Friday, April 29, 2011

3 weeks


It’s been 3 weeks since that fateful Friday.  3 weeks since he took his baby girl to school for the last time.  3 weeks since he sent his last email.  3 weeks since the last phone call he made was to my mother to tell her he wasn’t feeling well and was going to a walk-in clinic later.  3 weeks since it was too little, too late. 3 weeks since he took his last breath. 3 weeks. A mere 21 days.  A period of time that seems like both years and only a few moments at the same time.  Time stands still, then runs through my fingers like sand. 

Even though we didn’t know for 2 more days, we are fairly certain he died on Friday, sometime late afternoon or early evening.  As a family, we were reflecting about what we were doing on Saturday 3 weeks ago.  My mom was decorating her home for Easter, in anticipation of Brian and Kayleigh coming to town sometime soon, since they weren’t able to come for her birthday earlier that week.  My dad was at the warehouse shuffling cars and equipment around, thinking about the race that they were going to do later in the year.  Britt and I were doing the usual Weaver running – we have 3 kids and it seems to always have something to do.  But we were all thinking about him, in our own way.  Hoping he actually went to the doctor, thinking it odd he hadn’t called mom back and wondering why his phone was going straight to voice mail.  My mom said her “Mother’s Intuition” kicked in my mid-afternoon on Saturday, but there was no way they could get there before Sunday morning.

So, now here we are 21 days later.  The family has come and gone.  The funeral is and over.  Food has been consumed, paper goods used and tossed, flowers died and thrown out.  The list of thank you notes is overwhelming, but the list of tasks regarding the Estate is downright daunting!  That’s where our reality is now.  We have a house and a car to repair and sell.  A house full of furniture, housewares, paper and STUFF to sort through and dispose of, sell, keep, or otherwise take care of.  He was a 40 year old man with a genius IQ, and his ways were not like our ways, and he was a bit of a slob.  The mere THOUGHT of going through that house sets my nerves on edge.  But, it must be done.  So, we pull up our boot straps, put on our happy pants, and get to it.  Tomorrow, that is…

I guess I had been a little anxious the last few days.  I had a massage on Wednesday, and I am still sore from that, but I feel my shoulders inching right back up towards my ears like they were when I went in.  I also had some crazy dreams/nightmares last night.  I very rarely remember my dreams, but last night I dreamed about gruesome car wrecks and woke up with a start more than once.  You know, we treated my daughter for PTSD after she got hit by a car last year.  I feel like I got hit by a car, and I’m having nightmares just like she was…  We’ll see what the next 3 weeks bring.  Time has to start healing wounds, right?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Big Thank You!

A big THANK YOU and a hug of gratitude go out to my friend and fellow OSU employee, Ron King, for helping me put my video from Brian's funeral on the web in it's original settings.  He saw where I had made a change to the song in order to accommodate youtube's user policies, and he said he would be happy to host the video on his website.  He not only put the video up, but he also put the obituary up as well.  It is truly a beautiful thing, and to tell the truth, Ron and I don't really even know each other that well.  He just has a huge heart, and a knowledge base that would help me, and time to share.  We could all use someone like Ron in our lives!  And he's pretty funny, too, so that's just a bonus at this point!


I also added a new page at the top  of the blog simply called "Brian" where all the posts relating to this NIGHTMARE are gathering in one place and listed chronologically.  I wanted to make sure those posts were all easily accessible, so that's they way I made that happen.

THANK YOU!!

Monday, April 25, 2011

For a Little While...

I fell like I should have something to say, but I don’t, really. The last time I wrote anything was last Thursday. Today is Monday. The day after Easter. I had a good day yesterday, but I almost feel guilty about it. The Five Dream Weavers went to LifeChurch.tv Edmond to celebrate new life with a dear friend as he got Baptized, then went to his house to celebrate his wife’s birthday and Easter. It was a nice change of pace – even if we did experience white-knuckle driving in torrential downpours and see 2 wrecks.

Easter is a time of celebration. Of recognizing the sacrifice God made for us ALL by giving up his only son. Makes me think about being a parent and especially about being a parent of a son. But what does that look like for a mother who just lost her own son way too soon? On Facebook she said “I am happy Brian is spending his first Easter in the presence of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I cry because I miss him and I want him here with us.”

When I was pregnant with my twins, I had lots of sonograms. I remember the first time the technicians and doctors tried to determine the sex of the babies. They told me Twin A (called Jenna in utero, now Emma) was definitely a girl. I was a tiny bit disappointed. I had thought I was having 2 boys. Then, they told me Twin B (Barbara in utero, now Lara) was not cooperating and her gender was still in question. A few weeks later, same outcomes. At 33 weeks, they told me Twin B was “most likely” a girl. I will confess that I held out hope until the moment she was born that Lara would be a boy. But, I got 2 precious orange headed girls, and they still light up every day of my life with their love and tenacity! Fast forward a few years and I was pregnant again. I had a precautionary sonogram at 14 weeks because the one a t10 weeks revealed something my doctor wanted to look at again (turned out to be nothing). But, during that sonogram, the technician asked if we wanted to know the gender of the baby. We were a bit shocked, as we thought it was too early, and we hadn’t really discussed it. But, we said yes. And, found out we were going to have a SON! Talk about humbling… And to reflect on what he means to me now, after the death of my mother’s son and the Easter holiday focusing on how God turned Jesus over to his haters… WOW.

My pastor, Craig Groeschel, wrote and amazing poem and showed it as a video during the sermons this weekend. I had caught parts of it on Saturday night as I volunteered as an usher for the 2 services in Stillwater, but I finally got to see it in context on Sunday morning. Here is the video:



It has inspired me again to be weird and to see things from a different angle. Reminded me that it doesn’t matter that none of my girls’ clothes came from “Justice” as much as they would like for them to have, and that my family is blessed to have 2 cars that run (even if they aren’t pretty), a roof over our head, and a pantry (mostly) full of food. We will survive this season and we will SHINE our light for others to see. I will survive feeling burdened and overwhelmed. I will learn from the obstacles set before me and the pain that seems to consume me. I will cherish that fact that my SON climbs into bed with me almost every night and needs extra love and attention at every bedtime right now. After all, he’s only my son for a little while…

Thursday, April 21, 2011

"The Look"

Yesterday was a total “Monday” for me. The highlights are a scrubbed up bumper from parking to close to a wall I know existed, and shouldn’t park too close to in my big van, then hitting it anyway when I backed out for lunch; running out of gas in said van (thanks for the assist, Dad); and a huge fight with my husband over nothing of significance. And those are just the highlights. The song below sums up my feelings about yesterday. And it’s true. All my silly little problems and inconveniences are the things God uses to teach us to rely on him. I think maybe I was trying to do too much on my own, to be “strong” yesterday, and my silly mishaps were Gods way of saying, “I’ve still got this.”

I had an interesting conversation with a high school friend of mine of facebook chat last night about “the look” I keep getting. And she said I would get it for a while. It’s the look people give you when something bad or tragic or traumatic has happened in your life. They don’t really know what to do or what to say when something happens that makes then uncomfortable, so you get “the face.” And they ask, “Are you OK?” Most people get my standard “I’ve been better” or “Hanging in there.” But no, I’m not OK. I’m sad. I’m tired. I’m stressed out about getting things done. I’m worried about my kids, my parents, my husband, my niece. Brian’s house, Brian’s car, probate lawyers. This makes me think of my daughter’s lawyer for her car wreck case and how that’s STILL not settled. I could go on and on, but you get my point… So, my friend warned me, “the face” will get old, but people mean well, they just don’t know what else to do. Before she signed off she said “keep your chin up, but cry when you need too. you will be OK.” I know I will, I just have to get there…

And, in case you missed it, you have to read THIS POST from my friend’s blog about her perspective on my brother’s funeral. WARNING: it’s a tear jerk-er FOR SURE! My niece Kayleigh has been cheated out of an amazing Dad, but it is our job as her family and friends to make sure she knows our Father.



Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Slideshow

EDITED 04.27.2011 - A dear friend dedicated a page of his website to my brother.  It includes the video in its entirety as I intended it to be seen and as shown during the service.  Please click here for that video. (And say thank you to a sweet man who had my back!)

Here is the video slide show we put together to show at Brian's funeral.  It played in the viewing room of the funeral for the few days there was a room for him, then we played it during the greeting time Sunday night, and again at the funerl service itself.  I made a copy of the DVD for his daughter and then each of his family members have a copy.  I would be happy to burn a copy for anyone else who would want on, just contact me and let me know.

The original version has the audio track of "I Can Only Imagine" by Mercy Me, but due to copyright issues, youtube made me do an audio swap and I chose the Creed song "With Arms Wide Open."  Enjoy!

Hugs and Handshakes

Well, it’s over. The funeral, that is. The people came – from EVERYWHERE, and there were lots of them! It was beautiful. The flowers were amazing, the order of service was perfect, the songs were moving, the speakers poignant, powerful, and even amusing at times. We all got to know Brian a little better over the past week, and that was expressed perfectly through the service.  His life meant so much to those of us closest to him, and to share that with others was an important part of telling him goodbye.

Sunday was really a nice day. It was still hard, but I went to bed satisfied that I had done all I could do, and I was pleased with the outcome. I survived church, without too much heartache. I actually never saw our volunteer coordinator (who is ½ my size) that literally held me up last week. I saw her husband, but since we were there as attendees and not volunteers, our paths just didn’t cross. The message (as always) was directed right to me, and I really enjoyed the worship set. It was just what I needed! My parents came, too, so it was as if things were right, even if it was just for one hour. Emma and Lara liked showing off the new feathers in their hair, and I enjoyed telling my Mommy friends that I didn’t pay salon prices for those, I ordered them off the dang ole internet and did it myself for a fraction of the price! After church, a group of relatives arrived from Kansas, and we had lunch at Mexico Joe’s. That afternoon, family gathered at my parents’ house, we had a sandwich dinner, then shortly after 6 we headed for the funeral home.

We greeted guests at the funeral home from 6:30 to 8:30. It was precious. Several of Brian’s childhood friends were there, my parents’ longtime friends, relatives, Stillwater residents, and KIDS. I had my 3, my cousin from New York City had her 6 month old son and my cousin from Kansas had her 4 month old son. It was refreshing. Even my childhood best friend and her parents came, too. It was sad, it was tearful, and it was perfect. The video (which will be posted soon) was playing in the main receiving living room are of the funeral home, as well as in the room where Brian’s casket was. I think everyone enjoyed seeing his life in pictures. There were tears, smiles, laughter, memories, stories, hugs, handshakes, and healing.

That night my house was full. The Twisters shared one twin bed in their room, while a cousin slept in the other twin bed in their room. Another cousin (sister of the first) slept in Jake’s twin bed with a pack and play set up in the room for her 4 month old son. My son’s dreams came true as he got to sleep in the king bed in our room smack dab between Britt and me. (He had some kid of dream at 3:30 am and it caused his body to jerk really hard, then he reached out and grabbed me – startled me so bad I had a hard time going back to sleep!) We had to coordinate showers for 8 people to make sure we were all ready for Monday’s activities, but it was GREAT to feel the house so alive.

Monday morning, we got up and got everyone around. Britt made biscuits and gravy, I got to hold the baby A LOT, and my kids did the best they could to be good in a chaotic situation. I had a tiny shoe emergency, and at 9:30 one cousin and I went in town to shop and get me some shoes. By 11, we had all made it out to my parents’ house. The parents of the 2 cousins at my house were staying with my parents. While we were there, more family members showed up, and we enjoyed talking, sharing and taking pictures and trying to be strong before it was time to head to the church.

I want to thank the people of First Baptist Church for the lunch. Not only was the food delicious and served with love, the room was decorated so nicely and everyone was so kind and helpful. When we first got there, Brother Tim Walker (pastor) had a few things to go over with Britt and I as far as the services were concerned, and then we received more family and ate our lunch while talking about my brother and the events of this week.

The service itself it always beyond words. It was so beautiful, and so perfect. We sang “He Lives” as a congregation, my sweet friend Beth sang “It Is Well” a capella, we heard “I Can Only Imagine” by Mercy me with the video, and “Cry Out to Jesus” by Third Day at the end. There was a time for people to come up and speak, so I started that off. I reflected a little about my brother and the ways I am going to miss him, and I shared a sweet message a sorority sister of mine sent to me. Then, I read a Brian Ricker Top Ten of sorts that were memories from a college friend who could not attend. One of the pall bearers got up and spoke about the Brian he knew from high school. It was so touching – the whole thing.

The front row started like this: Me, Britt, Jake, Lara, Emma, Brian’s ex-wife, his daughter, Kayleigh, my mom, my dad, his sister Shelley, and I think my grandma and her husband ( I couldn’t see down that far). And I was so lucky to have my cousin Jane from New York right behind me in the next pew – it was a great comfort to feel her hand reach out and touch me several times during the service. Jake pretty quickly migrated down to sit by his favorite cousin and fellow 4 year old, Kayleigh, and my girls ended up down there at some point as well – Emma was on a lap (I think my dad’s) for quite a while too. I mention all this because of how adorable and sweet it was to watch Jake and Kayleigh act, react, and interact during the service. During the video they were gasping and pointing saying, “Look! There’s me!” and “Look, there’s your Daddy” or “There’s Uncle Brian.” They were so excited! They took the offering envelopes and wrote each other notes and drew pictures for the adults near them. They talked and smiled and were just plain precious. We did remind them to be quiet a couple of times – once during a prayer, but they were doing the best 2 energetic 4 year old who haven’t seen each other in a while can be. I just remember looking down the row and thinking “There shouldn’t have to be babies at a funeral.”

The graveside portion of the service was wonderful as well. Aside from the 92 degree temperature. One pall bearer from the state of Washington, 2 from Colorado – I bet they thought they were melting. The preacher spoke a few words and Beth led the group in “Amazing Grace.” The family received guests, and then the crowd started to disperse. My courageous, smart, curious and tenacious 4 year old was determined to see the casket lowered in to the ground. During the last few minutes out at the site, both my husband and my father had asked the funeral director if we could stay for that, and he kind off brushed us off saying they usually did that after everyone left. But, I also think he didn’t want to see my son throw a fit, so I asked one more time, and they let us stay and watch. Jake was FASCINATED, and once he was satisfied, we headed home.

I think one of the most interesting observations I’ve had over the last few days – aside from the adorable way Jake and Kayleigh act together – was that hugs are much like handshakes. I’ve never been much of a hugger. Close friends, family, and of course my husband and kids. But, I have received, WELCOMED even, many hugs over this past week. And hugs come in all shapes and sizes. I even got an amazing full on frontal squeeze from a noted “side hugger” who will remain nameless that really made my day yesterday! Some people hold you, some people pat you, some people are in and out in a few seconds, some take hold and want to never let go. Some squeeze, some just barely touch, but they all LOVE. Thank you so much for all the hugs (and handshakes) we have received. And, all the love.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

My New Normal

It’s Sunday morning.  Palm Sunday, no less.  It’s been one week.  ONE WEEK since I was at church, and a simple shake of my husband’s head with a tear in his eyes literally brought me to my knees.  One week since my “normal” was shifted completely off its axis.  One week, that feels like YEARS.

I now wake up suddenly awake, suddenly aware, suddenly stunned.  I used to hit my snooze on my phone like 5 times (I have it set for 5 minutes, so it’s not THAT bad) before I would actually crawl out of bed, and trudge to the bathroom.  This week, I wake up AWAKE, alert, and too aware of my new normal.  My mind spinning, my gut twisting, my heart breaking.   I want to get out of bed, just because I can.  I want to LIVE every moment that I have been blessed with.  I want to open the Word and seek God.  I want to hear the birds, see the trees, and be fully alert when my kids wander out of their rooms.  I want to FEEL ALIVE.


I wasn’t even supposed to be home this morning.  This 3rd weekend of the month is the one Britt and I usually serve at all 3 Sunday morning LifeChurch Stillwater services as Host Team Leaders.  We switched with another family since I was supposed to be in Oklahoma City.  I was thinking about that Friday night, and had convinced myself I didn’t need to go to church this morning.  Too emotional, too raw, too REAL.  Britt asked me last night if I was going, and I said no.  But, I think I will.  They say when you fall of a horse, you have to get back on.  And you know, my last post before this NIGHTMARE began was about taking the Twisters to see “Soul Surfer”  about Bethany Hamilton and how she survived a shark attack.  Well, I guess it’s my turn to survive.  THIS is my shark attack.

I start each day in a quiet place, in God’s word.  In these modern times, that means, for me, in the living room, in my recliner, laptop perched on my lap, internet browser pointed to youversion.com.  Right now, I am reading 2 reading plans – one called the Essential 100 which covers the 100 most important passages of the bible, and Lent forEveryone which is a 53 day devotional about Lent – which lasts about another week (I think it goes 3 days past Easter, for some reason).  After I read my 2 readings, I pray.  Then, sometimes, I write (like today).  But I ALWAYS find a verse that God is speaking to me and I post it to my Twitter and Facebook.  Not everyone starts their day in study like my husband and I choose to do, but I can at least help some of my friends start their day with God’s word.  I am going to share with you here this week’s verses.

April 10 – Sunday:  Psalm 130:5 - I wait for the lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.

April 12 – Tuesday:  Psalm 91:4 - He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. ( I missed Monday)

April 13 – Wednesday:  Isaiah 40:31 - but those who hope in the lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.  

April 14 – Thursday:  Romans 5:3 - We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 

April 15 - Friday:  Hebrews 10:23 - Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.
 
April 16 – Saturday: Philippians 4:6 - Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

April 17 – Sunday (today):  1 Corinthians 16:13 - Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love.


I hope you can find strength and encouragement in those verses just as we have.  And, if you want to start your day in the word, just a little bit, you can follow me on Twitter   – even have it sent to your phone if you want!  It’s as easy as that.  The more we know God, the more we know peace.

I’d better rally the troops (and count my new gray hairs – there’s a LOT of them suddenly).  Church starts at 10:00 for us today.  Family is starting to roll in.  My cousin got here yesterday afternoon from New York City with her ADORABLE 6 month old son.  She brought gifts to Emma, Lara and Jake.  They will all 3 be wearing New York City tourist-y shirts to church this morning!  I’m sure I’ll snap a pic of that…

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Raindrops and Tears

So, I didn’t make it very long in Women of Joy world. Everything was irritating me. LOL! The music was too slow, the crowd too old, the hotel room too small, the location too far away. The things I liked were hearing Sarah Palin talk about Guns, God and our Constitution; Anita Renfroe singing about husbands being sexy when they bring you a babysitter; and the company. I was doing OK last night through dinner, the singing, Sarah (who was introduced my our Governor, Mary Fallin), and the hotel stay. Even resisted the urge to head home with Britt texted me this picture of my crying son who was missing me at bedtime: This morning was tough; I was tired and missing home. We got there super early to get better seats than what we had last night, and I was not doing a good job of being a happy camper. So, when there was a break after Anita Renfroe, I made a break for it! Stillwater was calling!

Blessings: Friends who invite me to spend an entire weekend with them; Christian women’s conferences designed to lift you up; a van to take me where I want to go; a supportive family. 

The very first thing I wanted to do when I got to town was to go to the funeral home to see the room where Brian’s visitors are going. I knew the casket was in there, and I knew my mom and Britt went to decorate and personalize the space last night. And I knew the video I made was playing in the room. And I knew I had helped pick out some of the items in the room. I just needed to BE THERE. I called my husband from about 15 miles out of town and told him I was going straight to the funeral home then I would be home. He totally nixed that idea, and asked me to come straight home to our house so he could accompany me. I did, and we decided we wouldn’t be gone that long, and the 2 8-year olds could watch the 4 year old. Besides, they were supposed to be picking up sticks in the back yard and taking the Christmas lights of the deck railing (*blush* - I know, right?). We hadn’t been there 5 minutes when my phone rang, and it was Emma. The kids had managed to lock themselves out of the house. Yup. That’s right. But, it is a beautiful day, they had outside chores, and we would be back soon. We got home, and they were all still in the (fenced) back yard, so I guess it wasn’t so bad.

Blessings: A precious husband who is always there for me (and for my mom!); sweet memories of my incredible brother; cell phones; fences.

We went to lunch then needed to run a few quick errands. Unfortunately, a pity party by YOURS TRULY prevented any of that from getting done. You see, when I am tired and/or stressed, I tend to think my kids are the most annoying humans on the planet, and I lash out. Not only did the occupants of Derek (our Chevy Uplander) get the brunt of my meltdown, so did my mom who was on the phone with me at the time. OOPS! Not a pretty sight, and glad we are all past it now.

Blessings: Chick-fil-a; my adorable children who are not ALWAYS the most annoying people on the planet; meltdowns to vent emotion; forgiveness.

Britt took Jake and Emma to the OSU Spring Football Game. Lara is napping. I am pretending I don’t hear the buzzer on the washer and dryer, or the lawn mower. I just want there to be peace – which is one reason my dear husband separated our kids. Any 2 at any time or place are fine. You all the 3rd one, and all hell breaks loose! I never liked odd numbers…

Blessings: Distractions, BEAUTIFUL Spring weather; washers, dryers and lawn mowers; even numbers

Today it is my goal to find the blessings in what is going on around me. I am sad, worn out, drained, beat down, torn up and just plain hurt. But, I am so blessed to have my family, my friends, Brian’s friends, my church, my readers, and countless others praying for and supporting me. THANK YOU ALL – you are SUCH a blessing to me in this time!


Friday, April 15, 2011

Redeemed

It is mid-day on Friday. I am about to pack an overnight back to go to the Women of Joy conference in Oklahoma City – an adventure that has been planned for some time. I look forward to hearing Sarah Palin (tonight) and Anita Renfroe (tomorrow) speak, and to spending some time with my friends. I am not sure I will make the it the whole weekend, but I am really looking forward to the change of scenery and to hear the GOOD NEWS of our Lord spoken by some amazing leaders and to sing praise and worship songs until my voice is gone. To declare that I am REDEEMED by his mercy – as are all Children of God. When I get home later this weekend, I know friends and family will have started to arrive, and I can’t wait to be a little bit refreshed and renewed for that!

The funeral home called my parents yesterday to tell them they had received the copy of the Death Certificate. We were told earlier in the week that the date of death listed on the document (so, what was run the the state death reports in the Tulsa World and Daily Oklahoman) was the date he was FOUND. So, you will see in those newspapers that it says April 10 – Sunday – the date he was found. But my parents and I firmly believe he died Friday afternoon, and we will be using the date of April 8, 2011 on anything we do.

The Cause of Death on the certificate was noted as “pending.” This means the autopsy was inconclusive, and we are waiting for the toxicology report – which could take up to 2 months. Based on what we know -- that on the walk-in clinic in-take sheet he indicated his symptoms had been present for 3 days, and the manner in which he was found – we are beginning to think it was severe sepsis. He had an infection and his organs failed him. We hope the toxicology report can help clear that up, but we also know we may never really know the cause of his death.  But no matter his cause of death, we know that he has been redeemed by our savior, and he is home.

I wanted to share the note I wrote on Brian’s Facebook wall Sunday night. I was at the bar of our friends’ home in Grand Prairie, TX, and I had just spent well over an hour notifying as many of his Facebook friends as I could (before they thought I was spamming and shut off my privileges!). Here is what I wrote:
Hey Big Brother! You sure know how to stir things up around here, huh? I picked out the clothes for your body to be buried in – a Georgia Tech polo with a Final Four logo, and some olive green khaki’s – I hope that works for you. I also found the brand new Chuck Taylor’s in the corner by the dresser and threw those in as well. I know how much you liked them while you were driving (fast), so I figured you needed them. You know, you always called me the dramatic one, especially when I did things like throw the TV remote at you, but this, Big Brother, takes the cake. Always had to do one better than me, right? I know you were greeted with many open arms and lots of love. I guess they needed you more than we did. Britt says he’s jealous; yeah, me too… Anyway, Hug our grandparents for me. And Connie. I can’t wait to see you again. And, I promise to never buy a Honda.


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Brian R. Ricker 1971-2011


Brian R. Ricker, age 40, went to be with his Lord on April 8, 2011. He was born on February 13, 1971 in Stillwater, OK, and died of natural causes at his home in Lewisville, Texas.

Brian spent his early years growing up in the Stillwater Public School system, where his passion for the Boy Scouts was ignited and he started his journey to obtain their highest honor, the Eagle Scout. In 1985, Brian and his family moved to Sarasota, Florida where he attended High School at Pine View School for the Gifted. In 1989 he earned his Eagle Scout, was accepted to college at Georgia Tech, and graduated from Pine View School. He attended the Georgia Institute for Technology in Atlanta, Georgia where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering with honors in June of 1994.

After college, Brian became a civilian employee of the United States Navy with the Department of Defense in Washington D.C. / Fredericksburg, Virginia. He lived there for 2 years before continuing his career in St. Louis, Missouri, where he worked for Southwestern Bell Telephone. While living in St. Louis, he continued to teach himself about the computer information industry and computer programming, increasing his worth in the software development business while working for various startups.

In 2000, Brian moved to the Dallas, TX area where he worked for several companies in their software development departments as a software architect – including full time and contract positions. Throughout the years, he was asked to speak at several technological conferences and conventions, his proudest being the JavaOne conference in San Francisco, California. Most recently, he had worked for companies including Logile, Inc. and MedSynergies, helping them to develop a competitive edge in employee time management and medical data mining, respectively. At the time of his death, he had also just developed an Android App for a regional grocery store chain. While in the Metroplex, he had the privilege of becoming a father in late 2006. He loved living in Lewisville, where he was raising his precious daughter and attending her dance and gymnastics events.

Brian was interested in Texas Ranger & St. Louis Cardinal Baseball, F1 Auto racing, and dabbled in amateur sports car road racing with his dad and a few close friends. His many road race adventures took him to such places as Hartland Park Speedway in Topeka, Kansas; Hallet Motor Racing Circuit in Hallet, Oklahoma; Eagles Canyon Raceway in Decatur, Texas; and Motor Sports Ranch of both Houston, Texas and Cresson, Texas. He was chief sponsor, head engineer, pit crew, driver, and all around comic relief for his team. He stated on a questionnaire from his 20th high school reunion 2 years ago that his proudest accomplishment “aside from the obvious stuff, was hearing the engine in [my] 1970 Triumph TR6 run for the first time after I overhauled it myself.”

He is preceded in death by his maternal Grandfather, Dee Boyd, and his parenteral grandparents Gene and Judy Ricker.

He is survived by his daughter Kayleigh Ricker of Lewisville, TX; his parents, Larry and Dee Ann Ricker; his sister Betsey Ricker Weaver her husband Britt A. Weaver and their children Emma & Lara Horinek and Jacob Weaver; and his maternal grandmother Beverly Boyd Pelnar and her husband Les – all of Stillwater. He is also survived by his Aunt Shelley Ricker of Clarksdale, MS and his Uncle D. Boyd and wife Jackie of Ponca City, OK; as well as a host of cousins, extended family, and dear friends.

Services for Brian are being facilitated by Strode Funeral Home of Stillwater. The family will greet visitors Sunday evening from 6:30 – 8:00 at the funeral home. Services will be held Monday, April 18 at 2:00pm at First Baptist Church of Stillwater.

Pall Bearers are Ken Cyr, Auburn, WA; Dr. Scott Martin, Stillwater, OK; Dr. Chapman Rackaway, Hays, KS; Scott Trapp, Colorado Springs, CO; Steven Troxel, Stillwater, OK; Dr. Bob Wettemann, Colorado Springs, CO.

The family suggests making memorial contributions to the local Boys Scouts of America through the Bob Oehrtman Endowment Fund. All gifts can be directed to Don Allen 1201 W. Liberty Ave Stillwater, OK 74075

I can only imagine

People have said that to us a lot over the last few days.  As in, “I can only imagine what you are going through” and “I can only imagine how hard this is for you.”  When I hear this phrase, I always think of the Mercy Me song (see below).   “I can only imagine When all I will do Is forever  Forever worship You I can only imagine…”  And that song means so much to my husband and I – we both tear up every time we hear it.  And now is no different!  I love this song so much; I have chosen to use it for the background music for the slide show I am preparing today for the funeral on Monday.  I have also written the obituary (remember how I said my spiritual gift is administration?  Yeah…) and I hope to post it to my blog this afternoon.

I forgot to mention that while at his employer’s office Monday, we learned that Brian had never designated a beneficiary on either his employer provided life insurance policy or his supplemental life insurance policy. WHAT?!?!?!?  If you, dear reader, have life insurance, I am imploring you NOW to make sure the beneficiaries are listed, and they are CURRENT!  Britt just checked on ours, and mine is good, but he needs to change his.  We already knew my brother didn’t have a will (Britt and I don’t either, but we will at least have a signed letter by the end of the week and a will by the end of the month!), but the life insurance fiasco was news to us.  I see FAIL written all over the HR department on that one!  So, due to not having a will and life insurance issues, this whole experience just become even harder, as we will have to go into probate and there are LOTS of questions and issues to be settled.

Tuesday and Wednesday really went by in a blur.  On Tuesday morning, I somehow managed to get my kids up, talk to them about why Daddy and I were gone for 2 days, what we knew (and didn’t know) about Uncle Brian’s death, AND get them all to school relatively on time.  Later that morning my mom, dad, husband and I met for over 2 hours with the funeral director at Strode Funeral Home.  Do you have any idea how much it SUCKS to pick out caskets, liners, flower arrangements, those little pamphlet things (they have a name it escapes me with a million other things these days), the verse to be printed in there and all the other things that have to be done for a funeral?  (Sorry, Mom, I know you hate the work sucks, but it does…)  And, BTW, I think I have a new business venture to pursue once I can breathe again.  The cover art for said “pamphlet thingies” that we had to pick from was HIDEOUS!  I get that most people die old and they like floral prints that look old, or whatever, but it was torture to pick one for a strong, vibrant young man like my brother.  I think I embarrassed everyone with me by all the remarks and gagging sounds…

After a nice lunch at Mexico Joe’s (where we ran into our first friends since we had been back in town), we all went back to my parents’ house.  That afternoon we spent more time making lists, thinking, planning, organizing, and of course crying.  The funeral director had told us at that point Brian’s body had been “released” from the county morgue in Texas, but had not been transported back to Stillwater – that was to be done either late Tuesday night or Wednesday morning.  My mom was ready for him to be OUT of Texas.  We knew the funeral home was in the process, but it just seemed so slow.  At one point in the afternoon, my folks had gone over to my grandmother’s house, Britt was running some errands and picking the girls up from school, and I was supposed to be writing the obituary.  I was completely alone for the first time in DAYS.  While the silence felt nice at first, I was glad to be watching the clock and knowing that Britt and my girls would be back soon.  It was nice to reflect and cry alone, and I got most of the obituary written, but hearing those Twisters burst through the door was a DELIGHTFUL sound!

Tuesday night Britt and I were scheduled to go to a banquet dinner, even had my parents set up to babysit, but at the last minute we backed out.  I didn’t want to get dressed up, and neither of us wanted to leave our kids.  So, we ate the tons of yummy food that friends had brought to my parents’ house, and played with our kids, and worked on finding pictures, tweaking the obituary, and enjoying our family.

Wednesday morning, everyone had decided to try to have a normal morning.  Mom and Dad went to work.  Britt went to work.  Emma and Lara walked to school.  I was planning on dropping Jake off at day care, then going to training at work (as to not fall behind on my certificate course work).  But, God had other plans.  And this all led to another sad tweet from me:

You see, when I got to the day care, the adorable 4 and 5 year olds were all dressed for Spring picture day.  Not Jake. He was in the T-shirt he had slept in the night before and basketball shorts and had the WORST cowlick ever.  On the mad dash home to find him better clothes (and hair product), my cell phone rang – indicating the girls’ elementary school.  It was Emma; she had forgotten her ADHD meds – and she really needs them.  I told her to wait for me, I would be right there.  When I finally got home, the shirt I wanted for Jake was nowhere to be found!  Long story short – Emma did get her meds and get to class on time; Jake’s shirt was found and ironed and his cowlick tamed mere MOMENTS before his turn to get pictures; I missed my training.  But, I got to have a long chat with a longtime friend and fellow believer, and it really brightened my day.  God is SO GOOD!

Yesterday afternoon I found out that my brother’s body had made it back to Oklahoma and was at Strode Funeral Home, which was good news.  The bad news?  The body is completely un-viewable.  Not only by the public, but even for the family.  I will spare my readers the gory details, but just know we feel a grave injustice has been done to us.  And we have to request a copy of the autopsy report in writing from the Tarrant county Medical examiner’s office, so I mailed that yesterday.  Who knows how long before we actually get our hands on the document - which may or may not provide answers.
 At 2:30 the 4 of us met at the church to meet with the pastor and go over the service for Brian.  My mom told the Pastor lots of Brian stories, and deferred all planning and note taking to me (again, Administration…).  We all enjoyed describing Brian to Pastor Tim and helping him get to know Brian a little bit better.  We spent a lot of time talking about Brian’s scouting activities and his high school shenanigans.  As well as talking about his precious daughter and the times he’s shared with her over the past 4 years.  We picked songs, order of service, discussed pall bearers, and felt a sense of finality by making these decisions.  We still need to pick a few bible verses to share, and I am going to research and see if there is any Boy Scout ritual for a funeral as well.

We tried to make yesterday as normal for my kids as possible – after lots of chaos and missed appointments and lessons, etc. for the past few days.  After school, the girls got haircuts – I wanted them to look nice for all you out of towners!  ;)  Then, I sent my poor, sweet, DILIGENT and dutiful husband to Wal*Mart (or Best Buy) to purchase a 500 Mb portable external hard drive.  He looked like a deer in headlights when I tried to tell him what I needed.  I told him to ask where they were, then call and read the boxes to me.  Luckily, he only had 2 to pick from at the Wal Marts, and it was any easy decision as the other one had 1 terabyte of memory, and I’ll NEVER need that much!  After all our errands were run, we gathered back at my parents’ house to eat more of the delicious food we have been blessed with, then the Five Dream weavers were off to LifeChurch!  Konnect and Little LifeKids for the Little Weavers, and LifeGroup with our closest friends for the Mister and I.  We knew we would find lots of friends in the lobby when we dropped the kids off and picked them up later, and we were not disappointed.  What a GREAT time of fellowship and food.  I love my LifeGroup and my church!

Today is Thursday and my goal for today is the slide show.  Mom has a pile of pictures at her house I will go pick up soon and start scanning.  She and my dad have gone to Lewisville to tie up some more loose ends today, and will be back tonight.  Britt is at work, Jake’s at day care and the Twisters are at school.  I am home alone, in desperate need of a shower, and about to tackle another job in honor of my brother.  I’ll get to rest soon, right?  Yes!  And in the arms of Jesus, no less!  I can ONLY imagine!



A day without you

Monday morning we woke up in a warm home, filled with life and love and people (and a GIANT Great Dane named “Morty” who just wanted to cuddle. He was HUGE! I’m not sure how you cuddle a dog that big!). My mom, Britt and I gathered in the owner’s office with a legal pad, a pen, and our spinning minds. I’ve taken many spiritual gifts tests in my life, and one that always ends up somewhere near the top is administration, so my GIFT is currently in over drive. We made lists. A list of things to get accomplished at the house today. A list of questions for his employer. A list of questions for an attorney or some sort of legal counsel. A list of things to buy at Home Depot or Lowe’s so we could start cleaning the house. A list of things to tell or ask the neighbor lady who said she would watch the house for us. A list of the people I didn’t get to on Facebook because they banned me from sending messages – thought I was a spammer I had sent so many! A list of service providers for things Brian used in his house. I finally started to feel focused and useful at this point.

We found a Home Depot not far from where we were staying and bought cleaning supplies and giant trash bags. Once back to the house, we emptied the fridge, the pantry, and both bathrooms of any consumables that would need to be thrown away. We found a brick of like 24 bars of soap that only had one missing, so I brought it back to Stillwater with me to give to my dear friend who organizes supplies for people in need. Again – nice to feel useful at this point. We worked HARD on the house all morning – looking for car titles, insurance information, his income taxes (we found a carbon of a check dated 2 more days out for the tax money he owed, but we couldn’t find the paperwork or the actual check, so we assume he mailed it…). Created 8 bags of trash and were thrilled to learn trash day was Tuesday so I could just leave it all at the curb and it would soon be gone! And my sweet husband found a set of papers that we have all clung to for the last 2 days. He found the check-out papers from the walk-in clinic Brian had visited mid-day on Friday.

We know that he checked in there at 11:35. We know his chief complaint was a sore throat and the onset was 3 days prior. We know that his temperature (98.3), blood pressure, pulse, oxygen levels and other vital statistics were WELL within all normal ranges. We know he was diagnosed with Streptococcal pharyngitis (Strep Throat) and was prescribed Amoxicillin (which was time stamped 1:03pm). The papers were beside his recliner chair – right near where the police found the Rx bottle. These papers were quite a comfort – but also raised more questions. While it was a comfort to know he was not terribly sick at the time he went (from what we can tell), it points no fingers as to what happened once he got home – which we can tell was sudden and violent. We filed the papers in the fireproof lock box we had found, and continued on with our work.

After a quick lunch at Taco Cabana – a family tradition for both my parents and the Dream Weavers when we strayed with Brian as it was close to his house, something we don’t have in Stillwater, and OH SO Yummy – we went to Irving to meet with the CEO, HR Director and a few other key employees at Brian’s work. We had a laptop of theirs to return, and they had information about life insurance, Cobra coverage for Kayleigh, final paychecks, and personal affects in his Cubicle. We got lost on the way there, which led to this tweet:
A moment of frustration for sure – my GPS and the directions the CEO had given me over the phone didn’t exactly match up, plus there was a road closed right in front of the building we were going to, and we had to go ½ a mile out of the way to get back to it. It was hot, and I was tired and dirty. But, I did the metroplex rat race for 8 years; I’ll stay in my little town to do my living! Anyway, we spent a good amount of time gleaning information from them, then they lead us to his cubicle where we got to meet some of his team members (who were all crushed, shocked and saddened), and clean out his cube. The company had just moved to this location, and all Brian had there was a Texas Rangers cup for water, a blue tooth mouse that weighs more than my head, and one lone framed picture of his sweet daughter. Even the file drawers were empty. It was depressing, really.

We were all tired, and ready to go home, so when we got back to Brian’s house, we took a load of Kayleigh’s things over to her mother’s house, then loaded up Mom’s Malibu and our Derek (Uplander van) and headed north. It was about 5:45 when we pulled out. Britt drove Derek, and I drove mom in the Malibu. Daddy was at my house in Stillwater listening to my kiddos sleep when we got in to Stillwater about 10:15. We unloaded what was staying in my garage for storage, reloaded what was going to my mom’s house into her car, and bid farewell for the evening. I was so glad to be home; we were greeted by a house that had been thoroughly cleaned by my kids and my sister-in-love (I don’t think my kitchen sink has EVER looked that good!) and filled with roses of every kind – in every room! Emma had even made our bed, and Lara put a rose on each of our pillows. So incredible and such an act of love from our family. I will NEVER forget that!

This day was long, hard, emotional, tiring, uplifting, depressing, sad, reflective, hopeful, insightful, and even FUNNY (my mom kept losing her purse – forgetting where she had set it down – and she would say “I can’t find my purse. It’s yellow” as if telling us it was yellow would make it suddenly appear. Britt took this joke and ran with it. Every time anything was said about a purse, he would holler “It’s Yellow!”), but most importantly, it was BLESSED. This whole experience had led me even closer to God, deepened my faith, and restored my resolve to shine my light for Jesus.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

When the waves are taking you under…


Britt and I arrived at my brother’s house sometime around 4pm Sunday afternoon.  We had been told to be prepared for the mess, and the smell.  He had been in the house, deceased, for quite some time…  So, I knew all that.  I knew he was gone, I knew his house was in disarray, I knew his dog had been alone with a corpse for 2 days, but I didn’t know that walking across that threshold would literally suck the breath out of me.  Life as I had known it before that moment was truly over.  THIS was my new normal.  I would never come to this house again to eat at Taco Cabana and stay the night as a midway point in some adventure my family was on.  I would never take over his bed and make him sleep on the couch.  I would never open the fridge and marvel at how he has no food, just Kool-Aid.

We arrived to my mom standing bewildered in the front “library” room of the house, and my dad was down the street at the mail box pod – he had found a key and wanted to empty it out.  When my dad got back to the house, there was a group hug, and a few tears, but since the EMT’s (with their huge fire truck), Lewisville police (with their 2 patrol cars), and Medical examiner’s representatives (and his state issued vehicle – do you see why I feel like I am stuck in a made for TV crime drama?) had been gone well over an hour now, and my parents had not had anything to eat all day (neither had I, come to think of it), we locked up the house, and left.  No one wanted to pick where to eat, but my Dad has this “rule” that when we’re not in Stillwater, we don’t eat at a place we have in Stillwater.  Looking back now, it’s funny how that rule won out, again.  We ended up at Jack in the Box.


Phone calls, phone calls, phone calls!!!  Everything starts to get a little fuzzy at this point.  I do know that Brian’s cell phone had run down its battery sometime Friday evening, and I had plugged it in before we left to eat so I could use it for information and contacts after we ate.  While at the restaurant, it was determined that my dad would drive home to Stillwater Sunday night, as he had to be at work Monday morning, and we needed to deliver the paperwork from the ME to the funeral home here to facilitate getting my brother’s body from Lewisville to Stillwater – across state lines (which is proving to be difficult.  I am writing this on Tuesday morning, and we still don’t know if the body is back in Oklahoma.  We do know it has been released, but transport has not been confirmed to us).  This is also when I called in my first favor from all the people in my life who said, “I will do anything you need me to do.”  I called some dear, sweet, beautiful, AWESOME Oklahoma State fans that had moved to the Arlington area a year ago, and asked if we could invade their home – they opened us with open arms and a warm house, were perfect hosts, and showed us all the compassion we truly needed at that time.  God is so good.

After they ate (I didn’t), we headed back to the house.  I got to my brother’s email on his phone, and was so glad to find an email with a detailed signature line from the CEO of the company Brian currently worked for.  It even had a cell phone number.  So, about 6:00 on Sunday night, I called this man.  I had to leave a message, but he called back pretty quickly.  Chalk him up as about the 10th person I shocked 5 years off their life that day.  I think the thing I will remember most from that phone call was when he said “I don’t really handle this kind of thing.”  Yeah, me either!  He of course offered us anything we needed, and  I asked what property of theirs Brian might have - he had like 5 lap tops in the house and I knew they weren’t all his.  (Come to find out, one was this company’s, one was for the contract work he was doing, one was broken, and one was personal…)  I knew the CEO wasn’t really the perfect place to start, but I guess email signatures are a thing of the past.  I had a hard time figuring out who I needed to call!  I just needed them to know he wouldn’t be at work tomorrow.  Or ever.

We had been in touch with my brother’s ex-wife, and as soon as she and Kayleigh were back home (they had spent the day with some friends), we wanted to go see them. She had been told earlier in the day, and she had told the baby.  All 4 of us when to her house and spent a little while with my brother’s only child.  It was awkward, and sometimes (including this time) it takes K a little time to warm up to people, and I think it confused her that her Daddy’s people were in her Mommy’s house (the have been separated, then divorced since she was only a few weeks old).  Once we got a few more things straight in our heads, my dad headed out for Oklahoma.  This is a good thing, because he missed all the storms in his driving.  He was home by about 10:30.  Britt, my mom and I continued to go through piles of paper at the house, and gathered up all of Kayleigh’s things that we wanted her to have at her Mom’s house, and finally about 7:30 gave up and took the 30 mile drive to my friend’s house.

These were the first friends we had seen.  The first people to hug us, to hold us, to make this all real.  While everyone chatted, I got on my laptop, went to my brother’s facebook, and started notifying his friends with this message:
Dear friends of Brian,
It is with a very heavy heart that I write this message to you tonight. It my sad duty to tell you that Brian has died, but is in a better place. He was found dead in his home this morning (Sunday) about 10:45 by my parents, who had not heard from him since Friday afternoon. They were worried, so they drove down from Oklahoma this morning to make this grisly discovery. He was not feeling well on Thursday, got worse on Friday, and had gone to see a nurse practitioner, who had given him a prescription, but none of the pills had been taken. The Rx was filled at 1:03 pm on Friday, and so he died sometime after that. They are doing an autopsy, and we should have the results of this by the end of the week.
My husband, Britt Weaver, and I are now here in TX with my mother. My father has gone back to Stillwater to start taking care of arrangements there. We will have services in his hometown of Stillwater soon, and I will keep you advised of all news that I have.
Thank you,
Betsey Ricker Weaver
We went to bed with heavy hearts and spinning minds.  We were all barely asleep when the area was assaulted by a severe thunderstorm that shook the house and pelted the windows with hail, but a warm environment to be still for a few hours was just what we needed.  The next day would be a rough one. 

At this point, we knew:
  • Brian had called in sick to work at 7:10 am on Friday
  • He took his daughter to her day school that morning, and had asked his ex-wife to pick her up
  • He had gone to a walk-in clinic and gotten an Rx for antibiotics (time stamped 1:03pm), but had never taken them as the police counted the pills
  • He had been violently ill all over his house, attempted a shower
  • He sat down on the bed, fell back, and was gone. 
The next day would lead to more discoveries.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

One phone call from our knees

Your life can change in an instant.  Mine did.  About 11:20am last Sunday.  Here’s how that looked…

Rewinding all the way to Friday.  At some point during the day on Friday, I was talking to my mom and she mentioned that my older brother, Brian, had called her and said he wasn’t feeling well.  He was supposed to have his 4 year old daughter, Kayleigh, with him this weekend, but since he was not feeling well and did not want to expose her, he asked his ex-wife to take care of her.  We assumed he went to the Doctor or a walk-in clinic or something of the like.  Saturday, My mom called a few times, left a voicemail, emails, etc.  By Saturday night, the panic was setting in (at the time, I didn’t know how stressed she was about this).  So, Sunday morning, as Britt and I loaded up our 3 kids to get to the church by 7:30 since it was our long weekend to serve, I got a text from my mom saying she and Daddy still had not heard from Brian, so they were driving to Dallas.

I spent the next few hours texting her with “suggestions” – call the police, call his ex-wife, call ANYONE…  But they were determined to get there and see what was going on for themselves.  The last text I got from my parents was about 9:45 and they said they were crossing the Red River – which meant they were about an hour from his house.  About 11:15 (while I was super busy with my LifeChurch Host Team Leader duties), I glanced at my phone and saw a missed call and a voice mail from my mom.  My heart sunk, I RAN across the church lobby to my husband, basically THREW my phone at him and told him to call my mom back (I had listened to the 2 word voice mail that said “CALL ME” through a broken, teary voice, and I knew it was not good).

While dialing the phone, Britt lead me to the church office, quickly followed by our Volunteer Coordinator who I can only assume saw the events unfolding in the lobby.  She dutifully and lovingly held my hand (as I clung to her with my very life, pretty sure I screamed her name once, but I can’t be sure) while Britt spoke with  my mom on the phone – from about 30 feet away and with his back to me.  After a brief conversation and some head nodding, he turned around, and shook his head with tears in his eyes.  I screamed .  It was like a tragic scene from Law & Order or CSI.  I don’t remember all of the next 30 minutes of my life, but I was ushered into a side office, and I just remember people in an out of the room, a box of tissues being handed to me, lots of pats and shoulder rubs and a HUGE bear hug from my husband.

Some dear friends took the 3 Little Weavers from me for the afternoon, and Britt and I headed south.  Longest. Drive. EVER!  I felt like we would never get there.  Had to stop for gas pretty early on, then a  restroom break not too far from our destination.  I spent most of the ride on the phone with friends and family, sharing our tragic, horrible, awful, NIGHTMARE.  Only I didn’t realize this was only the first step.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Twisters and a Movie

I got off work early today, picked Emma and Lara up from school, and took them to the movies!  We chose to see “Soul Surfer.”  (I think *I* chose it; if I had left it up to them, it would have been Hop or Diary of a Wimpy Kid!)  I had heard a lot of good things about the movie (the Christian radio station I listen to has been talking it up A LOT), I was looking forward to a wholesome, Christian family friendly movie to take my girls to, it was NOT animated (or in 3D), and it was rated PG.  Fit all my criteria - plus this was the first day it was out so E&L's friends couldn't ruin it for them yet!  We had a GREAT time – even did a little shopping after it was over before meeting up with Dad and Jake for dinner!

I really, truly enjoyed this movie!  I love “true stories,” and having known the story behind the movie beforehand, I was pretty sure I would like it.  I had prepared the girls for the “shark attack” scene by telling them this is just a movie, and we know she ends up OK or there wouldn’t be a movie to go to!  (We did see a friend of theirs from school leave soon after that scene and he seemed a bit upset, so know that it is an intense scene!)  Some of the young actors were not great by any stretch of the imagination, but once I got past that, I was OK.  There were also more than a couple of times where the editor forgot how to edit out the arm that was supposed to be missing.  They often filmed the actress from the “other” side so they wouldn’t have to edit out the arm, or that side of her body was covered somehow, but a few times, you could see a shadow of her arm, or the pixilation showed more that it was probably intended, but again, when I stopped looking for it and just watched the movie, I didn’t notice it so much!  Dennis Quaid and Helen Hint did a great job, as did AnnaSophia Robb who played the main character.  She was an amazing surfer, and really made us fall in love with Bethany Hamilton!  Carrrie Underwood played the youth minister from the Hamilton’s church, and I almost hate to say it, but she wasn’t very good.  She looked beautiful, though!  And the church scenes were well done.   I really think they handled the faith aspect very well, and showed how the Hamilton’s faith brought them through this terrible time in their lives.

But my favorite part of the movie? HAWAII!  It is so beautiful!  And it was really cool to learn more about surfing and the competition circuit.  I visited Hawaii 11 years ago, and I hope someday to be able to make it back.  But for now, the pictures I see in movies will have to hold me over – and this movie did a great job of that!

I really had a good time with my girls today!  The best part of the whole evening?  At the end of the movie when Lara leaned over to me and said, “This movie was so cool!”  Then again sometime later when we were in Old Navy and she saw a T-shirt with surf boards on it and said, “That movie INSPIRED me!”  It was a great time for us girls!