as soon as he discovered cute girls. He looked up to his brothers so much, always asking for advice and taking notes. He was turning into such a wonderful young man and without a doubt had them to thank. 

I wish I could better describe the bond between Luke and Bobby, only they could truly explain the brotherhood full of love, respect and friendship. My heart hurts for Luke more than he knows. Losing your brother along with your best friend is something no one should ever experience, especially at such a young age. I'm so proud of him for getting up each morning and making the best of his days, for sharing Bobby's story and reaching out to their mutual friends. Luke and Bobby were so similar that Luke is often approached by people he doesn't know who were friends with our little brother. He is truly the absolute closest you'll get to Bobby. I hugged him the other morning as he was leaving for school and that's when I realized it. I didn't want to let go, I could practically feel Bobby through Luke.

Luke told my parents about a dream he had, he and Bobby were talking about 'what it's like' and Bobby told him he felt like a moth, attracted to the light. That is so Bobby. He's visited a few of us in our dreams and I'm so thankful for that, I look forward to my next chance at seeing him. Please keep Luke in your thoughts and prayers as he deals with this, he has the sweetest and most loving heart. Bobby will be forever missed, but our baby brother will always be with us. 

All for one and one for all
My brother and my friend

What fun we have

The time we share
Brothers 'til the end.
~Author Unknown

Bobby's Pallbearers brothers Eric, Greg, Luke, Marc, cousin Jake and Matt

Big brothers Greg & Marc in Colorado- Bobby Strong 

Bobby & Luke- McCall Summer '11