Monday, November 28, 2016

Garrett

This is my heart in a blog post. Part of the story I've written so far of all that happened......

It was 1:36 pm on Tuesday, October 25th of 2016. I was emotionally drained, like I had felt for the last month. My brother, Taylor, had just left my house and my heart was breaking. His world and by extension the whole Schroedter family had been feeling hurt by divorce over the last couple months. Our whole family has always been close, but the last month caused all of us, especially the siblings that live in Utah, to rely on each other more than ever before.
More tears had been shed in a month's time than my whole life combined. No exaggeration for dramatic effect. 
Obviously my post isn’t about this trial, but it’s important to know where our whole family was emotionally on October 25th. Taylor was over and about to head to campus when he told me he received a friend request from Nia (Garrett’s roommate) and asked me if I recognized who she was. I told him yes. When he left, I looked at my phone and saw a friend request and fbook message, too.

OCT 25TH, 12:36PM
Hi, I am garretts roommate I need to get in contact with a family member so if you or someone can call me ASAP please or give me a number to reach anyone. 801-***-****
Nia
You missed a call from Nia.
October 25th, 12:44pm


Call Back
Please can I have a phone number? It's an emergency

I remember I called her back exactly one hour after she must have sent that message. I thought Millie needed to be picked up from school or needed my help and Garrett was at work.
I remember feeling nervous to call her, but nothing huge. I locked the office door behind Taylor and went back upstairs. The conversation is a blur, but I remember her saying….. Garrett went hiking yesterday. They found his body off a cliff this morning. Garrett is deceased. Here is the detectives number….
I started screaming “What? What?”
Chase, Capri, and Sawyer were all napping in my house, and I felt as if I myself was dying. I leaned against the wall and tried to ask her a few more questions. I went into my bedroom where Chase and Capri were napping. I started hyperventilating/ screaming. Chase woke up swinging and kicking in a panic (I think he thought I was being attacked).
Then he asked, “Who, Marissa? Who?!”
He knew someone had died.
He brought me into the living room to sit. He asked me many questions, but I didn’t have any definite answers. I called the detective, but it went to voicemail. I left a voicemail. I called the Big Cottonwood Canyon Search and Rescue. They told me to wait for the detective to call me back. I was now in the bathroom and couldn’t breathe from crying. I knew I had to call my mom first. I didn’t know if I should since I hadn’t spoken to anyone official yet. The detectives had told Nia they needed to speak to next in kin, which was legally my parents. I asked Chase what I should do and we decided I should call my mom. We knew Dad was in Japan, and that we should wait till we had concrete info before waking him.
I collected myself, had stopped crying, and heard the phone ringing. The second my mom said hello, I started bawling again. I couldn’t even say hello. She yelled for me to calm down, and that she couldn’t understand me. She told me later that she thought it was one of my own children, and I sadly had to tell her it was one of hers. She kept asking me, “Are you sure? Is it Garret? Are you sure?” and screaming.
I told her what I knew, but that I didn’t have official info. I gave her the detectives number, and then I told her I was calling Taylor and Grant. She said okay. She said we shouldn’t tell my dad until we knew for sure, and asked I tell Shelby.
Taylor had just gotten to campus, and was 30 seconds from Grant. I told them and they both came over. I have no idea how it was for them getting the news; I can only imagine. By the time they went to Grant’s dorm, got their car, and came over- I had called the detective a couple more times with no response and my mom. Caleb and my mom were together. I had never heard my mom scream, cry, and hurt so much before, ever really. It broke me down more than hearing the news for myself. I called Tina Fairwell, and she rushed over to be by my mom and Caleb’s side.
So many loved ones were there for us, especially my parents. Rides to the airport, Joni went to get Caleb a suit, uploading pictures for the funeral, etc.... i had no idea how many details there could be. 
I called Shelby. It was almost 9 pm in London for her. The crying started the conversation again. I tried so hard to speak before crying..... useless. I told her, and she broke down. I could hear Josh in the background asking questions frantically and comforting her.
Then about 20 minutes later back in Provo, as we were loading the kids in the car to head up to Salt Lake area, the detective called my cell right when I saw Taylor and Grant pull in. He told me I didn’t need to identify the body (that's where I was driving to right then..... and I was terrified). I have never been so grateful for Garrett's tattoos. Because of those obvious identifying marks, nobody had to see the body until the mortuary where we dressed him and prayed with his body as a family (the most intense, spiritual day). I had to describe four or five of his tattoos and what his dog tag said (Millie Kyla Schroedter and her birthday).
We headed up to Bluffdale, and knocked on Kristi’s door. We hoped she was home, but figured she was at work. She called me at the Andersons about 10 minutes later, bc she got my text to call. I told her over the phone, bc I couldn’t figure out how to meet her at work without freaking her out anyways. 
We picked up Kristi from work, and Chase drove her car. 
Taylor, Kristi, and I were in my van (my kid were at Dave and Julie’s). 
Grant and Chase were driving Kristi’s car. 
Chase and Grant checked Millie out of daycare. 
We then went to the Anderson’s backyard. 
Telling Kristi first and Millie next was another surreal moment that was a numbing nightmare.
We told Millie very clearly (we googled and asked some family friends on how to tell a child about a parent’s death.) “Millie, your daddy went on a hike today. He had a really bad fall. Your daddy has died. He is in heaven now.” We paused and waited. She sat on Kristi’s lap and stared at the ground for about a minute. I asked her if she had any questions. She said no and then asked if Capri could come out to the swing set and play. Ever since, she has ignored the issue for a while, had tantrums, and randomly asks the most intelligent questions. We know her mind has been processing it, and she’s taking it all in in her own way.
My mom called my dad to tell him. I was so worried about Dad. He has put his heart and soul into Garrett, especially the last 10 years. They have a very tight bond and daily correspondence. My mom said she was crying when he answered and he immediately started crying. He didn’t even know which one of us, but he knew one of his children had died. I’m not sure all of their conversation, but I honestly don’t want to imagine it. A child losing a parent and a parent losing a child: I can’t even go there in my mind. It’s too overwhelming. My dad was alone in Japan. He had business meetings and then a mission reunion trip planned after. He immediately booked a flight and was in for the longest plane ride and week of his life...........

I have started a memoir book for Millie (that includes the last day of Garrett's life and week of the funeral.) That's all I've officially written so far. I may post more as I get it written. Going to Garrett's room to find his suit (that we didn't even end up burying him in- we used his snowbird work attire- he would have loved that) was a hard moment.
Getting my parents and sister from the airport. More trauma.
Meeting with the detective with my mom and hearing more about the search, rescue, and facts of the case- unreal.
We know Garrett made it to the summit of Sundial peak (bc of his phone and snapchat). We know it was snowing that day. We know it was a freak accident. We know he fell 200 ft immediately and died on impact and then rolled another 200 ft until the helicopter found him the next morning. We are lucky and blessed his friends reported him missing asap and the rescue team found him within 24 hours. There is so much to say and I am a pretty open book about it (obviously). I can talk about it, but now most questions are answered here.


His funeral was lovely and such a healing day for me. The hardest part for me was unfolding the picture Millie drew for Garrett, putting it in his hands, and closing the casket. I thought I might pass out from trying to control my crying. 
I was able to hear so many kind words, prayers, hear my sister-in-law Kina sing a solo, and sing "families are forever" with my family all in the same room in this life one last time. Here was what I typed for the funeral (I went off the cuff some but it's pretty true and accurate- the mortuary actually taped us- so I would like to listen to that again, too).

Everyone here is a blessing to our family at this time. It is overwhelming to see all of you here. Some may have known Garrett or myself more than others but he has been with me and I with him through all the highs and lows of life. We had a great childhood and upbringing bc of my amazing parents and the gospel that was so strong in our home. And as garrett and I have found our own ways in adulthood, our bond and memories have become even stronger. We received our patriarchal blessings together in indiana. I flew back to Singapore for his hs graduation. He was mistaken as my bf when he visited me while i was in hs in indiana. Once Tyler and garrett pinned me down when i was 16 And tickled me till i peed my pants. He saw me off on my mission, he hugged me tightly the day I got married, he saw me fall down the bunny hills this past winter as I put on a snowboard for the first time. Which i know made him proud even though i was a hot mess. He has always been fiercely loyal to me. He didn't even know how to reel in all of his ways he showed love, protectiveness, and care.   My fav memories of garrett is seeing him as a father. I remember sitting at cafe rio when he told me about being pregnant with millie.  I have been so blessed with a special relationship with millie, my mini me, from day one. I can honestly say millie was his world and he loves her deeply. They are best friends. Garrett was many things but fatherhood was his favorite. There have been many tender moments this week with knowing the gospel of Jesus Christ, knowing he didn't suffer in his fall, knowing the search and rescue team found him so quickly, knowing he was making a lot of great steps for himself and his daughter, and knowing that a year from now my family can be in the temple for Garrett temple work. Even though Garrett was on his own journey with his faith, I know his love for the mountains stem from the peace and beauty they provide. Which is the reason the mountain has been used as a temple in the bible and in olden times. Garrett found peace on the mountain tops and summits. I'm grateful for snowbird reaching out to us and for garrett being able to have an "office" that he loved on the mountains. There is so much to say but I really just want to hear happy memories and good messages about garrett bc that is something that has brought me comfort these past few days as ppl have called, commented, and shared their memories of garrett. Also I wanted to tell everyone that I will be compiling a history of this week and any nice messages and stories for our sweet millie. So as she grows she will get to know her father more and feel of his goodness. And it will be special for all of our family to read as well. We love you garrett and miss you. And he would be happy to know I ended my speech asking him "can I get a witness?" There are witnesses all around us of his presence still with us and the joy of eternal families.

The day before Garrett's funeral was Chase's bday (LOVE YOU!) and the day after was my mom's (LOVE YOU!)
Snowbird (where Garrett worked and planned on his life's career) held a memorial for Garrett. We were able to go to the top summit and show our love for Garrett.


I love you @grrttschrdtr
I'm waiting for you to get out of your truck that is parked outside my house now, but i know this nightmare is real. Our bond has always been one of love and loyalty. Moving around so much in our childhood made our roots not with any one place but with each other. A piece of me is gone, but a part of you still remains with your daughter. This pic is the first time i held her before i entered the MTC. And now as i just laid her down in capris bed, i scratched her back until she fell asleep. 
I (and so many of us) will protect her each and every day. She will be loved and know her daddy loves her every day. She has always felt like one of my own and now I can step up more than ever to be that part of you she will need in her life. I miss you.



  










We had a nice morning before shelby flew off to London where my parents in Houston and us endowed children in Provo went to the temple the same morning. It was so hard to feel all those feelings, but also very special. 


I have prayed for Garrett everyday still (my bishop talked with me about how Garrett is an eternal soul so we can still pray for him as we did when he was on this earth.) That was a tender realization for me, and I miss him dearly. I can't keep blogging now bc I'm close to a panic attack rehashing all of this. But I'm sure more will be shared now and then throughout this little blog's history. 

If you have any memories of Garrett, I would like to have them, too. Esp for sweet Millie. I am lucky to have a loving relationship with Millie's mom, Kristi, and to be there for sweet Millie even more now. I am her permanent babysitter, aunt, and shoulder these past couples weeks. I love it, and am receiving strength I didn't know I had. I have had hundreds of moments and conversations already where Millie just wants to tell me stories or little facts about her dad. I have had to go to my bedroom quickly at times to hide my tears, but I am so glad her and I have that love and comfort with each other that I can be there for her and be who Garrett would want me to be for his daughter. We miss him so much. 

We have felt so much support, love, and joy through our greatest grief from friends, family, and our loving Heavenly Father. 

"When we are grateful to God in our circumstances, we can experience gentle peace in the midst of tribulation. In grief, we can still lift up our hearts in praise. In pain, we can glory in Christ’s Atonement. In the cold of bitter sorrow, we can experience the closeness and warmth of heaven’s embrace.
We sometimes think that being grateful is what we do after our problems are solved, but how terribly shortsighted that is. How much of life do we miss by waiting to see the rainbow before thanking God that there is rain?
Being grateful in times of distress does not mean that we are pleased with our circumstances. It does mean that through the eyes of faith we look beyond our present-day challenges.
This is not a gratitude of the lips but of the soul. It is a gratitude that heals the heart and expands the mind."
-Grateful in Any Circumstances
By President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

4 comments:

Mallory Cheever said...

Marissa, this was beautifully written. Thank you for sharing it with us. Garrett would be so proud of you. Not only for taking such good care of his little girl, but with how you are handling this with grace. You are a very special person.

Rebekah Ort said...

Definitely crying now. Your family has always been such a blessing in my life, and though I never had the pleasure of meeting Garrett, I can only imagine how wonderful he is to have you as family. My prayers continue to go to you and your family.

Emily Pulham said...

Love you Marissa. Thanks for your faith and thanks for having the courage to share. ❤️❤️

Shelby Alisa said...

So perfectly written Marissa. I am so grateful for the healing time I got to spend with your family. The Schroedters are forever my family I love you all dearly. And I miss Garrett so, Im sending a bunch of picture to TX to your parents in next couple weeks, probably be in two sets keep an ear out your mom gets them. Love you