"This will be the best year of our lives."

| | Comments (46)

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That's what Bryce told me exactly one year ago just moments after our baby was born. Danika turns 1 today, January 12. I wish her daddy could share this with her. It sounds crazy, but I sent Bryce an e-vite to come to her family birthday party. I received an automated notice in my e-mail today stating that Bryce hadn't RSVP'd, which felt like a kick to the head. All the air was sucked out of the room as I once again realized he is still gone.

The holidays were painful and lonely, yet there were bright moments where I witnessed the goodness in others and saw happiness around me. Every snowstorm brought helpful people armed with shovels, lifting part of my burden with each scoop of snow. One evening I opened the front door to find a front yard full of carolers, bearing a wonderful gift and leaving no names. Dani and I were surrounded with family and friends, loving and caring for us and making sure we forged ahead with new memories. People are GOOD. Thank you all, friends and anonymous angels!

Just as the holidays ended, another wave of tragedy swept through the lives of people I care about. My college roommate and friend succumbed to cancer and died at 33, same age as Bryce. A few days later two of my neighbors were in a tragic car accident. Another young widow now sits a block from my home, preparing for her husband's funeral tomorrow and wondering how she will find the strength to attend. It's really not fair.

Despite the pain of the past several months, Dani and I are healthy and doing well. I am grateful to have this beautiful little girl, this little one year old angel who can stand unsupported for ten whole seconds! Seven teeth, fuzzy blonde hair, chunky legs, and looking more like her daddy every day.

Happy Birthday, little baby. We love you!

46 Comments So Far!

On Friday, January 11, 2008 at 11:35 PM
Sharie said:

Still a lurker, still a stranger, still thinking about you. I wanted to remind you that Bryce was there for your baby's party. He is with you each and everyday looking down on you and Dani. I get signs of my Dad watching down on me and my new son. I know he is not far from me and neither is your husband. Ask Heavenly Father for signs and he will show them to you. It will bring you comfort in the darkest hours.

On Friday, January 11, 2008 at 11:38 PM
kristin Smith said:

HAPPY BIRTHDAY BEAUTIFUL DANI!
Just wanted to send a quick hello and wish one of my favorite babies a very happy birthday. Tammy, you are still on my mind so often and I pray for you every day. You continue to touch so many lives. May the Lord bless you in these quiet, lonely days.
love, kristin

On Friday, January 11, 2008 at 11:59 PM
K9 Rolf & Tillie-the-Pug said:

You are always in our thoughts and prayers...and we wish Danika a wonderful 1st birthday. The PUG wants to meet you and Dani, so when you have time, stop by, okay?!?! We care about you! We are right next door if you ever need anything...and we mean it!

Take care...stay warm.

--Michelle, Rolf & Tillie

On Saturday, January 12, 2008 at 1:44 AM
Kathie said:

Dear Tammy,
A very happy first birthday to beautiful little Dani! You both have been on my mind so much during the holiday season. Please know you have not been forgotten by your MPIP family. You, Bryce, and Dani had such an impact on us all. Check in from time to time if you get a moment, will you, and let us know how you and Dani are doing. Sending you both hugs from California.

On Saturday, January 12, 2008 at 7:14 AM
Tara said:

Happy Birthday, little Danika. I think of you and your mommy often.

Tammy-Danika shares the same birthday as my mom, which makes me happy.

I don't know if you recall my past posts or not, but my husband is battling stage IV melanoma as well. I have found you to be an amazing source of strength. When Bryce died, I couldn't even fathom your pain. I'm sure that pain continues to be there some days. I only hope (and I believe that you do) have bright days as well. How could you not, with such an adoring young girl?

I am so sorry for your other losses as well. It is hard not to wonder 'why' sometimes.

Hang in there, Tammy. Bryce is with you!

Love,
Tara (MPIP)

On Saturday, January 12, 2008 at 11:23 AM
Roni said:

Happy Birthday Dani!!!

Just wanted to let you know that we think of you both daily. My heart aches for you and I know nothing I say or do can make you feel better. I just want you to know that we love you and you are in our prayers.

Love you both!

Roni

On Saturday, January 12, 2008 at 11:34 AM
Holly, Clark & Ella said:

Happy birthday Dani! We love you so much! You really are a sweet angel, and I know that your daddy is your guardian angel and will be with you in whatever way he can, even though we'd rather have him physically here with us all. I'm so glad you have an awesome mommy who will always take such good care of you and will always remind you of how awesome your daddy is.

We love you!
Holly, Clark, & Ella

On Saturday, January 12, 2008 at 3:05 PM
Christy said:

Happy Birthday to Dani!!!! I especially love her chubby little hands.

I'm so sorry to hear about your neighbors. I have no words.

much love to you and Dani!

Christy

On Saturday, January 12, 2008 at 4:05 PM
Ray Ray, Traci and family said:

Wanted to send a Happy Birthday wish to Dani, Happy Birthday!!!!!!

Ray Ray, Traci and family

On Saturday, January 12, 2008 at 4:08 PM
Suzie S. said:

Tragedy seems to come in waves, doesn't it? If that is true, you got a tsunami. Cling to hope, sometimes it is all we have. We continually pray for you and sweet Dani. I can't believe that she is already one year old!
We would love to see you the sooner the better. Nathan has something that will hopefully put a little wind in your sails.

Take care,

Suzie

On Saturday, January 12, 2008 at 4:44 PM
brenda said:

Happy Birthday!! Dani, January is a good month for birthdays! Just when the excitement of new Christmas gifts starts wearing off, you get more gifts to come off the Christmas high! You get to go skiing or snowboarding for your birthday (when your older, of course) and you'll be the oldest in primary and get to move on to YW quicker! I'm just speaking from experience! Have a beautiful, snow filled birthday. Your daddy loves you and is watching over you.
Tammy, so good to hear from you. Wow, you are in the right place at the right time. Others are needing you. You have so many talents and a lot of love to share. I am so sorry you have had to once again grieve over more loss. I hope today is a wonderful day and that you'll feel Bryce's love.
With lots of love and prayers,
brenda

On Saturday, January 12, 2008 at 5:50 PM
Barbara Stevens said:

Happy First Birthday Dani!

Smear the cake all over your face and head as you blow out the candle and mommy takes a picture....

If you can stand for 10 seconds now, tell your mom to watch out...you'll be running soon!


Tammy,

I'm always thinking about you and Dani. You got through this past holiday. Now you know you can get through each holiday and special occasion one at a time and surrounded by your loved ones.

I keep writing and erasing what I'm writing because it all seems like the wrong thing to say at this time.... so just know, I love you and Dani and pray for you that you can get up each morning and face the world, put a smile on your face, and get through the day the best you can and then escape into sleep until the next day starts again. I pray that the angels can buoy you up until you are strong again.

Love,
Barbara

On Saturday, January 12, 2008 at 6:55 PM
beth said:

I've been lurking for a while and hoping you would post. Been watching since the last post, hoping to hear that you are slowly healing. He was there for the party. He will be everywhere you need him. Happy birthday to your beautiful baby girl.

On Saturday, January 12, 2008 at 6:56 PM
Christine Uporsky said:

Happy Birthday Dani!!!
Tammy I look for you everyday!! I have been in prayer for you and the families since getting your text!! I will list them on the prayer request at church tomorrow. Know that I am thinking about you and Dani everyday!! You really brought me to my knees with the coin, I know you know what I am talking about. Bryce is with you and Dani and he is with me during my battle right now!!
I love you and miss you!!
Your friend,
Christine Uporsky

On Saturday, January 12, 2008 at 10:24 PM
Nikki said:

Tammy,

So wonderful to hear from you and to read bits and pieces. I thought Dani might share a birthday with Roman. He turned 3 today. So...Happy Birthday to them both. We had a fun time and I hope you did too. Still thinking of you.

Love,

Nikki

On Sunday, January 13, 2008 at 1:32 PM
Rex, Suzie, and sammy. said:

Wow, that was the fastest year!!! Happy Birthday Dani, darling! Tammy, I am thankful you have such a wonderful support system. It's times like those that you know Bryce is watching over you making sure that the next moment isn't alone. Still thinking of you, sweety.

On Sunday, January 13, 2008 at 5:16 PM
Reed Cowan said:

Sweet T & D--

In weeks--we will open a school in Africa. Keep hope alive.

Love 2 u
R

On Sunday, January 13, 2008 at 5:53 PM
Suzan(wife od Keith - Stage IV) said:

Tammi,

Happy Birthday Dani! You have been in my thoughts and prayers daily. I am so glad to hear from you and are still wishing you strength and love from Georgia. We still have a date to play one of these days.

Love ya,
Suzan

On Sunday, January 13, 2008 at 8:15 PM
Michelle said:

Tammy:

Thank you for the beautiful gift that you & Dani made for me! I love it! Rolf and Tillie will visit soon. I'm glad that Dani laughs when Rolf barks. She's really gonna like Tillie...more her size.

You are an awesome neighbor. Thank you for your kindness. You are a strong and special gal.

--Michelle

On Sunday, January 13, 2008 at 9:28 PM
Stacey (Stevens) Jepson said:

You're doing awesome Tammy! Hang in there.

Happy Birthday Dani!

On Sunday, January 13, 2008 at 10:06 PM
Susie said:

Hey there sweet Dani....
hope you had a great day and had lots of yummy cake!

Tammy....
luv ya girl!
Think of you daily and pray for you both always!
Susie D.

On Monday, January 14, 2008 at 9:15 AM
Brittani Martin said:

Happy Birthday to Dani!

You both are such strong girls. Hold on to each other and you will make it through. Keep praying, and keep your positive attitude. Stay strong. Remember that people all over the world are praying for you and thinking of you both. You will rise from this a warrior against cancer. Keep going to the Lord, he is the one person who knows exactly what you are going through.

-Brittani

On Monday, January 14, 2008 at 10:02 AM
matchbox mom said:

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DANI!
What a tough time this has been for you. I was hoping that it would have been a little happier time. I'm glad you've had so many angels taking care of you. I don't even know you, or else if I did, I would be there for you in a heartbeat. I would watch Dani for you, clean, shovel, and do whatever you asked me to do. You are a beautiful girl, with a good name and a perfect daughter. May the new year bring you many blessings.

hugs

Tami

On Monday, January 14, 2008 at 3:43 PM
Jaclyn England said:

Tammy

You are one of my heros, you're incredible. I can't begin to imagine all that you're going through until each time I read your blog and you let us into your world for a few moments. Thank you for sharing with us and know that you are loved and thought of by so many people around the world. I'm glad you survived the holidays and it was fun to finally meet and hold that beautiful Danika, what a little treasure she is. I am so happy you have her in your life and she is lucky to have you as her mother. Hang in there, just take one day at a time and when life gets tough just take it one breath at a time. You're in my thoughts and prayers daily.

Happy Birthday Danika.

On Monday, January 14, 2008 at 6:50 PM
Carrie said:

Tammy,

So very good to see an update!! Although I too am essentially a stranger, I feel a connection through shared experiences with melanoma (me with my friends Brendan and Julie). I check in very regularly.

Reading your subject line and then the first line of your entry gave me chills. Wow. I am also very sorry to hear of your friend who passed away. We must do something about this awful disease!

I am glad to hear that through it all you are surrounded by family and friends and comforted by your faith. Wishing Dani a happy birthday, and wishing you both a happy year!

All the best,
Carrie

On Monday, January 14, 2008 at 10:37 PM
Jessi said:

Happy Birthday Dani! :)

On Tuesday, January 15, 2008 at 8:21 AM
angie said:

I am going to take up some space on here, but my husband put this poem on our blog when my sister died in November of melanoma and I want to share it with you. I read it over and over to remind me that Julie is all around me. I hope it can bring you a small amount of strength. Yay God.
---------

I find an old photograph
and see your smile.
As I feel your presence anew,
I am filled with warmth
and my heart remembers love.

I read an old card
sent many years ago
during a time of turmoil and confusion.
The soothing words written then
still caress my spirit
and bring me peace.

I remember who you used to be
the laughter we shared
and wonder what you have become.
Where are you now,
Where did you go,
When the body is left behind
and the spirit is released to fly?

Perhaps you are the morning bird
singing joyfully at sunrise,
or the butterfly that dances
so carelessly on the breeze
or the rainbow of colors
that brightens a stormy sky
or the fingers of afternoon mist
delicately reaching over the mountains
or the final few rays of the setting sun
lighting up the skies
edging the clouds with a magical glow.

I miss your being
but I feel your presence,
In whatever form you choose to take,
however you now choose to be.

Your spirit has become for me
a guardian angel on high
guiding, advising, and watching over me.

I remember you.
You are with me
and I am not afraid.

On Tuesday, January 15, 2008 at 11:26 AM
Sally B. said:

I don't really have anything to say except "Happy Birthday, Dani!" and "Tammy, we love you and keep praying for you." May you find moments of joy tucked like little treasures in this new year.
Love always,
Marian and Sally

On Tuesday, January 15, 2008 at 11:53 AM
Maureen (wife of Geoff, Stage iv) said:

Tammy - good to hear from you. Happy birthday to your little girl. I am glad you were surrounded by family and friends at Christmas. You will continue to feel that love around you, don't worry. Although we have never met, I feel you to be a very strong girl.I re-read the blog a few days ago, we are battling this disease like you and Bryce did. I find your attitude to be very helpful to myself, so you see, you are needed here! Take care, please continue the blog, for yourself and us. All the best for 2008, it will be a good year, wait and see.
Maureen and Geoff

On Tuesday, January 15, 2008 at 9:29 PM
Sherri said:

Tammy-

Happy Birthday Dani!! Isn't it amazing how much they change in that first year. Each month brings new growth and development, and change. Sometimes I wish they would stay little, but that doesn't happen, and then I'm grateful that I didn't get my wish, because as they grow and learn I realize I grow and learn with them. I believe that being a mommy is the most wonderful thing in the whole wide world!

On Wednesday, January 16, 2008 at 3:50 PM
Elaine Miles said:

Dani, happy belated birthday. I hope your mommy will post some pictures soon. You are a darling little cutiepie and we love you very much.

Tammy, I'm glad you had a good trip. I hope it gave you some quiet moments to reflect on all the good times you shared with Bryce and regain your footing to face the future with your head held high. You are one of the most amazing people I know and I'm so proud of you for being able to share so much of your life and feelings with so many people. You may not realize it yet, but Heavenly Father has given you so many talents and opportunities to help others. I've read many of the MPIP entries and so many of those beautiful people look to you for strength and support. They love you so much for helping them cope with their own trials. I was so sorry to hear about your college roommate and your neighbor. Life isn't always fair but we need to trust in Heavenly Father's plan for us. I love you, Tammy.

Love, Aunt Elaine

On Wednesday, January 16, 2008 at 11:41 PM
Cordie Tippets said:

Tammy you are AMAZING!!! I have just read your whole story sobbing and smiling (but mostly sobbing) I would like to wish your beautiful little girl a late happy birthday. I am now going to be a reader of your blog! You have inspired me to be a better person in every way! In one of your posts you talked of not getting mad about the small things. I always get mad at things that do not matter! I really want to change...thanks for inspiring this! I also want to make sure my whole family protects themselves against the suns harmful rays! I am so glad that I never enjoyed "fake baking" thanks for your knowledge and sharing your story of your wonderful husband! I hope you find joy and peace in this new year and I look forward to reading more of your story!

On Thursday, January 17, 2008 at 10:39 AM
Mom S. said:

Oh Tammy, you really should share the picture of Danika eating her birthday cake. It was priceless! She knew what was expected of her and she dove right in. We were all amazed at how much cake she ate.

Steffani gave you a priceless gift--a baby book of Danika's first year. Since you were preoccupied this year and couldn't keep up a baby book, Steffani gathered pictures from Grandparents, relatives and her own files and compiled a wonderful book--including firsts! The publishing company did a good job of printing it. That will be such a treasure for you.

The trip was a good respite for you--for all of us, in spite of having no hot water at the beach house for 3 days! It didn't matter, though. I'd put up with just about anything to spend time on the coast.

Keep smiling, blogging and putting one foot in front of the other. Dad and I love you so much and are very grateful that the Browns and we are so near by.

Love, Mom

On Friday, January 18, 2008 at 10:41 AM
Becky from Minnesota said:

Tammy,

I, too, have been checking in periodically to see if you have posted again.

Like you, this was our first Christmas without Brad, and it was emotionally draining. I think it's the hardest I've cried since Brad left this world back in May.

Then I read of all the other sadness in your life, and my heart aches for you. I, too, lost another friend Wednesday night to melanoma - Brad, whose wife posted as Kimmyie on MPIP.

Each loss opens up that place once again, but like others who have commented here, you just try to take one day at a time. My brother told me long before Brad died to just take life one inch at a time ~ putting one foot in front of the other.

I've also learned nothing is more important than the people around me. I really try to keep that fresh in my mind when I start to get sucked into the vortex of busy, busy, busy!

Bryce lives on in Dani, and each time I look at my girls, I am reminded of their daddy ~ his love, his legacy.

I know you are still in a hard place right now, but if you ever want to talk, scream, cry, or rant, I'm available. Feel free to email me or call (if you still have my #).

Praying for you & Dani from Minnesota,

Becky, wife of melanoma angel Brad 5-12-07

On Saturday, January 19, 2008 at 8:34 PM
Cassie Briggs said:

Happy Birthday Dani! I can't believe how big you are now!!! Know that your daddy is watching over you and smiling. I know he is so proud of you! Tammy, we are still thinking of you both of everyday and keeping you in our prayers. We love you so much! Stay strong!

Love,
Jeff, Cassie, Ayanna and Celeste

On Saturday, January 19, 2008 at 9:49 PM
Jamie said:

Hi Tammy!
Seeing you Friday did my heart a load of good. It was wonderful to see your smile and hear your voice. I know that every day is a struggle and I feel so grateful that you have chosen to let me and others into your most personal thoughts and experiences. Your journey has helped me to prioritize my life and I thank you for that. You have such a wonderful family and support system. Please know that I am always here for you for anything you need. Give that Dani a hug & kiss for me!
Jamie

On Saturday, January 19, 2008 at 9:50 PM
Ashlan said:

Tammy,

I can't even imagine what you have been through over the last several months....That being said I feel you are truly increible, we found out this week about some life threatening illnesses in our family. Talk about when it rain it pours, I think we are drowning in a flood. I think of how incredibly strong you are. It has come to me so many time this past week how many peoples lives you have affected, the talk about donating blood this week has come up several times...I hope everyone who can continues to donate if they can. There are so many people who need that blood daily, and if it keeps them with there families with them for only one more day its worth it. Tammy you are such an incredible person, I'm so glad I have learned so much from you and hope to continue...

With all my love~

Ashlan

On Monday, January 21, 2008 at 4:40 PM
Jeremiah and Jossy said:

Happy Birthday Dani

On Tuesday, January 22, 2008 at 12:52 PM
Amy said:

Happy Birthday Dani! You two have a great year ahead of you. The change from 1 to 2 is amazing, and it will be so fun to see Dani's personality emerging. Still thinking of you often!

On Wednesday, January 23, 2008 at 9:58 AM
Jamie said:

Tammy,
I have spent most of the night reading your story. I wanted to tell you what a GREAT and AMAZING women you are. Your family is so beautiful and has been through so much these past few months. Your daughter is so lucky to have such a great mom, enjoy her every second they grow up so quickly. Hang in there and keep up your spirits, your doing an amazing job! Stay strong for yourself and that adorable little girl! My thoughts and prayers are with you. Have a GREAT day and keep smiling you are beautiful!!!!

On Wednesday, January 23, 2008 at 12:41 PM
Jamie said:

Tammy,
I have spent most of the night reading your story. I wanted to tell you what a GREAT and AMAZING women you are. Your family is so beautiful and has been through so much these past few months. Your daughter is so lucky to have such a great mom, enjoy her every second they grow up so quickly. Hang in there and keep up your spirits, your doing an amazing job! Stay strong for yourself and that adorable little girl! My thoughts and prayers are with you. Have a GREAT day and keep smiling you are beautiful!!!!

On Friday, January 25, 2008 at 3:53 AM
Leslie said:

You don't know me, but I feel like we are living the same life.
On November 29 (less than 2 months ago), my husband passed away at age 30. We were married more than 5 years, but together almost 6 years. We have one son, who turned 2 years old just two days after his daddy passed away. The difference in our stories is that my husband passed away without warning... bringing on the most shocking and devastating day of my life.
I have searched for people that can relate to me. I have longed to know of someone else who is experiencing or who has experienced what I am going through.
As I read through your page, I thought I was reading something that I could have written because it was my feelings almost exactly.
I am surrounded by people who love me and are doing all they can to support me and help me, but I feel so alone in what I am feeling. No one truly knows how alone I feel and how painful this is.
So, I thought I would write a quick note to you and thank you for showing me that I am not alone in what I am feeling.
I am so sorry for your loss.
Love always, Leslie *
leslieandaaron.blogspot.com

On Friday, January 25, 2008 at 6:21 PM
Leslie said:

I just wrote a message to you very early this morning.(actually very late last night depending on how you look at it)
I have been reading more of your story and I can't believe some of the details.
You said that you and your husband went to Bountiful High School. Well, my sweet husband also went to Bountiful High School. He graduated in 1995. I went to Viewmont High School and graduated that same year.
I have been planning to do what you did and write down the events that led up to us meeting and marrying, but haven't felt the strength to do so yet. You have an amazing story.
It is so strange that you live right around here and you are experiencing the kind of loss that I am experiencing.
Thank you again.
Leslie *

On Saturday, January 26, 2008 at 10:29 PM
Heather Peck said:

Tammy,

I love your blog.... you have an amazing talent in putting your feelings into words, what a gift! I just wanted to let you know how fun it was to get together with everyone and have a girls lunch out! We have got to do that again soon! It was so good to see you and catch up, it has been a long time. Keep posting, you are an inspirational writer, and keep smiling!

PS I love your photos of you and Bryce~

On Monday, January 28, 2008 at 12:04 PM
Mindy said:

Tammy, I found your blog through one of my cousins... I don't know if you would remember me, but I knew you in high school, and we graduated together. (Bountiful class of '93).
I am so sorry for your loss, and have shed tears for you. What a strong and beautiful person you are, and your little girl is so precious! Sending prayers your way,

Mindy Howell Smith

On Tuesday, January 29, 2008 at 1:03 PM
Michelle Terry said:

Tammy,
We hope Danni's birthday was a great moment. Your post about another widow planning her husband's funderal touched me. Go to her. Share your strength with her. Not only will it help her loads, but it will help you too. You are so incredibly strong. Your strength is unbelievable. She will appreciate it, and it will help you to give her strength.
I love your posts. I know your pain is greater than anything I could understand. But there are so many people willing to help everywhere.
My Girl Scouts are willing to help too.
Michelle Terry

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